Dr. M. Bakri Musa on Liberating the Mind


January 30, 2016

READ THIS: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/30/rafidah-decries-malays-who-stick-to-crutches/

Dr. M. Bakri Musa on Liberating the Mind

by Julia Yeow, News Editor

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (right) with author and social critic Dr M. Bakri Musa at the launch of his book in Shah Alam, today. Rafidah says it is time Malays stop thinking they are 'special' and must continue getting help from government policies. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Kamal Ariffin, January 30, 2016.

A great leadership will encourage, not suppress, freedom, says US-based Malaysian surgeon Dr M. Bakri Musa (Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz), who says the current leaders are entrapping Malay minds in order to stay in power. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 30, 2016.

Malaysian UMNO leaders have been intentionally entrapping the minds of Malays as a means to retain their power and positions, says prominent Malay intellectual and writer Dr M. Bakri Musa. Dr Bakri warned that the inevitable advent of the digital world would put an end to such shortsighted leadership regime.

The California-based surgeon, a regular socio-political commentator and author of several books, said it was a common mentality of leaders to try and control their followers, as “corrupt leaders create corrupt followers, who will elect corrupt leaders again”.

But Dr Bakri said that information would be increasingly far-reaching with the growth of technology, and that the mark of a great and lasting leadership was its ability to encourage, not suppress, freedom.

“Every leader will like to control their followers, but the inevitable will be to change.The digital world – I don’t care how strong you are – it can’t be limited. It’s powerful enough,” Dr Bakri told The Malaysian Insider ahead of the launch of his book “Liberating the Malay Mind” in Shah Alam, today.

The book (pic, above) in English and Bahasa Malaysia, is in its second edition after getting positive reviews when it was first published. But he said some criticised him by saying he was not qualified to speak on the problem of the Malays because he had been living abroad for decades.

His response? “Judge me on my views and opinions, not on where I live,” said Dr Bakri. He said the current state of politics was proof that leaders are unable to keep the people ignorant forever, as the Internet reach continues to grow.

He cited the example of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s controversial RM2.6 billion donation, saying it was unlikely the entire episode would have been exposed if not for the digital world.

Dr Bakri said the Malays had remained intellectually and economically backward in spite of decades of policies and assistance.

“We have been talking about the Malay problem ever since I was young and probably when my grandchildren are grandparents, we’d still be talking about it,” he said

“Why is it after 60 years of independence, with sultans and leaders as Malays, and the government being led by Malays, we still have this problem?

“The reason is that we do not know that our minds have been entrapped, imprisoned. In my book, I used the metaphor that the Malays are like frogs under a coconut shell.The shell will topple one day, make no mistake about it. The question for our society is if we will topple the coconut shell our way, to minimise the collateral damage, or do we allow it to topple on its own and risk a disaster.”

The ability to look beyond race can help draw the Malays out of their shells, says well-known critic Dr M. Bakri Musa. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 30, 2016.

The ability to look beyond race can help draw the Malays out of their shells, says well-known critic Dr M. Bakri Musa. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 30, 2016.

Dr Bakri said Malays who were not properly educated and exposed would be prime targets for “darker and dangerous” influences, including hardline religious teachings.

“Influences such as Isis can be appealing to the Malay mind if they are not adequately exposed and educated. The leaders must realise that the liberation of the mind is already happening, but the messages that are being sent now are dark and dangerous.”

To counter this influence, Dr Bakri suggests a greater liberalisation of the media, saying that the more sources of information available, the better equipped the Malays would be.

Apart from that, he said that a greater immersion of the Malays in commerce and capitalisation would “automatically change their worldview.They won’t see people as Chinese or Indian or Malay, they look at everyone as potential customers.”

This ability to look beyond race, he said, would help draw the Malays out of their shells.

In his book, Dr Bakri draws on the examples of civilisations and communities around the world which he said shared similar problems with Malays in Malaysia, such as the early Irish and the Italians.

“I want the Malays to realise they have a problem, but it’s not unique to them. There are other societies and civilisations and communities and we can learn from them. They have managed to overcome it. We can learn from it and we can overcome it.”

Dr Bakri’s book will be available at all major bookstores nationwide from early February.

The Time Bomb that is Religion


January 29, 2016

The Time Bomb that is Religion

by Dr. Kassim Ahmad

Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak

The title of this essay is not mine. I borrow it from HRH  The Sultan of Perak Dr  Raja Nazrin Shah’s warning in a speech to a three-day religious dialogue held in Ipoh recently. His exact words are:

“When religion is used for reasons other than to spread spirituality, what more when it is sensationalized politically, it becomes an explosive time-bom that could cause chaos and disaster.”

The erudite Sultan added that Muslims should not be judging each other’s level of faith, as the authority to do so lies solely with Allah. He could not have said it better.The warning is timely, as religious (read “Islamic”)  institutions in this country, like JAWI and JAKIM, are usurping the function of God in their overzealous performance of their duties.

Tawfik Ismail’s view that they should be closed down  has merit, as Islam is, constitutionally, under the jurisdiction of the Malay rulers and the Agong.

It is pertinent to ask, “Which Islam?”  On the one hand, there is the Islam of the prophet-messengers, ending with Prophet Muhammad, when God completed and perfected the religion of monotheism (Submission, Islam) for mankind. On the other, the inherited deviated religions of Judaism, Christianity and Sunnism.

Some Muslims are unaware that their “ulama”’s brand of Ahli-Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah (Sunnism) is as deviationary, as Jadaism and Christianity are. A deep study of history would reveal the matter.

Dr. Kassim Ahmad and The Mullah

The effect of Sunnism is to deify Muhammad against his will, which these deviationists would vehemently deny. Ask them why they would not be satisfied with mentioning God alone without mentioning Muhammad, as witness their syahadah.  Also ask them what does God mean when He says, “Do not worship two gods. There is only one god. Therefore, you shall reverence Me.” (Quran, 16: 51)

Muhammad also prohibits his followers from breaking into sects. Sectarian “Islam” is not part of his teachings. Another bigger effect is that their societies are universally blighted will material, moral and spiritual problems. The Muslims are currently at the bottom of the ladder of nations, when they were once at the top.

Do their leaders ask these critical questions? Tariq Ramadan, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im and the rest of the reformers – what have they achieved?  The answer is sadly, “Nothing.” Why? They have not tackled the basic question. The basic question is to go back to the Quran and to understand it anew. Remember the Prophet’s one complaint to God is, “My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran.” (25: 30)

We have to explain why the Judeo-Christian West has overtaken the Muslims since the 16th Century on. There is no other answer except that in the main they have recovered their once-lost monotheistic world-view.

The Muslims must wake up. Realize where you have deviated from God’s teachings, as delivered by the last Prophet Muhammad. Stop deifying Muhammad against his will. Stop blindly following your “ulama” priesthood class. Go back to holding fast on to God and follow Muhammad ( read, follow the teachings of the Quran), and you will rise again.

Malaysia: The Crony Attorney-General has plenty to answer for dereliction of public duty


January 29, 2016

Malaysia: The Crony Attorney-General has plenty to answer for dereliction of public duty

 

 

The controversy over the decision not to charge the Prime Minister for any wrongdoing in the RM2.6 billion donation saga continued today when a member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) review panel questioned why the Attorney-General (A-G), Apandi Ali, did not help investigators in the probe.

Lim Chee Wee said the A-G was legally obliged to explain why he did not facilitate MACC’s request to access foreign bank statements through the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), to check on the money trail of the RM2.6 billion which was credited into Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts. This, he said, was to dispel any speculation of a cover-up.

Lim, the former Malaysian Bar President, said the A-G was also wrong to order the anti-graft body to close its investigations, adding that his power was only to decide whether to prosecute or not.

He said it was “arguable” that the A-G was legally obliged to provide assistance to MACC through MLA.

Corruption

“The A-G is equally obliged in law to explain why he is not facilitating MACC’s investigations of the money trail of RM2.6 billion as disclosed by MACC in its 31 December 2015 press statement, by providing his consent for Mutual Legal Assistance which would allow MACC access to bank statements of banks operating overseas, through which the funds moved.

“Again this would help dispel the speculation of a cover-up by A-G and that the alleged donation is allegedly KWAP money,” Lim said, referring to the pension fund, in a statement today.

He added that the A-G was also under legal obligation to give detailed and satisfactory reasons to the public as to why he disagrees with the recommendation of any law enforcement agency, more so when the investigation involves a high profile suspect, for example a Prime Minister.

“For instance, A-G at his press conference held up a flowchart which showed the flow and utilisation of the funds of the alleged donation.Having done so and regardless, he should give details of the alleged donation and return of part of the donation, and alleged proper use of part of the donation, by assuring the public that he is satisfied with the existence and substantive truth of documentary proof of source, movement and return of funds, and that the funds were not used for personal benefit, for example it was not used to pay for credit card expenses, which is currently the subject of speculation,” Lim added.

Lim also called on the public to assure the A-G of their support to uphold his oath of office, adding that the support of the Malaysian people was worth more than one individual.

“The A-G’s decision to prosecute or not to prosecute can be challenged by any taxpayer in any courtroom, or questioned by anyone in any living room, meeting room, boardroom, or even coffee shop.In other words, A-G does not have absolute discretion in his prosecutorial powers, this is the legal position in Malaysia, Singapore and United Kingdom.

“The A-G must not be fearful of the power nor position of any individual and whilst he may suffer the same fate as his predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Gani if he were to prosecute, he has the support of the public and more importantly he will be upholding his oath of office,” Lim said, referring to the earlier A-G who was removed from office at the height of the investigations into the alleged financial scandal involving the Prime Minister.

Smooth Talking and Tainted Malaysian Prime Minister


January 29, 2016

Eric Loo on Smooth Talking and Tainted Malaysian Prime Minister

http://www.malaysiakini.com

I remember an articulate, amicable but somewhat ‘flirtatious’ junior minister in the late 70s. I was then a reporter covering the energy and telco beat. Having covered a few of his press conferences, some of my peers and I wondered if the smooth talker would one day walk in his father’s shoes.

At age 23, and having graduated (?) two years earlier in industrial economics from Nottingham University in England, Najib Abdul Razak became the youngest MP in the country when he won unopposed his father’s seat in Pekan, Pahang in 1976. Two years later he was appointed deputy energy, telecommunications and post minister.

In an emotional tribute at Abdul Razak Hussein’s 40th death anniversary recently, Najib said his father “was not concerned with the trappings of office… the country and his work were all that mattered… and his deep commitment to the development of all Malaysians.” Like many Malaysians, though, watching the video clip, I was not moved.

The Prime Minister had said likewise in a 2012 documentary ‘A Leader’s Legacy: Tun Abdul Razak’: “I have a sense of pride knowing my father passed away in the service of the nation. There can be no other service greater than that.” Indeed.

Fast forward to 2016, these keywords have come to mark Najib’s leadership – Altantuya (Shaariibuu), Scorpene submarines, government executive jets, Rosmah Mansor’s alleged lavish lifestyle, 1MDB debt, RM2.6 billion, falling ringgit, and various scandals listed in the Corruption Tracker.

Malaysia is ranked third in the crony capitalism index in 2014 after Hong Kong and Russia. Global perception of public sector corruption remains bleak, according to Transparency International.

Najib’s tenure, as portrayed in the alternative news portals, has been stained by more scandals, worsening racial politics and uncontrolled religious fanaticism reflected in the hundreds of IS-supporters arrested, than achieved any of his reformist goals he proudly declared in 2009.

“To achieve our country’s long-term ambitions we need not only policy renewal, but political and institutional renewal,” he told journalists at the start of his prime ministership (Malam Wartawan, Policy, Politics and the Media – A New Way Forward, April 6, 2009).

A Parrot Speaking–Renew Our Democracy

“As I said in my first hours as Prime Minister, we need to renew our democracy, ensuring that our institutions, our parties and our public servants are responsive to the needs of all the people; working for the public interest, not narrow opportunism or political interests. Together, we must establish a new national discourse: on the principles of transparency and accountability; service to all, not just the few; and respect and fairness in the public dialogue.”

Vital to have a Machiavellian streak

A man is only as good as his words. In politics, though, besides the gift for lofty speech, which our prime minister clearly has, and perceived integrity and honour, which the prime minister sadly lacks in the public eye, Najib has proven that it’s as vital to have a Machiavellian streak. Here’s what he said at the last UMNO general assembly:

“We in this assembly must continue to lift the position and place importance to people of Malay descent and other bumiputeras, in their own homeland… UMNO’s efforts over the years have changed the landscape of the Malays and bumiputeras for the better… we have achieved vertical social mobility within just one generation.

“The children of labourers have become ministers; the children of rubber tappers have become deputy ministers and chief ministers; the children of fishermen have become menteris besar; the children of farmers and gardeners became secretaries-general, leading scholars, corporate members and community leaders.”–Janus-Faced Najib Razak

What about the children from non-bumiputera families, Prime Minister? Najib presents a moderate persona on the international stage and assumes an inclusive agenda at regional summits. But unashamedly he projects a messianic disposition at various Umno general assemblies. Portraying himself as the strongman and saviour of the Malays, he said this at the last assembly in December:

“If UMNO is rejected, this country will be ruled by those who are against the Islamic struggle and who reject the Malay and bumiputera agenda… Disaster will befall us. Do we want the future of our children and grandchildren and the Islamic religion to be left to other than the existing Malay and Islamic leadership?”–Najib Razak

Entering office on a cultural transformation reformist agenda, Najib will exit steering the country down the low road of racist politics as exemplified by the likes of Syed Ali Alhabshee who ranted that the Malays are “selling themselves and the pride of their race” to the Chinese if they were to run for election under the DAP ticket.

How do the Syed Ali Alhabshees in UMNO get the audacity to spit such nonsense, if not for being emboldened by the double-speak and chameleon-like leadership of the Prime Minister?

Najib Abdul Razak cannot by any moral standards talk about national unity, and living up to his father’s legacy and lineage (perhaps alluding to his uncle, Hussein Onn, the country’s third Prime Minister) when his conduct, and that of his UMNO minions, continues to manipulate the heartlanders into believing that only under UMNO will the Malays prosper.

A chronic political disease

It’s common for politicians to go back on their words for personal gains, especially come election time. But when cover-ups, spin and lies predominate among the incumbents, it becomes a chronic political disease, terminal in Najib’s case.

The trust deficit in the government, largely caused by Najib’s consistent refusal to condemn the Islamist ideologues, and his manipulative racial politics at UMNO general assemblies will see him go down as a prime minister who gave a new twisted meaning to Abraham Lincoln’s famous phrase ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.’ Perish we may if things continue to slide.

While Abdul Razak’s attempt at national reconciliation in the aftermath of the 1969 race riots was noble and right, the poor implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) since 1971 has created a situation where the politically connected, the Umnoputras, are getting richer, while the heartlanders in the kampung are left scratching for the crumbs.

Like all politicians, Najib would have started his political life as a 23-year-old lawmaker with high ideals to serve the people, to govern for the people, to continue his father’s work, and to make him proud. But like many politicians, the addiction to power and the temptation of wealth can change one’s perspectives, priorities and position in life.

Now, respectfully, I wonder about the Prime Minister’s emotional tribute to his father. Would Najib be thinking then: “Why am I not like my father? Would he be proud of me? Would my leadership over the last six years be any different if my father was around to mentor me? Where did I go wrong? What can I do to get out of this rut? What can I do, bapa?” We should be moved.


ERIC LOO worked as a journalist and taught journalism in Malaysia from the late 1970s to 1986. He is now Honorary Senior Fellow in Journalism at University of Wollongong in Australia. Email: eloo@uow.edu.au

 

Najib Razak- A Disastrous Prime Minister for Malaysia.


January 29, 2016

Najib Razak- A Disastrous Prime Minister for Malaysia.

by The Financial Times

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/70219cfe-c4f9-11e5-b3b1-7b2481276e45.html#axzz3yZXBpn7s

Malaysia’s ruling elite should realise that they stand at a critical juncture. Many may wish for a more accomplished leader, but the problem runs deeper than personalities. UMNO needs to rule equally and democratically on behalf of all Malaysians…In particular, the practice of providing political patronage to a group of crony Malay business people, which underpins the opacity and favouritism among the UMNO elite, needs to be brought to an end.–The Financial Times

 

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) reacts as he leaving after attending a parliament session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 26 January 2016©EPA

What Manner of Man is this Malaysian Prime Minister-A National Disgrace

Events this week have done nothing to dispel a growing sense that Najib Razak has been a disastrous Prime Minister for Malaysia. Just 24 hours after the country’s Attorney-General found that Mr Najib had no case to answer over a $680m sum paid into his personal bank account, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission announced it would seek a review of this ruling.

Separately, it emerged that Tim Leissner, a senior Goldman Sachs banker and the driving force behind deals with a troubled Malaysian state investment fund, had taken “personal leave” and returned to the US.

Mr Najib and 1MDB, the state fund with which Goldman Sachs worked, deny they are guilty of any crimes.But the web of allegations and investigations swirling around the prime minister and his affairs are damaging Malaysia’s international reputation and deepening a public trust deficit at home.

The issue is not just that many Malaysians are dissatisfied with the attorney-general’s statement that there was “no reason given” for the $680m transfer to Mr Najib from the Saudi Royal Family. It is also Mr Najib’s attitude towards the issue, which he said this week had been an “unnecessary distraction for the country”.

Far from being a distraction, the questions raised by the transfer and the dealings of 1MDB are pivotal to Malaysia’s future. At stake is whether one of Southeast Asia’s leading nations, and a strategic ally of the US and European powers in the region, can maintain its equilibrium as a prosperous, free-market democracy that blends an adherence to moderate Islam with an internationally recognised legal system.

Without a clear accounting of what transpired between Mr Najib and 1MDB, Kuala Lumpur risks reinforcing an impression that its democracy is being shredded by a self-serving Malay elite. Mr Najib is already vulnerable to such charges. The treatment of Anwar Ibrahim, an opposition leader jailed after he nearly defeated Mr Najib in 2013 elections, has been widely condemned, most recently by a UN human rights group which called his detention “illegal”. The Prime Minister has also muzzled critics within the ruling party and dismissed Abdul Gani Patail, the former Attorney-General who led corruption inquiries into his affairs.

This lurch towards authoritarianism is unsettling investors in Malaysian stocks and bonds while applying extra pressure to the ringgit currency. But a more acute sense of alienation is nursed by the country’s ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, who make up more than one-third of the 29m population.

najib duit

Long disenfranchised by the fact that UMNO, the ruling party, stipulates that its members must adhere to Islam, the Chinese and Indian minorities have grown increasingly vocal in their dissatisfaction and are swelling a “brain drain” overseas. UMNO’s response — to growing signs of disaffection among young urban Malays — has been to shore up support among its rural Malay bedrock by emphasising its Islamic credentials, further alienating non-Muslims who worry over a growing prominence given to sharia law.

Malaysia’s ruling elite should realise that they stand at a critical juncture. Many may wish for a more accomplished leader, but the problem runs deeper than personalities. UMNO needs to rule equally and democratically on behalf of all Malaysians.

In particular, the practice of providing political patronage to a group of crony Malay business people, which underpins the opacity and favouritism among the UMNO elite, needs to be brought to an end.

Europe’s Feckless Secularism


January 28, 2016

Europe’s Feckless Secularism

By William McGurn

http://www.wsj.com/article_email/europes-feckless-secularism-1453767637-lMyQjAxMTE2NDI5ODIyNTgyWj

Benjamin Amsellem on Jan. 12; the Jewish teacher had been attacked the day before by a 15-year-old with a machete, in Marseille, France.

Must even the most moderate Muslims renounce their faith to be good Europeans?

Nearly a quarter century ago, Yale’s Harold Bloom famously described America as a “dangerously religion-soaked, even religion-mad, society.”

When Europeans gaze upon our shores, this is pretty much what they see. From our strip-mall churches to the raucous intrusions of faith into our public life to our presidents routinely invoking the Almighty, they see an America hostage to primitive beliefs.

At a moment when Europol is reporting that Islamic State is planning more Paris-style terror attacks, that’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because America’s overt religiosity blinds Europe’s elites to the one part of the American experiment most relevant to their needs today: our secularism.

They have their own secularism, of course. In France, where it is most formalized, it is called laïcité—the idea that the state isn’t simply neutral toward religion but must banish all things religious, including religious arguments, from the public square. Here note that Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Front is appealing to the French public on the grounds that the party would be the better enforcer of laïcité.

The idea is that when you boot religion off the public square, you remove from public life the religious friction that in centuries past fueled devastating conflicts. This same idea now animates the European Union, and in principle leads to a more liberal, more cohesive and more inclusive society.

That’s the theory. The reality is that in many European cities today, a Jew cannot walk the streets in safety. Just this month in Marseille, a man invoked Islamic State as he tried to decapitate a Jewish schoolteacher. The attack led to suggestions that the targets of such attacks—French Jews—would be better off not wearing yarmulkes in public.

Many Jews have already given their answer: In 2015 a record number left Europe for Israel. Most were French.

Women are also losing the freedom to walk Europe’s streets in safety. On New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other German cities, hundreds of women were robbed or sexually assaulted by Arab and North African asylum seekers in what authorities now say was a planned campaign. Not only did police do nothing, they initially tried to cover it up.

The reality is not much better for sexual minorities. Only a month ago in Sweden, a teenage refugee from North Africa was charged with beating a gay man to death, and then wrapping a dead snake around the victim’s body. Even with all the sex-ed in the world, it is hard to envision European Muslims accommodating themselves any time soon to modern European notions of sexuality.

To put it another way, not only is Euro-secularism failing to persuade Europe’s growing Muslim minority of its merits; increasingly it cannot protect its own citizens.But there’s the rub. Because Europe is not the only model of secularism. America is also a secular state.

The contrasts are illuminating. Where European secularism is built on unspoken agnosticism about the ultimate source of human dignity, American secularism is rooted in a declaration of self-evident truths about man and the divine source of his unalienable rights. The result is a nation that is a living, secular contradiction of contemporary European orthodoxy: For not only is the U.S. among the earth’s most religious nations, it is also the most modern.

In “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville took on the European orthodoxy of his own day when he noted that, in America, free religion was the friend of liberty. The beauty of the American approach is that it avoided the aggressiveness of both extremes: the throne-and-altar alliance of the ancien régime on the one hand, and the militant secular state that emerged from the French Revolution on the other.

Perhaps most important for today, American secularism does not require people to deny their religious identities to be good Americans. In an article for the New Republic entitled “Is it Time for France to Abandon Laïcité?,” Elizabeth Winkler puts it this way:

“In the wake of terrorist attacks, it may strike some as counterintuitive to loosen—or even abandon—laïcité. But allowing Muslims greater freedom to express their beliefs in peaceful ways may make them feel more accepted and less stigmatized by the country they have made their home. It could also encourage their participation in public institutions, like schools and government workplaces, fostering their adoption of French values and identity—the very thing laïcité aims, but often fails, to do.”

Europeans have spent the past decade obsessing about bans on head scarves and burqas. Maybe it’s time they give Tocqueville a try.