A Message to a 93-year Politician: Time to Grow Up


March 12, 2019

A Message to a 93-year old Politician: Time to Grow Up

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We, speaking up for what we believe to represent the majority of peace loving and responsible Malaysians, condemn the unhealthy trend of irresponsible individuals and political parties in capitalising on the issue of ‘insult to religion’ to gain popularity among voters.

Such callous actions by these individuals and groups, bordering on rabble rousing, will put the country in a heightened state of uneasiness and fear. The government of the day seems unwilling or unable to respond to these acts of opportunism by irresponsible parties for their own selfish ends.

The background relating to the issue of ‘insult to religion’ lies in our colonial and recent past which saw limited education and the mixing of cultures between the different communities. Hence the past need for restrictive laws to preserve public order.

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However, after 60 years as a nation state making its way towards modernity and the matured liberal, scientific and progressive future envisaged in Vision 2020, it is high time to revisit and revise these laws.

On May 9th, citizens of Malaysia voted out a failing government and ushered in what we hoped would be a new era of mature political discourse and freedom of expression. As with any new manifestation of political culture, there will be teething problems. These problems need to be analyzed and objectively dealt with in the way which developed and mature societies would handle them.

In our country, institutions of religions have been set up to administer each religion with Islam acknowledged in a special situation in the constitutional sphere. Article 3(1) states that, “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

What this means is that insulting Islam is unacceptable in respect of the current laws. Similarly, other religions in the country – even if not enjoying the status of Islam – need to be equally respected.

Striking a Balance In Laws Pertaining to Insulting Religion

In the application of laws prohibiting insulting religion, we must strive for a rational and liberal balance with the protection of the freedom of expression while being mindful of the religious sensitivities of our multi-religious communities. Hence open mindedness and moderation should be the norm in the interpretation and application of the existing laws.

The following are some examples which the holders of state power should not automatically or as a reflex action seek prosecution and punishment just because some individuals or groups label them as constituting religious insult or disrespect:

1. The production or reproduction of religion-related literature and art by Malaysians should be permitted and protected under the law so long as the author is not engaged in what is clearly an act of religious hate crime.

2. Opinions on social issues such as child marriages, female circumcision or other similar subjects are perfectly defensible and permissible as they bear no intention of insult. On the contrary, they provide a contemporary understanding of what are traditionally accepted norms and practices sanctioned by religious authority. The sharing of knowledge on such issues with social and religious institutions and authorities should be encouraged rather than be penalized by the law.

3. Professional opinions on technological, planning design and environmental issues concerning religious buildings or religious actions and rituals should be welcomed as they will help create more sustainable forms and structures that would benefit all members of society.

4. Discourses on spirituality, different forms of religious belief and even agnosticism and atheism should be permitted. Such exchanges of theological and non-theological constructs will enable the nation to grow spiritually as well as be part of the growing universality that is replacing narrow religious, cultural and social constructs.

Protection of the above and other similar expression of thoughts, ideas and constructs are absolutely necessary for Malaysia to grow to become that  “psychologically liberated, secure and developed nation” as envisaged in Vision 2020.

Key Role of National Unity Consultative Council

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Together with the above, in view of the recent national and international attention and publicity  given to the ten year sentence levelled on a recent offender accused of insulting Islam on social media, we call for an urgent phasing out of the laws related to ‘insult to religion’ by instituting the following replacement:

Firstly, such cases construed as ‘insult to religion’ should not be the sole judgement of a single judge for fear of ethnic and religious bias. Such decision should be referred to the National Unity Consultative Council under the purview of the Ministry of National Unity. The NUCC should  comprise noted personalities in societies with representatives of officials from the various religious groups.

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Secondly, for the period before the laws of ‘insult to religion’ are to be phased out, punishment should not go beyond a commensurate fine within the financial status of the person being charged.

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Thirdly, once the laws have been phased out, acts pertaining to so-called ‘insult to religion’ should be referred to the NUCC for action. Such action can include collaboration with the respective religious institutions or authorities to ensure that there are no adverse ripple effects from the alleged insult or disrespect; and counselling of the individuals or groups engaging in such action or activities.

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Fourthly, religious leaders in their sermons must regularly advise congregants and members of the faith against insulting others.

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We remind our fellow citizens that the resort to law to criminalise opinions and views on religion is a double-edged sword. Let us put that sword away so we do not end as a cut up and impaired nation.

Tajuddin Rasdi

Tawfik Ismail

Siti Kasim

Lim Teck Ghee

Terence Gomez

MALAYSIA: Mr. Prime Minister, At 93, you have made history. So, it is time to rise above politics. Be a Statesman


February 17,2019

MALAYSIA: Mr. Prime Minister, At 93, you have made history. So, it is time to rise above politics. Be a Statesman

Opinion  |by  Francis Paul Siah

 

COMMENT | At least, two English dailies have carried editorials on the ills plaguing Pakatan Harapan in recent days. This is not surprising at all. It is a given that all is not well in the nine-month-old Harapan government.

Some of my fellow Malaysiakini columnists have also waded into the issue and with good reasons too. I can agree with some of their pointers.

The parties at the centre of the storm are none other than Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his fledging Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

I am also guilty of criticising Mahathir over the past month. There were two issues I took exception to. The first was his decision to bar Israeli athletes from entering the country which ended their participation in the World Para-Swimming Championships originally scheduled to be held in Kuching this coming July.

The second was Bersatu’s intention to set up a chapter in Sabah, reneging on its pact before GE14 with Parti Warisan to not do so.

Yes, I am really disappointed with Tun Mahathir on these two fronts and I stand in total disagreement with him on these issues.

If public feedback on the social media can be taken as a yardstick, there is one which I would feedback to our Prime Minister, to inform him sincerely that his decision to bar the Israeli swimmers has triggered an international outcry. That decision has given Mahathir and Malaysia a bad Image.

My posting entitled ‘Sorry, Dr M, you don’t speak for Sarawak this time’ in the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) blog attracted a total of 31,755 unique visitors in a single day last January 28.

That was the highest number of visitors to our little NGO blog over the past eight months. Visitors were not only Malaysians but came from the US, Australia, other Asian nations, the UK and other European countries.

This is honest feedback to our Prime Minister. Many do not understand his strong anti-Semitic stand nor his inability to separate race,religion, politics from sports.

To speak from the heart, I feel bad for having to critique our Prime Minister at times and actually feel sorry for him. It’s not nice to speak unkindly of a man his age, no matter his wrongs, and especially so when I’m much younger than him. Guess we are only fallible humans.

This week, I sent this message to my WhatsApp list of friends: “I have been criticising Dr M in recent days so much so that I feel malu having to keep on hammering the grand old man. I am thinking of penning another piece to be titled ‘If I were Dr Mahathir today at 94 …’. Tell me what would you do if you were in his shoes at 94 today?”

Here are some of their responses. Let them be feedback to our Prime Minister for what they are worth.

Be a statesman

  • Tun Mahathir should forget politics. He is not seeking re-election. Concentrate on running the country and turn the economy around. At 94, time is not on his side. So, better hurry. When he is gone, nobody will remember him or his legacy. But the country must be in good hands. Be a statesman, not a politician. Act on a bold vision that the nation will rise to eschew narrow racial politics.
  • Malaysia will be in trouble if Mahathir harbours these three myths:
  • 1. I set the direction, my son will carry on; 2 The Malays are incorrigible ; but I must save them at whatever cost; and  3. Islam  and Muslims/Malays mustremain dominant in Malaysia forever.
  • First of all, I sympathise with Mahathir that he is running a Harapan government that is weak and saddled with a huge debt from the previous regime.
  • These cannot be resolved in three years. Meantime, the people, rural folk, in particular, are suffering from the high cost of living. Unemployment is a serious threat from belt-tightening. During the three years of rough journey to reform the sociopolitical imbroglio, whoever is the PM has to persuade the people to swallow their bitter medicine that will do good later. So you need to wish that Dr M is blessed with good health to continue what he set out to do for the sake of the nation.
  • Mahathir has to concede that Malaysia is in a dire state of decline in living standards. He has to move quickly to arrest that. This is a monumental challenge for any leader and it is incumbent upon Mahathir, as the Pprime minister, to do the job.
  • Put Najib behind bars first. Then bring in the rule of law […] if I were him.
  • Tun Mahathir is an extraordinary man. Not many will live up to 94. If I were him, I would take a break and relax.. I bet he is not aware there is a more beautiful and wholesome life out there, away from power and politics.
  • You should be awarded the “Nobel P***k Prize” for badgering Dr Mahathir. I like him. He is doing his best for the country. Please accord him more respect.

No more pussyfooting

So what is my own take “if I were Dr Mahathir today”? The first thing I would do is to stay far, far away from politics, resign as Bersatu chairperson and allow Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir to run the show.

I would not worry about my son’s ascension on the political hierarchy. I should know that the Mahathir name alone would carry my next few generations very well and ensure a bright future for them.

I would also stop meeting former UMNO lawmakers, including those from PAS. I would avoid them like the plague. I should know that when they want to meet me, they expect something. There is nothing such “parasites” could bring to the table to help Harapan improve anything in the country.

I would reshuffle my cabinet. The under-performing ministers should go. Nine months is enough time for them to prove themselves. By now, I should know that some are just not minister-material. A spring cleaning is in order.

I would stop antagonising my Harapan colleagues and start listening to their concerns about accepting ex-UMNO parasites. Saying that they have changed sounds so shallow and feeble. So is telling Shafie Apdal that Bersatu is going to Sabah to help him and Warisan. I should be aware that those statements sounded hollow, childish even.

I would make sure that my promise to Anwar Ibrahim to pass the baton to him two years after Harapan’s victory is fulfilled. No more pussyfooting around on this.My friend is right. Mahathir must stop being a politician. He has to be a statesman.

That is what many would want our current paramount leader to be. Even those of us who have criticised him would badly want him to succeed for the sake of the nation and the people as he enters the final lap of his illustrious political career.

May the One Above continue to bless our dear Dr Mahathir with good health and we all wish him many, many happy years ahead!


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH head the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com

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

7, 2019

 

MP Nik Nazmi brings back memories of the Anwar-led 2008 Pakatan Rakyat


February 16,2018

Nik Nazmi brings back memories of the Anwar-led 2008  Pakatan Rakyat

By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad  the MP for Setiawangsa.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/464186?fbclid=IwAR25cGcttcKWep_VuYlXm9uT0Vhj3nuWoO3kgVCarZFwiZ2X8e8PkOTaVB0

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MP SPEAKS | This week, seven former UMNO MPs joined Bersatu. Bersatu has also declared its entry into Sabah, contrary to its pledge before the 2018 election.

I have consistently said that I am against this—and many of my colleagues in Pakatan Harapan feel the same way.

Let us focus on the challenges facing us in the present and how to move forward into the future. One thing that we need to do is to be willing to listen to all arguments—including the ones we don’t necessarily agree with.

It has been argued that these defectors are needed to shore-up Malay support for Harapan.

It has also been argued that the move is necessary to counter the emerging UMNO-PAS alliance, which is allegedly increasingly popular on social media as well as to strengthen our coalition’s standing in rural areas — such as the East Coast and Northern Peninsula.

It is true that Harapan did not win the popular vote in the last election—garnering only 48.31% of it. Indeed, much of the 50.79% of the vote that Barisan Nasional and PAS won was from Malays in the East coast and Northern Peninsula Malaysia as well as from Muslim Bumiputeras in Sarawak.

And it does appear that Malay sentiment towards Harapan is not exactly glowing. Although much of this is driven by the shrill and manufactured voices of UMNO and PAS surrogates, there is genuine concern among many Malays that the community is under threat: both politically and socio-economically.

Defections will not guarantee Malay support

But is taking in defectors from UMNO the best way to assuage these concerns?

Why can’t the various components of Harapan evolve so that we can, finally, access, engage and win the support of all Malaysians, including the rural Malays?

Why do some of our leaders seem intent on taking short-cuts, rather than the path of hard (but ultimately rewarding) work? Have we totally abandoned the idea of bipartisanship?

Why do some Harapan leaders assume that the Malay community will necessarily be impressed by taking in these defectors? Is the rural Malay community that monolithic? Is quantity really that more important in governance and politics rather than quality?

But if taking in defectors is not the way, how should Harapan resolve its “Malay dilemma”?

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Negara ini bukan  Tun Dr.Mahathir punya. Ini adalah Malaysia–Negara kita semua. 2008 GE Tagline–UBAH SEBELUM PARAH

One way is to double-down on conservative Malay politics, including turning back on reform because it will allegedly weaken the community. This is the path that PAS has taken. That was their choice to make and theirs alone, but it also means they are no longer the party of Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy, Fadzil Noor and Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

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Dr.Syed Hussin Ali-The Intelletual behind PKR

The alternative is to stick to the progressive, inclusive promises we made via the Buku Harapan.

Our GE-14 campaign manifesto was a document that all Harapan parties agreed to. But it was also a platform that addressed the aspirations and problems of all segments of Malaysian society, including the Malays.

The Buku Harapan can be executed. We couldn’t deliver all of the 100 day promises—but it doesn’t mean that it cannot be realised. The same applies to the other pledges.

Some things may need to be sequenced, but they must be done if the country is to survive and thrive. We should not simply cast the Buku Harapan aside due to political exigencies.

Harapan won because it gave Malaysians hope

It is cynical and disingenuous to say that Harapan won only because of the 1MDB scandal and the anger towards Najib Razak. That’s simply not true.

Our critics—but also our own leaders, legislators and supporters—should give us more credit than that.

Malaysians voted for us not only out of anger over BN’s scandals and mismanagement, but because they believed that Harapan had a better vision for the future of the country. They voted for us because Harapan gave them hope. What I am saying is this: Harapan should learn to take “yes” for an answer.

Malaysians gave us an adequate majority on May 9

There is no need to worry about our parliamentary majority (which is adequate to govern). Unless some quarters have some political calculations to undermine the Harapan consensus.

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As I have said many times before, a two-thirds majority is sometimes more trouble than it is worth.

It is only moral and just that constitutional amendments—when they become necessary—be done via a bipartisan consensus, by talking and working with the Opposition and civil society.

Harapan should roll up our sleeves and get down to the business of governing the country. And “governing”, means reforming our economy and making it work for all Malaysians.

Malays will benefit from progressive politics

Part of this involves winning over the Malays to the idea that progressive politics and governance is in their interest. And it is.

Who makes up the majority of the urban poor? The Malays.

Who makes up the majority of low-wage earners? The Malays.

Who makes up the majority of the petty traders struggling to earn a living? The Malays.

Whose families are the majority of those struggling to service high household debts? The Malays.

Who are the majority of smallholders struggling from low commodity prices and delays in government payments? The Malays.

Delivering an economy that solves the plight of these segments of society, even in a non-racial manner, will do more to win over Malay voters than trying to outflank UMNO and PAS on the right – or luring opposition crossovers.

The voters in these constituencies did not vote for Harapan. They knowingly chose the vision that BN and PAS had for Malaysia. Their MPs moving over to Harapan will not likely make them feel any differently.

Instead, solving the bread-and-butter-issues of the voters will go a long way in addressing their racial and religious insecurities.

Harapan should trust our defend our Constitution

We must also learn to trust our Constitution and our system of governance, even as we repair both from decades of abuse.

Setting up the latest incarnation of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) is the Prime Minister’s prerogative and so is its composition — although there were some interesting omissions.

The members who were selected are distinguished and respected in their several fields — one wishes them every success.

But the NEAC’s emergence has — fairly or unfairly — led to speculation over the performance of the Cabinet. There are perceptions — again, fairly or unfairly —that attempts are being made to circumvent the normal process of Cabinet-based governance in the management of Malaysia’s economy.

It is easy to dismiss these criticisms as grouses, but they have a real impact on how voters view this current Pakatan Harapan government.

If we lead, the people will follow

I hope this is something that the leaders of our government and alliance will take into account moving forward, especially when dealing with defectors and in how the administration’s agenda is to be executed.

The ends do not justify the means. Like it or not, processes sometimes matter as much as outcomes.

Malaysia needs solutions that work for the many, not the few. We need policies for these day and age. Too often we seem to be indicating of going back to the economic prescriptions of Old Malaysia.

Sticking to the spirit of Buku Harapan is the way forward.

This will go a long way towards winning over Malay fence sitters and not side-line our non-Malay and politically liberal supporters.

While UMNO and PAS embark on a journey rightwards, we should not dance to their tune.

But we must allow them the space to be a functioning Opposition that keeps us in check.

That is what leadership is. Pakatan doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Let’s be sure of who we are, what we want to do and where we want to go. If we are sincere, the people — including the Malays — will follow.


Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad is the MP for Setiawangsa.

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

Remembering Tunku’s words on his 116th birthday by Lim Kit Siang


February 8, 2019

Remembering Tunku’s words on his 116th birthday

by Lim Kit Siang

https://www.malaysiakini.com

MP SPEAKS | Today is the 116th anniversary of the birthday of Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Thirty-six years ago, on Feb 8, 1983, on his 80th birthday, Tunku issued the clear public message that plural Malaysia should not be turned into an Islamic State.Image result for tunku abdul rahman

Four days later, on Feb 12, 1983, on the occasion of his 61st birthday, the Third Prime Minister  Tun Hussein Onn publicly supported Tunku’s call.

In fact, Tunku told Parliament on May 1, 1958: “I would like to make it clear that this country is not an Islamic state as it is generally understood; we merely provided that Islam shall be the official religion of the state.”

It is most appropriate to remember this history when we watch the MCA president Wee Ka Siong turn and twist in his histrionics to justify something the founding fathers of MCA, whether or not Tan Cheng Lock or Tan Siew Sin would have approved, the political co-operation with PAS under the leadership of Abdul Hadi Awang – who is reviving Islamic State rhetoric and espousing the most toxic and vicious brand of politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion to sow suspicion, distrust and hatred among the races and religions in Malaysia.

Wee need not reply to the question whether he is aware that he would have lost his deposit in Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat in the 14th general election under the Hadi’s dictum that Muslims must vote for Muslim candidates, for all Malaysians know the answer.

DAP has never denied that we had worked with PAS in the Barisan alternative from 1999 to 2001 and Pakatan Rakyat from 2008 to 2015, but DAP’s co-operation with PAS was based on principles – not opportunism or expediency.

DAP leaders believe that Malaysia should be an international showcase of inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue, tolerance and understanding instead of being an example of a “clash of civilisations”.

To achieve this, Malaysians must engage with a political Islam that recognises Malaysia as a plural society and believes that Malaysia’s greatness comes from the leveraging of the assets and best qualities from the diverse races, religions, languages and civilisations that meet in confluence in Malaysia, building tolerance, trust and confidence among the races and religions and not sow suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred among the races and religions.

DAP leaders were prepared to pay a heavy price to achieve this national goal, including being defeated in the 10th general election in 1999 when Karpal Singh and I were defeated in the Jelutong and Bukit Bendera parliamentary seats, respectively.

This is when the voters succumbed to the Gerakan/MCA propaganda against Barisan Alternative with the politics of lies and fear that a vote for DAP was a vote for PAS and an Islamic state, and that if I was elected, the Chinese could not eat pork, take alcohol and go to temples, while beautiful women woud not be able to find jobs and that there would be a chopping of hands and feet.

The Barisan Alternative would not have been formed if PAS was not prepared to respect the opposition of DAP, Parti Keadilan and PRM to an Islamic State, focusing instead on the common objectives of restoring justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia.

After the 1999 general election however, PAS leaders disregarded the opposition of the other component parties of Barisan Alternative to an Islamic State.

The issue confronting Barisan Alternative was whether the PAS leaders were prepared to abide by the BN consensus and respect the DAP’s opposition to an Islamic State in a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia was not compatible with parliamentary democracy, power-sharing in a plural society, human rights and individual freedoms, women’s rights and social tolerance.

DAP had no hesitation to break our co-operation with PAS in 2001 when PAS reneged on the common Alternative Front manifesto “Towards a Just Malaysia”.

 

When the second DAP-PAS cooperation occurred with the formation of Pakatan Rakyat on April 1, 2008, after the “political tsunami” of the general election that year, it was based on a joint commitment “to uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians, regardless of religion or race, as enshrined in the Constitution”.

But Hadi’s insistence to raise the Islamic State issue caused a crisis in Pakatan Rakyat, which was saved from dissolution after a late-night meeting of Pakatan Rakyat leaders on Sept 28, 2011, resulting in a joint statement by the leaders of the three parties in the coalition reaffirming their resolve to continue giving priority to Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework and consensus.

This common policy framework and consensus excluded Islamic State and hudud and there was the clear understanding that any policy change in Pakatan Rakyat would need the agreement of all three component parties.

Before the 13th general election, DAP rebuffed PAS overture for Hadi to replace Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister-designate of Pakatan Rakyat.

After the 13th general election, the Islamic State and hudud issues re-surfaced and Pakatan Rakyat faced its demise in 2015 when Hadi persisted with the goal of implementing hudud in violation of the coalition’s common policy framework.

Now Hadi condemns DAP as an “enemy of Islam”. But during the Teluk Intan by-election in May 2014, Hadi was full of praise for DAP and recalled that it was DAP that defended PAS when the Kelantan government fell in 1978.

Although BN was working with PAS then, BN did nothing to help them.

Hadi said in the Teluk Intan by-election: “Only DAP defended us that time and we are grateful to them.”

At that time, PAS followed the true teachings of Islam and was a strong opponent of corruption and abuses of power – but subsequently, Hadi took PAS through a major transformation by giving former prime minister Najib Razak support for turning Malaysia into a global kleptocracy!

DAP is always a “friend of Islam” which is moderate and tolerant which will make Malaysia a world top-class nation and not an extremist and intolerant Islam which divide Malaysians and will destroy the Malaysian dream.

I had wondered why Hadi has suddenly attacked DAP as an “enemy of Islam”.

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The reason is quite obvious – to divert public attention from Hadi’s withdrawal of his legal suit against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and an out-of-court settlement which allowed the original Sarawak Report article on Najib giving RM90 million to PAS to remain online and Unretracted.

This bring us to the question of why MCA is co-operating with PAS when Hadi is reviving the Islamic State rhetoric and espousing the most vicious and toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion to divide Malaysians in post-GE14 Malaysia?


LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.

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

 

Rebranding the myth of the ‘lazy Malay’


January 11, 2019

Rebranding the myth of the ‘lazy Malay’

Opinion  |by Dr. Azly Rahman

 

COMMENT | To wage war upon others, you dehumanise them. To enslave your own people, you call them lazy and create a structure of dependency.

To cure these two mental ills of the two colonisers, you deconstruct and destroy the myth. The once oppressed among us have become the oppressors. Brown skin, white masks. This is what I am writing about in the following passages.

Aren’t politicians the laziest, profiting from the myth of the benevolent ruler? They get paid a lot, they fight too much, they don’t attend well to the people’s needs. They go missing, produce contradictory statements, and churn out propaganda to fool people. They beg for votes and when they win, they invite the latter to a beggar’s banquet.

To call a people ‘lazy’ is to legitimise a system of discipline, punishment and continual dependency – the politician’s excretory rhetoric. Capitalism thrives by telling workers that they are lazy when they cannot produce as fast as the owners can profit.

Rebranding the myth

Consider how much the common person works these days, how many hours a day and on weekends, just to put food on the table in an economy plagued, plundered, and ravaged by those who called the natives ‘lazy’. How many jobs do people you know work these days before and after the 1MDB fiasco?

Malaysia is built upon the blood, sweat and tears of workers, farmers, share-croppers, Felda settlers, taxi drivers, petty traders, shopkeepers, and the working class whose culture the politicians say needs to be ‘changed’.

The myth of the lazy natives is now reproduced by the acquired ignorance of our leaders. What is the politics behind the continuing labeling? New Party. New Coalition. Same Excretion?

Billionaire-club Malays will often say Malays are lazy when they cannot enslave the Malays of blood, sweat, fears. “Sickos,” as Michael Moore would call them. That’s the worldview of the one percent. That’s their “mental habitus”, to borrow from Pierre Bourdieu.

We continue to carry the wrong sunglasses of history, fogged by the haze of winner’s history. Who cares if Yap Ah Loy or Sutan Puasa ‘founded’ Kuala Lumpur? I want to know what happened to the natives. How were they chased out by these ‘founders’? Just like how Christopher Columbus was instrumental in killing 10,000 Arawak Indians in his quest to be baptised as the one who ‘discovered’ America.

I want our young generation to learn the people’s history of Malaysia. Teach not the history of glory of kingdoms, of fake kings, but the sufferings and successes of our ancestors. Family history first that runs parallel to the one’s personal history. Therein lies the core of human dignity as makers of history.

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

Multiple truths

We must acknowledge that there are multiple truths to choose from, depending on one’s cultural perception of what spirituality means. I read and taught the major scriptures to see the beauty of each, especially as cultural perspectives, and good, magical, fantastical stories written by scribes, collectively, from long ago.

I love Bible stories. And the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Analects of Confucius, the Tao Te Ching, the I Ching and even the Dianetics of the Church of Scientology. These contain their own truths, fanciful stories of creation, deconstruction, destruction. Religion and its scriptures rely on storytelling and the crafting of degrees of believability, sustainable enough to be passed down from one generation to another. We live in a universe of stories we love sharing with one another. The Bible and the Quran too serve such purposes. One truth, many paths.

But what are we as Malaysians? Each of us a child of immigrants. Our place, this place we inhabit, is what Pramoedya Ananta Toer called “bumi manusia” or earth of mankind. Bumi Malaysia, where each race is a product of history, exploited by the colonial masters, in collaboration with the local rulers and chieftains.

Whether we were here as kampung folk, or we came as a band of kangchu and kangani, we are here, challenged to mediate our differences, to live as if civil war and genocide are words that do not exist in our vocabulary.

Orientalising to death

The British colonial policy of divide and rule, their conjuring up of the myth of the lazy native to describe Malayo-Polynesians, their construction of the other based on what was in it for them, their Conradesque narratives pounded into others ‘three-quarters as human’ as they are.

Peeking at the styles of other colonialists, we find similar themes of dehumanisation in the French ‘civilising mission’, the defining of ‘Bangsa Indonesia’ by the Dutch, and the Spanish racial delineation in the Philippines. All these illustrate the craft of imperialism.

Knowledge is power, and in the use of policies based on the construction of otherness and the emphasis on differences for economic-exploitative goals – all historical ingenuity. The story of Malcolm X’s return from pilgrimage in Mecca is, I think, a powerful narrative on the deconstruction of the matter and manner called race.

Back to who we now are, as peoples once enslaved. We are a model of civil dialogue. We seem to be doing well. We share a memory, a wonderful, yet equally challenging time we once had and lived gracefully. In poverty lies wealth, dignity, and ethics – this is what we learned from the post-Merdeka days.

We had to do that for historical logic – we came in and out of the bloody riots of May 13, 1969 and the brutal process of decolonisation, though we were spared the full Pandora’s box of human madness over power, wealth and violence.

We Malaysians learned to live with each other and grow with the differences we were born with and into. Because we are human beings, essentially and within us lies cultural hybridity, of the elements of cultures of ‘otherness’ weaved into our psyche, philosophy of living, and our physicality. We love each other’s food, fashion, and festivities. At the level of the masses we are good as a people of a relatively new nation.

But now we are facing a crisis of identity. A manufactured one. Today, identity has turned political – of the forbidden-ness and the halal-haram of things. Of fascist-type rallies fuelled by false sentiments of race and religion. Those uber-rallies that will soon lose their pomp and be seen as a genre of weekly pageants of irrationality.

The first mistake

Wherein lies the mistake of our cultural evolution? Education, I’d say. In this enterprise of “drawing out, of human potentials” lies that gentle profession the politicians have emboldened with the lava of racial prejudice and the myth of the limited economic pie.

Is there hope? We must begin with the amber, of what’s glimmering and what’s promising, but we cannot twist the arms of politicians if their bodies are wrapped with the straitjacket of wealth and power made out of that lava of latter-day-capitalism, insisting that the only way forward is to traverse the path suggested by Niccolo Machiavelli and Sun Tzu.

Maintain power by whatever means necessary, use deceit, use strategies to outdo the enemy, kill if you must, play with numbers, make statistics lie even better, and go to war with each other perpetually. Use education as a tool of apartheid, mental oppression, so that we may produce more myths, while the rich watch the numbers go up and down in the ticker-tape of the stock exchange. The ‘standards and poor’, where global poverty is the gold standard of the one percent of the new imperialists.

What do we actually want? Today the myth is recreated, reconstructed, and rebranded, as if we are living in an amnesiac society, ruled by leaders who are plagued with selective dementia.

It does not make sense to turn our politics and policy-making into a ghoulish carnival of the living dead, the ghosts of yesteryear being perpetually resurrected and used to instil fear in a new generation of Malaysians of each other – as if they must be forced to carry the burden of Malaysia’s violent episodes of history, crafted by the powers that want to maintain hegemony and the master-slave narrative.

That is what is happening now and, since independence, and the purposeful reluctance of accepting sane and logical solutions to our racial and religious ailments – like the debates over the United Examination Certificate (UEC), all-Malay elite boarding schools, proliferating tahfiz schools, English-language instruction, and the ketuanan educational-philosophical orientation.

We all want the best for our society, especially for the young ones struggling to make sense of the world. It is their future we are entrusted to craft. Hence, educational visioning must be undertaken as soon as a new government takes shape.

Leadership needs philosophy, process, innovation, and management of change, as we know. It needs empathy in the case of educational leadership, so that we may not discriminate and turn this gentle profession of educating into a hidden system of apartheid. This is what I see happening here. Continuation of unclear vision and the rabid hanging on to racial and religious dogma.

We have a lot to gain if we understand education for mental liberation in all its complexity in a multiracial society. One avenue to begin our restructuring is to learn from the diaspora who have seen what education looks like in diverse settings, and why advanced countries continue to advance and outlaw racial discrimination.

We should stop believing and supporting politicians who wish to continue to divide us through their rhetoric. We must wage an ideological yet dialogical battle with those who still call this and that race ‘lazy’, ‘greedy’, and ‘dirty’, and all kinds of demeaning and derogatory representations of these peoples’ pride and dignity.

These are the politicians who thrive on wealth, wilfully blind to the fact that poverty cuts across race and religious lines, that extremism is in all religions, and that the future generations need not be punished with the sins of their fathers and be made to feel helpless and hopeless with all kinds of unkind misrepresentation.

We must, especially through our educational philosophical and pedagogical design, shape a more peaceful, productive, and collaborative future amongst the races. So that we will not produce more amnesic politicians who will continue to sing us more lullabies about the ‘lazy, greedy, and dirty’ natives.

We have a lot to work on to achieve the goals of the political rhetoric of ‘Vision 2020’. But first, we must educate for peace, progress, and prosperity that “makes the many, one, and the one many”.

It must begin with a grand design of our educational future. A truly Malaysia future. No child left behind. Just look into the eyes of the children of Malaysians on their very first day of school. Do they tell us what discrimination means and will turn them into? Will they be in chains, when they are born free?

Have a safe 2019 fellow Malaysians!

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AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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

 

And the newsmaker of 2018 is…


December 28, 2018

And the newsmaker of 2018 is…

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https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/458052

Published:  |  Modified:

 

POLL | Over the past 18 years, Malaysiakini has without fail named a top newsmaker as we bring the curtain down on the year.

A newsmaker is defined as “someone whose actions make news headlines, who effects the course of public discourse and creates an impact in Malaysian politics, for better or worse”.

Malaysiakini has nominated 15 candidates for the Newsmaker of 2018 award.

A total of 3,445 participated in the seven-day poll. They voted by indicating their preference for each of the nominees – 0 being the lowest and 10 the highest.

And here’s their verdict…

https://pages.malaysiakini.com/topnews2018/en/newsmakers.html

Yesterday: Top 10 news of 2018 – Malaysiakini readers’ choice

Previous newsmakers

2017 – Mahathir Mohamad

2016 – MO1

2015 – Mahathir Mohamad

2014 – Passengers and crew of MH370 and MH17

2013 – Rosmah Mansor

2012 – Ambiga Sreenevasan

2011 – Bersih supporters

2010 – Ibrahim Ali

2009 – Teoh Beng Hock

2008 – YOU

2007 – VK Lingam

2006 – Mahathir Mohamad

2005 – Joint award – Rafidah Aziz and Mahathir Mohamad

2004 – S Samy Vellu

2003 – Husam Musa

2002 – Zainuddin Maidin

2001 – Rais Yatim