April 6, 2016
Of Donations, Islam and The Real Malays
by Cmdr S Thayaparan
“The oppressors do not favour promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders.” – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
It is never a good sign here in Malaysia or anywhere else in the world, when rival Islamist parties agree with each other. PAS and Amanah finding common ground against UMNO is like two siblings agreeing that their parents have been unfair to them.
PAS Vice-President Iskandar Abdul Samad in a statement that was revealing of the UMNO strategy but at the same time an unintentional condemnation of Islam, questioned the efficacy of the use of dubious funds in the eradication of Muslim poverty, here in Malaysia.
Would it have been acceptable to PAS if the so-called gift from The House of Saud was used to “uplift” Muslims here in Malaysia?
Of course, PAS splinter group Amanah is equally myopic in its version of how Islam is practiced in Malaysia.
When pundits throw around the term “Arabisation”, most Muslims or at least those Muslims who favour the kind of politics advanced by PAS, UMNO and Amanah would find no problem with such a description.
Only in Malaysia could PAS and Amanah bemoan the fact that illicit funding was not used to help the cause of their brethren and still go on about how we are all “Malaysians” or some such variants.
PAS and Amanah (Kadir Sheikh Fadzir) laughable
The Political Ulama and The Confused Mamak
Many others, and I have argued that despite the so-called special privileges Malay politicians vociferously defend, Muslims form an underclass that supports a system that cuts them of from the mainstream of Malaysian society – a mainstream defined by an urban class and contextualized by UMNO and opposition politics, which favours a specific class.
Islam, as UMNO, PAS, Amanah and every Malay politician knows very well, is used to form political and social control meant to sustain “Malay” hegemony in a fast changing Malay polity.
PAS and Amanah attempting to gain political mileage from presenting an “Islamic face” to this corruption scandal is laughable and indicative of the kind of intellectual and spiritual legerdemain that Islamist tend to use to drum up support.
It also reeks of the kind of racial politics that plagues this country but unfortunately sustains Malay political power structures. After all only in Malaysia, is a “Malay” automatically a “Muslim”.
Hence the underlying dissatisfaction expressed by these defenders of the faith is the problem that there is no evidence that illicit funding had improved the lot of the Malays in this country.
Moreover, let us face the reality that the urban Malay middle class was created by the former Malaysian Prime Minister, who is now hell bent on taking down, the current Prime Minister, who used the system the former created, to further entrench a system of patronage.
If there is no evidence that the fortunes of Muslims have improved with the House of Saud gift or the long UMNO watch for that matter, what evidence is there that Muslims fare any better under a “pure” Islamic system of governance that PAS has in Kelantan or has been advocating all these years?
As recently as 2013, a UNICEF surveyed showed Sabah and Kelantan recorded the highest number of children living in poverty and undernourishment. The survey also found of the dire need for doctors in Kelantan.
Furthermore, Kelantan and Labuan also recorded the highest numbers in child mortality rate. The report stated: “The risk of a new-born child in Kelantan to die before reaching the age of five years old is twice higher than the risk of a newborn in Kuala Lumpur.The risk of a Malay new-born to die before reaching the age of one year old is twice as high as the risk of a Chinese new-born,”
In addition, let us not forget that Kelantan under PAS has always recorded the highest rape cases.
Amongst the numerous social problems it faces, is a high drug use amongst youths, high unemployment rate, women discouraged from entering the civil service, high percentage of female HIV cases and to my mind the worst problem of all, a state government who attempt to impose hudud, with the justification that it would solve all these problems.
I would argue that UMNO has done more for Muslims in this country by doing nothing for them or at least chaining them to a feudal system of governance, than PAS who through Islam has done everything in its power to envision a Muslim utopia.
No sense of logic
Meanwhile “spiritual advisor” to Amanah, Ahmad Awang – what does a spiritual advisor actually do – said that things have gotten worse for Muslims. He comes to this conclusion with:
1. “[…] none of the Islamic movements was given government aid.”
So let me get this straight. Federal and state governments have at their disposal various instruments that supposedly offer aid to Malaysians based on their race and religion.
Millions of ringgit have been used [or so we are told] to help Muslims in this country. Then why is there a need for Islamic movements? The answer is simple of course. All these so-called Islamic movements and charities are part of a cottage industry that have blossomed under the long UMNO watch.
These so-called movements are there to sustain a system of governance and to profit its members and superficially to alleviate the plight of the Malay underclass.
2. “Even if Najib has an NGO (that he aided), it would be the ‘wasatiyyah’ (moderate) ones…”In other words, the so-called spiritual advisor to a supposedly moderate Islamic party is bemoaning the fact, that illicit funds could have benefited “moderate” Muslim movements.
Does anyone else see the absurdity of this, or has the recent Citizens Declaration finally drained any sense of logic and rationality from the Malaysian political ecosphere?
Apparently, not only Malaysian taxi drivers are living under a system of modern day slavery.
Recently Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar said this:
“If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practice Arab culture, and do not wish to follow our Malay customs and traditions, that is up to you,” he said, adding: “I also welcome you to live in Saudi Arabia. That is your right but I believe there are Malays who are proud of the Malay culture.”
My wish was that monies from that supposed gift from the House of Saud, should have been used to help those Muslims who want to be like the “Arabs” to migrate Saudi Arabia.In this way, the real Malays would have an easier time integrating with the rest of us Malaysians.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.