Daim’s appraisal of our academics


March 23 ,2019

Daim’s appraisal of our academics

by Tajuddin  Rasdi

Daim Zainuddin recently made two important points in his speech at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai.

Image result for daim zainuddin

Firstly, he said the Malays are being fed a narrative bordering on the idea that their race and Islam are both under threat, and that more affirmative policies will be needed in the new Pakatan Harapan government in the coming years and decades.

Secondly, and this is the main point of my article, he said Malay academics appear to be doing nothing at all but are letting this narrative play out to the opportunism of certain political parties and selfish NGOs.

I have been writing to the media for 20 years, saying absolutely the same thing, but it has earned me a negative perception from the Malay establishment especially in the public universities and even the previous higher education ministry.

Daim’s statement came as a sweet surprise to me as he was never one of my favourite politicians.

I know him as a savvy businessman who grew up within the Malay patronage system. As the economic and corporate worlds are outside of my understanding, I have shied away from trying to know anything about the man himself.

But a few days ago, I was surprised to find him articulating a historical, religious and political construct of what I consider a “Malaysia-Malay construct” as opposed to what I term a “Melayu-Malaysia” one.

A Malaysia-Malay construct is simply a Malay who understands his or her own heritage and faith within a Malaysian constitutional, multi-religious and multi-ethnic acceptance of co-existence, while a Melayu-Malaysia construct is a Malay who is just a Malay, then, now and forever, living in a land geopolitically defined as “Malaysia”. No compromise, no apologies.

The Melayu-Malaysia expects others to change for the sake of his race and faith, without the need to understand, tolerate or even acknowledge the importance of the existence of others as partners in nation-building.

The academics of this country have become purely self-serving and disinterested in nation-building.

The story of a disinterested academia began in the 1980s.

The Universities and University Colleges Act, or UUCA, was instituted to kill off or control student political activities and also that of the academics.

Under UUCA, no academic can speak or write to the media or the public without getting permission from the authorities. That basically sums it up.

A few academics were charged under the act, one of them the late Fadzil Noor who was the PAS president and an academic at a public university.

The involvement of the academia in nation-building basically died. With this law, the culture of academia turned inwards to a concentration on teaching until the idea of “world class” and being “internationally recognised” in rankings came into being in the late 1990s.

With this new mantra, academics are said to be successful if they publish in “high impact” or Scopus journals and receive million ringgit grants.

It would also sweeten the deal if an MoU were signed with European or American or Western universities deemed to be “world class” and “international”. Whether such ties would produce a culture of research and inquiry was disregarded as long as universities “dapat nama”, and a minister was there to observe the deals being signed. That’s it.

After the turn of the 21st century, public universities went full blast on rankings by journals with overseas publications. Locally published books, encyclopaedias and journals were regarded as third rate.

In the old days, books and media writings commanded a high percentage and weightage but now there is hardly a column to put them in on an evaluation or KPI form.

Once, I had to put my books, articles and 200 encyclopaedia entries in a column marked “other publications”.

I used to read Aliran, whose writers are academics from universities in the north. I found their writings to be fresh, bold and highly academic.

After 10 years, I noticed their designation was still “associate professor” and wondered when these people would be called “professor”.

I soon found out that they had migrated to the National University of Singapore. There is no future in Malaysia for “public intellectuals”.

I was lucky enough to be appointed a full professor before all the crazy journal hype began to take place in universities. I managed to squeeze by with my books, papers and other writings after attending the professor interview twice.

As my writings increasingly touched on society and the nation, my appointments at committees on the national level became fewer and fewer.

I no longer got invitations to public talks from universities, because I was told that I am “controversial” in the corridors of the chancellery.

So the only appointment letters from public universities that came to me were to be an examiner for PhD candidates and evaluator of professorships and associate professorships in architecture.

The coup de grace came after I went on optional retirement, leaving after 27 years of teaching and writing at a public university, exiting the campus alone and uncelebrated.

My application as contract professor to two public universities was rejected on grounds of me being “controversial”.

I have mentioned that the key to our future is the reeducation process of the Malay mind by Malay academics who understand that Islam is strong only if you read and understand, and not sit in front of the TV or the mosque podium listening to an ustaz giving his half-baked ideas of religion and society.

The fate of our country hinges on academics changing the narratives of what is important for Malaysians in the coming decades and centuries, to be in line with the goals of sustainable development outlined by the United Nations.

We won’t go very far listening to Friday sermons condemning progressive thinkers or LGBT that may have caused Allah to turn the hot weather on us.

Forget about STEM education if academics do not speak about it.

We are facing a Malay-Muslim society that has grown up with the Islamic resurgence of the 1980s with most Malays conscious about the afterlife and religious values for their children and society.

The International Islamic University Malaysia as well as Istac and Ikim were supposed to guide the Malays into a new era of modern and democratic understanding of Islam vis-a-vis nation-building and coexistence.

But where were these academics when two muftis encouraged the use of “kafir” on non-Muslim citizens, or when calls for “jihad” against the enemies of Islam came from the national mosque?

Daim’s speech must give pause to all the vice-chancellors of public universities to rethink their KPI for academics.

We need more public intellectuals to reform and rewrite the narratives of the nation, to bring social and religious harmony and sustainable wealth to the country.

We don’t need “high impact” journals to measure our success.

Just ask the man on the street whether he should vaccinate his children or whether the world is flat or defending minority groups would start a tsunami somewhere.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

 

Daim denounces ‘Malays under threat’ as


March 20,2019

Daim denounces ‘Malays under threat’ as nonsensical political rhetoric

https://www.malaysiakini.com

Malaysiakini  |  Published:  |  Modified:

 Malaysia has had a strong and rich history of inter-racial harmony and multi-culturalism since its very inception. But we must admit that it is still very complex with jobs and economic sectors identified with race, income inequality between the races and different educational systems existing.

Image result for Bank Negara Governor Abdul Aziz Taha

Governors of Bank Negara, Aziz Taha, Jaffar Hussein and Zeti Aziz. Professor Ungku Aziz, Zeti’s father, is a renowned economist. Zeti’s grandfather, Syed Mohammed Alsagoff, used to own Pulau Kukup, and had a concession to print his own money. Today, we use money signed by his granddaughter.

Since the last general election, the political narrative in Malaysia has centred around issues concerning race and religion, particularly the position of the Malays and Islam.

Speaking at UTM Skudai in Johor last night, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin addressed this issue and described the claim that Malays are under threat as nothing more than nonsensical political rhetoric.

“Despite being more educated and having a large educated segment, we are still unable to convince ourselves that Malays have nothing to fear in this country.

“Are Malays thinking strategically, critically and logically? It looks increasingly obvious every day that the Malays are thinking with their emotions instead of with their intellect. We must ask ourselves – what is happening to us?” he said.

According to Daim, who headed the Council of Eminent Persons, the Malays have allowed their emotions to run wild and influence their perception of others.

“When Mastika (Malay-language magazine) stopped writing ghost stories, circulation ended and now there is no more Mastika. Now instead of reading about ghosts in Mastika, we are seeing ghosts around every corner.

“Instead of depending on logic and facts, we prefer to buy into the racist rhetoric of politicians with dubious reputations,” he added.

Daim then asked his audience, comprising mainly of academicians, what role they were playing in injecting logic and facts into the Malaysia narrative.

“Do you intend to go along with the emotional flow or do you see it as your academic duty to question the irrational narratives that are being shoved down the Malays’ throats?

“Do you as ‘the educated’ speak honestly and bravely about what is happening or do you simply pretend that this growing racism is justified?

“All of you here are highly educated, but how many of you have bought into the nonsensical political rhetoric that the Malays are being threatened by the non-Malays in this country? That Islam is under threat simply because of one or two people being insensitive enough to post something on the Prophet (Muhammad)?” he added.

Daim said the current narrative, which centres around race and religion, gives the impression the Malays are on the verge of being driven out of their own country.

“There is so much anger and indignation when non-Malays were appointed to high posts in the government as if this is something new.

“Why is there not the same anger when we are confronted with facts of corruption and kleptocracy of the highest order among our Malay leaders? We don’t feel offended when it was prime news all over the world. Instead, we respond with “Malu apa? (Ashamed of what?)”. Kalau “tak malu,” apa jadi kepada iman kita (If we are not ashamed, what has happened to our faith)?

“The Malays can continue down this emotional and irrational path at our own peril or we can stop, think, reflect and call for change.

“Nobody is forcing us to be emotional and irrational. We have chosen to be that way ourselves because we have allowed ourselves to be bought over by politicians whose only goal is to gain or regain power, no matter what the cost – and the cost is almost always ours to bear,” he added.

 

Below is Daim’s speech in full:

To understand our current political climate, it is important to look back at our history. Kusut di hujung, balik ke pangkal (Messy at the end, return to the root of the problem).

The history of the Malays starts from long before the formation of Tanah Melayu. We are descendants of great empires, from Langkasuka, to Srivijaya, to Majapahit, to Melaka. Melaka, of course, is our most popular tale, that of a world-famous port whose global success led to its eventual colonisation.

And when Melaka fell to the Portuguese, those descendants of Sultan Melaka who survived founded a new empire here in Johor. They took control of the southern Malay Peninsula, spreading across Riau, Anambas, Natuna, Tambelan, Borneo, and Sumatra. Their success was attributed to the wisdom of their rulers, and their openness to international trade.

In more recent history, the formation of the Malayan Union and the subsequent opposition led by UMNO were significant events that triggered real change in the political organisation of the Malays. Onn Jaafar, himself from Bukit Gambir and an MB of Johor, founded UMNO in 1946, signalling the height of Malay political supremacy. We were united and we were strong.

But our unity did not last. We didn’t know how to deal with success; the Malays started to split. When we are successful, we are drunk with success. When we fail, we look for scapegoats and go amok.

Our battle with the Malayan Union was, in a way, the first true independence that we achieved – when the British backed down. We became masters of our own land.

But the political landscape changed, and many non-Malays began to consider Malaya home and demanded a say in their new homeland.

In 1951, Onn made the first attempt to unify the races in a single party when he tried to open the membership of UMNO to non-Malays. However, Umno members at the time rejected it, and he left the party.

Nevertheless, the 1952 elections marked the first real political collaboration between Malays and non-Malays when UMNO and MCA joined forces for political victory. They were later joined by MIC to form the Alliance, signalling political unity amongst all Malayans, achieving a sweeping victory in the 1955 elections.

Then came the negotiations for Merdeka, where all Malaysians worked hand-in-hand to shrug off the yoke of colonialism. We learned that we were stronger together – when all Malaysians were united, we could overcome challenges.

All this happened against a backdrop of consistent armed warfare against terrorists during the Emergency, when all races fought shoulder to shoulder to gain victory. We are the only country in the world to defeat terrorists.

Then came the formation of Malaysia and Konfrontasi and throughout Malays were working with non-Malays to achieve national goals.

So, Malaysia has had a strong and rich history of inter-racial harmony and multi-culturalism since its very inception. But we must admit that it is still very complex with jobs and economic sectors identified with race, income inequality between the races and different educational systems existing.

It cannot be denied that Malaysia will prosper when Malays prosper. You cannot have 50 percent of your population in low income, there will be economic instability affecting everyone, regardless of race or economic status.

For Malaysia to succeed, the Malays must succeed. But this can only be achieved within the national context, working together with non-Malays for the benefit of Malaysia.

Why is it that Malays were able to work so closely with non-Malays for so many years leading up to Merdeka and beyond? Even in the face of outside aggression, there were hardly questions of who deserved Malaysia more – the Malays or non-Malays. Indeed, it was only when politicians decided to use race and religion as tools to gain power that we fell by the wayside.

This talk is entitled ‘Naratif Malaysia: Melayu dalam Persoalan National’. My question to you is: should we not just be talking about a National Narrative? Need we break down a national narrative along racial and religious lines?

But if your intention is to find answers to inequality, and to answer why the Malays are behind economically, then I really hope that this seminar will provide the answer.

When we talk about the Malays, we must talk about Islam. The Malays and Islam are indeed deeply entwined. They cannot be discussed separately. But what this has led to is the ignoring of our cultural and regional heritage, which has been abandoned in favour of foreign cultures (Arabisation especially) which feed into the insecurity of the Malays. It seems that everyone who does not speak like us and everything that we do not agree with, is a threat to Malays and Islam.

We must ask ourselves – is this true? Why is this so? Since when have the Malays and Muslims become so insecure about our place in this country?

When the Malays were far less economically advanced and far less educated, we defeated the British by rejecting the Malayan Union. We were brave.

We knew to organise collectively and strategically. We used our brains to defeat a colonial power. We managed to gain independence without bloodshed. We had no problems working with non-Malays and even learning from other races.

As the Malays progressed, it seems so did our sense of insecurity. Why is this so? Could it be that when there were no crutches, we had dignity, and the Malays felt more secure of our place within the country?

We are not lacking in Malay heroes. Johor alone has a rich history of formidable warriors, renowned artists, poets, athletes, scientists, doctors, academicians, and businessmen.

There was Muhamad Salleh bin Perang, who was the Bentara Luar. He was the first to draw up an accurate map of Johor, without the modern technology that present-day surveyors have available. He was the Head of Land Management and State Survey, and he used his map to plan the development of Johor. He was a Malay, but he was fluent in Chinese and was knowledgeable about Chinese culture, which allowed him to work closely with them in developing the economy.

In the realm of politics alone, the list of honours is never ending. Tun Hussein Onn, our “Bapa Perpaduan”UMNO was from Johor. And so was his own “Bapa”, the founder of UMNO, Onn Jaafar. His father before him, Jaafar Muhammad, was the first and longest serving MB of Johor. Deputy Prime Ministers Tun Dr Ismail and Musa Hitam were sons of Johor. Tun Ismail’s family was illustrious on its own, including his father-in-law Seth Said, Deputy MB of Johor, who was part of the delegation for Merdeka, and signed the Merdeka agreement against the Sultan’s orders. Without him, we would not have had Merdeka.

Johor produced the President of the Senate, Rahman Yasin. He was Tun Dr Ismail’s father. Tun Dr Ismail’s brother-in-law Ghazali Seth, was Chief of Defence, and he married Sri Norziah – sister of Hussein Onn, daughter of Onn Jaafar. Tun Dr Ismail went to school in Sekolah Melayu Bukit Zaharah in JB with two other famous figures – his brother, Sulaiman Abdul Rahman, and Ahmad Perang, who became the first Malay chairman of KTM.

Mohamed Noah Omar, the first Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, was also from Johor. His family too was very special – his two daughters married the men who would go on to be our prime ministers. Rahah, the wife of Tun Razak, and Suhaila, the wife of Hussein Onn. Tun Razak studied at Raffles College, with another son of Johor, Taib Andak, after whom Felda Taib Andak in Kulai is named. His brother Rahman Andak, was one of the early campaigners for Johor’s independence, and was State Secretary of Johor in 1984.

Governors of Bank Negara, Aziz Taha, Jaffar Hussein and Zeti Aziz. Professor Ungku Aziz, Zeti’s father, is a renowned economist. Zeti’s grandfather, Syed Mohammed Alsagoff, used to own Pulau Kukup, and had a concession to print his own money. Today, we use money signed by his granddaughter.

Why should we feel insecure with a legacy as illustrious as this?

Again, could it be that after being given all sorts of crutches, the effect has been to make the Malays weak and insecure, and most noticeably, lacking in resilience? What has led to this lack of confidence? It seems that when the Malays were facing real challenges, such as fighting for independence, our resilience was so much stronger.

As ease and comfort and quality of life improved, confidence and resilience abated. These observations call for sincere self-reflection – instead of picking fights with perceived enemies, we should look inwards and try to better ourselves instead of blaming all of our ills on others. We seem to be scared of our own shadows.

Today, there is one Malay graduate for every 20 Malays. Despite being more educated and having a large educated segment, we are still unable to convince ourselves that Malays have nothing to fear in this country. Are Malays thinking strategically, critically and logically? It looks increasingly obvious every day that the Malays are thinking with their emotions instead of with their intellect. We must ask ourselves – what is happening to us?

We have allowed our emotions to run wild and influence the way we see others. We watch ghost movies at the box offices. When Mastika stopped writing ghost stories, circulation ended and now there is no more Mastika. Now instead of reading about ghosts in Mastika, we are seeing ghosts around every corner.

Instead of depending on logic and facts, we prefer to buy into the racist rhetoric of politicians with dubious reputations.

Since I am talking to academicians, I would like to pose this question to you: what role should you be playing in injecting some logic and fact into the Malaysia narrative? Do you intend to go along with the emotional flow or do you see it as your academic duty to question the irrational narratives that are being shoved down the Malays’ throats?

Do you as “the educated” speak honestly and bravely about what is happening or do you simply pretend that this growing racism is justified?

All of you here are highly educated, but how many of you have bought into the nonsensical political rhetoric that the Malays are being threatened by the non- Malays in this country? That Islam is under threat simply because of one or two people being insensitive enough to post something on the Prophet?

The religion cannot be insulted. Only people can be. If our faith is strong, we do not get insulted. In fact, we laugh at such ignorance. And our behaviour should reflect the best of our religion so that we and our religion earn the respect of others.

Our country is multi-cultural and multi-religious. We have managed to live here in peace. We are sensitive to our neighbours and respect one another. This is our way.

It is wrong to insult anybody, more so the Prophet. To make fun of religion is stupid. But we have laws, and we should respect due process. Many have forgotten our Rukun Negara. The most important document is the Constitution.

No Malaysian should make insensitive comments towards other religions and races. But what has happened with the proclamation of Jihad against non- Muslims recently?

If Muslims want to perform Jihad, it should be Jihad to better ourselves not only spiritually, but economically, academically and to contribute to the continued growth of our own country.

We talk about the Malay narrative as if we are on the verge of being driven out of our own country. There is so much anger and indignation when non- Malays were appointed to high posts in the government, as if this is something new.

Why is there not the same anger when we are confronted with facts of corruption and kleptocracy of the highest order among our Malay leaders? We don’t feel offended when it was prime news all over the world. Instead, we respond with “Malu apa?”. Kalau “tak malu”, apa jadi kepada iman kita (If we are not ashamed, what has happened to our faith)?

The Malays can continue down this emotional and irrational path at our own peril or we can stop, think, reflect and call for change. Nobody is forcing us to be emotional and irrational. We have chosen to be that way ourselves because we have allowed ourselves to be bought over by politicians whose only goal is to gain or regain power, no matter what the cost – and the cost is almost always ours to bear.

So, the choice is up to us – nak duduk macam katak di bawah tempurung (want to be like a frog beneath a coconut-shell)? Do we change and become a force to be reckoned within the context of the national agenda, Malaysia Baru, or do we go down the path we are currently treading and proclaim a narrative that is narrow, focused only on ourselves? Or will we pursue a truly National or Malaysia Narrative, in which we participate and play a very active role?

The National Agenda is not a Malay agenda or a non-Malay agenda. It is a Malaysian Agenda that takes into consideration all Malaysians. That fights poverty and inequality without discrimination, respecting the Constitution.

I am glad to note that this seminar is directed at the four sectors of politics, economy, budaya and agama. Let us get all of these right. To get all of these right, our education system must change. Don’t treat education as a political football. The education system must be right.

Our future, Malaysia’s future, will depend on giving our children the right type of education that will allow them to be confident to face the best in the world. Get education right, then politics and economy will be right. Brains minus emotions will determine our future and the future of Malaysia.

Expose our children to the world, then they will want to excel, and they will protect the best of our budaya.

There is nothing wrong with Islam. It is not under threat. It is the fastest growing religion in the world.

I would like to advise you not to follow politicians blindly. As I said earlier, for Malaysia to succeed, the Malays must succeed. I keep repeating, Iqra’ (Aik Krok) – read to acquire knowledge and to think critically. Choose the right path that will lead to success.

Time is very important and we are excellent at wasting time. We will lose to time. Let us tell ourselves from now on we shall not repeat past mistakes. We will give the best education to our children so that they can compete and succeed. Let us leave all failure of confidence behind, and start our future now.

Leave this hall confident and ok with ourselves. Tell our children that we will compete and we will succeed.

Forever pendatang, forever dhimmi, forever grateful


Forever pendatang, forever dhimmi, forever grateful

 

 

multiracial-malaysia

None of us can change the past; we can only try to make the most of our diversity and endeavour to forge a better future. And that journey can only truly begin when we confront the Ketuanan Melayu ideology and expose it for what it is – a sinister and contemptible racist creed that has no place in a multicultural constitutional democracy like ours.”-–Dennis Ignatius

Over the past few weeks, as the competition between Pakatan Harapan and the UMNO-PAS alliance for the Malay vote has heated up, we’ve been given stark reminders of how the UMNO-PAS leadership views non-Malays and what we can expect should the Ketuanan Melayu ideology they espouse dominate Malaysian politics.

Their view of non-Malays, put simply, is forever pendatang, forever dhimmi and forever grateful.

Pendatang forever

The concept of the non-Malay as pendatang (or “penumpang”, a similar term that acting UMNO president Mohamad Hasan recently used to describe non-Malays), is of course, intrinsic to the Ketuanan Melayu ideology and is central to the thinking of UMNO and PAS leaders.

Whether pendatang or penumpang, the idea is the same: non-Malays are interlopers, without commitment or loyalty to the nation and, therefore, undeserving of equal treatment or constitutional protection. It is intended to strip them of their very identity as Malaysians and suggests that they have no inherent right to be here.

In their view, non-Malays, no matter how long they have lived here, are pendatangs and penumpangs and will always remain so. Others – Muslims from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Middle East – can migrate to Malaysia and quickly become proud Malays but Malaysian-born non-Malays are doomed to remain pendatangs and penumpangs in perpetuity unless they convert.

Dhimmi forever

This racial division is further reinforced by a religious worldview that segregates Malaysians according to their faith into Muslim and dhimmi. In historical Islam, the ‘dhimmi’ were conquered people who had submitted to Islamic rule. They had few rights, had to pay a special tax and be forever subservient to Muslim authority in exchange for protection. Some Islamic scholars have also argued that dhimmis are automatically excluded from all participation in the political process.

No surprise then that men like Hadi Awang are constantly complaining that there are too many non-Muslims in parliament or that key positions like the chief justice and attorney-general are held by non-Muslims. In their twisted theocratic version of Malaysia, non-Malays, as dhimmis, have no business being in parliament or holding important positions.

The religious establishment is, of course, largely supportive of this religious division; in recent discussions on the issue, the muftis of Pahang and Perak, for example, insisted that there was nothing wrong in viewing non-Muslims as dhimmis.

Forever grateful

And for this privilege – the privilege of being pendatang and dhimmi forever, non-Malays are expected to remain forever grateful. As Hadi Awang likes to constantly remind us all, “Other races should appreciate [that] Muslims… accepted them as citizens and allowed them to practise their religion and use their language.”

Citizenship is no longer viewed by Ketuanan Melayu ideologues as part of the Merdeka agreement between all Malaysia’s ethnic communities but as an act of unilateral generosity for which eternal gratitude must be given. For Hadi, such gratitude must be manifested by perpetual submission, docility, and servility especially involving anything PAS says or does. To do otherwise is to be ungrateful and unmindful of Malay sensitivities.

An existential threat

Of course, UMNO and PAS leaders insist that all this does not amount to discrimination against non-Malays. Mohamad Hasan, for example, insisted that he was not trying to sideline non-Malays, that he wanted every community to “feel comfortable” while PAS vice-president Iskandar Abdul Samad reiterated that PAS-UMNO cooperation would not give rise to an extremist government.

It is a sign of how delusional, irrational, even duplicitous UMNO and PAS have become to expect non-Malays to be comfortable with such a racist system or that non-Malays will see such policies as anything but extremist.

As well, dividing the nation into Muslims and dhimmis might be acceptable in a theocratic Islamic state like Saudi Arabia but it can never be acceptable in a secular democratic state like Malaysia. Far from bestowing a divine right to rule on anyone, the Federal Constitution bestows upon all citizens – Muslim and non-Muslim – certain inalienable rights, rights that may not be unilaterally abrogated by muftis or anyone else.

It goes without saying that the Ketuanan Melayu vision of Malaysia is at variance with the Federal Constitution. It threatens to strip non-Malays of their constitutional rights, privileges and protections. Clearly, it is not the Malays and the position of Islam that are under threat; it is the non-Malays who now face an existential threat from the Ketuanan Melayu ideologues and their followers.

Given this situation, it is hard to fathom how the MCA and MIC can continue to remain unperturbed by UMNO-PAS cooperation or how they can continue to work with the very groups that are out to disenfranchise the minority communities they claim to represent. Are they so devoid of principle that they would minimize the very real dangers that the Ketuanan Melayu ideology of UMNO and PAS now poses to non-Malays just for the sake of a few crumbs from UMNO’s table?

Confronting Ketuanan Melayu

The Federal Constitution indisputably acknowledges Islam as the official religion of the Federation and confers special rights on the Malays but that can never be used to justify an ethno-religious apartheid state or legitimize a system of discrimination against any citizen. Like it or not, Malaysia is by constitutional mandate a secular democracy that makes no distinction between Muslim and dhimmi or Malay and pendatang. And, like it or not, we are all Malaysia’s sons and daughters.

None of us can change the past; we can only try to make the most of our diversity and endeavour to forge a better future. And that journey can only truly begin when we confront the Ketuanan Melayu ideology and expose it for what it is – a sinister and contemptible racist creed that has no place in a multicultural constitutional democracy like ours.

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 13th March 2019]

 

 

 

 

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

 

How effective is the Economic Affairs Ministry?


Fsbruary1, 2019

How effective is the Economic Affairs Ministry?

Opinion

 by Nathaniel Tan

 

COMMENT | Universiti Malaya Professor Terence Gomez recently wrote an article entitled ‘Patronage is king in new Malaysia?’

This article elicited a rather rare response from the usually reclusive and enigmatic former finance minister, Daim Zainuddin, who registered his umbrage about having his photo printed (“reporting by innuendo”, allegedly) alongside Gomez’s article in The Star.

One of Gomez’s key questions involved the moving of key federal agencies from one ministry to another under Pakatan Harapan.

Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad created the new Economic Affairs Ministry under PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali just a few weeks after forming the government last year.

Gomez did not appear to directly question the formation of this ministry and the rationale for doing so, but Daim seemed quick to jump to its defence, writing:

“The cabinet is appointed by the Prime Minister; who he appoints and what portfolio they hold is entirely his prerogative. He can even have a minister in charge of durians if he so wishes, if he considers that a portfolio of durians is good for his administration and the country.”

Trying to play amateur psychologist should perhaps be frowned upon, but the defensiveness and sarcasm of these words might perhaps be interpreted as Gomez having hit a little close to home.

In his short piece, Daim was also quick to defend the ‘bumiputera agenda’: “The bumiputra agenda is mutually inclusive with a national agenda. For as long as we do not solve the bumiputra issue, we can never go forward as a nation.”

We must, of course, be fair. Nothing that Daim is saying in the above quotes is technically wrong, or even particularly bad.

The Prime Minister does indeed have every power to create or dissolve ministries as he sees fit, and bumiputera prosperity is not mutually exclusive with Malaysian prosperity.

All that said, it may be worthwhile for us to read a little between the lines to understand what undercurrents are at play here.

Why an Economic Affairs Ministry?

To my shame, I must admit that I was for a long time a little bit confused about the rationale of creating the Economic Affairs Ministry in the first place.

As time went by, I realised that said rationale should have been obvious to anyone deigning to consider themselves a seasoned political observer.

The answer becomes clear when we look at a sampling of which federal agencies were transferred from Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s ministry to Azmin’s portfolio: Felda, Felcra, Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera, Yayasan Amanah Hartanah Bumiputera, and Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera, just to name a few.

Azmin’s ministry also convened the Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation in September last year.

The facts suggest that there were elements who felt uncomfortable with placing the agencies mentioned and all the power that came with them above under the aegis of someone with a surname like “Lim.”

Political ambitions as a distraction

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There is one more element here at play. It may not have been a coincidence that Azmin was handpicked to lead this carved-out ministry.

The enduring focus of political speculation and gossip in Malaysia is whether or not PKR President Anwar Ibrahim will succeed Mahathir as Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, some might say that the enduring focus of Daim’s vision for a future Malaysia is one in which Anwar is not prime Minister.

The mutual dislike between these men is not much of a secret. In the early days after GE14, both made thinly veiled attacks against one another.

Image result for Daim on ANWAR

Anyone looking to prevent Anwar from becoming Prime Minister would naturally look to alternatives. Azmin of course is an obvious option, given the increasing animosity playing out between Azmin and Anwar.

The available facts and public positions taken by each respective party does make it look like there is some Azmin-Daim partnership manoeuvering to try and put forward Azmin as a successor to Mahathir instead of Anwar.

The disproportionate amount of Mahathir-friendly content on Azmin’s Twitter timeline and Daim’s reputation as someone inclined to project considerable influence (‘meddle’ is the less kind word some might use) in various spheres of governance all add to this perception.

The stakes in this game are high of course – literally the highest, where Malaysian politics is concerned. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of energy and resources go into the political manouvering at play.

Getting back on track

A few days ago, a piece of tragic, shocking news emerged, where two elderly ladies in Pudu died in a mini-stampede at the wet market over a rush to get coupons for free food.

Amidst all our politicking, this was a sobering reminder of the (literal) life and death realities Malaysians are facing on the ground.

Whatever his political ambitions, and whether or not his entire ministry was created amidst racial concerns, people like Azmin and others are all capable of playing a big role in facilitating much-needed growth in our economy.

Doing so, however, will require him and the rest of those in power to hunker down and really focus on finding solutions.

If we fail to do so, we put the welfare of those like the two ladies in Pudu, and millions of other Malaysians with them, at severe risk.


NATHANIEL TAN is Director of Media and Communications at EMIR Research, a think tank focused on data-driven policy research, centered around principles of Engagement, Moderation, Innovation and Rigour.

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

Personal Reflections of a Malaysian Member of Parliament


January 30, 2019

Personal Reflections of a Malaysian Member of Parliament

Image result for William Leong

by William  Leong,MP

A donkey carrying baskets was told by his shepherd master to flee when enemies approached. The donkey asked if the enemy would put another pair of baskets on him and if not, why flee.

In a change of government, the poor change nothing beyond the name of their master.–The Shepherd and Aesop’s Fables

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name

There will be many analyses of the Cameron Highlands by-election result. It is obvious Pakatan Harapan did not win sufficient Malay support and there was a lower voter turnout compared to the 14th General Elections. In the ultimate analysis, the result is a reflection of Malaysians agreeing with Aesop’s donkey. Other than a change of the Prime Minister and name of the coalition, the Pakatan Harapan government has not implemented the promised substantive reforms. The danger arising from the Cameron Highlands result is PH will be engaged in a race to the bottom of ethnic extremism with UMNO-PAS. With it comes greater ethnic tensions and deeper ethnic cleavages. All of us, Malaysians, like Martin Luther King Jr. have a dream. We have all been inspired by the song “We Shall Overcome.” It has become the anthem against injustice. It is a song about a promise: “We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe.” But in the light of recent events, May 9 was not the day. We shall have to overcome on some other day.

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name

Elite Capture of the Government Inequality and racial politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to racial politics. Race-based politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power.

Inequality and race-based  politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to race- based  politics. Race-based politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power. The country into a dysfunctional state is also due to elite capture of the BN government. It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable  It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable greed.

The political-economic elite uses the political power in their hands to control the government institutions responsible for distribution of resources and to ensure that policies that benefit them are retained at the expense of a dis-empowered majority. The political-economic elite through political patronage maintain a system to establish monopolies and activities to extract rent. They manipulate politicians and administrators to cater to their narrow economic interests through inequitable practices that tend to discriminate against other groups.

A massive rural development fund was launched by the Ministry of Rural and National Development in 1959 by Tun Abdul Razak then Deputy Prime Minister, since then UMNO politicians became not only interested in the business of politics but also more interested in the politics of business – generating income, wealth and influence in the business of rural development. The development projects were won by UMNO politicians and subcontracted to Chinese contractors.  It came to be planted in the minds of many young Malays and aspiring entrepreneurs that there seemed to be a shortcut, a “political way” to make the materialistic leap to become rich rather quickly.

1.Upward social mobility is by climbing the rungs of the political ladder and money politics was born. Following the first Bumiputera Economic Congress in 1965 and the second three years later in 1968, detailed strategies and programmes were made to implement the nationalist economic agenda which culminated in the New Economic Policy in 1971. The evolution of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) progressed in tandem with the protracted affirmative action under the NEP.

Image result for Gomez and Jomo

Terrence Gomez and K.S. Jomo have pointed out that most Malay businessmen wanted state intervention to preserve their special privileges. They contended that such Bumiputera capitalists were rent-seekers rather than genuine entrepreneurs. They regarded the activities of these Bumiputera capitalists as unproductive and a hindrance to economic development.

2. The Najib administration in its failed attempt to implement the New Economic Model admitted to the scourge of political patronage and rent-seeking behavior of these political-economic elite. 3. The National Economic Advisory Council (“NEAC”) in its publication “The New Economic Model for Malaysia Part 1” stated as follows:

“Ethnic-based economic policies worked but implementation issues also created problems. The NEP has reduced poverty and substantially addressed inter-ethnic economic imbalances. However, its implementation has also increasingly and raised the cost of doing business due to rent-seeking, patronage and often opaque government procurement. This has engendered pervasive corruption which needs to be addressed earnestly.”

Terence Gomez in his book “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia” has drawn attention to the disturbing development that control of corporate Malaysia has been taken over by the Government-Linked Investment Companies (“GLICs”) which included Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, with the Ministry of Finance at the apex of the structure. Gomez has pointed out that the nexus involving politics and business has fundamentally shifted from UMNO politicians to the office of the Minister of Finance which was then concurrently held by 4 the Prime Minister during the time of Najib Tun Razak.

4 Gomez in a recent article “Patronage is king in new Malaysia” voiced his concern that under the Tun Mahathir administration, control of the GLICs have been removed from the Ministry of Finance and transferred to the newly created Economic Affairs Ministry while Khazanah Nasional was placed under the Prime Minister’s Department.

At the Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation, Tun Mahathir stressed the need to reinstitute thepractice of selective patronage targeting Bumiputeras.

5. Gomez posed the question whether PH will carry out divestment of the GLICs businesses to create a new breed of powerful well-connected business groups, even oligarchs.

Fallacious Racial Arguments

Racial Myths Debunked

It is based on the argument that by the elite’s predominance, the elite is able to provide for those “included” in the dominant racial group while excluding those in the “Other” racial groups. It is only in this manner, so the argument goes, that members of the “in” group can be assured of improvement to their economic well-being and survival at the expense of the “Other.”

Scholars have explained that ethnic tensions are created by ethnic activists and political  entrepreneurs making blatant ethnic appeals to outbid moderate politicians, thereby mobilizing members of their ethnic group, polarizing society and magnifying inter-ethnic dilemmas. Non-rational factors such as emotions, historical memories and myths create a vicious cycle that threatens to pull multi-ethnic societies apart.

6. The political-economic elite have perpetuated these myths and fallacies to maintain their dominance and influence. They hijacked and abused the NEP and racial preferential policies for their personal gain while the objective of creating an independent Bumiputera entrepreneur class remains unrealized.

The corruption, plundering and kleptomania exhibited by the previous BN regime have shattered the fallacies of racial politics. These political elite not only stole from the national coffers but also robbed the till of sacred institutions established to promote Bumiputera well-being such as FELDA, MARA, Tabung Haji and others. By their misconduct the myth that only ministers and government officials from UMNO or endorsed by UMNO can be trusted to take care of the Malays has been debunked. The deception sustained throughout the years that the personality, integrity and capability of the elected representative are not factors for consideration as long as he is a Malay from UMNO has also been fully exposed. The fiction that non-Malays cannot be trustedto take care of the Malays is being dispelled with the appointment of non-Malays as the Finance Minister, Attorney-General, Chief Justice and others. In the process, it is revealed those who benefited the most from the distrust, suspicions, hatred and fear among the various ethnic groups are the political-economic elite themselves while the largest group of the impoverished after 5 decades of the NEP continue to be the Malays and Bumiputeras.

Centripetalism put into practice

The changeover from BN to PH have allowed PH elected representatives, government agencies and institutions to depoliticize ethnicity by resolving the people’s problems on cross-ethnic basis. Malay constituents can take their problems directly to their non- Malay PH elected representatives without having to go through the local UMNO division chiefs. The non-Malay constituents similarly can approach their Malay PH elected representatives without having MCA or MIC local leaders as intermediaries. The constituents enjoy the confidence that the matters are resolved on an objective basis and not subject to ethnic interests or considerations.

In this way politicians can take moderate positions that accommodate all ethnic groups and avoid extreme or divisive positions. In the process the politicians gain support from across the ethnic divide. This process is now endangered if ethnic extremists are allowed to take central stage again  and the space for moderates diminishes.

Patching Up the Tattered Myths

On May 9, the Pakatan Harapan government was given a golden opportunity to restructure the  policies putting an end to divisive racial politics. It was a chance of a lifetime to put right the growing inequality of income, wealth and well-being of Malaysians irrespective of race and religion, to enhance social cohesion, provide for all their right to flourish and live the life they value in dignity and restore the nation to its rightful global economic order. It was bought and paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of those who sacrificed their careers, reputation and freedom over 20 years, for some stretching back 40 years or more.

It is therefore tragic that Tun Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan government did not fully grasp the opportunity offered. Instead, Tun Mahathir and his administration have stopped at only changing the personalities. They have not gone further to carry out the much-needed reforms.

Recent events show, Tun Mahathir does not fully embrace the Pakatan Harapan reform agenda. He has now embarked on a contest to win Malay support from UMNO and PAS by showing that Bersatu is a better champion of Malay rights. In doing so, Tun Mahathir is building a roof of Malay dominance to cover the Pakatan Harapan foundation of multi-racial and multi-cultural beliefs. Tun Mahathir is stitching back and patching up the tattered myths of racial politics. He is resuscitating the old political-economic elite and attracting new ones to come under the Bersatu umbrella. Tun Mahathir is now working to replace UMNO hegemony with a Bersatu hegemony:

 On 1 st November 2018, Tun Mahathir  defended the NEP and its race-enteric preferential programme in opening the Congress on the Future of the Bumiputera and the Nation 2018. He defended the practice of awarding contracts by “direct negotiations” and to continue doing away with meritocracy;

On 1st November 2018, Dato Sri Azmin Ali, the Economic Affairs Minister in his parliament winding-up speech during the debate on the 11 h Malaysia Mid-Term Review said  NEP and said that the PH government will continue with the spirit of the NEP and to realize its objectives;

On 23 rd November 2018, in the wake of UMNO and PAS objections, the cabinet reversed its decision to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The decision left Gun Kut, a member of the United Nations committee member monitoring the implementation of ICERD dumbfounded. He said the cabinet decision made Malaysia to be seen as accepting racial discrimination;
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By 15th December 2018, a total of 16 MPs have quit UMNO and Bersatu proposes to accept them into its fold. These defectors have not shown they have changed their political philosophy or shed their UMNO culture.

On 29th December 2018, Tun Mahathir at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s 2nd General Assembly (the “Bersatu General Assembly”) hammered home the final nail in the coffin of multi-racial politics and inclusive policies.Tun Mahathir in his speech at the Bersatu General Assembly said the time has not yet come for multi- racial political parties. Tun Mahathir reprise Malay fears of the other ethnic groups. He reminded the Malays that they would be left behind economically by the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

Although, Tun Mahathir is asking the Malays to march to the beat of a different drummer, he is nevertheless, using the same ethno-nationalist drums beating out the same sounds of “blood and soil” that UMNO uses. In fact, Tun Mahathir pointed out in his speech, Bersatu is the UMNO of 2003.

Back on the Road to Serfdom and Mediocrity

It cannot be doubted that Tun Mahathir is sincere and earnest in his belief that social cohesion and addressing inequality among the different ethnic groups are to be achieved through the racial preferential policies of the NEP and Malay political dominance. There is, however, a viable alternative in the form of needs-based affirmative action and inclusive policies but these are not being taken up. Sadly, we are being taken back down the road to serfdom again. New Malaysia instead of being a society in search of excellence, will continue to perfect mediocrity. Instead of good governance and accountability, political patronage and rent-seeking will continue to thrive. Instead of social cohesion, there will be further social fragmentation, greater mistrust and deeper ethnic division among the citizens than before.

Dreams of equality and social justice have become another case of blowing in the wind. We nevertheless must soldier on in the struggle for justice and freedom. We only lose when we give-up. The original verse in “We Shall Overcome” becomes more relevant to Malaysians.
“ If in my heart I do not yield,
I do believe,
I shall overcome someday”

This article is the personal opinion of the author and is not to be taken as the position of the political party or of any groups or that this opinion is endorsed by them.

William Leong Jee Keen, MP
Member of Parliament Selayang

28 January 2019

Shamsul A.B, “The Economic Dimension of Malay Nationalism.” 2 Gomez Edmund T and K.S. Jomo (1999), “Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits.

Cambridge University Press”
The New Economic Model Part.1

Edmund Terence Gomez, “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia.”

Terence Gomez, “Patronage is king in new Malaysia”  Malaysiakini 12 January 2019.