Columnist

Dina Zaman

Dina Zaman writes to find answers. Sometimes she doesn't. If she's not spending too much money on books, it's household items. She would like everyone to be happy.

Confronting the bigot in us

MAY 22 ― Now that some of the dust has settled after the elections, and while our politicians duke it out over electoral fraud, we Malaysians... READ MORE

A necessary conversation

MAY 5 — Being out of KL even for a few days provides for greater clarity. May 5 was just less than 48 hours away, and thanks to budget airlines,... READ MORE

Selamat mengundi!

APRIL 24 ― A friend and I were up on the highest level of the Thean Hou Temple, in Seputeh, two weekends ago. We were up there for two reasons:... READ MORE

Terengganu is all set for the polls!

APRIL 17 ― Someone asked me about politics in Terengganu. I said, it’s still very grassroots, and it will remain laidback whether Barisan... READ MORE

How to survive?

APRIL 3 ― The past two weeks were spent attending a number of forums on the state of the Malaysian economy post GE 13. How will Malaysia face an... READ MORE

Two days in KT

MARCH 13 ― A quick trip back to Terengganu is always welcome, even if it’s for work. Kuala Terengganu was preparing for the prime minister’s... READ MORE

Talking about sex, baby, and the economy

FEB 27 ― We were hungry that weekend, and wanted to have Thai food in Kampung Baru. The restaurant we wanted was closed, Chinese New Year. Every... READ MORE

A short memoir of former slaves

FEB 20 ― Once in a while, I’ll catch up with a few friends who, like me at one time, worked for VVVVVVVVVIPs. When we worked for these people in... READ MORE

On the campaign trail

FEB 6 ― The ceramahs have begun all across the country, as politicians and political parties begin campaigning for support and votes come the... READ MORE

The rebuttals

JAN 23 ― “I think it’s time Christians started telling both sides (of the story), look, listen stop bullying us. We are an even more important... READ MORE

The Christians are coming!

JAN 16 ― Dr Chandra Muzaffar who spoke at the “Pathways Institute Seminar: Leadership Amidst Controversy” recently said, “It will be the... READ MORE

The halal cat food question

JAN 9 ― So, my cat is now on a halal cat food diet. I went on a spree during the recent Christmas holidays, and bought myself an automatic pet... READ MORE

Some thoughts for the new year

JAN 2 ― Writing a feature on faith and the Malaysian middle class reaffirms my belief that this country can never be secular, in spite of the... READ MORE

Looking for guidance?

DEC 12 ― It is indeed an interesting time to be a Muslim, or even a non-Muslim, observing Muslim matters in Malaysia. And to revisit and discover... READ MORE

A question of faith

NOV 14 — I have been mulling over the same question over the past two months: Is Islam the topic of discourse overdone, and do we need another... READ MORE

Javanese adventure

NOV 7 ― To survive among Indonesians, you must understand the social structure of its people. All that talk about human rights, anti-corruption,... READ MORE

Looking beyond the city

OCT 31 ― Indonesia is very much a Pramoedya Ananta Toer novel come to life. Jakarta may be the rich capital, the more sophisticated sister, but... READ MORE

An Indonesian adventure

SEPT 19 ― Indonesia can be a country of extremes. It hosts a huge Muslim population of varying levels of faith, and is also home to a few... READ MORE

Do the rich and royal truly care about Malaysian politics?

JULY 12 — It would seem that they are skittish, and prefer to either side with the current government or act as fence sitters. There are the... READ MORE

The Bersih that wasn’t

MAY 2 — I’ve been to rallies before, as a student and Malaysian citizen but Bersih 3.0 was my first Bersih event. Ten hours after Bersih 3.0, I am... READ MORE

An incident that ‘should not have happened’

MARCH 21 — Excerpt from Memali incident chapter. Tunku Muszaffar Shah Tunku Ibrahim’s book, Memali: A Policeman Remembers is a first-hand account... READ MORE

Chasing a ghost

MARCH 7 — Excerpt from Memali incident chapter. Ibrahim Libya’s grave was at the nearby cemetery. We walked over and the mood was... READ MORE

Remembering that fateful day in Memali

FEB 22 — Excerpt from Memali incident chapter My hosts were determined to make my stay the best research trip ever. They took me to the school Chin... READ MORE

Ibrahim Libya: Who was he really?

FEB 1 — Excerpt from Memali incident chapter: Mak Su’s brother, Pak Andah, popped by for tea. There were always people coming in and out of the... READ MORE

Just what is the ‘Malay-Muslim identity’?

JAN 11 — Excerpt from Memali Section “Memali had to be a [public relations] failure on the government’s part,” Z, the former militant schoolboy I... READ MORE

The nuns who forsook the world 2

NOV 30 — Accompanying my trip and my visits to the convent was a book loaned by a good friend. Enduring Grace by Carol Lee Flinders is a fantastic... READ MORE

The nuns who forsook the world

NOV 16 — “I think you will make a good Catholic. I hope by God’s Grace, you will convert, Miss.” Her name was Sister A, and she came to the church... READ MORE

Let’s talk about (halal) sex

OCT 26 — Of course this essay would have to be about the Obedient Wives Club. One can’t pass up the chance to write about the one very titillating... READ MORE

My silat adventures (Part 2)

OCT 12 — My silat classes began in, of all places, an office room. A spacious one but still an office room. I would only attend training at the... READ MORE

The Raya that was

SEPT 28 — It started with my seeing from afar, a friend of my mother’s, with a bag of multilevel marketing products, at the gate of a link... READ MORE

My silat adventures

SEPT 21 — The perils of being a writer of non-fiction are many. To write the truth may mean the loss of one or two friendships. It is not that a... READ MORE

The forgotten children

AUG 24 — I read the article about the teenager suing Khazanah over a scholarship with some bemusement. I’m not too worried about the young man: his... READ MORE

Forgetting our past

AUG 17 — The quiet passing of Tengku Ismail Tengku Su, a  renowned Terengganu songket maker and owner of the majestic Pura Tanjung Sabtu... READ MORE

So what is a Malay?

AUG 3 — Fifty-four years down the road, and we Malays still have yet to figure out who we are. Let’s backtrack a bit. On the eve of the Bersih... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 13 — Gawai 2

JULY 20 — Kampung Grogo, like many Bidayuh villages in semi-urban Sarawak, is situated on a hill. It’s a nondescript village, but not an... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 12 — Gawai 1

JUNE 30 — There was an air of great cheer and festivity at the departure lounge of the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal as passengers waited to board the... READ MORE

Knowledge not fear in religion

JUNE 8 — A reader asked me in an email what my thoughts were on the “… religious management in the country…” and what I would do about the... READ MORE

Holy men, holy women 11

MAY 25 — Spot checks notwithstanding, I soon became less of a curiosity to the women; I was just one of the many relatives who came to visit the... READ MORE

Holy men, holy women 10

MAY 11 — There was something to be said about undertaking a sabbatical to devote oneself to prayer. Be it in a congregation or alone, when one... READ MORE

Holy men, holy women 9

APRIL 27 — Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, above Dengkil and Bangi, en route to Kajang, is a little oasis for women of a certain age, or... READ MORE

Why are faith and superstition more prevalent now?

APRIL 15 — I was asked at a dinner recently why the Malays have become more conservative and religious in the last 20 years. My friend comes from... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 8

APRIL 13 — Thaipusam is an overwhelming riot of voices, colours, scents of coconut oil and jasmine. It is also, on the train I’m on with a friend... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 7

MARCH 30 — The Chairman and his wife finally visited. When we were introduced, I was bemused, to say the least. This was the Chairman — a lean,... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 6

MARCH 16 — I had spent the night fretting, and texting my friend whose father, Dr P, had helped me with the trip. I felt like I was in a showcase... READ MORE

Holy Men Holy Women 5

MARCH 3 — How would I describe my time with the Bidayuhs of Sarawak? The trip inspired a gamut of emotions: excitement, disappointment, curiosity... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 4

FEB 16 — It’s December 24, 2010. A pastor friend has kindly invited me to observe a Christmas service at his church, somewhere in Kuala Lumpur. It... READ MORE

Holy Men, Holy Women 3

FEB 2 — How it began. “I am sorry. You cannot join us.” Mrs E sounded quite apologetic over the telephone. “Why not?” I asked. “Ah… because our... READ MORE

Holy men, holy women 2

JAN 20 — According to Wikipedia, the “… Sri Mahamariamman Temple was founded by K. Thamboosamy Pillai in 1873 and was initially used as a private... READ MORE

Looking for the good… within

JAN 5 — “So why are you doing this? What’s this project about?” Y asks. Y is an old acquaintance I had met through work about 16 years ago. Once... READ MORE

There’s something about that second (third/fourth) wedding

NOV 3 — It would seem like a lot of people I know are preparing for or have gone through a second, or third marriage. Being the romantic I am, I... READ MORE

No need lah!

OCT 13 — Three years down the road, and people keep asking, so when’s the next one? Weren’t you going to do one written by other Muslims? Are you... READ MORE

Diversity in a surau

AUG 25 — The women’s surau in our office building is tucked away in a carpark and near the management office. It’s small and clean, and functions... READ MORE

How to make money in Malaysia

AUG 6 — Ini cerita pasal saka. She wept copious tears. Writing that sentence makes the whole scenario sound very clichéd, but that was the... READ MORE

Starting from scratch: Documenting stateless children

JUNE 30 — This takes the cake. We’ve started this documentation project for a few months now, and as a volunteer project co-ordinator, I’m pulling... READ MORE

What are we teaching our young women?

JUNE 16 — This question came about when a male friend and I had lunch. He and his male friends were talking about how the women they met would... READ MORE

My very brief (I think) affair with Special Branch

MAY 26 — There was this one time when I worked for a political personality, and the Special Branch (SB) and I became quite acquainted with each... READ MORE

An encounter with some Afghans

MAY 12 — The small community of Afghan refugees residing in Kuala Lumpur is facing an internal crisis. In halting English, translators from the... READ MORE

Conversations with people

MAY 5 — Pastor Sivin Kit is not an unknown name among Christians and Malaysians who engage in inter-faith discussions. I had heard his name before,... READ MORE

The words of death and longing

APRIL 21 — We had been trading telephone texts, and e-mails with each other. This would be what one would call a literary affair. Once upon a... READ MORE

Mercy in Islam

April 1 — Syukur Alhamdullilah should be on Kartika Sari Dewi Sukarno’s tongue and heart right now. Her caning sentence was commuted by the... READ MORE

So now women are supposed to be porn stars, too?

MARCH 25 — For all this talk about women’s progress, why are we constantly being bombarded by articles and information on how to become a porn... READ MORE

Lipstick jihad

MARCH 10 — Reading “Let These Women Pray” made me wonder: has ‘Islamic feminism’ come to this? I am not unsympathetic to these women’s... READ MORE

So where are the UFOs?

FEB 24 — When I visit my parents, my father and I will watch UFO documentaries together on the History Channel. My family has a love for the... READ MORE

The forgotten legacy

FEB 9 — It is unfortunate that in the last years of his life, all that Tunku Abdul Rahman stood for lived only in textbooks, history journals and... READ MORE

Diary: A day in Chow Kit 1

JAN 27 — The kids have been really receptive to the Book Project. Every week, plus minus 15 of them, all would come to the workshops facilitated... READ MORE

Ladies, how about four husbands?

JAN 13 — Recently, an article written by Nadine al-Bedair My Four Husbands and I created a furor among  the Saudi conservatives. The said essay... READ MORE

Here’s looking at you… 2010!

JAN 2 — 2009 was the year Malaysians literally had to gaze at their hearts and navels to understand what it meant to be a believer or... READ MORE

Welcome to Malaysia

DEC 30 — It was an omen which I should have heeded before I left for Krabi a few weekends back. And Krabi will forever be etched in my mind as a... READ MORE

The sounds of faith

DEC 9 — Part and parcel of living in a multiracial country like Malaysia is that we live among the sounds of faith. On the outset, we look like a... READ MORE

Sepet Versi 10.5

NOV 25 — Inter-racial relationships and marriages in Malaysia can be fraught with peril and heartbreak. The lovers have to face opposition from... READ MORE

Who speaks for Islam in Malaysia?

NOV 11 — Some time ago I was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for a radio feature, and was asked about “… the creeping... READ MORE

Meet the guys with the deals

NOV 6 — They are young, hungry, with a displaced sense of humour of the Beavis and Butthead kind. They come in all shapes and sizes, and always... READ MORE

Breaking fast with thugs

OCT 21 — It certainly felt like a moment out of the Last Supper. With Azhar seated at the middle of the table — calm, unassuming, surveying all... READ MORE

The Malay dilemma Edisi XYZ

OCT 7 — My brother-in-law wrote this in his Facebook notes: My Thoughts On the First Week of Syawal On the 3rd day of Raya, we went back to... READ MORE

The lives and times of two ustaz

SEPT 23 — These are men and women whom you will never read or hear about. They may be well known to their community, but their "fame" stays... READ MORE

Jalur Gemilang

SEPT 9 — Sometime ago, I went for a massage back in my kampong, Kuala Terengganu. Other women go to grand spas or have a faithful masseur come to... READ MORE