Noor Farida Ariffin–The Catalyst for Change

May 25, 2015

Phnom Penh

G-25’s Ambassador Noor Farida Ariffin–The Catalyst for Change

by Mariam Mokhtar@

Noor_Farida_AriffinWith her razor-sharp mind and equally sharp tongue that can slice through any argument, Noor Farida Ariffin is every inch a fighter. So do not let her string of pearls, pale eye-shadow, pastel coloured jacket and welcoming smile fool you.

The effervescent Danny Quah, Professor of Economics and International Studies and Director of the Saw Swee Hock South East Asian Centre of the London School of Economics (LSE), helped facilitate Farida’s talk on “Fighting Religious Extremism in Malaysia” in London recently. Despite the exam period, when many students were not available, the event was packed with Malaysians and other nationals. There was standing room only at the back, and late comers were relegated to an adjoining room.

Quah called Farida a “patriot”, a “true public servant” and a “genuine Malaysian leader”. He also praised her peers in the G25. The G25 is a group of 25 prominent Malaysians, comprising former diplomats and heads of the civil service, who have sought to “reclaim Malaysia from racial and religious extremism”.

Quah said, “The kind of vitriol and rhetoric that is peddled by intolerant extremists threatens to poison the nation. “Now, more than ever, we need voices such as Her Excellency’s to speak out and help us all come together.”

Farida gave a brief but comprehensive review of the incidents of rising religious extremism in Malaysia. She expressed disappointment that the country’s so-called leaders had allowed Malaysia to slip downhill.

She said that Malaysia once prided itself as a model of racial harmony and a nation that could display a multicultural and multi-religious society to the rest of the world. But the current reality, she said, was a disturbing picture of Islamic NGOs and religious authorities wielding power over a cowed population, with the Malays being watched by a brutal and unapologetic moral police who act like thugs and the non-Malays and non-Muslims subject to intense provocation.

She gave a laundry list of vile acts which involved body snatching, the conversion of minors, the “Allah” issue, the seizure of Bibles and the actions of born-again Muslims. She also spoke of Muslims being persecuted through mindless acts perpetrated by the religious authorities.

In 2012, the mean-spirited religious authorities hounded Nik Raina Abdul Aziz, called her a lesbian, and made her life a living hell by persecuting her because the book “Allah, Liberty and Love” by Canadian author Irshad Manji was sold in the book store where she worked.

The book had not been banned by the Home Ministry. Despite the case being thrown out of court, JAWI lodged an appeal and refused to show any compassion towards Nik Raina and said that “it was not their problem”.

Concern over the disturbing developments of the last few years and the creeping Talibanisation of Malaysia prompted the members of the G25 to express their disgust at the corruption of Malaysia. The original G25 has expanded to 40 members and is still growing. Farida hopes that they would be the catalysts for change.

She said, “The secretaries-general of the various ministries, former diplomats, directors-generals, heart surgeons, etc are establishment figures. They are not rabble rousers. So, we said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Farida added that an open letter from the G25 to PM Najib Abdul Razak had caused a stir in the nation, which had prompted more of the silent majority to begin speaking out.

Dr. Mahathir started the Politics of Islam

Najib Vs Mahathir

Farida was in no doubt about the start of the rot. She cited former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s role in changing the Constitution in 1988 to make syariah law on par with civil law. She said, “He declared Malaysia an Islamic state, which is not true.”

She expressed horror that fatwas were legally binding in Malaysia, whereas in the rest of the world, they were just legal opinions. She said that hudud law was in clear violation of the Federal Constitution.

“What they are doing is tarnishing the image of Islam,” she said. “The way they are interpreting the religion is wrong. They have hijacked the religion.”

Angry that the current leadership has politicised Islam for their own ends, she described the plight of the East Malaysians and said, “Who can blame the Sabahans and Sarawakians for wishing to secede?”

Her detractors have called her an apostate for opposing the implementation of hudud. She said, “Hudud is not Allah’s law. Corrupt businessmen, in cahoots with equally corrupt politicians, steal from the national coffers and get away with their crimes. An unemployed man steals to feed his family and gets his hands chopped off. Is this justice?

“What PAS wants is just to punish. The Quran mentions love, compassion, justice and mercy. The first principle of Islam is upholding justice. These people do not know what they are doing. From ancient times, the history of religion is of the priestly class always arrogating to themselves power and control over their followers. It is all about power.”

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

*Dato’ Noor Farida  Ariffin served as Director-General at the Research, Treaties and International Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and  Ambassador-At-Large for the High Legal Experts Group on Follow-up to the ASEAN Charter (HLEG). She was a Civil Servant with over 40 years of experience, 25 of which was with the Judicial and Legal Service, 5 with the Commonwealth Secretariat and 12 with the Foreign Ministry.

She was the Co-Agent of Malaysia for the Pulau Batu Puteh Case has had a long and distinguished career spanning 36 years in the Public Service. She joined the Judicial and Legal Service in February 1971 where she served in various capacities including magistrate, senior assistant registrar in the High Courts of Kuala Lumpur and Penang, legal officer with the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, Director of the Legal Aid Bureau and Sessions Court Judge. She was seconded by the Government to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London for 5 years as Director of the Women and Development Programme, Human Resource and Development Group.

In February 1993, upon her return to Malaysia, she was transferred to Wisma Putra to head the newly established Legal Division of the Ministry. In September 1996, she was absorbed into the Administrative and Diplomatic Service and was appointed the Under-Secretary of the newly formed Territorial and Maritime Division of the Foreign Ministry. In August 2000, she was posted to the Netherlands as the Malaysian Ambassador to that country. She was also concurrently appointed the Malaysian Co-Agent to the International Court of Justice for the Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan Case against Indonesia and the Malaysian Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which is based in The Hague. She was elected to the Chair of the 8th Conference of States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention in October 2003. Prior to that, at the First Review Conference of the above Convention (April/May 2003) she was elected to chair the Drafting Group on the Political Declaration. She was again appointed the Malaysian Co-Agent by the Government when Malaysia and Singapore agreed to submit the Pulau Batu dispute to the International Court of Justice.

She has been a Director of Eco World Development Group Berhad since March 20, 2015. She served as an Independent Non- Executive Director at S P Setia Berhad from June 18, 2009 to March 26, 2015. She completed her legal studies at the Inns of Court in London. She joined the Judicial and Legal Service in February 1971 where she served in various capacities including magistrate, Senior Assistant Registrar in the High Courts of Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Legal Officer with the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, Director of the Legal Aid Bureau and Sessions Court Judge. Her Qualifications include: Barrister- at- Law (Gray’s Inn), United Kingdom in 1970.–



18 thoughts on “Noor Farida Ariffin–The Catalyst for Change

  1. The man who started the rot is now on a campaign to remove Najib as Prime Minister. While we can agree with his move and support his efforts, we cannot excuse him for what he did to our country during his 22 year rule. He destroyed our system of governance in order to do things his way. Unlike Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who left a legacy in Singapore as a model of good governance and socio-economic transformation, he destroyed everything that stood in his way from the Constitution, education, system of checks and balance to institutions of governance. Mahathir thought that no one had better ideas. One has to agree with his way, or hit the highway. The Malays will not forgive for insulting them. In his twilight years, he has become a cynic.–Din Merican

  2. Perhaps it will be the Muslim women of Malaysia, like Dato Noor who will take up the challenge to restore moderation in our country. The politicians (mostly men) are doing absolutely nothing.

  3. An experienced administrator and diplomat. Malaysia certainly needs more Malay women like Dato’ Noor to speak up and raise national issues of concern. Chung Tat Lim

  4. The man who started the rot is also the man who people now put hope, at least some reliance for change? Whose real fault it is when their leaders have kept failing and they keep going back to them? And their alternative if UMNO/BN fails – a religous party that broke their promise to their partners that helped revived them, lies, mediocre in administration and have at least many of UMNO’s political culture..

  5. “Noor Farida Ariffin–The Catalyst for Change”


    Yes indeed.

    Also to share this…

    21 May 2015 – UMNO’S SHOCKING POPULATION RE-ENGINEERING: Chasing away 2 mil Chinese, 0.5 mil Indians …
    Written by Johan Bakri

    This is of interest to those watching the development of Malaysia and Singapore
    I am currently reading two books in parallel:

    1] The March to Putrajaya This is about the recent and current happenings in
    Malaysia. It is the first book I am reading as an e-book (attached)

    2] Men in White. This is the history of Singapore for the last 50 years The contrast is most enlightening; not that one has to read the books to know. The books spells out the minutiae that is not intended for the public eyes. Needless to say the former is banned in Malaysia.

    UMNO and Population Engineering by Hussein Abd Hamid Since 1957 UMNO has effectively carried out the population engineering of our country to ensure its long-term survival by creating the myth of a two pronged “Ketuanan Melayu”. “Ketuanan Melayu” for the Malay masses who are lulled into a feeling of being superior over the non-Malays because of their numbers and “Ketuanan Melayu” for the UMNO Malay political elites through the accumulation of massive material wealth for themselves and their cronies. And while UMNO has failed by almost any measure you chose to gauge them – good governance or morality – without question they have succeeded too well in the engineering of the population of this country of ours.

    The duplicity of UMNO in proclaiming Satu Bangsa, Satu Negara while all the while undertaking a relentless program to whittle down the numbers of the non-Malays through very precise and focused initiatives is breathtaking in its effectiveness!
    Consider this:

    In 1957:
    – 45% of the population are Chinese.
    – 12% of the population are Indians.
    In 2010
    – 25% of the population are Chinese.
    – 7% of the population are Indians.
    Over 600,000 Chinese and Indian Malaysians with redIC were rejected repeatedly when applying for citizenship and possibly 80% of them had passed away due to old age.
    Since 1957:
    – 2 million Chinese have emigrated.
    – 0.5 million Indians have also emigrated overseas.
    – 3 million Indonesians migrated to Malaysia to become Malaysian citizens with Bumiputra status.

    Now the non-Malays are well aware of this tinkering and engineering of our population and it would do us Malays no good to say that it was UMNO doing and that we had no hand in what happened. As a Malay I was then comfortable that UMNO was the dominant partner in the Barisan Nasional.

    It was comforting to know that Malays controlled four of the five major banks. Education? Between 1968 to 2000:

    – 48 Chinese Primary Schools closed down.
    – 144 Indian Primary Schools closed down.
    – 2637 Malay Primary Schools were built.

    Of the total government budget for these schools 2.5% were for the Chinese Primary Schools, 1% for the Indian Primary School and 96.5% for the Malay Primary School .

    Petronas Petrol Stations? Of the 2000 stationsthe Malays owned 99%. Yes we Malays were indeed in control. In control of what?

    We were in control of the all the business licenses and permits for Taxis and Approved Permits.
    We were in control of Government contracts of which 95% were given to Malays.
    We were in control of the Rice Trade through Bernas that bought over 80% of Chinese Rice Millers in Kedah.
    We were in control of UMBC, MISC and Southern Bank – all previously owned by Chinese.
    We were in control of bus companies.

    Throughout Malaysia MARA buses could be seen plying all the routes. Non-Malays were simply displaced by having their application for bus routes and for new buses rejected.

    Every new housing estate built had a mosque or a surau. None, I repeat “no” temples or churches were built for any housing estate!

    So why with control over all these highly visible entities and business opportunities are the Malays still unable to stand tall and with pride over and above the non-Malays? We are unable to so do because it was not the Malays that benefited from these opportunities – UMNO did.

    Why must UMNO constantly harp about the need to spoon feed the Malays – about ketuanan Melayu when it is already in place and about Bumiputra status and all the privileges and rights that goes with that status?

    And as a Malay I want to ask the non-Malays why do you still choose to live in a country whose government has by its actions and deeds done whatever it could to make you feel not welcome? The non-Malays I know have all told me the same thing – Malaysia is their country – they know of no other country they can call their own. And so they stay and put up with the abuses.

    The difference now is that there are enough Malays who are shamed by the antics of this Malay political organization called UMNO. There are enough Malays to tell the non-Malays that we feel your pain. We understand your frustrations and despair at not being treated as equals in a country you call your own. And enough non-Malays have migrated abroad to cause our country to understand that their loss is another country’s gain. A loss, which our country can ill afford to sustain.

    And more importantly all this ground swell of disgust and contempt at UMNO has manifested itself in a way these political idiots understand – losing our votes in the 12th General Elections. Amen for that. And so we wait for the 13th General Election which we hope will dish out the relevant karma for UMNO and its Barisan Nasional partners. Meantime understand what they have done to us all – not only the non-Malays but also to the Malays and do not allow Barisan Nasional to play the race card and start their divide and rule antics on us anymore.




    You be the judge.

  6. “She was again appointed the Malaysian Co-Agent by the Government when Malaysia and Singapore agreed to submit the Pulau Batu dispute to the International Court of Justice.”

    So what in the world did she do or not do that we lose Batu Puteh to Singapore?
    The blame must go to the Attorney-General and others who were more senior than her in the Malaysian team.–Din Merican.

  7. Quote:- “The politicians (mostly men) are doing absolutely nothing”

    Why should they? They are beneficiaries of the very system Noor Farida is speaking against. In fact if they do anything at all, it would be to discredit her.

  8. If u will to ask, who I would like to throw a punch to the face, I’ll tell u TM.
    Not because I hate him.
    Not because we”ve feud.
    Not because he’s Muslim.
    Not because he’s a Malay or so.
    Because he has done more harm than good to the country. So many abandoned projects that can make world records. Twist our country’s system. Making our people lagging behind. A lot more I think people already know. To the youngsters, what you know is hearsay. To the 40yrs above, many have witnessed them with their own eyes. But now he is still grumbling that Malays will lose power. With his wealth of experience he should unite all races for the sake of our beloved nation, that he has damaged.

  9. “She gave a laundry list of vile acts which involved body snatching, the conversion of minors, the “Allah” issue, the seizure of Bibles and the actions of born-again Muslims. She also spoke of Muslims being persecuted through mindless acts perpetrated by the religious authorities.”

    The above are considered bad only if we compare them to what we were in the recent past. Comparing the above bad incidences to the rest of Muslim-majority countries in the world, Malaysia is so much better that you cannot believe how lucky you are. (If Malaysia could offer free citizenship to all Muslim-majority countries, we can achieve 70 million populations easily.) This is not an accident and there must a cause or causes behind it. I hypothesize that Malay pre-Islamic culture makes Malays adopt Islam in a way different from those of Muslims of other nations. Weakness of Islam heartland in Middle East between 1500 and 1950 and the vast distance between ME and Malaysia have filtered out majorities of Islamic schools and therefore limited the influence of Arab culture.

    With globalization, the luck of Malaysia may not last long. Malaysia being a small country not able to form its cultural foundation based on its own experience will have to counter not only Western ideas but also Arab culture masquerading as authentic Islam. Two symptoms of how bad we fail to form a cultural foundation are the lack of national narrative (what is a Malaysian?) and the word “conservative” is perceived by almost all Malaysians as “religious conservative”, as if constitutionalism, patriotism, founding fathers’ aspiration, nationhood, the spirit of merdeka, and liberty are not also a part of conservatism. Arab culture imported from Middle East through recent petrol dollars is considered conservative and the foundation of our culture. Why?

  10. Din.
    After group 25 came up with the latter ,another group of prominent Malay Intellctual came up with another latter opposing them.Faridah and her group represent the liberal Malay /muslim and the other group represent the conservative Malay /Muslim.

  11. Nora,

    Here is the point.

    The liberal group is not dictating how you choose to interpret your faith whereas the conservative group is not only dictating the terms of your personal faith but also mandating that the State enforces their agenda.

    In other words one group can credibly say that theirs is the Religion of Peace and the other cannot make such a claim. I’ll leave you to decide which is which.

  12. Nah.., Conrad leave that confused lady alone.
    Nowadays, it’s getting more difficult to define Malay, don’t you think?
    ‘Malay first’ ain’t half as bad a Bugis on a sinking perahu.
    What happens when a Bugis noble marries a Minangkabau princess (acquired title)?
    Then we have all these Jawa running amok. Who’s Madurese? Melayu? Toragan? Dayak? Melanau?
    CLF, you did not mention the disguised mamak who is running around like a wild turkey in his futile attempt to force the recalcitrant Najib, the bugis warrior, to resign from office, and forgot to pay tribute to the mamaks of my clan who controlled Chulia Street, Penang moons again. –Din Merican

  13. A sharp tongue and a sound mind are seldom found in the same skull. Granted this may not apply to the person in question. It is her generation of civil servants who implemented government policies over the past 3 to 4 decades. And all of us know that affirmative action like the one -child policy means that your scarce resources will go to that person even if that was not the original intent. But that is all water under the bridge. What disturbs me is that there is no discussion on what is the way forward apart form the call for a change in government. Yes, it may be a starting point. But without a road-map as to where we want to go means that we go back to square one. And in the meantime our citizens, that is the top 5%, will vote with their feet and go where they want to go.

    All this goes back to the same speech. We must learn to make our RM1.00 work like RM2.00 and better still, in this internet age, like RM4.00. Our focus must be on that key indicator- what is the cost of increasing our GDP by RM1.00 with special attention to lifting that bottom 40% of the population into the mainstream. If we are able to do that than we can sit back and contemplate our future in comfort

  14. Road map, TL?
    I think we need to prioritize inclusiveness and understand what it is to be Malaysian first, and take it from there. Nationalism does not mean Narrow Ethnic or Religious-centric Conservatism, but in the broadest sense a form of Utilitarianism.

    Corruption, Cronyism and Nepotism, to be dealt with with extreme measures or prejudice. Discard the exceptionalism and crutch politics and reestablish the rule of Law, not rule by law. Easier said than done.

    The affirmative policies so entrenched, must be needs based and the economy must take cognizance of the abilities and define what ‘meritocracy’ should actually be, in the context of ‘Malaysian-ness’. Revamp the education system. The retired civil servants, who are not corrupt, dead-wood or parochial can help a lot, as they intimately understand how things work or should work. Process engineering applied to bureaucracy needed. The Federal government is not a State government writ large.

    And i have an issue on your last paragraph. Are you suggesting Bitcoins or other controversial internet or virtual digital economy? Or have you been reading too much ‘virtual reality’ novels? One ringgit should just mean one ringgit, not One USD or Euro – but more importantly, less than 20 sen. There are already too many paupers and Ah Longs in this woe-begotten Bolehland.

  15. CLF, My lines are clear. I mean prudent financial management. We should get our contracts rights without need for re negotiation as one GLC is about to do.

  16. “I think we need to prioritize inclusiveness and understand what it is to be Malaysian first, and take it from there. Nationalism does not mean Narrow Ethnic or Religious-centric Conservatism, but in the broadest sense a form of Utilitarianism. ” – C.L. Familiaris

    I think this is an important point if not the most important point. Most times people define themselves or rather define Malaysian-ness through political/religious systems or bureaucratic systems. There’s this idea that there is some sort of compromise – the social contract – or middle way – moderation – as a means to achieve social or political equilibrium . Some choose to the class approach rather than the race view but in my experience [ limited though it may be], here in Malaysia, class and race are intimately entwined. In many respects BN and PR seem to be atavistic in nature.

  17. A nation can maintain its health only if it has enough decent people in both conservative and liberal wings so that extremists are crowded out at the fringes of the both wings. Enough decent people must be confident enough to claim to be conservative (with respect to the nation’s history, not the outer world) and proud of it; And Kadir Shiekh Fadzir with his Ikatan could be one of them.

  18. Pingback: Fatal sedition: Noor Farida Ariffin kept in line with rape threats ‹ Muslimah Media Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.