Some Questions for the Wise Men of PAS


By Farish A. Noor

July 31, 2008

As if this country doesn’t have enough problems to worry about, what with the impending global recession, Malaysia’s inevitable slowdown and the fear of capital flight from the country and the region as a whole; now we have to deal with the very real and somewhat nasty prospect of an Islamic state being smuggled through the back door (apologies for the metaphor!) while the Islam Hadhari ship of state remains stuck in the doldrums of non-governance.

According to The Star’s report today (30th July 2008), the Spiritual Leader (Murshid’ul Am) of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, has stated that ‘PAS will propose the implementation of Hudud Law and Qisas (law of retaliation) if the proposed PAS-UMNO merger becomes a reality’.

That, of course, is precisely what Malaysia needs at the moment and it is bound to be the ultimate cure for all our economic and structural-institutional ills. One can imagine the miraculous transformation of the Malaysian economy instantaneously, and the hordes of eager foreign investors who will be falling over themselves in their mad rush to invest in Malaysia as soon as we start implementing Islamic law and imposing Hudud punishments.

Why, after all, would one want to visit boring Singapore or dull Bali when they can come to Malaysia to see public whippings and beheadings as proscribed by the conservative interpretation of Hudud punishments as understood by some of our home-grown Islamists?

What is even more startling is the simple fact that the simple-minded people in UMNO seem to be playing with fire without taking into account the attendant risk that one can get burned, sometimes severely. Malaysia’s Islamisation experiment began in the 1980s with both UMNO and PAS trying to out-Islamise each other, while struggling for the same Malay-Muslim vote base. Now this grotesque war of ideas has taken on tragic-comic proportions and the Islamic revolution, so to speak, is about to devour its own children.

For jaded cynics like myself who have had enough with politicians soiling the pages of holy books and defiling religion for the sake of realpolitik, this is the straw that has broken this camel’s back. I have seen religio-politics gone badly wrong all over Asia: at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists in India, Buddhist fundamentalists in Sri Lanka, Muslim fundamentalists in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The thought that three decades of development can only bring us to this, a watered-down toothless Islam Hadhari with no critical acumen and reconstructive potential and an Islamic state being snuck in via the Trojan horse of a Malay-Unity merger between PAS and UMNO reeks to the heavens of majoritarian supremacy more than anything else.

So, before I pack up my books again and head off to saner climes, I would like to ask the wise men of PAS these questions:

1. What, in the respected opinion of the esteemed men of knowledge who lead PAS, is the correct Hudud punishment for someone who kills a Mongolian model and then has her blown to bits by explosives (C4, for instance)?

2. In the learned opinion of the respected men of knowledge of PAS, what should an Islamic PAS-UMNO government do with weapons that were bought from Russia, a state that was known for its rather nasty habit of murdering Muslim Chechnyans?

3. Would the wise men of PAS consider buying some more armaments from our beloved Russian allies in the future when they come to power as the bedfellows of UMNO, such as, perhaps, used Kalashnikovs or other weapons of destruction that were perhaps also used to kill Muslims in Chechnya too?

4. The UMNO-led government has been praised by Washington as a key strategic ally in the ‘War on Terror’ and its leaders have demonstrated their eagerness to work with other developed Western powers in this war. PAS, on the other hand, declared the Taliban to be their brothers in 2002. Will the new PAS also join hands with UMNO in the great Washington-led Crusade against Islamic terror when they come to power?

5. PAS in the past condemned the UMNO-led government for its alleged dealings with Israel. If PAS comes to power, will the learned wise elders of PAS find the necessary scriptural sources to help promote further dealings with Israel too?

6. Between 2004 to 2008, the wise men of PAS declared that Islam Hadhari was fundamentally un-Islamic and when PAS came to power in several states in 2008 it even declared that it would no longer help promote the idea of Islam Hadhari. Now that PAS may be on the threshold of its new honeymoon period with its beloved UMNO, will PAS finally admit the error of its ways and accept that Islam Hadhari is indeed the truest expression of normative Islam and do its utmost to promote Islam Hadhari to its own misguided followers?

7. PAS’s leaders have claimed that they wish to further the Islamic cause by getting closer to power. Will they now help to Islamise the Internal Security Act and other repressive laws to show that the ISA is, after all, compatible with Islam (especially Islam Hadhari)?

8. When PAS ousted its fourth President Asri Muda at the PAS assembly of 1982, its new Ulama leaders condemned Asri as a ethno-nationalist who sold the party to UMNO and debased its Islamist ideology with ideas of racial communitarianism. Now will the same leaders of PAS please apologise to the departed Asri Muda and accept that Asri was right after all, and that the Ulama’s ideology of Islamism was in fact an abberation that confused the minds of Muslims?

Press Statement by Datuk Seri Wan Azizah


– PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE —

JULY 31, 2008, PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA

After deliberating with my family, the Keadilan party leadership and our partners in the Pakatan Rakyat, I have officially submitted my resignation as Member of Parliament of Permatang Pauh to the Speaker of Parliament YB Tan Sri Datuk Pandikar Amin Bin Hj. Mulia today to make way for my husband, Anwar Ibrahim, to contest as a candidate for Pakatan Rakyat in a by-election as soon as possible.

This is consistent with our goals towards securing a Parliamentary majority and forming a new government within this year. This decision is the right decision for Malaysia.

The nation now faces some of the greatest challenges it has encountered since gaining independence. The UMNO-led Barisan Nasional government has mismanaged the economy and steered the nation towards a catastrophe. It has allowed the integrity of the justice system to fall into deeper infamy. It has stroked the flames of racism and driven a wedge of mistrust between Malays, Chinese and Indians, while thoroughly neglecting the needs of the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.

Anwar Ibrahim has articulated a vision for Malaysia that has brought hope to the people. He has the experience and intelligence to reinvigorate our economy, and the charisma and integrity to unite the Malaysian people and restore credibility to our institutions of governance.

I will continue to serve as President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and as chairperson of the Yayasan Aman (Peace Foundation).

I wholeheartedly thank my supporters in Permatang Pauh who have stood by me in the most difficult of times since September 1998 and have shared in the joy of victory we all experienced on March 8, 2008.

The future of our nation lies in the dedication and commitment to justice and freedom that I have experienced as your representative in Parliament and I look forward to many more years of serving you with sincerity and with humility.

DATUK SERI WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL
President
Parti Keadilan Rakyat

KENYATAAN MEDIA UNTUK EDARAN SEGERA —

31HB. JULAI 2008, PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA

Selepas berbincang dengan keluarga saya, kepimpinan Parti Keadilan Rakyat dan rakan-rakan dalam Pakatan Rakyat, saya dengan ini secara rasminya meletakkan jawatan sebagai Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh kepada YB Tan Sri Speaker Dewan Rakyat Datuk Pandikar Amin Bin Hj. Mulia hari ini, memberi laluan kepada suami saya untuk bertanding sebagai calon Pakatan Rakyat dalam pilihanraya kecil secepat mungkin. Ini adalah konsisten dengan matlamat kami untuk mendapat majoriti bagi membentuk kerajaan baru
dalam tahun ini.

Keputusan ini adalah yang terbaik buat Malaysia. Negara ini sedang berhadapan dengan cabaran yang paling getir semenjak mencapai kemerdekaan. Kerajaan Barisan Nasional yang dipimpin oleh UMNO terbukti telah gagal mengurus ekonomi negara ini dan membawa negara ini menuju kehancuran. Kerajaan ini telah menyebabkan integriti sistem keadilan hancur ke tahap yang memalukan. Ia membiarkan api perkauman semakin bernyala-nyala dan membuatkan etnik Melayu, Cina dan India saling tidak mempercayai satu sama lain di samping sengaja mengabaikan keperluan masyarakat pribumi di Sabah dan Sarawak.

Anwar Ibrahim telah mengungkapkan visi untuk Malaysia yang telah pun membenihkan harapan buat rakyat. Beliau mempunyai pengalaman dan kebijaksanaan untuk membangunkan kembali ekonomi negara ini, juga karisma dan integriti untuk menyatukan rakyat Malaysia serta mengembalikan kewibawaan institusi-institusi kenegaraan.

Saya akan terus berkhidmat sebagai Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat dan pengurusi Yayasan Aman. Saya mengucapkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada penyokong saya di Permatang Pauh yang selama ini sentiasa teguh di belakang saya di dalam melalui saat-saat sukar semenjak dari September 1998 dan saat-saat manis kemenangan 8 Mac 2008.

Masa depan negara kita bergantung kepada dedikasi dan komitmen terhadap keadilan dan kebebasan yang saya lalui selaku wakil anda semua di Parlimen dan saya akan sentiasa berkhidmat untuk anda pada masa depan seikhlas mungkin.

DATUK SERI WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL
Presiden
Parti Keadilan Rakyat

Anwar to contest Permatang Pauh


http://www.malaysiakini.com
July 31, 2008
Anwar Ibrahim announced today that he will contest a by-election for the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat which will be vacated by his wife and PKR leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

MCPX

Wan Azizah told a packed press conference this afternoon that she will be resigning as member of parliament for the seat but will retain her post as PKR president.

permatang pauh election results 310708“I have submitted my resignation letter to the House speaker today,” she said.

Wan Azizah said the people in Permatang Pauh have a special affinity for Anwar, who was their elected representative prior to his sacking as deputy premier and arrest a decade ago.

Meanwhile, Anwar said that other party leaders offered their seats to him but he preferred Permatang Pauh.

Among those who offered their seats, he said, were  Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim (Bandar Tun Razak) and party vice- president Azmin Ali (Gombak).

“After discussing with party leaders, I have decided to go for Permatang Pauh,” he added.

Anwar said he has relayed his decision to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang who has given his full support.

The opposition stalwart  – who is seeking to make a parliamentary comeback after a 10-year absence – has been shopping for a seat to contest after the expiry of a five-year ban from active politics.

The Election Commission will be required to call a by-election within 60 days.

Permatang Pauh was held by Anwar for 17 years since he joined Umno in 1982.

Wan Azizah took over as MP for the seat after her husband was sacked and subsequently jailed on charges of corruption and sodomy.

In the 2008 general election, she won the seat for a third term with a majority of 13,388 after defeating Umno’s Pirdaus Ismail.

Anwar had earlier said that he would contest in the Kulim-Bandar Baharu seat if a court orders a by-election.

The High Court is to hear a challenge on Aug 19 asking it to invalidate the result in the seat that was won by PKR in the March 8 polls.

However, uncertainty over possible delays in the court decision was a key factor in Anwar opting for Permatang Pauh instead.

In an immediate reaction, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, speaking at a different press conference, said: “A loving wife would no nothing better”.

[More to follow]

Breaking News: Anwar Ibrahim to Stand in Permatang Puah


Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail announced moments ago at a Press Conference in KeADILan Headquarters on July 31, 2008 that she has sent a letter of resignation as Member of Parliament to the Speaker of the House, Tan Sri Dato Pandikar Amin Mulia. This is to make way for KeADILan de facto Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to contest as the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) candidate in the ensuing by-election.

All PR component parties have endorsed this decision and pledge the full and undivided support and cooperation. More details to follow.

PGRM vs BOOK


Stop launch! Gerakan Leader vs Gerakan Book
Beh Lih Yi

July 30, 2008

Even before its scheduled launch in Penang tomorrow, a new book on Gerakan has run into controversy.

MCPX

A Gerakan leader, who is unhappy with the contents, has turned to the courts for an injunction to stop the launch from taking place and to prevent the book from hitting the shelves.

non sectarian politics in malaysia the case of parti gerakan rakyat malaysia khoo kay peng neil khor jin keongChia Loong Thye, who lost in his bid for the Tanjong Bungah state seat in the March 8 polls, claimed that the book titled Non-sectarian politics in Malaysia: The case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia contained defamatory words against him.

Chia, who is the younger brother of Gerakan secretary-general Kwang Chye, served a letter of demand on the two authors – Khoo Kay Peng and Dr Neil Khor – last Friday.

The authors, the book’s printer and publishing firm were named as the defendants.

The injunction application will be heard by Justice Abdul Wahab Patail hours before the launch at the Kuala Lumpur High Court tomorrow morning.

Lawyers representing both parties have been told to be present, according to Khor’s lawyer Daphne Choy when contacted.

‘Safe’ seat offer

According to a copy of the two-page letter made available to Malaysiakini, Chia took offence over a sentence from the 186-page book which cast aspersions on his and his brother’s characters.

The authors penned that Kwang Chye’s credibility “took a severe beating” when his younger brother was nominated to contest in a “safe” seat during the general election.

chia loong thyeThe letter of demand stated that the controversial wordings constitute a serious charge done without any foundation or basis against Loong Thye and caused him “serious damage and injury.”

“Our client has always conducted himself with integrity and uprightness,” read the letter issued through leading law firm Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill. Loong Thye (left) is one of the firm’s partners.

The letter added that the continued publication of the book will cause Loong Thye “even more irreparable damage particularly to his reputation, profession and career.”

The letter demanded for a full retraction of the wordings, an apology, withdrawal of the book from circulation or to call in copies which have been already distributed. It also demanded for the cancellation of the book’s launch and asked for an unspecified sum in compensation.

The letter stated that Loong Thye will consider taking the necessary steps if the demands are not met.

Contacted this afternoon, the politician declined to comment on his letter of demand, saying that he will leave it to his lawyers to handle the matter.

In the March 8 polls, Loong Thye who made his election debut lost to DAP candidate Teh Yee Cheu by 1,935 votes.

chia kwang chyeTanjong Bungah is one of the four state seats under the Bukit Bendera parliamentary constituency, where Kwang Chye (left) contested and was defeated by DAP newcomer Liew Chin Tong with a whopping 16,112-vote majority.

Previously, both these seats were Gerakan strongholds.

Against public interest

In a reply to the letter of demand on Monday, author Khoo contended that the disputed wordings are not defamatory and declined to comply to the demands.

“The said words, when read in the context of the book, are merely a statement by our client […] on the perception or feeling by some over the nomination of (Loong Thye) for the seat of Tanjong Bungah,” read the reply issued through his counsel Messrs Douglas Yee.

He also argued that the wordings are a minor part of the book and that the attempt to prevent the book launch was against public interest.

The book, which provides insights into Gerakan’s operations is scheduled to be launched by party leader Dr Toh Kin Woon, academician and author Dr Ooi Kee Beng and social activist Anwar Fazal at a hotel in Penang at 4pm tomorrow.

The launch will be followed by a forum to discuss the topic of the book.

When contacted, Khoo – who is also the former head of Gerakan think-tank Sedar – said he was disappointed with the attempt to prevent the book launch.

“The forum however will proceed as scheduled regardless of whether an injunction is granted,” he said.

Integrity: Where art thou in BolehLand?


My favorite modern philosopher Ayn Rand, well known for her novels,The Fountainhead (1943 ) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), describes INTEGRITY as “loyality to one’s convictions and values; it is the policy of acting in accordance with one’s values, of expressing, upholding and translating them into practical reality.” ( see, Ayn Rand, The Ethics of Emergencies ).

She adds that one must “never sacrifice one’s convictions to the opinions or wishes of others.” (see Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics ). Integrity, in essence, is “loyalty to rational principles” (based on facts and reality). It is then “the policy of practising what one preaches regardless of emotional or social pressure. It is the policy of not allowing any consideration whatever to overwhelm the conclusions of one’s mind, neither one’s own feelings nor those of others” (Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, 1991).

Read this piece in http://www.malaysiakini.com and then decide what integrity means in BolehLand, where political “correctness”, or political expediency is the norm. I am of the view that Bodekism is the “morality” in BolehLand. The developments in recent weeks, it has reached crisis proportions. It leads me to ask rhetorical question: Integrity, where are thou in Bolehland—Din Merican

Hospital: It wasn’t sodomy-related
Andrew Ong & Tarani Palani

July 30, 08 4:05pm

Hospital Pusrawi said today that its medical officer Dr Mohamed Osman Abdul Hamid did not conduct a sodomy-related examination on Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

MCPX

The hospital revealed that Mohamed Osman, a Burmese national, is not a specialist but only a general practitioner stationed at the Emergency Unit.

hospital pusrawi saiful bukhari sodomy allegations pc 300708 01In a five-paragraph statement distributed to reporters, the hospital’s general manager Wan Mahmood Wan Yaacob also said that it has not released any official reports pertaining to the case.

Also present was hospital’s medical director Kamaruddin Ahmad.

After examining Saiful, Wan Mahmood said, the doctor advised the patient to undergo an examination by a specialist at a government hospital.

“There were no further examinations carried out (on Saiful at Pusrawi) in relation to the sodomy complaint,” he added.

Kamaruddin said the doctor who examined Saiful was not a specialist.

Hospital Pusrawi 280708.jpg“He is not qualified to make any conclusions on sodomy,” he said.

Wan Mahmood added that the examination was related to Saiful’s complaint of having pain in the anus when passing motion.

According to the leaked medical report, Saiful has apparently told the doctor he was allegedly assaulted with a piece of plastic being inserted into his anus.

Hospital Pusrawi was thrust into the limelight following media reports on the findings of the doctor who examined Saiful on June 28, hours before he filed a police report accusing opposition stalwart Anwar Ibrahim of sodomising him.

In his report, the doctor allegedly found no evidence of sodomy.

Looks same, content same too

Quizzed on the authenticity of the report leaked to the media, Wan Mahmud replied: “(It) looks the same, contents are the same.”

puswari hospital pc 300708 kamaruddin“It looks genuine,” added Kamaruddin.

Kamaruddin also said that efforts to contact Mohamed has failed as he was on leave and was expected to be back next Monday.

He revealed that he last spoke to Mohamed two weeks ago. He also added that they had discussed about the the police questioning Mohamed.

“He was not detained by the police and the police were nice to him,” he stressed.

puswari hospital pc 300708 kamaruddin (white) wan mahmud (black)Both Wan Mahmood (photo, right) and Kamaruddin (photo, left) had no doubts on Mohamed’s credibility as a doctor, and added that he was a “good” doctor.

Below are excerpts from the question-and-answer session with Wan Mahmood and Kamaruddin:

Q : Are the reports circulating in the net false?

Doctor (Mohamed Osman) did not conduct a thorough check-up (for sodomy) – that’s under house rules. We have yet to verify the contents of the medical report. We have established an internal investigation group to verify if the contents of the original report are similar with the one that has been circulating around. We deny that Pusrawi has issued the report to any party.

Where is Dr Mohamed Osman now? Are you in contact with him?

Dr Mohamed Osman, he is on leave. No, not at the moment. We don’t know where he is.

Do you know why he went on leave? When did he go on leave?

On Friday.

As your press release states that the doctor did not perform a check-up for sodomy, what check up did he conduct? Did the doctor have a look at Saiful’s anus?

Saiful complained of anus pains so we did what is standard procedure.

(Did Saiful complain of) tummy ache or anus pain?

First, he complaint of tummy ache then he said that he had some pain in his anus.

In the report, it is stated that Saiful had not experienced any bleeding in his stool.

I am not sure of that.

How was the circulating report leaked? What actions will be taken?

saiful bukhari azlan medical report pusrawi sodomyThat is what we are investigating now. God willing, we will find out how the report was leaked. Appropriate action will be taken. We will consult with our legal team on the next course of action.

The investigation is set up first to see if the leaked report is the same as the original and secondly, we would investigate who possibly could have leaked it.

If you have not been in contact with the doctor, how do you know that the doctor did not conduct a medical check-up for sodomy?

We based our decision on the medical report he wrote.

So are there two different reports? Are they (the report that is circulating) the same (as the original)?

It is the same report.

You do have the original report, so is it (the copy that is circulating) the genuine report?

I cannot say if it is the genuine unless someone confirms, the committee. Maybe, maybe not. It looks the same but it is not the original copy, that is with me.

Looks the same but it is not the same because we have the original copy.

So the report that was leaked is not from Pusrawi? Even if the letterhead is the same?

Yes, we deny that (leaking it). Not officially from us.

Are the contents the same? It is the original copy from Pusrawi?

Yes.

Did you talk to the doctor before he went on leave? When was the last time you spoke to him? What did you speak to him about?

I can’t remember, maybe two weeks ago. We just spoke about what happened about the Saiful’s case. The police questioning him (Dr Mohamed Osman).The police were nice to him.

Did Dr Mohamed Osman check Saiful?

The doctor’s name is on the report.

When will you get the results of the (internal) investigation?

I think in about a week.

Is there a more detailed report than the one that is circulating?

None, I don’t think so.

But there were no signs of sodomy.

The doctor advised the patient to go to a government hospital, HKL.

TRO sodomy’ was written in the medical report’s in bracket, does that mean sodomy had occurred?

I am not sure what is written in the bracket.

Can you tell us a little about the doctor? His credentials?

He is qualified. He has been in Malaysia for 10 years. He has been with us since January.

He (Saiful) was not examined for sodomy, but (how come) the doctor said that there was no signs of sodomy.

He came complaining of pain in the anus, so that’s a part of the routine, you look for pus, bleeding.

How is this different from an actual sodomy check-up?

He came complaining of anus pain not complaining of sodomy. So the doctor performed a check-up for anus pain not sodomy.

What led the doctor TRO (to rule out) sodomy? Why?

Because Saiful mentioned that he was sodomised. Sodomy check-up has to be done by a specialist not a medical officer. You need a gut specialist. We don’t have one in Pusrawi.

Does that mean that Dr Mohamed Osman is not qualified to make any conclusions?

He is not qualified to make any statements, any conclusions (with regards to sodomy).

Does the hospital stand by the medical report signed by Dr Mohamed?

I have not seen the report anyway.

You have spoken to Dr Mohamed who has confirmed that he examined Saiful and confirmed that he has signed this medical report, why is the hospital still not convinced that it is the genuine medical report? Why is it taking so long to match the copy with the original copy?

We just realised this. When? Two days ago. It is just like VK Lingam said, “It looks like me, sounds like me but it is not me”.

Have you been in contact with him?

No.

How is the medical check-up for sodomy issued? Is it just an external check-up or an internal check-up?

I can’t answer that, I am not an expert on that division. We usually advice these police cases to go to general hospitals.

You are not disputing whether the medical report is real. You are disputing if Dr Mohamed has the qualifications to ascertain that (sodomy had occurred). Basically you are discrediting your own medical staff?

No, but not when concerning this case. Is he suspended? No, he is on leave.

When is he expected to come back?

He is to return to work on Monday. He joined us in January 2008. We have tried but we cannot reach him, he is not contactable.

Do you think he’ll be back?

He is a good doctor but his examination is not conducive on sodomy.

If the contents of the reports are the same are you acknowledging that the report could have been from Pusrawi?

It could have been. It is the same.

There are two different writing on the medical report.

Yes, there are two different. The patient arrived to see a doctor, and he meet with a female doctor first. After he complained of his anus pain, than he was passed on to a male doctor (Dr Mohamed).

Was that person who leaked (the report) paid?

Anything is possible.

Is this the first time Saiful has seek medical check-up at Pusrawi?

Yes, it was his first time according to our reports.

Is Pusrawi’s ethics been compromised?

We can give assurance that our ethics are protected but this is a high-profile case.

Watch a 3-min video of Pusrawi’s press conference

Malaysia’s Educational Reform: Yellow States lead the Way


by Azly Rahman@Columbia, New York

July 30, 2008
To evolve into wiser individuals with enquiring minds, we must ask questions and reflect upon the answers suggested to us. If we are afraid to ask questions, our mind and consciousness will be owned and manipulated by those who think they have the right answers, or by those who wants to use force to tell us what the right answers shall be.” – My thoughts on the nature of learning

I currently firmly believe that education should first be a dialectical and dialogical tool to mediate and resolve the contradictions between Existentialism and Cyberneticism, and of Cultures of Disabilities, …and next be a Deconstructive-Reconstructivist tool and social force to engineer personal and social revolutions and progress towards the realisation of a personal republic of virtue, ethics, multiculturalism, and metaphysics; so that human beings endowed with the Natural Rights to be free may collectively become educated to rise above hegemony, domination, and oppression and in the final analysis, journey towards a Pastoral and Natural self .”- My personal philosophy of teaching

Let us take a break from thinking about Malaysian politics. Justice will take its natural course, the natural “way”, like how Lao Tzu would philosophize.

In stead, let us talk about the possiblities in education.

I have some ideas on how we can evolve out of this current political quagmire and focus our attention to an ever-pressing national question: how best to educate the children of our nation.

We need to have the states governed by Pakatan Rakyat to experiment with a new paradigm of educational reform. To showcase what “human capital revolution”, “education across the life span” and “education for creative and critical consciousness” means.

Not only to showcase one but to have a continuous improvement plan that uses data-driven and sociologically reflective techniques to engineer, nurture, and sustain such changes until education becomes the only means to educate the child to become a thinking, feeling, and reflecting human being skilled to live in harmony with people of different races and consistently exploring the power to transform the self.

In other words, we need to interrogate our educational practices and see if indeed the one that is engineered by the current regime of Barisan Nasional is effective.

We can embark upon a longitudinal comparative study – which states will progress better with a different set of idea of what education ought to be. The Yellow states of Pakatan Rakyat and the Blue states of Barisan Nasional can each be given five years to showcase improvement. We need to give them only these concepts to work on: “nature of the human beings”, “nature of the human mind”, “nature of learning and teaching”, “nature of change”, “nature of intellectual freedom”, “nurture of human intelligence”, “nurture of multiculturalism”, and “nurture of class consciousness”.

Game on

Let educational philosophers and planners and practitioners form each camp design their long-term strategies and pull together their experts and their resources.

The ultimate goal after five years is to do this: which states will have the least drop-outs, least at-risk youths, least youths incarcerated, most globally-minded, most employable graduates, and more intelligent, more world-wise, and more emphatic leaders in society.

Which states would have the best teachers with the best teaching skills and strategies, most engaged students, most creative classroom, most frequent integration of project-based learning strategies, most innovative assessment strategies, most inquisitive students, happiest learners, most-mentally resilient and gung-ho graduates, and most internationally-recognized awards?

Which states would still have the most unmotivated teachers, most vandalised schools, most neglected students, most number of daily truancy cases, most absent teachers, most stratified schools districts, most wasted class periods, most under-funded schools, most number of tuition classes, most frequent interference of politicians who do not have any business interrupting schools, most mentally lethargic learners, and most unmotivated and unskilled graduates who still need to be coached during job interviews?

That would be a good experiment in human and social transformation.

We need an independent body of researchers to report on the state of educational improvement in these two set of states – the Yellow and the Blue states. The winner of the game will get to take over the entire operation of the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Higher Education.

The winner will get to set up another ministry – The Ministry of Human Intelligence, fashioned after Venezuela’s many years ago, to look into education in the most comprehensive sense of its definition. We need benchmarks of success; those that would reflect national and international standards of excellence, equity, and empathy in education.

These standards need to be met cumulatively and progressively, pegged meaningfully and authentically to SMART national and international standards.

Point-of-no-return

The current state of education in Malaysia, after fifty years of independence, lacks the excellence and the rigour, the political will to recognise equity and equal opportunity, and lack of empathy in looking at the class divisions forming in the process of schooling. It is slow in restructuring society based on the alleviation of poverty regardless of race.

It has failed in its commitment to instill the spirit of Muhibbah; a concept the current government had asked children to sing to in the early 1970s. It is in fact using more sophisticated ways to divide and rule society so that the hegemony of race-based politics will continue to become a status quo.

We are at a critical stage of “point-of-no-return” in education; our conveyor belt of nationalistic-tribalistic education philosophy guised under the name of “educational progress”, is going haywire, sending our batch-processed children off tangent in this Rostowian ideology of educational progress. What a waste of talent and human capital. Instead of turning them into lotuses of learners that bloom, we are making them bricks in the wall.

But first things first, as Steven Covey would say.

Let us first commission a new study of drop-out/keciciran, using good qualitative and quantitative data next and find strategies to deal with it. Our nation is actually in danger of a major human development crisis, compounded by the current oil and food crisis.

The revolution of March 8 needs a new means to sustain a good idea for human development and social change. It has the potential of political, cultural, and educational renewal. We Malaysians must all rise beyond the current pre-September 16 national-political crisis that is imploding and exploding multi-directionally against the backdrop of a world that is perpetually in crisis.

Winning children

But this proposed game of Yellow-Blue educational reform is not about creating and projecting an image alone. It is about our fear for our children’s future. It is about our passion in education and how one can learn from educational practices worldwide.

I believe talents are wasted.

There are solutions that this current regime has not yet discovered. Our goal is to see children of ALL races progress. That’s what any religion and humanistic philosophy teaches. Whatever success one’s own children have achieved, that success formula MUST be applied to the children of others, especially of the poor.

That’s what a good philosophy of education should mean to us. We cannot discriminate any child; at all levels of his/her development. The mind is too precious to be under the control of the ignorant, the arrogant, and the xenophobic.

Perhaps the state of Selangor as the most progressive state can show us the way forward in education; and the fruits of success shared with others. It can even be a hub for top notch and quality education that will link its institutions with top notch programs, institutes, and colleges worldwide.

Perhaps this state can be spearhead the radical reform and see an intellectually sustainable culture emerging. Perhaps Selangor’s state university UNISEL (Universiti Industri Selangor) can be the impetus for change; spearheading comprehensive reforms at all levels. This will be followed by other state-owned and private universities until we see a parallel paradigm running; each documenting and reporting successes and rooms for improvement based on a “child-centered” curriculum that guarantees success for all.

The Barisan Nasional government has its own idea of what Malaysian education should look like; an idea closely tied to communal/race-based politics and the obsession with mind-control, obedience, and the lessening of critical thinking. It has its own competent Vice Chancellors that are working hard to have their institutions reach world-class status.

But looking at things from a collaborative point of view, perhaps these two ideologies in education (the yellow-blue ideological-dichotomy) can one day be dissolved when the experiment’s over. Ultimately bi-partisan thinking should govern educational change. Ultimately in education, philosophy will triumph over politics.

When must we then embark upon this game of education – the race for excellence, equity, and empathy in education? It must be a game in which every child must come out a winner.