To UMNO Leadership–Don’t Use Singapore Malays for your Politics


December 8, 2016

To UMNO Leadership–Don’t Use Singapore Malays for your Politics

by Mohsin Abdullah (received via email)

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The first ever Singapore’s Malay Brigadier General, Ishak Ismail, who is also the Commander of Sixth Army Division(left in the picture)

In wanting to garner support of the Malays and thus to cling on to power, UMNO has this habit, albeit bad, of using (or should it be misusing) the Malays of Singapore. We all know that, right? But I’ll say it again here all the same.

The party tends to portray Singapore Malays as being “discriminated”, “ill treated” and “marginalized” by the Chinese-dominated PAP government in Singapore.

Having done that, UMNO will say (or rather warn) the Malays in this country that they will suffer the same fate if UMNO loses political power in Malaysia.

In short, they’ll say, “Support UMNO or you Malays will suffer like your saudara di Singapura.” The latest UMNO leader to use this overused tactic is Puad Zarkashi, a member of the party’s supreme council.

Puad was obviously riled up when Tun Mahathir Mohamad who helmed UMNO for more than 20 years had praised DAP for upholding the Federal Constitution, the constitutional monarchy, special position of the Malays, national language, and Islam as the religion of the Federation.

And Mahathir lauded DAP for being a Malaysian party.These remarks were made when Mahathir attended for the first time ever the DAP national convention held recently.

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Singapore’s Speaker of Parliament

In admitting his previous wrong impression of DAP, Mahathir said although the party had often been painted by its enemies as a Chinese party, the DAP anthem and the speeches at the convention by secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and acting chairman Tan Kok Wai were in Bahasa Malaysia.

Puad retorted by saying that using the Malay language for party anthem and speeches “does not ensure DAP will protect the Malays”.

 

According to him, DAP “is just following the strategy of Singapore’s PAP”, going on to say that “Singapore’s national anthem is in Malay but what happened to the Malays because of the policy (similar to DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia ) practiced by Singapore?”

He did not elaborate but in all probability he was talking about the Malays in Singapore being treated “unfairly” by the Chinese PAP.

So, are Singapore Malays marginalized by the PAP?

I can’t say for sure. But there are grouses. For instance, I’ve read of Singapore Malays wanting full equality in national service and all sectors of the armed forces, suggesting some sort of “mistrust” for the community from the authorities.

Caption: The inaugural recipients of the MERCU-SMU Excellence Scholarship are (L-R) Nur Amalina Binte Saparin, Muhammad Hafiz Bin Kasman, and Khairul Ashraf Bin Khairul Anwar.]

I’ve read also of their call for full employment opportunities for all Malay women, including the tudung-clad ones, demanding for “equal treatment, equal opportunities”.

Anyway, not too long ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in Parliament that the next presidential election of Singapore due next year is reserved for candidates from the Malay race.

Meaning only Malay candidates will contest. An all-Malay contest. But, they must first be qualified, of course. This means Singapore will have a Malay as President again after more than 46 years since Yusof Ishak, the first president of an independent Singapore.

“Reserved” election is meant to ensure minority presidents or rather Singaporeans from minority communities are elected from time to time.

Hence next year the presidency of one of the world’s richest countries will be served on a silver platter to the Malay community. A gift. But, this is how the Malays in Singapore reacted to the gift. Majority of them anyway.

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A Malay Rebel

Retired Straits Times journalist Ismail Kassim had this to say among other things, via his Facebook posting: “Thank you PM for your unsolicited gift but we don’t want and don’t need it. Do you realize that your gift will only reinforce the negative images of us and undermine our past progress?”

To Ismail, “the day a Malay assumes the Elected President through a reserved race will be a day of shame for us and for all the people. It will be a step backward for multiracialism, meritocracy and democracy”.

A piece written by one Nizam Idris for the Straits Times also caught my attention. Nizam I later learned is an economist and market strategy head of an international bank in Singapore. He also viewed the reserved election as a “big step backward for the Malay community”.

Said Nizam he was brought up in an era where “we Malays were told we had to fend for ourselves in schools and in our careers as Singaporeans of other races did.”

After initial trepidation, due in part to seeing how Malays in other countries in the region depended on race-based policies to help them advance, Malay Singaporeans grew out of their historical reliance on such crutches. And that has over time become a source of pride and motivation for the community.

Nizam is proud to say the Singapore Malay community has made significant progress and proved “we could stand on our own feet”.

That, said Nizam, was thanks in no small part to the brave decision by “our earlier leaders to take away our proverbial crutches and make us compete on a level playing field”.

And like everything else, said Nizam, healthy competition drives the community to a higher level. He nevertheless admitted that not many Malays would reject a gift like the chance to have a member of the community as president.

“That’s human nature,” he said, ” but what would be even more satisfying is a hard fought campaign leading to the election of a Malay president who deserves the position based on the famously Singaporean values of grit and merit “

In a nutshell, for Nizam and most Singapore Malays, they want to earn things — be it the presidency or anything else — based on merit and ability. No short cut, no easy way out, no tongkat.

Tabik Melayu Singapura!

 

 

Najib, Trump is no fool


November 18, 2016

Najib, Trump is no fool

by Eric Loo

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Donald Trump may be your golfing buddy and may be so. And he may be no stranger to you. You said so in your congratulatory note. But you’re fundamentally wrong.

Trump did not win the US presidency because he appealed to “Americans who have been left behind – those who want to see their government more focused on their interests and welfare”.

Trump won because he unashamedly exploited the myopic mindsets of white Americans “without college degrees” and “white evangelical Christian” single issue voters who can’t see the forest for the trees. They see the world in black and white. They can only understand a globalised economy as one of ‘us against them’.

Trump played to the socio-economic angst and racist streak of the predominantly white demographics who longed for the good ole days of white sliced bread and peanut butter jelly, when America was ‘great’, when women stayed home as homemakers, when men were, well, macho men to be rightfully served by submissive women.

Trump’s repugnant rhetoric targeted the white Americans’ irrational fear and intense dislike of the establishment, of the elites, of the media, of non-Whites, and anyone who look like Muslims. (By the way, he said he’d ban immigration – and visits – by people from countries compromised by Islamic terrorism, and that includes Malaysia).

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This is Barrack Obama, not President-Elect Donald Trump

Trump shows it’s okay to grope women, belittle people with disabilities, avoid paying federal taxes, and make a quick buck from other’s miseries and losses. Trump has basically normalised what many see and feel as overtly vulgar, deplorably racist and covertly sexist. Out of the woods will we see these folks emerge emboldened over the next four years.

Here’s where the irony’s striking in Najib’s pat on Trump’s back. As reported in Channel News Asia, Najib said: “I know him personally, and he’s not someone who’s a stranger to me.” Indeed.

Trump will begin his presidency amidst public conviction of his carnal transgressions and ongoing investigations into his financial frauds and tax evasion, just as Najib is being dogged by the 1MDB financial scandals and political implications from the murder of a Mongolian model.

Like Trump, Najib has so far have remained untouched. (I blame our mainstream journalists for their lack of tenacity in continuing to investigate and report on Najib’s transgressions in the public interest.)

Skeletons hidden in the closet

Despite that both Najib and Trump have skeletons hidden in the closet, Americans generally hope that the Trump campaign persona was just that – a Machiavellian persona. The world hopes that Trump will transform into someone worthy of occupying the White House in January.

In his congratulatory note to Trump, Najib said that politicians “should never take voters for granted”. Indeed, listen to your own counsel, Prime Minister. Bersih 5 is scheduled to take to the streets again on November 19. Are you listening to the rakyat? Why aren’t you listening to “those who want to see their government more focused on their interests and welfare”?

Yes, heed your own counsel, Prime Minister. There’s no need to grovel to Trump who your other golfing buddy Obama had described as “the guy who had spent 70 years on this earth showing no regard for working people”, the guy whose vision for America was “dark and pessimistic”, and the guy who was “insecure enough that he pumps himself up by putting other people down”. And, Trump’s “no stranger” to you?

Fact checks by the US media throughout the campaign had consistently shown that Trump had peddled falsehoods, blatantly lied and cajoled his audience for suckers. Trump’s character quirks, intellectual inadequacy and egomaniacal disposition played out in his three debates with Hillary Clinton.

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I was in a daze watching the live reports of the election. I was stunned when Trump’s electoral votes crossed the 270 mark. Just as I was elated when Barack Obama became the first black US President in 2008, I expected Hillary Clinton to be the first female US President.

I had planned to visit the US for a winter holiday leading up to the presidential inauguration in January. I won’t be visiting the US for a while.

That will be the day when Trump and his administration can demonstrate that they truly are a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” – a sort of direct democracy as defined by the greatest Republican president of all time, Abraham Lincoln in his dedication to the soldiers killed during the civil war at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Nov 19, 1863.

Here’s where the Electoral College voting system, which Trump himself said was rigged and a “disaster for democracy” could falter in truly representing the people’s voice. Hillary Clinton won more popular votes (by 280,646) than Trump. But with each state weighted by number of electoral votes under the Electoral College system, Trump culled 290 electoral votes (20 more than the 270 needed to win).

It brings back memories of 2000 when Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore lost to George W Bush.

The Electoral College voting system was set up to ensure a fair representative election outcome. But commentators are revisiting the inherent problems with the system given that Hillary Clinton had painfully lost the election despite winning the popular votes.

Trump’s victory had stunned the pollsters, the pundits, the media, the millennial Americans, and the world in general. Trump supporters were even unprepared. Some saw it as a miracle. ‘White Christian evangelicals’ believed it was an answer to their prayers.

Blind faith in Trump is indeed foolish, if not downright stupid. Trump’s no ‘answer to prayers’. If he was, he did not bear any fruits of the Holy Spirit during his campaign – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Trump’s the antithesis of fundamental Christian values.

By contrast, Hillary had cited on numerous occasions during her campaign verses from Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not give up.”

There’s a lingering hope, however, that some electoral college voters – the ‘faithless voters’ – would go rogue if they could see a better alternative, another Republican who is more worthy or rather less unpalatable to occupy the White House.

I wait for December 19 when, as CBS had reported “the final outcome doesn’t become official until Congress counts the votes in early January after electors in each state cast their ballots for president and vice president in mid-December.”

Anything’s possible in politics.


ERIC LOO worked as a journalist and taught journalism in Malaysia from the late 1970s to 1986. He is now Honorary Senior Fellow in Journalism at University of Wollongong in Australia. Email: eloo@uow.edu.au

The Sound of Santo and Johnny for this Diwali Weekend


October 29, 2016

The Sound of Santo and Johnny for this Diwali Weekend

Let us enjoy the music of Santo and Johnny. Relax before the Clinton-Trump Presidential race culminates on November 8. Who will be the next POTUS?. Some say America will have its first Madam President and Commander-in Chief. Others who seek change want a Trump Presidency. We wish the American  voter all the best  when they go to the polls. Voter turnout will be crucial. –Dr. Kamsiah G. Haider and Din Merican

Excellence: A Point of View


October 18, 2016

Excellence: A Point of View

COMMENT: Everyone in Malaysia talks about the pursuit of excellence and some pretend to know what it means, especially  our mediocre politicians in power and men in the public service who are tasked to implement our national education policy and Blue Ocean Strategy.

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We employ snake oil consultants  and experts to write glossy blueprints and reports at horrendous cost to taxpayers but fail to execute them.  We create institutions like Pemandu to promote Najib’s deformation agenda, and Permata for bright kids, while our Chief Secretary to the Government makes himself advocate-in-chief of the Blue Ocean Strategy concept to suck up to Najib Razak. In reality, we do not know what excellence is, what it takes and how to get there.

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Excellence is a simple idea if we are serious about it. All we need to do is change our attitude. Talk is cheap. Stop it and start taking action.

Malaysia has an attitude problem and it is our greatest obstacle to our future as a people and a nation. Where to begin? It has to be first fixing our education system to become a nation of high achievers and second we must stop playing politics  with the education of our future generation. But we are not doing that because UMNO politicians are afraid of  smart and pushy Malays in particular.

I wish to share with you A C Grayling’s thoughts on Excellence. This philosopher is endowed with the ability to communicate with ordinary men and women in clear and concise language. Read his article and share your comments.–Din Merican

Grayling on Excellence

When Matthew Arnold wrote Culture and Anarchy over a hundred years ago, he described the pursuit of excellence in the fostering of culture as “getting to know, on all matters that most concern us. the best which has been thought and said in the world, and through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits.”

Arnold was an inspector of schools, and a champion of higher education, and he believed in excellence in education as the way not only to staff the economy but to produce an enculturated society which would live up to the ideal in Aristotle’s noble dictum about the educated use of our leisure.

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From China to France, every country that is or aspires to be developed has an elite educational stratum, aimed at taking the most gifted students and giving them the best intellectual training possible. In China this is done at an early age, with special schools for the brightest children. In France the system of Hautes Ecoles–superior universities, entry to which is fiercely competitive–creams off the outstanding minds and subjects them to a rigorous discipline. The aim in all cases is to enhance the best in order to gain the highest quality in science, engineering, law, national administration, medicine and the arts.

Few could object to the rationale behind this, save those for whom universal mediocrity is a  price worth paying for social equality (or in the case of Malaysia where mediocrity is a means of political control, added by Din Merican). But there is the danger to which meritocratic means to the cultivation of excellence – or what should be solely such – fall prey. It is if, after the establishment of the means, merit by itself ceases to be enough, and money and influence become additional criteria. In many, perhaps most, countries in the world, money and influence are the determiners of social advancement, even where meritocratic criteria still apply too: in America money is needed to gain social advantages, in China it helps to be a Party member.

The rich and the well connected are not the kind of elite an  education system ought to be fostering. It is easy for popular newspapers and populist politicians to make pejorative use of the term ‘elite’ to connote these elites of injustice; but they are just as quick to complain if doctors, teachers, or sportsmen playing for national sides fail our highest expectations- if, in short, they are not elite after all, in the proper sense of the term.

Although there are few if any true democracies in the world– most dispensations claiming that name are elective oligarchies–the democratic spirit nevertheless invests Western life, for good and ill both. The good resides in the pressure to treat everyone fairly, the ill resides in the pressure to make everyone alike. The latter is a levelling tendency, a downward thrust, which dislikes excellence because it raises mountains where the negative-democratic spirit wishes to see only plains.

But democracy should not aim to reduce people and their achievements to a common denominator; it should aim to raise them, ambitiously and dramatically, as close as possible to an ideal. And that means, among other things, having institutions, especially of learning, which are the best and most demanding of their kind.

The Meaning of Things–Applying Philosophy to Life by AC Grayling (London: Weidenfeld &Nicolson, 2001) pp.160-161


September 12, 2016

Waiting in Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam

by Cmdr (rtd) S Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Zahid Hamidi and ISIS Threat

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”

– Raymond Williams

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi wants to tell people that the Islamic State (IS) threat is real. All I can say is that I have been trying to tell people the same for the past couple of years. The UMNO Number Two also reassured the rakyat that the IS threat “was not a manipulation, publicity stunt or fiction,” which is just goes to show you the level of cynicism of most Malaysians right-thinking folks when it comes to official statements from Putrajaya.

But hang on a minute. The DPM made two extremely cynical statements that only justifies the level of cynicism thrown UMNO’s way. The first statement, “…the people in the country who joined the militant group did not have strong religious or educational background” and the second “They are people who are frustrated over something which only they know. So this disappointment is translated into a form of escapism.”

With regard to the first statement, while it may be true that youths signing up for jihad with IS are disenfranchised in terms of education, nobody could argue that their religious sympathies were anathema to the ideology of IS.

In my piece ‘The Merchants of Hate’, I wrote, “For years, the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses told Malays that they were under siege. This is not a defensive posture. In reality, this is exactly what extremist groups like IS need. They need young, foolish men filled with a sense of superiority fueled by unearned self-righteousness to carry out barbaric acts in the name of promulgating their scared religious beliefs. This, coupled with the rampant corruption and all-consuming hypocrisy, is fertile ground for groups like IS.”

Furthermore, when it comes to Islamic terrorism, Malaysia has produced its fair share of “educated” Muslim psychopaths who have blazed a trail of destruction and waged war against their fellow Muslims in South-East Asia. The BBC obituary for Noordin Mohammad Top for instance reminds us: “Officials believe the Malaysian-born former accountant orchestrated a series of attacks across Indonesia. Noordin was thought to be a key recruiter and financier for the regional Islamist militant group, Jemaah Islamiah, but analysts say he formed his own more hard-line splinter group.”

Therefore, I will say it again. With UMNO and the opposition funding Islamic entities who moral police the Muslim polity, with federal and state apparatus used to define Islam as monolithic for political purposes and lastly but definitely not least, the inclusion of an Islamic cult – PAS – into mainstream Malaysian politics – and both UMNO and the opposition are to be blamed here – can anyone seriously argue that Malaysia is not fertile ground for idiots wanting to join IS?

As for the second statement, does Zahid really expect us to believe that he, and by extension the government, does not understand the motivations for people joining IS?

Forget the sex slaves – it sure beats dating – that is promised to repressed young men who join the jihad (was that the escapism that the UMNO Deputy President was alluding to?), the reality is that when the state-endorsed Islam rejects diversity, when the state-endorsed Islam encourages Muslims to reject other forms of Islam, when the state-endorsed Islam cannot account for the class divisions and the resulting inequalities, you are going to get young men – educated or otherwise – joining movements that promise an Islamic paradise here on earth.

Why do you think that PAS’ Islamic propaganda is extremely effective in rural populations who see the decadence in UMNO? Why do you think a religious leader like the late tok guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and his austere Islam was attractive to a voting demographic who rejected the materialism and corruption of UMNO?

In study after study of failed or failing Islamic governments, the recurring theme is how secular governments are unable to address systemic inequalities and corruption, which allowed the Islamists to gain the moral high ground.

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In one of my answers to questions raised by PSM’s Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, I said, “I recognise (as do many other Malaysians, including Muslims) that Islam in this country is affected by the petrodollars of the Saudi regime, as evidenced by the so-called donation to our current Prime Minister for defending Islam. I recognise that there is a deliberate effort by the House of Saud and its tributaries to silence the diversity in Islam. I recognise that the religious schisms within Islam affect minority Islamic brethren the world over and that, being true to their faiths, they are being hampered by the stratagems from palaces in Saudi Arabia.”

This, of course, brings us back to the question of the meddling Middle Eastern influence that plagues Islam in this country. We do not have to look far to understand why Indonesia has movements that reject this interference. Last year the BBC ran an article titled ‘Is Indonesia winning its fight against Islamic extremism?

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The article was interesting in many ways, especially in its description of Archipelago Islam (AI) or Islam Nusantara, but what should be acknowledged is the overt manner in which Indonesian political and social bodies reject the influence from the House of Saud.

Consider what Yenny Wahid, daughter of the late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and activist, said, “We’re not just coming up with a counter narrative, we are coming up with a counter identity, and that’s what AI is all about. We believe we’re good Muslims but to be a good Muslim we don’t have to accept the recipes that are handed out by some radicals from the Middle East.”

In a 2004 piece, titled ‘The religious sources of Islamic terrorism’, Shmuel makes the argument that the West and Muslims have to tackle the problem in tandem. While some readers, especially Western ones, take exception to some of his arguments about reassessing certain sacred ideological cows, Malaysian readers should take note of the section titled ‘The dilemma of the moderate Muslim’.

Malaysians would understand where Shmuel is coming from when he writes, “Facing the radical Weltanschauung, the moderate but orthodox Muslim has to grapple with two main dilemmas: the difficulty of refuting the legal-religious arguments of the radical interpretation and the aversion to – or even prohibition of – inciting an Islamic Kulturkampf which would split the ranks of the ummah.”

Shmuel outlines the argument that many Malaysians can relate to in the section titled ‘Fighting hellfire with hellfire’, where he writes, in essence, the radical narrative, which promises paradise to those who perpetrate acts of terrorism, must be met by an equally legitimate religious force which guarantees hellfire for the same acts. Some elements of such rulings should be, inter alia:

  • A call for renewal of ijtihad as the basis to reform Islamic dogmas and to relegate old dogmas to historic contexts.
  • That there exists no state of jihad between Islam and the rest of the world (hence, jihad is not a personal duty).
  • That the violation of the physical safety of a non-Muslim in a Muslim country is prohibited (haram).
  • That suicide bombings are clear acts of suicide, and therefore, their perpetrators are condemned to eternal hellfire.
  • That moral or financial support of acts of terrorism is also haram.
  • That a legal ruling claiming jihad is a duty derived from the roots of Islam is a falsification of the roots of Islam, and therefore, those who make such statements have performed acts of heresy.

Somehow, I doubt we will ever see these types of fatwas coming from either the opposition or UMNO.

Writer’s note 1: Dar al-Islam means House of Islam as opposed to Dar al-Harb, which translates, to House of War.

Writer’s note 2: Anonymous_1388826428, is correct. House of War is Dar al-Harb. It was an editorial mistake made by me – the author – when transcribing from my notes. I thank Anonymous_1388826428 for pointing out this mistake.

Malaysia: UMNO apes the Taliban


September 12, 2016

Malaysia: UMNO apes the Taliban

by Tay Tian Yan

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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This is Positive Thinking ala Malaisie

Fanaticism knows no limits, from the Middle East to the rest of the world. Often the boundary between fanaticism and insanity is equally blurred.

Many years back when the fanatical Taliban ruled Afghanistan, many world-shocking events took place there, such as the shocking demolition in the name of  Islam of statues of Buddha in Bamiyan.

For thousands of years, the Bamiyan Valley was a regular stop on the Silk Road for travellers from China, India, Persia and Europe. Bamiyan was an important hub of Buddhist learning. Thousands of monks and craftsmen erected countless awe-inspiring Buddha statues on the walls of the cliffs in the valley, the biggest of which stood at 38m and 58m tall.

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The Bamiyan Valley

Aesthetically, these were masterpieces attesting to the pinnacle of cultural eminence. From the historical point of view, they were priceless legacies of human civilisation. For over a thousand years, these two enormous Buddha statues stood over this land and the many historical developments taking place under their noses.

Unfortunately such godly artistic creations were blown up and reduced to rubble by the Taliban in a matter of hours. Similarly, after Islamic State fanatics captured parts of northern Iraq, they blew up 3,000-year-old Assyrian relics and statues in the ancient city of Nimrud.

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They also destroyed the Temple of Bel and Baal Shamin in the 4,000-year-old city of Palmyra in northern Syria they subsequently captured, smashing up the invaluable ancient animist relics.

Khaled Asad, director of Palmyra Antiquities Museum, was executed by the IS. Taliban and IS prohibited idolatry on the pretext of defending their religion, destroying priceless statues and relics without taking into consideration their enormous historical value.

What has been brought down can never be restored; neither can pieces of history be duplicated. The fanaticism and insanity of these people have shocked the world and brought tears to millions.

What has this to do with Malaysia? The eagle statue in Langkawi and the statue of fallen heroes at the National Monument have received media coverage of late. Some clerics who thought they were safeguarding their religion called for their demolition to preserve the sanctity of the religion and stub out idolatry.

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A Popular Tourist Attraction on the Island of Langkawi, Kedah

The eagle is but a symbol of Langkawi and a popular sightseeing spot. No one is going to worship an eagle statue anyway. As for the National Monument, it was built in honor of the warriors sacrificing their precious lives for the nation, and was meant to inspire Malaysians to be patriotic. Similarly, no one is going to deify and idolize them either.

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Remember the Men and Women who gave their lives so that we may live in Peace. That Peace is now under threat from ultra Malay Islamic Extremists and Najib’s pursuit of existential politics–Din Merican

Narrow-minded and radical interpretations of such people have religionised everything that crosses their minds and banished all who are not with them. This is the crudest manifestation of the pride and prejudice born out of such fanaticism.

If by chance their wayward thinking gets approved and legitimised, the country’s diversity and universal values will be completely uprooted.