Anwar Ibrahim at University of Malaya (October 27, 2014)

October 28, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim at University of Malaya

Anwar at UM

Anwar Ibrahim spoke with passion to students at the University of Malaya last night (October 27, 2014). He asked his audience, why is the government in power is so scared of a simple human being like him that they won’t allow him to speak in the campus of his alma mater. Where is academic freedom, where is academic excellence and where is our dignity as a people? He spoke of racism and disunity, corruption and abuse of power. Listen to him.–Din Merican

Ulamaks and Malay-Muslim Politicians Vs The Thinking Malay

October 24, 2014

MY COMMENT: Prolific commenter, Mariam Mohktar, has raised an age-old issuemariam-mokhtar of the partnership between the ruling Malay political elite, and the ulamas and conservative religious functionaries. It is a marriage of convenience between them. They need each other to maintain their hold on power. It is a case of “Gu tolong Lu, Lu tolong Gua” (with apologies to the Prime Minister).

They are bound to feel threatened by intellectuals like Kassim Ahmad, Azmi Sharom and  poet laureate and novelist A. Samad Said, by an outstanding and public-spirited lawyer like Rosli Dahlan, by civil society activists like Ambiga Sreenevasan, Haris Ibrahim, Adam Adli  and Hishamuddin Rais, among others and now by an individual like Syed Azmi who was merely trying to eliminate the fear of dogs among Muslims.

They perceive their hold on the Malay Muslim community is being eroded with globalization and the social media. Their reaction is not discourse, but threat of punishment in the here and now and the hereafter. The Malay mind is, therefore, being mummified  by ignorance and dogma.

mullah-harussani-and-najibMullah Harussani of Perak and PM Najib

In his book, Concept of A Hero in Malay Society*, Dr. Shaharuddin Maaruf, when commenting on this partnership, has this to say: “…the Malay elite is encouraging many misplaced ideas and trends in thinking which are incompatible with progress…Important Islamic values that are conducive and harmonious to progress are not emphasised by the Malay elite; the Islamic conception of leadership is relegated into the background while feudal ideas concerning leadership are encouraged and propagated”. (page 2)

Dr. Maaruf goes on to say that “Intellectual interests and values are not nourished while irrationality and superstition are strengthened and accorded importance…The development of moral character that is sensitive to injustice is thwarted while the servile and morally numb human type is propagated”. For this purpose, the Malay elite makes use of the presumed superior knowledge of Islam of the ulamas. In that way, the ruling elite and the ulamas work in common purpose, that is, to legitimatise their hold on power over the Malays and their thought processes.

Today, their partnership has grown in importance in terms of politics. How long thisDin MericanY partnership can last is a matter of conjecture. But at this time we can acknowledge that it serves the political interest of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who must pander to the ulamas and religious functionaries in the Prime Minister’s Department. After all, his position as Prime Minister is under threat.–Din Merican

*Concept of a Hero in Malay Society  ( 2014, SIRD, First Published in 1984 by Eastern Universities Press (M) Sdn. Bhd). Also read Malay Ideas on Development by the same author and publisher.

Ulamas and Malay-Muslim Politicians Vs The Thinking Malay

by Mariam Mokhtar@

The most dangerous threat to the Malaysian government is not an invading army, a contagious disease, or a nuclear threat. It is the thinking Malay.


When young pharmacist Syed Azmi Alhabshi (above right in pic) decided to organise the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event at Bandar Utama on October 19, he didn’t expect such a huge response. More than 1,000 people –Muslims and non-Muslims – turned up.

Whilst man and beast were having lots of fun, in other parts of the country temperatures were raised. Syed Azmi was perceived as a threat. Syed Azmi may have united Malaysians but he was alienating some conservative Muslims in Malaysia. His innocent “dog touching event” is a defining moment in 21st Century Malaysian history.

Muslim Girls and the DogThe Internet was awash with photos of tudung-clad girls smiling with their favourite dogs, Malay toddlers chasing German Shepherds, elderly Muslim couples stroking contented looking Labradors and Malay teenagers playing with Cocker Spaniels. Malays and non-Malays were getting to know one another, through another of God’s creatures. The people learned to bond – not just dog with humans, but Muslims and non-Muslims.

Malaysians, including the political leaders, should have been pleased to see harmony in action. People forgot their inhibitions. They did not see themselves as people of different faiths or races. They got on with one another, with help from the dogs.

Society’s party pooper, JAKIM, waded in to spoil all the fun. Its Director-General, Othman Mustapha, was furious and said that the programme should not have taken place to begin with. He barked that JAKIM would investigate the matter immediately.

He was followed by a Kelantan ulama who cried “Repent. Repent. Repent.” Other conservative Muslims claimed that the ulamas were being insulted. If anyone needs their heads examined, it is these people. This is not a political issue; so why were the ulamas angry? They were furious because they saw their power being eroded. The 3Rs – race, religion and royalty – keep us in check, and safely divided.

For years, Muslims have been told what to do by the ulamas. The political leaders, together with their cronies and religious authorities carve up Malaysia for themselves.

One political cynic said, “To keep them in power, the leaders manipulate laws. To control dissent, they bully us with draconian laws. We are threatened with sedition. We are told that women leaders will lead us to hell. We are told that God approves of the GST. We are told that voting for UMNO-Baru is a one-way ticket to heaven. The sad thing is that many Malays believe this.”

His colleague said, “After last Sunday’s dog touching event, more Malays are finally seeing the light. The Malay mind is being freed from its mental slavery. That explains why the authorities and the conservative ulamas are working at breakneck speed to find Syed Azmi guilty, but he has done nothing wrong.”

Fear of being irrelevant

Syed Azmi only wanted Malaysians to be compassionate towards animals and overcome their fear of dogs. He was not insulting the ulamas. The ulamas did not even bother to ask him why he organised the event.


The ulamas and conservative Muslims see their power base eroding. They are afraid that they will no longer be of relevance in a modern world which does not believe in the 3Rs.

Many Muslims nationwide observed the event on the Internet and saw no issue with dog touching. The ulamas are afraid that the thinking Malay will start to ask questions about their other edicts, handed down, in the past, to control Muslim behaviour. The ulamas, like the political leaders, are obsessed with power. The rakyat is at their mercy. However, a thinking Malay can see past their warped thinking.

Touching dogs is not going to lead to touching pigs or eating non-halal food. It will not lead to free sex. It is the ulamas and their obsession with sex which makes the thinking Malay question why the ulama are stupid and shallow. The ulamas use sex as a crowd puller.

The ulamas must realise that in Saudi Arabia, the Bedouin tribesmen hunt with dogs (the Salukis), as in Afghanistan (the Afghan hounds). Dogs are used in search and rescue, for drug detection, hunting, and to assist the blind, the deaf and those with epilepsy. The dog is man’s best friend.

The thinking Malays wonder why things like chocolates, dogs, the word “Allah” and beer take prominence in the national debate. They wonder why the ulamas keep silent about the rising cost of living, petrol price hikes, the collapsing infrastructure, corruption, the abuse of power by the leaders, incest, drug taking by Malays and the high crime rate.

Today, the ulamas are against us touching dogs. Knowing how their minds work, it won’t be long before Muslims will be banned from eating hot-dogs, and using English idioms like “dog in the manger” or complaining that a book is “dog eared”, or that Malaysia has “gone to the dogs”.

The Poorest Among the Poor in Kuala Lumpur

October 22,2014

The Poorest Among the Poor in Kuala Lumpur

The Poorest Among the PoorWhat is their Future?

I got this from a friend who is living abroad. I can now understand why he chose to make a living overseas. I thank him for taking the trouble to send this SABM article (below) and for reminding me that we have plenty to do to eradicate poverty.

This thread is an eye open opener for all us regardless of colour, race and religion. We have the poorest among the poor in our midst right here in Kuala Lumpur. The pictures you see tell a sad story. Our country which hopes to be a developed nation in 2020 cannot deal with the plight of our poor citizens. See how they live. Sorry to spoil the Divali party.–Din Merican


Haris Onn Hussein: The Chosen One?

October 15, 2o14

Haris Onn Hussein: The Chosen One?

by Din Merican

Lembah Sari Sdn. Bhd with commercial links to Dato’ Haris Onn Hussein, the son of Haris Onn Husseinformer Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Hussein Onn, brother of Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein and cousin to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was recently awarded a contract for the printing of security-labels for liquor and beer from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department. The contract is worth some RM77 million.

The Edge Malaysia on September 12 reported that the contract was to design, print, store, supply and distribute banderols (tax stamps) for liquor (including beer) between 2014 and 2019. The company would also supply the department with authentication devices and necessary training. The letter of acceptance from the Customs Department was received by Lembah Sari on July 21, 2014.

With this latest award, Dato Haris who owns Duke Highway now effectively monopolises the security labels for all locally produced and imported cigarettes, as well as beer and liquor, in the country. He is very rich for life.

My initial reaction to this news was one of disbelief but upon some reflection I realise  that  the political elite in our country has been doing this sort of deals for a long time hidden from public scrutiny. You do not need special skills or knowledge to get lucrative business deals. All you have to do is to take full advantage of your connections and you are super wealthy almost overnight.

In Cambridge educated Dato Haris’ case, the fact that his grandfather was Dato Onn Jaafar, his father, Tun Hussein was Prime Minister, and so was his uncle, Tun Razak coupled with the fact that his first cousin is Prime Minister and elder brother is  Minister of Defence puts him in  a very privileged position to receive business offers, directorships  and cushy contracts.

So we can say that without powerful connections, he would not have made it in the commercial world. He is not alone, of course. Tun Mahathir’s sons,  Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz are privileged ones so are the children of UMNO elites and Cabinet Ministers.

Today, we are a divided nation in terms of rank and status, race and religion and income. Woe betide those of us who are egalitarians. The powerful and privileged will lord over us ordinary Malaysians who are condemned to lead a life of constant struggle for equity and justice.

People like Haris Onn and his kind lead a life of luxury and comfort. They are the chosen ones to whom life comes easy.  Even President John F. Kennedy  said that “[T]here is always inequity in life.  Life is unfair.” That is no comfort. But isn’t the role of government to strife for equity and equality of opportunity.

Najib’s Politics of Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

October 15, 2014

Najib’s Politics of Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

by Scott Ng (10-14-14)

Najib at MCAGua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

Last Sunday, the Chinese were reminded once again that their welfare and continued success in Malaysia depended on their giving support to Barisan Nasional. The reminder came from no less than the Prime Minister. And right on cue, the MCA applauded while opposition politicians worked themselves into a frothy rage over the idea that for a community to receive the benefits its taxes pay for, it must first show loyalty to a political party.

It’s the greatest show on earth, and it sounds so familiar that we’re sick to death of it. The idea of political patronage benefiting a community is a time-honoured tradition in most political cultures, and Malaysia has it down to an art form. Engage in a weekend of chest-thumping at annual general meetings to shore up the support base for the party, say all the things that you wouldn’t say on a regular week despite the same issue being addressed, wait for the Prime Minister to arrive, let him soothe the party’s ego with sweet nothings, drop a bombshell about how the race the party represents needs to support him, watch the sparks fly.

The past five years of Najib Tun Razak’s administration have seen this occur in a pattern, trotted out during AGMs and elections like clockwork, so much so that it’s almost baffling for the media to continue covering these events. It’s come to the point where the media could almost write a template for the story and just fill in the blanks with the actual quote once the words have left Najib’s mouth. Then add a follow-up piece based on the enraged reactions of the opposition and the general public.

We’re not saying these criticisms are baseless or groundless. But it is the same old song and dance we’ve heard and seen time and time again over the past five years of the Najib era.

An era defined

What will define that era, though? Well, one could argue Najib’s title could be that of Bapa Kemewahan, evidenced by his jet-setting habits, but one could also make the case that Najib’s reign could be summarised in a line he delivers ever so often: “I help you, you help me.”

Observe his comments at the holy festival of Thaipusam in 2012: “If you help me, I’ll help you. You trust me, I trust you. Nambikei (trust) between all of us. Malaysia will prosper, Indians will prosper, all races can go forward.”

Or perhaps Sibu, 2010: “I want to make a deal with you. Can we have an understanding or not? The understanding is quite simple. I help you, you help me.” And, of course, the latest variation is the comment made at the 61st Annual General Meeting of the MCA. “You can’t demand and then support DAP. You can’t demand and then support PR. You demand, you support BN, we will be fair to the Chinese community.”

I help you, you help me (Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua)

The implication is simply this: unless you back BN, do not expect fairness. Do not expect to receive the benefits your taxes pay for. Do not expect to be defended when your race and religion are maligned by extremists who are so good at hijacking a national discourse that we should all be engaged in—the one about where this country is headed and where it should be headed.

But one supposes the majority of Malaysians already know all of this. The question we should be asking now is, how much longer can we tolerate, allow, and accept such language from the “supreme”(!) leader of the country, who is supposed to represent all communities in this beautiful, occasionally haze-ridden land of ours? How much longer do we have to endure this same old song and dance, knowing it will happen like clockwork? How much longer must we be held hostage against our right to prosper in the country we were born in?

To quote Najib himself, “Enough. Enough.”

It is time for a new song and dance to replace the rhythms we have become too accustomed to. The MCA cannot expect to regain the support of the Chinese community when it stands by and applauds these sentiments. It cannot expect the return of the community into its arms when it defends—or excuses—the Prime Minister by saying “it’s lonely at the top” and that the Chinese cannot make the political failure of not supporting the middle ground. This is what MCA Religious Harmony Bureau Chairman Ti Lian Ker says in a blog article.

At the end of the day, the benefits due to the people should be reaped by the people, as the wealth of a nation is built upon the back of the men and women who daily enter offices or step into the streets to ply their trade and expertise, even as the economy and the cost of day to day living break their hearts and spines.

Failed experiment

But the crux of the matter is simply this: the racial experiment has failed. It’s not just the idea of race-based parties that is flawed. The concept of “race” itself is unsound. There has not been a single idea more destructive to the well-being of the human race than the concept of race beyond a simple classification system to denote which region of the world a person originates from, and even then the concept gradually becomes more and more flawed when you consider multiculturalism and multiracialism blooming in all four corners of the globe. One day, monoculturalism will be a rarity. Where then will we find ourselves should we insist on hanging on to this outmoded idea?

Without a radical redefinition of what a “Malaysian” is, we are doomed to this vicious cycle of something stupid being said and someone reacting to it, while we look on in impotent rage, saying to ourselves, “You’ll see come election time. You’ll see.”

It is simply time to look beyond our identities and focus on our common trait of being Malaysian, and act in concert according to that common ground. At the very end of the day, it just boils down to the fact that Malaysians are so very tired of bread and circuses. A strategy that has worked so well since 140 BC is still in play today, and the cycle of cheap food and raucous entertainment (or what is known as “politics” in the Malaysian parlance) will go on till the day we become aware of the excellent play before us and recognise it as such.

Until then, we just have to accept that by this time next year, Najib probably will again say, “You help me, I help you,” or some variation of it.

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions—everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”Juvenal, Satire X.

Sarawak’s Nancy is a Spokeswoman for UMNO’s washed-out version of politics

October 12, 2014

Sarawak’s Nancy is a Spokeswoman for UMNO’s washed-out version of politics

by Sandra

“…it comes as a nasty shock that Nancy is now the face UMNO has pushed under the spotlight to meet the firing squad as she explains the double standards and religious intolerance perpetuated by Najib’s administration.”

Parliament is in session again and many an unsavoury character has let fly logic-defying remarks that have wormed their unfortunate way into our media.

Leading the pack of empty vessels was Bung Mokhtar and his unconvincing display of trauma at having his life threatened – all because of a tweet that he should be gotten “rid” of. More fiery tweet exchanges and a police report later, and we are all still reeling from the utter absurdity of the entire episode.

However one development that has refused to die down is that of Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali getting away scot-free after threatening to burn all Malay- and Iban-language Bibles containing the word “Allah”.


Nancy with an Identity Problem

Appearing like a Godsend to offer up a defence in the form of gibberish was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri. Explaining away Ibrahim Ali’s antics as nothing more that his “burning” desire to protect the sanctity of Islam, Nancy committed an even worse sin by saying his threats were in line with the Federal Constitution.

She also went out on a limb, explaining that Ibrahim Ali’s threat only extended to a specific group of individuals and not society at large. Hence the over reaction on everybody else’s part to want the dear fellow charged under the Sedition Act was totally unwarranted.

As the country’s de facto Law Minister, Nancy has taken a beating for those remarks. In the past few days, she has been accused by political leaders and members of the public for practising “double standards”, talking “rubbish” and being a “coward”.

Christians are incensed with her justifications and even some Muslims are stumped at how she has condoned Ibrahim’s bad behaviour by brushing it off as nothing out of the ordinary. But for those who know the real Nancy, she is far from the racist and cowardly politician she is made out to be at the moment.Being a Sarawakian, Nancy comes from a land where racism is a dirty word and religious intolerance is well… not tolerated.

Chinese… Dayaks… Malays… all live together peacefully, respectful of each other’s cultural and religious beliefs regardless of whether they pray to Allah, Jesus or a tree.

Of mixed parentage herself – Scot, Chinese, Iban, Malay, Melanau – Nancy grew up without agonising over whether she was Malay or Chinese. She was just Nancy. And Malaysian.

In an interview she had with online news portal The Nut Graph in 2010, Nancy said that for most Sarawakians, eating at a non-Muslim’s house was never a problem. No one ever asked if the dishes were halal or non-halal. They just ate because “that’s us”.

She also commented that the “Allah” issue the country is currently obsessing over was one Sarawakians chose to remain silent about in Parliament… until now of course, since Najib’s administration has picked her to be the scapegoat, and unfortunate spokeswoman, for its washed-out version of politics.

As one who led Christian hymns in her school days because it was merely a singing activity to her, it is an abomination that she has allowed peninsula-style politics to wrap its hideous tentacles around her once-liberal mind and wring it dry.

Is Nancy merely toeing the line? And if so, is her forsaking all that she has felt passionate about until recently worth the effort?

For someone who once said, “We don’t want anyone from outside Sarawak to come and teach us about harmony or peace or living in unity!”, it comes as a nasty shock that Nancy is now the face UMNO has pushed under the spotlight to meet the firing squad as she explains the double standards and religious intolerance perpetuated by Najib’s administration.

While Najib stands at the world stage preaching his brand of moderation, it is the liberals like Nancy, who should be making a stand to right the many wrongs this nation is committing in broad daylight.

If Nancy, who once said she hoped Sarawakians could be a model of how to live peacefully, has seemingly crossed over to the dark side, do the rest of us even have a prayer?