Malaysia: A Lucky Country under Threat from Within


June 14, 2017

Malaysia: A Lucky Country under Threat from Within

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.”

– Abraham Lincoln

COMMENT | The Prime Minister has again made this extraordinary claim – “In the end, 10 people died because we had no loyalty. All there was is a readiness to betray who? Our rakyat” – with regards to the “Sulu incursion” while reminding uniformed personnel to be loyal in preserving the country’s security.

Image result for Malaysia-- Lucky Country under Threat from within

Keep Praying, Prime Minister, your lucky streak is running out unless you treat Malaysians Fairly

I will repeat the same questions I had in an article I wrote when the Prime Minister first made this claim of betrayal – “This, of course, brings us to the next set of questions. Who were those covert agents? What sort of investigations and which agencies were involved in routing out these ‘covert enemies’? Why weren’t the press and the people of Malaysia notified that our soldiers were killed because of leaked information? Were the families of the soldiers who were ‘sacrificed’ notified that their deaths were the result of an ambush because of leaked intelligence?”

I expect no answer, of course. A few friends have written to me “explaining” that “civilians” may have compromised troop movements and that is what our prime minister meant by “betrayal”. If you believe that civilians had compromised troop movement, I suggest we have a far greater problem than most people believe.

Of course, in this particular rejoinder the Prime Minister claims – “When our own people betrayed their comrades, when they fed information to our enemies, our enemies surrounded and ambushed…” – which implies that our men were betrayed by their “comrades”, in other words, by security personnel, which is worse but yet again no explanation will be forthcoming.

Image result for pekida malaysia

Perkida–The Militant Arm of Najib’s UMNO

What if the liberalisation of the public sphere since the Mahathir era paved the way for the emergence of civil surrogates of political parties? What if the so-called “civil society” was used as a veil to hide and promote the rise of militants who are in fact sub-contractors of political parties discourse and actions?

Were those families of the 10 people who died told that their loved ones perished because they were betrayed by their “comrades”? Was there an investigation into these treasonous acts? Was there accountability? It does not matter, does it?

And are the Malaysian uniformed services “Muslim” uniformed services? I get that the majority who serve are Muslims but why does the Prime Minister feel the need to draw on Islam to remind the uniformed services to be loyal for the security of the country? The answer to this, of course, is obvious. Non-Muslims are constantly told that we are not patriotic enough, that we shelter under the security provided by brave Muslims and most importantly, there have been far too many Umno politicians and “activists” who remind us that government institutions are in reality “Malay/Muslim” institutions.

So yes, the Arabisation process being what it is, the professional standards of our uniformed services at the level it is, and this constant need to remind Muslims that loyalty to country means loyalty to the political establishment, it is no surprise that religion would be used to bolster support. Of course, if you are a non-Muslim in the uniformed services, you could either learn from this Islamic analogy thrust upon you or tune out.

Image result for Biro Tata Negara

BTN (Biro Tata Negara) cannot be allowed to poison the minds of new generations of Malaysians. It must be disbanded. We can no longer accept UMNO hegemony. Its divide and rule politics of race and religion, and rent seeking economics are leading us along the path of economic decline and moral decay. –Din Merican

I have said it before and I will say it again. I despise the propagandising of the state security apparatus. This happens all over the world. The Prime Minister’s rejoinder was delivered at a function organised by Wanita UMNO – a wing of a political party – so this was a political event and not a government event.

Of course, in this country, the lines are willfully blurred so I wonder what would happen if Pakatan Harapan, or God Forbid the DAP, organised a Ramadan event to honour the sacrifices of our uniformed services. Would these service people who embraced the “gifts” doled out at this Umno event be accepting to gifts offered by the opposition? Or would they be told by a government flunky not to intrude where they are not wanted?

I will just regurgitate what I wrote when another organisation was advocating loyalty to the establishment –

“Ultimately when we pledged to serve the king and country, our oath goes far beyond loyalty to the government. We are really serving the people of this country and our loyalty is with them. It does not matter if you support the establishment or the opposition, your loyalty should be with the people and not with political elites, especially when they dishonour the institutions you pledged to serve and protect.”

‘We have been lucky’

The Prime Minister is right when he claims that peace does not happen by accident, but because of the work done by the security services of the state. However, he should be aware that peace happens because of luck, too. We have been lucky. While pre-emptive action is a necessary component of national security, the element of luck also plays an important part.

With all the propaganda spewed against non-Muslims, we have been lucky that external forces have far more insidious designs that merely slaughtering non-Muslims in this region. These designs target Muslims and is about a specific Islamic ideology and a war against Islamic plurality.

I have talked about this briefly in my piece cautioning against snuggling up to the House of Saud but as far as domestic policy is concerned, I wrote about the corrosive effects of Islam as propagated by the state on the security of the nation.

If even Najib is not safe from Islamic enemies, two points need to be considered when it comes to our “luck” in avoiding the kind of carnage that other countries have faced from their home-grown Islamic extremists.

When it comes to propaganda against the non-Muslims –

1) “Just recently, instead of sanctioning the genocidal rhetoric of the Pahang Mufti, Najib, who portrays himself as a PM for the people, said, ‘we cannot compromise on the Islamic struggle in this blessed land. We reject those who dislike Islam and know who they are and their collaborators.’”

And when it comes to the enemies within, who would destabilise the security of the state and the state security apparatus.

2) “The UMNO state security apparatuses have acknowledged that IS (Islamic State) sympathisers could emerge from anywhere, even from UMNO’s bureaucracy, which has for years sustained an anti-non-Muslim sentiment for political reasons.”

Islamic extremism and terrorism do not happen in a vacuum. It happens in environments which are conducive to the kind of extremism that groups like IS propagate.

You can have all the pre-emptive action that you want but as long as there are citizens willingly to carry out terrorist acts, work with foreign agents to destabilise the government and have cover to spout their nonsense because it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between state-sanctioned propaganda and that which is advocated by foreign Islamic extremists, this is the environment that will eventually lead us to be another statistic in mass Islamic violence.

Now as far as foreign Islamic extremists are concerned, I doubt they would collaborate with non-Muslims, simply because they consider non-Muslims as filthy infidels – although the narrative has always been that non-Muslims corrupt Muslims, so perhaps there may be some non-Muslims who are susceptible to the money that these Islamic extremists get from the most mainstream of sources – so the obvious potential collaborators are those who are disenfranchised and been fed on a diet that Islam is under siege in this country.

Think about it this way. If there are people who are willing to betray their comrades in an incursion by foreign participants, how long do you think our luck will hold against the dark foreign Islamic cults aligned against us and their local proxies who are willing to betray the rakyat of Malaysia?


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Malay Self-Blamers and Opposites –Two Peas in a Decadent Pod


June 6, 2017

Malay Self-Blamers and Opposites –Two Peas in a Decadent Pod

by Dr. M Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, Calffornia

http://www.bakrimusa.com

If at one end we have those Malays who blame “others” for all our travails, at the polar opposite we have the “self-blamers.” Every society has its share of them, and our Malay self-blamers do not lack for ammunition. We are being burdened by the inadequacies of our culture, they remind us ad nauseam; we are too “nice” and not aggressive enough so others like the pendatangs (immigrants) and neo-colonizers take advantage of us.

Image result for Mahathir on The Malays

If only we were a bit kurang jar (uncouth), more kiasu (crude), or be like those pendatangs and colonials, our leaders lament. Now that we are in charge, it is our turn now to take advantage of the “others,” these leaders assert.

They exhort us to have our own revolusi mental (“Mental Revolution”), be a Melayu Baru (New Malay), and to assert if not demand our rights as “natives.” When those slogans lose their flavor with time, as inevitably they would when there are no accompanying effective actions, our leaders concoct new ones. Today Malays are urged to assert with unbounded aggressiveness our Ketuanan Melayu (Malay hegemony) status. Again this, as with all previous exhortations we were assured to no end, would be our salvation.

Malaysia has not yet finished with Vision 2020, the ambitious socio-economic development program initiated by Mahathir over 30 years ago and trumpeted without end by many (including current leaders) that would catapult us into the developed world status, and we are into “Transformasi 50” that would promise to, well, transform the nation. We have yet to access and learn from the successes or failures of Vision 2020. Never mind that when 2050 comes around, all those champions of Transformasi 50 would be long dead or reduced to senility and thus could not be held accountable.

Image result for Zakir NaikChief Mufti of Perlis and his Maha-Guru Zakir Naik of India

To these “self-blamers,” our culture is not our only burden. We have also strayed far from our faith, they piously chastise us. Hence, more religion, especially for our young! With that comes a hugely expanded religious establishment, with more ulamas to lead the flock along the “straight path,” and even more religious police to snare those tempted to stray or have done so. For added measure, we also concocted a new and presumably improved version of our faith, Islam Hadhari. As for educating our young, well, we have to indoctrinate them even more so they too would appreciate our new pristine “Islamic” ways.

Image result for Mahathir on The Malays

My favorite is the self-blamers’ pseudo-scientific theory of faulting our basic nature, our genes. To them, our fate is sealed the moment we were conceived. There is nothing that we could do to alter that reality; accept it, they advise us. It is the price for our indulging in too much inbreeding, apparently. “We must marry outside our race!” our supposedly scientifically enlightened leaders urge us.

Such a belief in our biologic fatalism is not only cruel and destructive, but it is also wrong, very wrong, as modern science tells us. It would however, make a great practical joke at a multiracial bachelors’ party.

If our ancestors’ psyche was destroyed by the religious determinism of the past (“Our fate is written in the book” – Al Qadar), today our minds, especially those of the young, are being crippled by the biologic determinism propagated by these “modern” pseudo-scientific leaders whose understanding of genetics is gleaned only from reading articles in Readers’ Digest or The Dummies Guide to Human Genetics.

There is yet another variation of this strand of “self-blame,” and that is our leaders’ constant complaining of our supposed lack of unity. If only we are “united,” these leaders soothingly assure us, then there would be no mountains too high for us to scale and no rivers too wide to cross. Those obstacles would magically disappear. With unity, we could take on all comers, including those immigrants, neo-colonialists, and whoever else who would dare cross our path.

Our leaders often remind us that it was our unity that let us prevail over the Malayan Union, and it was our unity that made possible our independence from colonial rule. True, only if you gloss over the facts and reality. As mentioned earlier, our sultans were more than eager to sign that Union treaty. In fact, they had already signed the Agreement, giving away the nation’s sovereignty to the British, all for a lousy pension. As for our subsequent quest for independence, those same sultans were none too eager either. Not surprising considering the fate of sultans in neighboring Indonesia and the Maharajas in India with their countries’ independence.

I am all for unity; to be against it would be like being against motherhood and sambal balacan (shrimp paste). And you cannot be Malay if you are against sambal balacan!

What scares me is not unity per se rather these leaders’ concept of it. Scrutinize it and unity to them means us being reduced to a flock of sheep, meekly and blindly following our shepherd – them. These leaders confuse unity with unanimity; it is the latter that they demand, not the former, and unanimity to their views. Thus, they have no tolerance for divergent and dissenting views. That is the scary part. These leaders’ version of unity would best be illustrated by the Germans under Hitler.

Image result for Mahathir on The Malays

Scrutinize Malay leaders’ utterances when they invoke “unity” of their followers. It is not so much unity towards facing our common challenges as how to increase Malay productivity, improve national schools, curb corruption in our midst, or retard the influences of extremist Islamists, rather unity against those “other” non-Malay Malaysians. A totally unproductive and potentially destructive preoccupation. Worse, it is a strain of Hitler’s unity.

I have nothing against the concept of the united flock being led by a benevolent shepherd as per the biblical metaphor, leading us from one lush meadow to another while protecting us from predators.

The reality is far different. In far too many instances our leaders are not saintly shepherds. They are only too happy to lead the flock over the cliff or to the slaughterhouse to feed their ego and greed, as the sultans did with signing the Malayan Union Treaty. Even if Malay leaders were saintly to begin with, the endless uncritical adulations from their followers would eventually get to their egos and then they would think that they could walk on water or do no wrong. Then be ready for the masses to be led to the slaughterhouse.

I agree that we must be united, but let it be in our vigilance against predators. We must also remember that sometimes this predation could come from within, as from our greedy, corrupt, and incompetent leaders.

MALAYSIA: Malay Politicians have nothing productive to do except play Sharia Politics


June 5, 2017

MALAYSIA: Prime Minister Najib Razak has nothing productive to do except play Sharia Politics

by John Berthelsen@www/asiasentinel.com

Image result for najib and zakir naik

Anything and everything to  remain in power.

When Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat, or Parliament reconvenes on July 24, its most controversial order of business is a measure that could send the country down the road towards an Islamic dictatorship, a bill that would allow for the imposition of shariah law in the rural eastern state of Kelantan. But critics say it could spread to infect both other states and ethnic groups.

Image result for Malaysia's Hudud Leaders

With Politicians like this man (pic) who needs enemies to destroy rule of law

But it is not the pressure of the country’s 19.5 million Muslims that is causing the push for more powerful shariah courts and penalties. It is the politics of the country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, who is under fire for the country’s biggest-ever scandal and rising inflation and crime, and who believes he can preserve the United Malays National Organization’s national sway by appealing to Islamic sentiment.

Since independence, Malaysia has been regarded as one of the world’s most prosperous, moderate and democratic predominantly Muslim states. It has sizeable Chinese, Indian and other minority populations. Its Malay population is mostly urban and relatively laid back.  But Najib, beset by the 1Malaysia Development Bhd mess, in which US$4 billion has disappeared – as much as US$2 billion into his own pockets – and which is US$11 billion in debt from mismanagement and theft, believes he needs every single Malay vote for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to prevail in elections that could come late this year.

That means going after the Malays in the kampungs, the rural villages, through their religion. The vehicle he intends to use is a bill sponsored not by his own coalition but by the opposition’s Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, the rural-based Islamic party that is seeking to implement sixth-century shariah law in Kelantan, the one state it controls. It was tabled suddenly in the middle of the last night of parliament before it recessed in April.  It is the first time the coalition has ever allowed the introduction of a private member’s bill by the opposition.

Theoretically it would put Najib himself in danger, having been caught in a Port Dickson love motel with singer-actress Ziana Zane in the 1980s, enraging his wife, Rosmah Mansor, and by having been named as ‘Public Official 1” by the US Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Unit in the theft of US$1 billion from 1MDB.  But like the victims of the Duterte drug war in the Philippines, and black residents of the United States, it is the poor who will take the brunt of being flogged or stoned or going to prison for up to 30 years for what would be misdemeanors for non-Muslims. The kleptocrats of UMNO will remain unscathed.

Whether the parliament would actually act on the proposed Sharia Act (355) when it returns is unclear. Najib is a canny politician who has been tantalizing PAS about passing it since December of 2014, when it was first proposed. There is some belief he is using it only as bait for PAS support and will find a way to delay a vote until after national elections, which could come as early as August or September. However, today it is shaping up as a wedge issue that will determine whether PAS abandons its long and tenuous relationship to the opposition coalition headed by the jailed Anwar Ibrahim.

“He is definitely riding a tiger on this issue,” said Tawfik Ismail, a former parliamentarian and leader of the opposition to the measure who is suing Parliamentary Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, alleging that it is unconstitutional under Malaysia’s national charter, which guarantees freedom of religion and which requires the sultans’ permission. UMNO, he said, is seeking to boost itself as Malay chauvinist party, abandoning its longstanding mandate as the leader of the country’s multifarious religious status.

In the 2013 General Election, the Barisan Nasional coalition lost Peninsular Malaysia to the opposition but in fact was saved by the votes of mostly Christian and animist ethic groups in East Malaysia. As Tawfik points out, today those states are in near rebellion against the shariah measure. On May 7, 20 East Malaysia community leaders wrote an open letter asking that the bill be rejected, with the hint that they could leave the government.

Najib faces a growing quandary and not just from the Sabah and Sarawak Christians – but from an attack from the other side. Last month, Nasrudin Hassan, the PAS information chief, introduced the cudgel of the recent Jakarta gubernatorial election, in which Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the most honest and capable governor the sprawling city has ever had, was defeated largely because he is Chinese and Christian. He has since been jailed for two years on blasphemy charges.

“When you insult Islam, don’t think Muslims will not act by ­rejecting you as a leader. The Jakarta election has proven it,” Nasrudin told local media, a broad hint that Najib had better keep his promise.

“What has been clear from the start of debate on shariah law is that Prime Minister Najib sees exploitation of religious tensions as a means to an end – that is, his continuation in power in the next election,” said Phil Robertson, Asia Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch. “He appears unconcerned that his cynical political ploy to woo PAS and its supporters will escalate tensions between the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities, and undermine the secular, multi-racial and multi-cultural vision of the founding fathers of Malaysia. That’s because Najib’s priority is self-preservation, which means maintaining his authority at all costs so that he can keep stamping out the smoldering embers of the 1MDB scandal that otherwise could re-ignite and consume him.”

The problem with shariah law, according to Imran Imtiaz Shah Yakob, a Malay lawyer, is that it is unlikely to be confined to Kelantan, the PAS stronghold. Instead, Imran told Asia Sentinel, if Parliament gives PAS the authorization to implement shariah law there, the overwhelming rural Malay populations of Terengganu and the northern tier of states such as Perlis, mired in poverty and with drug and crime problems, are likely to demand it as well.  Even Selangor, the wealthy urban state surrounding Kuala Lumpur, Imran said, is conceivably susceptible.

“The alternative that Najib and PAS are toying with would mark the beginning of a descent into darkness, intolerance, rights abuses, and possibly religious-based communal strife that could tear Malaysia apart,” Robertson said.

As an editorial in the Chinese newspaper Sin Chew aid, the rise of extremism threatening religious harmony is a consequence of political problems. Now, the editorial said, “we are making economy, religion and even administration to serve the needs of politics, to an extent that even the civic society finds it difficult to reverse this trend because the country’s biggest Malay opposition party is not on their side. The biggest risk in Malaysian politics lies with the fact that a handful of individuals are in firm control of their parties without an effective checks and balances mechanism in place.

Currently the shariah courts hear civil issues affecting only ethnic Malays, who by definition must be Muslims. They can impose maximum penalties up to three years of jail time, fines of RM5, 000 (US$1167) and up to six strokes of the cane.

But under the amendments, adulterers and drinkers of alcohol could be subject to up to 100 strokes of the cane, fined up to RM100,000 and subject to as much as 30 years in prison.

 

Malaysian Opposition Parties in a Premiership Scramble


Malaysian Opposition Parties in a Premiership Scramble

by TK Chua@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Mahathir and Kit Siang

Prime Minister (To  be Elected) Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Deputy Lim Kit Siang!–A Case of counting chickens before they are hatched

It is disheartening to note that the opposition parties are now fighting who among their respective leaders would become the Prime Minister (PM) should they win the coming general election.

Rightly or wrongly, the position of the PM has become the most important “institution” in the country today. Years of power consolidation and concentration has made this position very invincible and powerful. Hence, the endless tussle for it, even though winning the election is by no means certain yet.

Image result for  Hadi Awang as Prime MinisterThe sickly PAS leader Hadi Awang wants to make history : Becoming First Mullah Prime Minister of Malaysia.

I think it is time for the opposition coalition to look at the position of the PM differently.

Image result for Rosmah Mansor as Power

 Hanuman  (Warrior-Protector) of PM Najib Razak

Right now the PM is all powerful because all the “actors” as provided for in our constitution have not played their rightful role.Instead of fighting for the post, the opposition coalition should be looking at the powers and jurisdiction of the PM within the confines of the constitution.

In other words, they shouldn’t be just looking at the powers of the PM as they exist today. They should “reconstruct” the PM the way they want the person to be. Please let me elaborate.

First, the opposition coalition must look at  important positions as provided for in the constitution other than that of the PM. Second, they should share these important positions fairly among the coalition partners to ensure checks and balance.

If important positions are fairly distributed among coalition partners, it will automatically circumscribe the powers of the PM.

The idea is really to prevent abuse or the arbitrary exercise of power. To begin with, all MPs from each coalition partner must play their respective roles jealously and dutifully. The executive branch headed by the PM has become too powerful because the legislature has more or less abdicated its power. An assertive legislature would send different signals to the executive branch.

Similarly, we can look at other important positions to ensure check and balance. For example, if the PM is from PPBM, the finance and home affairs ministers should be from other coalition partners. The same goes for the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

I believe it is easier to agree on the post of PM if the coalition partners first work out other important positions in the government. The overarching principle is to ensure power sharing and fair play.

Don’t fight over the post of PM; fight for a PM who can only exercise power within the confines of the constitution.

T K Chua is an FMT reader.

Malaysia always in the News for Wrong Reasons


May 18, 2017

Malaysia always in the News for Wrong Reasons

by Dato Dennis Ignatius

Image result for Najib and Erdogan

Malaysia’s disgraceful disregard for human rights

 

The  UMNO-led BN government seems to have a penchant for putting Malaysia in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This time Malaysia is being widely criticised for the way it colluded with Turkey to detain and deport suspected opponents of the Erodogan regime.

Last week, three long-time Turkish residents of Malaysia – school principal Turgay Karaman, businessman Ihsan Aslan and academic Ismet Ozcelik – were surreptitiously detained and hastily bundled out of the country before their families could even mount a legal challenge.

The whole manner in which the Malaysian authorities handled the matter – the secretive way they were detained, the constantly changing reasons for their detention, the speed at which they were deported, the presence of Turkish agents – was deeply troubling.

Colluding with the Erdogan regime

It is now clear that their arrest and deportation was in response to pressure from the Turkish government.

Image result for Malaysia detains Turks

Since the unsuccessful coup in Turkey last year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been on a witch hunt against anyone remotely connected with his political nemesis, the US-based cleric Fethullah Gueln. Thousands of military personnel, teachers, civil servants, judges, reporters and others have been summarily detained or dismissed. Turkish agents have also targeted Turkish nationals living abroad, many on spurious grounds.

While many countries have expressed alarm at Turkey’s slide towards authoritarianism, Malaysia apparently has no compunction collaborating with the regime.

The Home Ministry’s insistence that it acted on its own to deport the aforementioned Turks because they were “members of an organization deemed illegal in their country” is disingenuous to say the least.

 

Long history of dubious extraditions

This is, of course, not the first time that Malaysia has engaged in dubious extraditions.

In 2004, Libyan national Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq and his then pregnant wife, Fatima Bouchar, were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, detained for 13 days and then transferred to CIA facilities in Thailand under the now infamous rendition programme. In Thailand Abu Abdullah was tortured before being sent back to Libya where he spent years in prison.

Cynically, while Malaysia was publicly critical of the US war on terrorism, it was quietly cooperating with the CIA in extrajudicial renditions.

In 2012, a Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari, accused of insulting the Prophet, was detained while on transit to New Zealand. Despite not having a formal extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia and notwithstanding a high court injunction against his extradition, he was sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Since 2011, Malaysian Police have also been quietly working with Chinese authorities to round up and deport Muslim Uighur refugees fleeing the on-going crackdown in Xinjiang province. Many of these refugees had registered with UNCHR and were awaiting for their claims to be reviewed when they were deported.

It is more than likely that many others may have also been clandestinely detained and dispatched to uncertain fates in unknown destinations.

Transparent rather than secretive

Image result for Malaysia's Human Rights AbusesMalaysia’s  IGP Khalid Ashburn and his henchmen of the Royal Malaysian Police in Service of UMNO

No one is, of course, suggesting that suspected terrorists should not be deported or extradited. Malaysia has an obligation to cooperate with other countries in the apprehension of terrorists and criminals. What is important, however, is for the process to be open and transparent rather than secretive and ad hoc. And, of course, the decisions of the government should always be subject to judicial review.

In April this year, for example, an Iranian national accused of involvement in the 2012 bombing in Thailand was extradited after his case was heard by the Federal Court. Surely that is the way a civilized country does things.

A dumping ground for terrorists

Interestingly, while we oblige Turkey by doing their dirty work for them, they repay the favour by quietly facilitating the passage to Malaysia of known terrorists, as was reported recently. We have apparently become the dumping ground for terrorists that Turkey apprehends. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Image result for Najib and Zakir Naik

The Three Stooges of Islamic Extremism

In the meantime, while the government deports Turks whose only crime may be their dislike of Erdogan, it opens its arms wide to people like Zakir Naik, an extremist preacher blacklisted by several countries for spreading hatred, funding terrorism and money laundering. India has now requested for an Interpol red corner notice against Zakir, which, if granted, would make him an international fugitive in the fullest sense of the word. Let’s see how quickly the authorities will act to deport him and even strip him of his undeserved PR status, if he is still in the country.

 

A Secular Islam Possible for Malaysia?


May 11, 2017

A Secular Islam Possible for Malaysia?

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Secular Islam

The recent PAS Muktamar brings to the forefront – yet again – the question of whether secular Islam is a possibility in an increasingly racially and religiously acrimonious and divided Malaysia.

Secularism has been defined as the separation of public life and civil/government matters from religious teachings and commandments, or more simply the separation of religion and politics. It is an evolution that the great majority of the world’s nations have gone through – some quickly, others more slowly.

However, almost all nations, even as they develop at uneven speeds, have inevitably gravitated towards a separation of religion and state.

Today, except for a few countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen, most nations – developed and developing – view a religiously-based state as a throwback to a more primitive form of government; and a historical era in which life was nasty, brutish and short, except for the religious elite.

Image result for Malaysia's Islamic Bigots

Secular states in which governments are neutral in matters of religion and public activities, and where the states’ decisions are not dictated or influenced by religious beliefs, are the opposite of theocratic states.

At the same time it needs to be noted that not all secular states are alike. Thus we find states with a comprehensive commitment to secularism; those that are more accommodating to religion; and others that, although committed to neutrality, will selectively actively cooperate with religions.

Whatever the degree of secularity, secular states, except those which morph into totalitarianism or autocratic systems, are committed to the implementation of national and international norms protecting the freedom of religion or belief, and abide by constitutions which guarantee the equal treatment of different communities of religion and belief within society.

In sharp contrast the theocratic state has a God or a particular deity to be the supreme civil ruler. Also the God’s or particular deity’s commandments are held to be the definitive law of the land; and the authorities and their representatives who interpret the commandments claim a superior or divine duty in running the affairs of state and society.

Debates on merits ongoing, but no poll held

Debate on the relative merits of theocratic and secular states has been ongoing for several hundreds of years in both Muslim and Christian worlds. In our era, a poll of the world’s foremost leaders – including religious – on what they may view to be a superior form of government – secular or theocratic – has never been held.

Image result for Mahathir--Malaysia's First Islamist

The Late Karpal Singh is right but when he was Prime  Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir had the audacity to claim that Malaysia is already an Islamic state, while his successor promoted Islam Hadhari and Najib Razak embraced Hadi Awang’s Hududism and Zakir Naik.  As a result, the Malays have become a confused people.–Din Merican

But if one were to be undertaken today, I will not be surprised if the polled group of religious leaders – despite their concerns about the negative impact that a sharp break separating public life from religion could have on their congregations – will agree that a secular state is the correct path to progress and a better life for their religious communities.

Image result for Lim Teck Ghee

I expect too that few among the religious leaders would want a return to the days when there was a fusion of religious and political authority, even if they may personally benefit from the shift of power in society.

For, make no mistake about it, history – past and current – is replete with examples of how theocratic states, even after co-opting or hijacking secularised concepts of equality and justice, have invariably lapsed into religious tyrannies with dire consequences for all of the citizenry.

As Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States noted, “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”

The crisis in Malaysia

Secular Malaysia today is facing a crisis with Muslim politicians from both sides of the political divide seeking to strengthen conservative Islam through castigating its moderate and liberal proponents, and by making the case that supporters of a secular Islam are kaffirs, traitors and enemies of the religion.

The situation has become so bad that few Muslims in the country are willing to take a public stand on the issue or declare support for secular Islam for fear of reprisal by religious extremists.

The sole exceptions that have stood out have been non-political figures, such as Mariam Mokhtar, Noor Farida Ariffin and some other members of G25, Syed Akbar Ali, Marina Mahathir, Haris Ibrahim, Din Merican, and Farouk Peru, and an even smaller number of politicians, notably Zaid Ibrahim and Ariff Sabri.

Image result for Lim Teck Ghee

One sees in their messages to fellow Muslims in this country some of the same concerns that are animating liberal and secular Muslims in other parts of the world, viz:

  • The rejection of interpretations of Islam that urge violence, social injustice and politicised Islam;
  • The rejection of bigotry and oppression against people based on prejudice arising from ethnicity, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression;
  • Support for secular governance, democracy and liberty; and
  • Support for the right of individuals to publicly express criticism of Islam (see ‘Muslim Reform Movement’ by M Zuhdi Jasser and Raheel Raza et al).

Unfortunately, these messages – partly because they are communicated in English and partly because the mainstream Malay (and English ) media have chosen to ignore them – are unable to reach the Malay masses – whether in rural or urban communities. They have even failed to elicit support from the unknown number of open-minded and liberal Muslims who are now openly branded as “deviants” by Islamic religious authorities.

In the Malay world, it is Malay politicians and the Islamic elite and bureaucracy who have a monopoly over the variant of Islam that is propagated to the masses. It is a variant that is currently feeding on heightened ethnic and religious insecurities and jealousy, so as to make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to have a rational discourse on secular Islam, save that advocated by Umno and PAS.

LIM TECK GHEE is a former World Bank senior social scientist, whose report on bumiputera equity when he was director of Asli’s Centre for Public Policy Studies sparked controversy in 2006. He is now CEO of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.