Liberation through Education


October 10, 2017

Liberation through Education

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

Image result for bakri musa

We treat young minds as dustbins to be filled with dogmas. That is not the path towards excellence and greatness, for them or Malaysia. The system indoctrinates rather than educate; entraps rather than liberate young minds, producing citizens who are neither adil nor soleh.–Dr. M Bakri Musa

 

The crucial role of education in liberating citizens is encapsulated in the wisdom of the Greek philosopher Epictetus (Discourses): “Only the educated are free!” Having been born a slave, he knew a thing or two about freedom.

Teachers are liberators. No surprise that I have a high regard for them, quite apart from the fact that both my parents were teachers. Consider that as a physician, the best that I could do is to return my patients to their pre-illness state. With a good teacher, there would be no limit to the achievements of her students.

Munshi Abdullah wrote, “Antara mereka yang berguru dan mereka yang meniru, jauh beza-nya!” (Between those who are taught and those who parrot, is a vast difference!) Those who parrot could only repeat after you; those who are taught, and taught well, chart their own course.Others can then follow in their path.

In his Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) Pramoedya wrote, “Seorang terpelajar harus sudah berbuat adil sejak dalam fikiran apalagi dalam perbuatan.” (An educated person must be just, first in his thoughts and then in his deeds.)

Image result for bertrand russell on Education QUOTE

 

That should be the objective of education, to produce adil (just) citizens and leaders. Islamic education strives for an additional goal, to produce citizens who are soleh, roughly translated as being “good” or useful to society.

Not everyone accepts the value of education, or that all systems of education confer the same benefits. In Brunei, they do not believe in educating their people. That would only make them uppity, dissatisfied, and arrogant. They would then rebel, as Azahari did in 1962.

If you have enough petrodollars you can bribe or lull your people into submission,but do not expect greatness from them. Think of what would happen when those petrodollars dry up, as inevitably they would. Sometimes you do not have to wait that long; look at Tunisia today.

There was a time when Malay parents too did not believe in education especially for girls. Educate them and they would leave and then marry someone outside the village. Who would take care of you in your old age? Today, we worry about the lack of male Malay undergraduates. Who says we cannot change culture?

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Malaysia’s Minister of Education–No wonder  Malaysian Education is Indoctrination, not Liberation

Those benefits of education are true with one major caveat. Where indoctrination masquerades as education, then the less formal education you have the better. That is the case in Malaysia, and with Malays to be specific. Malaysian teachers treat their students as dustbins to be filled with dogmas, rather than as knives to be sharpened, borrowing Munshi Abdullah’s metaphor. This is especially true with religious education.

With a bin, all you could possibly get out is what you put in, nothing beyond. With a sharp knife, the possibilities are limitless. To a butcher, a sharp knife brings meat to the table; to the sculptor, an exquisite work of art; and to a surgeon, a tool to cure cancer. To a thug however, it is but a lethal weapon; hence the need to focus on the “just” (adil) as well as “good” (soleh) in matters educational.

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Between these Prime two Ministers with Abdullah Badawi in the Middle have now have world class education. Talk is cheap

Malaysian education suffers from three crippling deficiencies: environment, content, and philosophy.

Malaysian schools and universities are increasingly segregated along race. That is not a healthy learning or social environment. It is also not good for the future of the nation as that breeds intolerance among the young that would only become worse when they become adults.

Content-wise, Malaysian schools and universities do not equip the young with the necessary tools to enable them to think critically, compete and be productive citizens.

We treat young minds as dustbins to be filled with dogmas. That is not the path towards excellence and greatness, for them or Malaysia. The system indoctrinates rather than educate; entraps rather than liberate young minds, producing citizens who are neither adil nor soleh.

In addressing these bewildering problems, Malaysian educators and leaders ignore the simple inexpensive yet effective models of the British colonials preferring instead the showy, expensive, but ineffective solutions.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Brainwashed: Where the “Manchurian Candidate” came from


April 3, 2017

Brainwashed

Where the “Manchurian Candidate” came from.

Hell, Heaven, Potentates, Priests and Politicians and the Business of Religion–Coping with Uncertainty


July 28, 2016

Hell, Heaven, Potentates, Priests and Politicians and the Business of Religion–Coping with Uncertainty

by  Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

[R]eligion has an “autoimmune disease”, a critical flaw … that leads to its misuse…. The disease’s two main symptoms are “God intoxication”… and “God manipulation”.

From ‘Religion’ , Brook Wilensky-Lansford’s review of “Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself”, The New York Times Book Review, July 17, 2016, p. 26.

The only constant is change. It’s the most basic fact of human existence. Nothing lasts, nothing stays the same. We feel it with each breath.

From birth to the unknown moment of our passing, we ride a river of change. And yet, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, we exhaust ourselves in an endless search for solidity. We hunger for something that lasts, some idea or principle that rises above time and change. We hunger for certainty. That is a big problem.–Adam Frank

http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2012/05/15/152745489/the-liberating-embrace-of-uncertainty

Malaysians watching with bewilderment and dismay as politicians, ulamas, and evangelists expound the superiority of their religion and promise milk, honey and paradise for their followers, and the fires of hell for those who do not belong, shouldn’t be surprised. The antics of these fire and brimstone practitioners follow a well trodden pattern going back hundreds if not thousands of years.

Any basic course on religion run not by graduates from religious institutions but by reputable scholars would teach about the history of the estimated 6,000 religions of the world, the differences, commonalities and patterns, and associations with cultural and ecological features, especially political.

Using scientific evidence, logic and rationality, such courses can help put into proper perspective the so-called universal truths and answers peddled by the religious books and scriptures of the literate Abrahamic religions, as well as the other absolutist claims made by them.

My design of a course on “Comparative Religion 101” will begin by pointing out that the idea of an ultimate creator responsible for all living things on earth, including man, is one common to many of the established religions found in the different parts of the world. It would also make the argument that the origin and spread of religion is inextricably connected with the quest for authority, power and followers.

The search for a supreme maker goes very far back in history. We do not have a precise dating for it. However, some idea of how far back it goes can be obtained if we look at the history of evolution.

Irrefutable scientific evidence has shown that the physical and behavioral features shared by all people originated from ape-like ancestors and that these evolved over a period of 6 million years. The ability to walk upright evolved over 4 million years ago.

Other important human characteristics such as a complex brain, ability to use tools and capacity for language have developed more recently. More advanced traits such as complex symbolic expression, art, cultural diversity, etc. emerged over 100,000 years ago. With this emergence came ideas and beliefs of hell, heaven and the worship of gods, goddesses, spirits, deities and other man-created objects or points of veneration to facilitate the ascent to a better existence after death.

What Happens After Life’s End?

Questions and answers about where we come from and where we go after the end of life on earth have been voiced in all kinds of ways without any resolution. Archaeological evidence suggests that early man such as the Neanderthals who can be dated to over 50,000 years ago had some sort of preoccupation with death. They were self-conscious beings and were likely to have an awareness of death and the meaning and implications of death. Such consciousness has continued unabated and unresolved with modern man; it will remain unresolved until all humans die off – whenever that may come about.

Most if not all religions have been especially concerned with man’s destiny after death. They probably began with some notion of an Underworld as an abode for the dead. Evidence from ancient burial sites and rituals also indicates concern with ensuring that the spirits of the dead were appropriately sent off or they would not rest peacefully which explains the presence of priests and other before and after-death guides and experts.

A parallel role in society was performed by soothsayers, seers, oracles and diviners who were seen as able to foresee the future by magical and other means. The roles of priests and diviners and oracles were often integrated in the ancient religions. Predicting the near and distant future as well as promising some form of paradise after death proved a lucrative and privileged undertaking for those who belonged to these occupations.

From its earliest too, priestly and equivalent personages have exploited man’s sense of insecurity and fear of the supernatural and made it their powerful ideological tool. This modus operandi served the needs of its founders and prophets who could then impose on their tribes their understanding of ‘truth’, ‘hell’, ‘heaven’, ‘light’, ‘darkness’, and ‘paradise’ and their solutions to human anxieties.

These ‘holy men’ can be considered to be among the world’s first politicians. They still are. Women priests have been relatively sparse in history except in matrilineal societies. Perhaps if they had become dominant, it could have made a difference to the history of the world.

Mountains rise, mountains fall: change is constant.

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

Above the witch doctors, shaman, priests and similar personages holding positions in the little or great religions of the world have been the chiefs, lords, emperors, sultans, caliphs, sovereigns and other similar potentates standing at the highest rung of their society. Whether it is with pre-Homeric Greek religion, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, the religious systems of the world can be seen not only as providing explanations for our earthly existence. They also provided strategies for managing the distribution of political and socio-economic power.

Today, despite the advancement of science and knowledge, the gullibility of the believers of religion continues as also its exploitation by the leaders and charlatans of religion.

In the past primitive societies were petrified and mystified by natural phenomenon such as thunder, lightning, floods and earthquakes. Modern science has demystified these phenomena and enabled us to conquer our fears about this aspect of the unknown.

In contrast to the fear of unknown nature, some primitive societies were relatively stoic about death. Hunter gatherer societies such as the Hazda, for example, have no particular belief in an afterlife, and the death of an individual means a straightforward end to their existence.

It is paradoxical that such societies rather than our modern ones seem to come closest to the current scientific position regarding the mind–body dichotomy which sees consciousness as derived from and/or is reducible to physical phenomena such as neuronal activity occurring in the brain. The implication of this premise is that once the brain stops functioning at brain death, consciousness ceases to exist.

Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Acceptance of a straightforward end to life – that humans, on death, simply become part of the earth, sea or river that we evolved from without any further afterlife – would, however, run against the world wide industry that is organized religion, and the political and religious elites who exploit and benefit from it.

The Evils of Theocracy


July 17, 2016

 Shafiqah Othman Hamzah

The Evils of Theocracy

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

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UMNO’s showy Muslims

What is a theocracy? A theocracy is a government in which God or a Higher Being is seen as the supreme ruler and government officials are regarded as divinely guided. In a theocracy, religion or faith plays the dominant role.

While I am perfectly aware that constitutionally, Malaysia is a secular country, it makes me uncomfortable to see the attempts certain elitists have made to slowly turn our beloved country into a theocracy. They started by demonising the terms “secularism” and “pluralism”; two ideas that promote the harmonious co-existence of different faiths and beliefs.

This is all an attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate while failing to realise that Islam has never provided a blueprint for what an Islamic state should be. Even when the Prophet was the leader of Medina, he never claimed that it was a divine rule. He ruled based on principles of justice and equity, and that was as Islamic as an Islamic state should be.

Perhaps theocracies can work in minor-scaled governance, but a country under theocratic rule is bound to fail and history has shown us that many times.

Since a theocracy sees no separation between government and religion, your religion becomes your government and your government becomes your religion. Political religion must die because people should be able to stand against their government without being seen as standing against religion.

I do not and will never support a theocratic government, not because I do not believe in Islam as a way of life, but because it has been proven time and time again that religion has been used as a pretext for conflict and oppression.

At the heart of every religion is the aim to cultivate spiritual well-being and inner values such as kindness, honesty, patience, and forgiveness; all values that promote unity. However, when religion becomes institutionalised and politicised, it becomes an ultimate evil.

Theocracy heavily excludes religious pluralism, something which is essential to a multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Malaysia. Where religion is supposed to promote the idea of humility, theocracies promote the idea of superiority whereby one religion is better than the rest.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in believing that your religion is the Divine Truth, but giving it precedence over all other faiths by law automatically creates a society filled with xenophobia, intolerance and hostility.

Religion is submission to a Higher Being. A theocracy, even though it claims to be religious, is submission to a government, no more no less. Especially in Malaysia, people should be allowed to point out foul politics without being seen as attacking Islam.

Religion being used in politics is nothing new, even in Islamic history, such as the Umayyads (the largest theocracy in history) prosecuting, and even executing, the Qadaris, who stood against their tyranny, by using the ideology of the Jabriyyah who justified their rule as divinely sanctioned.

Religion was used as a tool to silence anyone who was against the government or their plans. Some examples of that being done today would be when a JAKIM sermon says that anyone who defies the government will be damned by God, or when Pahang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Rahman Osman called DAP kafir harbi for opposing hudud.

Ever since we were young, we were taught not to question religion, so when we grew up, we blindly accept the religious rulings and sayings made by the elites. What we were not allowed to question was not religion per se, but the version of the religion practised and propagated by the ruling party.

In a society that stigmatises rational thinking, a theocratic government is especially dangerous because they can very easily control its people.

Not only does a theocratic government give precedence to one religion, it gives precedence to only one version of that particular religion. In the case of Malaysia, that version would be mazhab Shafie of Sunni Islam. We end up not only discriminating against other religions but also our own brothers and sisters in faith who do not follow the same version of Islam. This is against the inclusive spirit of Islam itself.

The saddest thing about Malaysia is that our governance is at a constant tug-o-war between secular and theocracy, and we’re slowly losing to the latter.I have always believed in using religious values in politics but do not politicise religion.

I salute and admire those who have fought long and hard to save Malaysia from ever going down the same road as the likes of Iran. This is a fight we should not be giving up anytime soon. So who’s with me?

Rejoinder: Exposing Isma’s theocratic acrobatics–The Sheer Hypocrisy of it all

Farouk A. Peru

 

I was most unsurprised to see that the confused racist/Islamofascist group, ISMA, had responded to my fellow MMO columnist Shafiqah Othman Hamzah.

Shafiqah had  an article on the evils of theocracy where she exposed the pretences of the Islamic priestly class. What did surprise me, however, was how ISMA defended its case. ISMA declared that Islam is not consistent with a theocracy and proceeded to paint a rosier than rosy picture of Shariah. It then proceeded to call our Constitution “Islamic constitutionalism”! These arguments were nothing more than theocratic acrobatics, as far as I am concerned, and their shambolic nature needs to be exposed.

A Model Incorruptible Malaysian Muslim courting Wahhabism. No wonder he has many young rent seeking fans who share his “Cash is King” political philosophy–Din Merican.

The author of this essay calls herself a “Wanita Isma activist.” Norhidayah begins with a snarky remark to Shafiqah, claiming she “googled” her definition of “theocracy.” Shafiqah chose a literal definition of the term but it was not an impractical one. It was a definition wholly consistent with the attitudes and practices of the Islamic priesthood who see themselves as walking deities on Earth even if they do not explicitly say so. They even style themselves as warith al-anbiya (inheritors of the Prophets) claiming that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had deemed them so.

Norhidayah, on the other hand, chose to distance herself from a literal definition, preferring to look towards European history for hers. From that tradition, she found definitions by historians and policies and practices by the Catholic Church which she equates to as theocracy, something which is “not consistent with Islam.” Let us analyse these policies and practices one by one.

The first of these is that the Catholic Church broke its adherents down to castes and classes, the nobility and the peasant. Does this not occur under the Islamofascist Shariah law? Of course it does but under another guise.

Under the classical theory of the Islamic State (which Daesh is fighting for today), non-Muslims cannot participate fully in society. They cannot be judges nor even soldiers let alone leaders of states. Not only that, they cannot even marry Muslims without first converting to Islam. Therefore Norhidayah’s argument is totally invalidated here.

This man has a RM1 billion budget to play around with

The second policy and practice led to the position of wealth and power for the priestly class. They were wealthier and more powerful than kings, says Norhidayah. I would respond with the following: Malaysia is not even a theocracy now, as Norhidayah would admit, yet our ulamas have tremendous wealth and power. Even our pendakwah bebas can drive luxury cars and command five-figure fees for their lectures (so much for following the Sunnah of austerity!). JAKIM, the ultimate ulama organisation, has a budget of a billion ringgit and yet cannot or will not produce its accounts. That is a heady dose of power. So how are Muslims different from the Catholic Church?

Norhidayah’s rosy view of Shariah is either utterly delusional or an audacious lie. Next, she claims that Islam operates under the parameters of given texts. Hence, Islam cannot be considered a theocracy because rulers cannot operate on their own whim claiming to be acting on God’s behalf.

Who does he think he is, this Islamic simpleton?  Harussani is a danger to Malaysia.To think that  the erudite HRH The Sultan of Perak entertains him.

Let us accept her premise for now before we deconstruct it below. If rulers cannot operate on their own whims and Islamic texts are considered divine, who is doing the ruling? The answer would be “God.” Therefore, by Norhidayah’s own reasoning, Islam is quite literally a theocracy. God has the power. But it’s not really God who is ruling.

Norhidayah also seems to forget the glaring factor of interpretation. She quoted the hadith of Muadh ibn Jabal which claims that Muslims are to rule with the Quran and Sunnah. This is technically incorrect. Muslims are forever bound to rule by their interpretation of the two. There is far from a single volume of Shariah codes which all Muslims follow. And Muslims are not restricted by them either.

In Shariah law, there are mechanisms through which one may “remove” the boundaries of Shariah. For example, the sole legitimacy of Islam (Quran Chapter 3 Verse 19). Some scholars see this verse as “abrogated” by verses which acknowledge the validity of other faiths (2/62 and 5/69).

Therefore, they were not “bound” by the Quran. They simply manipulated it to suit their political agenda, the way ISMA is doing so today. Had they been bound by it, they would have to formulate an interpretation which harmonises the two ideas but instead, they simply cancelled out what did not suit them. My own understanding is that the word “Islam” is simply the path to peace, present in all religions.

Lest we forget: this man who first declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state and Anwar Ibrahim supported him before he was unceremoniously removed by his political mentor in 1998. UMNO and PAS politicians are the same. So, “Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword”.  –Din Merican

So is Malaysia a theocratic or religious country? We need to consider the following – under the theocracy we are considering (the classical Islamic one), there is no half way point. Either you are fully Islamic (that is, operating fully under Shariah law) or you are not Islamic at all. That is why PAS whose ulama are all from the same mindset strives to establish their Negara Islam. It is indeed all or nothing for them. That is the only way they can find employment.

Therefore with that thinking, Malaysia is currently a secular nation. As Shafiqah asserted though, we are experiencing a creeping theocracy. The current stage we are in is on the level of psychological influence. The increased number of Malay-Muslims who are followers of Islamofascist scholars have increased. And this is what we need to reverse if we are to retain our sovereignty.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/farouk-a.-peru/article/exposing-ismas-theocratic-acrobatics#sthash.pnbpLhUH.dpuf

 

Najib’s Bunglers are hurting him


April 4, 2016

Najib’s Bunglers are hurting him

by Scott Ng

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Najib’s No. 1

UMNO Supreme Council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman is making a name for himself as one of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s fiercest defenders. Tajuddin wants you to know that Najib has a good reason for spending a lot of money on his wife, Rosmah Mansor. It’s because it makes her happy, he says.

Just like any married man out there, the PM wants to impress the missus and, according to Tajuddin, giving her handbags is an important part of the process of wooing your lady. He says it is especially acceptable for the PM to do this because, as a high-ranking public official, he can afford it.

No one would disagree that there is no problem with pampering your lady within your means. But the key phrase here is “within your means”. Now, it has been alleged that Rosmah loves Birkin bags. One of those can cost anything from RM40,000 to RM1 million. The Prime Minister’s salary, on record, is RM22,825.65 a month, though his actual income is likely far higher, given the allowances our government officials are paid. Whether it is within Najib’s means to buy Birkin bags is a conclusion for someone else to draw.

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Mohamed Rahmat’s Son

We are not saying that Najib actually buys Birkin bags for Rosmah. All we’re doing is analysing Tajuddin’s statement. It is important to note that Tajuddin was responding to allegations made in the ABC’s Four Corners report on Malaysia. It said the PM used credit cards to spend millions buying jewellery for Rosmah. It also alleged that Najib had received tons of money from dubious sources, not just from Saudi royalty.

If Tajuddin had been a dependable defender of his boss, he would have done some research so he could shoot holes into the allegations. Instead, all he has succeeded in doing is to embarrass the PM further. His so-called defence of Najib raises eyebrows so high that they disappear into our hair.

Yet Another UMNO Bungler

Certainly, Tajuddin is not the only bungler among the PM’s men. The confusing narrative that we’ve been given threatens to derail any attempt at defending Najib. The defenders are out in full force, and they are saying different things. One insists that the Four Corners report is one-sided and inaccurate, and another tacitly admits that it got some things right.

The more Tajuddin and his fellow defenders talk, the shakier the ground the government stands on looks.