To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense


January 20, 2016

To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense, that’s Mahathirism-Anwarism-Dollah Kok Lanasism(1986)

by Dr.Clive Kessler
http://www.themalaymailonline.com

clivekessler

That the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu, of Malay ascendancy and primacy and domination, is a key principle of the Constitution, one that is deeply and pervasively embedded throughout its many clauses and pages? Simply, that this claim is a crude “try-on.” An outrageous, and outrageously over-reaching, “ambit claim.”A third-rate “con job.”One that could persuade only the ignorant.And that is precisely to whom it is these days addressed and targeted.–Dr.Clive Kessler

Enough of this nonsense! Enough already! Malaya and then Malaysia was created as a secular nation. Denial of this basic fact has become commonplace in recent times.

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Ketuanan Melayu –First Order Political Bunkum

The pioneers in promoting the revisionist myth that there was or is nothing secular in the nation’s origins or about its Constitution have been the creative legal innovators and myth-makers of the PPMM: Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia (Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association) –- notably Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar — and their like-minded associates in CENTHRA, the Putrajaya-based and Saudi-friendly Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy, headed by on Azril Mohd Amin.

Their lead is followed, and their disruptive views are echoed, by a horde of Utusan Malaysia scribes and ideologues and, in their wake, a claque of well-connected writers and publicists and ambitious politicos. In the absence of any clear refutation, their increasingly unchallenged view now threatens to become “the default position”, the received and undeniable truth.

But are they right?  In short, no. And for three main reasons.

1.  The explicit and the implicit.

A key and basic tenet of their position is that the word “secular” can nowhere be found in the Constitution. Therefore, they hold, the Constitution and nation cannot be secular. It is in no way tainted in even the slightest way by any suggestion of secularist principles or ideas.

And since it — the word — cannot be found there, and since Article 3 affirms that, in its public international personality, Islam is the emblematic religion of the state, then (so they argue) Malaysia must be, on core constitutional and historical grounds, an Islamic state — or, at the very least, one that has been authoritatively launched from birth on an irrevocable path towards becoming an Islamic state based upon Shariah law.

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Malaysia-Secular and Diverse Constitutional Democracy with a Monarch for All

Some now even go further. They now argue that, since Article 3 is allegedly “the best known” article of the Constitution in public consciousness (on what grounds or empirical evidence they claim this they do not say), it follows that Article 3 is the key or central article of the Constitution as a whole and that, in resolving all contested matters, Article 3 (in their own strong, revisionist sense of its meaning) takes precedence over and must “trump” all other legal arguments and considerations and constitutional niceties.

Is this supposed primacy of Article 3 explicit? No. Just implicit, implied, inferred.These authors are in fact very familiar with the idea of the explicit and the implicit, of what is tersurat and what is also tersirat, what is in the words and what is behind them, “between the lines.”

These same authors and creative doctrinal and Constitutional myth-makers are elsewhere quite happy to argue that the controversial idea of Ketuanan Melayu — which did not exist when the basis and terms of the Constitution were negotiated between 1955 and 1957, and which only achieved currency after it was coined by Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad (aka Dollah Kok Lanas) in 1986 — is a foundational principle of the Constitution.

How do they argue this?They say that, while the term itself is not used and does not appear explicitly in the Constitution, the idea is there, implicit and immanent, in Article 153 (the “Malay special rights” provision) and in the web of meanings linking that Article to other related articles of the Constitution.

The idea, they insist, is there behind the words and between the lines.They cannot find it there explicitly. They impute its presence, and in that way “build back” this post-1986 idea into the foundational meaning and conceptual texture of the Constitution. Even though the word itself cannot be found there!

On these inferred or imputed grounds they insist that Ketuanan Melayu is a key constitutional principle, that it is, and always has been, a part of the “social contract” that enabled the Constitution to be adopted and promulgated — and that people are now obliged in perpetuity to uphold that constitutionally “retrofitted” principle or doctrine as part of the nation’s founding “social contract”: as a key principle of the nation’s core official character and identity.

The stark contrast of approach here in these two related matters (their anti-secularist, pro-Islamic state reading of Article 3 and the imputing or inferring of Ketuanan Melayu as constitutionally based and embedded) proves one thing: that their ways of arguing are not consistent and principled but arbitrary and opportunistic.That is no basis for solemn and serious Constitutional reasoning.

2.  History

Article 3 does not say that Malaysia is a secular nation, but it does say that Islam is its official emblematic religion: therefore Malaysia is in no way secular. On far stronger and clearer Constitutional grounds, it can be said to be Islamic: even an Islamic state, or one in the making.

That is the revisionist position. It is one that is ignorant of history.It is one that is even based upon a wilful refusal to acknowledge the history of the Constitution and its origins in the so-called “Merdeka Process” and “Merdeka Agreements.”

To serious scholars the facts are clear and well-known.That the ideologues and revisionists do not care to accept them is another matter. But not one that adds any credence to their position or authority to their arguments.

The entire “Merdeka Process” was quite explicitly about creating Malaya as a modern, progressive, democratic and secular nation.

For a while it was thought that the word secular might be used explicitly in its Constitution. But, to allow for certain Malay sensibilities (including the fairly widespread Malay misunderstanding of the term “secular” as meaning or entailing “atheistic”), it was decided that the idea would be left unsaid — largely because it did not need to be spelled out.

But the secular idea was basic to the emerging Constitution and pervasive within it. The proposed basis of nationhood could not be seen or understood as anything but a modern secular Constitution: one that sought and was designed to create a progressive nation prospectively grounded in the popular sovereignty of its people, all of its people.

Nor, equally, in a balanced way, was there to be any formal mention of Islam as a key principle in the Constitution. This, it was felt, would add further weight to the Constitution’s and the nation’s secular, plural, inclusive and democratic character.

This was how things stood until the final evening of the long drafting deliberations of the Reid Commission. That was what the members of the Commonwealth-based Commission had thrashed out and agreed upon.

Suddenly, at the last moment, something happened.Some say that he had been lobbied heavily. Others say that a personally bitter argument erupted over Kashmir between the Indian member of the Commission, Judge B. Malik, and the Pakistani member, Judge Halim Abdul Hamid.

At all events, on the last evening the Pakistani member broke ranks. He would no longer be bound by the agreements already reached.  The Constitution might remain implicitly secular, he conceded, but there should be some mention of Islam as the formally emblematic religion of the new state, as part of its international identity and personality in the world family of nations.

Held over a barrel, and with their bags already packed, the other members of the Commission agreed to accommodate Judge Halim Abdul Hamid’s last-minute requirement — on the understanding that the added affirmation was to be purely nominal or symbolic: that it would have no flow-on effects upon any other Constitutional matters, and that it would not compromise or diminish (as had been agreed in extended discussions) the modern, democratic and secular character of the Constitution as a whole and of the nation to be founded upon it.

On that basis, and with little choice in the matter in the face of one man’s sudden intractability, the other members of the Commission agreed to Judge Abdul Hamid’s extraordinary last-minute requirement.

But what is significant now is not the dramatic personal ins-and-outs of the Reid Commission and its workings.It is what followed from that last minute accommodation of Judge Abdul Hamid’s exercise of a shock, peremptory veto.

Many, especially the negotiators for UMNO’s partner parties, were deeply disquieted by this last-minute development. So they sought and received formal assurances — which, on the grounds that they were sincerely meant and offered and so would remain binding, they accepted.

This assurance was approved and issued by Tun Abdul Razak, on behalf of UMNO and his successors who would later lead it, in the form of a document (now a key part of the official collection of British government published documents recording the decolonization process in Malaya) that was intended as a codicil, or accompanying explanatory document, to the Constitution itself — and specifying the terms of the agreement of all parties to it.

As is well-known, the Alliance Memorandum stated that “although the religion of Malaysia would be Islam, the observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion, and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State.”

If there is any such thing as a Malayan and Malaysian “social contract” by which people remain bound, this is surely a key part of it. “Pacta servanda sunt” is a key principle of law: solemn agreements are to be solemnly observed and punctiliously upheld.

Those who these days loudly shout that “the social contract” must be respected and that it entails, and has always entailed, general acceptance by all Malaysians (and especially non-Malays), in perpetuity, of the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu would do well to recall and abide by that obligation here in this matter.

They owe it not only to others, especially their non-Malay and non-Muslim fellow citizens.They owe it to themselves, if they are to live honourably and honestly and decently with their own recent political past — with themselves.

3.  Context.

To assess accurately whether or not Malaysia is foundationally a secular or an Islamic state, it helps to consider its Constitution.Not just legally, in lawyer-like manner, clause by clause but more broadly. Historically.

In the light of comparative political and Constitutional and social and intellectual history.There is no need to try to hunt down, as the decisive and tell-tale indicator, whether the word “secular” appears in its political or conceptual lexicon.And there is no need to get too fancy or philosophical about this matter.

All one has to ask is:

What kind of a Constitution is Malaysia’s?

Is it culturally and doctrinally and conceptually a Buddhist Constitution?

Is it a Hindu Constitution?

Is it an Islamic Constitution?

The answer is no, three times no.

What is it then? It is a modern, liberal-democratic Constitution.A modern Constitution, born of a modern and progressive and largely secular age, one that is couched in secular terms, and formed upon secularist assumptions.There is no other way to understand or classify or to typify it.

It was drafted and promulgated and enacted as the modern Constitution of, and for the continuing growth and development of, a modern, progressive, inclusive, pluralistic but cohesive, and secular society and nation.

A Constitution that — while it acknowledges and finds an honoured place for the ancient royal mystique and semi-sacred aura of its traditional Malay rulers, for their world-focusing daulat — was nevertheless founded upon the consent of its many and diverse subjects; meaning, on the principle of “popular sovereignty” (here the modern Malay word, often confusingly, is kedaulatan).But remember, as one always must, that daulat and kedaulatan, despite their being linguistically and etymologically cognate terms, are two entirely different things.

They are born of, stem from, and are anchored within two entirely distinct, different and mutually incommensurate universes of political meaning.The Rulers have daulat, the nation is built upon and (like all modern nations) is an expression of the sovereignty of its people.

That is where modern political legitimacy comes from.The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is a Constitution that rests upon and which affirms the principle of popular sovereignty.That is what modern Constitutions and nations are. That is their “ontology”.

And, yes, Malaysia’s Federal Constitution is — or was by initial intention and design — a secular Constitution. One for a society that was, or was to become, an increasingly secular nation.

One that would not be hostile to religion but hospitable and equitably hospitable to religious and human diversity.Malaysia and its Constitution were incontrovertibly established as secular, on secular foundations and principles and assumptions.The struggle these days — and it is now no easy struggle — is to keep it that way.

4.  In conclusion

So what can one say about the claim that Malaysia is not, and never was and was never intended to be, a secular state? That its Constitution is not secular and makes no provision or space for secular principles?

That Article 3 establishes Malaya and Malaysia as, at least prospectively but irrevocably, an Islamic state operating on the basis of Shariah law? That the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu, of Malay ascendancy and primacy and domination, is a key principle of the Constitution, one that is deeply and pervasively embedded throughout its many clauses and pages?

Simply, that this claim is a crude “try-on.”An outrageous, and outrageously over-reaching, “ambit claim.”A third-rate “con job.”One that could persuade only the ignorant.And that is precisely to whom it is these days addressed and targeted.

Dr. Clive Kessler is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

The Politics of Najib(ullah) Razak and ISIS Threat in Malaysia


January 19, 2016

The Politics of Najib(ullah) Razak  and ISIS Threat in Malaysia

by Saefullah Norhaidi

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

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I was recently in Kuala Lumpur when Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) carried out its attack in Jakarta, marking the entrance of a new terrorist movement, in the Southeast Asian region.

It is clear now, Isis wants its voice to be heard, its presence felt. I have no idea whether this has any connection to it, but that very evening, I saw Police personnel walking in the miscellaneous places we were walking around in Kuala Lumpur.

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Kuala Lumpur’s Najibullabians  on New Year’s Eve

Now is definitely the time when governments in this region will start to become intensely vigilant and more vehement in deterring the harmful growth of Islamic radical movements in their respective countries.In Malaysia, police reports have verified a substantial amount of jejune radical Islamic militant activities.

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor announced (on Sunday) that the governmental intel is already in the know that the terror groups will target locations like Bangsar, Solaris and Bukit Bintang and that the military forces will work together with the city’s police in preventing any potential terrorist attack from being executed in the vicinity.

In the midst of all this chaos, a question comes to mind. Has there ever been an official statement even, in Malaysia, addressing the rise of these radical Islamic movements?

You can easily access JAKIM’s e-fatwa website and read the Islamic council’s stand on Isis and terrorism in general. In fact, the word “Isis” is used quite abundantly as the insignia of religious extremism by the majority of the population.

Jakim

That is to say, despite few inane incidents that have made the official stand on Isis wishy-washy like (Dato’ Seri) Najib Razak’s (the Prime Minister at that) flagrant and unabashed euphemism of the word Isis by attributing gallantry to its members to bolster unintelligent and self-demeaning cheers from his daft supporters at the UMNO annual general assembly, the general public is antagonistic or unsympathetic towards the radical group.

But the problem lies within the Muslim community which is fed with the inclination of their ustaz (dilettante scholars) that has blurred the lines of religious extremism to the extent of resulting in the increase of the rate of sympathizers for the terrorist group.

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I have actually sat in a public lecture of a fairly popular ustaz whose name bears quite a significant weight in Malaysia who publicly advocated and endorsed the actions of the “mujahideen” of al-Qaeda, saying that their actions are verily justified and it was actually the Western media that has corrupted their image by creating a fallacious portrayal of the group.

Such problematic view, imposed by an unforgiving and perennial prejudice of the West that judges it as a monolithic erection, and the usual victim-playing have ensued a mentality which traps its followers in a dualistic us-or-them thinking, which then occasioned the validation of the existence of these radical and extreme movements.

In conclusion, it results in the recent poll which shows that 11% of Malaysians (mind you 11% of 30 million, that is around 330,000 people) are Isis sympathisers.

MCA President and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai released a statement saying that the authorities estimated a figure of around 50,000 Isis supporters in Malaysia, and considering the government’s wont of sugar-coating actual figures to palliate unfavourable repercussions against them, it could only be said that the actual figure is larger than that, which is to say the situation is distressing.

Other than that, the fervent use of Islam as the ultimate and supreme political tool has materialised a mentality among the general Muslim public which employs a dogma of a kind of ferocious and obdurate political Islam as the only legitimate voice of reason.

PAS Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man

This type of political manoeuvre is majorly conspicuous in PAS. We can see that every decision that its leaders make will be authenticated with verses and samples from the Quran and the Hadith. Even if a newer decision conflicts with an older one, Quranic verses and Islamic terms will expediently come to play, and the new decision will conveniently be appropriated and contextualised and thus, simply legitimised.

The religion Islam has become the magic wand which one can use to swish and flick away his sins, his misconducts and political malpractices in literally any situation, just by way of contextualising them in esoteric Islamic terms, encapsulated within seemingly Islamic envelopes.

A paramount example of this is how UMNO politicians and their supporters stupidly (no better word for it) whitewash the Prime Minister’s corruption scandal by saying that the “donation” is to fund the fight against the liberals, the LGBT movement and Shiaism, DAP, the Yahudi (Jews) and Isis.

This desacralisation of a holy religion and its reduction to a mere political tool to fool the public has ultimately fuelled a counterblast of an anti-secular, anti-reason and dogmatic worldview.

Only religion can then become the sole legally binding force in the community, and the situation can only plummet down and worsen from here as it becomes circular and tautological in nature. Politicians use Islam as political tool, the people consume it and only agrees with religious views, thus only legitimising discourse in “Islamic” terms.

Comparing the increase in terrorist activities and the blitz that have shaken up the people of Europe, the onslaughts in the Middle East and the ones that have occurred or the possible, budding threats alike in Indonesia and Malaysia, it must be said that the terrorist movements in our region are expanding under this idiosyncratic circumstantial climate (mentioned above).

Here in Malaysia, the majority of the population are Muslims who have never been in or seen a major scale war in their region, in their lives.

Wanita UMNO

In comparison, the radicalisation of Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Europe could likely be caused by a marginalisation phenomenon and their exclusion from the community and the absence of the transmission of a religion that is culturally integrated in their revolt, and the radicalisation of Muslims in the Middle East might be a consequence of an epic post-colonial suffering.

The radicalisation of Muslims in Malaysia, however, could likely be caused by an almost systematic Arabic fanaticism, an ardent Islamisation process (in which we see only Islamic terminologies can become the leverage in authenticating political works and operations) as has been specified above, and a zealous Islamic sectarianism which marginalises Shias as one of the schools of the Islamic faith. As Julien Gradot accurately puts it:

“Shiasm, adhered to by a minority of Muslims worldwide, is prohibited in Malaysia .Various Shia scholars have been jailed and their places of worship shut down. To understand why an increasing number of Malaysians have displayed an affinity toward the Isis movement, it may also be important to note that the current rebel-led conflict in Syria opposes the government of Bashar al-Assad who belongs to the Alawites – a branch of Shia Islam representing only a minority of the country’s population.

“The Malaysian government in no way condones the actions of the foreign fighters. However, anti-Shiite rhetoric disseminated through official media channels, such as newspapers and television, combined with sermons by some scholars claiming it is acceptable for Sunni Muslims to join ‘holy war’ against a repressive Bashar al-Assad, has led to the perception that this is acceptable.”

In the end, it must be stated that merely addressing terrorism as a cancerous problem in our speeches is indubitably negligent.Terrorism must be demolished from its roots, and that is by way of inhibiting radicalization to even take place in our community.

UMNO-PAS

In League with the Mullahs

The only way we can survive and attenuate the radicalization of our youths and elders alike is by speaking of a more compassionate Islam, like what they do in Europe when the image of Islam is damaged by the acts of terrorism.

And the only way we can put a stop to radicalization is by projecting a unitary condemnation against terrorism through popular voices in the Islamic community, every time any terrorist attack happens. Our ustaz should stop beating around the bush and dragging their feet and start voicing out an absolute and enthusiastic, predominant rejection towards the acts of terrorism and these radical Islamic movements.

Sectarianism barriers should be once and for all lifted and tolerance and mutual respect promoted. But lastly and most importantly, we as the rakyat should start to renounce religious and racial rhetoric in our political atmosphere and move away from these fundamentally simplistic mentalities, so the nation can begin to initiate real significant discourses, improve and advance.

If only Najib would really emulate Razak


January 18, 2016

In my reaction to Robin’s article below and since my views on Prime Minister Najib Razak are already well known and documented, I quote, good friend, Dr. M.Bakri Musa as follows:

In Najib we have an individual full of fluff, blissfully unaware of the fury he has unleashed, and totally incapable of handling the ensuing wreckage. He is, to borrow Nazri’s less-than-elegant phrase, a “rah rah” leader, reveling in his (Najib’s) own Pollyannaish fantasy.–M.Bakri Musa

If only Najib would really emulate Razak

by Robin Augustin

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Really? The PM says he strives every day to live up to his father’s legacy, but talk is cheap.

Last Thursday’s Special Commemorative Seminar on Tun Abdul Razak was a boon for Malaysians too young to have experienced the leadership of one of the country’s great statesmen.

The event started to a packed hall, with those who worked with him or knew him in some way paying glowing tributes to our nation’s Second Prime Minister, recalling his dedication to his responsibilities, his uncompromising hold on principles, his sincere concern for the downtrodden, and his humility.

Soon it was the turn of the great man’s son, Prime Minister Najib, to speak, and you could sense members of the audience straightening up in their seats.

Of course, Najib said what everyone expected him to say. With a choking voice and tears welling in his eyes, he spoke of Razak as his great inspiration. He said that he, as Prime Minister, strove every day to live up to his father’s legacy and to continue his work.

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There was no doubt that many in the hall were touched. Perhaps it was they who left soon after Najib did, leaving the hall half-empty. But Najib’s teary-eyed speech got an opposite reaction online, with many netizens speculating that the tears he shed were crocodile tears.

Who are they to make such a judgment? Surely it’s not surprising that anyone recalling memories of his late father would be filled with sadness. It isn’t fair to doubt the sincerity that produced the tears. However, when it comes to Najib’s declaration that Razak’s leadership was an example for him and that he strove to continue to do his work, that’s a different story. His track record says otherwise.

Razak did not want the vast emergency powers granted to him through the National Operations Council in the aftermath of the May 13 riots, and he sought to restore parliamentary rule.

Najib, on the other hand, has pushed through the National Security Council Bill, which will grant the council, headed by himself, sweeping emergency-like powers at the expense of the rights of citizens.

Razak was uncomfortable holding the finance portfolio as Prime Minister because it went against the principles of checks and balances. Najib doesn’t seem to have any qualms holding both portfolios and more.

Most of all, Razak, as told by those who knew him, was a man who put the interests of the nation ahead of his political interests, a man who would not compromise on principles and a man who did what was right for the country instead of what would ensure his continued hold on power.

Can the same be said of Najib? It is admirable to emulate a great leader like Razak, but talk is cheap.

The Rise and Fall of Islam


January 17, 2016

The Rise and Fall of Islam

by Kassim Ahmad
Darul_hikmah333@yahoo.com.my

The Quran in Surah Ali-‘Imran (3) states that “The only religion approved by God is Islam.” The Arabic word ‘deen’ essentially mean ‘way of life’ rather that the restricted ritualistic meaning of ‘religion’.

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This religion of strict monotheism is taught by all prophets from Adam to its completion and perfection by Muhammad, the last of all prophets. But, as it is wont with human beings, corruption and deterioration set in and complete their work in after about 300 years (10 generations) to change the original teachings. Thus, the monotheism of Prophet Moses became polytheism in Judaism, of Prophet Jesus polytheism in Christianity, and of Muhammad polytheism in Sunnism.

 

Fortunately for mankind, the last of God’s scripture, the Quran, is divinely protected so that all mankind can always refer to it as its guide. This divine protection lies internally in the scripture in a mathematically awesome and impossible to imitate structure called Code 19. This Code is stated in the Quran in Surah Al-Muddaththir  (74), verses 30-31.

The verses go, “Over it is nineteen. We appointed angels to be guardians of Hell, and we assign their number (19) (1) to disturb the disbelievers, (2) to convince the Christians and the Jews (that this is a divine scripture), (3) to strengthen the faith of the faithful, (4) to remove all traces of doubt from the hearts of Christians, Jews, as well as believers, and (5) to expose those who harbor doubt in their hearts. The disbelievers will say, ‘What does God mean by this allegory?’ God thus sends astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. None knows the soldiers of your Lord except He. This is a reminder for the people.”

The rise of Islam, beginning with the reign of Prophet Muhammad in the Arabian Peninsular in early Seventh Century, within a short time of only sixty years shot up to be the Number One power in the world, beating the two superpowers of the then world, the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire.

Historian Philip K. Hitti, in his book, History of the Arabs (1970), states, “If someone in the first third of the seventh Christian century had had the audacity to prophesy that within a decade some unheralded, unforeseen power from hitherto barbarous and little-known land of Arabia was to make its appearance, hurl itself against the only two world powers of the age, fall heir to the one — the Sasanid – and strip the other – the Byzantine — of its fairest provinces, he would have undoubtedly have been declared a lunatic.

Yet that was exactly what happened. After the death of the Prophet sterile Arabia seems to have been converted as if by magic into a nursery of heroes the like of whom both in number and quality is hard to find anywhere. The military campaigns of Khalid ibn-al-Walid and ‘Amar ibn-al-‘As which ensued in al-Iraq, Persia, Syria and Egypt remain among the most brilliantly executed in the history of warfare and bear favourable comparison with those of Napoleon, Hannibal or Alexander.” (p. 142).

A Western philosophical historian, Robert Briffault, in his epoch-making book, The Making of Humanity (1919), after denouncing a conspiracy of silence by most Western historians on the contributions of Muslim science to modern Europe, summarized the contribution of Muslim science to civilization, thus: “The debt of our science to that of the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories. Science owes a great deal more to  Arab culture , it owes its existence. The ancient world was, as we saw, prescientific. The astronomy and mathematics of the Greeks were a foreign importation never thoroughly acclimatized in Greek culture.

The Greeks systematized, generalized and  theorized, but he patient ways of investigation, the accumulation of positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and prolonged observation, experimental inquiry, were altogether alien to the Greek temperament. … What we called science arose in Europe as result of a new spirit of inquiry, of new methods of investigation, of the method of experiment, observation, measurement, of the development of mathematics in a form unknown to the Greeks. That spirit and those methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs.” (p. 191)

Muslim civilization lasted eight centuries. In that time, Baghdad became the capital of the world and Europe became students at the feet of Baghdad. When the rot set in, Europe took over the banner of civilization and what is known as the European Renaissance began. Will Western leadership last for ever? Only time can  tell. Already cracks are beginning to be seen.

 

 

The more important question for Muslim leaders to answer is why the Muslim way of life, guaranteed by God, has collapsed, and how they can rebuild it. To answer this all-important question, they must re-study the Quran with a scientific methodology. I can suggest a few signposts.

First, at a certain point in time, Muslim science froze and deteriorated, due to wrong teaching of certain so-called masters. These were made into masters by a new priesthood class adopted in imitation of medieval Hinduism and Christianity. In Islam there is no priesthood class (mullahs in Islam).

Second, at a certain point in time, a certain attitude of fatalism developed in Islam due a new theology preached in accordance to hadith teachings. Hadiths are essentially fabrications falsely ascribed to the great name of Prophet  Muhammad.

Third, that new theology also preached salvation in the Afterlife, in a nondescript Theologians’ Nirvana in imitation of Buddhism. This led to Muslim apathy in a life waiting for death. At this point, roughly from the Fourteenth Century onwards, this false Islam died, with the false Muslims.

Fourth and last, to rebuild, the Muslims must re-study the Quran (which is their and mankind’s book of guidance) to find correct answers to their current plight. I have surmarised the teachings of the Quran as “revolutionary, life-affirming and death-defying”.  We must seek salvation in this life by raising our soul to a higher level. It is this raising of our soul to a higher level that is necessary for the coming Second Muslim Civilization.

Malaysia: Time to be your own Man, Mr. Prime Minister Najib Razak.


January 17, 2016

COMMENT:  I will re-title Jocelyn’s article “Forty Years in Politics–Time to be your own Man, Mr. Prime Minister Najib Razak”. 

Of the 6 Prime Ministers, Najib is the first chief executive of our nation to rely on his illustrious father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein to bolster his much shattered image. His forty years in politics have come to nothing, given his performance as our Prime Minister since taking over from Tun Abdullah Badawi in 2009.

He let many people who pinned a lot of hope for change including me down. No matter what Jocelyn chooses to write to re-image the man, I do not see how Prime Minister Najib can recover from being perceived as a weak, dishonest and lying politician. He excited the nation with his 1Malaysia concept and other early initiatives, which I thought were consistent with the promise he made to me in 2010 at the Maybank Malaysian Golf Open held at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and  Country that he would make Malaysia great again.That is what a leader is expected to do. In stead, he became a politician of the worst kind Malaysia has seen since Independence in 1957.

Tunku Razak and Hussein

I do not know what motivated him to play dirty”Cash is King” politics and smear Malaysia’s image to the rest of the world right before our very eyes. Not for power. I think. Because he has awesome power which he inherited from Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He used that power to outwit his political opponents from within UNMO including the  Tun and his faction, and  subdue his critics in the Opposition and civil society. Maybe it is greed, cynicism, and arrogance.

I do not need to defend my statement that Najib abused power with impunity since the evidence  is clear for all of us to see, despite all the cover-ups. Here is Malaysia’s astute politician who could have used the  power of his office for the greater good of all Malaysians and become a truly progressive leader. In stead, he has used race and religion and state coffers to divide and rule the nation and mismanaged the economy.

Jocelyn quoted UMNO leaders who are sycophants and cronies to praise him. Her article could have been more balanced and  accurate if she had interviewed ordinary citizens who are victims of his failed economic policies and divisive politics. It is true that Najib’s smart politics is working for him. He may be “UMNO’s marathon man and also the great survivor given the way he swam to shore after a ­tumul­tuous 2015.”But for how long?

Durability comes with competency and integrity, both of which are sadly lacking in Prime Minister Najib. If he possessed there qualities, he  could have been his own man and not depend on Tun Razak’s goodwill. Stop shedding crocodile tears.  –Din Merican

Najib’s Marathon Journey

Dato’Seri Najib Tun Razak will mark his 40th year in politics next month, a journey that he embarked on following the death of his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

IT has been a nostalgic week for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.The media has been brimming with ­articles and documentaries about his late father and Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

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Malaysia’s second Prime Minister was one of a kind. He rose to power on the embers of May 13, his policies were bold and impactful but the candle burned out too soon. He was only 53, in the hot seat for barely six years when he died of leukaemia in London on January 14, 1976.

Najib, the eldest-born, has been quite ­central in the string of events ­commemorating the 40th anniversary of his father’s death. His emotions bubbled to the surface and he teared up when paying tribute to his father at a seminar on Thursday. It was probably a combination of sentimental and filial feelings as well as a certain realisation of the journey he has traveled in his father’s footsteps.

At 63, he has outlived his father by a good 10 years. He has also outlasted Razak as Prime Minister. Najib will mark his own 40th year in politics next month.Razak’s death was an immensely sad and poignant junction in the lives of his wife Tun Rahah Noah and their children.It also pushed Najib into the world of ­politics. He was then only 23. It was unlikely he had politics on his mind but he was the firstborn and was expected to rise to the occasion. He took over as MP for Pekan after winning the seat without a contest.

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February 21 will be 40 years to the day of the start to his political career. Politics can be such a ruthless game and it is amazing he has survived this long. His more visible contemporaries from back then include Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 78, and Lim Kit Siang, 75.

Najib has often told his close political ­circle that politics is a “marathon run”. If that is so, then he is UMNO’s marathon man and also the great survivor given the way he swam to shore after a ­tumul­tuous 2015.

Every single one of those 40 years in politics has been spent in positions of some responsibility and power. He was immediately appointed a deputy minister in 1976. In 1978, he contested a state seat within the Pekan parliamentary area and went on to become the Mentri Besar of Pahang.

There had been a crisis between the palace and the then Mentri Besar who had to resign and Najib was a timely ­solution. His ties with the Pahang palace is still as smooth to this day and that says a lot about his finesse with regard to the Malay Rulers.

He first mentioned his four ­decades in ­politics at the UMNO General Assembly last December. “It was his way of telling us that it has been a long journey, with lots of ups and downs,” said Kapar UMNO division chief Dato’ Faizal Abdullah.

It was not a sentimental message but a pointed reminder to his ­audience and ­particularly to those trying to topple him that he is no pushover.As one political insider pointed out, Najib is a product of the system. It is in his blood, he knows where all the nerve points are, and which buttons to press.

But Najib has often pointed out that throughout his career, he has only contested a post when it became vacant. He has never tried to topple an incumbent.“He went up step by step. He knows the terrain, he is very experienced and he has seen it all. That’s why it is not easy for anyone, including Tun Mahathir, to take him on,” said Faizal.

It took Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim a mere 11 years from the time he became Permatang Pauh MP to become Deputy Prime Minister.Najib was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but it took him 28 long years to become Deputy Prime Minister and ­another five years to reach the top post.

But nothing in all those years could have quite prepared him for his annus horribilis in 2015. It was terrible being the target of attack by the once formidable Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but he made it through.

There are basically two ways to remove a sitting Prime Minister. One is via his party and the other is through a vote of no ­confidence in Parliament.In Najib’s case, UMNO stood by him, the powerful division chiefs rallied around him and the endorsement he received at the party general assembly in December said it all. On top of that, he has the numbers in Parliament.However, Dr Mahathir and also the 1MDB issue have damaged him in a way that no one else could.

Although Dr Mahathir has backed off somewhat since the rationalisation plans for 1MDB were put into place, UMNO politicians think the elder man is merely waiting for the next opportunity to attack. The perception in UMNO is that Dr Mahathir no longer cares whether his attacks on Najib will also bring down their party or Barisan. The chasm between the two men is beyond repair.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is a great admirer of Razak, was invited to speak at one of the events commemorating Razak’s legacy. But it is understood that Dr Mahathir was not invited to any of the events, which is quite sad because Dr Mahathir and Razak enjoyed a certain political bond in their time. Razak had brought Dr Mahathir back into UMNO in the 1970s and the latter had ­conti­nued Razak’s legacy of development ­during his premiership.

The irony is that surviving Dr Mahathir has also strengthened Najib’s hand in UMNO.“When politicians survive this kind of ­crisis, they come out stronger than before because they would have defeated or ­eliminated their key opponents and ­enemies,” said a former Putrajaya official.

The best example is Dr Mahathir himself. His political might grew each time he ­defeated or axed those who were against him such as Tun Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh and Anwar.“Those who were predicting Najib’s demise last year did not realise he is such an ­experienced party man. He understands the UMNO psyche. At the end of the day, as long as the party is with him, he will be there,” said a long-time friend of Najib from his days as UMNO Youth chief.

Najib’s political longevity is also thanks to the political network he established during his years in the Youth wing. He continued to cultivate them even after he moved up the party.

Recently, he was seen visiting PAS ­President Dato’Seri Hadi Awang in IJN. But he had gone to IJN specifically to visit Johor ­politician Dato’Nasir Safar who was also hospitalised there.

Nasir is from his old UMNO Youth circle and he was one of those who stood by Najib last year. Najib is not a touchy-feely person but they held hands as they posed for a photo.“He remembers names and, without fail, he will have a buka puasa every year for our batch. Any of our friends who passes away, he is the first to go and he will find out if the family needs any help. The friendship is there even after so many years. He looks out for them, they go the extra mile for him,” said his old UMNNO Youth friend.

This network of friends and allies forms an important part of his support base.It is what the above political insider calls the “batch system”. They rise together as a batch and when he is in danger, they are there behind him.

Dr Mahathir and the 1MDB issue almost did Najib in but his 40 years of experience held up. Some of his friends in UMNO refer to him as the “tai chi master”, in the sense that they had not anticipated many of his survival moves. In any case, he outmanoeuvred the old maestro.

And now that the party is in calmer waters, some of the UMNO division chiefs joke that what Najib went through in 2015 was reminiscent of the movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The title of the movie comes from a Chinese idiom in which the tiger and dragon refer to concealed danger and people with hidden skills, and the idiom is often used as a reminder to never underestimate anybody.Najib’s annus horribilis is over. The year 2016 will present a different kind of ­challenge as he grapples with the economy.

Forty years and a second lease of life – that is more than any tiger, dragon or politician could ask for.

Realist Perspective on US Foreign Policy


January 14, 2016

Realist Perspective on US Foreign Policy

From Iraq and WMDs to Israel and Palestine to Syria and Russia, how the United States could’ve avoided some of its biggest mistakes.

by Stephen M Walt

What Would a Realist World Have Looked Like?

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Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr and Jimmy Carter

Here’s a puzzle for all you students of U.S. foreign policy: Why is a distinguished and well-known approach to foreign policy confined to the margins of public discourse, especially in the pages of our leading newspapers, when its recent track record is arguably superior to the main alternatives?

I refer, of course, to realism. I’m not suggesting that realism and realists are completely marginalized these days — after all, you’re reading a realist right now — but the public visibility and policy influence of the realist perspective is disproportionately small when compared either to liberal internationalism (among Democrats) or neoconservatism (in the GOP).

This situation is surprising insofar as realism is a well-established tradition in the study of foreign affairs, and realists like George Kennan, Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr, Walter Lippmann, and others said many smart things about U.S. foreign policy in the past. Realism also remains a foundational perspective in the academic study of international affairs and with good reason. At a minimum, you’d think this sophisticated body of thought would have a prominent place in debates on foreign policy and that card-carrying realists would be a visible force inside the Beltway and in the world of punditry.

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Furthermore, realism’s predictions over the past 25 years are clearly better than the claims of liberals and neoconservatives, which have dominated U.S. foreign policy making since the Cold War ended. Yet time and time again, presidents have pursued the liberal/neoconservative agenda and ignored the counsels of realism. Similarly, major media outlets have shown little inclination to give realists a prominent platform from which to disseminate their views.

The results, alas, speak for themselves. When the Cold War ended, the United States was on good terms with all of the world’s major powers, al Qaeda was a minor nuisance, a genuine peace process was underway in the Middle East, and America was enjoying its “unipolar moment.” Power politics was supposedly becoming a thing of the past, and humankind was going to get busy getting rich in a globalized world where concerns about prosperity, democracy, and human rights would increasingly dominate the international political agenda. Liberal values were destined to spread to every corner of the globe, and if that process didn’t move fast enough, American power would help push it along.

Fast forward to today. Relations with Russia and China are increasingly confrontational; democracy is in retreat in Eastern Europe and Turkey; and the entire Middle East is going from bad to worse. The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting in Afghanistan for 14 years, and the Taliban are holding their own and may even be winning. Two decades of U.S. mediation has left the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” in tatters. Even the European Union — perhaps the clearest embodiment of liberal ideals on the planet — is facing unprecedented strains for which there is no easy remedy.

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All of which raises the following counterfactual: Would the United States and the world be better off today if the last three presidents had followed the dictates of realism, instead of letting liberals and neocons run the show? The answer is yes.

To remind you: Realism sees power as the centerpiece of political life and sees states as primarily concerned with ensuring their own security in a world where there’s no world government to protect them from others. Realists believe military power is essential to preserving a state’s independence and autonomy, but they recognize it is a crude instrument that often produces unintended consequences. Realists believe nationalism and other local identities are powerful and enduring; states are mostly selfish; altruism is rare; trust is hard to come by; and norms and institutions have a limited impact on what powerful states do. In short, realists have a generally pessimistic view of international affairs and are wary of efforts to remake the world according to some ideological blueprint, no matter how appealing it might be in the abstract.

Had Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama been following the realist playbook, how would U.S. foreign policy since 1993 been different?

Had Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama been following the realist playbook, how would U.S. foreign policy since 1993 been different?

First, and most obviously, had Bush listened to Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, or some other notable realists, he would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. Bush would have focused solely on eliminating al Qaeda, instead of getting bogged down in Iraq.

Thousands of U.S. soldiers would not have been killed or wounded, and several hundred thousand dead Iraqis would still be alive. Iran’s regional influence would be substantially smaller, and the Islamic State would not exist. Thus, rejecting sound realist advice has cost the U.S. taxpayer several trillion dollars, along with the obvious human price and the resulting geopolitical chaos.

Second, had American leaders embraced the wisdom of realism, the United States would not have pushed NATO expansion in the 1990s or would have limited it to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Realists understood that great powers are especially sensitive to configurations of power on or near their borders, and thus experts such as George Kennan warned that NATO expansion would inevitably poison relations with Russia. Expanding NATO didn’t strengthen the alliance; it just committed the United States to defend a group of weak and hard-to-defend protectorates that were far from the United States but right next door to Russia. Ladies and gentlemen: This is a textbook combination of both hubris and bad geopolitics.

A better alternative was the original “Partnership for Peace,” which sought to build constructive security ties with former Warsaw Pact members, including Russia. Unfortunately, this sensible approach was abandoned in the idealistic rush to expand NATO, a decision reflecting liberal hopes that the security guarantees entailed by membership would never have to be honored.

Realists also understood that trying to bring Georgia or Ukraine into “the West” was likely to prompt a harsh reaction from Moscow and that Russia had the capacity to derail these efforts if it wished. Ukraine would still be a mess if realists had been in charge of U.S. foreign policy, but Crimea would still be part of Ukraine and the fighting that has taken place in eastern Ukraine since 2014 would probably not have occurred. Had Clinton, Bush, and Obama listened to realists, in short, relations with Russia would be significantly better and Eastern Europe would probably be more secure.

Third, a president following the realist playbook would not have embraced the strategy of “dual containment” in the Persian Gulf. Instead of pledging to contain Iran and Iraq simultaneously, a realist would have taken advantage of their mutual rivalry and used each to balance the other. Dual containment committed the United States to opposing two countries that were bitter rivals, and it forced Washington to keep large ground and air forces in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This long-term military presence became one of Osama bin Laden’s major grievances and thus helped put the United States on the road to the 9/11 attacks. A realist approach to Persian Gulf politics would have made that attack less likely, though of course not impossible.

Fourth, realists also warned that trying to “nation-build” in Afghanistan was a fool’s errand — especially after the invasion of Iraq allowed the Taliban to regroup — and correctly predicted that Obama’s 2009 “surge” was not going to work. Had Obama listened to the realists, the United States would have cut its losses in Afghanistan a long time ago and the outcome would be no different from what we are going to get anyway. Countless lives and vast sums of money would have been saved, and the United States would be in a stronger strategic position today.

Fifth, for realists, the nuclear deal with Iran shows what the United States can accomplish when it engages in tough-minded but flexible diplomacy. But Washington might have gotten an even better deal had Bush or Obama listened to the realists and conducted serious diplomacy back when Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was much smaller. Realists repeatedly warned that Iran would never agree to give up its entire enrichment capacity and that threatening Tehran with military force would only increase its desire for a latent weapons capability. Had the United States shown more flexibility earlier — as realists advised — it might have halted Iran’s nuclear development at a much lower level. More adroit U.S. diplomacy might even have forestalled the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and moved the two countries toward a more constructive relationship. Perhaps not, but the United States could hardly have done worse.

Sixth, realists of various stripes have been critical of America’s “special relationship” with Israel and warned that it was harmful to both countries. Contrary to the smears directed at them by some of Israel’s more ardent defenders, this position did not stem from any intrinsic hostility to Israel’s existence or to the idea that the United States and Israel should cooperate when their interests align. Rather, it stemmed from the belief that unconditional U.S. support for Israel was undermining America’s image in the world, making the terrorism problem worse, and allowing Tel Aviv to continue its self-destructive effort to create a “greater Israel” at the expense of the Palestinians. Realists also argued that achieving a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians required that the United States pressure both sides instead of acting as “Israel’s lawyer.” At this point, can anyone seriously question the accuracy of this view, given the repeated failures of alternative approaches?

Finally, had Obama listened to his more realistic advisors (e.g., Robert Gates), he would not have helped topple Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, creating yet another failed state in the process. Qaddafi was a despicable ruler, to be sure, but advocates of humanitarian intervention both exaggerated the risk of “genocide” and underestimated the disorder and violence that would follow the collapse of Qaddafi’s thugocracy.

A realist would also have warned Obama not to say “Assad must go” or to draw a “red line” about the use of chemical weapons.

A realist would also have warned Obama not to say “Assad must go” or to draw a “red line” about the use of chemical weapons. Not because Bashar al-Assad should be defended or because chemical weapons are legitimate instruments of war, but because U.S. vital interests were not involved and it was clear from the beginning that Assad and his associates had little choice but to try to cling to power by any means necessary. For realists, the overriding task was to end the civil war quickly and with as little loss of life as possible, even if that required doing business with a brutal tyrant. Had Obama listened to realists a few years ago, the Syrian civil war might — repeat, might — have been shut down before so many lives were lost and the country was irretrievably broken.

In short, had realists been at the helm of U.S. foreign policy over the past 20 years, it is likely that a number of costly debacles would have been avoided and some important achievements would have been realized. One might question some of these claims, but on the whole realists have a much better track record than those who keep insisting the United States has the right, responsibility, and wisdom to manage virtually every important global issue, and who have repeatedly urged Washington to take actions that now look foolish.

So here’s the puzzle: Realist advice has performed better than its main rivals over the past two-and-a-half decades, yet realists are largely absent from prominent mainstream publications.

Consider the regular op-ed columnists at the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. These three newspapers are arguably the most important print publications in the United States, and their coverage and commentary set the tone for many other publications. Columnists at each paper are also widely sought out for lectures and other media appearances and routinely hobnob with influential figures in the policy worlds. All three publications are essentially realism-free zones, and the Post and the Journal are, if anything, openly hostile to a realist view of international politics and U.S. foreign policy.

At the New York Times, the list of columnists regularly writing on foreign affairs includes one neoconservative (David Brooks) and several well-known liberal internationalists (Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, and Roger Cohen). Ross Douthat is a more traditional conservative, but he rarely writes on foreign affairs and is certainly not a realist. Despite certain differences among them, all of these writers are eloquent defenders of U.S. interventionism all around the globe for all sorts of reasons. The Washington Post employs four hard-line neoconservatives—editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Kagan, and Jackson Diehl–and used to feature William Kristol as well. Its regular columnists also include former Bush administration speechwriters Marc Thiessen and Michael Gerson and far-right blogger Jennifer Rubin, along with the more centrist  David Ignatius and the increasingly bellicose Richard Cohen. Needless to say, none of these writers is a realist and all of them strongly support an activist U.S. foreign policy. As James Carden and Jacob Heilbrunn observed in The National Interest last year, Hiatt has in effect “turned the paper into a megaphone for unrepentant warrior intellectuals,” and now leads “the most reckless editorial page in America.”

To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving these writers a prominent platform, and many of the people I just mentioned are worth reading. What is bizarre is the absence of anyone presenting a more straightforward realist view of contemporary world politics. On rare occasions, all three papers will publish a guest op-ed reflecting a more realist perspective, but there’s nobody on the regular payroll who comes close to advocating for a realist approach. You can find a few realists at specialized publications like this one (or at the National Interest), but not at the commanding heights of American journalism, let alone big broadcast outlets like Fox, CNN, or even MSNBC.

Why are these three elite outlets so allergic to realist views, given that realists have been (mostly) right about some very important issues, and the columnists they publish have often been wrong? I don’t really know, but I suspect it is because contemporary foreign-policy punditry is mostly about indulging hopes and promoting ideals, rather than providing hardheaded thinking about which policies are most likely to make the United States more prosperous and more secure. And because the United States is already so strong and safe, it can afford to pursue unrealistic goals again and again and let the unfortunate victims of our good intentions suffer the consequences.

So here’s my challenge to Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, the Sulzberger family, and anyone else who runs a major media operation: Why not hire a realist? If you’re looking for some suggestions, how about Paul Pillar, Chas Freeman Jr., Robert Blackwill, Steve Clemons, Michael Desch, Steve Chapman, John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, Andrew Bacevich, or Daniel Larison?

Give one of them a weekly column, and then you could genuinely claim to be offering your readers a reasonably comprehensive and balanced range of opinion on international affairs. I mean: What are you folks so afraid of?