Malay anxiety, exclusion, and national unity


September 21,2018

Malay anxiety, exclusion, and national unity

A fragmented Malay society is making ‘Malay unity’ more urgent for those defeated by GE-14.

Image result for Rais Yatim

 

Real Merdeka is when the Malay is freed from Mental Bondage


September 3, 2018

Real Merdeka is when the Malay is freed from Mental Bondage

by  Mariam Mokhtar

Image result for Malay students in Madrasa

The Malay:In Timidity, he only survives, In Malay Leaders, he trusts  and In Poverty and Ignorance, he stays, and In Desperation, he runs amuck.

COMMENT | We may have achieved our second independence, at GE-14, but we can only claim to have attained true Merdeka when the Malay mind is liberated from its mental cage. The Malay sees, but fails to observe. He hears, but does not listen.

It was hard work trying to persuade the rakyat to kick UMNO-Baru from power, but we succeeded in removing the mental block that made many think change was impossible; but many of us have realised that it is even harder to convince some people to think and act as Malaysians.

After GE-14, I have had many conversations with Malays, from all walks of life; the conversations have been most revealing and confirmed many of my suspicions. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the uneducated, or the rural folk who pose the greatest danger to our community.

The well-heeled, widely-traveled urbanites, and the so-called enlightened middle-class Malays, who have easy access to the internet, do not seem to be willing to empower themselves, or to seek the truth and improve themselves. Why is this?

One young Malay law student in a local university said, “The Malay is comfortable, so why should he work hard, or change his behaviour? Remove his sources of comfort, and he might be forced to act. He will be reluctant at first, but in the end, he may realise what is good for him.”

A Malay mother said that it all boils down to choice. “The Malay has made a choice, even if you disagree with his decision. You may think that he has done nothing to improve his sorry plight, but that is still his choice. You may not think he has done enough, or done anything, but as far as he is concerned, he has already made his choice. You may think that he is in blissful ignorance, but again, that was his choice.”

A young single mother said that she was too busy trying to provide for her family to care. “In my case, I have no choice. The syariah court has chosen not to enforce the law, so I and my three young children are forced to suffer.

“My ex-husband does not pay maintenance for his children. He is comfortable, but we are not. He has enough money to take on a new bride, and when I complain to the syariah court, I am told that his choice to remarry is provided for in Islam.”

 

One former teacher, who is from Penang, described how some Malay parents in her circle did not value education and allowed their teenage children to stop schooling.

Image result for zakir naik

Follow his injunction and Malaysia will be destroyed, Mr. Prime Minister of Malaysia.

“It starts off with the child playing truant. After a certain number of days absence, the child’s teacher will visit the parents, and try to persuade them to send their child to school.

“In most cases, the parents will say that they uphold their child’s decision to leave school, because it is a waste of money and time. They may also claim there will always be a place in the warung (hawker stall), for the child to make drinks or take orders, and help in the family business.

“If we teach the parents the value of education, we see some positive results. More importantly, we will have helped the child to choose a better future,” the former teacher said.

Decades of brainwashing

Decades of brainwashing have created a powerless, and helpless, Malay. He is a victim of his circumstance. He finds it difficult to talk to other races. He finds it hard to forgive. He thinks it is impossible to love those who are not of his race, or religion or creed.

At times he cannot differentiate between right and wrong. He is afraid to offer an opinion. He does not think he should apologise. His culture tells him that he cannot question his elders, or others, and so he bottles things up, until he can no longer stand it – and he then runs amuck.

He spends his life keeping score, and covets the few privileges accorded to the non-Malays and then claims that these are not fair, because he has been deprived of his rights.

Our collective silence has created a nation in which the Malays and non-Malays have become strangers. Many Malays have been so molly-coddled that they have become de-sensitised to the needs of others. They are easily offended. Many non-Malays are fearful of being branded “interfering”, and keep quiet.

It is not all doom and gloom. There is hope. We need to show the enslaved Malay – not tell him, but show him with our deeds and actions, how he can be set free from his mental shackles.

One way is by talking to him. Next time, you attend a dialogue or forum, drag a Malay to the event. Engage him in conversation. Initiate simple discussions.

If you say you have no Malay friends, then find one. Anyone who claims he has no Malay friend is contributing to the problem.


MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

When Ambitious Young Pols get it Wrong on Reformasi 1998, 2007 and beyond–Know History First


September 1, 2018

When Ambitious Young Pols get it Wrong on Reformasi 1998, 2007 and beyond–Know History First

Opinion  |  Phar Kim Beng

Read this: https://www.malaysiakini.com/opinions/76167

Today (2018) Anwar Ibrahim may have changed since I wrote since I wrote the above piece in 2007. He is a Prime Minister in Waiting. He  can  no longer be an idealistic public intellectual as I knew him. Political realism will influence him. After all, like his hero, Jose Rizal, he is nationalist who gave lot of himself for Malaysia. I will not judge him by his book, The Asian Renaissance. From here on. His policies and actions will matter. But I can only hope his Galbraithian vision of a Humane Society can be pursued with renewed passion. Good luck, Sdr Anwar.–Din Merican

Also Read This : https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/anwar-ibrahim-the-rainmaker-of-ideas/

COMMENT | As things are, no one knows the demographic profile of the 800,000 PKR members. But it would not be farfetched to believe that many started following the party’s President-Elect Anwar Ibrahim’s ideals and ideas from 1978 or 1988.

Image result for Anwar Ibrahim in 2007

Anwar Ibrahim: From Jose Rizal (Philippines), Khomeini (Iran), Habibie (Indonesia), Erdogan (Turkey) to Anwar (2018)–Is VS Naipaul right?

If the former date is valid, followers such as Azmin Ali, Khalid Jaafar, Kamaruddin Jaafar or Muhammad Nur Manuty could not have missed the important revelation of the book ‘Among The Believers’ by VS Naipaul.

Naipaul was a famous British writer born in Trinidad and Tobago. Although of Indian ancestry and parentage, he was a top writer in 1980s, spurred not least by his vintage prose that was both elegant and lucid.

But Naipaul didn’t do Anwar any favour. Despite granting Naipaul an interview in 1979, the prickly British writer had Anwar classified as an “Islamic” fundamentalist, ostensibly one who would do all the biddings of then Iran leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

This was a serious, if not a pernicious, mischaracterisation of Anwar and many Muslim activists interviewed by Naipaul in his famous book, which oddly enough, was later rewarded with the Nobel Prize in English Literature.

Knowingly or unknowingly, most likely the former, Naipaul started this wave of prejudice against Anwar and Muslim thinkers and intellectuals who wanted to use “Islam” as a template to redeem their countries and civilisations.

Their inability to separate what was secular and spiritual, according to Naipaul, would be the first sign of their impending failure in the years and decades to come.

Yet, Naipaul (photo) was using a condescending outlook to tar almost every Muslim activist – even if they were trained in top universities like Leiden University in Netherlands or McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Whatever the credentials of the activists, if they don’t keep the state and religion apart, they were deemed as atavistic thinkers. That was Naipaul’s yardstick.

Anwar was particularly vulnerable to the caricature of Naipaul precisely because he, apart from being deputy prime minister, was the president of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in 1990, a decision approved by his boss, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, himself.

Mahathir, to be sure, knew that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was not sufficiently savvy and well-read to handle the “Islamic file”. Tens of thousands of Muslims had been trained in the West, some in the Middle East too.

When they came home to Malaysia, they were either brimming with practical scientific knowledge or austere religious rigours. Some of them could combine the two into a unique blend to be a “New Malay,” while others retreated into their silos, such as Abdul Awang Hadi, to start the process of “kafir mengkafir” in 1981.

The thrust of Hadi was to make Muslims reject the West totally so that they were not tainted by anything amounting to modernisation, industrialisation, or an inner psychological reawakening.

Indeed, to this day, Hadi, now the President of PAS, refused to acknowledge the importance of science; not even forensic accounting that has exposed the money trail of 1MDB, to say the least.

Thus between 1981 and 1997, Mahathir was heavily guiding Anwar on how to handle the West and East – with Islam as the prime. The net outcome of that process was the crystalisation of the idea of “Islam Madani” by Anwar in 1995. “Madani” meant the importance of empowering the emergence of civil society, something that Anwar himself truly believed in, since the state could not have been made into a Hobbesian Leviathan.

In the view of Anwar, then and now, especially the latter, the state must be a Lilliputian tied down by various checks and balances, without which the flagrant abuse of the executive arm of the government alone would wrack havoc on the lives of millions in Malaysia. His own fate as a student leader and then opposition leader was a case in point.

Regardless of the Malaysian/Islamic concepts coined by Anwar, or friendly entities like the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), with its headquarters in Virginia, which believed in the “Islamisation of Knowledge,” the central thrust of Anwar, indeed, Mahathir and Mohamad Sabu, was all about self-strengthening.

Rich gamut

Between 1968 and 2018, they knew the power of Malaysia came from the self-discipline of each and every Malaysian to demand something larger than themselves.

In this sense, their ideals and ideas were not that far off from DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng, indeed, even the scholarship of Professor KS Jomo (photo) and Professor Terence Gomez in Universiti Malaya between 1981 and 1997.

During this period alone, Jomo and Gomez produced a rich gamut of impressive work on the corrosive power of unmanaged capital, indeed, untraceable monies. DAP supported their theoretical and empirical works, even seeking the advice of the duo.

Of course, what the duo in the academia did not foresee was the gangrenous transformation of government-linked investment companies (GLICs) into future scandals like 1MDB or what former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin called “mini 1MDBs”.

Without a shadow of a doubt, PKR leader Rafizi Ramli is smart. But it goes without saying, too, that with or without Invoke, his polling firm, May 9 would have culminated into a victory against the kleptocracy of UMNO and BN anyway.

The insidious and incestuous relationships with unknown business entities in Dubai, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands and elsewhere just made the story all the more sordid, and spectacularly “foolish”, as P Gunasegaram correctly wrote in his latest book.

But to win the deputy presidency in PKR, Rafizi has overlooked the intellectual genealogy of the reforms of Anwar, indeed, the anti-colonial reforms of Mahathir and others too.

If anything, it would seem that Rafizi has forced the political clock to start from 1998 – overlooking any structures of oppression that has had a long pedigree and history.

The scholarship of ‘The Myth of the Lazy Malay’ by the late Professor Syed Hussein Alatas (photo), for example, earned a powerful mention in the work of Edward Said in his book ‘Orientalism’, published in 1979, which were two of Anwar’s favourite books.

Although Edward Said, a top Palestinian intellectual (who was once at the prestigious Columbia University) is no longer alive, he had warned of the danger of “othering” a subject without any historical context.

Thus, it was wrong for the West, for example, to assume that the Arab world and Islamic civilisation had always been backward, when in fact, they were one of the most powerful civilisations from the 11th to 16th century.

When “all the lights in European capitals were switched off,” wrote Janet Abu Lughod in her famous book on European “hegemony,” which was another top favourite of Anwar, the “lights in the capitals of the East were glittering luminously”.

Lughod was referring to the thriving cities from Marrakesh in Morocco to Davao in Mindanao at one stage, when Islamic empires and states were at the pinnacle of their powers, including the Ottoman Empire in modern Turkey.

Written works

Anwar, due to his love for written works, also enlisted the likes of Dr Ahmet Davutoglu to be a professor at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Davutoglu went on to become the chief advisor to the prime minister of Turkey, then become Turkey’s foreign minister, and finally the prime minister of Turkey from 2014 to 2016.

Not to be outdone, Mahathir also consumed the works of Kenichi Ohmae, a top strategist at McKinsey, who inspired him to create the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), which in turn gave us Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur that are now interconnected to one another.

Mohamad Sabu, too, did not let up. He read the works of Ali Shariati to understand the tone and texture of the Iranian Revolution without being flushed away by the hurried pace of the events in the Middle East and Persia.

 

By locating his electoral campaign in PKR within the context of 1998, Rafizi has inadvertently lobbed off a huge chunk of reformist Malaysian history.

Win, lose or draw, since it is not Rafizi alone who is competing, but a huge team of candidates, all should know that their redemption lies not in privileging 1998 alone but 1968 and earlier.

By taking everyone back to 1998, Rafizi appears to be saying there was no Anwar worth reflecting from or other leaders and scholars. But this cannot be. Prior to 1998, or 1968, Tan Chee Koon was known as the Mr Opposition.

Thinkers like the late Rustam Sani, with a PhD in Sociology from Yale University, was one of the visionaries who came up with the concept of Vision 2020 (?), which was endorsed and accepted by Mahathir, even though Rustam, son of Ahmad Boestaman, came predominantly from Islamic left, while Mahathir was from the Islamic right.

Left or right, Anwar has always believed that the solution lies in the “middle,” especially given the context and background of Malaysia as a multicultural country.

No doubt, 1998 was a period of angry revulsion. But it was also a footnote among many historical epochs that make Malaysia complete – just as May 9, 2018, was a defining event that led to the return of Mahathir to lead the country back to some degree of sobriety after close to nine years of drunken indulgence in materialistic excesses and irrational exuberance.

Allowing Anwar back into the fold, and permitting him to be a prime minister-in-waiting is a gesture of goodwill that should be reciprocated step by step, by all sides, not by digging up a singular point of the past alone.

Yesterday, Part 1: Reformasi in 1998: Perhaps Rafizi got it wrong?


PHAR KIM BENG was a multiple award-winning Head Teaching Fellow on China and Cultural Revolution in Harvard University.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Think Critically and Speak the Truth to Power with Integrity


June 23, 2018

Think Critically and Speak the Truth to Power with Integrity

by Mariam Mokhtar

http://www.malaysiakini.com

We need to iron out our differences, educate everyone and build our children’s future. We may not see the results of our work, but they will. That is why we need to continue to talk with one another, even on sensitive issues, and learn from each other’s stories.–Mariam Mohktar

COMMENT | In the past, we did not listen critically and analyse what our politicians were up to. We allowed things to slide and we complained only when things were almost at the point of no return.

Image result for Mariam Mokhtar and Mahathir Mohamad

 

We have passed the 100 days of Pakatan Harapan rule. If we become complacent, the chances are that they will end up being UMNO Baru 2.0.

Here are ten reasons why you, as the most powerful person in Malaysia, are resistant to change. We need to get rid of these bad habits, to exercise our power and be instruments for change.

Gossip

Who doesn’t love a bit of gossip? Some of us thrive on it. We are aware that denigrating someone who is not present is a disgusting habit. We also know that the person with whom we are gossiping will within a few minutes gossip about us, and yet we persist.

Drama

TV3 has made use of our ability to be absorbed by mindless, mind-crippling drama. When we want to engage others in serious conversation about important issues, people look away and switch off.

We do nothing when things go wrong instead of speaking up and complaining to the relevant people about poor customer service, or something which is underperforming, because we have more important things to do, or cannot be bothered.How can anyone even begin to help a person who will not help himself?

Being judgemental

Imagine an injustice being perpetrated against a member of the LGBT community. We speak out, but some people criticise those who are trying to help. When will we start to listen without being judgemental?

 Negativity

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The Crooked Defender of Islam–Where is this guy today? We punished him by removing from power in GE-14. We can do it again via People Power.

When there are problems in the community, like the rights of non-Muslims being trampled upon, we do nothing and instead of taking action, we say, “What can I do? The Syariah Court is all-powerful, and I do not have the remotest chance of winning.” People give up too easily because they think they cannot do anything; but have they tried?

Complaining/Bitching

Instead of complaining to the relevant people about incompetence, we do nothing and give up at the slightest hint of resistance.

Complaining followed by inaction seems to be a national pastime, but it will not resolve any issue. We complain about everything. The weather. The economy. The education. The roads.

Some people in UMNO Baru have made complaining an art form. The economy is bad. Blame it on DAP. The currency is falling. Blame it on the Chinese. Food prices have risen. It is the Singaporeans’ fault. The rain is non-stop. Blame it on the Christians who stopped Malaysia from adopting hudud laws.

Excuses

You have been treated badly but refuse to complain about this abuse of power, your excuse for doing nothing is that you know nobody and you will lose. So, you justify inaction with a multitude of reasons.

Exaggeration

UMNO Baru and PAS politicians say that only their party can defend the Malays and protect Islam. Do we confront the politicians and ask, “Defend the Malays from what? Protect Islam from whom?”

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Many Malay Muslims in UMNO, PAS, and Perlis Chief Mufti, among others, agree with this bigot from India.

Malays enjoy positions of power in the civil service, armed forces, GLCs, and many other institutions. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. The Malays comprise 60 percent of the population. Why should they exaggerate their fear of being threatened?

Dogmatism

This is like being bombarded with “facts” and someone else’s opinions, or fake news. Instead of checking to see if these stories are true, we share this information with others and claim that it is the gospel truth. It makes listening very difficult.

These ten deadly sins hamper our ability for progress, but the good news is that one way forward for Malaysians, is to ‘MATI.’

‘MATI’

‘M’ is for the Malaysian identity and Malaysian values. It could also stand for materialism.”As the nation grew and many became wealthier, we forgot our values, we became greedy, ignored the poor and the needy, and pursued material wealth.

At the same time, most of us identified ourselves or allowed others to portray us as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli, Sarawakian or Sabahan. In ‘new Malaysia’, we need to forge a new Malaysian identity.

‘A’ is for alarm and accountability, or it could stand for apathy. For decades, we were consumed with apathy. When we saw that our leaders were not serving the rakyat but themselves, we finally saw the importance of leaders who were accountable for their actions.

‘A’ could also be for action. And in the 14th general election we voted for change. ‘T’ is for thought or thinking, and for tolerance, or rather the lack thereof.

In ‘new Malaysia’, we should start to think about our actions. When Najib said that only UMNO Baru can save Islam, we were too lazy to listen critically and tell him off for talking bullshit.

‘I’ is for integrity and intellect, or thinking things through. I is also for ‘I’.

What is personal and professional integrity? Why are there lapses in the judiciary, the police force, the education system and in the public service? Why did we let things slide?

Rebuilding Malaysia is not about you, or me, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan, or even UMNO. It is also about the future of our children and their children.

We are investing in their future and hope to create a country which they will learn to love, as we love our country.

The success of Malaysia is tied to the success of everyone. Malay. Chinese. Indian. Orang Asli. Iban and Kadazan.

We need to iron out our differences, educate everyone and build our children’s future. We may not see the results of our work, but they will.

That is why we need to continue to talk with one another, even on sensitive issues, and learn from each other’s stories.


 

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

The Long and Winding Uncertain Journey for Pakatan Harapan (Hope Coalition)


August 20, 2018

The Long and Winding Uncertain Journey for Pakatan Harapan (Hope Coalition)

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Image result for The New Pakatan Government

The new government’s 100 days is now up. What was put out as 10 key reforms by Pakatan in a manifesto aimed at enticing voters is dominating the headlines. However these are still very early days to assess the progress made with the promises of

● easing the burden of the public

● reforming the nation’s administrative institutions and politics

● reshaping the nation’s economy in a fair and just manner

● reinstating the rights and status in Sabah and Sarawak

● building an inclusive and moderate Malaysia in the international arena.

By way of contrast it is useful to recall that Barisan Nasional with its theme of “With BN for a Greater Malaysia” had a 220 page manifesto with 364 pledges covering almost every single community and group – Felda settlers, women, youth, orang asli, the people of Sabah and Sarawak, the bottom 40% households, Chinese community and other non-Muslims. Possibly the only group that was not covered was that of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) currently in the public limelight and under fire.

The Challenge That Pakatan Faces

In evaluating the performance of the present government, it needs to be remembered too that Pakatan’s victory was against the odds. Most analysts – as well as Pakatan’s leaders – saw little hope of ending the continuation of Barisan rule in GE-14.

Since the first election in 1955, the Alliance and its BN successor have gradually tightened their power through a combination of constitutional and extra-constitutional measures, the deployment of an enormous patronage machine and the cooptation of the nation’s civil service in suppressing whatever opposition exists in the country. The ruling coalition has also effectively exploited racial and religious faultlines to maintain its hold on the Malay majority voting population.

Image result for The New Pakatan Government

They are back as a tag team. Will they do it again with the politics of Race and Religion in the name of Ketuanan Melayu?

Lest we under-estimate the magnitude of the reform challenge, let it not be forgotten that most of the present crop of Pakatan’s current leadership have been among the active supporters of the indoctrination movement in its diverse manifestations. They have been responsible for the Malay psyche, which needs transformation if the new Malaysia is not to remain a mirage.–Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Not only was there little hope of an election upset but there was also a big question mark as to whether there could be a peaceful transition of government and power. Now that we have had both extraordinary outcomes – to paraphrase what Dr. Mahathir, the Prime Minister, recently described in Japan as the nation’s unique and lucky peaceful transition of power – we need to be realistic about the challenge that Pakatan faces.

This is because the missteps, wrong doings, abuses and transgressions engaged in by the BN government – some going back to the time of Dr. Mahathir’s first stint as Prime Minister – are so rampant and the ensuing damage to the country’s socio-economy and governance structures and race and religious relations so egregious that it will require more than a few years – perhaps a decade – of sweeping and far-reaching policy changes and reform to undo them.

High level corruption and economic excesses and crimes are currently a major preoccupation of the new government. However, it is perhaps among the easiest of the improprieties and legacy of the BN regime that the Pakatan government has to deal with and correct.

More resistant to remedying are the policies, programmes and mindsets which the country’s state apparatus and most institutions of government (educational, media, professional and socio-cultural organisations, religious bodies, etc.) have propagated to a largely captive audience.

As explained in a recent article by Fathol Zaman Bukhari, editor of Ipoh Echo

“The Malay psyche is not something difficult to fathom. It is the result of years of indoctrination (brainwashing) by a political party that is long on hopes but short on ideas. Fear mongering is UMNO’s forte because the party believes that Malays are under threat. That their religion and their sultans are being assailed and belittled by imaginary goblins and make-believe enemies …. Anyone other than a Malay and a Muslim is considered unworthy to assume any sensitive appointments, which are only reserved for Malays. But on hindsight it is the Malays who have let the nation and their own kind down. Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor, Apandi Ali, Rahman Dahlan, Tajuddin Rahman, Khalid Abu Bakar, Jamal (Jamban) and all the obscenely-paid heads of government-linked companies are Malays. But this is of no consequence to a race that makes up over 60 percent of the nation’s population. They continue to feel threatened.”

It is this less easily definable, less financially quantifiable, but more ubiquitous, and ultimately more destructive and ruinous feature of nation-building directed and manipulated by the previous leadership for the last 60 years, that needs to be contended with and purged of its toxic ethno-religious content if the new Malaysia is to have any chance of succeeding.

Lest we under-estimate the magnitude of the reform challenge, let it not be forgotten that most of the present crop of Pakatan’s current leadership have been among the active supporters of the indoctrination movement in its diverse manifestations. They have been responsible for the Malay psyche, which needs transformation if the new Malaysia is not to remain a mirage.

 

Pakatan Harapan’s Islamic Discourse is UMNO’s except it’s hypocritical


August 10, 2018

Pakatan Harapan’s  Islamic Discourse is UMNO’s except it’s hypocritical

by S Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Mujahid Rawa

Mujahid Al-Rawa: What value system are you talking about? One worse than UMNO’s? One that limits the minds of Malay Muslims with your religious dogma which you inherited from your previous affiliation  with PAS. –Din Merican

“Any religion-based state has a mission to limit the minds of its people, to fight the developments of history and logic, and to dumb down its citizens. It’s important to stand in the way of such a mentality, to deny it from continuing its mission to murder the souls of its people, killing them deep within while they are still alive and breathing.”

– Raif Badawi, 1000 Lashes, Because I Say What I Think

COMMENT | Pakatan Harapan – either by design, incompetence or maybe just a lack of imagination – is making the Islamic discourse in this country even more toxic than it already is.

Take the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), for instance. This is a religious bureaucracy plugged into every aspect of government. Why hasn’t there been any sustained effort by this so-called religious authority to combat corruption, racism and bigotry? Isn’t this the kind of Islamic moral police that Harapan alluded to when it comes to the religion of the state?

Image result for Stop your rambling, DPM Wan Azizah

DPM Dr. Wan Azizah–Are you for real, OR just a seat warmer or stand-in?

The pointless op-ed piece about Women, Family and Community Development Minister Dr Wan Aziziah Wan Ismail, penned by her deputy Hannah Yeoh and panned by Latheefa Koya, is an example of how the political elite attempt to cloud issues that they do not want to deal with.

In past articles, I have written about the tremendous pressure Muslim political operatives are under. I get it, I really do.

It should tell you something about mainstream Harapan dogma when people do not question why Latheefa’s position on the issue of child marriage, for example, is not defended, while the cautious – and I am being charitable here – position of the Deputy Prime Minister is embraced by the political elite who told us before the election that they would defend the secular position in this so-called Islamic state.

The removal of the photos of LGBTQ activists, who by the way were also part of the struggle against the UMNO regime, not only demonstrates the pettiness of the religious bigots in Harapan, but also the hypocrisy of their actions. How many Harapan political operatives met with activists (who were part of the LGBTQ discourse) as part of a grassroots rejection of UMNO?

De facto Religious Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s double speak of the state protecting these people from a society that rejects them hides the fact that the bigots within Harapan believe that the more disenfranchised you are, the less political cost you incur.

Sooner or later, everyone becomes disenfranchised except the political and religious elites. Keep up the good work Charles Santiago and anyone else who public ally opposes these religious imperatives.

And no Mujahid, I do not want you to arrest them. I want you to keep your mouth shut about them, and instead create a counter-narrative that Harapan’s Islam is about promoting a first class education for your brethren, weeding out corruption in the political and religious class, ensuring the healthcare system is one of the best in the region, and ensuring a plurality of Islamic voices, so young people do not join extremist groups that pose a danger to the citizens of this country.

I have asked this question many times before, but how many times have past UMNO administrations made unilateral decisions which went against the perceived Islamic groupthink to garner votes from non-Muslims? How many times has the UMNO regime retreated from extreme positions to appease their BN non-Malay/Muslim partners?

Did they suffer – before May 9, 2018 – from a Muslim backlash? No, they didn’t. Why? because the majority of Muslims are content to follow their leaders instead of setting the Islamic agenda.

My last article was more about the hypocrisy of the opposition then any real political influence by a foreign power. Anyway, all of this is just a smokescreen. Three important issues have cropped up which point to the theoretic agenda of the Harapan state – far more important than a bumbling group from DC mucking about our country.

Syariah compliance

The first is the syariah-compliant guidelines for the private sector. What horse manure is this? Apparently, this was in response to the incident where some woman was sacked from her job for not covering up her aurat.

Let me get this straight. We have already had problems in the public sector where religious types dictated how we dress when we interact with the bureaucracy, and now, Harapan wants to impose its “guidelines” on the private sector?

I can just picture it. Private companies who want to do business with the government will suck up to the regime by adopting these guidelines. Some women will advocate for this guideline to be adopted by their companies to ensure that they are not discriminated against, and when there is push back from the company, the religious far right will get involved and Harapan and these bigots will be on the same page.

This is how it starts – innocently enough. Hidden behind a message of fairness is actually the tools for compliance. Guidelines eventually become dogma, and because they think people will not notice – most often they do not – they encroach into our public and private spheres uncontested.

Taxpayer-funded brainwashing

The second is the rebranding of the National Civics Bureau (BTN). I wrote about this here – “Okay, you may say, fine, reform BTN. Sounds simple, right? Has anyone stopped to think why this organisation is needed? Forget about what it is costing taxpayers, but why would there ever need to be a government agency instilling ‘patriotism’ in the civil service and students? Why would the state need to do this except to ensure that people are brainwashed into voting for them?”

People need to question why Harapan is accepting money from kids who break their piggy banks, but has the money to fund what is essentially a state propaganda organ, which would reach into every facet of public, not to mention private life? Do people not see the hypocrisy and danger of an organisation like BTN, revamped or not?

While some Harapan politicians have spoken up on this, the big guns are waxing eloquent about other senior leaders, promoting a third national car, or reminding the rakyat about how bad UMNO’s corruption scandals were. Not to mention the defence that Harapan made these promises not realising they could win has achieved some sort of legitimacy among the faithful.

NSC waffling

The third, and perhaps most important, is the waffling on abolishing the National Security Council Act 2016. All I can say is, you lying sacks of manure.

Before the election, Harapan, the then-opposition, was going on about how this act had effectively turned this democracy into an autocracy. Malay opposition politicians, including our current prime minister, said that this act further eroded the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In fact, Dr Mahathir Mohamad went so far as to claim that Najib Abdul Razak had given himself the powers of the Agong. Anwar Ibrahim mounted a legal challenge and later withdrew it. This is the most dangerous law this country has.

Now, these duplicitous politicians are claiming: “When it comes to security issues of the country, we will examine all aspects to ensure our country’s safety is not compromised.” Really? What changed? I mean what have you discovered about the security of the country that changed your mind on the utilitarian values of this act?

Did the Najib regime have good cause to table this act? Was the Najib regime aware of things that necessitated such an act that you were (then) ignorant of? Were all criticisms against this act unfounded? Based on ignorance and not fact?

Theocratic agenda

Let me be very clear. I say theocratic agenda because ultimately, religion is the foundation on which unjust laws and propaganda will be used in this country. This is the new virulent strain introduced into the Islamic discourse.

The goodwill Harapan has from its base clouds the discourse in an avalanche of apologia, or more often ad hominems. This adds to the virulence of the discourse, because people lose sight of the real issue and attempt to engage with the straw man arguments. This, of course, only strengthens the Malay far-right position.

The media is concentrating on the plethora of corruption scandals of the past regime, which subsumes other more important long-term issues which have long-lasting effects on the social and political landscape of this country.

Politicians, who before the election were bullish on institutional reform which involved the religious apparatus, now find it profitable to carry on existing narratives that worked so well for BN until the events of May 9. This, of course, is the most dangerous aspect of this new Malaysia.

I get that people do not think it is a big issue. But look back at the history of the country and see the cultural changes that took place. Do you really think corruption has done as much damage as the religious and racial imperatives of the Malay and non-Malay political class?

PREVIOUSLY

IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M’sia


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

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.