Shanon Shah (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been trying to balance careers as a singer-songwriter, playwright and human rights advocate, “trying” being the operative word. He has worked and volunteered with NGOs such as Sisters in Islam, Suaram, Amnesty International, the Malaysian AIDS Council, WAO, Awam and the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ). In 2006, Shanon was named Best Male Vocal in an Album at the 13th Anugerah Industri Muzik for his debut album Dilanda Cinta. His first full-length play Air Con premiered to rave reviews and packed houses during its July, 2008 run at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center. In 2009, it won several Boh Cameronian Arts awards including for best Malay script. In the past, Shanon has been a columnist for the New Straits Times and theSun. He has also been published in Kakiseni.com and in several book anthologies. His Malay-language column Secubit Garam runs every fortnight.BACK when he was deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak pledged that Malaysia would become "a role model to the Islamic world". He said this in the middle of the 2009 Kuala Terengganu by-election, which Najib's Barisan Nasional (BN) eventually lost to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Najib's pledge was poetic, since a "role model" is supposed to be an outstanding example of its kind, or an example of excellence that others might want to emulate. Could Najib have foreseen events such as the infamous cow-head protest, the "Allah" controversy, the ensuing arson attacks on churches and other houses of worship, and the syariah caning of three Muslim women when he promised this? It would be unfair to expect Najib to be clairvoyant. Still, he is now the prime minister.
And as premier, surely Najib has to reconcile these events which happened under his watch with the lofty promise he made more than a year ago. After all, a model Muslim country cannot be one where citizens' rights and liberties, including the right to be safe from violence, are trampled on by the state or non-state actors in the name of Islam.
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