After 56 Years: Race and Religion polarised Us


August 31, 2013

After 56 Years: Race and Religion polarised Us

by Tommy Thomas@ http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: The social contract, social compact or bargain reached by the TommyThomas02three communities under the watchful eye of the British imperial power as a condition to Merdeka was that in exchange for full citizenship, a right to use their language and observe their religion, the non-Malays had to concede special privileges to the Malays to assist the latter to ascend the economic ladder.

It was a quid pro quo. It was a consensus arrived after hard bargaining, and has formed the basis of nationhood. In this equilibrium, the non-Malays were not to be relegated to second-class citizens: citizenship was not on a two-tier basis and there was going to be no apartheid, partition or repatriation.

What was required from the non-Malays at the time of Merdeka was undivided loyalty to the new nation. They could no longer owe their allegiance to the mother country, China or India. Racial differences were recognised. Diversity was encouraged. There was no pressure to integrate into one Malayan race.

A new nation was to be integrated over time, but as a plural society. Assimilation was out of the question. Thus, a united Malayan nation did not involve the sacrifice by any community of its religion, culture or customs. Minorities were not to be discriminated in a system of parliamentary democracy based on constitutional supremacy. In many respects, the establishment of Malaysia six years after Merdeka strengthened the social contract.

logo-merdeka-2013-wallpaper

But as Malaya completes 56 years as an independent sovereign nation today, and more significantly, Malaysia turns half a century on September 16, do the 28 million Malaysians have reason to celebrate? Unfortunately, the popular response would be very much in the negative.

Race and Religion

The twin forces of race and religion have substantially polarised the nation. Every issue of public life, however minor or insignificant, is given an ethnic undertone by politicians and the civil service, and glaringly publicised in the government-controlled mass media. Totally absent in the national landscape is a statesman like the Father of Merdeka, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister, who is prepared to speak for the nation and the public weal, rather than from a parochial or sectarian perspective.

Even after the closest general election in our history, with the coalition governing the nation not enjoying majority popular vote, and with the next general election only due in five years, politicking of the worst kind continues daily.

mole-Najib-Razak-endless-possibilities-1MalaysiaThe Prime Minister is not giving the leadership that he sought from the electorate, and which he received. With a 44-seat majority in the Dewan Rakyat, the BN government has a majority which is the envy of many governing coalitions across the globe. Yet, a sense of paralysis grips the centre.

Bread-and-butter issues which largely featured in the election campaign of four months ago, have still not been addressed at all. Not a day goes by without murders, rapes and armed robberies occurring in our homes and our streets. Rampant crime has undermined law and order.

The economy has been shaken by mounting debt; not just the national debt, but also consumer and corporate debt. Comparisons have already been made to the run-up to our 1997 financial crisis which was principally caused by a proliferation of debt.

Thousands of Malaysian companies and nationals speak with their wallets; they just take their money overseas in billions. Our currency has received a battering in the last month, resulting in speculation that Bank Negara may have to intervene to prevent further depreciation of the ringgit.

Merdeka Pic

Bread-and-butter issues, as important as they are to the average Malaysian, still pale in comparison with the massive increase in ethnic tensions. What is the point of Talent Corporation spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers monies in an endeavour to attract Malaysians to return home when racial polarisation is on the increase in their nation.

Thousands of non-Malays have done brilliantly in businesses, professions and other private sector areas in Malaysia. They have flourished regionally and internationally in every society that values meritocracy. Hence there is a huge pool of talented non-Malays willing to be engaged in the public service.

Yet in their homeland, the civil service, the GLCs (government-linked companies), the universities, the army, the police – indeed senior positions in the entire public sector – are dominated by one race. How does one justify such massive hiring of personnel from one race to manage national institutions where national policies are made in a nation of multiple communities that claims there are no classes of citizenship or nationality.

Grand coalition

It is accordingly critical in the public interest that politicians of all parties cease polarising the nation any further. All Malaysians must be treated with sensitivity and delicately. Feelings of communities, however weak and influential, must not be hurt. Hate speech must be avoided at all costs. The government must take the lead, after all the whole purpose of electing leaders is for them to lead the nation.

They must cease immediately playing the racial, religious and ethnic card, and take policy decisions that would promote a plural society. If all these actions can only be taken by a government of national unity, that is, a grand coalition of BN and Pakatan Rakyat parties, the national interest compels such an urgent outcome.

There is a genuine widespread concern that we must all play our part in rolling back the loud public discourse on race and religion. This is an awakening call. Unless remedial measures are taken soon, young Malaysians who have the world at their feet, will desert the nation because they feel they have no place under the Malaysian sun.

They are our future, but they see no future at home. That is the tragedy that must be avoided this 56th Merdeka, and this 50th Malaysia Day.

Counterbalance Policy on US-China Relations


July 10, 2013

Counterbalance Policy on US-China Relations

Robert A. Manning, Atlantic Councilby Robert A. Manning, Atlantic Council (07-09-13)

A widely held belief among many in China is that every US policy move affecting China is part of a concerted strategy of containment aimed at preventing China’s re-emergence.

Thus, the US ‘rebalancing’ in Asia; the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); and the US alliances with Japan, the ROK and Australia, are all components of a US effort to maintain US dominance at China’s expense.

This view is wrong. Containment was US policy toward the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. The USSR was a rival ideology, a competing anti-capitalist economic system aimed at expanding the Soviet empire. Indeed, fear of Soviet hegemony was a major factor that led President Nixon and Chairman Mao to open US–China relations in 1971.

Containment was an effort to isolate Moscow economically; undermine its ideology; and contain its military power with a robust US nuclear arsenal, alliances such as NATO to its West and Japan to its East, and an integrated global trade and financial system. Containment meant minimal social or economic interaction with Russians.

The United States also pursued such a policy toward Iraq under Saddam Hussein and toward Iran known as ‘dual containment’. This meant economic sanctions and, in the case of Iraq, a no-fly zone limiting Saddam’s ability to control Iraq outside Baghdad.

This is decidedly not US policy toward China. Eight US Presidents from Nixon to Obama have pursued a policy of facilitating China’s economic modernisation and integration into the international system. The United States has pursued a consistent policy of cooperating with China where interests overlap and seeking to manage differences.

Nixon and MaoZhou EnLai, Chairman Mao, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger

No country has benefited more than China from the security role that the United States has played in East Asia, underpinning stability and economic globalisation over the past four decades. As China launched its reform and opening policies, its economy grew from some US$202 billion in 1980 to roughly US$7 trillion by 2012, as it joined global institutions from the WTO to the IAEA.

The United States became China’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade in 2012 reaching US$536 billion. US investment has helped fuel China’s astonishing economic growth over the past three decades, and China holds more than $1 trillion in US treasury bonds. Cultural ties have also grown: some 200,000 students — including the daughter of President Xi Jinping — attend US universities.

This reflects an economic relationship of deep interdependence. This is also why the TPP is not a device to contain China but rather a means of furthering economic integration in the Asia Pacific. Though the Obama administration has not explained it well, China could decide to join the TPP if and when it is willing to adopt the agreement’s trade rules. As China’s new leadership pursues a new wave of economic reforms, Beijing will likely find that better protections for its intellectual property rights and other standards serve its interests.

As China has developed its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities, Washington has also pursued a geopolitical posture of hedging against strategic uncertainty. So too has China. This duality of economic integration and strategic competition is the prevalent geopolitical reality in the Asia Pacific. It is why nations from India to Vietnam have increased security cooperation with the United States and, increasingly, with each other.

This is counterbalancing, a time-honoured approach to the game ofPresidents of China and US nations, and not to be confused with containment. Long before the US ‘rebalancing’ was proclaimed, the United States has been strengthening alliances and security partnerships in East Asia for over two decades. The current US posture is the accumulation of those efforts.

Counterbalancing means mobilising resources and partners to offset a perceived challenge to the existing strategic balance. The danger is that this can create a dynamic known as a ‘security dilemma’ in international relations theory. One state increasing its military strength because it feels vulnerable may produce an unintended reaction in another state which feels threatened, leading to a spiral of increased tensions and conflict.

This is evident in US–China relations. The US ‘rebalance’ reflects a response to a growing Chinese military power, a concern that a longtime core US interest — maritime access — may be at risk. And as prominent strategic thinker Dr Wu Xinbo of Fudan University has written, ‘China has responded by continuing to develop its “area-denial” and “anti-access” capabilities so as to maintain a reliable deterrent against US forces within the so-called first island chain’. From the US perspective, this may have cause and effect backwards, but it captures the action–reaction dynamic at play.

This Pentagon–PLA mirror-imaging and reflexive competition lies behind the strategic distrust in US–China relations. It is also why Presidents Obama and Xi agreed on the need to create a new type of relationship at the recent US–China Summit in California.

The challenge to the US–China relationship, and more broadly to stability in East Asia, is how to move from strategic distrust to strategic reassurance. The reality is that mutual vulnerabilities, from economic and financial to cyberspace, outer space and climate change, are shared interests. At the end of the day, whether US–China relations become more cooperative or competitive will be a major factor shaping the international order in the 21st century.

Robert A. Manning is a senior fellow of the Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security at the Atlantic Council. He served as a senior counselor from 2001 to 2004 and a member of the US Department of State Policy Planning Staff from 2004 to 2008.

Dissolution of Parliament Tomorrow (April 3, 2013)?


April 2, 2013

Dissolution of Parliament Tomorrow (April 3, 2013)?

http://www.nst.com.my

STRONG HINT: Ministers told to prepare for photo session before Cabinet meeting

Parliament is expected to be dissolved as early as tomorrow after the Cabinet Malaysian Parliamentmeeting in Putrajaya, paving the way for the 13th general election.Speculation is mounting following the distribution of letters by the Prime Minister’s Office, requesting all Cabinet Ministers to attend the meeting in a dark lounge suit and red tie for a photography session.

If Parliament is dissolved tomorrow, nomination of candidates is likely to be held later next week, while polling day will fall on April 27 at the latest.

According to practice, the cabinet ministers will have a photo session with the Prime Minister and his Deputy at the final meeting of the cabinet, followed by an announcement on the dissolution of Parliament afterwards.

Najib-Op DaulatIt is understood that the photo session would be done before tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting and Datuk Seri Najib Razak would subsequently hold a press conference to announce the dissolution of Parliament.

Tradition dictates that the Prime Minister will first meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong before the cabinet meeting to seek his consent to dissolve Parliament.

Several ministers contacted confirmed that they have received the letters, and did not discount the possibility that Najib would announce Parliament’s dissolution after the meeting.

“I have received the letter. This could well be the final cabinet meeting for this term, as according to tradition, Parliament is dissolved after that,” said one Minister.

If Parliament is dissolved tomorrow, it would mark a full four years to the date Najib first helmed the country after he was appointed as Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s successor in 2009.

The government’s full five-year term will end on April 30, after which Abdul-Aziz-Mohd-Yusof-Wan-Ahmad-Wan-OmarParliament will automatically dissolve.The Election Commission (EC) will then have 60 days to hold the election to set up a new government.

Last Thursday, the Negri Sembilan state legislative assembly was the first to automatically dissolve. It is now governed by a caretaker government.

Deputy EC chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said if Parliament is dissolved tomorrow, the EC would call for a special meeting as soon as possible to decide on basic matters such as the electoral roll, letters of appointment to election officers, as well as the dates for the nomination of candidates and polling day.

Isu Perempuan Nan Bercinta: Medan Baharu Persuratan Melayu


July 8, 2012

Isu Perempuan Nan Bercinta: Medan Baharu Persuratan Melayu

by Faisal Tehrani (07-07-12)@www.irfront.org

Pada 2 Oktober 1960, dalam ucapannya di pembukaan Kongres Ahli-Ahli Tarikat As-Sufiah Seluruh Malaya, bertempat di Dewan Bandaran Kuala Lumpur, ahli politik dan agamawan terkenal tanahair yang dikenali sebagai Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi telah memetik pandangan Syed Jamaluddin al-Afghani, seorang tokoh besar Islam.

Al-Afghani telah ditanyakan apakah makna kepada ‘benih pembaharuan Islam’ yang beliau gagaskan; al-Afghani dikatakan membalas pertanyaan itu dengan jawapan yang panjang, sebahagiannya berbunyi:

“Hendaklah kita pulihkan kembali kepada kebenaran perbalahan antara ahli sunnah dan ahli syiah. Sesungguhnya perpecahan itu ialah rekaan raja-raja yang tamak…” (Burhanuddin al-Helmi, 2005: 39).

TTT

Ketika al Marhum Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi (kanan) menghimbau kembali alam remajanya, dalam ucapan di kongres tersebut, beliau menjelaskan betapa beliau asalnya “memusuhi jumud dan kolot, pada saya tasauf dan tarikat itu suatu ajaran mematikan semangat dan campur aduk dengan bid’ah” (Burhanuddin al-Helmi, 2005: 34).

Beliau kemudian menyambung, “kemudian setelah saya siasati kedatangan Islam ke Nusantara kita ini dan datuk nenek kita memeluk Islam yang hanif ini terutamanya dan kesan-kesannya ialah daripada ulama syiah dan ulama tasauf samada ulama-ulama itu datang secara saudagar atau secara mubaligh, bukan masuk melalui ulama-ulama fekah, Islam masuk di Nusantara kita ini ” (Burhanuddin al-Helmi, 2005: 35).

“Perlawanan di dalam Diri Saya sendiri”

Perubahan set minda beliau itu dirujuk oleh Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi sendiri sebagai “perlawanan di dalam diri saya sendiri” (Burhanuddin al-Helmi, 2005: 36). Kenyataan-kenyataan Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi di atas mengandungi makna tersendiri tentunya. Dalam kajiannya mengenai sistem pendidikan Islam di Malaysia, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2010) memaparkan bagaimana keluasan ilmu telah disingkatkan dan dikotakkan oleh sistem pendidikan Islam tempatan, pengkaji ini seterusnya mengulas pendapat Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi itu seperti berikut:

“By stripping Islamic education of its pristine ideals, noble purposes and praiseworthy practices, the Malay-Muslim ruling establishment has transformed it into yet another area vulnerably bound to its largesse and patronage, which would ultimately be translated into political influence and support for UMNO and BN. Political considerations explain the express prohibition of pluralisme within Malaysian Islam. Any sign of dissent from official Islamic orthodoxy is frowned upon as reflective of deviance that is liable to prosecution in religious courts. Yet, this homogenization of Islam runs against the grain of Islamic history, which is rich with contestations between sects, school of thought and factions. The sufi and Shi’a provenances of Malaysian Islam, as recognized by prominent Malay nationalist Dr Burhanuddin Al-Helmy, have not been fully acknowledge in Malaysia’s official Islamic discourse as it does not tally with the ruling elites’ hegemonic agenda based on carefully constricted version of Malay-Muslim unity. Thus, Malay Shi’as and sufis have been foremost at the receiving end of government heavy-handedness ostensibly based on the concern to maintain the purity of Islamic faith”. (Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, 2010: 76-77).

Sebahagian besar objektif kajian Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid adalah untuk menunjukkan betapa sistem pendidikan Islam Malaysia telah dibelenggu oleh satu faham, satu sekte atau satu sekolah pemikiran yang statik. Pilihan sekte ini dilakukan oleh state atau negara dan dipaksakan kepada setiap individu Islam. Adalah penting supaya gejala minda tertawan ini dibebaskan dari kekangan mazhab dan putus-tentu sebuah majlis agama yang hari ini telah menetapkan supaya Islam yang dipraktikkan di muka bumi Malaysia haruslah dari satu acuan, satu sekte, dan kita penganut Islam hanya boleh memuaskan diri semata-mata dengan satu mazhab yang telah ada. Alasan pihak majlis agama ialah kepelbagaian boleh mengakibatkan perpecahan. Gejala puas dengan satu sekte atau mazhab ini saya namakan sebagai homosektual. Lawannya adalah heterosektual.

Beberapa tahun setelah Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi bersuara, iaitu pada tahun 1973, dalam sebuah seminar bernama ‘Simposium Sastera dan Agama’, penerbit, sasterawan, penterjemah, dan penerbit yang terkenal al-Marhum Ustaz Yusoff Zaki Yaacob (1986) mengkritik gejala homosektual ini:

“Di Malaysia, kurang terdapat kebebasan berfikir dalam persoalan-persoalan agama. Pemikiran yang menyimpang dari mazhab Syafie akan terdedah kepada tindakan Majlis-majlis Agama di setengah-setengah negeri di Malaysia. Misalnya, baru-baru ini Majlis Agama Perak telah mengharamkan pengedaran sebuah buku mengenai perancangan keluarga, yang dikarang oleh dua ulama besar Mesir dan diterjemahkan ke bahasa Malaysia oleh Jabatan Perancang Keluarga, kerana buku itu dalam penilaian Majlis Agama Islam Perak adalah bertentangan dengan pendapat kitab Al-Mahalli, sebuah kitab aliran mazhab al-Syafie yang amat dipegangi oleh pengikut-pengikut mazhab Syafie.

Seandainya buku-buku Islamiah yang kontroversial seperti itu didedahkan kepada perdebatan-perdebatan yang terbuka dan bebas dari tembok-temboj mazhab, tentulah kita akan melihat satu polemik yang akan menghasilkan pemikiran-pemikiran Islamiah yang baru, kerana tidak ada pendapat yang mutlak dalam masalah-masalah ijtihad seperti itu.

Pada hemat saya, adalah lebih membina dan berkesan jika suatu pendapat dalam masalah-masalah ijtihadiah yang kontroversial itu ditumpaskan dengan kekuatan hujah-hujah dari ditumpaskan dengan kekuatan undang-undang kerana cara yang demikian menyegarkan iklim berfikir.

Di suatu masa yang lampau, karya-karya A. Hassan Bandung dan karya-karya Abu Bakar Asyari dan karya Tuan Guru Haji Muhammad Noor Ibrahim, Mufti Kelantan telah diharamkan di Johor Baharu. Malah lebih jauh dari itu dia setengah-setengah negeri di Malaysia, semua kitab-kitab agama harus lebih dahulu disahkan oleh Majlis Agama sebelum diterbit dan diedarkan.

Inilah saki baki undang-undang penjajah yang digunakan untuk membunuh perkembangan pemikiran-pemikiran Islamis yang dinamis. Undang-undang yang merugikan itu merupakan satu undang-undang agama tahun 1904 yang diperbaiki dalam tahun 1925. Menurut undang-undang ini, sesiapa yang mengecap buku agama tanpa izin dari Majlis Agama akan didenda dua ratus ringgit atau dihukum penjara.” (Yusoff Zaki Yaacob, 1986: 9-10)

Kecaman al Marhum Yusoff Zaki di atas bukanlah sesuatu yang asing,  Abdullah Taib (1985) seorang antropologis terkenal tanahair dalam bukunya yang berjudul Asas-Asas Antropologi menulis:

“Sejak tahun 1920-an beberapa buah negeri di Tanah Melayu telah menubuhkan Majlis Agama dan Adat Istiadat Melayu. Hingga ke hari ini sudah hampir 60 tahun majlis itu berjalan atas nama seperti itu. Penubuhan majlis agama ini ialah hasil ‘kebijaksanaan’ penjajah Inggeris” (Abdullah Taib, 1985: 226).

Harus diingatkan buku beliau ini telah menjadi teks subjek antropologi di kebanyakan universiti-universiti tempatan untuk satu tempoh yang agak lama. Untuk merungkai kekangan dan warisan penjajah ini dari terus membarah, al Marhum Yusoff Zaki (1986: 10) mencadangkan satu rumus iaitu supaya faham heterosektual menjadi pegangan:

“Kini di saat kita mengkehendaki satu bentuk pemikiran Islam yang dinamis, sesuai untuk menjiwai pembangunan kita, maka undang-undang yang cuba menahan perkembangan pemikiran Islam dalam tembok-tembok mazhab yang sempit itu perlu dihapuskan.

Masanya telah tiba untuk kita memulakan perkembangan pemikiran Islamiah yang tidak tertakluk kepada satu mazhab, kerana persoalan-persoalan yang timbul di zaman moden ini tidak mampu diatasi dengan pemikiran mazhab Syafie sahaja.

Inilah beberapa faktor yang mendinginkan suasana penulisan Islamiah yang serius di negeri ini. Masalah-masalah ini perlu dihadapi dan diatasi dengan tegas. Jika tidak, masa depan perkembangan karya-karya Islamiah akan lebih gelap dan terus menerus miskin.”

Sergahan minda yang segar dari ustaz Yusoff tersebut disambut beberapa tahun kemudian oleh al-marhum Profesor Dr Syed Hussein al-Atas (1979) dalam satu acara untuk Hari Sastera yang berlangsung pada 24-27 Julai 1978 di Kuala Trengganu. Profesor Syed Hussein menyebut:

TTT“Harus menghidupkan semangat bebas berfikir, bebas dari belenggu feudalisme”-Syed Hussein al-Atas

“Bagi para penulis dan penyair kita di Malaysia dan Asia Tenggara seluruhnya, apakah ertinya soal pembukaan kembali pintu ijtihad ini? Ertinya mereka harus menghidupkan semangat bebas berfikir, bebas dari belenggu feudalisme; dari belenggu faham-faham yang sudah usang; dari belenggu faham taklid yang negatif. Mereka mesti menghidupkan semangat ini hingga ada nanti yang terpengaruh dan tampil ke muka, di kalangan generasi yang akan datang, bagi mendirikan sistem-sistem pemikiran yang dapat menggerakkan jiwa masyarakat ke arah kemajuan dan keadilan.

Sebagai penulis-penulis Islam mereka mesti mengetahui dasar-dasar agama Islam; mesti mengetahui tentang ilmu-ilmu zaman sekarang; mesti mengetahui tema-tema yang penting dan yang belum cukup diperhatikan; mesti pandai mengolah unsur-unsur Islam, ilmu pengetahuan, tema, jalan cerita dan keadaan sekeliling, dalam satu hidangan yang akan berhasil meninggikan darjat kesedaran, pemikiran dan perjuangan ke arah yang murni” (Syed Hussein al-Atas, 1979: 91-92).

Sesungguhnya belenggu feudalisme yang disebutkan oleh Syed Hussein al-Atas ini merujuk kepada feudalisme dalam bidang ilmu itu sendiri. Adalah sangat menarik, saudara kepada al-Marhum Syed Hussein al-Atas iaitu sarjana besar tanahair, Profesor Syed Naguib al-Attas (1979: 1-5), hampir setahun sebelumnya telah pun mengusulkan hal yang hampir sama di pentas antarabangsa.

Dalam tulisannya yang bernas, Profesor Syed Naguib al-Attas (1980) menyatakan pengajian fardu ain yang diterapkan dalam pendidikan Islam sebagai contoh haruslah membawa sama sentuhan Syiah (dan tentu sahaja Sunni). Beliau menyatakan pendidikan yang beliau maksudkan itu bukan sahaja di peringkat tinggi, iaitu universiti, tetapi juga mencakupi dunia pendidikan anak-anak di peringkat sekolah rendah. Sebagai bukti, tulisan beliau dirujuk di sini:

“The core knowledge representing the fardu ‘ayn, integrated and composed as a harmonius unity at the university level as a model structure for the lower levels, and which must invariably be reflected in successively simpler forms at the pre-university, secondary, and primary levels of the educational system thoughout the Muslim world, must reflect not only the Sunni understanding of it, but also accomodate the Shi’i interpretation (Syed Naguib al-Attas, 1980: 42).”

TTT

Pandangan (mungkin kata yang lebih tepat ialah impian) beliau di atas membawa kesan positif yang besar tentunya jika dipraktikkan untuk generasi Muslim yang ada. Malangnya, menurut kajian Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2010) gagasan murni Profesor Syed Naguib (kanan) itu diketepikan malah tidak pun diperhitungkan sama sekali oleh pihak berkuasa negara ini demi menjaga status-quo pemerintah:

“The ideal form and practice of an Islamic curriculum, as conceived for instance by Syed Naguib Al-Attas, remains far-fetched in state-sanctioned Islamic education in Malaysia. The outcome in terms of enforcement of narrowly interpreted religious law against Muslim non-conformists is all too obvious in Malaysia. Whereas Al-Attas’ scheme was broad enough to accommodate even Shi’a interpretations of the revealed sciences, Malaysia has been fastidious in instituting pre-emptive action against and punishment of Malay-Muslims who profess the Shi’a variant of Islamic faith deemed to have deviated from the path of Sunni orthodoxy”. (Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, 2010: 52).

Pendita Za’ba jauh terdahulu dari tokoh-tokoh yang telah saya sebutkan tadi telah mencadangkan rumus supra mazhab atau heterosektual ini, iaitu dengan menggunakan akal fikiran yang sihat, dan tidak bertaklid buta. Dalam tulisan beliau di Qalam bilangan 31 bulan Februari 1953, Pendita Za’ba menolak sama sekali apa yang beliau namakan sebagai ‘taklid buta’:

“Demikian lagi pada pihak usul (akidah) dan tasawuf: Kita lihat Hasan al Basri, Abu Hassan al-Asyaari, Imam al Harmin, al Ghazali dan lain-lain, semuanya itu daripada orang yang bebas dan merdeka memakai fikiran dan timbangan mereka sendiri pada masing-masing cawangannya, di bawah suluhan ilmu dan akal mereka sendiri masing-masing.

Tiap-tiap seseorangnya itu bersendiri memahamkan dan menguji segala pegangan-pegangan agama yang diterima atau ditolaknya. Mana-mana masalah yang telah sedia diputuskan oleh orang lain dahulu daripadanya maka diperiksanya dan ditimbangkannya semula. Kalau munasabah pada pendapatnya sendiri maka diterimanya, kalau tidak maka ia sendiri ada jalan lain memahamkannya dengan fahaman yang lain pula.

Maka dengan demikianlah telah terjadi pada bahagian usul bermacam-macam mazhab dan pembawaan pula seperti mazhab Jabariah, mazhab Qadariah, mazhab Muktazilah, mazhab Ahli al Sunnah, Mazhab Kharajiah, Mazhab Zaidiah, Mazhab Amamiah, Mazhab Abadiyah dan lain-lain lagi.  Dan pada bahagian tasawuf kita dapati berbagai-bagai cara tarekat seperti Qadariah, Naksyibandiah, Satariah, Samaniah, Muhammadiah, Ahmadiah dan lain-lain pula.

“Akan sebabnya terjadi sekalian itu, baik pada usul atau pada fikah atau pada tasawuf, ialah oleh kerana pendeta-pendeta agama kita pada masing-masing zamannya dahulu itu tidak hanya bertaklid kepada pendapat orang lain sahaja, melainkan masing-masing tahu mengambil fahaman bersendiri dan menerbitkan pendapat sendiri daripada punca-punca yang diberi di dalam Quran dan sunah itu” (Za’ba, 2009: 138)

Za’ba seterusnya menegaskan bahawa satu sekte atau mazhab tidak dapat memberi kepuasan kepada seseorang Muslim kerana sebagai umat Islam kita harus dilatih melihat keluasan, bukan kesempitan ruang:

“Maka hanyalah orang-orang kemudian yang kurang pengenalan sahaja telah menyempitkan kawasan ini dengan menghukumkan tidak boleh berpindah-pindah dari satu mazhab kepada lain mazhab jika tidak diketahui semuanya kaedah-kaedah tiap-tiap mazhab itu sebagaiamana ahli-ahlinya sendiri.  Padahal kita dan kebanyakan orang alim kita pun, pengajian atau mazhab Shafi’i atau Hanafi sahaja pun tidak boleh terhabiskan seumur hidup. Sesungguhnya inilah pemandangan orang yang sempit hatinya, sempit fikirannya dan sempit kira-kira – orang yang tiada harapan boleh maju dan bersendiri dalam hal ehwal pengajian agamanya” (Za’ba, 2009: 147).

Pendita Za’ba selaku tokoh yang disebut-sebut oleh Mohd Affandi Hassan (2008: 103) sebagai ‘panduan lama’ dalam hal menjadikan ‘seni untuk ilmu sebagai asas penulisan kreatif’ para sasterawan. Za’ba sebagai ‘panduan lama’ ini tidak terlepas dari label yang bertujuan untuk memencilkannya. Za’ba dituduh sebagai ‘berfaham muktazilah’ dan karya-karyanya telah diharamkan di Perak dalam tahun 1930an (Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, 2010: 290).

“Kira-kira pada pertengahan tahun 1930, maka kita dapati pula kitab Rahasia Ejaan Jawi yang diterbitkan oleh Malayan Publishing House, Singapura. Malangnya buku ini hanya tercetak baru separuh sahaja oleh kerana mendapat halangan dan tentangan dari Tuan O.T Dussek yang pada waktu itu menjadi Pengetua Maktab Perguruan Sultan Idris, Tanjung Malim, Perak.

Kira-kira pada waktu yang sama, maka terbitlah karya beliau yang berjudul Falsafah Takdir (Syaukat al Azali dalam Islam). Kitab ini terdiri dari kira-kira 300 halaman tetapi apabila baru sahaja sepertiga tercetak, maka Pejabat Agama Perak telah melarang penerbitannya, kononnya bertentangan dengan ajaran agama di Perak pada waktu itu. Pada tahun 1927, maka terbit pula sebuah lagi buah tangan beliau yang diberi nama Pendapatan Perbahasaan Ulama Berkenaan Dengan Kada dan Kadar yang terdiri kira-kira 60 halaman.

Buku ini dicetak di Pulau Pinang tetapi dilarang keras di Perak kerana beliau kononnya telah dianggap membuat satu pembaharuan dalam ajaran Islam dan beliau telah dicap sebagai seorang kafir. Ini ialah semata-mata kerana beliau telah memasukkan aliran Muktazilah yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Mufti di negeri Perak pada masa itu” (Abdullah Hussain dan Khalid M. Hussain, 2000: 12).

Sebagai mangsa pelarangan karya, Za’ba tidak mengalah malah seperti yang disebut lebih awal, beliau menekankan; “orang-orang kemudian yang kurang pengenalan sahaja telah menyempitkan kawasan ini dengan menghukumkan tidak boleh berpindah-pindah dari satu mazhab kepada lain mazhab.”

Hari ini, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka tanpa mengambil kira label kafir dan Muktazilah terhadap Za’ba telah menghargai karya-karya beliau kembali dan menerbitkannya semula dengan pakej baharu. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (2010: 387) menyatakan “Dewan Bahasa telah mengambil tanggungjawab yang betul dengan mencetaknya” kembali.

Saya percaya Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin selaku bekas Mufti Perlis konsisten dalam bersikap, meskipun beliau ketika masih memimpin pihak berkuasa agama negeri Perlis telah mengirimi surat rasmi bertarikh 6hb. Februari 2008 kepada Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) dan Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) supaya karya saya Ketupat Cinta dilarang dengan alasan “menggunakan pegangan dan fahaman Syiah mengenai sambutan Asyura” (Jimadie Shah Othman, 2008).

TTTDiwan oleh Hafiz Shirazi adalah antara karya persuratan Syiah yang hebat

Sebenarnya bukan saya seorang sahaja yang cuba menegakkan idea supra mazhab atau heterosektual dalam persuratan ini. Seorang pengarang muda, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (2012) dalam tulisannya berjudul ‘Sastera Ilmi Sebagai Pemangkin Budaya Intelektualisme Dalam Peradaban Ummah: Satu renungan Awal’ menyebutkan contoh-contoh ‘sastera Ilmi’ yang boleh dijadikan pedoman. Antara lain beliau merujuk Masnawi karya Jalaluddin Rumi, al-Jahiz dengan Kitab al Bukhala, Manteq-a-Tayr dan Tadhkirat al-Awliya oleh Farid al-Din Attar, Shah-namah oleh Firdwasi, dan Diwan oleh Hafiz Shirazi.

Wan Ahmad Fayshal turut menyatakan di bawah sub topik ‘Sejarah dan Contoh Sastera Ilmi’ bahawa pedoman ‘sastera falsafi’ yang tidak harus dilupakan ialah Hayy ibn Yaqzan oleh Ibn Tufayl, dan paling menarik apabila beliau menyebutkan; “selain karya Ibn Tufayl, Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa turut memuatkan kisah falsafah dan sufi di dalamnya” (Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal, 2012:218-219).

Saya tidak percaya Wan Ahmad Fayhsal hanya pandai melakukan name droppings, sebagai intelek muda yang bercita-cita memperjuangkan kebaikan dan kebijaksanaan untuk ummah, mustahil beliau tidak mengetahui ‘Diwan oleh Hafiz Shirazi’ itu adalah antara karya persuratan Syiah yang hebat. Bahkan saya sendiri tidak sampai berani merujuk Shah-namah oleh Firdwasi kerana tepunya unsur-unsur Zoroastrianism dalam karya tersebut (Azar Nafisi, 2004: xix). Selain itu beliau turut menyebut Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa yang merupakan karya besar intelektual Syiah dari sekte Ismailiyyah.

Harus diingatkan Ibu Taimiyyah yang menjadi rujukan golongan salaf hari ini menolak Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa kerana dianggap ‘doktrin yang menjadi sandaran Syiah Ismailiyyah ini bertentangan sama sekali dengan Islam’ (Michot YJ, 2008). Sehubungan dengan itu, saya ingin mengucapkan syabas kepada beliau atas keberanian di luar duga ini.

Beza besar saya dan Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal ialah beliau sekadar mampu menyaran dan memetik karya-karya tersebut sebagai ‘contoh sastera ilmi’ atau ‘sastera falsafi’ (saya percaya beliau menulis contoh-contoh tersebut dalam keadaan tidak jahil dan sedar).

Sedangkan saya sebagai pengarang kreatif dan sarjana sastera bandingan berusaha keras untuk mempraktikkannya. Saya tidak puas sekadar bercontoh-contoh sahaja, saya juga tidak peduli dihunjam atas nama kebenaran; saya lebih suka mengamalkan sekelumit ilmu yang ada tersebut dan menerapkannya dalam karya-karya saya; jika tidak slogan hanya tinggal slogan retorik dan tentulah itu bukan jati diri seorang rausyanfikir yang genuine.

Adalah lebih mendukacitakan, lagi menyedihkan, seorang pengarang beragama Hindu boleh memahami, menghayati dan menghadami idea-idea supra mazhab dan rumus heterosektual ini berbanding pengarang-pengarang beragama Islam. Uthaya Sankar SB (2012) dalam tulisannya menyebutkan: “saya mengambil peluang mengenali ahlul bait yang sangat menarik dan amat sayang jika diabaikan semata-mata kerana perbezaan mazhab/politik.”

Impian saya ialah untuk mendobrak tembok feudalisme dalam persuratan, satu dunia persuratan yang disarati ilmu; di mana pelbagai mazhab saling memanfaat dan menggembleng idea tokoh-tokoh mereka. Sebuah dunia ‘bijak-membijaksanakan’ yang digambarkan oleh Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud (2006: xvii) sebagai ‘pohon meranti yang tegap-teguh’ iaitu  sebagai cerminan kepada sikap Presiden Republik Islam Iran Mohammad Khatami yang menghargai pemikiran sarjana berbeza mazhab lantas mengatakan, “saya masih ingat kata-kata pertama yang diucapkan oleh bekas Presiden Iran, Mohamad Khatami kepada Professor al-Attas apabila bekas presiden itu menjemputnya ke biliknya di Hotel Shangri La Kuala Lumpur pada petang sabtu 11 Feb 2006: Prof Al-Attas, kebijaksanaan anda telah memberi manfaat kepada kami di Iran”. Saya meyakini sepenuhnya ‘bijak-membijaksanakan’ dan ‘manfaat memanfaatkan’ yang dimaksudkan oleh Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud ini tidak berlaku satu pihak tetapi merupakan lalu lintas ilmu yang saling bertemu demi berdepan gejala yang membengkokkan Islam yang lurus.

Saya berpendapat Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud sebagai ilmuan yang berketokohan menyatakan hal di atas dengan ikhlas dan jujur meskipun dalam karya beliau yang berjudul Ayatullah Ruhullah Khomeini beberapa tahun sebelum, Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud (2003) telah memperkecilkan sumbangan ulama besar Syiah dari Iran, iaitu Imam Khomeini.

Perluasan tasawur dalam bidang pendidikan yang dicadangkan oleh Syed Naguib al-Attas (1980: 42), bahawa “educational system throughout the Muslim world, must reflect not only the Sunni understanding of it, but also accomodate the Shi’i interpretation” kini boleh dikemukakan pula dalam bidang persuratan. Hal ini dapat diakui, seperti yang disebutkan oleh Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Perdana Menteri Malaysia ketika melancarkan 30 judul karya asli terbitan Institut Terjemahan dan Buku di Seri Perdana pada 3 Julai 2012 adalah sesuatu yang mesti kerana pemanfaatan ilmu dari pelbagai tamadun Islam akan membolehkan perluasan tasawur: “Penulis tempatan perlu memperluaskan tasawur dengan menerokai dunia untuk menimba ilmu yang boleh dikongsi bersama rakyat selain mencatat kesusasteraan dan perbukuan di luar sana” (Magendran Rajagopal, 2012).

Faham heterosektual atau idea supra mazhab ini tentu sahaja akan menjadikan ummah ‘meranti yang tegap-teguh’, dan seperti yang telah terlihat pada tulisan Uthaya Sankar SB (2012) ia dapat mencerahkan saudara-saudara kaum bukan Islam juga.

Adalah suatu petaka apabila Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy, Ustaz Yusoff Zaki, Syed Hussein al-Atas, dan Pendita Za’ba tidak berkesempatan untuk memantap, mengukuh, merumus dan menggagaskan idea-idea di atas secara rapi, teratur, berkesan dan boleh diaplikasikan dalam gerakan persuratan. Maka, mengambil kira pandangan dan idea murni tokoh-tokoh besar di atas, saya berasa terpanggil selaku seorang sarjana untuk menyahut seruan dan cabaran yang dikemukakan. Sudah tentulah saya melakukannya dengan harapan, masyarakat sastera kita semakin bersedia kerana idea-idea tersebut telah pun berjalan selama beberapa dekad.

Demi memandangkan Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal juga telah dengan berani membuka gelanggang, maka saya kira elok satu penggemblengan tenaga dan fikiran dilakukan segera untuk merumus, membentuk dan menggubah sejenis persuratan supra mazhab yang boleh dimanfaatkan oleh penganut Islam dan bukan Islam. Saya percaya beberapa jurus pemikiran jika digerakkan kepada satu kesatuan akan menghasilkan kesepakatan dan manfaat yang lumayan.

Tentu sahaja acuan baharu ini akan menjadi satu natijah yang bermanfaat untuk masyarakat dan ummah, moga-moga gagasan tajam ini tidak ditumpulkan secara paksa oleh segelintir (meminjam ungkapan Za’ba) ‘orang yang sempit hatinya, sempit fikirannya dan sempit kira-kira’.

Rujukan

 Yusoff Zaki Yacob. 1986. ‘Masalah Pengasingan Sasterawan Melayu Dari Intelektualisme Islam’. Dlm.  Ismail Hussein & Hamzah Hamdani (penyt.). Sastera dan Agama. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka: Kuala Lumpur.

Abdullah Taib. 1985. Asas-Asas Antropologi. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka: Kuala Lumpur.

Uthaya Sankar SB. 2012. ‘Perempuan Nan Bercinta’. The Malaysian Insider. 25 Jun. http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/article/perempuan-nan-bercinta/

Jimadie Shah Othman. 2008. ‘Dr Asri Tuduh Faisal Berbohong’. Malaysiakini. 2 Jun. http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/83792

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal. 2012. ‘Sastera Ilmi Sebagai Pemangkin Budaya Intelektualisme Dalam Peradaban Ummah: Satu renungan Awal’. Dlm. Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad et.al (pnyt.). Perjuangan Penulis Muda: Arah dan Cabaran.  Persatuan Penulis Nasional Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur.

Azar Nafisi. 2004. ‘Foreword’. Dlm. Abolqasem Ferdowsi. Shahnameh : The Persian Book of Kings. Terj. Davis D. Penguin Books: New York.

Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud. 2006. ‘Prakata’. Dlm. Khalif Muammar. Atas Nama Kebenaran: Tanggapan Kritis Terhadap Wacana Islam Liberal. Akademi Kajian Ketamadunan: Sungai Ramal Dalam.

Michot YJ. 2008. ‘Misled and Misleading Yet Central in Their Influence: Ibn Taymiyya’s Views on the Ikhwan al-Safa’. Dlm. El-Bizri N (ed.). The Ikhwan al-Safa and their Rasa’il. Oxford University Press in Association & The Institute of Ismaili Studies: New York. 139–179.

Burhanuddin al-Helmi. 2005. Simposium Tasauf dan Tarikat Edisi Rumi. Pustaka Muda: Ipoh.

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid. 2010. Islamic Education in Malaysia. RSIS Monograph No 18. S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies: Singapore.

Syed Muhammad Al-Naquib Al-Attas. 1979. ‘Preliminary Thoughts on the Nature of Knowledge and the Definition and Aims of Education’. Dlm. Syed Muhammad al-Naquib Al-Attas. (ed). Aims and Objectives of Islamic Education. Hodder and Stoughton for King Abdul Aziz University. Jeddah.

Syed Muhammad Al-Naquib Al-Attas. 1980. The Concept of Education in Islam: A Framework for an Islamic Philosophy of Education. Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia ABIM: Kuala Lumpur.

Syed Hussein al-Atas. 1979. Kita Dengan Islam: Tumbuh Tiada Berbuah. Pustaka Nasional Pte Ltd: Singapura.

Magendran Rajagopal. 2012. ‘Perluas Tasawur: PM’. Berita Harian. 4 Julai. Hlm: 2.

Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. 2010. Mengemudi Bahtera Perubahan Minda. Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd: Kuala lumpur.

Za’ba. 2009. Mencapai Ketinggian Dunia Akhirat. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka: Kuala Lumpur.

Abdullah Hussain dan Khalid M. Hussain. 2000. Pendeta Za’ba Dalam Kenangan. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka: Kuala Lumpur.

Mohd Affandi Hassan. 2008. ‘Gagasan Persuratan Baru dan Cabaran Intelektual’. Dlm. Mohd Affandi Hassan, Ungku Maimunah Mohd Tahir, Mohd Zariat Rani. Gagasan Persuratan Baru: Pengenalan dan Penerapan. Institut Alam dan Tamadun Melayu Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Bangi.

Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud. 2003. Mutiara Taman Adabi: Kumpulan Puisi Mengenai Agama, Filsafat dan Masyarakat. Dian Darulnaim: Kota Bharu.

Malaysia’s “Iron Lady” Speaks Her Mind


February 12, 2012

Malaysia’s “Iron Lady” Speaks Her Mind

Courtesy http://www.nst.com.my. Listen to the Former Minister of Trade and Industry and Incumbent Member of Parliament for Kuala Lumpur talk about her life, priorties, politics and corruption and her “retirement”.

On integrity, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, dubbed Malaysia’s ” Iron Lady”,has this say: “…never, ever doubt my integrity. Never! Because that is the only thing in my life that I prize most. Because without integrity,(there is no point) calling yourself Minister…That’s my life principle. She learned that early in her life, actually from Tun Ismail Mohamed Ali, the legendary Bank Negara Malaysia Governor. She was in Bank Negara before joining the University of Malaysia to pursue her Masters degree in Economics and as Tutor-Lecturer.

I know both Tan Sri Rafidah and her husband, Tan Sri Basir Ahmad from way back in the 1960s. Tan Sri Basir and I were in Bank Negara together with Tunku A. Aziz until 1972 when I left the service.

Although I do not follow her politics closely and have been critical of her Approved Permit policy (and she talks about it in the NST interview), I do know she has strong convictions and the guts to speak her mind. I also know from observing her personally. She was writing her own Keynote Speech on board the MAS flight to Taipeh, Taiwan with  Malaysian investment mission of which I was a member from Sime Darby together another colleague, Abdul Shukor Nagor in the mid-1980s. I happened to ask her what she was doing. She said, ” I write my own speeches”. I was surprised because other ministers (with the exception of Tun Dr. Mahathir) depend on their staff. When I listened to her speak the following morning, she displayed confidence, poise and mastery of facts and figures and was in her elements when talking about Malaysian trade and investment policies, UNCTAD, WTO and globalisation.

Arguably, she is, in my view, the best MITI Minister the country ever had. My friend, varsity mate and MIDA Director-General, Dato N. Sadasivan, told me that ” Din, Rafidah is a very demanding but fair boss with a flair for details, and has a very strong personality”.–Din Merican

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

All I want for Christmas: Goodwill and Charity Among Malaysians


December 26, 2011

All I want for Christmas: Goodwill and Charity Among Malaysians

by Mariam Mokhtar @http://www.malaysiakini.com

The spirit of Christmas lives on in Malaysia, regardless of race or religion. I know of several non-Christians who have not forgotten the joy of giving and thinking of others before themselves. Some find solace in singing carols in a group. Others delight in thinking about what to get for friends, family or colleagues.

A few join in the season of goodwill by the simple act of volunteering, while others help relieve Christian colleagues who want the day off to celebrate Christmas. Perhaps, there is something about the magic of Christmas, which even diehard Muslim extremists will never destroy.

When I was in primary school, Lembaga Letrik Negara (LLN), the pre-cursor of Tenaga National Bhd, used to hold Christmas parties for children, principally of its employees. It was an event that every child looked forward to eagerly. As Christmas fell during the school holidays, it was another happy occasion that children and parents found welcoming.

It did not matter if the child was Malay, Chinese, Indian or Eurasian. No one bothered if the child who went was Christian or not. It wasn’t just the children who were excited. The accompanying parents enjoyed the get-together, which was always held at the Kilat Kelab.

Every child looked forward to receiving a present from Father Christmas. Newcomers would feel intimidated at first, but their shyness would melt away once they were told that Santa was approaching. His noisy arrival was not by reindeer and sled. LLN’s Santa came in a bright red “cherry picker”, garlanded with tinsel.

The cherry picker would be lowered and Santa would exit with his big sack of goodies. The children would crowd around Santa before rushing off to open their presents.

I believe those care-free days are gone now. A young relative whose birthday falls on Christmas day always persuades her parents to buy a Christmas tree to place her gifts under it. It is all harmless fun but the vitriol she received from social network sites when she proudly showed her decorations online last week, has caused her to question why people can be so nasty, to accuse her of “going against Islamic teachings”.

Similarly, a Malay friend who tweeted to his Christian friend “Merry Christmas” received abusive and threatening responses from others who charged him with deviating from Islam.

I’ll not be cowed by bigots

Once, when I played Handel’s carols on the piano at a friend’s house, I received a telling off for playing “Christian” music. I carried on regardless, I refuse to be cowed by a narrow minded bigot.

Although many of my Malay friends and family happily go about celebrating Christmas with our Christian friends, it is alarming to find that in 21st century Malaysia, there are many insecure Muslims. Do they believe that a Muslim who enjoys singing ‘O Come All Ye Faithful”, who relishes turkey and stuffing, or the child who delights in decorating Christmas trees, has all but embraced Christianity?

If Muslims who choose to celebrate Christmas with their friends are given a hard time, the Christians in Malaysia must be going through a trying period. They have suffered “persecution” in one form or another, despite Article 11 of the Constitution which guarantees religious freedom for all Malaysians (bar Muslims).

Greetings from a Very Enlightened Muslim

Earlier this year, a furore erupted when Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak attended the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Murphy Xavier Pakiam’s Christmas (2010) tea party. Prior to the PM’s arrival, church officials had to remove crucifixes and other religious symbols, and told not to sing hymns or pray, in Najib’s presence.

In the following months, two consignments of 5,100 and 35,000 copies of the Bible, which were confiscated at Port Klang and Kuching, respectively, in 2009 were released after much wrangling and publicity.

Although Najib ordered Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to release the copies of the Bible, the Holy Books were defaced, to satisfy two conditions set by the government.

Had the boot been on the other foot…If the boot had been on the other foot, would the Muslim backlash have been as controlled as the one from the Malaysian Christian community? Would Perkasa have run amuck?

There have been other incidents directed against the Christian community, such as the ban on the word “Allah” and the torching of churches.

In this year’s Christmas message, Najib reminded Malaysians to “spread goodwill and cheer, just in time to usher in the New Year and make a fresh start” and added that “We could all use a little reminder….” He told Malaysians to “seize every opportunity to forge better understanding between Malaysians of different cultures and faith”.

Describing his courtesy visit in July to Pope Benedict XVI at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, Najib hoped that the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican City and Malaysia, would forge “closer links and inter-faith dialogue”.

Najib’s Christmas message further described his commitment to “strengthen the interaction that has long exists (sic) with the Christian community. I have always made a special effort to meet with people of all faith (sic). I look forward to continue this practice to seek your ideas and hear your thoughts for the betterment of our society.”

The PM said that Malaysia’s celebrations were “specific to cultural and religious communities” such as the “gift-giving custom commonly practised during Christmas”. He described his fascination with how “the nation’s multi-cultural…. multi-religious practices blend into the society”.

Najib encouraged fellow Malaysians to understand one another better, and to “appreciate them for the diversity and strength they contribute to our beloved nation”.

Perhaps Najib’s new attitude in the Christmas message is the result of a blessing from the Pope? Despite all the trials that Malaysian Christians have undergone in recent times, what they do not lack is the spirit of forgiveness.

Events in Malaysia have tested the patience of the rakyat. The faith and trust that we placed in the leaders has been abused and lost.

The bond among the races is strong despite the attempts of the UMNO-BN politicians to break it. But like the message of goodwill, we have not lost the hope that a better Malaysia will evolve.

Chairman-Social Care Foundation makes a donation to the Noramfaizul Fund


September 5, 2011

PRESS STATEMENT BY:
TAN SRI DATUK ROBERT PHANG MIOW SIN
Justice of Peace
Chairman – Social Care Foundation
On the Donation of RM50,000- to the Noramfaizul Fund

LET US UNITE IN SHOWING SYMPATHY FOR A TRAGEDY
BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor

Over national TV yesterday, Malaysians saw Bernama TV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor being given a hero’s burial. In this morning’s national newspapers, we hear the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak calling on all Malaysians to stop the blame game.

So let us be clear on one thing – the death of Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, was for a noble and worthy cause. His shooting, on Friday September 2, while covering a Malaysian humanitarian aid mission in famine-hit Somalia by Putera 1Malaysia Club, should not be politicized. Only by honoring his death can we find honor and respectability for ourselves as one united people, one nation- 1Malaysia!

His death is made more poignant by the fact that while most Muslims and Malaysians here were celebrating and feasting for the Hari Raya AidilFitri, these selfless patriots sacrificed their family time to spread Malaysian goodwill in a far away war torn and famine stricken country. So, let us not scar the memory of the great deeds of a simple ordinary man by our divisiveness.

It is now time for us to care for his family- his wife, Puan Norazrina Jaafar, who has now become a single mother and his two small sons, Mohd Irfan and Mohd Naufal. I hereby make a humble donation of RM50,000- with the hope that the government and all Malaysians will join me in setting up a fund that will ease their pain and allow them to live an ordinary life.

I hope this donation would not be politicized because I recall that when I made a similar donation to the Teoh Beng Hock Foundation, I was reviled by the BN parties for supporting a DAP cause. Let me state this clearly – I donated to the TBH Foundation not for DAP. And I am not doing this now for UMNO or Putera UMNO! It is for the family of a fallen Malaysian who deserves not just our sympathies but also our financial support in order to go through life. It is to ensure that single mothers and their dependents are fended for when their breadwinner is lost for a noble cause or through no fault of theirs. That is one of the social justice that I believe in and will fight for.

We should also thank our PM YAB Dato’ Seri Haji Mohd. Najib, DPM YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin Bin Mohd, Minister of Foreign Affairs YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Bin Hj. Aman, Minister of Defence YB Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Bin Hamidi, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development YB Senator Dato’ Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and other leaders of this country for having shown sympathy and concern over this tragedy. I always care for single mothers’ and their children’s welfare.

On that point, I have just been reminded that I should do the same for the family of the late Ahmad Sarbaini, the Customs officer who died while in the custody of the MACC. I agree not enough is being done there. Instead, the mainstream media appears to have caused more anguish to his family just because he was the subject of an investigation. A man is innocent until proven guilty. Even if you want to defend a public institution for political expediency, that agenda should not predominate the news reportings. We saw that in the Shah Alam police shootings of youths as well. The time has come for us to stop this culture of maligning the memory of the dead. On this occasion of Hari Raya, I extend again to the Ahmad Sarbaini’s family my deepest condolences and I promise to look into their plight shortly.

I also call on all future humanitarian missions to dangerous places like Somalia to heed the cautionary statement by our Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman that safety measures must be taken prior to such missions.

In that regard, I hope that the Putera 1Malaysia Club head of this Somalia Aid mission, Dato’ Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, would accept criticisms with full accountability but do not be daunted by this setback. Malaysians should not point fingers over this incident as to erode this commendable effort.

 As we bury the body of an ordinary but great Malaysian, let us keep the memory of his deeds alive. Let us be united in this moment of tragedy.

“HUMBLENESS IS GOOD VIRTUE, ARROGANCE SHALL FALL, THE MEEK WILL RULE THE WORLD”.

Tan Sri Datuk Robert Phang Miow Sin
Justice of Peace

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,092 other followers