Why I write


April 25, 2016

COMMENT: Men and women of my generation like Kassim Ahmad, A Kadir Jasin, Zainuddin Maidin, Abdullah ‘Kok Lanas’ Ahmad, Yahaya Ismail (Pak Ya), Dr. M. Bakri Musa,  S. Thayaparan, Mariam Mokthar, Zainah Anwar, Dean Johns, John Berthelsen, Terence Netto, the Late Bernard “Zorro” Khoo, Hishamuddin Rais, Haris Ibrahim, Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, and Kee Thuan Chye, to name a few, find great pleasure in writing to share their views, thoughts, and ideas.

What they all have in common is the courage of their convictions. Others, mainly politicians in power, like to talk and do so profusely, often blowing hot air and accomplishing zilt.

It is tough to write, and tougher to do it well; it requires the ability to think clearly and write succinctly , a good command of language, and the courage to be controversial. More importantly, it requires the writer take a stand on issues and bear the consequences of challenging conventional wisdom. Unlike talking (making sounds), one cannot retract what is written.

Kassim Ahmad (pic above), who I knew since 1960 when he was a young and good looking lecturer in the Malay Studies Department, The University of Malaya, Pantai Valley, Kuala Lumpur, is a prolific author and a public intellectual of my generation. I know him to be courageous, committed, willing to take the heat of controversy and unafraid of damnation. He has remained steadfast and true to his ideals and principles. For this reason, I feel I should share his article, Why I write, with all of us.

Now in his eighties, Pak Kassim, as I know him endearingly, still writes and reads a lot. I am a Kassim Ahmad fan because he is an intellectual pacesetter from my home state Kedah Darul Aman and my role model for his humility and frugal lifestyle.

I cannot but mention Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Although I may differ with  our 4th Prime Minister on politics, Kassim Ahmad and I, and our mutual friend in the US, Dr. M. Bakri Musa, agree that the Tun is unique because he is a writer and a talker in equal measure. The Tun, who is also from Kedah, is first among equals of our generation when it comes to writing, and excels in the art of talking with the guts to put his ideas into action.–Din Merican

Why I write

by Kassim Ahmad*

I developed a penchant for writing  when I was in secondary school. It was to create a world of my own, a world beyond and above reality, a utopia, so to speak, within the bounds of reason. It means a world that can be realized, a just world, in other words.

I write to please no man, although many men and women are, in fact, enthralled by my writings, and ask me to go on writing. I write to uphold the truth. I make no apologies for being a monotheist, in the footsteps of the true great masters, prophet-messengers of our One Creator, — a religion of submission, to wit, a mukmin, a believer in the existence of one lawful God.

I also make no apologies for believing in the divinely-protected Quran, a scripture given in Arabic to an Arab Prophet Muhammad. I say protected, because I know it is protected by a mathematically-awesome-imposible-to-imitate structure based on 19. (See Quran, 74: 30). It is what has come to be known as Code 19.

All prophet-messengers are without exception are submitters to God, monotheists and believers. The great names include Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Jesus was one of the great monotheists of his time. When I stated that Jesus was not a Christian, but a  monotheist, a submitter and a believer, most Christians were up in arms against me. Let me repeat, I write to please no man; I write to the uphold the truth, although the truth is bitter. The doctrine of Trinity was promulgated by the Christian Church in the Council of Nicaea in 315 A.D., long after Jesus was dead.

One Christian reader asked why Jesus had no father; he must be the son of God, he argued. Another claimed that Christians felt the Trinity in the marrow of their bones. The current Pope Francis, a “peoples’ pope”, who when he visited the United States recently never talked about doctrine, but talked about the down-trodden and about inter-religious dialogue. The Pope knows better.

It is a truism that one should not discuss religion. “It is sensitive.” Again I say I write to please no man. I write to uphold the truth, although most people do not like the truth.

What the is the truth? asked Pilate, the Roman governor charged with judging Jesus, whom he found not guilty of rebellion. This is what I call “the Mother of All Questions”. Does the truth exist objectively? To Jesus it does, for he said, “The truth will set you free.”

To answer this question is to answer all questions. Why did God create this world? One answer among many goes, “God created the heavens and the other with truth.” (Quran, 22: 44) What does that mean? It means all orders of creations submit to the law of truth. It means God is the truth.

Some clever people might asks, “Can God contravene His own law of truth?” The answer is of course He can, but God  will not  act against Himself. That would mean two gods who would fight for dominion. That is impossible. As to the atheist, who says religion is the opium of the masses, challenge him to create one that will last beyond his lifetime.

*KASSIM AHMAD is a freelance writer. His website is www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com

What The Country, Especially The Malay Must Decide And Do


April 24, 2016

 

What The Country, Especially The Malay Must Decide And Do – By Matthias Chang

UMNO’s hegemony based on racism and religion


April 24, 2016

UMNO’s hegemony based on racism and religion is embodied in the Malaysian Constitution

by  Cmdr (rtd)  S. Thayaparan

“By linking something to race or religion, politicians distract Malaysians from the core issue while also garnering support from those whose identities depend heavily on their racial or religious identities – meaning most Malaysians.”– Brian Yap, ‘New Malaysian Essays 1’

Contrary to what constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari claims, “those provisions” in the constitution relating to race and religion are neither “fair” nor “legitimate”.

UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and Bee End belong to the dustbin of History

Indeed, any provision that seeks to protect the political interests of any race is, by definition, anathema to any kind of national solidarity and “racist” in nature.

There is no moral or legitimate argument to be made, that the codification of special interests of a majoritarian race-based polity is somehow fair and that “unfairness” is merely a question of application.

Furthermore, contrary to what MCA’s Ti Lian Ker claims, the Federal Constitution is not “accentuating the inherent racism in Malaysia due to its provisions for race and religion” but rather “those” provisions are enabling the inherent racism of a political party determined to maintain political hegemony.

This is not to say that “racism” is not inherent in the non-Malay polity but rather in the political sphere it manifests in different ways. In addition, do not get me started on oppositional discourse.

Behind the running dog invectives thrown the MCA’s way is a deep-rooted sense of racial betrayal, which manifest in the public debates between former MCA strongman Chua Soi Lek and the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng about how Chinese Malaysians are at a crossroads (sic).

However, the MCA political operative did show some cojones when he said “we can consider amending or ratifying our constitution to free ourselves of racism” but of course, he qualified this with the most overused, disingenuous, servile and obnoxious Malaysian excuse of “come a day when we are there – a matured and democratic nation”.

First off, amending the constitution is not going to free “ourselves” of racism. Amending the constitution is merely going to remove mechanism that sanction race-based policies. More than just mere symbolism but rather concrete steps, that acknowledges the reality that all Malaysians should be treated equally regardless of race.

Secondly, the excuse that Malaysians are not mature is complete utter bull manure. The only people who are not mature are the useful idiots that the state employs to protests on the streets whenever any indication of egalitarianism is introduced into the public discourse, be it in matters of race, religion or politics.

 

The cabals who control those useful idiots are not immature. Theirs is a sustained ill-conceived agenda to maintain political hegemony through notions of racial superiority.

So Abdul Aziz Bari is right when he claims MCA’s collusion not only in the constitution – well, it’s a little more complicated than that – but also the furtherance of agendas that in the end proved more detrimental to the Malay community rather than the non-Malay communities, who somehow managed to thrive and prosper in this environment.

The myth of power sharing

Thriving and prospering on the most part is why the Barisan Nasional enjoyed majority support despite all the electoral legerdemain that has got worse over the long UMNO watch. In other words, the MCA’s sins of collusion for not speaking up when the reality is that the MCA enjoyed majority support from the community it claimed to represent.

Which is why a statement like “So MCA should have trained its gun on UMNO and not the constitution,” is a tad queer. Or maybe not. I suppose this goes back to the question of whether one views those provisions in the constitution as being “fair” or that the “legitimate” concerns could be classified according to ethnicity.

Which is also why the MCA’s nostalgia about bridge building “and interracial goodwill by virtue of our cooperation, understanding and compromises” is merely code for pragmatism, which in itself is a falsity because there is nothing pragmatic about electorally endorsing provisions that separates us along racial and religious lines.

As Mavis Puthucheary wrote, and who I quoted in an article a while back, articulated in ‘Malaysia’s Social Contract – Exposing the Myth Behind the Slogan’:

“In the first 10 years after Independence, the balance of power between the two main parties, UMNO and the MCA, was more or less equal. After 1969, however, the balance of power within the ruling coalition shifted significantly in favour of Umno and the political system itself became less democratic.

“Although both parties fared badly in the 1969 elections, UMNO leaders who had secured control of the government concentrated their efforts on regaining Malay support while still maintaining the power-sharing structure.

“With the introduction of the New Economic Policy and the extension of Malay privileges, especially in the fields of education and employment, UMNO regained its popularity among the Malays and consequently assumed a dominant position in the ruling coalition.”

So this myth that political parties were operating in accordance to some sort of long cherished belief of power sharing as a means of facilitating national unity, is just that – a myth.

UMNO Cultivated Idiots and Bigots

There was no halcyon period of interracial political goodwill but rather the cold comfort of a Malaysian polity engaging in so-called pragmatism because nobody really cared about the advancing forward as a nation but safeguarding the interests of their individual communities.

So Biro Tatanegara (BTN) chief Ibrahim Saad is fooling nobody when he gravely intones, “The problem (of racism) comes when there are elections, when certain quarters want to increase political power by exploiting sensitive issues”, because by “quarters” he means the Chinese community and by “sensitive issues”, he means those issues which maintain UMNO hegemony, issues which are enshrined in our constitution.

In other words, standing up to bigotry and racism becomes a racist act and questioning those very provisions or policies that divide us along racial and religious lines becomes a racial political agenda. This is funny because oppositional parties are bending over backwards and in doing so engaging in the kind of political behaviour that contributes to the system of oppression that has sustained UMNO all these years.

I have said it before, said it again and will always say it. Racial politics is a bitch and apparently an unforgiving one. But Thomas Sowell, who has since become a Republican shill, says it better: “Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.”


S. THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.–www.malaysiakini.com


Proper Discourse


April 23, 2016

by Lyana Khairuddin

http://www.thestar.com.my

We should take up discourses that allow a richer, more meaningful understanding of religion and cultural sensitivities to allow society to attain a measure of peace within its diversity.

IN my line of work, I do a lot of talking. Apparently, being having a PhD makes one an expert in speaking about particular topics, and one’s opinions are held to a higher regard than most.

Personally, I have always had an issue with the word “lecture” and the way things are taught in traditional, conservative classrooms.I prefer to have conversations on a particular topic, with many questions related to the topic being thrown in for discussion, rather than one-way didactic lectures.

This is the conundrum with being considered an expert; where one would expect an expert in any field to give a lecture, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience, rather than a discourse. After all, technically, this is what I am paid to do.From my six years of being on this side of the rostrum, however, I still think that having a discussion is the more enriching experience.

I would prefer to learn from my students, as they expect to learn from me. Thus, it saddened me to see the many attendees to a recent lecture by a non-Malaysian ulama in rapt attention and mesmerised by claims of miraculous conversions into Islam.

Try  talking sensibly to this religious functionary

What made me even sadder was the fact that our religious affairs department applauded and wel­­comed the said ulama (with open arms and complete VIP treatment), claiming that he is a beacon of “moderation” much required in a country baffled by extremists in our midst.

As part of the Voices of Moderation campaign ran by this newspaper, I am offended. As a Malaysian born post-independence, I think it is high time we Malaysians take discourses into our own minds and voices.

We do not need an outsider to tell us to be moderates or how “Islamic” we should be. We Malaysians should read the Quran more (and actually understand what we are reading), have discussions moderated by learned persons in the Quran and Islamic history (there are many among us), and have more interfaith dialogues with fellow Malay­sians who practise Christ­ianity, Buddhism, Hindu­ism and other faiths. I would even suggest having discussions with agnostics and atheists.

We should go a step further from “I want to hug an ulama”, as popularised by Syed Azmi, to “I want to accept a fellow human being”.I do not see the relevance of having a public lecture that compares religions and then claim that one is better than another.

I would, however, put my support behind discourses that allow a richer, more meaningful understanding of religion and cultural sensitivities to allow a society to attain a measure of societal peace within its diversity, to live and let live, yet respectful of each other’s believes.

It is a utopia of sorts, yet a dream that was once envisioned for this country of ours. Furthermore, things should move beyond just talking and reaching an understanding.

How many of us have had our fellow Malaysians catering to our needs in order to include us? I’ve had non-Muslim friends catering only halal food to accommodate me. For this to have happened during a Christmas celebration  in Brisbane was an amazing feat, and one that overwhelmed me with gratitude. I only hope to do the same for my Buddhist friends who are strict vegans, and my Hindu friends who do not eat beef, when I have meals with them.

Before we start looking up to an outsider to inform us of whether our version of Islam is great and how our society would become more “moderate” by doing so, I think we should start having conversations with our fellow Malaysians.

How are they affected by the ruling over the use of the word “Allah” in the Herald case from many moons ago? How do they feel about the recent raids conducted by the religious authorities on transgender Malaysians? What do they think about the kerfuffle in Taman Medan last year? Is there still resentment over not being able to display the cross on buildings (to identify a shoplot as a church)?

I think it is past time that we have these conversations and get to know each other better.It does not do for us to only claim to have friends of other faiths and ethni­cities, but we do not talk to them, or even know them.

Perhaps this would also be a step towards not being blindly fooled by “ex-priests” from Germany. After all, our lack of knowledge on the many sects of Christianity is only matched by our lack of knowledge in geography!

I am also an advocate for spreading kindness and compassion through our very actions. There is no need for “comparative religion” if all of us are to understand that every religion teaches us to do good to fellow humans, and be good human beings ourselves.

The discourse should be about how every mosque, temple, and church in Malaysia can be put to better use for the community at large.The discourse should be on interfaith understanding, on finding a common ground against extremist ideas, and on advocating the spirit of voluntarism in our citizens.

Let us reclaim the discourse in Malaysia.

Lyana Khairuddin is an academic with a local public university who runs to keep being optimistic about Malaysia. The views expressed here are entirely her own.

RPK apologises to Clare Rewcastle Brown


April 23, 2016

RPK apologises to Clare Rewcastle Brown

On February 2, 2016 we carried an article titled “A Record of Untrue Stories – the Case of Clare Rewcastle”. This is an article that we picked up from another website and then carried for our readers on Malaysia Today.

The article contains a number of allegations about Ms Rewcastle, who complained to us after she read the article and informed us that the allegations are untrue. We did not write the article and were not involved in its writing and we do not have any relationship with its authors. We do not know who the authors are and do not endorse the article. We took the article down from our site after we received her complaint and we regret any distress caused.

http://www.malaysia-today.net/clare-rewcastle-brown-2/

 

 

Much ado over Zakir Naik


April 23, 2016

Much ado  over Zakir Naik–The  Islamic Bigot from South Asia

by Farouk A. Peru

Farouk A. Peru is a human being in the world. That is where his discourse begins and ends. His thought systems may be found at www.farouk.name and he tweets @farouk_a_peru.

Well, we Muslims already have the truth so why should we allow others to preach falsehoods in our lands? Never mind the fact that Muslims are freely living, worshipping and preaching in the West.

Zakir’s supporters won’t think about that. That is how their minds work. A privileged, supremacist outlook which can only be termed as the chosen people syndrome.And if you are offended by Zakir, he adds, you can just “sue the Quran.” Despite the fact his style goes completely against the Quran, he feels he is God’s elect.

Zakir Naik fits perfectly into this mindset. He thrives in an environment where both the organizers and audience are firmly on his side. His work is no different than that of the American televangelical preachers who thrive on bringing in fake ex-Muslims like Ergun Caner (look him up on YouTube, he has been exposed for his fake history spun to win points with the Islamophobic crowd. In reality Caner cannot even pronounce the Sunni shahada correctly!).

Like that, Naik’s followers have little concern for the truth. To them, it is the show which matters and their faiths get cheapened in the process.

During Zakir Naik’s concert (and I use the word intentionally), there were apparently four conversions. I say “apparently” because Naik’s colleague, Yusuf Estes, was exposed for faking converts in Germany using the “recycled converts manoeuvre.”

Estes gave some flatulent excuses but let’s face it, his audience loved the notion of a thousand converts in one show. That is what it’s really about in this cheapened version of Islam ― the numbers. Always the numbers.

Has anyone thought of the consequences of Zakir Naik’s show? Let’s take the most celebrated conversion of that evening ― that of Woo Nina Grace, aged 19.

Ms Woo, who is of Filipino and Chinese parentage, has been reportedly studying Islam since the age of 13. I salute her, not because she chose to convert to Islam particularly, but because she has such a clear resolution at such an early age. Here’s the question though: did she need a public conversion at the hands of this Islamofascist to ratify her faith?Of course not.

The organisers and perhaps Zakir himself used her for popularity reasons. She did not need a public conversion at all.News reports that followed indicated that her father at least was disapproving of her conversion. This is what Islamofascists fail to realise ― that other people cherish their respective faiths as much as Muslims cherish ours.

Ms Woo’s father may have raised her with all the love of a parent who sees great joy in passing along his faith to his beloved daughter. His daughter then spurns his gift and joins the other side! Islam unequivocally rejects the divinity of Jesus, something very blasphemous to Christians.

Am I advocating Ms Woo should not have converted? Absolutely not! She has a right to her faith and it is, after all, her life. However, she did not need the cheap publicity of Zakir Naik’s concert to do it!

Likely her conversion caused great humiliation to her father. The public spectacle was simply unnecessary. Was Zakir Naik paid for these concerts? If he was, then this money is tainted. He would have used religion for his personal gain.

According to a now viral report in Malaysiakini, Zakir did allow the audience to throw him some difficult questions. Ramesh Rajaratnam did praise Zakir for his vast knowledge (I disagree. I find Zakir crass and shallow at best. What he does can be done by a well-trained parrot!). However, Ramesh also pointed out that Zakir was incredibly arrogant, denigrating people’s language and level of knowledge. I wonder if Zakir was following the Sunnah of the Prophet just then?

Ramesh himself levelled some questions at Zakir. One question connected the polygamous practice of the Prophet (pbuh) to the permission supposedly given to him by the Quran.Ramesh pointed out that this was too convenient and in fact, Aisha (the youngest wife of the Prophet) actually made such a suggestion herself!

Zakir’s response was the usual spiel about political marriages and a circular logical statement that “God says so.” This is the shallow level of retort Zakir is capable of.

There is no real depth to him and he is really an embarrassment to Quranic apologetics. In another video, he actually makes a comparison between the metaphysical notion of the afterlife with the axiomatic truth of mathematics. This shows his inability to understand the various types of truth as well.

Little wonder then that the loudest supporters of Zakir are none other than Isma, the confused Islamofascists. Malay Mail Online columnist Shafiqah Othman Hamzah was lambasted by a Wanita Isma representative, an actual professor madya, for criticising Malay-Muslim support for Zakir!

The professor displayed why Malaysian tertiary education is in the slumps when she said the Quran does not support apostasy when in fact it gives total and unconditional freedom of religion.

Zakir himself advocates murdering people who leave Islam and preaches to other Muslims yet he does not mind if Muslim converts preach to others!Such is his confidence in the Muslims’ faith. Someone should have asked Zakir if he supported Malay privileges. He would have spun faster than our washing machines to get out of that one!

Zakir Naik’s parting remark is to advocate an UMNO and PAS coalition government. I suggest to his opponents for his next concert, ask him if he supports racism and racial privileges. Show him UMNO’s track record of corruption and ask him if such a party can be Islamic.

Very sadly, Zakir Naik’s concerts were like the Back Street Boys’ revival shows, all packed out. Forty thousand people attended his last show.This is simply an indication of what Islam is for many of us ― nothing but a cheap thrill. It’s all about the numbers and the humiliation of other religions. Muslims need to rise above this cesspool and become compassionate human beings.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.