Respect Lost…

I used to have a very high opinion of Ken Lim for being an honest, blunt and straight as an arrow judge in the Singapore Idol series. He tells you where your flaws lie and shoots you down if he thinks you suck just to give you that reality check. He knows what he’s talking about having nurtured successful talents before. However, what happened the night before right after Hady‘s coronation made me lose my respect for him, period.

It was clear right from the theatre auditions who he had his eyes on to make it as the Idol winner for Season 2. Likewise the other judges. It was like they had inadvertantly gone through the motions week in, week out just waiting for the right moment to crown Jonathan the title. But thanks to the 700,000 odd (or less since some of us voted in tens or hundreds) Singaporeans who voted for Hady, we shot down their premature speculations spectacularly till everyone could see the forced smiles on their faces, especially on Dick‘s face, when the results were announced.

Like what the Flying Dutchman said yesterday morning, I too was equally peeved when I heard Ken said that Jon would be a regional star. To me, it smacks of disrespect to the winner who was just about to busk in his moment of glory. Market-wise I don’t deny that Jon can make inroads to Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, even Korea or Japan, as compared to Hady going to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. But he could have kept those comments for a private interview later instead of choosing that moment to say it. I think it spoilt everyone’s moods as the atmosphere from the Indoor Stadium became quite silent after that. Hady doesn’t need to be inspirational. His performances were already enough to inspire us to vote relentlessly for him, knowing he would be a credible representative for us just like Taufik.

I don’t deny that Jonathan did make a good impression right from the start but he faded in and out throughout the competition, was not consistent and sounded monotonous at times. Hady for the record was in his element and the most consistent performer throughout. No disrespect to Taufik, but I think Hady proved his mettle in earlier rounds as compared to Taufik who only stamped his credentials when he was in the Top 6 onwards.

It worried me listening to Class 95 the previous day when almost everyone who called in said they were going for Jonathan. At times, the race factor did cross my mind cos seriously when I listened to RIA, people were voicing their support for Hady and when I listened to other stations, Jon‘s name came up more often than not. In my mind, it has become such a racist competition that I felt being the minority in Singapore, it did not matter even if I had voted or not cos my vote will always be outnumbered.

Seriously I would have voted for Jon cos he did give the competition a credible fight to the end. But for me consistency in a performer is what I looked out for. Race is never a factor for me and I am extremely thankful the 700,000 or so votes for Hady transcended all racial, religious and language barriers. For that I thank you my dear Singaporeans for not looking at the colour of the skin as was speculated by a few quarters, even in the Idol forums itself. I would be equally proud even if Jon had won, but he has to improve vocal-wise if he were to represent us.

As a music producer, I can understand that marketability-wise, Ken wants to groom Jon as he is better looking and has more charisma than Hady and he would definitely appeal to the Oriental market. And being someone in the scene for so long and understanding the Asian market, marketing Hady will only be limited to here and Malaysia, knowing how difficult it is to burst through the Indonesian market. But they shouldn’t have shown their disappointment at the end and favouritism right from the start. If that’s the case, then the minorities shouldn’t be entering the competition and just let them groom another Stefanie Sun. Political play like this makes me turned off from entering such a competition. It’s like even if you win, you still lose out in many aspects.

Just like Taufik, I hope everyone, and not just the Malays, would continue to support Hady. Let’s go beyond seeing someone from the skin colour but as a musical talent we can all be proud of in time to come. We are Singaporeans after all and the Pledge that we recite every National Day should always remind us to look beyond our language, race and racial barriers.

*********************************************************************

I know some of you meant well when I received a lot of sms-es on Monday updating us on the current state of matters, that Jon was leading the percentage poll etc etc. Some even quoted Channel News Asia insiders or close sources. Not that I do not believe you people, but I was extremely sceptical. In my mind, it was just a ploy to get people to vote for Hady. How do I know??? Well sometimes you gotta trust your gut feelings.

In fact, I got too many people sms-ing me to the point I got peeved. Cos seriously, we’re in the midst of performing our responsibilities to HIM in this holy month. Concentrating too much on the Idol thingy certainly takes the shine off our good deeds for the day. I felt that being obsessed with this voting thingy is an absolute disrespect to Ramadhan which comes once in a year. Aren’t we all supposed to be chasing after rewards from HIM rather than wasting our time telling people to vote???

And look at the number of our people at the Indoor Stadium. God knows how many of them actually performed their prayers prior to the show or still had the energy to perform their Tarawih after that. I had the opportunity to be one of those people at the Indoor Stadium cos a friend offered me tickets but I turned it down as I felt that I was only wasting my time there, when I should be grabbing whatever good things HE is rewarding us this month.

Well, our community still has a long way to go before they know the essence and meaning of what Ramadhan is all about, through speech, actions and clothes they wear. Another disrespecting factor was the relentless request for Hari Raya songs on radio only on the second day of fasting. Even if the listeners meant them as jokes, they should be tactful and sensitive. It’s becoming a yearly affair in that listeners will request for the songs as early as the first three days of fasting. Sometimes I wonder, what is important, equipping ourselves for the Hereafter or still enjoying ourselves with worldly stuff. I’ll be the first to admit that I am no angel, neither am I pious. But when it comes to religion, I have a very big problem with people who take things for granted.

********************************************************************

I was at the Suria Raya Karnival last Friday just to see what the hype was all about with regards to the bazaar this year. I’ve never been a fan of going to the annual bazaar after breaking my fast. Most of the time I’ll leave the area about 6pm, so since the opening of the event wasn’t in Ramadhan yet, I thought it would be nice to see what we can expect this year. I actually spent less than an hour at the event. Cos whatever was on display was certainly not enticing. In fact it reminded me of those numerous exhibitions at Singapore Expo.

I simply do not understand some of the things that are on display as they are certainly not Hari Raya material. Pray tell me, who would want to purchase property in Malaysia when they need the income to spend for Hari Raya??? Or does it make sense to buy a car now knowing that you would have to go through a few biddings before getting it??? For all you know, by the time you get it, Hari Raya is over. Sometimes things like these can be mind-boggling and I just feel that they are totally unnecessary to be displayed or sold at Hari Raya bazaars, especially the properties. “Nonsense!!!” is the only word I can think of…

********************************************************************

I guess I won’t be blogging as much this month. Over the weeks I’ve been busy lately, the thought of not blogging for good did cross my mind a few times. Cos seriously, it’s no fun blogging and having a comments section but you don’t get comments to better yourself or see how you can improve or share ideas. The funny thing is, I seem to get a lot of visitors, but I guess people just love to drop by, read and go. I’ll drop by and blog as and when I feel there is a burning topic to talk about but don’t expect me to be here all the time… Till then, to my Muslim readers, may this month bless us all with sustenance and may HE forgive us all for our past sins…

New Discoveries…

I’ve wanted to talk about this particular thing in the last entry. Somehow it eluded me and I forgot to include it in. But it’s ok. Cos I finally remembered this time round. Hehehe my brain cells are getting old, hence the forgetfulness…

I’ve never been a fan of live bands performing at weddings cos more often than not, they will be performing 60s hits, Hindi songs and worse, Dangdut!!! Even if you have bands singing contemporary hits, their vocalists sound so bad you wished the hosts could have engaged a wedding deejay instead to play cd or mp3 tracks. That was one of the reasons why I did not engage in any live bands during my wedding as I felt at ease with having a deejay for my wedding. Plus I also banned Dangdut from being played at my wedding and to keep Hindi songs at a minimum level possible.

However, my stance towards live bands changed when I heard a particular group playing at a wedding the weekend before last. Currently I am staying at my in-laws in Sengkang and staying at a lower level, the sound that we hear would definitely be quite loud if there was a wedding, a Chinese funeral or a party being held at the multi-purpose hall downstairs. But the sounds and melodious tunes that emanated were music to the ears from morning till night. The group mostly played current hits from Indonesian bands like Ungu‘s “Demi Waktu” and Ratu‘s “Teman Tapi Mesra” and they also played older hits like Lovehunter‘s “Angel In The Night” and Eagles‘ “Hotel California“. But what blew me away was they even played Gigi‘s single “Kepastian Yang Ku Tunggu”, which is relatively new on the airwaves. It shows they have been doing their homework and doing lots of practice.

With that I thank Acoustika Inc. for changing my perceptions on live bands. They are truly professional and excellent. I strongly recommend anyone who would want to have live performances for corporate functions, weddings and parties to engage these guys and experience what I’m talking about. I was so impressed that I went down personally and asked for their name card in case I want to engage them in future. I certainly would if there is that opportunity. If I’m not wrong, this was the same group that played back up to one of RIA‘s outdoor shows a few years ago, but back then they were just ordinary to me. I guess over the years, through constant experiences, exposures and perfecting themselves through endless practices, they’ve come good.

********************************************************************

Last Friday was Nisfu Sya’ban in our Muslim calendar, the 15th day of the 8th month. When I was younger, I was taught to recite Surah Yasin three times on the night of Nisfu Sya’ban and fast during the day. Better still if I could fast on the 13th, 14th and 15th days of Sya’ban. I have to admit that I did it with the belief that it was something that could bring me closer to HIM. Even the mosques here conduct sessions on reciting the Yasin three times on the night of Nisfu Sya’ban.

However, when I did a bit of research on how auspicious it is in our Islamic context, I found out that a lot of scholars actually frowned upon the way it is being celebrated, like the fasts and the Yasin recitals. I’m not here to preach but it would be best if you were to read for yourself by clicking on this link.

However, just to present to you my findings in a nutshell,

1) Nisfu Sya’ban signifies a special day in the month of Sya’ban.

Truth: There is no credible Hadith concerning the night of the 15th of Sya’ban (Laylat al-Nusf min Sya’ban). All the Hadith that have been narrated concerning that are Mawdoo’ (fabricated) and Da’eef (weak), and have no basis.

2) Muslims are encouraged to perform their Ibadahs as much as possible. This does not necessary mean reciting Yasin 3 times or even having to carry out any exclusive prayers.

Truth: There is nothing special about this night, and no recitation of the Holy Qur’an or prayer, whether alone or in congregation, is specified for this night.

3) Those recitations and prayers are said to be of a Muslim tradition.

Truth: The time of older generations in which knowledge did not come to them. The tradition or the acts of our Salafs, the pious predecessors, or the Prophet‘s companions and Tabi’een did not do these acts.

4) All types of Ibadahs are inferred by scholars in general term.

Truth: What some of the scholars have said about it being special is a weak opinion.

5) This just proves that Islam is very flexible in implementing its religion.

Truth: This just proves that Bid’ah is living and the Sunnah is dying..

6) As for fasting, I did not came across any Hadith saying of its distinguishing proposition to fast on Nisfu Sya’ban.

Truth: What is narrated concerning the virtue of praying, fasting and worshipping on the 15th of Sya’ban (al-nusf min Sya’ban) does not come under the heading of Da’eef (weak), rather it comes under the heading of Mawdoo’ (fabricated) and Baatil (false). So it is not permissible to follow it or to act upon it, whether that is in doing righteous deeds or otherwise.

Wallahu’alam bissawab…

********************************************************************

I’m amazed really at how the Malay mentality works at times. Cos we like to be in groups, to destress and enjoy ourselves in the company of friends and like-minded individuals. But when things go wrong somewhere, there seem to be some bad blood going on and in turn certain individuals leave the group and join others. I’ve seen such things happening to the RIA listeners ever since we had the first batch of hardcore listeners. That very first batch is now history and not heard of since.

As for the current batch, we used to be one big family before some wisecracks decided to form THAT group and in turn spawning smaller factions amongst the listeners. I for one, did not ride on the bandwagon as I had seen what happened to the first batch before and I knew it was a matter of time before factions start to bicker amongst one another. And if any individuals were not happy with the other in the same group, they would defect to another.

Last year, when THAT group imploded with more than half their members leaving, I took great satisfaction in seeing justice being served. However, when I got to know that a few of the founding members left a few days ago, I wondered what was wrong somewhere. I heard one of the reasons one of the members left was due to finance, about not being paid after helping out at events. Well, I don’t want to say much except “I TOLD YOU SO!!!

I remembered in one of my previous entries, I had brought this up, foreseeing something like this to happen, like how long can they go on with helping out at events??? I went through it before in my life so I know the pain this guy went through. What did he expect out of all these volunteer work??? Free glamour??? Easy road to stardom??? There’s no such thing in the entertainment industry, especially in Singapore. To me, no one should be pointed at for mistakes except to point the fingers at themselves for not thinking further on repercussions and circumstances. As much as I dislike some of the people left in the group, I still have a begrudging respect towards their mission and I hope those who remain would support the mission sincerely…

Reasons like these make me thankful that I am still my own person, I don’t belong to any groups, I am free to do what I like, when I want and I have time all to myself. Anyway, as I get older, enjoyment is slowly moving away from my life and the only enjoyment I get is when I’m in the company of family and close friends. We should stop all these sensitivities and work towards building a better community, not get pent up over trivial matters and splitting the community further through factions. Cos factions are supposed to unite and create a betterment for society not to divide them…

Getting My Car…

Nothing noteworthy or events of a memorable nature to highlight of late. That’s the reason why this blog has been quiet. Even if there was something to highlight, I’d rather not make it sound as big as it’s worth. I did mention about a gift I got a few weeks ago. Yes, finally the wife and I have bought a car to ease our daily movement, especially over the weekends. At the stage of pregnancy she is in, it made a lot of sense to get a car of our own so that her pain and strains could be lessened. Nothing to brag about buying a car really, cos almost everyone I know can afford to have one. We’re just joining the club. Ironically I got the car, a red Nissan Latio, right after attending my colleague’s funeral. So you can imagine what a bittersweet weekend it was.

Ever since I’ve got the car, I’ve inherited my father’s trait in maintaining cleanliness and care for the car. Previously, I could not understand why he was so naggy when I drove his car, telling me to be careful, to prevent the car from being scratched or damaged in any way possible. After I got the car, I understood the meaning behind those naggings in that I had spent quite a fortune on it, so it would not make sense if I don’t value something which is expensive. I’ve become quite obsessed to the point I check for scratches or bird droppings on it everytime I return to the car. Weekends are also spent on washing and cleaning it. I believe a clean car reflects its owner’s attitude towards maintaining its outlook. Just hope the novelty doesn’t wear off in a few months’ time…

*********************************************************************

I just completed my Remedial Training at Bedok Camp last Monday. 20 sessions went by just like that in two months. Compared to last year, this year’s training was fun. Fun because we got to play football half the time. And the bond we made amongst the trainees and trainers was good. The only downside was the Saturday evenings which were wasted and a few events I had planned to attend had to be scrapped from my schedule. But just as I was about to enjoy my weekends, I was called to serve the nation for the upcoming International Monetary Fund / World Bank meeting which will begin next week and eat up my weekends. By the time it ends and I want to enjoy my long-awaited freedom, the fasting month begins. And I can’t even attend the “Rentak Singapura” event. Bummer… The only good thing I can get out of all these is that I save my money on food as it’s catered.

*********************************************************************

Some of you might have listened to RIA earlier today and heard yours truly entering the “Step” segment whereby the theme for this week is rap / hip hop music. To tell you the truth, I was very much against entering as I had just won less than a month ago when I sang Imran Ajmain‘s “Sudah Tu Sudah” and “Ghaibmu“. But the segment did not get good response initially from the listeners, which made me enter and support Hafeez, just to fill up the numbers. I really did not enter to win as what some of you might have heard. It wasn’t my best performance, I’ll be the first to admit, since I just woke up anyway and my voice have not been seasoned.

I can’t blame other listeners if they had sms-ed and voiced their unhappiness at my participation. I had told Hafeez about it even before I went on air. Cause really, I have nothing else to prove after winning countless times. I was there to support his show and hoped others would follow suit. So you can say, my presence was just there as a filler, a bit like some of the earlier contestants in the Top 80 of the current Singapore Idol competition, who I heard were paid to fill up the numbers and cause a bit of controversy to the show. Dunno how true is that but that was what I heard…