To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense

January 20, 2016

To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense, that’s Mahathirism-Anwarism-Dollah Kok Lanasism(1986)

by Dr.Clive Kessler


That the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu, of Malay ascendancy and primacy and domination, is a key principle of the Constitution, one that is deeply and pervasively embedded throughout its many clauses and pages? Simply, that this claim is a crude “try-on.” An outrageous, and outrageously over-reaching, “ambit claim.”A third-rate “con job.”One that could persuade only the ignorant.And that is precisely to whom it is these days addressed and targeted.–Dr.Clive Kessler

Enough of this nonsense! Enough already! Malaya and then Malaysia was created as a secular nation. Denial of this basic fact has become commonplace in recent times.

Malaysia-What's wrong

Ketuanan Melayu –First Order Political Bunkum

The pioneers in promoting the revisionist myth that there was or is nothing secular in the nation’s origins or about its Constitution have been the creative legal innovators and myth-makers of the PPMM: Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia (Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association) –- notably Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar — and their like-minded associates in CENTHRA, the Putrajaya-based and Saudi-friendly Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy, headed by on Azril Mohd Amin.

Their lead is followed, and their disruptive views are echoed, by a horde of Utusan Malaysia scribes and ideologues and, in their wake, a claque of well-connected writers and publicists and ambitious politicos. In the absence of any clear refutation, their increasingly unchallenged view now threatens to become “the default position”, the received and undeniable truth.

But are they right?  In short, no. And for three main reasons.

1.  The explicit and the implicit.

A key and basic tenet of their position is that the word “secular” can nowhere be found in the Constitution. Therefore, they hold, the Constitution and nation cannot be secular. It is in no way tainted in even the slightest way by any suggestion of secularist principles or ideas.

And since it — the word — cannot be found there, and since Article 3 affirms that, in its public international personality, Islam is the emblematic religion of the state, then (so they argue) Malaysia must be, on core constitutional and historical grounds, an Islamic state — or, at the very least, one that has been authoritatively launched from birth on an irrevocable path towards becoming an Islamic state based upon Shariah law.


Malaysia-Secular and Diverse Constitutional Democracy with a Monarch for All

Some now even go further. They now argue that, since Article 3 is allegedly “the best known” article of the Constitution in public consciousness (on what grounds or empirical evidence they claim this they do not say), it follows that Article 3 is the key or central article of the Constitution as a whole and that, in resolving all contested matters, Article 3 (in their own strong, revisionist sense of its meaning) takes precedence over and must “trump” all other legal arguments and considerations and constitutional niceties.

Is this supposed primacy of Article 3 explicit? No. Just implicit, implied, inferred.These authors are in fact very familiar with the idea of the explicit and the implicit, of what is tersurat and what is also tersirat, what is in the words and what is behind them, “between the lines.”

These same authors and creative doctrinal and Constitutional myth-makers are elsewhere quite happy to argue that the controversial idea of Ketuanan Melayu — which did not exist when the basis and terms of the Constitution were negotiated between 1955 and 1957, and which only achieved currency after it was coined by Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad (aka Dollah Kok Lanas) in 1986 — is a foundational principle of the Constitution.

How do they argue this?They say that, while the term itself is not used and does not appear explicitly in the Constitution, the idea is there, implicit and immanent, in Article 153 (the “Malay special rights” provision) and in the web of meanings linking that Article to other related articles of the Constitution.

The idea, they insist, is there behind the words and between the lines.They cannot find it there explicitly. They impute its presence, and in that way “build back” this post-1986 idea into the foundational meaning and conceptual texture of the Constitution. Even though the word itself cannot be found there!

On these inferred or imputed grounds they insist that Ketuanan Melayu is a key constitutional principle, that it is, and always has been, a part of the “social contract” that enabled the Constitution to be adopted and promulgated — and that people are now obliged in perpetuity to uphold that constitutionally “retrofitted” principle or doctrine as part of the nation’s founding “social contract”: as a key principle of the nation’s core official character and identity.

The stark contrast of approach here in these two related matters (their anti-secularist, pro-Islamic state reading of Article 3 and the imputing or inferring of Ketuanan Melayu as constitutionally based and embedded) proves one thing: that their ways of arguing are not consistent and principled but arbitrary and opportunistic.That is no basis for solemn and serious Constitutional reasoning.

2.  History

Article 3 does not say that Malaysia is a secular nation, but it does say that Islam is its official emblematic religion: therefore Malaysia is in no way secular. On far stronger and clearer Constitutional grounds, it can be said to be Islamic: even an Islamic state, or one in the making.

That is the revisionist position. It is one that is ignorant of history.It is one that is even based upon a wilful refusal to acknowledge the history of the Constitution and its origins in the so-called “Merdeka Process” and “Merdeka Agreements.”

To serious scholars the facts are clear and well-known.That the ideologues and revisionists do not care to accept them is another matter. But not one that adds any credence to their position or authority to their arguments.

The entire “Merdeka Process” was quite explicitly about creating Malaya as a modern, progressive, democratic and secular nation.

For a while it was thought that the word secular might be used explicitly in its Constitution. But, to allow for certain Malay sensibilities (including the fairly widespread Malay misunderstanding of the term “secular” as meaning or entailing “atheistic”), it was decided that the idea would be left unsaid — largely because it did not need to be spelled out.

But the secular idea was basic to the emerging Constitution and pervasive within it. The proposed basis of nationhood could not be seen or understood as anything but a modern secular Constitution: one that sought and was designed to create a progressive nation prospectively grounded in the popular sovereignty of its people, all of its people.

Nor, equally, in a balanced way, was there to be any formal mention of Islam as a key principle in the Constitution. This, it was felt, would add further weight to the Constitution’s and the nation’s secular, plural, inclusive and democratic character.

This was how things stood until the final evening of the long drafting deliberations of the Reid Commission. That was what the members of the Commonwealth-based Commission had thrashed out and agreed upon.

Suddenly, at the last moment, something happened.Some say that he had been lobbied heavily. Others say that a personally bitter argument erupted over Kashmir between the Indian member of the Commission, Judge B. Malik, and the Pakistani member, Judge Halim Abdul Hamid.

At all events, on the last evening the Pakistani member broke ranks. He would no longer be bound by the agreements already reached.  The Constitution might remain implicitly secular, he conceded, but there should be some mention of Islam as the formally emblematic religion of the new state, as part of its international identity and personality in the world family of nations.

Held over a barrel, and with their bags already packed, the other members of the Commission agreed to accommodate Judge Halim Abdul Hamid’s last-minute requirement — on the understanding that the added affirmation was to be purely nominal or symbolic: that it would have no flow-on effects upon any other Constitutional matters, and that it would not compromise or diminish (as had been agreed in extended discussions) the modern, democratic and secular character of the Constitution as a whole and of the nation to be founded upon it.

On that basis, and with little choice in the matter in the face of one man’s sudden intractability, the other members of the Commission agreed to Judge Abdul Hamid’s extraordinary last-minute requirement.

But what is significant now is not the dramatic personal ins-and-outs of the Reid Commission and its workings.It is what followed from that last minute accommodation of Judge Abdul Hamid’s exercise of a shock, peremptory veto.

Many, especially the negotiators for UMNO’s partner parties, were deeply disquieted by this last-minute development. So they sought and received formal assurances — which, on the grounds that they were sincerely meant and offered and so would remain binding, they accepted.

This assurance was approved and issued by Tun Abdul Razak, on behalf of UMNO and his successors who would later lead it, in the form of a document (now a key part of the official collection of British government published documents recording the decolonization process in Malaya) that was intended as a codicil, or accompanying explanatory document, to the Constitution itself — and specifying the terms of the agreement of all parties to it.

As is well-known, the Alliance Memorandum stated that “although the religion of Malaysia would be Islam, the observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion, and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State.”

If there is any such thing as a Malayan and Malaysian “social contract” by which people remain bound, this is surely a key part of it. “Pacta servanda sunt” is a key principle of law: solemn agreements are to be solemnly observed and punctiliously upheld.

Those who these days loudly shout that “the social contract” must be respected and that it entails, and has always entailed, general acceptance by all Malaysians (and especially non-Malays), in perpetuity, of the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu would do well to recall and abide by that obligation here in this matter.

They owe it not only to others, especially their non-Malay and non-Muslim fellow citizens.They owe it to themselves, if they are to live honourably and honestly and decently with their own recent political past — with themselves.

3.  Context.

To assess accurately whether or not Malaysia is foundationally a secular or an Islamic state, it helps to consider its Constitution.Not just legally, in lawyer-like manner, clause by clause but more broadly. Historically.

In the light of comparative political and Constitutional and social and intellectual history.There is no need to try to hunt down, as the decisive and tell-tale indicator, whether the word “secular” appears in its political or conceptual lexicon.And there is no need to get too fancy or philosophical about this matter.

All one has to ask is:

What kind of a Constitution is Malaysia’s?

Is it culturally and doctrinally and conceptually a Buddhist Constitution?

Is it a Hindu Constitution?

Is it an Islamic Constitution?

The answer is no, three times no.

What is it then? It is a modern, liberal-democratic Constitution.A modern Constitution, born of a modern and progressive and largely secular age, one that is couched in secular terms, and formed upon secularist assumptions.There is no other way to understand or classify or to typify it.

It was drafted and promulgated and enacted as the modern Constitution of, and for the continuing growth and development of, a modern, progressive, inclusive, pluralistic but cohesive, and secular society and nation.

A Constitution that — while it acknowledges and finds an honoured place for the ancient royal mystique and semi-sacred aura of its traditional Malay rulers, for their world-focusing daulat — was nevertheless founded upon the consent of its many and diverse subjects; meaning, on the principle of “popular sovereignty” (here the modern Malay word, often confusingly, is kedaulatan).But remember, as one always must, that daulat and kedaulatan, despite their being linguistically and etymologically cognate terms, are two entirely different things.

They are born of, stem from, and are anchored within two entirely distinct, different and mutually incommensurate universes of political meaning.The Rulers have daulat, the nation is built upon and (like all modern nations) is an expression of the sovereignty of its people.

That is where modern political legitimacy comes from.The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is a Constitution that rests upon and which affirms the principle of popular sovereignty.That is what modern Constitutions and nations are. That is their “ontology”.

And, yes, Malaysia’s Federal Constitution is — or was by initial intention and design — a secular Constitution. One for a society that was, or was to become, an increasingly secular nation.

One that would not be hostile to religion but hospitable and equitably hospitable to religious and human diversity.Malaysia and its Constitution were incontrovertibly established as secular, on secular foundations and principles and assumptions.The struggle these days — and it is now no easy struggle — is to keep it that way.

4.  In conclusion

So what can one say about the claim that Malaysia is not, and never was and was never intended to be, a secular state? That its Constitution is not secular and makes no provision or space for secular principles?

That Article 3 establishes Malaya and Malaysia as, at least prospectively but irrevocably, an Islamic state operating on the basis of Shariah law? That the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu, of Malay ascendancy and primacy and domination, is a key principle of the Constitution, one that is deeply and pervasively embedded throughout its many clauses and pages?

Simply, that this claim is a crude “try-on.”An outrageous, and outrageously over-reaching, “ambit claim.”A third-rate “con job.”One that could persuade only the ignorant.And that is precisely to whom it is these days addressed and targeted.

Dr. Clive Kessler is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

33 thoughts on “To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense

  1. Can someone point us to an official website that has the Reid Commission in its entirety? It is almost crazy. But, to me it seems that both Reid Commission and Cobalt commission have both been classified. Through google, we seem to have to depend on a catholic lawyer to get a copy of the Reid Commission? My personal reading into my faith, is that my God has already agreed to a clear separation of church and state, although the faithful need not abandon their faith in public policies, since the days of Saul.
    Go to London or the universities there. To Cambridge University and meet Dr.Tim Harper and talk to him. Here is his profile:

    Dr. Tim Harper, Reader in Southeast Asian and Imperial History
    Magdalene College
    Cambridge CB3 0AG
    Office Phone: 01223 3 32100
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    Subject groups/Research projects

    World History:

    Departments and Institutes

    Magdalene College:

    Research Interests

    Modern Southeast Asian history and world history.

    Research Supervision

    Dr. Tim Harper has supervised MPhil and PhD theses on a range of topics on modern Southeast Asian history, the region’s connections with the wider world and other areas of imperial and world history.

    Examples of Ph.D. theses on Southeast Asia are: European travel and knowledge in early modern Southeast Asia; nature, Islam and colonial rule in Trengganu; globalization and religious revival in the Indian Ocean Rim in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries; United States relations with Singapore in the 1950s; modernity, popular culture and urban life in colonial Singapore; revolution, communism, and history in the thought of Tran Van Giàu; language and politics in Malaysia: creole families in Southeast Asia, and the political thought of Tan Malaka. Other PhD projects supervised include opium consumption in Qing China; the political economy of the rubber trade in the British Empire; cosmopolitanism and port city elites in Asia; the British empire and the Hajj; British development policy during the Palestine mandate; early photography in colonial Asia; diaspora politics in Cairo during and after the First World War; British military occupations of Eastern Mediterranean cities; queer identity and the Chinese diaspora since 1850, slums, squatters and urban redevelopment schemes in Bombay, Hong Kong and Singapore, 1894-1960, and economic liberalisms in India 1940-70.


    Dr. Tim Harper currently lectures for Part I paper 23: ‘World history since 1914’, and the Themes and Sources paper, ‘The Bandung Moment: revolution and anti-imperialism in the twentieth century’, for which he acts as convenor.

    Other Professional Activities

    Dr Harper is Associate Director of the Centre for History and Economics where he co-convenes, with Sunil Amrith, research projects on ‘Sites of Asian Interactions: Networks, Ideas, Archives’ and ‘The Transnational History of Health in Southeast Asia, 1914-2014’. He is a work package leader for ‘SEATIDE – Integration in Southeast Asia: Trajectories of Inclusion, Dynamics of Exclusion’, a project coordinated by the EFEO, Paris, and funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, in which the Centre of History and Economics is a partner.

    Dr Harper is also a Syndic of Cambridge University Press and a member of the Executive Committee of Modern Asian Studies. He is a general editor of a new monograph series, ‘Asian Connections’.

    Key Publications

    Forgotten Wars: the End of the Britain’s Asian Empire (Allen Lane/Penguin: London, 2007), with Christopher Bayly
    Forgotten Armies: the Fall of British Asia, 1941-45 (Allen Lane/Penguin: London, 2004), with Christopher Bayly
    The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999 [Paperback edn., 2001])

    Sites of Asian Interaction: Ideas, Networks and Mobility (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014), ed. With Sunil S. Amrith

    Histories of Health in Southeast Asia: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century (University of Indiana Press: Bloomington, 2014), ed. with Sunil S. Amrith
    ‘Singapore, 1915, and the birth of the Asian underground’, Modern Asian Studies, 47 (2013)
    ‘The Malay World, besides empire and nation’, Indonesia and the Malay World 42, 120 (2013), pp. 273-90
    ‘Sites of Asian interaction’, Special Issue, Modern Asian Studies, 46, 2 (2012), ed. with Sunil Amrith, including ‘Sites of Asian Interaction: An Introduction’, pp. 249-56
    ‘The tools of transition: education and development in modern Southeast Asian history’, in Michael Woolcock, et al eds., History and Development Policy: A Necessary Dialogue (Manchester University Press, 2011), pp. 193-211
    ‘The British “Malayans”’, in Robert Bickers, ed., Settlers and expatriates: Britons over the seas (Oxford History of the British Empire companion series: Oxford, 2010), pp. 233-268
    ‘Empire, Diaspora and the Languages of Globalism, 1850-1914’, in A.G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History ( London, 2002), pp. 141-166
    ‘The State and Information in Modern Southeast Asian History’, in Yao Souchou, ed., House of Glass: Culture, Modernity and the State in Southeast Asia (ISEAS: Singapore, 2001), pp. 213-240
    ‘Lim Chin Siong and “the Singapore Story”’, in Jomo K.S. and Tan Jing Quee, eds., Comet in Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History (Forum: Kuala Lumpur, 2001), pp. 1-56. New edition, ed. Poh Soo Kai (SIRD & Pusat Sejarah Rakyat: Kuala Lumpur, 2015).
    ‘Globalism and the Pursuit of Authenticity: the Making of a Diasporic Public Sphere in Singapore’, Sojourn, 12, 2 (1997), pp. 261-92
    ‘“Asian values” and Southeast Asian histories,’ Historical Journal, 40, 2 (1997), pp. 507-17
    ‘The Politics of the Forest in Colonial Malaya’, Modern Asian Studies, 31, 1 (1997), pp. 1-29
    ‘New Malays, New Malaysians: Nationalism, Society and History’, Southeast Asian Affairs 1996 (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies: Singapore, 1996), pp. 238-55

    Other Publications

    ‘Japan’s gigantic second world war gamble’, The Guardian, 7 September 2009

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  2. Good morning to all, good night to some and good day. It is 4.0 am in Phnom Penh (1 hour behind Malaysian time, and 5 pm in Washington DC) as I write on January 20, 2016. The clock keeps ticking and in no time Obama will leave the Presidency and a newly elected 45th President is chosen and inaugurated in a year from now. We are watching developments closely since what Americans decide will impact the world and certainly on our lives. Unfortunately in Malaysia, we will have more of the same from a regime that is under siege, Islamic state nonsense included.

    It takes a respected foreign academic and scholar to say what is on our minds. We have for far too long allowed UMNO politicians and their paid agents and propagandists to promote this ketuanan melayu idea, now made doubly complicated by this Islamic state nonsense. We have arrived a dangerous turning point in our country’s 59-year history because of creeping state sponsored Islamism and race-based politics in the context of a slow growth economy.

    We have a secular constitution but we gave UMNO the leeway to distort the true intentions of the framers of our constitution. It would appear that our political leaders have nothing better to do than mess everything up for us.

    Malay hegemony is surreal. UMNO politicios are creating myths about their power. It is like being the last days of Rome, almost I think. Rome is burning while Nero is engaging in an orgy of sorts.

    It is time we admit that since 1981 when Mahathir took office, our country has become a messed up and corrupt nation state. I am not sure if it is by design or default. But there will be no change since many in UMNO who are benefiting from it will seek to perpetuate ketuanan melayu and UMNO patronage system. By all means disagree, Guys.

    You and I can debate this issue till Kingdom come and nothing will happen. Why? Allow me again to quote Niccolo Machiavelli on change as follows:

    ” There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”— Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

  3. Spot on, Pak Din. Islamic state and Ketuanan Melayu my foot. These only exist in the realms of these rent-seeking and greedy Umnoputras’ dreams. They gonna insist that the ideals are God-sent and they only are entitled to the riches and wealth of this bountiful country. The rest, especially the “pendatang”, are irrelevant. What utter crap. I am entitled too, but where’s my share?

  4. From BTN, Dr. Khalif Muammar :

    “Namun ketuanan Melayu telah disalahtafsir menjadi Malay supremacy, yang memberi isyarat wujudnya diskriminasi dan penindasan kepada kaum lain. Ia seharusnya diterjemahkan kepada Malay ownership, sebagaimana ditegaskan oleh Profesor Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud dalam buku beliau Budaya Ilmu dan Gagasan 1Malaysia (2011). Pengakuan bahawa bangsa Melayu adalah tuan rumah, tuan tanah, perlu difahami sebagai sebahagian daripada kontrak sosial ketika kemerdekaan dicapai. Ia bukan hanya kerana orang Melayu telah menduduki tanah Melayu lebih lama daripada kaum lain. Tetapi hakikat sejarah bahawa orang Melayu, yang terdiri daripada pelbagai etnik, telah membangun suatu peradaban jauh sebelum kedatangan British dan Belanda di gugusan kepulauan ini. Mereka telah memiliki dan menubuhkan banyak kerajaan atau kesultanan Islam, yang disegani sejak abad ke-11 Masehi sehingga abad ke-20. Sebagaimana ditunjukkan oleh Profesor Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas dalam bukunya Historical Fact and Fiction (2011), Umat Melayu yang telah memeluk Islam sekitar seribu tahun yang lalu telah membina banyak kerajaan di wilayah-wilayah yang hari ini dikenali dengan Indonesia, Malaysia, Fatani, Singapura, Brunei, dan Selatan Filipina, kesemua kerajaan ini merupakan peradaban Melayu yang menjadi sebahagian daripada peradaban Islam.”

    See it’s about…. um….ownership not superiority . Malays are the landlords and we are the tenants. This is why if we don’t like it here we are told to leave, which is what any landlord would say to a dissatisfied tenant.

  5. Explicit, Implicit, History and Context… all good points for a debate… but it does not solve our problem.

    The first step is to remove from the centre stage the zealots we have allowed to drive the narrative…. I believe that most, if not all, problems will be over.

  6. I don’t think anyone has forgotten how Mahathir screwed up the country.

    But the priority now is to deal with the rat that is stealing and running the country to the ground even as we write. If we don’t deal with this problem, we wouldn’t even have a country anymore, much less gripe about what Mahathir has done.

    One step at a time, don’t bite more than we can chew.

  7. As a layman, I don’t really care what the academics, both local or foreign, say about Malaysia & its Constitution. I make my own judgement based on what I perceived in my personal experience of what is being practised. In brief, I don’t think Malaysia is secular (whatever else it can be called but IT IS NOT SECULAR) neither in its general government day-to-day administration nor in the implementation of its Constitution & laws.
    Apart from the above, I believe that Islam does NOT cater for the separation of Religion and State – it is a holistic Way of Life. The concept of “Church & State” separation is ALIEN to Islam.

  8. What kind of a Constitution is Malaysia’s?

    Could it be in compliance with what the political masters of the day want to ensure their continued holding to the power?

  9. @aliefalfa can u advise if Parliament should have very little role in policy making in your layman Islamic natuon? There should be a Khalifa instead of a Prime Minister? If Agong is the head of the religion, Agong should hold absolute power and not Prime Minister, following traditional Islamic Sunni governance? Even if there would be a powerful vizier, he and definitely not she is appointed by the Agong, and noone else? If not, what do you mean in your layman Islamic nation?

  10. And in the midst of all these, God, who started it all, is keeping an elegant silence.

    Perhaps RPK should ask what is God’s “game plan”?

  11. Truth is the myth making started with NEP in the first place. Moving on to Religion was inevitable. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT THE HISTORY, INTENTION OR TRUTH IS. Just like the NEP, they intend to turn MYTH into reality they want. You can even forget arguing that the whole idea is really bad because the principle of separating govt and private lives is one of the pillar of modern states today or that the idea of limited govt is necessary to aspire to be a great country.

    The only way to stop the juggernaut is to convince Sarawakians and Sabahan, they will become what they want if they don’t stop them now..

  12. God HAS spoken… once… “I have created in you nations and tribes so that you may know one another…” (my words…adapted).

    If we really believe these words the question of problems with different religious beliefs should not arise.

    The (Christian) world realised this more than 400 years ago… and took steps… but we Muslims, being 6 centuries younger must, it seems, wait another 200 years before we even begin to understand the obvious…

    As far as Constitutions are concerned there is not much point in looking to scholars to interpret… scholars only help write them… the application is in the hands of those in-charge at a given time… hence my point about zealots above…

  13. Conrad – interesting point about “ownership”. A couple of months back someone (might have been -looes-, I’m not certain) posted a video clip featuring some snippets of LKY speaking, pre-separation. I tracked down the text and I quote a bit of it here:

    “Who owns Malaysia? This is very important because having fought for Malaysia, 10 years of confrontation, suddenly we find only some are owners. The others are […] called ‘Orang Tumpangan’.

    ‘Tumpang’ is a very difficult thing. Your motor-car, I tumpang and I repair, I buy tyres, and I change the engine? I mean, it is not worth it. If it is going to be like that, I say better we buy our own car. Smaller car, never mind, but we will feel happy when we repair it.”

    He was right. I was born and bred in Malaysia. If I am a mere ‘penumpang’/’pendatang’, what stake do I have in the country? Why should I bother?

  14. Wasn’t the “KETUANAN MELAYU” thinghy was first tossed about by the ex-Mentri Besar of Johore Abdul Ghani Othman in one of his party elections campaign and from then onwards it caught on and became the war cry of most UMNO warlords?

  15. Let us be reminded that the dominion of power belongs to God and man has the duty to administer according to the Will of God. Dr. Kessler’s article has certainly make the day for Muslims who do not want Islam.

  16. Who coined the phrase “political correctness”. And why should anyone be politically correct and afraid to offend the very people who offending the citizens.

  17. The trends are unfortunately well-established, and the majority of the population are willing for these trends to advance. Reasoned arguments will not stop these trends.

    In my view, an full-fledged religious state in Malaysia is only a matter of time, though the process could take another generation. And when we get to it, I reckon we will see a conflict between the pure Islamists (who have no allegiance to national borders and seek to re-establish a global Caliphate, who as I understand it can only be a member of Muhammad’s Qureish tribe) and the ketuanan-Islamists (who believe in some Malay racial-religious supremacy that has no standing in Islamic theology). They will start by calling each other heretics before moving on to happily killing one another.

  18. Quote:- “He was right. I was born and bred in Malaysia. If I am a mere ‘penumpang’/’pendatang’, what stake do I have in the country? Why should I bother?”

    You should “bother” because the mere fact that you are even allowed to live and make a decent living in Malaysia is something you should be grateful for, even if it means being called names you find derogatory and exist only at the sufferance of the Melayu ketuanans.

    This is the small price or “rent” you and your children have to pay, (like tenants in perpetuity), for your ancestors in leaving whatever staving home village and landed, by accident or design, on this rich and bountiful shores seeking a better life which they actually found.

    So just shut up and do your little businesses in Low Yat Plaza and leave the running of the country to the ketuanans. Not happy? well, the World is your oyster isn’t it? Many penumpangs have left and were glad they did.

  19. “I was born and bred in Malaysia. If I am a mere ‘penumpang’/’pendatang’, what stake do I have in the country? Why should I bother?”

    Exactly Augustine de Souza. What this UMNO Regime does is it wants to deny the reality that the Non Malays have a stake in this country because we helped build it.

    Folks should pay attention to what veritas wrote.

  20. Quote:- “…it wants to deny the reality that the Non Malays have a stake in this country because we helped build it”

    Because they find that rather insulting, that the indigenous people of this country, the Malays, (the Orang Asli were mere savages then), need outsiders to help build it. In any case, even if true about outsiders helped build the country, that was in the remote past, dead and gone and preferably forgotten. The future of Malaysia is the exclusive preserve of the Malays, in particular UMNO Malays. No help is now needed.

  21. Now I walk around with this poll result in my mind all the time:

    3 out of 10 Malays support the IS in principle….

    I am totally devastated but I have to live with reality…

  22. Ketuanan is but the purile ego of inferior men, based on a fallacious premise that appeals to feeble minds. It has resulted in creating a group of more delicate and weaker Malays. On the other hand, the discriminations have made the non-Malays into a more resilient and stronger people. What the feeble minds in UMNO is that we all are penumpang/pendatang, including themselves. We all came into this world, live our life span, we die and that’s it. Which is why how we live this life and what we do matter so much. The best way to vindicate those ketuanans in UMNO is not letting them rob your human dignity, fight back to assert your inalienable rights as citizen and human, live a proud and successful life to piss them off.

  23. Well said Wayne and LaMoy.

    Michel de Montaigne, comes to mind :

    “Can anything be imagined so ridiculous, that this miserable and wretched creature [man], who is not so much as master of himself, but subject to the injuries of all things, should call himself master and emperor of the world, of which he has not power to know the least part, much less to command the whole?”

  24. 1. This discussion, though interesting, leads nowhere. The trouble lies in the sentence in our constitution, “Islam is the religion of the Federation.” It has led to the emergence of “Syari’ah law” in contradiction to civil secular law. God’s law as stated in the Quran is of course just as well as compassionate. In the hands of a clerical class, it becomes the level of that class’s understanding — low and unjust.
    2. We actually have a way out — the Medina Charter promulgated by Prophet Muhammad. In this Charter, religion is administered autonomously by its adherents. This is the model we should base our constitution on. Of course, Muhammad based his Charter on the teachings of the Quran. There is no such concept as an Islamic state in the Quran.
    3. I have written about this in my blog where I expressed amazement at the great jurists who promulgated our constitution. They apparently were unaware of this great charter of Muhammad. I shall copy this article to Dato’ Din Merican.
    Here it is:

    Oleh: Kassim Ahmad
    30 Disember, 2015

    Konsep negara Islam tidak wujud dalam Quran. Apa yang disebut dalam Quran, baldatun taiyyibatun wa rabbun ghafur, frasa yang bermaksud, ‘sebuah negara baik di bawah ri’ayat Tuhan Maha Pengampun’. (Quran, 34: 15) Dalam Piagam Madinah yang digubal oleh Nabi Muhammad sendiri juga tidak disebut tentang konsep negara Islam. Konsep ini baru, ditimbulkan oleh sarjana-sarjana Islam dalam abad ke-20, mungkin sebagai satu penentangan terhadap kolonialisme Barat.

    Bahawa kosep negara Islam tiada dal Quran dan dalam Piagam Madinah amat wajar, kerana masyarakat Arab dalam zaman Nabi sudak bersifat majmuk. Ada warga Islam, warga Yahudia dan warga musyrik. Jadi, tidak adil jika sesuatu agama dijadikan agama negara.

    Sesuatu sistem kenegaraan mestilah melakukan keadailan kepada rakyatnya. Inilah yang dianjurkan dalam Quran. Ayat itu berbunyai, “Apabila kamu menghukum di antara manusia, hendaklah kamu hukum dengan adil.” (4: 58). Demikian juga dalam Piagam Madinah.

    Nampaknya, penggubal Perlembagaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Malaya) tidak mengetahui tentang perkara ini, kerana mereka telah mengisytiharkan agama Persekutan Islam dengan agama-agama lain diberi kebebasan untuk diamalakan. (Perkara 3(1)). Suruhanjaya Perlembagaan Persekutaun terdiri dari 5 orang ahli hukum yang terkenal dari Britain, Australia,India dan Pakistan dan dipengerusikan oleh ahli hukum Lord William Reid dari Britain.

    Menarik diperhatikan bahawa dalam Piagam Madinah negara tidak masuk campur dalam urusan mana-mana agama. Agama ditadbirkan secara autonomi oleh penganut-penganutnya. Kaedah ini akan menghindarkan konflik agama, yang kerap berlaku dalam negara kita.

    Mengapakah pemimpin-pemimpin dan sarjna-sarjana Islam, termasuk ahli-ahli hukum Islam dalam Suruhanjaya Reid tidak memberi perhatian kepada dokumen perlembagaan yang penting ini? Ini sangat menghairankan kita.

    Malah ulama kita dalam “Forum Perdama Ehwal Islam” yang kerap memetik hadis tidak pernah memetik hadis yang paling sahih ini, Piagam Madinah! Sungguh aneh!

    KASSIM AHMAD, seorang penulis bebas Malaysia. Laman web belaiu
    — Kassim Ahmad

  25. Inche Kassim registers two significant points quoting the Medina Charter and the Quran namely ‘religion is administered autonomously by its adherents’ and ‘there is no such concept as an Islamic state’. Are these original base rules as intended by the Prophet or are they new ideas or misinterpretations propagated by modern day revisionists in the Islamic world?

    The best anti-dote for the current upheavals in the Islamaphobia gripped world, is for people practicing any faith to do so individually and keep it within their own private space. Keep religion confined to your heart, home and prayer houses. Don’t peddle it elsewhere because it sows the seed for religion-related problems to arise. Importantly, the State should keep out of it.

    One would think that Islam originated from the Prophet and he propagated it to a more and more widening pool of pagans and converted them to practice Islam and become Muslims. The concept of State, probably was never in his mind. Getting people becoming Muslims was. The coming of Islamic State is a later phenomena far detached from the Prophet. In that sense Inche Kassim could well be in the right.

  26. Nothing to add to Islamic experience.

    But, just wanted to suggest that US is going through this effort of searching out meaning of pluralism in a modern state also.
    Miroslav Volf from former Yugoslavia has spent some significant amount of time in this.

    [Miroslav Volf] Religious exclusivists, will almost always be political exclusivists. A religious eclusivists would find it hard to love those who are damned. Either punish them, as God will punish them. Embrace of your faith will tend to treat others as lesser than yourself.

    Peter Berger: A farglory :
    Cognitive Contamination will find others may have a point or two. Dialogue and close proximity will change that idea of exclusitivity, without eroding one’s religiousity.

    Roger Williams in US, and Thomas Helwys in UK (early Baptist) are the earliest to put forth arguments for political pluralism.

    distinctively Baptist request: that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience. Thomas Helwys was an advocate of religious liberty at a time when to hold to such views could be dangerous. He died in prison as a consequence of the religious persecution of Protestant dissenters under King James I.
    As a separatist, Williams considered the Church of England irredeemably corrupt, and believed that one must completely separate from it to establish a new church for the true and pure worship of God. Williams believed that soul, liberty, and freedom of conscience were gifts from God, and thought freedom of religion a natural right, which demanded that church and state be separated.
    “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Muslim countries are experiencing exactly early America experienced in Winthrop’s Boston that persecuted differences, becoming an America which many in the world dislike.

    John Shield: The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right,
    A State to be legitimate is to adopt and protect a widely shared moral faith in the society. Modern liberal society is no different, in its’ pursue of a different enlightenment theory. In some ways, modern liberalism itself could be subversive.

    “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” – World religions circulate around this, in search of transcendence, to define humanity, allowing individuals to find contentment.
    Miroslav suggests he may have read political Islam through the lense of Christianity.
    Desecularization is itself something that could happen in democratic society.

    6 features of commonalities that need to be addressed, in which one dimension Modernity has done much better,
    Modernity has flourishes as it cherishes the mundane daily ordinary life. World religion needs to address this, and at the same time to help individuals to unlearn the seduction of globalization. The message of world faith shares the common ground : ‘Man does not live on bread alone’.

  27. ” This discussion, though interesting, leads nowhere. The trouble lies in the sentence in our constitution, “Islam is the religion of the Federation.” It has led to the emergence of “Syari’ah law” in contradiction to civil secular law,” Kassim Ahmad.

    From the clauses of Article 3, the proclamation of “Islam is the religion of the Federation” in clause 3(1) is properly limited by clause 3(4) which states “Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.”. For example, an enshrined right to freedom of expression (Article 10.1.A) cannot be infringed under the ground of Islamic Slander law (although it may under different ground as stated in Article 10.2). In short, the safe-guard provision is there in the Constitution.

    What safe-guard that we don’t have is in real life. My view is simple, while we want to try our best to maintain non-violent politics in order for democracy to function, we must be ready to take up arms (i.e. violence) to protect the non-violent politics when there are violent subversive (with respect to our Constitution, of course) elements infiltrating and attacking the non-violent politics. Islamic states and its real world manifestation Islamic State (capital case) are violent subversive elements.

    The same non-violence and violence interplay should also be applied to the response to Perkasa. A para-military group should be organized and officially registered to support the Constitution and to counter Perkasa, in a way every demonstrated silat kick by Perkasa should be met with demonstrated Karate kick by the para-military group. Freedom is not free, and it survives only people care to defend it, by show of force or force if necessary.

    It is not a coincidence that every UMNO politician wanting to pander to Muslims and Malays must pay a public visit to Perkasa while Perkasa must perform some silat kick. G25 should have a wing for a legal martial group from retired policemen who are ready to show karate kicks whenever politicians supporting the Constitution visit them.

  28. Reading respected Kassim Ahmad’s post brought a tinge of sadness to me. Growing up with Malay kids in a kampong, my Malay was so good that the school put me in the Bahasa Melayu class with Malay pupils rather than the Bahasa Kebangsaan class with the non-Malays. It’s sad I have lost the language. I do not understand what learned Kassim Ahmad has written.
    No problem, LaMoy. Just use google translator.–Din Merican

  29. 1. What I said about the non-existence of the concept of state religion in the Quran or the Medinah Charter is not my interpretation. It is a direct statement. Please do read what I said correctly. It is tiring to repeat!
    2. Muhammad was also a leader of his people, besides being the last of a series of prophets of God. If you had read the Medina Charter carefully (it was published in this blog recently) , you will realize that it proclaimed itself (Medina) as a nation-state, the first in the world, if you read my comments carefully.
    — Kassim Ahmad

  30. ‘..Perhaps RPK should ask what is God’s “game plan”? …’

    Wayne, what has RPK to do with this? I believe you well know he no longer believes in ‘someone up there in charge of events’.

    Indeed, your above statement is well below par with the normal quality of your comments. This is a quality site. Please let’s keep it that way and not start snipping at one another.

  31. Din: Have you ever used the Google translator? I have fooled around with it with the two languages I am most proficient in, English and Chinese. The translation I got is pretty ludicrous.

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