Imitation is the best form of flattery

In a city-state country like Singapore where imitation goods and breach of Intellectual Property rights receive heavy punishment, it is a safe haven for companies and individuals who have patents on ideas and products.

Several months ago, on my return from my fellowship in the United States, Singapore saw its first riot in a very long time. Now dubbed, ‘Little India Riot’, the case received much international media attention and I had my fair share when I wrote in a letter to Minister Teo and several other Members of Parliament offering assistance to the situation in the form of programmes that will benefit civil society.

Days after the email, I had a meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs officers in charge of the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) and had proposed my idea for an ‘Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Programme’ aka IF-IC-UP.

This programme was designed based on research and observations I had conducted when on my fellowship at the University of California Irvine (UCI) on the trends of conflict over Singapore’s history, and I had shared them with those officers on what were some modules that would be best implemented and the strategies that we could work around to tackle those issues, in preparation for the future.

I was also told that perhaps I should take a look at what CEP was all about to have a better understanding on their directions. I took a look and observed that it was a more intervention approach with a focus on post-terrorism. I, on the other hand, was proposing a more preventive approach as I felt and knew from experience being a volunteer and an educator that prevention is better than cure.

However, my suggestion wasn’t taken up.

Fast forward to several days back, I saw on the news, “CEP Connectors”.

This programme was to be run in the form of Interest Group at all Community Clubs/Centres with its objective to build understanding between different cultures! – THE VERY SAME OBJECTIVE THAT I HAD SHARED MONTHS EARLIER!

Of course, trying to stake a claim from them for my ideas would seem ridiculous as it would difficult for me to prove that they had in better terms, ‘stole’ my idea (intellectual property), and redesigned it to be something a little different.

I have to say, I’m extremely flattered that my national movement idea was considered, ‘stolen’, adapted and implemented, all without my knowledge, after possibly providing some valuable input.

Regardless, for those of you are interested to learn more about it, do visit to find out more about what my programme is all about and hopefully, we could find a way to work together.

Most importantly, do share with your friends, the link.

Moving ahead, I will be proceeding to run an online version of my plans on Facebook!

Will be announcing that in the coming weeks to come, as soon as I get more information up onto the website!

Edited Notes:

I had proposed to run this programme with People’s Association as early as June last year before I left for my fellowship. On return, I had followed-up to propose a meeting to discuss but was turned down by People’s Association. Thereafter, the meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs happened.

This programme is now rolled out by People’s Association. The individuals are trained under the CEP.

Further Edit:

This issue has since been clarified. I wrote in to Professor Fatimah and have received clarification from her that this project was conceptualized by her in October 2013 and is purely her initiative.

Exercising Importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding (for work and personal)

As part of my Community Solutions Program Fellowship follow-on project, a speech highlighting importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding at Singapore Polytechnic to graduating students of Diploma in International Business.

If you are interested to have an Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Program workshop for your school/organizations, email me

Other workshops available:
– Positive Bystander Intervention
– Successful Events Management
– Personal Leadership Planning
– and many more!

Follow me on twitter @AbdillahZamzuri

Learning from Devina Dediva’s case

As the social environment in Singapore becomes more culturally diverse, we also begin to see plenty of shake-ups. Most of which affects the harmony and peace that Singaporeans currently enjoy.

For the most part, Singaporeans are really peaceful people or perhaps, we just don’t like to invite trouble and hence prefer to err on the side of caution and rather than talk about it, we sweep it away under the rug and opt to let sensitive matters slide for another day. (Or because we are just worried that we might get charged under the Sedition Act)

Just last year, NTUC’s Amy Cheong caused a big hoo-haa when she insulted the Malay-Muslim community with her comments on a wedding at the void deck. We all know what happened to her. The rise of social media caught her by surprise and despite trying to make amends, she lost her job in less than 24 hours and was out of Singapore and back in Australia, embarassed (I suppose).

So, what happened this year?

A female Facebook user by the name of Devina Dediva, apparently working in a Philippine school in Singapore and of Indian heritage decided to come out of her shell to make her comments on Miss World 2013.

Devina Dediva

Devina Dediva

Source: Channel News Asia

And whilst I’m constantly researching on news of such acts being done by Singaporeans, it seems that the trend seems to blow the harmony of Singaporeans is coming from the foreigners living and working in Singapore.

This doesn’t mean that my Fellowship in the US is not important for the ‘Interfaith – Intercultural Understanding Training Programme’ that I’m developing here to be implemented in Singapore on my return. This means that it gets even more important for the Singaporean youths to be sufficiently educated with the necessary skills and knowledge to learn how to manage and ensure harmonious ties between the different faiths and cultures in Singapore can be strengthened.

We are such a small nation and we cannot afford such ‘distractions’ to divide us as a society.

Yes, a study was conducted previously on Racial and Religious relations found low scores on close interracial friendships (4.51/10) and interest in intercultural understanding and interaction (6.49/10). Read more here.

From this study, I deduce the following:

  1. Singaporeans are keen to try to have an intercultural understanding but lack opportunities to do so (Environmental factor)
  2. Singaporeans are keen to try to have an intercultural relationship but don’t know how to do so (Skill factor)
  3. Singaporeans prefer to a bit nice by saying they are interested in intercultural understanding but don’t make any effort to do so (Knowledge, Skill and Experience factor)

With 2 more months of my Fellowship in the US coming to an end, I can proudly announce the following:

  1. There will be opportunities for Singaporeans to have close interracial friendships and deepen intercultural understanding.
  2. There will be Knowledge and Skills within the framework of the training programme to equip Singaporeans to learn how to manage cultural differences in communication.

As my research team currently conducts its research, I seek support from Singaporeans who believe in the cause for Peace and Harmony through ‘Interfaith and Intercultural Understanding Training’ for your active participation.

Please do share this to all your friends as we look forward for something that will benefit our beloved Singapore.

And for those who do attend, I guarantee that the knowledge and skills you learn is transferable for work in multicultural environments.

If God Gave Grades….

I was in the showers when this just came to me…

If you’re a Muslim, imagine this…

If your life on earth is an examination and God had to give grades for it to determine where you’d go in the afterlife, this is probably how it’d be graded

Semestral Examinations – Daily Prayers

Term Tests/Exams – Muslim Lifestyle

CCA Grading – Sunnahs

To be admitted to Heaven, your Daily Prayers are first evaluated:

  • 100% score – 5 Times a Day Prayers Completed (Superb Quality Heaven)
  • 80% score – 4 Times a Day Prayers Completed (Good Quality Heaven)
  • 60% score – 3 Times a Day Prayers Completed (Average Quality Heaven)
  • 40% score – 2 Times a Day Prayers Completed (Not Bad Quality Heaven)
  • 20% score – 1 Time a Day Prayers Completed (Still Heaven Anyway)
  • 0% score – 0 Times a Day Prayers Completed (Thinking of Heaven? Go to Hell la you!)

I’d imagine God would still be kind to allow you to try to go to Heaven if you managed to clock even at least one prayer a day, he’d put you in the lowest rank of Heaven for effort at the very least. But if you don’t bother to even clock one prayer and want to get into Heaven, I figured he’d tell you, “Go to Hell la you! No shame is it?”

Okay, perhaps based on Semestral Examinations alone aren’t sufficient to judge alone, so God also evaluates you based on your Term Tests/Exams which is something more periodic, like in school..

  • Consumption of Halal Food & Beverages
  • Ensures that Aurat is closed to non-muhrims
  • Reads the Quran regularly
  • Performs the remaining 3 pillars of Islam since the first is recitation of Syahadah and next is Prayers.
  • Basically, you avoid what’s Haram as stated in the Quran.

So, based on your Semestral Examination grades which perhaps constitutes 60%, God then looks at your 40% of the grades which is your Term Tests/Exams and puts that into consideration. Probably he has a checkbox table list as well for every single Haram/Halal/Makhruh and gets his angels to record on it every time you Think and Do something.

We all know that you don’t get No Ticks for Bad Thoughts but you get Good Ticks for Good Thoughts!

Last but not least, just like your GCE ‘O’ Level exams, because Heaven is so competitive to enter, especially when you want to try to vie for a space in the Heaven where the Prophets and his friends are at, the best way to distinguish the ones’ who really deserve to go there would be to look at how much of the Prophet’s Sunnah (Practices) does one perform!

The more you perform Prophet’s Sunnahs, the better your chances to get that A1 grade to help you gain better chance for admission to Heaven of the Prophets.

So, looking at your Semestral, Term and CCA grades, where do you think you will end up in Heaven?

Traditional vs Modern Society – Islam

There’s a good reason as to why I love my religion, Islam.

Not only does it require its followers to submit (Islam means submission), it also comes with a handbook(Quran) and guidebook(Hadith), instructing and guiding one on the Best Practices EVER by the one who spread the message, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

One of the interesting things that we seem to discuss in modern day is about the issue of what’s traditional and what’s modern.

Lets take for instance the issue of a man marrying a woman who earns more than him. There’s always the idea that the man must earn more than a woman or he is seen to be less capable. Or perhaps a woman asking a man for his hand in marriage. We often hear women speak about them being traditional and wouldn’t ask a guy out but DID YOU KNOW that:

– Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was actually his EMPLOYER. This meant that she was earning more than him at the time of marriage.
– Prophet Muhammad’s wife was the one who ASKED FOR HIS HAND IN MARRIAGE

Or how about an older woman marrying a younger man?

Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was 15 years older than him! He was 25 and she, 40.

I don’t think this issue is quite modern nor traditional itself because if it is, then Islam has to be considered the most advanced and modern society because this all happened some 1400years ago!

Now of course, everyone has their right to their own opinion but for those who have reservations or issues in dealing with friends or family members who haggle with these issues, then I do suppose you could bring up this story.

After all, I’m confident that we all know that the life of Prophet Muhammad is one that is exemplary and certainly, an example to be made for all Muslims.