The Way Forward: Education and Opportunity for All, Not Race-Based

June 29, 2018

The Way Forward: Education and Opportunity for All, Not Race-Based

By Teoh King


Image result for Mahathir --Malay Special Privileges to continue

Dr Mahathir says: Malay Special Privileges to continue–Any Problem with that? No, Politics, please.  Just Do it differently by stopping to spoon feed the Malays.–Din Merican

Malaysia is now one and a half months into a political term under a new government that they thought would bring hope and reform to the Malaysian establishment. Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s coalition was voted into office on May 9 in a historic unseating of the BN coalition for the first time in six decades since the country gained its independence. It was also unprecedented that an ex-prime minister was voted back into office – this time leading the opposition against the party he formerly led, and joining forces with Anwar Ibrahim, a man he was once partly responsible for putting into prison on disputed charges of sodomy.

We voted, and in the end fairness and truth prevailed. The tide turned against BN on election day as millions of disillusioned, disenfranchised Malaysians took to the ballots and chose Mahathir. Wearied by the kleptocracy, cronyism and corruption that had been gnawing away at the heart of our public institutions for years, the people in the end sided with the coalition that promised widespread reform in our constitutional, political and electoral systems.

Image result for Lim Guan Eng I am Malaysian

It is time at long last that corruption is put to an end and the branches of government are kept separate with an end to inter-branch collusion. We are now one step closer to a new Malaysia where racial inequality and discrimination will be stamped out of public policy and business practices and Malaysians will no longer be defined by their race or religion. This was shown when, two weeks into the new Malaysia, the newly appointed finance minister responded to a question about being the first Chinese Malaysian to be made finance minister in 44 years. Lim Guan Eng said: “I’m Malaysian, I don’t see myself as Chinese.”

However, I awoke to the disappointing news that Mahathir, in one of his press interviews as prime minister, had said that “Malays will continue to get special privileges”.

Just when I, among many hopeful young Malaysians, thought we would read of widespread reform in a new Malaysia, more disheartening details were laid out, with Mahathir continuing to say:

“Malays still needed assistance in the availability of scholarships to study overseas.For example, when I was in the UK, I met a number of Chinese students. They were there because their fathers, their parents were able to pay for their studies there. But I find that Malay parents, by and large, cannot afford to have university education for their children.”

Mahathir said the Chinese were largely in business and that “in business, you can make tonnes of money”. In contrast, he said, the Malays were largely civil servants and wage earners who could not afford to send their children to university.

I beg to differ with our Prime Minister as this is an utterly backward perception. He makes sweeping generalisations about Malays being poor and unable to afford quality education for their children. While it is true that most of the families who are able to send their children overseas for education are Chinese, the Prime Minister should make no mistake: NOT all Chinese are well-off – the Chinese who cannot afford quality education are the ones who, by the very fact that they are in the lower income bracket, do not have their concerns raised and heard in much of our political discourse.

As such, the affirmative action policies have done more harm than good to the poorer Chinese, particularly as public education admissions are rationed to Malays with priority, depriving otherwise industrious and bright Chinese youths of a chance to develop their full potential in a wholly pro-Malay system. Over the long run, this will drive many capable people who happen to be Chinese out of a unified local labour market or out of the country altogether, leading to what economists pejoratively call a country’s “brain drain”. Worse still, and more fundamentally, it breeds and fuels resentment, and resentment only leads to more tension and conflict between the races in our society.

Don’t judge a book by its cover!

A person’s poverty or wealth is not inextricably tied to the colour of their skin, so don’t judge a book by its cover!

Students who are able to study overseas are not necessarily from families that are wealthy; more so, it is a result of the enormous value that some families place on their children’s education. This has been my experience being born into a low or medium income family. And from what I have experienced and seen, my peers and friends around me have found that studying overseas is definitely not an easy journey. It comes with the colloquial blood, sweat and tears every step of the way.

Many parents make many sacrifices, save every single penny they can, whether by getting a loan, refinancing their house, moving to a smaller house, withdrawing their EPF money, driving a second-hand car, or tightening their living allowances, are among many measures taken. It doesn’t only apply to students who study overseas but students in private colleges in Malaysia enrolled in external programmes.

Reform and provide quality education for all

So, the question is, why would the wage-earner parents sacrifice so much to send their children for overseas education or to private colleges? It is about quality education. It is the general perception of our society and the increasingly prevalent view held by employers that applicants with an overseas university degree are more qualified than applicants with locally awarded degrees. The problem is more indicative of a general negative regard that Malaysian employers have towards our national education. Reform needs to be implemented so that our education can be seen as on par with that of the countries to which so many of our disenfranchised students flock.

So why should race have a role to play in the education system? Do race and quality education intertwine? Why would there be a need for special privileges when we know that the problem runs more than skin deep?

In my humble opinion, every student should be treated equally as quality education should be enjoyed by every young Malaysian regardless of race or religion.

Instead of having special privileges, systemic reform is much needed by the government in achieving an inclusive and quality education for all. The government should aim to provide equal access for all, and eliminate gender, race or wealth disparities in the vision of quality education which is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Goal 4) for which we ought to strive.

Teoh King Men is a law graduate and youth advocate.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Nazir Razak ready to leave CIMB Group?

June 30, 2018

Nazir Razak ready to leave CIMB Group?

When an Outstanding Banker like Nazir Razak decides to leave before his term of office ends, there’s bound to be speculation. In this particular case, the man who is at the center of this Star newspaper report happens to be  the younger brother of  former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.


Image result for CIMB Banking Group in Cambodia

“In six years, we have expanded from two branches to 12 branches as well as 14 off-site self-service terminals. We presently have over $450 million in assets, making us the 13th largest commercial bank in Cambodia. We intend to be in Cambodia for the long term and we feel it is important to grow sustainably and to invest in developing our local talent pool. Regionally, CIMB Group is ASEAN’s fifth-largest universal bank. Over the past decade, the group has been one of the fastest-growing banks in the region”. Bun Yin, CEO of CIMB Bank, Cambodia


A Cambodian friend of mine who heads CIMB Bank operations (pic above) in Cambodia alerted me of this possibility a couple of days ago. My response was that he should not listen to rumours.  Chairman Nazir is well known in the Kingdom where CIMB Bank operates a very successful and profitable network of bank branches.

I am not privy to what is happening in the Malaysian corporate scene post May 9 GE-14. I have been away from the country since 2014.  But I hope that the impending departure of Chairman Nazir has nothing to do with politics.  Ideally, I would like him to either remain with the CIMB Group, or be given some key appointment elsewhere so that his talent,  professional  competence, reputation for integrity, and wide experience can be used for  the benefit of the New Malaysia.–Din Merican


Image result for CIMB Banking Group Chairman Nazir Razak

CIMB Group chairperson Nazir Razak will leave the banking group when his term ends next March, reported The Star today.

The youngest brother of former Prime Minister Najib Razak has informed the CIMB Board of Directors that he will not seek re-election as chairperson, a post he has held since 2014.

He has also served as CIMB chief executive officer (CEO) for 15 years. “He (Nazir) has told the board that he will leave and not seek re-election. The board is already searching for a successor,” said the source.

Malaysiakini has contacted Nazir for his response. Speculation has been rife that Nazir could leave earlier than March. The source however said thus far, there has been no indication of him being “told to go”. “He has not been called in by the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) or anyone else,” the source was reported as saying.


The CEP is headed by former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, and was set up to advise the new Pakatan Harapan government on how to achieve its economic promises in 100 days as per its election manifesto.

CEP is also looking into the performance of government-linked companies (GLCs) and reviewing the appointments of key executives. Several CEO at GLCs as well as government-linked investment companies (GLICs) have already vacated their positions following the change in government.

Nazir is prepared to go earlier than the expiry of his term if he is told to do so, according to another source.

Can Japan learn from Malaysia too?

June 30, 2018

Can Japan learn from Malaysia too?

Yes, Kim Beng, what you say resonates with me. We can share our experiences and also learn from one another. What we need is  a clear heart, an open mind and lots of humility. It is not about America First or building Fortress America. It is about our capacity and willingness to learn from one another. We must first understand that we are not islands unto ourselves.  Why look EAST only? Look everywhere.  I welcome comments.–Din Merican

COMMENT | Japan, unknown to many, is a hybrid. It has an imperial system steeped in ancient Japanese culture and Shinto religion. But it also has a Whitehall parliamentary system, and a bureaucracy that recruits on the basis of what top universities like University of Tokyo, Waseda University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies can produce. The latter is not unlike the practice of France that tends to pick its best elites from ENA (or Ecole Nationale Administration), indeed, also Sciences Po.

More importantly, Japan has a security alliance with the United States, that is predisposed to relying on the nuclear deterrent provided by Washington DC, even though Japan purportedly cannot house, base and allow any nuclear warships to traverse through its ports, according to the doctrine once laid down by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato.

Yale historian,Paul  Kennedy. who wrote the book ‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers’ in 1988, referred to Japanese foreign policy as “omnidirectional.” Neither East nor West, Japan is the best – only that the so-called definition of the “best” in Japan involves a high degree of adaptation, adjustment and innovation to suit Japan.

By anecdotes, none of the anime characters, for example, are truly Western. Not even Eastern. But the end product is a Japanese anime that is imbued with huge eyes, sharp features, and accentuated shapes, all of which have been innovated to achieve that distinctive flavour that only anime fans can associate with.

But even as Malaysia Look East, what can Japan learn from Malaysia though? It is high time that Tokyo looks at Malaysia (anew) for three specific reasons.

First, at a fertility rate of 1.34 according to the UN Population research, as reported in NHK, Japan is greying and shrinking in future. Japan is growing older, and in human demography, smaller. Second, Japan has a serious security problem viz a viz North Korea and China. Both countries may want to trade with Japan, even ultimately gain from it, but they are not in a position to let Japan off lightly on historical issues, especially Japan’s previous colonisation of them.

Thirdly, the aging of Japanese society has repercussion in terms of its security outlook and posture too, even democracy. As the people become older, they demand Japan be a responsible power, too, one that can stand up on consistent Japanese principles of honour, dignity and values, all of which play into the hands of the right-wing political elements who may argue that ancient Japanese values are strongest in right-wing parties. If this is the trajectory, Japanese politics would turn right even before it can become centrist, let alone leftist in future.

But, regardless of the permutations above, Japan can learn from Malaysia in terms of our democratic experimentation and consolidation too. At the ripe old age of  93 in a couple of weeks – Dr Mahathir Mohamad has shown that “age is a number” – one can be a democrat if one is committed to it. Indeed, Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Anwar Ibrahim, too, is already 71.

In his speech in Istanbul on June 19, Anwar explains that he is not young too. But he is vested his life into promoting and protecting democracy by virtue of the political imprisonment that he had gone through, causing him to lose 10.5 years of his life in prison. In the outlook of Mahathir and Anwar, age is not a factor in reeling back from pursuing peace, freedom and democracy, which are lessons that the whole of Japan should be learning from Malaysia. Old is gold.

More importantly, while close to four million Malaysian youths did not register to vote in the 14th General Election, the total voter turnout was 82 percent, just four percent less than 2013. The ones who voted out the kleptocratic excesses of the government of Najib Razak were the youth too. In fact, 75 percent of the membership of Bersatu, a party led by Mahathir, is less than 35 years of age.

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, a top youth leader of Bersatu, even gave up his Oxford graduate scholarship twice to fight for a better Malaysia. One of Mahathir’s top strategists, Dr. Rais Hussin, is barely 50. But he fought against all odds to defend the Malaysian democracy, and recruited the likes of Dr. Maszlee Malik, his peer in International Islamic University, to be the education minister.

Women’s power

Japan can also learn from Malaysia in terms of the women participation. Prior to May 9, which was the day of the electoral upset, seven out of 10 female voters in Malaysia were usually pro-establishment.

But on the day of the election, the women refused to go with the systemic abuses and flagrant corruption of Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor). Many rooted for Mahathir and Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of Anwar Ibrahim. Wan Azizah, who is an eye specialist is now the deputy prime minister. Words have it that the speaker or the deputy speaker of the parliament could be Hannah Yeoh, again, another woman.

Fourthly, the Malaysian election is establishing the norm to help China understand that “lopsided agreements,” and “uneven contracts,” the likes of which have been seen not only in Malaysia, but throughout the international trading system spanning from Asia to Latin America.

These agreements have to be thoroughly reviewed. Malaysia does not want any bad relationship with the world’s largest market, as that as would be the equivalent of practising destructive trade practices. But Malaysia is an emerging trading nation that merely broke into the top 20 trading nations of the world only in the last 20 years.

Malaysia cannot squander away the hard work and labour of the previous generations while allowing another economic juggernaut to walk over us. This is how Malaysia has reacted to the United Kingdom in 1982 with the “Buy British Last” campaign. Back then, Malaysian government merely wanted the fees imposed on Malaysian students to be reduced so that more Malaysian students can benefit from the necessary academic training and skills transfer.

When then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, herself a tough negotiator, refused to relent, Malaysia had no choice but to diversify the number of locations the Malaysian government can send its students abroad. Malaysia is not about to impose any protectionist measure on China. But improper and suspicious trade agreements involving China and the previous regime have to be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb.

Indeed, there may not be a one-to-one analogy between Malaysia of the past and now, even though the administration is once again back in the hands of Mahathir. But there are many things that Japan can learn from Malaysia. Just because Japan is a member of the G7 while Malaysia is a member of Asean, the latter must learn from the former. As Malcolm Gladwell the author of ‘David vs Goliath’ made plain – small does not mean weak; silence too does not mean consent.

On May 9, Malaysians staged a strategic electoral upset quietly and deftly, precisely because Malaysians at large have given more than enough chances to Umno and BN to reform themselves. They didn’t. Hence, what happened on May 9 was a reformation pioneered by the likes of Anwar and subsequently led by Mahathir when the former was still under imprisonment. With good coordination and partnership, Pakatan Harapan achieved the impossible.

Japan, being a country based on creating new breakthroughs, should take Malaysia as a major democratic breakthrough, and a shiny example of what peaceful transition of power can achieve.

PHAR KIM BENG is a Harvard/Cambridge Commonwealth Fellow, a former Monbusho scholar at the University of Tokyo and Visiting Scholar at Waseda University.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

South China Sea: US Criticism of China’s Actions increasingly strident and dangerous

June 29, 2018

South China Sea: US Criticism of China’s Actions increasingly strident and dangerous

by Mark J Valencia, National Institute for South China Sea Studies

Criticising China for its actions in the South China Sea has become quite common in US foreign policy commentary over the past few years. Recently, the criticism has become ever more strident and dangerous. In some instances it even borders on ‘yellow journalism’ — namely journalism that is based on sensationalism and crude exaggeration — which is something that has prodded the United States into war in the past.

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A Navy official says the USS John S. McCain has sailed close to a Chinese man-made island in a freedom of navigation operation in the disputed South China Sea. (Na Son Nguyen/AP Photo)

Some commentators in Washington trumpet the China threat. They use information about Chinese construction on features in the South China Sea to bolster their campaigns to convince the Trump administration that China presents an imminent threat to US interests there, particularly freedom of navigation. Accompanying these concerns are a spate of proposals for aggressive US military action to challenge China’s claims and actions in the South China Sea.

Those in the US foreign policy community who warn of a China threat are finding resonance with some members of Congress and the Trump administration. On 3 May 2018, the White House announced that there would be ‘near-term and long-term consequences’ for China’s so-called ‘militarisation’ of the South China Sea.

Sure enough, a flurry of anti-China actions followed. On 23 May, the Pentagon announced that it had withdrawn an invitation to China to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise — the world’s largest multinational military exercise.

The Pentagon followed this four days later with a two-ship freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands. The exercise violated China’s regime of required prior permission for warships to enter waters that China claims as its own.

US commentators and empathetic politicians are throwing every accusation they can at China to encourage and justify the need for a US response. They accuse China of being assertive and aggressive, violating the 2002 ASEAN–China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), not conforming to international rules and norms, militarising the features in the South China Sea, generating instability and threatening freedom of navigation.

Let’s examine the strength of these allegations.

China’s efforts to protect what it sees as its sovereign territory and resources against rival claimants in the South China Sea have indeed been both assertive and aggressive. But so have the actions of Vietnam as well as US naval activity in response to China’s actions. China has demonstrated relative restraint vis-a-vis provocative US FONOPs and US intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) probes in the South China Sea.

In other claimants’ eyes China has violated the DOC. But other claimants like Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have also violated the self-restraint provision of the DOC by continuing their own reclamation and construction activities after the 2002 agreement. The Philippines, by filing its complaint against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also violated what China considers to be the most important DOC provision of all — the commitment to resolve territorial and jurisdictional disputes through friendly consultations and negotiations involving only the countries directly concerned.

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U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson

China and the United States do not agree on what many of the international rules and norms are or should be. The United States wants to strengthen the status quo in which it is the dominant actor and patron. China believes it is being constrained by the existing US-led international order that favours a system developed and sustained by the West. China wants respect for its status and interests, and seeks to bend the system to its benefit just as the United States did during its rise.

‘Militarisation’ also means different things to China and the United States. To China, its placement in the South China Sea of what it perceives to be defensive weapons does not constitute militarisation, while the United States is clearly militarising the region with its forward-deployed troops, assets and patrols.

The United States maintains that its FONOPs in the South China Sea are intended to preserve and protect freedom of commercial navigation in the region for itself and others. But China has not threatened commercial freedom of navigation and is unlikely to do so during peacetime.

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U.S. Carrier Strike Group (USS Theodore Roosevelt) Patrols The South China Sea

The United States conflates freedom of commercial navigation with freedom of navigation for its ISR vessels and aircraft. In so doing it makes frequent reference to UNCLOS, which it has not ratified and thus has little credibility interpreting to its own benefit. China objects to what it perceives as US abuse of ‘freedom of navigation’ to its military advantage, and its use of intimidation and coercion to enforce its interpretation.

The United States is overreacting in the South China Sea and this response is likely to be counterproductive. If the United States steps up its naval confrontation in the South China Sea, China may well respond by denying future US Navy port visits, further enhancing its military assets on the features it occupies and increasing its close-in observation of future US FONOPs and ISR probes.

Some US analysts and politicians appear to be trying to goad the United States into military action in the South China Sea even though there is no threat to US core interests there. It is indeed the job of the US defence and intelligence community to plan for worst-case scenarios. But objectivity, fairness and balance — the supposed ethics of independent analysts — are increasingly hard to find in analysis of China’s actions in the South China Sea.

Mark J Valencia is Adjunct Senior Scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, China.

A more detailed version of this article first appeared here in the IPP Review.

Mahathir indicates possibility of a Malaysia-Indonesia car

June 29, 2018

COMMENT: This is going to be the shortest comment I intend to make. Stop wasting public funds by going into another car project. We have invested and lost millions of money on Proton. But you are free, Dr. Mahathir to put your own money in your proposed joint Indonesia-Malaysia car for the ASEAN market.–Din Merican

Mahathir indicates possibility of a Malaysia-Indonesia car

by Bernama

Image result for Dr Mahathir visits Indonesia

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad Friday spoke of the possibility of reviving the proposed project of a Malaysia-Indonesia car for the Asean market.

He said the idea was brought up when he test drove a Proton car in Malaysia in February 2015 with visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo sitting beside him.

“I was no longer the prime minister then,” he said.

Mahathir was the prime minister from 1981 to 2003 and became the premier for the second time on May 10, 2018.

“I drove the car at a speed of 180 km per hour on the Sepang race circuit. The President (Joko Widodo) did not complain at all (when the car was driven at that speed),” Mahathir said at the joint press conference with Jokowi, as the Indonesian President is fondly called, in conjunction with his official visit to Indonesia.

Jokowi had recalled the test drive when he spoke earlier at the press conference and said he had no cause for worry because the person behind the wheel was Mahathir.

“I was not afraid because the driver was Mahathir,” he said.

— Bernama

On the Malays by Dr.Azly Rahman

June 29, 2018

A Rejoinder from Dr. Munirah Alatas to her Fellow Columbian Dr. Azly Rahman

P.S.  Dr. Sharifah Munirah,

To call Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos a James Dean is to insult and debase the memory of James Byron Dean,  my teenage idol of the 1950s.

 Image result for James Dean

You cannot in good sense equate rebellion to gangsterism. Jamal is a law breaking pro-UMNO and Najib Razak political operative and a racist who is now a fugitive in Indonesia.  His Red Shirt movement should be outlawed and Jamal himself extradited to face the law for inciting violence against Malaysians , sedition, racism and violence. Otherwise, your comments on Dr. Azly’s article are fine.–Din Merican

Dr. Sharifah Munirah writes:

I refer to Dr. Azly Rahman’s commendable and no-nonsense expose ‘On the Malays’ (, June 29, 2018). Well-written, but I expect nothing less from a fellow-Columbian (Columbia University graduate). Thinkers like Dr. Azly should continue in the struggle against racial chauvinism, corruption and bigotry that has become rampant in Malaysia.

It is in this spirit that I feel compelled to highlight a few key points brought up by Dr. Azly. To me, these are crucial to the reform of the Malays. Without a movement to address these points from all quarters of Malaysian society, ‘the new Malay’…’the multi-cultural Malay’…’loving emphatically with Malaysians of other races’….will be relegated to the cobwebs of rhetoric, just a bunch of useless words and sentences to fill up blogs, newspapers, academic journals and textbooks.

1. The red-shirt movement…Azly asks why they are harassing those who want to see a better Malaysia? A cleaner society and one that is not only for the Malays or for the Muslims but a Malaysia for all Malaysians? Yes, a simple concept of good citizenship. Adding on to this, the 48 year old Jamal Yunos does not represent the majority of Malays. Many are embarrassed and appalled at his hooliganism.

Having said that, though, there is an insidious feeling of ‘us and them’ flowing through the veins of this majority with respect to other races and religions in Malaysia. I see this as a deeper crisis that needs immediate attention. Examples from daily life in urban Malaysia betray this separateness. How often does one see Malays dropping into the homes of Indians and Chinese, eating food cooked by them, on their plates, with their forks and spoons, drinking from their glasses? Malays may drop by, and may definitely accept Indians and Chinese as their friends, but the extant of this acceptance is only skin-deep.

Malays will not go the extra mile because it is against Islam….or so they erroneously interpret. For Chinese New Year and Deepavali, of course Malays visit Chinese and Indian friends, families, households….all in the name of friendship, comraderie, good citizenship, muhibbah, acceptance. Murruku is deemed unfit for Muslim consumption among many Malays I’ve encountered….comments made by my fellow-academic colleagues!! Yet they talk about inclusivity, pluralism, open-mindedness and racial harmony. No matter how subtly a Malay refuses a lunch invitation to a Chinese friend’s home (by giving various excuses of being busy with work or other kenduris), that Chinese friend knows the fundamental reason.

Malays and Muslims cannot and will not compromise on their Islamic beliefs of keeping halal. Herein lies the problem, and a detailed analysis can be the topic of another post. It is sufficient to say though that the interpretation of Islam among Malays is completely devoid of history and theological philosophy. One can argue that Chinese and Indians have long accepted this, are not offended and can ‘live with it’ for the sake of harmony. Malays too continue to be polite in refusing. But we ALL know and feel the ‘us and them’. In a true ‘better Malaysia’ why should the minority races have to ‘live with it’ or just ‘accept’ it? We should create a Bangsa Malaysia, a new Malaysia which is truly inclusive.

Jamal Yunos is truly a James Dean (rebel without a cause). But the Malays in general must revisit their concept of ‘jihad of peace’. Which brings me to my next point.

2. On the need to defend/protect the Malays. Psychologically and philosophically, for decades this has damaged and not improved the lot of the Malays. Deep inside the Malay psyche there is a feeling of inferiority. Economically they may have progressed but there will always be the ‘us versus them’ complex. It is glaringly obvious in daily life activities, in sports interaction, coffee-shop banter, classroom interaction and at university lectures.

3. My last point…sedition charges brought against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (using Mandarin in an official document) following a protest launched by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka outside Masjid Putra (June 29, 2018). Without going into the tiresome but dishonest accusations that the minister violated the constitution (which he did not), let’s ask ourselves, honestly….why are the majority of protests coming from the Malays? Show me a sizeable protest by a group of Chinese or Indians (and other non-Malays) on this? One may argue that the press/media do not highlight news from other quarters. Granted.

But honestly ask yourselves…in your daily lives, within the last week, have you been inundated with statements AGAINST what Lim Guan Eng did from your non-Malay brethren? In a truly ‘new Malaysia’ this would be happening, because criticism would be based on facts and the intrinsic desire to unite all Malaysians.

The concept of jihad is not the monopoly of Muslims. All Malaysians have to, as Dr. Azly succinctly writes, ‘inculcate the love of reading, of wisdom, of humility, of perspective-taking, of appreciating and learning from the arts, social sciences and philosophy.


On the Malays by Dr.Azly Rahman

“The new Malay will not need to be defended. They need philosophical, scientific, and republicanist thinking. They need to be existentialists, rather than follow some theocratic nut trying to establish a kingdom of “ketuanan Melayu“. The new Malay is a multicultural Malay living emphatically with Malaysians of other races”.–Dr. Azly Rahman

COMMENT | I think political parties wishing to understand the Malays need to know the following, through an essay I wrote a while ago, I hope relevant now.

Image result for Kerismuddin

The Buffoon of a trouble maker in UMNO Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos

Analysing the events that happened the years preceding the 14th general election – the humiliation of peaceful protesters, the harassment, the intimidation, the threats – leading to  the 60,000 strong yellow shirt Bersih rally that ended peacefully in Kuala Lumpur, I have this to say about those who are out to misrepresent the Malays:

Aren’t Malaysians tired of seeing the Malays being represented as buffoons, stupid, amok-prone, close-minded, Rempits, keris-kissing fools, Ali Baba forty-thieves, rejects, religious fanatics, red-shirts, whatever shirts?

It is a clever production and reproduction of the Malay ruling class, both feudal and wannabe-feudal so that the Jebat aspect of the Malay – the amok, the wannabe-sultan, the misogynistic, the sex-maniac royal-groper and rapist of ancient Malacca, the hedonistic, the grotesque epicure, the gangster, the absurd – is pushed forward and propagated to strengthen the Tuah aspect.

Image result for tak kan melayu hilang di dunia

The fool that followed the foolish orders of the Malacca sultan – the bad hombre of Malay culture – these are the twin representation of the Malays. A laughing stock – the Malays are made to become.

This is what the then ruling class wanted to use as ‘Hitlerian Youth’. This image must be forever destroyed. For way too long the image of the Malay as wise, learned, philosophical, tassauwuf/Sufistic being, the communicatively competent, the old school pre-Merdeka Johor type, the prudent, the proverb-loving, the artistic, the high-cultured, of high intellect and Jawi-literate Malay, the deeply perceptive and reflective, the viewer of materialism both as “rezeki/god’s bounty” to be careful with and to not let it be a corrupter of the soul, the raja haji-type of Malay (warrior who fought against the Dutch with bravery and with philosophy has been ignored. Where are you now, these Malays?

Aren’t we sick of the red-shirts’ antics and their representation of the Malays? A representation that has also been used successfully by the non-Malays through the power of discourse of a newer Malay fascism hegemonising national perceptions?

Then there is the display of silat to ineffectively and hilariously scare people off.

Malays don’t need this representation as well. It was useful as a way for good, morally upright warriors of the 15th century to kill their sultans, such as in the famous story of the death of the power-drunk sultan, Mahmud of Kota Tinggi, Johor. He was killed by his own Laksamana Megat Seri Rama while he was being carried by his serfs on his mobile throne, the ‘julang’, hence the story Mahmud Mangkat di Julang.

That evil-fool called a sultan killed the laksamana’s wife Dang Anum simply because she ate a piece of jackfruit (sebiji buah nangka) from the Raja’s orchard – because she was craving for it. She was pregnant. The raja ordered her stomach to be cut open to retrieve the jackfruit. That was the story of the Malay sultan worshipped by his people.

Laksamana Megat Seri Rama, skilled in silat, had to put the fool to death. Good for the sultan. That’s what a good silat man or woman ought to do – get rid of tyrants while they are on their throne.

But strangeness we are seeing in the use of the Malay art of self-defence. Lost is the meaning of silat as I understood it – ‘silatur-rahim’ or to make peaceful connections with other human beings – with Chinese, Indians, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Martians, Jupiterians, robots and androids – or even Trump-supporters. Silatur-rahim, that is what it means. Some Malays don’t even understand the simple meaning of a Malay word.

The multicultural Malay

Read…read… read…

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The Malay Intellectual Pak Kassim Ahmad

If only each family inculcates the love of reading, of wisdom, of humility, of perspective-taking, of respecting others, of appreciating and learning from the arts, sciences, world music and of becoming a good global citizen, we will not need to do this in public – beat each other up with planks while doing the breakdance.

Read…read…read… in the name of thy Lord who created thee…that foundational verse: “Iqra bismi rab bikal lazee khalaq”.

I’d say, stay home, take off your coloured shirt, wear your singlet and your sarong/kain pelikat if you are still feeling hot and angry, help mum bake cookies and read and read, read and be more intelligent in understanding what is ailing our society.

What a waste of time some of these Malays are doing harassing people on the streets, storming buildings, running after cars, yelling incomprehensibles – all in the name of truth?

What truth then?

How much money was being given to the cause of the rebellion without a real cause? This is the puzzling aspect of the red-shirt movement – why are they harassing those who want to see a better Malaysia? A cleaner society and one that is not only for the Malays or for the Muslims but a Malaysia for all Malaysians. Is that not a simple concept of good citizenship to comprehend and to fight for?

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The way those troubles were created seem troubling and ‘out of place’ in a Malaysia – a globalised Malaysia of the 21st century. It seemed like a very awkward, rude, uncouth, uncultured way of exercising free speech. It seemed like a well-paid job done without rhyme or reason or sincerity.

But the worst part was that it was claimed to be one of “defending the rights of the Malays” when the Malays, in general, did not wish to be defended as such. It is a shameful way.

What ought to be done is to stop these grotesque ways of behaving and start the work of helping the Mat and Minah Rempits, the single mothers, the youth who are about to go into the dungeons of drug addiction, and the Malays who think that Tanah Melayu is theirs alone and others are “intruders in history” and ought to be sent back to where they came from.

These are the Malays that need to be helped and their dignity restored. That would be a nobler job for the red-shirt gang or any gang wearing whatever shirt yelling for Malay rights. That is the “jihad” of peace the Malays, in general, would agree to be associated with.

Not the run-amok, latah, and drunken Jebat and foolish Tuah Malays we no longer wish to see. Let us help destroy this image of the Malays. We are not fools. We have never been.

The new Malay will not need to be defended. They need philosophical, scientific, and republicanist thinking. They need to be existentialists, rather than follow some theocratic nut trying to establish a kingdom of “ketuanan Melayu“. The new Malay is a multicultural Malay living emphatically with Malaysians of other races.

That’s what a Malay ought to become. Until it was destroyed by a dominant Malay party.

Dr. AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books. He grew up in Johor Baru, and holds a Columbia University doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in five areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, and creative writing.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.