ON Tuesday, July 19th I was in Harakah’s editorial office in Kuala Lumpur to meet old mates. Well, the atmosphere of ‘hari raya’ was still on air; I was told that staff at the office would hold a hari raya ‘kenduri’ (feast) on Friday, July 22nd. ‘Subhanallah’ I missed the ‘makan’ opportunity as I was there three days earlier!
At the office as usual my many good buddies gave me a warming welcome; they even treat me to a ‘roti canai feast’ at a nearby restaurant, but one ‘thing’ they could not hide from me – their faces spoke about an untold story – during this period of difficulty when the 'rakyat' were told to have two jobs to supplicate their incomes; staff of Harakah and its publication were also effected.
In my opinion the shortcomings should not be a reason to strive hard to maintain Harakah’s position and reputation which was highly look upon not only at national level but also in the international front.
Yes, let us keep Harakah’s flag fly high…here I gave several examples involving my articles in Harakah/Harakahdaily which were picked up as references internationally. I was only giving examples; perhaps staff, former staff, readers and outsiders are willing to enlighten us about records and experiences on this matter.
1. My article was picked up by the US Department of State under the International Information Programs with the title ‘Tsunami: Relief Aims To Counter Anti-US Sentiment Among Muslims.
Among others, the report picked up opinions from various publications world-wide especially sentiments in Muslims countries. Imagine from Malaysia only two publications mentioned; alongside the reputable New Straits Times (NST), the writer views in Harakahdaily was also noted.
This was the report:
a) MALAYSIA: "Not Proactive"
'LanH' wrote in Malay-language government-influenced (in my opinion this is not true) Harakah Daily (1/6/2005): "Unfortunately, in the latest quake and tsunami tragedy which hit Muslims in South Asia and Southeast Asia, the OIC and a number of Islamic countries continue to maintain their 'old habit', namely not being proactive in easing the misery of their fellow Muslims."
b) "Help Must Quickly Reach Those Most In Need"
Hardev Kaur noted in the English-language government-influenced New Straits Times (1/7): "The global response to the tsunami disaster is turning out to be political, with developed nations trying to outdo one another in wanting to help the crisis hit countries.... The international community and multinational organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and indeed the UN, need to draw up a plan for reconstruction and to deliver on the promises and pledges of the world community. This must continue long after the spotlight fades and the tsunami disaster stories are no longer on the front pages of newspapers or the main news items on television."
2. My other report in Harakahdaily was listed in AccessMyLibrary (Search Information that Library Trust). It read: “Malaysian Muslim daily accuses Indonesian media of provocating war.” (Source: Asia Africa Intelligence Wire Publication Date 08-MAR-05). Copyright 2005 Financial Times Ltd. From BBC Monitoring International Reports. It published my report in Harakahdaily on 7 March 2005, with its intro: “MEDAN, 7 March: Nearly all major Indonesian newspaper distributed here today have carried stories provoking war between Indonesia and Malaysia over the struggle for the Ambalat Islands off the coast of Sabah…”
3. Sometime in 2009, Harakah was intervied by VOA-Islam; one of Indonesian top Muslim online bulletin; in one of their articles they spread a story with the heading ‘VOA-Islam diwawancarai surat kabar Islam terbesar Malaysia’ (VOA-Islam was interviewed by Malaysian largest Islamic newspaper).
Imagine Harakah was named ‘surat khabar Islam terbesar Malaysia’. ‘Subhanallah’ how we were honoured!
‘Petikan daripada VOA’ (Abstract from VOA), Indonesia, Senin (Monday), 29 Rajab 1436 H / 3 Agutus (August) 2009 13:25 WIB: “Voice of Al Islam (VOA) dalam kunjungan silaturahim ke Malaysia mendapat dukungan surat kabar Islam terbesar di Malaysia, Tim VOA-Islam berkesempatan melakukan interview dan sekali gus juga mempresentasikan visi dan misi dakwah kami (VOA Team during its brotherhood visit to Malaysia, were given support by Malaysian largest Islamic newspaper (Harakah). We had the opportunity to interview top officials of the publication and presented our vision and ‘da’wah’ method).
4. My article ‘Melayu Bukan Islam, Islam Bukan Melayu’ (Harakah Dec 20 1999) was used as a reference in an essay by Zawawi Ibrahim from Universiti Brunei Darussalam entitled ‘Disciplining Rock and Identity Contestations: Hybridization, Islam and New Musical Genres in Contemporary Malaysian Popular Music’.
Zawawi noted: “This essay aims to analyse how, at a particular phase in the evolution of Malaysian popular music, rock was disciplined to make way for the rise of other musical genres, in this case Balada Nusantara and Nasyid pop.
“Taking a critical perspective I argue that the transition from rock to these newer musical genres occurred on a terrain involving several levels of contestation constituted by the juxtapositions of different institutions and social actors.
“These include the role of the state state actors, political parties, the mediation of Islam and national culture and ultimately the agency of non-state actors — a genuine nucleus of creative artists.”
Using the article ‘Melayu Bukan Islam, Islam Bukan Melayu’ by LanH (Harakah Dec 20 1999) as his reference, Zawawi wrote:
“In the past, the Umno and PAS rivalry had even led to Umno supporters being branded as 'kafir' or infidels by PAS leaders. It has also created opposing interpretations of traditional Malay culture.
“For this reason, the more fundamentalist PAS interpretation of what constituted legitimate Islamic cultural practice had rendered some traditional Malay popular cultural forms no longer Islamic.
“An instance of this would be the banning of the traditional Malay performances of ‘mak yong’ and ‘wayang kulit’ in the PAS dominated state of Kelantan since 1995.
“Indeed, in the 1999 General Election when the predominantly Malay populated state of Terengganu also fell under PAS control, it was announced that another well known Terengganu based traditional Malay performance — ulik mayang — might come up for review as to whether or not it constituted a legitimate Islamic cultural activity.
“A second example of this contestation is provided by an article entitled “Malay is not Islam, Islam is not Malay” (Melayu Bukan Islam, Islam Bukan Melayu) by LanH in the PAS sponsored newspaper Harakah.
“In this essay, the columnist lamented what he considered to be the non-Islamic nature of the traditional Malay ‘adat’ based cultural practice in Sarawak of East Malaysia, known as ‘menimang bubu’.
“Apparently, the ritual, popular amongst the Sarawakian Malay Muslim fisher-folk involved the act of worshiping spirits (memuja semangat).
“It is obvious that Malay popular music and its identity is subject to the same scrutiny as it seeks to re-negotiate and reposition itself vis-à-vis the identity claims of the nation - state and the central government’s on-going political contestation with PAS-style Islam.”
Yes, 'istiqamah' (consistently) in keeping PAS and Harakah's flag fly high; 'insya-Allah' we would be rewarded in this world and Hereafter. – ES