Musings on a nation gone half-mad

April 14, 2019

Musings on a nation gone half-mad

Opinion  |  Azly Rahman

Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Like all of you esteemed readers, I sometimes do not know what to make of the world we are living in. Especially that of our beloved country. But think about it, we must.

The wealthy and the powerful are having a field day, during the remains of their day perhaps, in a world ever changing wherein information wants to be free and the cybernetic world can help the maddening masses bring mad leaders down. In my half-wide awakeness, these past few days, I thought of these:

Malays and the syndrome of Harry Houdini

Reading about the state of things, I see academics continue to sell their soul to the forces of idiocy, to the deep state of decadence guised as traditional authority! Academics loyal to the power of hegemonic-idiocy, possessed, diseased hearts and minds, unfit to be teachers of ethics in society.

But that is their right to be intelligent or to be ignorant. Their right to give advice, to make things better, or to make matters worse. Their right to be ideologues, intelligentsia, or purely intelligent beings who will not sell their soul for any pound of gold. To be a sophist or to be a Socrates.

In my musings, I thought of these: No society will need monarchs to protect it, if each member takes pride in being a natural-born aristocrat with a free spirit.

Malays are too slow in releasing themselves from the shackles of feudal fear and mentality. Move faster. Question authority! Malay feudalism is merely a social construct borne out of a historical accident, lasting as long as the rakyat continue to surrender their mind, body and spirit.

Modern-day slavery continues to define our economic condition. The system of social injustice prevails, like a cultural logic of late capitalism gone illogical.

There is this cultural disease in Malaysia, manufactured. It is self-fear. Like a selfie of a one’s fear. Fear of other races instilled in the Malay mind is for the benefit of the powerful, political, and the feudal. For survival.

Malaysians must understand that today’s war is not about race and religion, but about class: of the powerful versus the powerless. Of the have-a-lots versus have-nots. A long war ahead, to redefine the way of the world and act upon it.

Too much bad history has plagued this most-obedient-people in the world. Only when Malays are taught critical reasoning, critiquing feudal ideology, and “liberation theology” will they be free.

The political and the feudal deep states have been using the old British colonial strategy of divide and enslave in order to maintain the status quo. In the Malay tradition, the idea of blind loyalty to feudalism must be dismantled. It is unfit for Malay intelligence of the Industry 4.0 era, especially.

In all cultural traditions, there are enabling and disabling aspects. Extract, reflect upon, revise and reconstruct those which are useless to the advancement of human cognition and liberation.

There is now a battle of cognition over culture in the Malay psyche. I presume a liberated Malay mind will never kowtow to any monarch, politician, ayatollah, or any master of slavery. We must end this form of mental imprisonment.

We must, especially, set the youth free. But freedom for Malay youth does not mean freedom to join Mat Rempits or neo-Nazi groups. That will be suicidal freedom.

There is this malaise in the south. This idea brought me to a related notion of hegemony and false consciousness. “Bangsa Johor” is an invented “nation” living in an oxymoron: being fearful of feudalism, yet showing absurdist freedom.

Today’s grand hypocrisy

In countries ruled by “Muslim monarchs,” you seldom find true Islam, mostly hypocrisy. Abuse of Islam is everywhere. Look around. In Malaysia, the more politicians claim Malay-Muslim parties will defend and protect Malay-Muslims, the more you find national robbery done nicely. Even the Pilgrimage Fund, the holiest of holy investment body, got robbed holistically, done religiously.

In today’s political chaos, we need a Napoleon with the heart of Socrates, the mind of Plato and Cicero, to return. In today’s politics, the Malay masses is the ageing Hang Tuah, blind-obedient, watching Jebat and the King fight over wealth. People are helpless, drained by the hope they held for 60 years. After a year of regime change, hope is slowly turning into yet another period of hopelessness.

In the case of the recent U-turn decision on the Rome Statute, are you justified to pull out of the Rome Statute when one has always wanted to be known as a “Third World warrior”? Aren’t we tired of claims of political conspiracy and coup d’état when the real issue is of no principle and the leaders involved could not make a stand? However dumb and dumber a president is, at least Americans have two terms maximum to suffer. Malaysia?

Let us take seriously the comical North-South Malaysian Cold War brewing. Today’s Pakatan Harapan–Johor government squabble is opening up an exciting dialogue on the role and responsibilities and limits of the monarchy.

The debate on the balance of power, the nature and future of the monarchy, and the growing voice of the people in deciding who is abusing power and what then must the rakyat do – these are demonstrations of a mature Malaysian democracy. Cultivate this wisely, but surely.

The wealthy and the powerful

Wealth and power have intoxicated those who are supposed to make Malaysia a better democracy. Arrogance will be overthrown. Race, religion, and the royalty will no longer be conveniently used as weapons of disharmony when information is set free.

It’s crucial now that our education system be transformed to teach the history of the people more than the history of the monarchy. In the Age of Post-Humanism, The Age of Kings will give way to The Age of Reason and Malay Enlightenment.

Over the decades, the intelligence and rationalism of the Johoreans have been eroded by this sense of false consciousness. Power and wealth held by the display of the sword, gold, and mental and physical enslavement cannot be sustained.

There was never a “protection of Malay rights”. Only a licence and reason to plunder, propped as an absurd symbol of tradition. The 1MDB fiasco and many others swept under the carpet or yet to be uncovered, are testaments to the magnitude of plunder.

Never in my life have I humiliated my mind by kowtowing to any form of modern and traditional authority. Never will. I

I believe Johoreans should be obsessed with books, and not just with football. The latter can be a passage to mind control and mob mentality. Besides, there is no Bangsa Johor. There is only Rakyat Malaysia.

Our goal as a nation is to treat each citizen with equality under the shadow of the Constitution’s supremacy. Young Johoreans, who do not know history, are cemented with fear, football, and false consciousness. Free them!

Thomas Jefferson revisited

Thomas Jefferson, statesman, author, an admirer of the Enlightenment thinkers and, most importantly, the author of the American Declaration of Independence did not want King and Religion to be foundations of the new nation.

In the case of what is happening in the Islamic world, we see chaos. Islam hates hypocrites. So, why do hypocrites appoint themselves as defenders and rulers of Islam?

In difficult cognitive times like these, I seek refuge in the work of, amongst other philosophers, the humanists such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot. And Marat and Robespierre.

Will we ever get out of this madness? Like Harry Houdini, the escape artist?

This is the question of our times. We are in a black hole.

AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He holds a doctorate in international education development from Columbia University, New York City, and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honour Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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



8 thoughts on “Musings on a nation gone half-mad

  1. Its not easy to add to Azly Rahman’s criticism of the Malays but even he does not understand fundamentally the problem. Fact is What the Malay want, the Malay Agenda – equity but really hegemony by govt, inevitably lead to corruption abuse, its unavoidable. You cannot have govt owning and do some much and it does not lead to corruption and abuse, it simply cannot be done..Communism, socialist Europe gave a lot of data why this happens and the Malays do not get it. They want their cake and eat it too. it simply just does not happen. Its two ends of ths same dragon they are asking for for..That is the true bankruptcy of the Malay intellectual.

    BUT the craziness is not just the Malays, how is it possible that non-Malays or anywhere in this country can believe that a union UMNO-like PAS led by Hadi Awang and the old UMNO will end up as a worst version of what already proven could go horribly wrong if May 9, 2018 did not happen? Its the kind of intellectual bankruptcy that led to May 13, 1969 and they are letting it happen again.

  2. Malaysians system is one built on an idea of feaudal salafist meets kiasu + kiasi, with a bit of Indian caste fatalism. Consequence is grave.

    Tanah Melayu ultimately is the only place Tuhan gave the Melayu. If the Melayu refuses the responsibility to rule the land properly, the outcome is clear.

    Tun Dr, DSAI… release the content of Reid Commission to the public today. Don’t hesitate. It is for your own people’s good. Public Intellectuals of Malaysia … file a petition to seek the release of the content of Reid Commission now. Else, blame no one else. Point at no one else. Stop this Welayu today.

  3. Since Diderot has been mentioned: Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. How true.

  4. In Malaysia the word for government is Kerajaan from the root word Raja while in Indonesia the government is known as Pemerintah from the word Perintah. What a difference.
    While in Malaysia the Monarchy is a Constitutional Monarchy, the Royal families still have a role to play in ensuring that the country is well governed. The Sultans and Agong needs to step in when there is evidence that the rakyat is being oppressed and when the Rakyat calls for attention (as in delivering a Memo to the Yang DiPertuan Agong) since the Agong is the Protector of all Malaysians. While there are few options for actions the Royal families can take, the Royal families need to voice their displeasure when unfair rules and laws are promulgated and not remain silent. Silence will project an image that the Royal families do not care for the welfare of the citizens and open themselves to being ridiculed.

    The nation have not gone half mad but rather drunk, drunk on the dedak that they are used to get from the BN government and now drunk on the freedom to criticise the government of the day for any and all shortcomings. Now the Dedak recipient are like drunkards on a cold turkey treatment. This is evident that even the parties that make up the PH government are drunk on shooting down their coalition members openly. The former PM is on a binge like a drunken man spewing rhetorics and false accusation left right and center and the PH government is now curbing his action.

  5. If it is difficult for people like Azly to understand why Malaysians react the way they do, imagine foreign Fund Managers with billions in hand wanting to put them to work in the region. They must be really puzzled as to why Malaysians seem so indifferent to the billions stolen from them by the people they have elected to office and entrusted to look after their interests? While other countries, for example South Korea, were jubilant and happy to move forward on a clean slate, Malaysians seem keen to go back to status quo, as evidenced by the last few by election results. Which leads them to ask just how ingrained and systematic is corruption in Malaysia (the revelations so far on how GLC’s have been managed must be unhelpful to say the least)? And finally, with so many global headwinds on trade and digitization challenges, whether Malaysia can in fact clean up and move forward and therefore be a better bet to put their money to work.

    • “..must be really puzzled as to why Malaysians seem so indifferent to the billions stolen..”

      You are probably one of those ‘high’ moralistic individuals and ethical intellectual who lives in glass hothouse..

      The Foreign (and equally, the Local) Fund Managers don’t give a flying Eff about the so-called ethics of anyone – least of all Malaysians and the racial-religious discrimination over here and now. They are more concerned about making their daily bread and are totally unbothered about your ignorant rantings. Ditto to all these pious articles about the the “Mislaid Moral” Compass.

      It boils down to the ‘Austerity’ but not Austerity Policies and your accountant clerk’s insistence that our debt ratio is sustainable – even though it’s increasing vis-a-vis GDP and the so-called trillion RM debt (which is not in line with World Bank and ADB definitions). Fiduciary and fiscal duties of the MoF and National Bank (BNM) are normally very much silent and away from public attention. But not so when we have a bloke that behaves as a Omniscient, Omnipotent Tokong who politicizes it no end. What about the dangers of Deflation? Shooting own kneecaps off, ya?

      Read this and tell us why you sound like a upper class clueless Pharisee?:

  6. ” You are probably one of those ‘high’ moralistic individuals and ethical intellectual who lives in glass hothouse..”

    When Foreign Funds sell, do not expect them to tell you all the reasons, especially sensitive ones. The Bursa sell down and now the Bond Market sell down (following news of potential downgrade in its World Government Bond Index – WGBI) cannot simply be because of Malaysia’s “Austerity Policies”. I remember not long after PH took over, Foreign Funds were complaining about Malaysia’s huge debt and Rating Agencies threatened to downgrade Malaysia. And PH Government’s response? They unveiled a 2019 budget which widens Fiscal deficit from 2.8% (BN forecasted) to 3.7% of GDP. Faced with a Sovereign downgrade (which will make our debt even more serious), this is hardly austerity in my view. Bottom line is Malaysia’s is in a bad financial shape, no thanks to the mismanagement of the past.. And tens of billions have been used to bail out troubled and politically sensitive GLC’s at a time when money is tight. To say therefore that Foreign Funds could not care less if Malaysians choose to revert back to the Kleptocracy/Cronyism days and that this should have zero effect on their Ringgit Portfolio/Holdings is a stretch, to say the least.

    • Money Manager’s business is to appropriately price securities according to underlying worthiness. When something is overpriced, money manager would short. Else, long. Politics is one of the means to understand future trajectory of credit worthiness of Malaysia’s bond, relative to Malaysia’s peers. Rakyat’s business is to ensure they could individually and collectively get the most out from the ruling elite. The opposite is definitely true as how the ruling elite has always being trying to get the most out from the rakyat’s support by doing the least.
      To me, this is how fairness work. When rakyat don’t fight for what they could get out from their ruling elite, it is their own stupidity. No one else is going to mourn or care about it.

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