Malaysia: A Bipolar Nation


June 9, 2016

COMMENT: I received a warning for the second time from  the Media Unit, Malaysian Multimedia Corporation (MMMC) instructing me to remove my posting of Kassim Ahmad’s article.

See: https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/the-power-of-syahadah-declaration-of-muslim-faith-verse-18-surah-al-i-imran-the-family-of-imran/

Kassim Ahmad is a controversial public intellectual whose bold and forthright take on Islam is deemed unacceptable and yet agreeable to some people like me. I complied with the MMMC directive as I respect the law, although I think their action reflects what Dr. Azly Rahman what says in his article  (below) about our mentality.

A  nation (and people) that cannot accept views which challenge orthodoxy and is unable to embrace diversity is a nation in irreversible decline. Dr. Azly is correct when he says in his eloquent opinion piece (I repeat opinion and assume that we are all entitled to our opinions)  and I quote:

“…we are constantly at war with ourselves and that the goal of each political party is to destroy one another and for each leader to aim for the jugular – to rule the country.

As citizens we are not allowed speak up against evil-doings…We are asked to shut up or else be locked up if we dare speak of the fate of our hard-earned savings. Bipolar a nation we have become, paranoia our leaders are plagued with…

We are not allowed to do all these although as citizens – besides going out to vote – we are accorded the rights to participate in nation-building through making suggestions on how to maintain check and balances in a society supposedly progressive and democratic.”–Dr Azly Rahman

Be of good cheer. Time waits for no one. It is the great leveler and equalizer. History teaches us this reality, if we care and are humble enough to learn. So let us  use not waste it, when others are using it to deal with serious global issues of war and peace, and development and enlightenment. Being petty bureaucrats is not the way to be productive and useful to our country and humanity.–Din Merican

Malaysia: A Bipolar Nation

by Dr. Azly Rahman*

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Columbia University’s Dr. Azly Rahman

Stoning to death. More lashes to the Friday caning. Syaria Law eventually for non-Muslims. Leave Malaysia if you don’t like how things are run. That puzzling and trumpeting Bangsa Johor rhetoric – as if nobody can explain what the concept of ‘nation/natio’ is. Sabah and Sarawak wish to leave the federation.

Criticise the county and you’re not allowed to go for your overseas holidays. Who owns Gold Star and why the deep secret? Syaria-compliant this and that. A possible boxing match with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in Kuala Kangsar. Humans eating ‘dedak’ or chicken feed. Is Hang Tuah a real person? Is the Taming Sari we have now a fake dagger?

These are some of the topics dominating the discourse of our nation. Can we do better than this? Don’t we care about the intellectual future of our children? Don’t we want them to emulate good ethics from us and the adults they see in power? Don’t we have such moral and critical thinking obligation to them, leaving behind good lessons in their national lives?

That much we owe them, so that they could carry on rejuvenating society without emulating the political and psychological ills of today’s leaders.

I feel that Malaysia’s youth of the next generation are missing out on good and productive discourse plaguing the national debate on things. Malaysians have becoming more global, progressive, intelligent, innovative, and articulate – at least from my analysis of the stories of successes I have been reading.

We might be shamed in the cyberspace and international media with the massive and complex money-laundering scandal implicating our leaders and members of their families, but we are also reading stories of ‘global Malaysians’ – in the arts, business, and sociopreneurship – doing well inside and outside of Malaysia. They are proud calling themselves Malaysians.

But I feel that the discourse dominating the country is one plagued with the filth of retrogressive-ness our youth need not be subjected to.

From the Islamists wishing to push the completeness of the Islamic penal code, the hudud, to the ongoing fights between the members of the opposition and ruling coalitions, to the increasing paranoia over race and religion produced by the political leaders, the daily news of cases of corruption, robbery in broad daylight, the ongoing public arguments between the Johor Royal household with select UMNO politicians – showing who can be more arrogant that the other – the malaise in our education system, and a host of other issues plaguing us, I feel that we are not moving in the right direction and taking advantage of the richness and talented-ness of our diverse population.

In other words, we are constantly at war with ourselves and that the goal of each political party is to destroy one another and for each leader to aim for the jugular – to rule the country.

As citizens we are not allowed speak up against evil-doings, such as the massive losses arising from the 1MDB fiasco although it is the right of each citizen to know what can happen to their life savings such as those in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Haj Fund, and the fund allocated for the servicemen and women (Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera).

Bipolar a nation we have become

We are asked to shut up or else be locked up if we dare speak of the fate of our hard-earned savings. Bipolar a nation we have become, paranoia our leaders are plagued with.

What a pathological state of democracy we are living in. What a shame for a country supposedly a ‘fully-developed industrialised society’ with first-class infrastructure and rhetoric of hypermodernity.

Today the dominant theme is (again) the hudud; of the Hadi-hudud proposal. I am sure by now Malaysians understand what the demands are and how UMNO is helping to fast-track the proposal. Although items concerning the Islamic penal code are minimal, they do point to the inching of our country to the illusionary and ‘non-existent’ concept of an Islamic state.

What a pathological state of democracy we are living in. What a shame for a country supposedly a ‘fully-developed industrialised society’ with first-class infrastructure and rhetoric of hypermodernity.

Today the dominant theme is (again) the hudud; of the Hadi-hudud proposal. I am sure by now Malaysians understand what the demands are and how UMNO is helping to fast-track the proposal. Although items concerning the Islamic penal code are minimal, they do point to the inching of our country to the illusionary and ‘non-existent’ concept of an Islamic state.

Although punishments such as stoning to death and amputation are left out, they might be tabled again eventually when the UMNO-PAS coalition on the ‘survival of the Malays’ and the ‘defence of Islam against its enemies in Malaysia’ becomes louder battle cries, especially for the Islamists wishing to turn Malaysia into a Taliban nation.

Today, the insistence is that the Syaria Law and hudud is only for Muslims, tomorrow it will be for all Malaysians, as political logic would dictate. Analysts on the scenario and the futurism of the implementation of Syaria law and the hudud have written about the complexity of the issue and how it can never be a suitable law in a country that prides itself in the superiority of man-made law as such as the Malaysian constitution.

The thought of stoning to death and amputation itself makes one wonder of the barbarism to be represented as a punishment supposedly ordained by a merciful, loving, and compassionate god -– God of the Religion of Peace. God who forgives more than one who gets angry all the time. Perhaps not many Islamic scholars in Malaysia have even inquired into the ancient cultural origins of such punishments; for example of the Pagan (Greek) and early Judaic origin of stoning which was then borrowed by Islam.

Today, stoning to death can be considered barbaric and inhumane and opposed to the United Nations convention on torture. Why subject a wrongdoer to a slow death? Would that be a philosophical question of today as the Hadi-hudud PAS-UMNO proposal progresses?

These developments in Malaysia that are colouring the discourse on hypermodernity continue to take away our consciousness – especially of the youth – of more exciting things to work on: environmental issues, sustainability, newer technologies of peace, green technologies, newer jobs, newer hopes for world peace, appreciation of the arts, humanities and philosophies in school, good labour practices, respect and understanding one another cross-culturally, virtual reality, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and even new ways of crafting Malaysian politics so that the rich will not get richer and filthier and the poor taken care of well and re-humanised.

But we are not there yet. We seem to love letting the discourse on Medieval and Dark Age practices dominate us. We need to move beyond these. How do we do this?

Let us share as many ways. As a people let us not stone ourselves to death. As smart and peace-loving Malaysians, let us not amputate our intelligence; the gift of the intellect to be used for ethical and social purposes. Is not religion, from the Greek ‘religio’ about making peaceful connections and not about amputations or being spiritually empty after being stoned to death metaphorically?

*Dr. Azly Rahman holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in the fields of Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He will be pursuing his fifth Masters in Fine Arts, specialising in Fiction and Poetry Writing.

8 thoughts on “Malaysia: A Bipolar Nation

  1. MCMC instead of banning or requesting you to remove Kassim Ahmad article should explain which part of Kassim’s article is deemed unacceptable and why. MCMC should also provide their version or the government version of the issues highlighted by Kassim Ahmad thereby explaining and citing facts to enable the readers to have a better understanding.
    They should stop this banning habit and instead explain their stand and providing facts to support their position. Maybe they don’t have the people knowledgeable to sounder Kassim Ahmad or the government officers are poor communicators. They should have views from their stable of Ulamaks at IKIM, JAKIM, and all other Muslim department and agencies including the Pope of Perak and the card carrying MCA Ulama Ridhuan Tee.
    __________________
    Bureaucrats will be bureaucrats.–Din Merican

  2. Malay Muslims in Malaysia are being stacked against each other due to the many differences especially the puzzling and often inconsistent stand of the government, where most of the top leaders are Malay Muslims, on Islam and many are clearly against the very basic and primary beliefs of Muslims.

    There will not only be many different groups among Malay Muslims in Malaysia and also polarisation between the people of different races.

    We are moving backward instead of moving forward.

    Woe to Malaysia, what a pity!

  3. Semper fi June 9, 2016 at 6:37 am: MCMC instead of banning or requesting you to remove Kassim Ahmad article should explain which part of Kassim’s article is deemed unacceptable and why
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    IS THIS THE EASIEST SOLUTION WHEN NO EXPLANATION CAN BE PROVIDED OR COULD IT BE THAT THE OFFICIAL AGREES IN PERSON BUT MAY HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO DISAGREE IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE OFFICIAL MAY BE UNDER THE CATEGORY OF ‘SAYA YANG MENURUT PERINTAH?’

    I am not contesting the views of the Authorities but seeking some justification for the action being taken.

  4. Perhaps it’s time to take away the color glasses of who we really are. Truth is in ALL of us are the potential to be extremely selfish and self- absorbed to the point of abusive, indecent. It’s actually a very average feature of what a Malaysian is. It’s why Najib and Rosmah has done and achieved what they have. They are in fact very very, extremely, average, unspecial, undeserving mediocre and very much capable of extreme mediocrity.

    This nature of selfishness, self absorbed mediocrity at the expense of so many, so much of others is in.all of us and when they achieve great power undeserving causes the damages they have caused.

    Let’s just admit it, most of us would do at least some of the things they have done if we were in the same shoes. It’s all the more we need to guard ourselves from letting one of our very average and mediocre achieved what the have.

  5. The corruption started in 1971 with the government essentially bribing one race at the expense of the others. Forty-six years later, having degraded as a nation in every respect except crime, the subsidised race have next to no big achievements despite all the special treatment. Koreans, Japs, Vietnamese, Singaporeans, all started at about our level in 1971, and look where they are. Tak malu. Shameless.

  6. 1. I think my recent article titled “The Idolization of Prophet Muhammad” was the last straw. There I stated that Prophet’s sole mission was to deliver the Quran. He was strongly enjoined by God not to preach any other teaching, thus falsifying the great Imam Shahfi’e’s false doctrine of TWO SOURCES, implying two gods. Malaysia is a strong upholder of Imam Shafi’e’s doctrine.
    2. The body that requested Dato’ Din to remove my articles should contact me to have a discussion or debate. Surely they do not lack scholars. I would have welcome a discussion.
    3. Just to remind my readers of two facts. When atheist Prof. Dawkins’s book, “The God Delusion” was selling like hot cakes in our major bookshops, which of our ulama came to criticize it? I did, in a lengthy article which Dato’ Din carried. Secondly, my newest article, “Some Thoughts on Stephen Hawking, which criticizes that renown British physicist and cosmologist, a self-declared atheist, has not yet been published in this blog. Following that order, I guess it will never see the light of day!
    4. In Muslim history, there has never been any book banning. Recall the great debats between philosopher Ibn Rushd and theologian Imam Ghazalli. Book banning came from the medieval Christian Church, which burned Bruno and forced another great scholar to recant.
    5. We want a free Malaysia? We have to fight for it. Tell our government not to forget the French Revolution, and other revolutions as well. As the Quran orders, listen to all views, and follow the best. (39: 18). What a marvelous advice!
    Kassim Ahmad

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s