Malaysia: Into the Future Together

February 5, 2017

TN50, 1Malaysia and other else, Mr. Najib–Time to Get back to Basics and Stop your Political and Racist Nonsense–Into the Future Together and embrace Rukun Negara

by Zainah

Make no mistake the project to create a new ideological infrastructure for Malaysia has been many years in the making. If the leaders continue to ignore this real threat or to be complicit in this for short-term political gain, and the rakyat continue to be blinded by demagogues who abuse ethnicity and religion for narrow sectarian interests, then we will end up fighting for crumbs indeed come 2050, or even earlier. —Zainah Anwar
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Najib Razak–Malaysia’s No. 1 Problem

AS we stumble into 2017 in a Malaysia and a world full of uncertainties, and a US President shooting from his hip, causing global turmoil, I am glad that there are actually two important discussions taking place now in Malaysia on the kind of country we want to live in.

One is the TN50 series of national dialogues with young people on the Malaysia they envision by 2050. The other is the effort to make Rukunegara the preamble to the Constitution. And I believe they should feed into each other.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who is leading the TN50 dialogue, rightfully said this process is not just about defining policies for national development, but importantly, also about defining our national identity.

That many politicians (led by none other than the  narcissistic Prime Minister himself) are still determined to use ethnicity and religion to not only define us, but to divide us remains a dominant leitmotif of Malaysian politics to this day.


In his recent interview with The Star, Khairy (pic with his wife Nori Tun Abdullah Badawi) stated that one of the areas of engagement in TN50 will be the subject of “an inclusive, vibrant and open society”. This, he hopes, will lead to a discussion on values and what a Malaysian identity should be.

I hope these dialogue sessions will be a platform where diverse groups of stakeholders can get to listen to each other and think. And in this process the “I” can become a ‘We” – we, Malaysians.

Over the years, ethnic and religious polarisation has gotten from bad to worse in Malaysia. The sad thing is that much of this divisiveness is driven by desperate politicians who manufacture fears and threats in order to maintain their power and privilege, and by non-state political ideologues burning with self-righteousness about establishing an Islamic state and syariah and Malay supremacy.

Never mind if such strategies lead to the destruction of the Malaysia we know and love, and the Malaysia that our founding fathers envisioned. That vision remains valid today.

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Malaysia’s Ills–Greed, Corruption and Incompetence

I have always believed that this country is big enough, and blessed enough for us all to share. That was how the founding fathers saw it as they developed a political system and policies where political power and economic wealth of the nation could be equitably shared.

As other ethnically divided countries fell apart, Malaysia stood in stark contrast because of a fundamental belief that this country has no other path to follow for its survival and well-being, but for its people to choose to live together in peace and to share the wealth of the nation.

To continue to label the Chinese and Indians as pendatangs, to portray them as threats, to regard other religions as a threat to Islam when the Constitution is clear in recognising Islam as the religion of the Federation and for other religions to be practised in peace and harmony, is nothing but a deliberate and mischievous attempt to manufacture a new ideological infrastructure for an exclusivist Malaysia to serve the short-term interest of the privileged few.

With all the corruption scandals perpetrated by those elected and appointed to protect the supposed interests and rights of the bumiputras, it is time that we start to think beyond our own ethnic and religious boundaries.

Image result for Malaysia's TN50

Sebab sSaya nak songlap duit rakyat lagi

For there are larger interests for the national well-being that can unite us. So I welcome the TN50 dialogue initiative which I hope will start a national conversation on the kind of Malaysia we aspire to by 2050. Will it buttress the recognition of Malaysia’s plurality in the 1957 Constitution or submit to the demands for an exclusive identity based on ethnicity and religion, and even then, one that embraces only a certain kind of Malays and Muslims, while others are labelled deviants?

Will we continue to see our diversity as our strength rather than a curse and a threat as these extremists portray? Do we want to live in fear or in hope?

The proponents of the initiative (I am one of them) to make the Rukunegara the Preamble to the Constitution is embarked on an effort to reinvigorate and reaffirm this national commitment and turn it, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, into “habits of the heart”.

The objectives and principles of the Rukunegara, carefully crafted after the trauma of 1969 and launched by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on National Day in 1970, were designed to rebuild a sense of national unity and purpose – of a government and its citizens committed to building a democratic, just and progressive society with a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions.

They contain values that recognise our diversity and represent our commitment to inclusiveness, and our belief in democracy, justice, equity, and unity.

While some of us embrace these values until they become “habits of the heart”, too many others in powerful positions, in their rhetoric and actions, are determined to upend the best in the Malaysian character to refashion a new identity where those different are demonised and labelled, and therefore to be feared and excluded.

Make no mistake the project to create a new ideological infrastructure for Malaysia has been many years in the making. If the leaders continue to ignore this real threat or to be complicit in this for short-term political gain, and the rakyat continue to be blinded by demagogues who abuse ethnicity and religion for narrow sectarian interests, then we will end up fighting for crumbs indeed come 2050, or even earlier.

As expected, any effort to be inclusive, consultative, realistic in facing the challenges of today and the future, is regarded as a threat by these ethno-religious extremists.

Revitalising the Rukunegara to make it the preamble to the Constitution is damned as an effort to erode the special status of the Bumiputeras and undermine Islam as the religion of the Federation.

Dialogues to provide a platform for young people to envision the Malaysia they want by 2050 is criticised for not using Islam as its framework.

Image result for Zainah Anwar

Malaysia’s Gutsy Public  Intellectual

Such myopic attitudes reveal the intent of these supremacists to turn Malaysia into a mono-ethnic and mono-religious country or at least, one that serves the interest of only one group of citizens.

We want to move forward and embrace the values and ideals of the Rukunegara that remain relevant today, if not even more.

We want to explore new ideas and build new understandings that will keep us together and promote our collective well-being as we face the difficult and complex challenges of an uncertain new world order.

We want to stride into the future with knowledge and confidence, not with self-inflicted fear and myopia.

11 thoughts on “Malaysia: Into the Future Together

  1. Najib is NOT the biggest problem, HE is just the first problem that need to be solved before anything else can be.

    Muhiyiddin, in speaking to rural Malays, attributed the success Malaysia have had to UMNO..Truth is ITS the founding principle of the country, the Alliance and later BN. You can trace all the problems and failures of this country to the decline of the Alliance and BN.

    Now BOTH UMNO and PPBM wants to go further in the destruction of the principles of Alliance and BN by insisting on partnering with Hadi’s PAS..

    Only Mahathir will admit that the founding principles of this country is wiser than anything he could come up with. Its the main reason why he regrets what he did and attempt to corect it before the ends of his days.

    There is no future in traditional political Islam in this country, Hadi’s PAS. Like it or not, Najib may be the first main thing that has to go but the time has come to get rid of Hadi’s PAS together and at least one third rail of politics of this country..

  2. I gathered from outsyed that Rukun Islam has already replaced Rukun Negara at the back of some workbooks in some schools. Preamble is a mere luxury. A little too late, a little too much of a mere window dressing. Perhaps it is time of 1Khairy … Layu-layu.

  3. Quote:- “There is no future in traditional political Islam in this country…”

    Look around the World and the above is true in any country.

    The Malays and other Muslims who support PAS are destroying their’s and their children’s future. But I suppose Paradise is too great a lure which PAS is betting on.

    As for the non-Malay Muslims, (especially the Malaysian Chinese who are dwindling in numbers), who vote for PAS, even if it is part of Pakatan Harapan, have no future anyway.

    The future of Malaysia, good or bad, is now more than ever in the hands of the Malay-Muslim majority. Good Luck.

  4. @Wayne

    I’m not so sure if, say, Malaysia’s future is to be “bad”, that “that” future would be in Malaysians’ hands, whichever ethnic group that will be the majority.

    In this ever more connected and competitive world, geo-politically, Malaysia is to important for other great powers to be left alone. Just google Malaysia’s long history of being colonized to get an idea.

    Being disunited and playing with fire as regard to our future is just our own way of advertising to the whole outside world to “kacau” us.

    Just the reality, really.

    • But, like what Zweig the émigré (pendatang) reminded us..

      //The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.

      To me, it is already too late for this generation of Melayu. Find that one Melayu local graduate who has a good reason to not despise Jewish émigré like Zweig, find that one Melayu. I suspect not even one. Not even Bersatu’s best debater. Not even 1Khairy. Similarly, find that 1cina pendatang who does not despise 1Malaysia’s melayu first, who does not despise ourselves who have to learn the tricka to curi makan to cari makan like 1jho low.

    • @Katasayang

      I’m not too sure what you mean by “despise ourselves”. Do you mean as in etnic Chinese Malaysian despising Chinese Malaysians or is it the different etnicities of Malaysia against each other?

      I myself am never sorry about my own etnicity. Neither do I hold a grudge against my fellow countrymen or women of other etnic groups. My only lament is that of our so called leaders, who not only propagate divisions among ourselves, but actively ensures that no grassroot movements can ever take-off into correcting our mindsets.

      Factoring these facts into the reality of the modern world, leads me to a conclusion that we as a nation is incapable of leading for our own selves.

      I agree though on your assestment that the window for enlightenment is indeed very small, and closing fast… in fact it should have already closed by now, for developments outside our borders has already reach critical mass, and there’s no turning back now.

      I say, everyone hang tight and just live our lives to the fullest, and hope we and our descendants can still prosper in the new world. But make no mistake, the new world would not work under our own terms.

  5. Hey Nori has lost weight. Sister, looks good. Way to go, Nori.

    Anyway there is no future because the Opposition has not presented us with an alternative to UMNO/BN.

    Now that Octo is back in the game we could if the Oppo is successful have a NeoBN on the throne of Putrajaya.

    Which for many that would not be such a bad thing. I hear some of these old timers talk about the halcyon days of the Octo regime and wonder if that’s the best Malaysia could hope for.

    Exploring new ideas and building new understandings is a dangerous endeavour. It means discarding the straightjacket of ideology and religion for something more chaotic and unpredictable.

    That is what real democracy that sustains a kind of freedom is all about.

    Removing Najib is one thing, redefining what it means to be Malaysian but more importantly ensuring that one person or institution does not have the sole power to do that defining is another.

    Do not look out into the horizon if you are unwilling to go the distance.

  6. What is UMNOb going to do about Jailbird Jamal? He’s threatening to be the next Malay Muslim illegal gambling king. Chief Twit KBAB should host Jailbird Jamal at the Bamboo River resort to cool his heels.

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