Rabu, November 25, 2009

Beware, guys! Bottled up anger can kill

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THE Malaysian adage “Jangan marah, nanti cepat tua” (Don't get angry, you will age fast) might not carry much weight for men, especially in the work environment.

This is if the findings of a Swedish study are to be believed.

The study by the Stress Research Institute of Stockholm University says men who bottle up their anger at being unfairly treated at work are up to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack, or even die from one, than those who let their frustration show.

The study followed 2,755 employed men who had not suffered any heart attacks from 1992 to 2003.

“It is not good just to walk away after having such a conflict or to swallow one’s feelings,” study co-author Constanze Leineweber, a psychologist at the institute.

The study did not specify good ways of coping with work-related stress – “We just looked at the bad side of coping,” Leineweber explained.

The study doesn’t advocate being belligerent at work, Leineweber cautioned. “Shouting out, and so on, is not proper coping,” she said.

But venting one’s anger outside of the workplace didn’t seem to take a cardiovascular toll, at least. “Getting into a bad temper at home” was not associated with an increased risk of heart attack or cardiac death, the study authors found.

Leineweber stressed that what is true for men might not be true for female workers. While the study included more than 2,000 women, too few of them had heart attacks or died of heart disease to allow conclusions to be drawn.

“Earlier studies have indicated that women use different coping strategies than men,” Leinewaber said. “So for women, strategies such as going away and not saying anything might not be good.”

Women in general appear to handle stressful situations better than men, noted Dr Bruce S. Rabin, director of the Healthy Lifestyle Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Social interaction, having people to talk to, is extremely important,” Rabin said. “If you keep things to yourself, you have high levels of stress hormones. Women are more comfortable in social interactions than men. They talk more, while men tend to keep within themselves.”

A study, conducted by the Swedish researchers in 2005, found that women did not have the same levels of cardiovascular risk factors as men, Rabin noted.

There is no one key to handling on-the-job stress, because the level of stress depends on an individual’s environment, at work and in the home, he said.

“Work environment is important,” Rabin said. “You need interaction between people so that everybody feels they can express their opinions about their work. You shouldn’t come to work with a feeling that no one cares.”

“And when you go home, it is very important to share your feelings with whomever you are sharing with,” Rabin added. “Also, you should understand that children learn from the behaviour of parents. You can have a meaningful effect on the long-term health of children by being good role models. The message is that the environment you culture can affect not only your health but also the health of those who are important to you.”

Lack of sleep

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For those who can't sleep - PAY ATTENTION, DEAREST!!!!....

Ranjan Das Passed Away on Wednesday, 21-October-2009 *

SAP India CEO Ranjan Das Dies After Gym Workout *

Ranjan Das, CEO and MD of SAP Indian subcontinent
died after a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai on Wednesday.
One of the youngest CEOs, he was 42

Carried : Wednesday, 11-November-2009
What killed Ranjan Das and Lessons for Corporate India * **

A month ago, many of us heard about the sad demise of Ranjan Das from
Bandra, Mumbai. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian
Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India . He was very active in
sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him
run on Bandra's Carter Road . Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned
home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and
died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids.

It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India . However, it was even
more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was an avid marathoner
( in Feb 09, he ran Chennai Marathon at the same time some of us were
running Pondicherry Marathon 180 km away ), the question came as to why an
exceptionally active, athletic person succumb to heart attack at 42 years of

*Was it the stress?*

A couple of you called me asking about the reasons. While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress.

*The Real Reason*

However, everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program 'Boss' Day Out':

Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep (and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled ).

*The Evidence*

Last week, I was working with a well-known cardiologist on the subject of ‘Heart Disease caused by Lack of Sleep’. While I cannot share the video nor the slides because of confidentiality reasons, I have distilled the key points below in the hope it will save some of our lives.

*Some Excerpts:*

· Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009. As you know, high BP kills.

· Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006.

· Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999.

· Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!!

· Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Paper published in 2004.

· Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.

*Ideal Sleep*

For lack of space, I cannot explain here the ideal sleep architecture. But in brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM ( Rapid Eye Movement ) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times.

The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type.

For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess ( lack of non-REM sleep ), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down ( I’ve been there, done that ).

Finally, as long-distance runners, you need an hour of extra sleep to repair the running related damage.

*In conclusion:*

Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising (marathoning!), maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. In my opinion, that killed him. If you are not getting enough sleep (7 hours), you are playing with fire, even if you have low stress.

I always took pride in my ability to work 50 hours at a stretch whenever the situation warranted. But I was so spooked after seeing the scientific evidence last week that since Saturday night, I ensure I do not even set the alarm clock under 7 hours. Now, that is a nice excuse to get some more sleep.

Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance. Please forward this article to as many of your colleagues/friends as possible,especially those who might be short-changing their sleep. If we can save even one young life because of this article, I would be the happiest person on earth.

Khamis, November 19, 2009

Can England Win The 2010 World Cup? They need a goalie

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At last all the 32 spots for the 2010 World Cup had been decided with few surprises. Only Slovenia & New Zealand can be termed as a surprise. Don't worry fellow Malaysians, Malaysia are not in the qualified list .. as usual and as consistent as we wish for (hehehe) . How on earth can we qualified if we were ranked 6th in the soccer weak-Southeast Asia. Lets the so-called experts in Malaysian football deals with it. I rest my case.

Now, back to the topic. England, one of our ex-colonialists (By the way, all our colonial powers managed to qualified ... Portugal, Holland and even Japan). The one and only title was way back in 1966, as the host. Can Cappello able to add what have been Sir Alf territory? Only Sir Bobby managed to get so close to the title in Italia 1990.

For the generation of Nevilles, Lampard, Terry, Gerrard and Beckham, the 2010 edition will be their last opportunity. After the failure to qualify in USA 1994, penalty losses in 1990 and 2002 as well as defeat to Argentina in 1998 ... the 2010 edition must be won at all cost.

Lets briefly analyze the goalkeeping department.

Since the day of Banks, Shilton-Clemence, Woods-Seaman, England seem unable to find a world class keeper in the mould of Buffon (Italy), Van Der Sar (Holland)and Casillas (Spain - they also have the world class Reds in Pepe Reina!). The first choice gooalie list of BPL consists few English. The top four for so long depend on non-Englishmen as goalkeeper in the likes of Van Der Sar (Man U), Cech (Chelsea), Reina (LFC) and Almunia (Arsenal). The remaining BPL does not look encouraging withe likes of Friedel of Villa (USA), Howard of Everton (USA) and Given of Man City (Irish). Worst still, even the reserve goalie are non-English.

The only notable English goalkeepers were James (Portsmouth), Green (West Ham), Kirkland (Wigan), Robinson (Blackburn) and Man U's 3rd choice, Ben Foster. One can imagine the task faced by Capello to prepare a consistent and world class goalkeeper for South Africa.

The choice ?

A. the aging David James, the keeper for bottom of the league's Pompey
B. Robert Green in a struggling Hammers team
C. McLaren's favorite, Paul Robinson who played for leaking Blackburn
D. Injury prone Chris Kirkland
E. Error-prone Ben Foster (hey, where's the gadget you used during the penalty shoot-out of 2008 Carling Cup Final?)
F. The much travelled, ex-Reds, Scot Carson at WBA
G. Non of the above

Its up to the manager but the choice is not that encouraging. Good luck Fabio Capello.

Rabu, November 18, 2009

Transparency puji Selangor, indeks Malaysia terus jatuh

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Walaupun para pegawai Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) silih berganti membuat siasatan ke atas pemimpin kerajaan Selangor, Transparency International Malaysia(TI-M) memuji negeri Pakatan Rakyat itu bahkan wajar dijadikan contoh.

Presiden TI-M, Datuk Paul Low berkata sikap kepimpinan Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim dalam memacu Selangor jelas menunjukkan kerajaan negeri ini merupakan kerajaan yang adil dan telus mencakupi semua aspek.

Katanya, peranan Khalid dalam menangani rasuah di Selangor merupakan satu perkembangan positif dalam arena politik negara.

“Saya yakin MB Selangor mempunyai kehendak politik yang kuat untuk memerangi rasuah sebagaimana yang ditunjukkannya di Selangor," kata Paul dalam satu sidang media selepas mengumumkan Indeks Persepsi Rasuah 2009,di Kelab Golf Di Raja Selangor.

Beliau menambah, pentadbiran terbuka yang diamalkan Selangor dan perkembangan yang berlaku di negeri ini harus menjadi contoh kepada semua tanpa mengira fahaman politik supaya negara bebas dari rasuah.

Katanya, pentadbiran telus yang diamalkan Selangor bukan sahaja penting bagi aspek intergriti tetapi dalam menjaga kestabilan ekonomi negara.

Indeks Malaysia menjunam

Dalam sidang media yang sama, TI-M memaklumkan, indeks persepsi rasuah Malaysia yang dipimpin Datuk Seri Najib razak terus menjunam.

Malaysia menduduki tangga ke 56 daripada 180 negara dalam Indeks Persepsi Rasuah (CPI) dunia 2009.

Malaysia mencatatkan penurunan dalam indeks persepsi rasuah pada tahun ini dengan hanya memperoleh 4.5 mata berbanding 5.1 mata pada 2008.

Kemerosotan berkenaan jelas menunjukkan kegagalan negara memerangi rasuah walapun pelbagai janji dibuat pihak berkuasa untuk menanganinya.

Menurut Presiden TIM,Paul Low, banyak faktor yang menyumbang kepada berlakunya kemerosotan negara memerangi rasuah.

Namun, beliau menekankan pencegahan amalan rasuah haruslah bermula dari pemimpin dengan nilai intergriti yang tinggi untuk membanterasnya.

“Jika anda mempunyai pemimpin yang tidak memberikan tauladan yang baik unjtuk diikuti, anda tidak boleh harap golongan muda kita mengikut apa yang baik kerana mereka hanya mengikut apa yang pemimpin buat.

"Di Malaysia, ia bukan isu mempunyai negara yang demokratik atau pilihan raya. Kita ada tetapi dalam masa yang sama kita dengan banyak tentang lompat parti dan isu berkaitan dengannya, ada yang dibayar. Jadi ia bukan soal demokrasi tetapi soal kehendak politik," katanya.

Dalam laporan berkenaan, New Zealand berada di kedudukan pertama negara yang kurang kegiatan rasuah dengan catatan tertinggi 9.4 mata, manakala Somalia berada di kedudukan terakhir kerana mencatatkan amalan rasuah tertinggi dengan catatan CPI 1.1 mata.

Perbandingan antara negara Asean menunjukkan Malaysia berada di tempat ketiga selepas Singapura dengan catatan 9.4 mata dan Brunei dengan CPI 5.5 mata, manakala Indonesia di tempat keempat.

Walaubagaimanapun, Indonesia mencatatkan kenaikan,apabila mencatatkan CPI 2.8 berbanding 2.6 tahun lalu.

Khamis, November 05, 2009

Mencari motif sebenar penahanan Dr Asri dan cabaran buat Dr Hasan Ali

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Ahmad Lutfi Othman
Thu | Nov 05, 09 | 4:08:27 pm MYT

Malam Ahad lalu saya agak uzur dan tertidur awal. Walaupun telefon bimbit diletakkan di bawah bantal, SMS wartawan Harakahdaily, Azamin Amin, lebih kurang jam 12 tengah malam gagal mengejutkan saya. Sehinggalah saya terjaga bila terdengar isyarat SMS kedua Azamin, sekitar jam 4 pagi, membawa berita yang esoknya menggemparkan negara: Bekas mufti ditahan kerana mengajar agama tanpa tauliah.

Sebenarnya isu tauliah bukanlah perkara baru. Di Selangor sendiri, pada zaman BN, rasanya ramai tokoh-tokoh pendakwah terkemuka juga tidak mendapat tauliah, antaranya Dato' Ishak Baharom, bekas Mufti Selangor sendiri. Tokoh-tokoh agama tersohor, termasuk yang pernah terbabit dalam proses pentauliahan kepada pendakwah lain, seperti Ustaz Ismail Kamus dan Dr Haron Din juga tidak terkecuali dilarang mengajar agama di negeri termaju itu.

Malah, rasanya, Mufti Perak, Dato' Seri Harussani Zakaria turut tidak dibenarkan berceramah agama di negeri tertentu.

Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin yang ditahan JAIS itu memang boleh dianggap tokoh yang sering mencetuskan minat media, terutama selepas dilantik menjadi Mufti Perlis.

Meskipun perwatakan seseorang mufti selalunya jarang diteropong media, namun sosok Dr Asri dilihat berbeza. Banyak ideanya mengundang kontroversi berpanjangan. Khabarnya kolum beliau dalam Mingguan Malaysia diminati bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Pada pagi Isnin, 2 Nov, di Mahkamah Rendah Syariah, Gombak Timur, Marina Mahathir turut memberikan sokongan buat Dr Asri, selain Pengarah Sisters in Islam, Zainah Anwar.

Lebih menarik apabila ada wakil rakyat PAS dan KeADILan bersama Dr Asri, bukan saja di mahkamah pagi itu, tetapi juga semasa kuliahnya.

Serentak itu, banyak persoalan berbangkit. Ramai tertanya-tanya apakah alasan (baca: motif) sebenar Dr Asri ditahan? Pihak JAIS, melalui Pengarahnya, Mohammed Khusrin Munawi memberikan alasan mendatar, iaitu Dr Asri melakukan kesalahan mengajar tanpa tauliah.

Mencurah-curah sanggahan yang mempertikai alasan berkenaan termasuk daripada Perdana Menteri Najib Razak.

"Saya tahu banyak lagi orang yang buat macam-macam ceramah, tak didakwa pula, tetapi bila Dr Asri, dia ditahan," tegas Najib sambil menekankan penahanan itu dibuat oleh kerajaan negeri dan tiada kena mengena dengan kerajaan pusat.

Mungkin Najib, yang juga Pengerusi Perhubungan Umno Selangpr, sudah dapat menelah bahawa ada tuduhan tangan-tangan ghaib yang mendalangi penangkapan itu akan dilemparkan kepada Umno.

Bukankah Umno sentiasa cuba mencari jalan pintas menawan negeri itu atau sekurang-kurangnya untuk memburuk-burukkan pemerintahan Pakatan Rakyat Selangor? Sukar diterima akal bahawa tiada motif terselindung di sebalik operasi penangkapan yang mengejutkan itu, malah ada pihak yang begitu gemar mengaitkannya dengan teori konspirasi. Dan mereka tentu ada alasan tersendiri.

"Cuma yang peliknya, kenapa Umno bersungguh-sungguh membantah dakwaan terhadap Dr Asri," kata Naib Presiden PAS, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man. Beliau menjangkakan jika hal sama berlaku di negeri bukan Pakatan, misalnya Johor, mungkin kenyataan yang dikeluarkan Umno berbeza. Sedangkan, tambahnya, sikap PAS sentiasa konsisten dalam hal 'mengajar tanpa tauliah' ini. Kata Tuan Ibrahim, mana-mana tokoh agama sepatutnya mempunyai autoriti atau hak dan tidak perlu tauliah daripada Jabatan Agama untuk menyampai kuliah atau ceramah.

Ada juga yang menghubungkan peristiwa tangkapan itu dengan memorandum bantahan kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong oleh Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia, pada 30 Oktober lalu agar baginda menarik balik perlantikan Dr Asri sebagai Yang Dipertua Yadim.

Dr Asri, menurut kandungan memorandum itu, didakwa sentiasa bertentangan pandangan dengan para ulama dan mufti negeri-negeri lain. Semasa menjadi Mufti Perlis, beliau didakwa kerap kali membelakangkan pandangan jawatankuasa Mufti Kebangsaan dan "sentiasa lari dari berdialog secara tertutup dan beradab, sebaliknya mencari populariti di media".

Dr Asri turut dituduh tidak mengiktiraf iktikad ahli sunnah wal jamaah dari empat mazhab fiqh. Beliau bagaimanapun menafikan tuduhan itu.

Memorandum yang turut disokong 13 NGO Muslim itu juga mendakwa, "sebagai seorang yang terlalu muda serta gagal menghayati budaya adab sopan umat Ialam di Malaysia, Dr Asri lebih banyak mengundang kontroversi dan merupakan seorang yang keras, ekstrim serta tidak dapat menerima teguran, pandangan dan kritikan orang lain". Namun, ramai terkejut apabila mendapat tahu bahawa antara NGO terbabit adalah ABIM, Persatuan Alumni Kolej Islam, JIM, Persatuan Ulamak Malaysia, Persatuan Ulamak Kedah dan Teras.

"Tidak semestinya NGO yang menyokong memorandum itu bersetuju dengan tangkapan JAIS," kata seorang pemimpin sebuah badan Islam, "ia isu berbeza sama sekali, malah mungkin ada pemimpin NGO tersebut tidak membaca sepenuhnya kandungan memo berkenaan. Tapi, yang lebih penting, perbezaan pendapat dan pendekatan dalam hal agama mesti diselesaikan secara bijaksana, bukannya tangkap dan dakwa di mahkamah."

Hampir semua SMS dan emel yang saya terima mempunyai nada hampir sama, dan membantah keras penahanan Dr Asri tetapi turut mengaitkannya dengan tangan-tangan ghaib kuasa politik. Mereka menjangkakan ada motif lain yang lebih besar dan tidak percaya JAIS bertindak atas pertimbangan sendiri hanya atas alasan "tiada tauliah".

Dalam pada itu, Presiden JIM (salah satu pertubuhan yang menyokong memorandum Dr Asri tidak dilantik Yang Dipertua Yadim), Zaid Kamarudin mencadangkan agar JAIS mengambil ksempatan daripada krisis keyakinan terhadapnya ekoran penahanan Dr Asri untuk meneliti semula enakmen-enakmen pentadbirannya. Selain menyuarakan rasa terkejut di atas cara tangkapan yang mengaibkan, Zaid menegaskan: "JIM berharap JAIS akan bersikap amanah, jujur dan profesional dalam melaksanakan siasatan yang bebas, adil dan telus ke atas Dr Asri. Pemeliharaan keadilan dan hak asasi serta karamah insan haruslah menjadi pegangan."

Semasa ramai mempertikai kebijaksanaan JAIS menangani isu ini, timbul saranan agar proses pentauliahan di negeri-negeri Pakatan Rakyat dikaji semula. Penguat kuasa pula usah bertindak sembrono semata-mata atas alasan menurut undang-undang.

Apa pun, bukan segalanya buruk buat JAIS. Bulan puasa lalu mengingatkan kita betapa meriah dan kudusnya penghayatan Ramadan di Selangor, begitu juga dengan majlis tazkirah, tadarus, kuliah-kuliah agama dan khutbah Jumaat. Begitu ramai tokoh agama yang selama ini tersisih dapat menyumbang ilmu mereka di Darul Ehsan ini.

Exco Agama, Dr Hasan Ali, yang menjadi perhatian (dan sasaran) utama menjelang seminar khas PAS 7 Nov, pastinya terbeban dengan isu ini. Banyak soalan yang perlu dijawabnya sendiri. Orang ramai tidak mahu mendengar penjelasan Pengarah JAIS. Mahu tidak mahu ia sudah menjadi isu politik dan orang politik seperti Dr Hasan sajalah boleh menjernihkannya walaupun kuasa dalam hal agama ini pun banyak sekatannya.

Pakatan Rakyat harus 'memanfaatkan' isu ini bagi memperkukuh gabungan, begitu juga PAS, dan jangan pula ia tambah mengusutkannya dengan menjadikan isu ini untuk mengeruhkan lagi keadaan dalaman parti.

Diakui Dr Hasan memang dalam keadaan sukar, terutama menguruskan karenah JAIS yang khabarnya masih "menjadi lubuk Umno", di samping menjaga sensitiviti pihak istana. Bagaimanapun, krisis selalunya akan mempamerkan kehebatan seseorang tokoh dalam mengendalikan konflik berbangkit dan ini satu cabaran buat Pesuruhjaya PAS Selangor itu.

Selasa, November 03, 2009

Controversy follows ex-mufti

Analysis by JOCELINE TAN

Who are the ‘black hands’ behind the arrest of the charismatic but controversial former Mufti of Perlis?

THERE is little doubt that the controversial religious figure Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has a following as evidenced by the big group that turned up to support him at the Gombak Syariah Court.

His biggest supporter is Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, the former Perlis Mentri Besar, who is in London. Otherwise he would have been there as well.

Dr Asri, the former Mufti of Perlis, was released on police bond after being detained the night before by the Selangor branch of the religious enforcement unit JAIS.

He was giving a religious lecture in a private home in Gombak at the time.

He is likely to be charged for preaching without a permit but those in the know said that events behind the scenes had been building up to this moment.

Some are even talking about “black hands” trying to fix up the charismatic preacher who had made waves with his unorthodox views on religious issues and matters the past few years.

They blamed the PAS-controlled religious arm in Selangor for the crackdown on Dr Asri.

Others said the “black hands” belong to those who are out to block Dr Asri’s appointment as head of Yadim or Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia, the prestigious Islamic outreach arm of the Government.

Apparently, Dr Asri was to have been appointed as Yadim head on Nov 1, replacing Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad who has held the post since the 1990s.

It is believed the appointment has not proceeded because of opposition from Islamic groups.

There is no evidence connecting the Yadim appointment to Dr Asri’s Sunday night arrest but 17 Islamic NGOs had sent a letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Prime Minister protesting the would-be appointment.

News of the protest leaked out when one of the signatories, the Syariah Lawyers Association, posted the letter on its blog; the posting has since been removed.

“There are no black hands or whatever you may call it. The point is that there are Islamic bodies who are very uncomfortable that Dr Asri may be appointed to Yadim,” said former Abim president Yusri Mohamad who was a signatory to the letter.

Shahidan, who remains one of Asri’s closest associates, has slammed the opposition to Dr Asri as the work of selfish people.

“We carry out dakwah (outreach) work without harming people. We are trying to explain Islam to non-Muslims. What is wrong with that?” he said.

Shahidan also asked Dr Asri to reject any offer from Yadim and in a tit-for-tat move, has asked for a thorough audit of the accounts of Yadim.

The soft-spoken and baby-faced Dr Asri is quite glamorous for an ulama. He is acquainted with a number of entertainment celebrities and has been courted by both Umno and PAS.

Earlier this year, there was talk that he was about to join PAS but, according to Shahidan, Dr Asri consulted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who advised him to stay politically neutral if he wished to be accepted by the general populace.

He also writes a weekly column called Minda Maza or Thoughts of Maza (Maza being the acronym for Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin) in the influential Mingguan Malaysia.

But Islamic intellectuals complain that his views on religion do not reflect that of “mainstream Muslims or the traditional scholars.”

They pointed out that during the recent fasting month, his column had analysed an obscure text by a medieval scholar on the question of performing a major ablution (mandi wajib) after sexual intercourse in an abnormal situation.

“There are so many pressing issues in Islam and he uses his column to talk about that,” said Yusri.

Critics such as Yusri have accused Dr Asri of promoting a body of thought that is harmful to the unity of Muslims in the country.

“He should be aware that by continuing to promote his particular view on Islam outside of Perlis, he is inviting action on himself,” said Yusri.

But Dr Asri’s ideas resonate among a segment of moderate Muslims and non-Muslims. They see him as a modern and progressive ulama.

His supporters find his views refreshing and in tune with modern Malay society and issues.

Among his champions are groups like Sisters in Islam who are drawn to his unconventional views on social issues and women in Islamic society.

But the storm blowing around Dr Asri has yet to subside for as Yusri promised: “We will continue to oppose his appointment to Yadim.”