In the age of terror, we don’t need inciteful preachers


March19, 2019

In the age of terror, we don’t need inciteful preachers

Opinion  | By Dr. Azly Rahman

COMMENT | ‘Minister meets ‘inspirational‘ Zakir Naik,’ read a news headline. This is a very disappointing message considering that when Mujahid Yusof Rawa became de facto Islamic affairs Minister, he announced that Zakir’s way of preaching was not suitable for our multicultural society.

Why a different message all of a sudden? I am also troubled by the news that we’re bringing Malaysian Islamic State fighters back home. What are we getting into?

Alas, is our minister in charge of religion so shallow in knowledge he needs the urgent help of a TV evangelist who is wanted in his own country? How does this go well with what the national unity minister wants, as well as what the education minister would craft for our philosophy of education or social reconstruction and a new Malaysian patriotism?

Have we not enough confidence in our own understanding of how to explain the beauty of Islam in a multicultural society? A religion that can co-exist peacefully with other beautiful religions and philosophies? Preach for peace or don’t preach at all. Or do we really need preachers of this kind, such as Zakir Naik?

Years of studying (and later teaching) Chinese, Indian, Western, and Islamic philosophies have taught me to appreciate diverse traditions and never to belittle any of these “truths”. We cannot know the Ultimate Truth, only “perspectives” useful in our lifetime. And these truths come in a variety of languages and concepts. We just need to train our mind and soul to be worldwise.

All Muslims are not necessarily brothers. I am not a brother to those who support the Islamic State, nor to those who preach hate, half-truths, and profit from these. Calling “brother” can be a first step in dominating and colonising your minds.

Islam does not need to be “defended” nor other religions need to be “attacked” in order for one to profit from religious speeches. Confrontational politics has done enough damage to Malaysians. We need more goodwill dialogue in an age of continuing terror.

I am surprised some Malaysian government leaders do not have the good sense to judge what is “inspirational” and what is “inciteful” about the Mumbai speaker, whose modus operandi is to prove other truths wrong by employing half-baked analysis.

Besides, the grand show of converting people to Islam on stage cheapens the religion – reminiscent of Christian preachers who play with rattle snakes or orchestrate a session of “speaking in tongues”. Any religion should not be trivialised as such. Each religion must encourage more deep learning and less marketing in order to teach people to behave in this world.

Inspirational? Or inciteful?

In the United States, I have taught Comparative Religions, Philosophy of Religion, Islamic Scriptures in translation, and related courses, but find the confrontational style of “fiery and steamy and hot peppery” preachers and dakwah-rists too vile and too repulsive for Malaysians.

Preachings that divide and create animosities should not be allowed as long as Malaysia is still struggling to contain race-religious hatred.

Malaysia, as a lovely cultural location of religious harmony, does not need any preacher to bring his/her ideology and conflict here.

We cannot call a preacher “inspirational” when the work done is divisive – creating animosity among a variety of believers. Isn’t Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, inspirational? TV evangelists and those doing “dakwah-for-huge-profits” prey upon the vulnerability of those who do not read widely, especially about comparative religions and philosophies. We need to educate the public. Malaysia is not a Taliban state of the lesser-educated.

Again, as one who has taught Public Speaking for many years and studied speakers and analysed their speeches, I find a high level of toxicity in the style of speaking of TV-evangelists such as Zakir Naik.

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Malaysia’s Chief Clown

In the case of our leaders and Pakatan Harapan government’s fascination for radical and repulsive religious preachers and the plan to bring back ex-IS supporters and fighters, we must have social media activists demanding the next urgent regime change – a government strong enough not to tolerate any nonsense that compromises national unity and national security.

Religious discussion should be dialogical, not confrontational. Each religion has flaws. A good public speaker does not intimidate/shout at members of the audience. Especially if he has a microphone and the stage. A good preacher doesn’t ask if you’re Muslim or non-Muslim before answering questions.

Zakir Naik came from a hostile environment of an ongoing conflict between Hindus and Muslims in India. Perhaps he is used to preaching with hostility – which is not suitable for intelligent Malaysian audience.

Maybe I should go around the country preaching how NOT to preach against other religions? Will I get an island too?

Why the special treatment?

Yes, what a special treatment: first, they gave him an island. Then permanent resident status. Then they hug him tight like lovers. Then we allow him to go public in finding flaws in and belittling other religions. This is how we show our love to a preacher who is wanted in his own country. Preaching is not about proving one religion is better than others.

What is so inspirational about a preacher who lambasts other religions? The Malaysian government seems to be taking it easy on matters of national security. And harbouring radical preachers!

Then there is the news that we plan to give only one month of rehabilitation time for returning Islamic State fighters and support staff, people who had pledged allegiance to another state – the terrifying Islamic State.

How many years did it take to radicalise them through those Taliban schools? Already, Malaysian schools are fertile grounds for radicalism. Why hold the seeds of destruction in your hands? You bring in former IS fighters and you might open up a new recruitment centre. Beware. It’s a business. Recruiters get paid. We are treading on dangerous national security grounds, Malaysia. Don’t we know that IS is moving into Southeast Asia? And our solution is a gentle reminder and rehabilitation?

Malaysian politicians must realise that the internet can bring about a change of any government, and bring down any politician. It is our post-modern Frankenstein, the voice of the masses. It’s not easy to mediate freedom of speech on the internet.

In the case of our leaders and Pakatan Harapan government’s fascination for radical and repulsive religious preachers and the plan to bring back ex-IS supporters and fighters, we must have social media activists demanding the next urgent regime change – a government strong enough not to tolerate any nonsense that compromises national unity and national security.

Our prayers go to those who perished in the attack on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We have a lot to work for peace. Though we cannot stop terrorist acts, we can at least detain or deport those who inspire others to hate other religions.


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development 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.

A Message to a 93-year Politician: Time to Grow Up


March 12, 2019

A Message to a 93-year old Politician: Time to Grow Up

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We, speaking up for what we believe to represent the majority of peace loving and responsible Malaysians, condemn the unhealthy trend of irresponsible individuals and political parties in capitalising on the issue of ‘insult to religion’ to gain popularity among voters.

Such callous actions by these individuals and groups, bordering on rabble rousing, will put the country in a heightened state of uneasiness and fear. The government of the day seems unwilling or unable to respond to these acts of opportunism by irresponsible parties for their own selfish ends.

The background relating to the issue of ‘insult to religion’ lies in our colonial and recent past which saw limited education and the mixing of cultures between the different communities. Hence the past need for restrictive laws to preserve public order.

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However, after 60 years as a nation state making its way towards modernity and the matured liberal, scientific and progressive future envisaged in Vision 2020, it is high time to revisit and revise these laws.

On May 9th, citizens of Malaysia voted out a failing government and ushered in what we hoped would be a new era of mature political discourse and freedom of expression. As with any new manifestation of political culture, there will be teething problems. These problems need to be analyzed and objectively dealt with in the way which developed and mature societies would handle them.

In our country, institutions of religions have been set up to administer each religion with Islam acknowledged in a special situation in the constitutional sphere. Article 3(1) states that, “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

What this means is that insulting Islam is unacceptable in respect of the current laws. Similarly, other religions in the country – even if not enjoying the status of Islam – need to be equally respected.

Striking a Balance In Laws Pertaining to Insulting Religion

In the application of laws prohibiting insulting religion, we must strive for a rational and liberal balance with the protection of the freedom of expression while being mindful of the religious sensitivities of our multi-religious communities. Hence open mindedness and moderation should be the norm in the interpretation and application of the existing laws.

The following are some examples which the holders of state power should not automatically or as a reflex action seek prosecution and punishment just because some individuals or groups label them as constituting religious insult or disrespect:

1. The production or reproduction of religion-related literature and art by Malaysians should be permitted and protected under the law so long as the author is not engaged in what is clearly an act of religious hate crime.

2. Opinions on social issues such as child marriages, female circumcision or other similar subjects are perfectly defensible and permissible as they bear no intention of insult. On the contrary, they provide a contemporary understanding of what are traditionally accepted norms and practices sanctioned by religious authority. The sharing of knowledge on such issues with social and religious institutions and authorities should be encouraged rather than be penalized by the law.

3. Professional opinions on technological, planning design and environmental issues concerning religious buildings or religious actions and rituals should be welcomed as they will help create more sustainable forms and structures that would benefit all members of society.

4. Discourses on spirituality, different forms of religious belief and even agnosticism and atheism should be permitted. Such exchanges of theological and non-theological constructs will enable the nation to grow spiritually as well as be part of the growing universality that is replacing narrow religious, cultural and social constructs.

Protection of the above and other similar expression of thoughts, ideas and constructs are absolutely necessary for Malaysia to grow to become that  “psychologically liberated, secure and developed nation” as envisaged in Vision 2020.

Key Role of National Unity Consultative Council

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Together with the above, in view of the recent national and international attention and publicity  given to the ten year sentence levelled on a recent offender accused of insulting Islam on social media, we call for an urgent phasing out of the laws related to ‘insult to religion’ by instituting the following replacement:

Firstly, such cases construed as ‘insult to religion’ should not be the sole judgement of a single judge for fear of ethnic and religious bias. Such decision should be referred to the National Unity Consultative Council under the purview of the Ministry of National Unity. The NUCC should  comprise noted personalities in societies with representatives of officials from the various religious groups.

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Secondly, for the period before the laws of ‘insult to religion’ are to be phased out, punishment should not go beyond a commensurate fine within the financial status of the person being charged.

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Thirdly, once the laws have been phased out, acts pertaining to so-called ‘insult to religion’ should be referred to the NUCC for action. Such action can include collaboration with the respective religious institutions or authorities to ensure that there are no adverse ripple effects from the alleged insult or disrespect; and counselling of the individuals or groups engaging in such action or activities.

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Fourthly, religious leaders in their sermons must regularly advise congregants and members of the faith against insulting others.

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We remind our fellow citizens that the resort to law to criminalise opinions and views on religion is a double-edged sword. Let us put that sword away so we do not end as a cut up and impaired nation.

Tajuddin Rasdi

Tawfik Ismail

Siti Kasim

Lim Teck Ghee

Terence Gomez

POTUS His Excellency Donald J. Trump 2019 State of the Union Address


February 6, 2019

POTUS His Excellency Donald J. Trump 2019 State of the Union Address

 

President Donald Trump delivered his 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Read the President’s speech as prepared for delivery and released by the White House.

 

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:
We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential. As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.
Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation.
The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people.
Many of us campaigned on the same core promises: to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.
There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.
This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s mission, and the power of American pride.
In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Great Crusade — the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those heroes: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik. Gentlemen, we salute you.
In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.
In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see. Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century. An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within our reach.
We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before.
But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.
Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.
We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance,vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.
Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.
Over the last 2 years, my Administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades.
In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before. We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.
Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in our history — 157 million.
We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit.We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranches, and family farms.
We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty — and to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed right to try.
My Administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure. Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers thanks to historic reductions in taxes and regulations.
We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.
After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day. Members of Congress: the State of our Union is strong. Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before.
On Friday, it was announced that we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone — almost double what was expected. An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.
If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!
We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate — some after years of waiting. The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees and to our country.
Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that it is possible.
In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new Farm Bill, historic VA reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed VA Accountability so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.
And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. Last year, I heard through friends the story of Alice Johnson. I was deeply moved. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first-time non-violent drug offender. Over the next two decades, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population — and far beyond.
Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing — and the need to remedy this injustice. She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.
In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence — and she is here with us tonight. Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny.
When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did the right thing.
Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my Administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community. The First Step Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, States across the country are following our lead. America is a Nation that believes in redemption.
We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Matthew, on behalf of all Americans: welcome home.
As we have seen, when we are united, we can make astonishing strides for our country. Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis.
The Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our Government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border.
Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.
As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught.
This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.
Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.
No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.
Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.
Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.
Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.
Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities — including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.
The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American States, and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border they’re going to keep streaming back in. Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. I’ve gotten to know many wonderful Angel Moms, Dads, and families — no one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache they have endured.
Here tonight is Debra Bissell. Just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter, Heather, and great‑granddaughter, Madison.
To Debra, Heather, Madison, please stand: few can understand your pain. But I will never forget, and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because our Nation failed to control its very dangerous border.
In the last 2 years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.
We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes: ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez. When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent.
Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking. Elvin says: “If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve done my job.” Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.
Special Agent Hernandez, please stand: We will always support the brave men and women of Law Enforcement — and I pledge to you tonight that we will never abolish our heroes from ICE.
My Administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border.
It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built.
This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.
San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, and at the request of San Diego residents and political leaders, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.
The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.
Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe.
As we work to defend our people’s safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace.
No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before — and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.
As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever Government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries
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To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount — reversing decades of calamitous trade policies.
We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.
Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime. But I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us — I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.
Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA.
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I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried — until now.
Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words: made in the USA.
Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.
Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.
I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.
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The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.
Already, as a result of my Administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.
But we must do more. It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.
I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients. We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.
No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.
Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind: the fight against childhood cancer.
Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline. Every birthday since she was 4, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read: “Last Day of Chemo.” Grace — you are an inspiration to us all.
Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.
To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children. I am also proud to be the first President to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.
There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.
To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.
Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.
The final part of my agenda is to protect America’s National Security. Over the last 2 years, we have begun to fully rebuild the United States Military — with $700 billion last year and $716 billion this year. We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share. For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO — but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.
As part of our military build-up, the United States is developing a state-of-the-art Missile Defense System.
Under my Administration, we will never apologize for advancing America’s interests.
For example, decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities. While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty.
Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.
As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months. If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.
Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido.
We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.
Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.
One of the most complex set of challenges we face is in the Middle East.
Our approach is based on principled realism — not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress. For this reason, my Administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.
As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars. When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.
Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.
I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.
In Afghanistan, my Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.
Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this Nation’s power and will to defend our people. Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.
We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom: we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.
My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.
To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.
We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.
Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery — but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson: we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.
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Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans.”
A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”
I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.
When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-Day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war.
They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn.
Why did they do it? They did it for America — they did it for us. Everything that has come since — our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice — all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.
Think of this Capitol — think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire.
Here tonight, we have legislators from across this magnificent republic. You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii; from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona; from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California. Together, we represent the most extraordinary Nation in all of history.
What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered? I ask the men and women of this Congress: Look at the opportunities before us! Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.
We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them.
We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance — or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.
This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.
This is our future — our fate — and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.
We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America’s destiny — that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!

Thank you. God Bless You, God Bless America, and good night!

Personal Reflections of a Malaysian Member of Parliament


January 30, 2019

Personal Reflections of a Malaysian Member of Parliament

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by William  Leong,MP

A donkey carrying baskets was told by his shepherd master to flee when enemies approached. The donkey asked if the enemy would put another pair of baskets on him and if not, why flee.

In a change of government, the poor change nothing beyond the name of their master.–The Shepherd and Aesop’s Fables

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name

There will be many analyses of the Cameron Highlands by-election result. It is obvious Pakatan Harapan did not win sufficient Malay support and there was a lower voter turnout compared to the 14th General Elections. In the ultimate analysis, the result is a reflection of Malaysians agreeing with Aesop’s donkey. Other than a change of the Prime Minister and name of the coalition, the Pakatan Harapan government has not implemented the promised substantive reforms. The danger arising from the Cameron Highlands result is PH will be engaged in a race to the bottom of ethnic extremism with UMNO-PAS. With it comes greater ethnic tensions and deeper ethnic cleavages. All of us, Malaysians, like Martin Luther King Jr. have a dream. We have all been inspired by the song “We Shall Overcome.” It has become the anthem against injustice. It is a song about a promise: “We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe.” But in the light of recent events, May 9 was not the day. We shall have to overcome on some other day.

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name

Elite Capture of the Government Inequality and racial politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to racial politics. Race-based politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power.

Inequality and race-based  politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to race- based  politics. Race-based politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power. The country into a dysfunctional state is also due to elite capture of the BN government. It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable  It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable greed.

The political-economic elite uses the political power in their hands to control the government institutions responsible for distribution of resources and to ensure that policies that benefit them are retained at the expense of a dis-empowered majority. The political-economic elite through political patronage maintain a system to establish monopolies and activities to extract rent. They manipulate politicians and administrators to cater to their narrow economic interests through inequitable practices that tend to discriminate against other groups.

A massive rural development fund was launched by the Ministry of Rural and National Development in 1959 by Tun Abdul Razak then Deputy Prime Minister, since then UMNO politicians became not only interested in the business of politics but also more interested in the politics of business – generating income, wealth and influence in the business of rural development. The development projects were won by UMNO politicians and subcontracted to Chinese contractors.  It came to be planted in the minds of many young Malays and aspiring entrepreneurs that there seemed to be a shortcut, a “political way” to make the materialistic leap to become rich rather quickly.

1.Upward social mobility is by climbing the rungs of the political ladder and money politics was born. Following the first Bumiputera Economic Congress in 1965 and the second three years later in 1968, detailed strategies and programmes were made to implement the nationalist economic agenda which culminated in the New Economic Policy in 1971. The evolution of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) progressed in tandem with the protracted affirmative action under the NEP.

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Terrence Gomez and K.S. Jomo have pointed out that most Malay businessmen wanted state intervention to preserve their special privileges. They contended that such Bumiputera capitalists were rent-seekers rather than genuine entrepreneurs. They regarded the activities of these Bumiputera capitalists as unproductive and a hindrance to economic development.

2. The Najib administration in its failed attempt to implement the New Economic Model admitted to the scourge of political patronage and rent-seeking behavior of these political-economic elite. 3. The National Economic Advisory Council (“NEAC”) in its publication “The New Economic Model for Malaysia Part 1” stated as follows:

“Ethnic-based economic policies worked but implementation issues also created problems. The NEP has reduced poverty and substantially addressed inter-ethnic economic imbalances. However, its implementation has also increasingly and raised the cost of doing business due to rent-seeking, patronage and often opaque government procurement. This has engendered pervasive corruption which needs to be addressed earnestly.”

Terence Gomez in his book “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia” has drawn attention to the disturbing development that control of corporate Malaysia has been taken over by the Government-Linked Investment Companies (“GLICs”) which included Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, with the Ministry of Finance at the apex of the structure. Gomez has pointed out that the nexus involving politics and business has fundamentally shifted from UMNO politicians to the office of the Minister of Finance which was then concurrently held by 4 the Prime Minister during the time of Najib Tun Razak.

4 Gomez in a recent article “Patronage is king in new Malaysia” voiced his concern that under the Tun Mahathir administration, control of the GLICs have been removed from the Ministry of Finance and transferred to the newly created Economic Affairs Ministry while Khazanah Nasional was placed under the Prime Minister’s Department.

At the Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation, Tun Mahathir stressed the need to reinstitute thepractice of selective patronage targeting Bumiputeras.

5. Gomez posed the question whether PH will carry out divestment of the GLICs businesses to create a new breed of powerful well-connected business groups, even oligarchs.

Fallacious Racial Arguments

Racial Myths Debunked

It is based on the argument that by the elite’s predominance, the elite is able to provide for those “included” in the dominant racial group while excluding those in the “Other” racial groups. It is only in this manner, so the argument goes, that members of the “in” group can be assured of improvement to their economic well-being and survival at the expense of the “Other.”

Scholars have explained that ethnic tensions are created by ethnic activists and political  entrepreneurs making blatant ethnic appeals to outbid moderate politicians, thereby mobilizing members of their ethnic group, polarizing society and magnifying inter-ethnic dilemmas. Non-rational factors such as emotions, historical memories and myths create a vicious cycle that threatens to pull multi-ethnic societies apart.

6. The political-economic elite have perpetuated these myths and fallacies to maintain their dominance and influence. They hijacked and abused the NEP and racial preferential policies for their personal gain while the objective of creating an independent Bumiputera entrepreneur class remains unrealized.

The corruption, plundering and kleptomania exhibited by the previous BN regime have shattered the fallacies of racial politics. These political elite not only stole from the national coffers but also robbed the till of sacred institutions established to promote Bumiputera well-being such as FELDA, MARA, Tabung Haji and others. By their misconduct the myth that only ministers and government officials from UMNO or endorsed by UMNO can be trusted to take care of the Malays has been debunked. The deception sustained throughout the years that the personality, integrity and capability of the elected representative are not factors for consideration as long as he is a Malay from UMNO has also been fully exposed. The fiction that non-Malays cannot be trustedto take care of the Malays is being dispelled with the appointment of non-Malays as the Finance Minister, Attorney-General, Chief Justice and others. In the process, it is revealed those who benefited the most from the distrust, suspicions, hatred and fear among the various ethnic groups are the political-economic elite themselves while the largest group of the impoverished after 5 decades of the NEP continue to be the Malays and Bumiputeras.

Centripetalism put into practice

The changeover from BN to PH have allowed PH elected representatives, government agencies and institutions to depoliticize ethnicity by resolving the people’s problems on cross-ethnic basis. Malay constituents can take their problems directly to their non- Malay PH elected representatives without having to go through the local UMNO division chiefs. The non-Malay constituents similarly can approach their Malay PH elected representatives without having MCA or MIC local leaders as intermediaries. The constituents enjoy the confidence that the matters are resolved on an objective basis and not subject to ethnic interests or considerations.

In this way politicians can take moderate positions that accommodate all ethnic groups and avoid extreme or divisive positions. In the process the politicians gain support from across the ethnic divide. This process is now endangered if ethnic extremists are allowed to take central stage again  and the space for moderates diminishes.

Patching Up the Tattered Myths

On May 9, the Pakatan Harapan government was given a golden opportunity to restructure the  policies putting an end to divisive racial politics. It was a chance of a lifetime to put right the growing inequality of income, wealth and well-being of Malaysians irrespective of race and religion, to enhance social cohesion, provide for all their right to flourish and live the life they value in dignity and restore the nation to its rightful global economic order. It was bought and paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of those who sacrificed their careers, reputation and freedom over 20 years, for some stretching back 40 years or more.

It is therefore tragic that Tun Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan government did not fully grasp the opportunity offered. Instead, Tun Mahathir and his administration have stopped at only changing the personalities. They have not gone further to carry out the much-needed reforms.

Recent events show, Tun Mahathir does not fully embrace the Pakatan Harapan reform agenda. He has now embarked on a contest to win Malay support from UMNO and PAS by showing that Bersatu is a better champion of Malay rights. In doing so, Tun Mahathir is building a roof of Malay dominance to cover the Pakatan Harapan foundation of multi-racial and multi-cultural beliefs. Tun Mahathir is stitching back and patching up the tattered myths of racial politics. He is resuscitating the old political-economic elite and attracting new ones to come under the Bersatu umbrella. Tun Mahathir is now working to replace UMNO hegemony with a Bersatu hegemony:

 On 1 st November 2018, Tun Mahathir  defended the NEP and its race-enteric preferential programme in opening the Congress on the Future of the Bumiputera and the Nation 2018. He defended the practice of awarding contracts by “direct negotiations” and to continue doing away with meritocracy;

On 1st November 2018, Dato Sri Azmin Ali, the Economic Affairs Minister in his parliament winding-up speech during the debate on the 11 h Malaysia Mid-Term Review said  NEP and said that the PH government will continue with the spirit of the NEP and to realize its objectives;

On 23 rd November 2018, in the wake of UMNO and PAS objections, the cabinet reversed its decision to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The decision left Gun Kut, a member of the United Nations committee member monitoring the implementation of ICERD dumbfounded. He said the cabinet decision made Malaysia to be seen as accepting racial discrimination;
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By 15th December 2018, a total of 16 MPs have quit UMNO and Bersatu proposes to accept them into its fold. These defectors have not shown they have changed their political philosophy or shed their UMNO culture.

On 29th December 2018, Tun Mahathir at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s 2nd General Assembly (the “Bersatu General Assembly”) hammered home the final nail in the coffin of multi-racial politics and inclusive policies.Tun Mahathir in his speech at the Bersatu General Assembly said the time has not yet come for multi- racial political parties. Tun Mahathir reprise Malay fears of the other ethnic groups. He reminded the Malays that they would be left behind economically by the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

Although, Tun Mahathir is asking the Malays to march to the beat of a different drummer, he is nevertheless, using the same ethno-nationalist drums beating out the same sounds of “blood and soil” that UMNO uses. In fact, Tun Mahathir pointed out in his speech, Bersatu is the UMNO of 2003.

Back on the Road to Serfdom and Mediocrity

It cannot be doubted that Tun Mahathir is sincere and earnest in his belief that social cohesion and addressing inequality among the different ethnic groups are to be achieved through the racial preferential policies of the NEP and Malay political dominance. There is, however, a viable alternative in the form of needs-based affirmative action and inclusive policies but these are not being taken up. Sadly, we are being taken back down the road to serfdom again. New Malaysia instead of being a society in search of excellence, will continue to perfect mediocrity. Instead of good governance and accountability, political patronage and rent-seeking will continue to thrive. Instead of social cohesion, there will be further social fragmentation, greater mistrust and deeper ethnic division among the citizens than before.

Dreams of equality and social justice have become another case of blowing in the wind. We nevertheless must soldier on in the struggle for justice and freedom. We only lose when we give-up. The original verse in “We Shall Overcome” becomes more relevant to Malaysians.
“ If in my heart I do not yield,
I do believe,
I shall overcome someday”

This article is the personal opinion of the author and is not to be taken as the position of the political party or of any groups or that this opinion is endorsed by them.

William Leong Jee Keen, MP
Member of Parliament Selayang

28 January 2019

Shamsul A.B, “The Economic Dimension of Malay Nationalism.” 2 Gomez Edmund T and K.S. Jomo (1999), “Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits.

Cambridge University Press”
The New Economic Model Part.1

Edmund Terence Gomez, “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia.”

Terence Gomez, “Patronage is king in new Malaysia”  Malaysiakini 12 January 2019.

 

Malaysian Islam seen through 3 men


January 21, 2019

Malaysian Islam seen through 3 men

I wish to present three perspectives of Islam concerning the concept of choosing a “leader” in Malaysia.

This article is inspired by Abdul Hadi Awang’s clarion call to Muslims to choose his narrow-minded brand of Islam, perhaps for the upcoming Cameron Highland by-election.

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I will describe the views of Hadi, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, and Muslim scholar Dr Farouk Musa, who heads the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).

Each has given three different views of what is considered appropriate leadership within an Islamic framework of their choice.

This article is specifically for Malaysians to contemplate the type of Islam existing in Malaysia that will determine the course of our nation in the coming decades.

Hadi Awang

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To Hadi, non-Muslims can NEVER be trusted at all, now and forever. To him, even if the non-Muslim looks “clean” he would eventually be corrupted simply because he is not a Muslim.

To Hadi, non-Muslims can NEVER be trusted at all, now and forever. To him, even if the non-Muslim looks “clean” he would eventually be corrupted simply because he is not a Muslim.

Simple. Clear. Concise. At whichever leadership position there is, whether for a head teacher, an elected representative, a district officer, a minister, a vice-chancellor and especially, the prime minister, the choice must always and forever be Muslim, no two ways about it.

It seems Hadi can clearly see the fate of everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, because even the Prophet has said that no one knows their fate except Allah.

Asri

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In a lecture posted on YouTube, the Perlis mufti was asked whether one can choose a non-Muslim leader or not. To me, for Malays to be asking that very question speaks volumes about the failed state of our education system for the past 60 years.

Asri gave what to me was a scholarly and clear answer. He firstly clarified that what is haram must be stated clearly, and anything that is not stated in the hadith and the Quran can be considered acceptable.

Democracy has never been stated by the Prophet and by the Quran and so it is not haram to use such a system in choosing a leader by a one-man, one-vote system.

Secondly, he said that the present administrative governance of the leadership in Malaysia is enshrined in the constitution and backed by the Malay rulers. Thus, the laws and guidelines for governance within a Malaysian-Muslim construct are well established and any different levels of leadership cannot decide willy nilly about any whimsical desire.

A head teacher has an SOP, an elected representative has a certain responsibility and jurisdiction, a district officer has his or her regulated guidelines, and so does a minister.

In that regard, a Muslim may choose anyone who is Muslim or non-Muslim for a position of leadership at any level except the topmost one, which is the prime minister of Malaysia.

Ahmad Farouk Musa

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The third view is by far my favourite, the most radical and what I consider the most constitutionally correct.

This view is propagated by Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, a fierce critic of traditional and state Islam and a proponent of a modern and enlightened Islam for all.

He says that a Muslim must never choose a corrupt, immoral and cruel leader just because he is a Muslim. A Muslim must subscribe to the principle of morality and justice for all by choosing someone trustworthy with the strength and will to do the right thing for all, at all times, regardless of faith, race or status.

If the candidate is a non-Muslim then Muslims must choose him or her over a corrupt Muslim.

What Muslims believe

It was fortunate that Barisan Nasional (BN) had a mutual understanding of electing leaders at all levels of governance by choosing citizens of various races, cultures and faiths.

Malaysians must acknowledge the great debt we owe to BN for ignoring extremist views like those of Hadi. Truly Hadi’s view is destructive to all Malaysians and serves perhaps his egocentric desire for power and prestige as well as financial gratification. Thank you, BN!

The choice of leadership modelled after the likes of Asri has been a precedent that Pakatan Harapan (PH) now emulates. Thank you also to PH for ignoring the views of the ulama who think they are the only ones capable of ruling over Malaysia with their limited education and framework of thinking.

Hadi’s view is perhaps relevant for a small fishing community. However, the great problem that has arisen is that after the Islamic revival movement of the Abim/Ikram era, Muslims are more religious than the days of P Ramlee in the 60s and 70s.

In those days, one out 1,000 Malays would pray regularly. Now one out of 100 Malays will not pray regularly.

Most Malays pray and have access to speeches by narrow-minded teachers, who propagate the Hadi view of leadership.

The proponents of this view are mostly in public universities holding positions of professors and associate professors. If I were to venture a figure in the 60s and 70s, 90% of Muslims would subscribe to the middle view of Asri and only 9% to Hadi and 1% to Farouk’s.

Now, I would venture that 70% of Muslims are with the view of Hadi, 29% with Asri and 1% with Farouk. This breakdown will cost untold hardship in Malaysia’s political scenario.

I would venture that my view and that of Farouk are 50 years ahead of time. The numbers supporting Asri’s view must turn to 70% if we are to move comfortably forward.

If I were to be bold and venture a guess, 100% of non-Muslims would subscribe to Asri’s view of leadership because the non-Malays accept and respect the cultural leadership of the sultan and the history of Tanah Melayu as an important civilisation and heritage.

Malaysians must understand that Asri is educating the Malays in a more moderate and progressive way, while Hadi seeks only discord and conflict as a political tool of power grabbing.

What of Farouk’s radical view of Islam? Well, he and I can wait 50 years. No hurry.

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

KEE Thuan Chye on NO Harapan (Useless) GOBIND-DEO


January 21, 2019

KEE Thuan Chye on NO Harapan (Useless) GOBIND-DEO

https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/460944

 

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http://www.malaysiakini.com

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When Gobind was in the opposition, he was one of the biggest advocates of free speech and expression. He struck me as being one of the bright sparks of Pakatan Harapan, one of our best hopes for a better Malaysia.

Last October, when he had become part of the Harapan government, he announced that he had presented a proposal to the cabinet to impose a moratorium on the Sedition Act 1948, and that the cabinet had agreed. I applauded him for living up to hopeful expectations.

He also gave the assurance then that the cabinet had made a “decision” to eventually abolish the Act. That was good, it showed that Harapan was on the right road to reform.

But now, look at what has become of him. Is he going to say, “I’m just doing my job”, eh? If he does, I’d say, “Get real.” Because what is frightening about his instruction is that it goes against the idea of a true democracy, the democracy that Harapan has been espousing for Malaysia even before the 14th general election.

The greatest irony

What Gobind is proposing is something that comes out of a police state that does not tolerate opinion on certain issues. Something that he and some of his cabinet colleagues had had a bitter taste of when t

What Gobind is proposing is something that comes out of a police state that does not tolerate opinion on certain issues. Something that he and some of his cabinet colleagues had a bitter taste of when they were still in the opposition…