Think For Yourself

August 31, 2017

Image result for tunku abdul rahman merdeka kartun


COMMENT: Normally, I will join fellow Malaysians to watch television with my wife, Dr. Kamsiah Haider to celebrate  Merdeka Day.  However, this milestone year, the 60th Anniversary of Independence, we choose to spend our time together in stead of witnessing a farce at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. Kamsiah and I feel there is nothing to rejoice.

Our Malaysia today is not what I had expected when my teenage friends and I–I was 18 years old– welcome Merdeka on August 31, 1957. My generation listened to Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj’s Independence Proclamation in a newly built Merdeka Stadium amidst pomp  and ceremony with excitement and hope.

Image result for Tunku Abdul Rahman quotes

Today we are divided, unequal in terms of rights, opportunities, and widening income disparity. We are identified by race and religion; and we are being governed by a corrupt and inept Najib’s UMNO regime which disregards the rule of law. Tunku, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn would be disappointed to see what we have become.

Dr. Kamisah and I would like to advise millennial Malaysians  to “Think for Yourself”. The future of a wonderful country is in your hands. You can make a difference. You can work to achieve Tunku Abdul Rahman’s dream that “We are all Malaysians. This is the bond that unites us” come true. That bond is broken  by the present generation of political leaders.–Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

Ivy League Scholars Urge Students: ‘Think for Yourself’

by Conor Friedersforf

As the fall semester begins, 15 professors from Yale, Princeton, and Harvard have published a letter of advice for the class of 2021.


Fifteen highly accomplished scholars who teach at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard published a letter Monday with advice for young people who are headed off to college: Though it will require self-discipline and perhaps even courage, “Think for yourself.”

The “vice of conformism” is a temptation for all faculty and students, they argue, due to a climate rife with group think, where it is “all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion” on a campus or in academia generally.

They warn that on many campuses, what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” doesn’t merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views:

It leads them to suppose dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them. Since no one wants to be, or be thought of, as a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies. Don’t do that. Think for yourself.

They go on to explain what that means: “questioning dominant ideas,” and “deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions,” even arguments “for positions others revile and want to stigmatize” and “against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.”

They go on to explain what that means: “questioning dominant ideas,” and “deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions,” even arguments “for positions others revile and want to stigmatize” and “against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.”:

Monday’s letter argues that “open-mindedness, critical thinking, and debate” are “our best antidotes to bigotry;” that a bigot is a person “who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices;” and that the only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate “are the actual bigots, including those on campuses or in the broader society who seek to protect the hegemony of their opinions by claiming that to question those opinions is itself bigotry.”

The letter’s signatories are Paul Boom, Nicholas Christakis, Carlos Eire, and Noël Valis at Yale; Maria E. Garlock, Robert P. George, Joshua Katz, Thomas P. Kelly, John B. Londregan, and Michael A. Reynolds at Princeton; and Mary Ann Glendon, Jon Levenson, Jacqueline C. Rivers, Tyler VanderWeele, and Adrian Vermeule at Harvard.

24 thoughts on “Think For Yourself

  1. The Malay youth of today can no longer think, they have been pampered and spoiled stupid. All they know is they want the latest gizmos, handphones, easy cushy jobs, jobs starting at the top instead of entry level and everything have to be provided by the government through JPA, MARA or some other government agency. Bet you they cant even describe the contributions and achievement of Tunku, Tun Razak or Hussein Onn.
    Then theres the brain washing by BTN on threats by the other races and religion. Ask these youth what are the threats, they will give you the blank stare but they ill insist that the threat is real. E.g. Threat that the Chinese will govern Malaysia, how is that possible when majority MPs are Malays, majority of civil servants are Malays and so on and so on but these same Malay youth will swear that the threat is real. So how to appeal to the Malay youths to think?

    • //So how to appeal to the Malay youths to think?

      Probably never.
      Taukeh Cina like these few, although they would never know, will always haunt them.
      These Chinese ghosts of the past will always haunt them because they never knew them.

      They forgot what these Taukeh Cina could achieve in their lifetime, today’s Melayu could do the same.

      All these Taukeh Cina came with nothing.

      For some reasons, today’s Malay still think Taukeh Cina is out there to rob them. But that was never the case. Stop hating. They were mere economic migrants. How all of us Chinese came to the shores of Tanah Melayu is no different from how the Rohingya ended up in Bangladesh.
      The Chinese in Malaysia are your friends.
      Just see how today’s China embrace 茜拉

    • Yes, it’s ridiculous to think that the Chinese could take over Malaysia. Everybody knows that. Really?

      I just thought of a scenario that might just make the impossible possible. I read that the Chinese schools are so successful that Malay intake into these schools have risen to 20% in some schools. And, it is still rising.

      If this trend continues, then the impossible might just happen. Chinese might become the dominant language in the governing elite of Malaysia.

    • Aitze, nothing wrong with Malay youth learning Mandarin. For far too long the Malay youth have remained monolingual while the Chinese and Indian youth are trilingual, their mother tongue, English and BM. Having the Malay youth learn Mandarin will benefit them. No worry about Mandarin being the dominant language and overtaking BM in being official language. The little red dot is a classic example.

  2. As long as every leader refuses to declare that,
    regardless of race and religion or beliefs or otherwise,
    ” I am, above all, a Malaysian first” , and acted like one,
    there can never be unity, truthfully.

    More effective way is to work from top-down.
    It is because, most ordinary citizens have already accepted and acted like one.
    The people of Malaysia should demand their leaders-representives to do so, for this is the only hope Malaysian would achieved a truly United Nation. It is each and every Malaysian’s duty and aspiration, pride and honour, to do so.
    Malaysia be blessed . Merdeka , and the coming Malaysia Day !
    (which I think, should merge into a single Malaysia-Merdeka Day, for strengthening unity a nation building process)

    On the events leading to current dire sotuation,
    It is the rogue leaders that are hindering the nation building unity process, by sabotaging the process with double talking, insincerity and hypocrisy, and pretending to promote and help building national unity, while insidiously acting in its name to “divide and rule” and “divide and rule”, in sustainging power that are largely abused for self-serving greed and wealth in cohorts with their cronies.

    The consequence- a divided and bigoted country, worse than those Merdeka days 60 years ago.

    The leaders have yet to wake up and start putting their act together, or the more informed voters in this ICT age are empowering themselves, to vote for change.

  3. This is only one part of the letter to the suggestion that students think for themselves. There’re actually more parts to the letter. To think for themselves, students must be able to: (1) Not be overcome “conventional wisdom and (2) be able to engage in their own critical thinking to arrive at their own views.

    A few years back I read of a study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college. They found that large numbers didn’t learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education. Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event. The students, for example, couldn’t determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.

    Therefore, even if students somehow manage not to to allow their views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on their campuses or in the broader academic culture and to avoid the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink, they may not be able to formulate meaningful replacements.

    Perhap it is age or the fact that I’ve been on the periphery of higher education for more than 40 years, but I see student trends come and go. In my time, the consuming issue of the day was the Vietnam War. It colored everything that happened on campus. When a tidal wave of opinion hits adolescent youth, they usually do not have the capacity to understand that there’s far more gray in the world than there’s black and white. There’s one significant difference that’s changed the equation from the 70’s to today – the internet and social media. The coalescing of groupthink in the 70’s depended on handbills, posters, and midnight discussions and took weeks. Today, with hashtags and Twitter, it takes minutes. Not only that, but if a student challenged the orthodoxy, only the people around her or him would know how they felt. Today, social media often puts a Scarlet Letter on the chest of anyone who wanted to form their own opinion.

    The good professors who have signed this letter are trying to get students to move beyond the echo chamber. I applaud that effort and I wish that all professors, administrators, trustees, and students will take their advice to heart. Be skeptical of everything your hear, read, and see. Trust your instincts on what’s right and what’s wrong. Most of all, when you hear someone who espouses a different opinion, try to really listen to what they’re saying. There’s a difference between listening and hearing. Try to do both and then chart your course based on all of the information you’ve at your disposal. Most of all, be true to yourself. Remember that in the end, you’ve to be comfortable with the person you see in the mirror when you wake up every day.

  4. The best antidote to the current tsunami that is taking us all to destruction? to wake up…and quickly…
    The time is long gone when “open-mindedness, critical thinking and debate” would have been the answer to fix our problems…

    • Ha, ha, you’ve revealed your age when you used the made-up word “thimk” by IBM and Mad Magazine in the 1950’s which spread because of a fad. Used to love Mad Magazine and I don’t remember when I stopped buying it. Must be sometime during my master or doctorate program when school lessons became too intense.

  5. Trump’s top level administrators are definitely thinking for themselves – distancing themselves from his erratic pronouncements:

    Trump and MO1 are in similar positions – one survives based on the 35% “hard core” supporters (some of whom are getting disillusioned) , the other one only on the ability to continue throwing out dedak. MO1 appears to be in a much weaker position than Trump vis-a-vis their political support in their respective countries.

  6. The country is disintegrating on all front. Merdeka means nothing if Malays keep thinking the country belongs to them and the nons are pendatangs and are discriminated in jobs, universities, appointments in civil service, GLCs and Judiciary. Today the country is lawless. UMNO is the law.

  7. Orang malaya, LaMoy , Isa ,

    Exactly, on the spot, on the benefits and progressiveness of “thinking for yourself”, through education and acquiring knowledge and skills.

    The leaders Umnob government intentionally want the people and the Malay vote banks to remain stupid,deprived of ” critical thinking “,… ” ..can no longer think for themselves,…pampered, …BTN,…”…, so that they can easily dominate over them, through “rule and divide” alternating with “divide and rule” and sustain power sbused at all costs to the people and the country–Largely implemented corruptly for self-serving interests, greeds in cohort with cronyism.

    It is as Malaysia exists for their ownership only. Yet, they(the political leaders) refuse to declare or will to acknowledge as ” I am Malaysian first”.

    But I think ICT has changed or should change all that… if not for Ge 14 , definitely Ge15. ICT will make the present Umnob and some opposition leaders IRRELEVANT, if they themselves do not transform or reinvent wrt to what Merdeka and Malaysia really meant to all, Not just for the abuse and misuse of the Leaders or power-that-be.

  8. It’s interesting that katasayang brought up Shila Amzah. I first met this remarkable young lady in 2015 when she was performing in a concert organized by my friend’s entertainment company in Hong Kong. During lunch break from a rehearsal, I saw her sitting very lonely at a corner by herself eating her lunch, while other performers were joking and laughing having their lunches together. Apparently everyone in the group understood that she was afraid of the criticisms from the radical Muslims back home should she have sat together for lunch with non-Muslims who were eating non-halal food. Muslim radicalism in Malaysia has intimidated the psychic of even a super intelligent and exceptional young lady like Shila Amzah.

    Generally, we don’t have this problem in the Bay Area. My Muslims and Jewish friends have no problem sitting at the same table seeing me enjoying my pork chop. And my Hindu friends have no problem sharing the same table with me seeing me cutting up my T-bone steak and swallowing their “god” into my stomach. But the Malays, whether back home or overseas, dare not sit to eat with non-Muslims unless they’re in a mamak store or some Muslim restaurants. And they called Malaysia a moderate Islamic country? I see it radical.

    • LaMoy the Malay Muslims are afraid of pork, liquor, dogs and anything that is haram but they are most comfortable with corruption and the haram money. Consuming food bought with haram money is the same as consuming haram food but they have selectively decided otherwise. I’ll sit with you while you consume your pork chop.

    • Semper, you’ve made an excellent point. I truly believe you’ll eat with me at the same table anywhere, anytime and watching me consuming my pork chop, because we’re from the same era very different from today. Growing up in a kampung in Klang, I often ate lunch at my Malay friends’ homes after school, and they at my home. Of course my parents were conscious not to serve them non-halal food but their parents never worried about whether the food were cooked with utensils that had been used to cook non-halal food. Today in Malaysia they even want different shopping carts for Muslims and non-Muslims. And I remember some Malay families owned dogs in the kampung I lived in. Today, I read about a Malay young lady got herself in trouble when she posted a picture of her with her pet dog on the social media. I always believe sharing food and eating together at the same table will improve friendships and race relations. I really empathize with Shila Amzah. Now she is living in Hong Kong but she still has to worry about little things she does could get her parents and loved ones back home into troubles. Malaysia was a moderate Islamic country. Today it is a radical one.

    • LaMoy, Semper and I are of the same generation. We were taught to respect the dignity of difference.Today, Malaysia is led by a racist and bigoted UMNO Baru, which was founded by a Malay ultra (to borrow from LKY) who destroyed all institutions. Look at how ridiculous of our Courts have becomw when on judge declared that Najid Razak is not Malaysian Official No.1. The irony is that we are counting on this 92 year old to transform our political culture.Too late because young and pampered Malays are taking over. These elites have become commission agents who are as corrupt as their elders. Recall how Pol Pot came to power. Read Ben Kiernan, Elizabeth Becker,Michael Vickery and Milton Osborne.

      Osborne’s Before Kampuchea: Preludes to Tragedy is strongly recommended. 1966, according to him, was a turning point in Cambodia’s modern history. It was the year he spent working in Phnom Penh with the Australian Embassy and traveling widely. In the countryside,he recounts many telling–and moving–personal experiences during this time; the corruption and political maneuvering within capital, visits to the provinces, and, above all, friendships with Cambodians who were to make their own direct contributions to the years ahead. Before Kampuchea provides both a knowledgeable, personal record of people and places in a rapidly changing society, and a penetrating analysis of the factors that were soon to plunge a country into chaos and disaster (genocide).–Din Merican

  9. The decades of bad political leadership and culture had created a HUGE number of underemployed and unemployable which only the government would take, for political reasons, with no consideration to its impact on the budget for development. A waste of human resources to contribute to the development of the country.

    Many are dependant and unable to think for themselves. These people could be easily manipulated and exploited by their bad leaders/politicians.

  10. I am not sure if an average Chinese or Indian is better off than an average Malay.

    The non-Malays economic growth is dictated mainly by private sector and self-driven initiatives whereas that of the Malays is largely driven by government support, funding and subsidies. This is a leg-up assistance to help them catch up with the rest. Because the situation is so there may be nothing intrinsically wrong with this policy as long as KPI indicators are set and target goal is achieved like, for example, some 50% of corporate equity coming under Bumiputras’ hands.

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