Mayor Sadiq Khan: A Londoner First


May 23, 2016

Mayor Sadiq Khan:  A Londoner First

by Farouk A. Peru

http://www.malaymailonline. com

Last week, Malaysia sank to an even lower level of political discourse than usual with two Penang Barisan Nasional reps vying for the top prize of most unintelligent comment.

One is the Penang Opposition leader herself, Jahara Hamid, who got jittery when she realised there was a Taoist shrine in a park. According to her, this shrine will confuse the Muslims. They would probably see this shrine, then inexplicably fall prostrate before it.

Another candidate for most unintelligent comment is Bertam assemblyman Shariful Azhar Othman. He needs eateries to have either “halal” or “non-halal” signs. Signs like “pork free” would confuse him ostensibly because he thinks pork would be freely distributed, perhaps?

While Malaysia languishes at the bottom of the political pit, history has been made. London has just elected her first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Not many Malaysians have heard of him before this but his is a success story. The son of humble Pakistani immigrants, one of eight children, his story is a climb to the heady heights of fame and fortune. He was already a financial success before involving himself in politics.

He was part of Gordon Brown’s exiting Labour Cabinet holding two ministerial posts before and now finds himself the mayor of London. You can read his entire life story all over the Internet.

Despite the worldwide positive reaction, Sadiq Khan’s victory is not so easily formulated. Muslims, especially among all other groups, were obviously quick to laud Khan’s victory as a new era for Islam. Personally I think they are being overly optimistic. It is not as simple as: “The world has now changed. Look, a Muslim is now the mayor of London.” This is what it looks like from the outside but the truth is far more complex.

For a start, let’s take note of the fact that Khan did not win by a landslide. He achieved 44 per cent of the vote while his nearest competitor, the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, achieved 35 per cent. This is a not big margin at all.

It shows that Goldsmith had more than a third of voter support. Considering Goldsmith’s previous performance, this is a record when compared to Khan’s and the only reason Goldsmith would even get that many votes is that Khan belongs to a minority group.

What is perhaps even worse is that Goldsmith achieved this by using underhanded tactics in his campaign. He was actually chided by senior Conservatives for his tactics. One of his more blatantly racist claims actually suggested that allowing Khan victory would be surrendering London to terrorists!

London has not come a long way at all. It has made progress but not by far.That brings us to another important point which Malaysian Islamo fascists realised a few days after Khan’s victory. Sadiq Khan is a Pakistani Muslim but he is far from the conservative version of an Islamist.

He did not win the elections in order to turn London into a Muslim city! Rather, he is very friendly to all faiths. There is even a picture of him dressed in Hindu garb which, to my amusement, was circulated with much regret around the Malay-Muslim social media.

What took the biscuit, however, was the revelation that Khan supported same sex marriages some years back. This information completely removed him from being any semblance of a Muslim media darling!

We should really ask ourselves, why were we so elated in the first place when a Muslim was elected as the mayor of London? Would it make any difference who gets elected as long as the person was capable of doing his job?

 

Beneath Malaysia’s façade, lies a dangerous, widespread, and fundamental rot (photo from malaysia-chronicle.com). Read: http://www.christopherteh.com/blog/2015/03/closing-of-the-malaysian-mind/

Malay-Muslims should also ask themselves, would they find it acceptable if a member of the rakyat who was not a Malay was appointed the mayor of KL? It would not even be a Chinese or Indian if we were to look for a Sadiq Khan equivalent. Rather it would be a specific type of a minority. Perhaps a Sikh. Would it be acceptable if a Sikh was appointed the mayor of KL? If not, then we have no business applauding Khan’s victory

We should also ask ourselves why there was little news last year when another Muslim mayor albeit of only a borough, Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman was sacked from office. Rahman was mayor for five years until it was found that he was guilty of election fraud in 2015. That did not make the headlines of Muslim news, I’m sure.

In order to make a better world, we need to beyond tribal kinship and focus on performance. Only then can the right people be chosen for the job and benefit us all.

Malaysia: A Tale of Hang Tuak and Hang Jebon


May 23, 2016

Malaysia:  A Tale of Hang Tuak and Hang Jebon

by Dr. Azly Rahman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Malaysia’s : Hang Jebon-The 1MDB mastermind

When I was 10 or 11, I wanted to be either Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat or Bruce Lee. For those not familiar with the names, I will skip explaining who Bruce Lee was. One may check his Facebook page to find out who the San Francisco-born Chinese-American-Philosophy-major warrior was. Tuah and Jebat did not have Facebook accounts. Not even Linkedin profiles.

I worshipped Tuah and Jebat, I even wanted to be both heroes in one – like a Nescafe 2-in-1 sachet.

I would lock myself in my bedroom at times, put on my baju Melayu Johor, kain samping, a paper tanjak or headgear, and with my paper-made keris, I’d be Hang Tuah fighting Hang Jebat. I’d jump up and down the bed yelling words like “Cis bedebah kau! Mati kau!” (You son-of-a machine-gun you! Die you, die!)  before I plunge my kris into myself as I was playing both roles – Tuah and Jebat.  I was not sure which one was a better hero or a better moron of Malacca times.Today – I have killed both of them.

Here is the story of the re-branded heroes Hang Tuak and Hang Jebon; the former a warrior drunk with moronism and the latter a gangster and a playboy-warrior. ‘Tuak’ is a Malay word for ‘palm wine’ and ‘Jebon’ is a mongoose.

Hang Tuak was said to be the most loyal and most celebrated Malay hero of 15th century Malacca; a hero endowed with special powers to serve the king. He was said to be a polyglot as well, able to speak multiple languages while able to defeat top-notch fighters from neighbouring kingdoms, especially Majapahit.

He was also an expert kangkong eater, able to trick his way into getting a glimpse of the face of a Ming Dynasty emperor by pretending that he was swallowing the Chinese salad heads-up. I suppose the great Chinese sultan looked as pretty as a Hong Kong version of Shah Rukh Khan that no one is allowed to even look at his face.

The Hang Tuaks led by a Mr. Kulup

For Hang Tuak to gain access to that face – that was a most remarkable and celebrated achievement of the Malay warrior when it comes to fine and acrobatic dining. Had he stayed longer and ate more kangkongs, Tuak would have taken selfies with the supreme ruler of the dynasty, right there in the middle of the middle of the Middle Kingdom.

Hang Jebon was Hang Tuak’s BFF or best friend forever until one day he found out that Tuak was wrongfully sentenced to death by the sultan who loved women and would steal other people’s wife and daughters or even concubines and grandmothers if they look like Marilyn Monroe or Lady Gaga.

Yes, because the sultan was angry that his favourite warrior-terminator did not get to kidnap one Tun Teja of Pahang and instead the fool fell in love with Madam Teja.  (Note: Teja is not to be confused with Madam T, the wife of ‘Mr T’ the African-American TV hero with the mohawk.)

The gorgeous Teja perhaps looked like Katherine Hepburn in Truman Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Tuak was unlucky in that mission impossible and was sentenced to death ; maybe to death by tickling till he turned pink and red and then died.

Chosen by the Mandate of Heaven

That was a form of slow death, arguably pleasurable those day before lethal injection. And that was how sultans acted those days. If you are a sultan chosen to rule by the Mandate of Heaven by some Divine Daulat, you could do anything – do good to your slaves or ‘hamba sahaya’ as well as have as many concubines that your harem can accommodate and steal other people’s wife or daughter or steal even royal goats and orangutans.

There were some bad sultans back in the day, mind you. Some may have kept both concubines and porcupines as well.

As God-appointed rulers, you can have all the nice designer clothes you want, sit on the most exquisite diamond-studded throne till you constipate, eat caviar all day, summon the Malay court  dancers to even dance like Janet Jackson or have them do the locomotion, and even have 10 gold-plated bullock carts to bring you and your palace gang members around the village-kingdom, reminding people that a sultan can do no wrong and is above the law and that going against them will have you arrested and coconuts will be shoved down your throat, as the mildest punishment.

That was the power the sultans gave themselves. Back in the day, if you laugh at a prince who could not kick the sepak takraw ball right you could end up dead as well. Maybe stoned to death with a hundred of those hard rattan ball. Those were the days – of the Malay Harry Potter days – when sultans were also carried around the village in what looked like stretchers crafted by the best adiguru (master artisans) with chair design expertise.

One of the sultans even died on a ‘dulang-looking stretcher’ in Kota Tinggi, when he was murdered with a keris by his own laksamana. His story was told as ‘The Story of Sultan Mahmud Mangkat di Julang’. He was an evil sultan who did not like people stealing fruits from his kebun/orchard. Especially buah nangka or jackfruit. He does not care if you are a pregnant woman craving for a piece of jackfruit.

Back to the two Hang men – Tuak and Jebon.

Hang Najib’s generous friends from Saudi Arabia–USD681 million Gift

So as the legend goes, Jebon was extremely angry and, in the spirit of Che Guevara and the infidel Fidel Castro, decided to revolt and take over the kingdom. Not only the sultan had to go into hiding in some ‘batu-belah-batu-bertangkup-looking’ cave but Jebon was smart, in the tradition of womanising-smart he learned from the sultans – he took all the sultan’s concubines as well all for himself.

All those Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and even Beyonce and Kim Kardashian and Kaitlyn-Bruce-Jenner looking Malacca concubines were made his. Jebat the silat-smart Darth Vader-like warrior took them all and had a lot of fun in the process of fighting for justice. Fighting for Tuak his BFF.

It is like today’s ethos – to be a politician means to serve and to steal. And to do these big time. Tuak and Jebon were the favourite lakshamanas (‘admirals’)  entrusted to keep the sultans in power and in lust all the time. There were handsomely rewarded.

The legend and nothing more

So, that was the story of the two Malay warriors of Malacca times. That was the legend and nothing more. One cannot even do a DNA testing on those two Hangmen, There is no point spending time debating ‘cogito-ergo-sum-ness’ of the two. No point using a Descartian logic to prove their existence.

All those Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and even Beyonce and Kim Kardashian and Kaitlyn-Bruce-Jenner looking Malacca concubines were made his. Jebat the silat-smart Darth Vader-like warrior took them all and had a lot of fun in the process of fighting for justice. Fighting for Tuak his BFF.

It is like today’s ethos – to be a politician means to serve and to steal. And to do these big time. Tuak and Jebon were the favourite lakshamanas (‘admirals’)  entrusted to keep the sultans in power and in lust all the time. There were handsomely rewarded.

The legend and nothing more

So, that was the story of the two Malay warriors of Malacca times. That was the legend and nothing more. One cannot even do a DNA testing on those two Hangmen, There is no point spending time debating ‘cogito-ergo-sum-ness’ of the two. No point using a Descartian logic to prove their existence.

But Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat were my heroes. I love them. Not anymore after they had a name-change: Hang Tuak ‘the forever drunk’ and Hang Jebon ‘the original Malacca  gangsta’.  That leaves Bruce Lee and me, myself and I as the two heroes. The Nescafe 2-in-1 me.

Malays of today do not need Tuaks and Jebons as heroes. Malays don’t need to glorify these names and confuse children what a ‘hero’ should mean. A moron is not a hero. A moron does not think. They follow the money and those with power. We have so many ‘Hang Sapu Habis’ heroes propped up in our midst.

The hero is the self – the kingdom within larger that the outside – the child that refuses to bow to authority, especially if the authority is based on the system of moronism etched, archived, and embalmed in the past.

That we call tradition and history must be integrated with Philosophy and there is nothing wrong in using the tools of today’s philosophical discourse of what is right and what is wrong in rewriting the past and killing past morons hailed as today’s heroes. That is our task in education for critical consciousness. Dare we rewrite the history of our own people – so that each of our children will triumph as hero?

Comprendo? As Che Guevara would ask.

In Memory of Adlan  Benan Omar

The Day Hang Tuah Walked Through My Door

http://therealmalay.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-day-hang-tuah-walked-through-my-door.html


This is a short story by Adlan  Benan Omar – a fellow lover of history and a dear friend who died on Thursday, 24 January 2008. He was only 35. Those of you who know him will remember Ben’s almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Malay history

There can perhaps be no fitting tribute to this remarkable young man, and no better way to remember him, than to reproduce this short story by Ben, which not only highlights the passion that he had for Malay history, but also shows a bright, intelligent mind that was a breath of fresh air and a shining light in contemporary Malay culture.

I continue to remember Ben with great fondness


The Day Hang Tuah Walked Through My Door 

by Adlan Benan Omar (1973-2008)

Everyone knows who Hang Tuah is. Everyone knows that he was a great warrior, that he was loyal to his king, that he fought and defeated Hang Jebat in a gruelling duel. But I knew more about Hang Tuah than anyone else. No… I didn’t read more than anyone else (how much more could a twelve-year-old have read anyway?). I knew more about Hang Tuah because he came to live with us a few months ago.

Yes, you heard me right. Hang Tuah did come to live with me and my family. Abah took him home one day. He had found the old man walking around the local playground one evening, while he was out jogging. It was getting dark and the old man had no place to go, so we took him in. Mak was not too happy about that, she thought the old man looked crooked. He was dirty and he didn’t wear shoes. Mak said that people might think our family has gone weird. Abah just laughed. “Kasihan …dia orang tua,” he said.

My friends didn’t believe me at first. They thought I was dreaming, or making things up, or just plain lying.

Azraai said that the old man was an alien from Mars and not Hang Tuah. Eqhwan laughed at me and said that either I or the old man must be mad. Anuar said that if Hang Tuah was still alive I wouldn’t be able to understand what he said because he spoke classic Malay like in the hikayats. Hilmi (our local school’s smart alec) tried to explain to me that the Melaka Empire was no more and that Hang Tuah was just a legend. He said that if Hang Tuah was still alive he would be at least five and a half centuries old and the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records stated that the oldest man in the world lived only to 120 years. Only Farid sympathised with me… and that was because he had an imaginary friend whom he always took along to play marbles with us.

I really didn’t care what they said. I knew that old man was Hang Tuah. I know because I asked him myself.

The morning after we took the old man in, Mak asked me to wake him up for breakfast. I went to the spare room and found that he was already awake. He was sitting on the edge of the bed with a blue batik bundle on his lap.

“Jemput makan, Tok,” I said, politely.

“Terima kasih,” he said.

I was curious, so I asked, “Apa dalam buntil tu Tok?”

“Barang Tok… barang orang miskin,” he replied.

Then he opened it up slowly. I saw him fiddle for something, then he took out a long keris with an ivory sheath. It was at least a foot long and studded with jewels.

Hang Tuah Sketch

“Ini keris Taming Sari,” said the old man.

I snickered, “He! He! He!”. I thought the old man was joking. Everyone knew that Taming Sari belonged to Hang Tuah and that it must have disappeared with its master.

The old man looked up at me. His eyes stared into mine. I felt a little queasy at that. His expression changed, he began to look angry. Suddenly his eyes drooped and he looked more hurt than angry.

“Kenapa cucu gelak?” he asked.

“Tak ada kenapa,” I answered, a little frightened.

“Tok tahu, cucu ingat Tok bergurau.” I kept quiet.

He began again, “Inilah keris Taming Sari yang sebenar. Ini keris Tok sendiri.”

“Kalau begitu Tok ni tentulah…”

“Hang Tuah,” he interjected, “nama Tok ialah Hang Tuah.”

“Tapi Hang Tuah sudah mati.”

He laughed, “Tidak, Tok belum mati. Tapi Tok sudah tua…”

“Berapa umur Tok?” I questioned.

“540 tahun.”

Mak didn’t really like Tok Tuah. But she didn’t say anything when he just stayed on and on in the house. She didn’t say a word when Abah and I took him to Hankyu Jaya to get some new clothes. She just kept quiet when Tok Tuah joined us to watch TV in the living room after dinner. I told her (and Abah) that the old man said that his name was Hang Tuah. She wrinkled her face (and Abah just laughed).

It was a Wednesday night and RTM had a slot then called “Teater P. Ramlee”. It so happened that they were showing Phani Majumdar’s “Hang Tuah”. P. Ramlee, so young and thin, acted as the hero and the late Haji Mahadi was Sultan Mansor Shah.

Hang Tuah4

When Jebat got killed, Tok Tuah pipped in, “Tidak langsung macam tu…”

Abah stared at Tok Tuah. Mak stared at Tok Tuah. I too, stared at Tok Tuah.

“Aku sudah tua masa tu, Jebat muda lagi. Jebat kuat. Dia sepak aku hingga aku tertiarap, kemudian aku berguling. Aku himpit dia. Aku kata sama dia ‘baik sajalah kau mengalah’. Apa gunanya kita dua bersaudara bergaduh?”

Mak started to look worried again.

“Jebat tak mati.”

Abah looked surprised. He said, “Habis tu, apa jadi pada dia?”

Tok Tuah said, “Aku tak mahu Sultan bunuh dia. Aku tahu Sultan zalim. Jadi, aku sorokkan dia di Ulu Melaka. Macam Tun Perak sorokkan aku masa aku difitnahkan. Lepas Melaka kalah dengan Portugis, Jebat ikut aku merantau.”

I said, “Bila Jebat mati?”

Tok Tuah laughed, “Jebat belum mati. Baru tahun lepas aku jumpa dia. Dia meniaga di Kedah.”

“Meniaga?” I said.

“Ya, Jebat duduk di Kulim. Dia meniaga kereta. Apa tu? Kereta ‘second-hand’ kata orang. Proton, Honda dan Nissan. Laku jualannya. Banyak orang beli.”

One day, I took Tok Tuah on a walk around KL. He got bored just sitting in our small bungalow in Bukit Bandar Raya. So after school, we took the mini-bus to Central Market. Tok Tuah really enjoyed the walk. “Banyaknya orang…” he wondered. We ate at McDonald’s. He  didn’t like the cheeseburger (well, he didn’t like the cheese, though he loved the burger itself). After lunch, we went to Muzium Negara.

I showed him the frieze of a young Hang Tuah which was sculpted by an Englishwoman in the 1950s. It showed a handsome Hang Tuah in ‘Baju Melayu’ and ‘samping’. He was holding Taming Sari in his hand.

“Siapa tu,” Tok Tuah asked.

“Itu Tok-lah. ltulah orang putih gambarkan sebagai Hang Tuah. Hensem, kan?”

Tok Tuah chuckled, “Apa tulisan atas tu?”

“Ta’ Melayu Hilang di-Dunia. Eh, takkan Tok tak ingat? Itu kan Tok yang cakap dulu?”

He kept quiet. Slowly he mumbled, “Ta’ Melayu Hilang di-Dunia? Tak ingat pun.”

Suddenly, he started, “Oh! Bukannya Ta’ Melayu Hilang di-Dunia. Silap tu. Tok tak pernah cakap macam tu…”

“Habis tu?” I asked.

“Masa tu Tok tengah pergi masjid untuk sembahyang Maghrib. Isteri Tok ikut sekali. Dia tengah ambil air sembahyang di tepi perigi, kemudian kakinya tergelincir. Dia terjatuh masuk. Orang ramal pun menjerit-jerit sebab perigi itu dalam. Apa lagi, Tok pun terjunlah untuk selamatkan dia. Isteri Tok bukan sebarang orang, namanya Tun Sa’odah, anak Bendahara Tun Perak.”

“Kemudian?” I urged.

“Bila Tok bawak dia naik, Temenggung Tun Mutahir ketawa. Katanya, Tok sayang betul pada isteri Tok. Tok pun jawab, “Mestilah… Ta’ Isteriku Hilang di-Telaga. Jadi, mungkin orang silap dengar…!”

Tok Tuah stayed with our family for more than six months. He stayed at home in the first few weeks but he felt guilty not doing anything to contribute. So, one morning, he followed Abah to work. Abah was manager of a factory in Sungai Buluh which made video tapes and CDs. They needed a new ‘jaga’ or watchman. Tok Tuah got the job. Abah said, “Who better to guard us than the great Malay admiral Hang Tuah?”

The workers got along well with him. Amin, Abah’s driver, said that Tok Tuah told them lots of funny jokes about Sultan Mansor of Melaka and his fifteen wives. Tok Tuah also got to know Rajalinggam, the sweeper, who he said reminded him of Mani Purindan, the father of Bendahara Tun Ali. Like Rajalinggam, Mani Purindan too came from Tamil Nadu and cooked delicious dhal curry.

One morning, my teacher at school said, “Tomorrow I want you all to bring a model of an old artefact. Then I want you all to explain its importance in front of the whole history class.”

Hilmi (always the teacher’s pet) spent days working on a matchstick model of the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. Azraai decided to build a spaceship instead. Eqhwan bought Anuar’s origami keris for fifteen dollars and brought that to school. Farid asked his imaginary friend to draw a picture of Mel Gibson as Sir William Wallace. I? Well, I just brought Tok Tuah along.

My teacher was flabbergasted. She said, “Why have you brought this ‘jaga’ along?” I smiled, “He’s not just a ‘jaga’. He’s the great warrior Hang Tuah!”

My teacher said, “I’ll call your father and tell him you’re playing jokes in class.”

“Please, Cikgu. Just listen to what he has to say,” I insisted.

Tok Tuah stood in front of the class. He coughed. My teacher sighed. I smiled. My friends sneered. “Assalamualaikum,” he said. “Wa’alaikum Salam,” we answered.

Tok Tuah began his speech. He started out by saying that the Melaka we read about in the history books was very different from the real Melaka. He explained how the Sultan used to let anyone come to the palace with any complaints at all, and he would settle it there and then. He told us that he and his four friends used to go on tours to Pahang and Terengganu and Ujung Tanah, even to Siam, on great galliards with five big sails. He described to us that Melaka had 120,000 citizens, each of whom had land and houses of their own and that no beggars were allowed to go even a day without food and shelter. He mimicked Sultan Mansor’s snarl, and Tun Perak’s twitching handlebar moustaches and Jebat’s swaggering walk. Finally, he told us how Melaka got corrupted by its wealth and warned us not to do the same now.

That day, Tok Tuah got a standing ovation. Even Teacher clapped. I got an ‘A’ for History.

Tok Tuah died seven weeks after that. He was 542 years old. It was during the Puasa month and he took the LRT from Sungai Buluh. He wanted to stop and buy some sweetmeats (he absolutely loved ‘pau kaya’). When he arrived at Chow Kit station, he collapsed on the platform with a massive stroke.

They rushed him in an ambulance to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital but he was already gone. He didn’t feel a thing.

We buried him at Ampang Cemetery, right across from the grave of Tan Sri P. Ramlee, who played him in that film. I visit the grave sometimes just to tell him that I’m now a lecturer in Malay History at Leyden University.

I still remember the day he walked through my door. It’s as if it was just yesterday. Ah, well… By the way, did I tell you I met King Henry VIII whilst I was studying in Cambridge? He worked as a night porter at my college. But that, as they say, is a different story.

The Failure of Multiculturalism


May 20, 2016

The Failure of Multiculturalism

Community Versus Society in Europe

As a political tool, multiculturalism has functioned as not merely a response to diversity but also a means of constraining it. And that insight reveals a paradox. Multicultural policies accept as a given that societies are diverse, yet they implicitly assume that such diversity ends at the edges of minority communities. They seek to institutionalize diversity by putting people into ethnic and cultural boxes—into a singular, homogeneous Muslim community, for example—and defining their needs and rights accordingly. Such policies, in other words, have helped create the very divisions they were meant to manage.

by Kenan Malik

Thirty years ago, many Europeans saw multiculturalism—the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society—as an answer to Europe’s social problems. Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them. That perception has led some mainstream politicians, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to publicly denounce multiculturalism and speak out against its dangers. It has fueled the success of far-right parties and populist politicians across Europe, from the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands to the National Front in France. And in the most extreme cases, it has inspired obscene acts of violence, such as Anders Behring Breivik’s homicidal rampage on the Norwegian island of Utoya in July 2011.

How did this transformation come about? According to multiculturalism’s critics, Europe has allowed excessive immigration without demanding enough integration—a mismatch that has eroded social cohesion, undermined national identities, and degraded public trust. Multiculturalism’s proponents, on the other hand, counter that the problem is not too much diversity but too much racism.

But the truth about multiculturalism is far more complex than either side will allow, and the debate about it has often devolved into sophistry. Multiculturalism has become a proxy for other social and political issues: immigration, identity, political disenchantment, working-class decline. Different countries, moreover, have followed distinct paths. The United Kingdom has sought to give various ethnic communities an equal stake in the political system. Germany has encouraged immigrants to pursue separate lives in lieu of granting them citizenship. And France has rejected multicultural policies in favor of assimilationist ones. The specific outcomes have also varied: in the United Kingdom, there has been communal violence; in Germany, Turkish communities have drifted further from mainstream society; and in France, the relationship between the authorities and North African communities has become highly charged. But everywhere, the overarching consequences have been the same: fragmented societies, alienated minorities, and resentful citizenry.

As a political tool, multiculturalism has functioned as not merely a response to diversity but also a means of constraining it. And that insight reveals a paradox. Multicultural policies accept as a given that societies are diverse, yet they implicitly assume that such diversity ends at the edges of minority communities. They seek to institutionalize diversity by putting people into ethnic and cultural boxes—into a singular, homogeneous Muslim community, for example—and defining their needs and rights accordingly. Such policies, in other words, have helped create the very divisions they were meant to manage.

The Diversity Myth

Untangling the many strands of the multiculturalism debate requires understanding the concept itself. The term “multicultural” has come to define both a society that is particularly diverse, usually as a result of immigration, and the policies necessary to manage such a society. It thus embodies both a description of society and a prescription for dealing with it. Conflating the two—perceived problem with supposed solution—has tightened the knot at the heart of the debate. Unpicking that knot requires a careful evaluation of each.

Both proponents and critics of multiculturalism broadly accept the premise that mass immigration has transformed European societies by making them more diverse. To a certain extent, this seems self-evidently true. Today, Germany is the world’s second most popular immigrant destination, after the United States. In 2013, more than ten million people, or just over 12 percent of the population, were born abroad. In Austria, that figure was 16 percent; in Sweden, 15 percent; and in France and the United Kingdom, around 12 percent. From a historical perspective, however, the claim that these countries are more plural than ever is not as straightforward as it may seem. Nineteenth-century European societies may look homogeneous from the vantage point of today, but that is not how those societies saw themselves then.

Consider France. In the years of the French Revolution, for instance, only half the population spoke French and only around 12 percent spoke it correctly. As the historian Eugen Weber showed, modernizing and unifying France in the revolution’s aftermath required a traumatic and lengthy process of cultural, educational, political, and economic self-colonization. That effort created the modern French state and gave birth to notions of French (and European) superiority over non-European cultures. But it also reinforced a sense of how socially and culturally disparate most of the population still was. In an address to the Medico-Psychological Society of Paris in 1857, the Christian socialist Philippe Buchez wondered how it could happen that “within a population such as ours, races may form—not merely one, but several races—so miserable, inferior and bastardised that they may be classed as below the most inferior savage races, for their inferiority is sometimes beyond cure.” The “races” that caused Buchez such anxiety were not immigrants from Africa or Asia but the rural poor in France.

In the Victorian era, many Britons, too, viewed the urban working class and the rural poor as the other. A vignette of working-class life in East London’s Bethnal Green, appearing in an 1864 edition of The Saturday Review, a well-read liberal magazine of the era, was typical of Victorian middle-class attitudes. “The Bethnal Green poor,” the story explained, were “a caste apart, a race of whom we know nothing, whose lives are of quite different complexion from ours, persons with whom we have no point of contact.” Much the same was true, the article suggested, of “the great mass of the agricultural poor.” Although the distinctions between slaves and masters were considered more “glaring” than those separating the moneyed and the poor, they offered “a very fair parallel”; indeed, the differences were so profound that they prevented “anything like association or companionship.”

Today, Bethnal Green represents the heart of the Bangladeshi community in East London. Many white Britons see its inhabitants as the new Bethnal Green poor, culturally and racially distinct from themselves. Yet only those on the political fringes would compare the differences between white Britons and their Bangladeshi neighbors with those of masters and slaves. The social and cultural differences between a Victorian gentleman or factory owner, on the one hand, and a farm hand or a machinist, on the other, were in reality much greater than those between a white resident and a resident of Bangladeshi origin are today. However much they may view each other as different, a 16-year-old of Bangladeshi origin living in Bethnal Green and a white 16-year-old probably wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, and follow the same soccer club. The shopping mall, the sports field, and the Internet bind them together, creating a set of experiences and cultural practices more common than any others in the past.

A similar historical amnesia plagues discussions surrounding immigration. Many critics of multiculturalism suggest that immigration to Europe today is unlike that seen in previous times. In his book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, the journalist Christopher Caldwell suggests that prior to World War II, immigrants to European countries came almost exclusively from the continent and therefore assimilated easily. “Using the word immigration to describe intra-European movements,” Caldwell argues, “makes only slightly more sense than describing a New Yorker as an ‘immigrant’ to California.” According to Caldwell, prewar immigration between European nations differed from postwar immigration from outside Europe because “immigration from neighboring countries does not provoke the most worrisome immigration questions, such as ‘How well will they fit in?’ ‘Is assimilation what they want?’ and, most of all, ‘Where are their true loyalties?’”

Yet these very questions greeted European immigrants in the prewar years. As the scholar Max Silverman has written, the notion that France assimilated immigrants from elsewhere in Europe with ease before World War II is a “retrospective illusion.” And much the same is true of the United Kingdom. In 1903, witnesses to the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration expressed fears that newcomers to the United Kingdom would be inclined to live “according to their traditions, usages and customs.” There were also concerns, as the newspaper editor J. L. Silver put it, that “the debilitated sickly and vicious products of Europe” could be “grafted onto the English stock.” The country’s first immigration law, the 1905 Aliens Act, was designed principally to stem the flow of European Jews. Without such a law, then Prime Minister Arthur Balfour argued at the time, British “nationality would not be the same and would not be the nationality we should desire to be our heirs through the ages yet to come.” The echoes of contemporary anxieties are unmistakable.

Race to the Top

Whether contemporary Europe really is more plural than it was in the nineteenth century remains subject to debate, but the fact that Europeans perceive it to be more diverse is unquestionable. This owes in large part to changes in how people define social differences. A century and a half ago, class was a far more important frame for understanding social interactions. However difficult it is to conceive of now, many at the time saw racial distinctions in terms of differences not in skin color but in class or social standing. Most nineteenth-century thinkers were concerned not with the strangers who crossed their countries’ borders but with those who inhabited the dark spaces within them.

One of the most prevalent myths in European politics is that governments adopted multicultural policies because minorities wanted to assert their differences.

Over the past few decades, however, class has diminished in importance in Europe, both as a political category and as a marker of social identity. At the same time, culture has become an increasingly central medium through which people perceive social differences. The shift reflects broader trends. The ideological divides that characterized politics for much of the past 200 years have receded, and the old distinctions between left and right have become less meaningful. As the working classes have lost economic and political power, labor organizations and collectivistic ideologies have declined. The market, meanwhile, has expanded into almost every nook and cranny of social life. And institutions that traditionally brought disparate individuals together, from trade unions to the church, have faded from public life.

As a result, Europeans have begun to see themselves and their social affiliations in a different way. Increasingly, they define social solidarity not in political terms but rather in terms of ethnicity, culture, or faith. And they are concerned less with determining the kind of society they want to create than with defining the community to which they belong. These two matters are, of course, intimately related, and any sense of social identity must take both into account. But as the ideological spectrum has narrowed and as the mechanisms for change have eroded, the politics of ideology have given way to the politics of identity. It is against this background that Europeans have come to view their homelands as particularly, even impossibly, diverse—and have formulated ways of responding.

Under my umbrella

In describing contemporary European societies as exceptionally diverse, multiculturalism is clearly flawed. What, then, of multiculturalism’s prescription for managing that supposed diversity? Over the past three decades, many European nations have adopted multicultural policies, but they have done so in distinct ways. Comparing just two of these histories, that of the United Kingdom and that of Germany, and understanding what they have in common, reveals much about multiculturalism itself.

One of the most prevalent myths in European politics is that governments adopted multicultural policies because minorities wanted to assert their differences. Although questions about cultural assimilation have certainly engrossed political elites, they have not, until relatively recently, preoccupied immigrants themselves. When large numbers of immigrants from the Caribbean, India, and Pakistan arrived in the United Kingdom during the late 1940s and 1950s to fill labor shortages, British officials feared that they might undermine the country’s sense of identity. As a government report warned in 1953, “A large coloured community as a noticeable feature of our social life would weaken . . . the concept of England or Britain to which people of British stock throughout the Commonwealth are attached.”

The immigrants brought with them traditions and mores from their homelands, of which they were often very proud. But they were rarely preoccupied with preserving their cultural differences, nor did they generally consider culture to be a political issue. What troubled them was not a desire to be treated differently but the fact that they were treated differently. Racism and inequality, not religion and ethnicity, constituted their key concerns. In the following decades, a new generation of black and Asian activists, forming groups such as the Asian Youth Movements and the Race Today Collective, acted on those grievances, organizing strikes and protests challenging workplace discrimination, deportations, and police brutality. These efforts came to explosive climax in a series of riots that tore through the United Kingdom’s inner cities in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

At that point, British authorities recognized that unless minority communities were given a political stake in the system, tensions would continue to threaten urban stability. It was in this context that multicultural policies emerged. The state, at both the national and the local level, pioneered a new strategy of drawing black and Asian communities into the mainstream political process by designating specific organizations or community leaders to represent their interests. At its heart, the approach redefined the concepts of racism and equality. Racism now meant not simply the denial of equal rights but also the denial of the right to be different. And equality no longer entailed possessing rights that transcended race, ethnicity, culture, and faith; it meant asserting different rights because of them.

Consider the case of Birmingham, the United Kingdom’s second most populous city. In 1985, the city’s Handsworth area was engulfed by riots sparked by a simmering resentment of poverty, joblessness, and, in particular, police harassment. Two people died and dozens were injured in the violence. In the aftermath of the unrest, the city council attempted to engage minorities by creating nine so-called umbrella groups—organizations that were supposed to advocate for their members on matters of city policy. These committees decided on the needs of each community, how and to whom resources should be disbursed, and how political power should be distributed. They effectively became surrogate voices for ethnically defined fiefdoms.

The city council had hoped to draw minorities into the democratic process, but the groups struggled to define their individual and collective mandates. Some of them, such as the African and Caribbean People’s Movement, represented an ethnic group, whereas others, such as the Council of Black-Led Churches, were also religious. Diversity among the groups was matched by diversity within them; not all the people supposedly represented by the Bangladeshi Islamic Projects Consultative Committee, for example, were equally devout. Yet the city council’s plan effectively assigned every member of a minority to a discrete community, defined each group’s needs as a whole, and set the various organizations in competition with one another for city resources. And anyone who fell outside these defined communities was effectively excluded from the multicultural process altogether.

The problem with Birmingham’s policies, observed Joy Warmington, director of what was then the Birmingham Race Action Partnership (now BRAP), a charitable organization working to reduce inequality, in 2005, is that they “have tended to emphasize ethnicity as a key to entitlement. It’s become accepted as good practice to allocate resources on ethnic or faith lines. So rather than thinking of meeting people’s needs or about distributing resources equitably, organizations are forced to think about the distribution of ethnicity.” The consequences were catastrophic. In October 2005, two decades after the original Handsworth riots, violence broke out in the neighboring area of Lozells. In 1985, Asian, black, and white demonstrators had taken to the streets together to protest poverty, unemployment, and police harassment. In 2005, the fighting was between blacks and Asians. The spark had been a rumor, never substantiated, that a group of Asian men had raped a Jamaican girl. The fighting lasted a full weekend.

Why did two communities that had fought side by side in 1985 fight against each other in 2005? The answer lies largely in Birmingham’s multicultural policies. As one academic study of Birmingham’s policies observed, “The model of engagement through Umbrella Groups tended to result in competition between BME [black and minority ethnic] communities for resources. Rather than prioritizing needs and cross-community working, the different Umbrella Groups generally attempted to maximize their own interests.”

The council’s policies, in other words, not only bound people more closely to particular identities but also led them to fear and resent other groups as competitors for power and influence. An individual’s identity had to be affirmed as distinctive from the identities of those from other groups: being Bangladeshi in Birmingham also meant being not Irish, not Sikh, and not African Caribbean. The consequence was the creation of what the economist Amartya Sen has termed “plural monoculturalism”—a policy driven by the myth that society is made up of distinct, uniform cultures that dance around one another. The result in Birmingham was to entrench divisions between black and Asian communities to such an extent that those divisions broke out into communal violence.

Separate and unequal

Germany’s road to multiculturalism was different from the United Kingdom’s, although the starting point was the same. Like many countries in western Europe, Germany faced an immense labor shortage in the years following World War II and actively recruited foreign workers. Unlike in the United Kingdom, the new workers came not from former colonies but from the countries around the Mediterranean: first from Greece, Italy, and Spain, and then from Turkey. They also came not as immigrants, still less as potential citizens, but as so-called Gastarbeiter (guest workers), who were expected to return to their countries of origin when the German economy no longer required their services.

Instead of welcoming immigrants as equals, German politicians dealt with the so-called Turkish problem through a policy of multiculturalism.

Over time, however, these guests, the vast majority of them Turks, went from being a temporary necessity to a permanent presence. This was partly because Germany continued to rely on their labor and partly because the immigrants, and more so their children, came to see Germany as their home. But the German state continued to treat them as outsiders and refuse them citizenship.

German citizenship was, until recently, based on the principle of jus sanguinis, by which one can acquire citizenship only if one’s parents were citizens. The principle excluded from citizenship not just first-generation immigrants but also their German-born children. In 1999, a new nationality law made it easier for immigrants to acquire citizenship. Yet most Turks remain outsiders. Out of the three million people of Turkish origin in Germany today, only some 800,000 have managed to acquire citizenship.

Instead of welcoming immigrants as equals, German politicians dealt with the so-called Turkish problem through a policy of multiculturalism. Beginning in the 1980s, the government encouraged Turkish immigrants to preserve their own culture, language, and lifestyle. The policy did not represent a respect for diversity so much as a convenient means of avoiding the issue of how to create a common, inclusive culture. And its main consequence was the emergence of parallel communities.

First-generation immigrants were broadly secular, and those who were religious were rarely hard-line in their beliefs and practices. Today, almost one-third of adult Turks in Germany regularly attend mosque, a higher rate than among other Turkish communities in western Europe and even in many parts of Turkey. Similarly, first-generation Turkish women almost never wore headscarves; now many of their daughters do. Without any incentive to participate in the national community, many Turks don’t bother learning German.

At the same time that Germany’s multicultural policies have encouraged Turks to approach German society with indifference, they have led Germans to view Turkish culture with increasing antagonism. Popular notions of what it means to be German have come to be defined partly in opposition to the perceived values and beliefs of the excluded immigrant community. A 2011 survey conducted by the French polling firm Ifop showed that 40 percent of Germans considered the presence of Islamic communities “a threat” to their national identity. Another poll, conducted by Germany’s Bielefeld University in 2005, suggested that three out of four Germans believed that Muslim culture did not fit into the Western world. Anti-Muslim groups, such as Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, are on the rise, and anti-immigration protests held in cities across the country this past January were some of the largest in recent memory. Many German politicians, including Merkel, have taken a strong stance against the anti-Muslim movement. But the damage has already been done.

Subcontracting Policy

In both the United Kingdom and Germany, governments failed to recognize the complexity, elasticity, and sheer contrariness of identity. Personal identities emerge out of relationships—not merely personal ties but social ones, too—and constantly mutate.

Group identities are not natural categories; they arise out of social interaction.

Take Muslim identity. Today there is much talk in European countries of a so-called Muslim community—of its views, its needs, its aspirations. But the concept is entirely new. Until the late 1980s, few Muslim immigrants to Europe thought of themselves as belonging to any such thing. That wasn’t because they were few in number. In France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, for example, there were already large and well-established South Asian, North African, and Turkish immigrant communities by the 1980s.

The first generation of North African immigrants to France was broadly secular, as was the first generation of Turkish immigrants to Germany. By contrast, the first wave of South Asian immigrants to arrive in the United Kingdom after World War II was more religious. Yet even they thought of themselves not as Muslims first but as Punjabis or Bengalis or Sylhetis. Although pious, they wore their faith lightly. Many men drank alcohol. Few women wore a hijab, let alone a burqa or a niqab (a full-faced veil). Most attended mosque only occasionally. Islam was not, in their eyes, an all-encompassing philosophy. Their faith defined their relationship with God, not a sacrosanct public identity.

Members of the second generation of Britons with Muslim backgrounds were even less likely to identify with their religion. The same went for those whose parents were Hindu or Sikh. Religious organizations were barely visible within minority communities. The organizations that bound immigrants together were primarily secular and often political; in the United Kingdom, for example, such groups included the Asian Youth Movements, which fought racism, and the Indian Workers’ Association, which focused on labor rights.

Only in the late 1980s did the question of cultural differences become important. A generation that, ironically, is far more integrated and westernized than the first turned out to be the more insistent on maintaining its alleged distinctiveness. The reasons for this shift are complex. Partly they lie in a tangled web of larger social, political, and economic changes over the past half century, such as the collapse of the left and the rise of identity politics. Partly they lie in international developments, such as the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Bosnian war of the early 1990s, both of which played an important role in fostering a more heightened sense of Muslim identity in Europe. And partly they lie in European multicultural policies.

Group identities are not natural categories; they arise out of social interaction. But as cultural categories received official sanction, certain identities came to seem fixed. In channeling financial resources and political power through ethnically based organizations, governments provided a form of authenticity to certain ethnic identities and denied it to others.

Multicultural policies seek to build a bridge between the state and minority communities by looking to particular community organizations and leaders to act as intermediaries. Rather than appeal to Muslims and other minorities as citizens, politicians tend to assume minorities’ true loyalty is to their faith or ethnic community. In effect, governments subcontract their political responsibilities out to minority leaders.

Such leaders are, however, rarely representative of their communities. That shouldn’t be a surprise: no single group or set of leaders could represent a single white community. Some white Europeans are conservative, many are liberal, and still others are communist or neofascist. And most whites would not see their interests as specifically “white.” A white Christian probably has more in common with a black Christian than with a white atheist; a white socialist would likely think more like a Bangladeshi socialist than like a white conservative; and so on. Muslims and Sikhs and African Caribbeans are no different; herein rests the fundamental flaw of multiculturalism.

Assimilate Now

France’s policy of assimilationism is generally regarded as the polar opposite of multiculturalism, which French politicians have proudly rejected. Unlike the rest of Europe, they insist, France treats every individual as a citizen rather than as a member of a particular racial, ethnic, or cultural group. In reality, however, France is as socially divided as Germany or the United Kingdom, and in a strikingly similar way.

Questions surrounding French social policy, and the country’s social divisions, came sharply into focus in Paris this past January, when Islamist gunmen shot 12 people dead at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and four Jews in a kosher supermarket. French politicians had long held multicultural policies responsible for nurturing homegrown jihadists in the United Kingdom. Now they had to answer for why such terrorists had been nurtured in assimilationist France, too.

It is often claimed that there are some five million Muslims in France—supposedly the largest Muslim community in western Europe. In fact, those of North African origin in France, who have been lumped into this group, have never constituted a single community, still less a religious one. Immigrants from North Africa have been broadly secular and indeed often hostile to religion. A 2006 report by the Pew Research Center showed that 42 percent of Muslims in France identified themselves as French citizens first—more than in Germany, Spain, or the United Kingdom. A growing number have, in recent years, become attracted to Islam. But even today, according to a 2011 study by Ifop, only 40 percent identify themselves as observant Muslims, and only 25 percent attend Friday prayers.

Those of North African origin in France are also often described as immigrants. In fact, the majority are second-generation French citizens, born in France and as French as any voter for the National Front. The use of the terms “Muslim” and “immigrant” as labels for French citizens of North African origin is not, however, accidental. It is part of the process whereby the state casts such citizens as the other—as not really part of the French nation.

As in the United Kingdom, in France, the first generation of post–World War II immigrants faced considerable racism, and the second generation was far less willing to accept social discrimination, unemployment, and police brutality. They organized, largely through secular organizations, and took to the streets, often in violent protest. The riots that swept through French cities in the fall of 2005 exposed the fractures in French society as clearly as had those that engulfed British cities two decades earlier.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the French authorities took a relatively laid-back stance on multiculturalism, generally tolerating cultural and religious differences at a time when few within minority communities expressed their identities in cultural or religious terms. French President François Mitterrand even coined the slogan le droit à la différence (the right to difference). As tensions within North African communities became more open and as the National Front emerged as a political force, Paris abandoned that approach for a more hard-line position. The riots in 2005, and the disaffection they expressed, were presented less as a response to racism than as an expression of Islam’s growing threat to France. In principle, the French authorities rejected the multicultural approach of the United Kingdom. In practice, however, they treated North African immigrants and their descendents in a “multicultural” way—as a single community, primarily a Muslim one. Concerns about Islam came to reflect larger anxieties about the crisis of values and identity that now beset France.

A much-discussed 2013 poll conducted by the French research group Ipsos and the Centre de Recherches Politiques, or CEVIPOF, at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (known as Sciences Po) found that 50 percent of the French population believed that the economic and cultural “decline” of their country was “inevitable.” Fewer than one-third thought that French democracy worked well, and 62 percent considered “most” politicians to be “corrupt.” The pollsters’ report described a fractured France, divided along tribal lines, alienated from mainstream politics, distrustful of national leaders, and resentful of Muslims. The main sentiment driving French society, the report concluded, was “fear.”

In the United Kingdom, multicultural policies were at once an acknowledgment of a more fractured society and the source of one. In France, assimilationist policies have, paradoxically, had the same result. Faced with a distrustful and disengaged public, politicians have attempted to reassert a common French identity. But unable to define clearly the ideas and values that characterize the country, they have done so primarily by sowing hostility toward symbols of alienness—by banning the burqa, for example, in 2010.

Instead of accepting North Africans as full citizens, French policy has tended to ignore the racism and discrimination they have faced. Many in France view its citizens of North African origin not as French but as Arab or Muslim. But second-generation North Africans are often as estranged from their parents’ culture and mores—and from mainstream Islam—as they are from wider French society. They are caught not between two cultures, as it is often claimed, but without one. As a consequence, some of them have turned to Islamism, and a few have expressed their inchoate rage through jihadist violence.

At the same time, French assimilationist policies have exacerbated the sense of disengagement felt by traditional working-class communities. The social geographer Christophe Guilluy has coined the phrase “the peripheral France” to describe those people “pushed out by the deindustrialization and gentrification of the urban centers,” who “live away from the economic and decision-making centers, in a state of social non-integration,” and have thus come to “feel excluded.” The peripheral France has emerged mainly as a result of economic and political developments. But like many parts of the country’s North African communities, it has come to see its marginalization through the lens of cultural and ethnic identity. According to the 2013 Ipsos-CEVIPOF poll, seven out of ten people thought there were “too many foreigners in France,” and 74 percent considered Islam to be incompatible with French society. Presenting Islam as a threat to French values has not only strengthened culture’s political role but also sharpened popular disenchantment with mainstream politics.

In the past, disaffection, whether within North African or white working-class communities, would have led to direct political action. Today, however, both groups are expressing their grievances through identity politics. In their own ways, racist populism and radical Islamism are each expressions of a similar kind of social disengagement in an era of identity politics.

Another Way

Multiculturalism and assimilationism are different policy responses to the same problem: the fracturing of society. And yet both have had the effect of making things worse. It’s time, then, to move beyond the increasingly sterile debate between the two approaches. And that requires making three kinds 
of distinctions.

First, Europe should separate diversity as a lived experience from multiculturalism as a political process. The experience of living in a society made diverse by mass immigration should be welcomed. Attempts to institutionalize such diversity through the formal recognition of cultural differences should be resisted.

Multiculturalism and assimilationism are different policy responses to the same problem: the fracturing of society. And yet both have had the effect of making things worse. It’s time, then, to move beyond the increasingly sterile debate between the two approaches. And that requires making three kinds 
of distinctions.

Second, Europe should distinguish colorblindness from blindness to racism. The assimilationist resolve to treat everyone equally as citizens, rather than as bearers of specific racial or cultural histories, is valuable. But that does not mean that the state should ignore discrimination against particular groups. Citizenship has no meaning if different classes of citizens are treated differently, whether because of multicultural policies or because of racism.

Finally, Europe should differentiate between peoples and values. Multiculturalists argue that societal diversity erodes the possibility of common values. Similarly, assimilationists suggest that such values are possible only within a more culturally—and, for some, ethnically—homogeneous society. Both regard minority communities as homogeneous wholes, attached to a particular set of cultural traits, faiths, beliefs, and values, rather than as constituent parts of a modern democracy.

The real debate should be not between multiculturalism and assimilationism but between two forms of the former and two forms of the latter. An ideal policy would marry multiculturalism’s embrace of actual diversity, rather than its tendency to institutionalize differences, and assimilationism’s resolve to treat everyone as citizens, rather than its tendency to construct a national identity by characterizing certain groups as alien to the nation. In practice, European countries have done the opposite. They have enacted either multicultural policies that place communities in constricting boxes or assimilationist ones that distance minorities from the mainstream.

Moving forward, Europe must rediscover a progressive sense of universal values, something that the continent’s liberals have largely abandoned, albeit in different ways. On the one hand, there is a section of the left that has combined relativism and multiculturalism, arguing that the very notion of universal values is in some sense racist. On the other, there are those, exemplified by such French assimilationists as the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who insist on upholding traditional Enlightenment values but who do so in a tribal fashion that presumes a clash of civilizations.

There has also been a guiding assumption throughout Europe that immigration and integration must be managed through state policies and institutions. Yet real integration, whether of immigrants or of indigenous groups, is rarely brought about by the actions of the state; it is shaped primarily by civil society, by the individual bonds that people form with one another, and by the organizations they establish to further their shared political and social interests. It is the erosion of such bonds and institutions that has proved so problematic—that links assimilationist policy failures to multicultural ones and that explains why social disengagement is a feature not simply of immigrant communities but of the wider society, too. To repair the damage that disengagement has done, and to revive a progressive universalism, Europe needs not so much new state policies as a renewal of civil society.

We Bicker: TIME to think as Malaysians and live to together in unity and harmony?


May 17, 2016

We Bicker: TIME to think as Malaysians and live to together in unity and harmony.

Message to Nazri Aziz, Azalina Othman Said, Hadi Awang,  Harussani Zakaria, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, and Keruak et.el

Shaun Liew

http://www.malaymailonline.com

West and East Malaysians have been bickering through social media, face-to-face conversations, and so on. But if they want the same thing, why are they fighting with each other?

Some needs and desires are universal: no matter who we are, there are things we all need. Food, when we’re hungry. Accountability, when promises are broken. Rest, when we are overworked. Honour, when we work. Love, when we are not loved. And fairness, when there is none.

West and East Malaysians want the same thing. Equity, when there is discrimination. Malays, to tolerate non-Malays, and vice versa. Sarawakians and Sabahans, to live as well as Peninsulars, and vice versa. Non-Bumiputeras, to be recognised as equals like the Bumiputeras, by the federal government. And for East Malaysians, to be recognised by the federal government, as deserving of development and the good life, like West Malaysians. Why then are we in each other’s way?

Sarawakians have given power to those which the West have tried to rid of. Peninsulars think this ridiculous: why give power to the same government, when to them, nothing has been done?

Because Sarawakians have seen change, enough change, to vote for the same government. Peninsulars do not understand what these changes mean to Sarawakians; they ridicule them instead. Sarawakians understandably feel unjustified; but they too do not understand what their actions mean for Peninsulars.

Peninsulars want a fair and accountable government, just like Sarawakians. But they have not seen once since independence. They want Barisan Nasional out, while Sarawakians are keeping them in.

 

The West vs East bickering is simplistic, and should go past the way we label each other. This is inherent even in casual jokes.

“You live on trees right? Or are there buildings there? I’m sorry you must have never heard of the word ‘buildings’.”

“It’s all your fault lah, the West Malaysians!”

If the East continues to blame the West for underdevelopment, if the West continues to blame the East for being foolish enough to vote Barisan Nasional, then there is no room for productive debate or mutual understanding.

If we continue to discriminate, all debates will halt at the labels we have ― that he knows Maths well because he’s Chinese, or she received a scholarship offer because she’s Malay. We would fail to understand anything correctly ― that he’s good in Math because he worked hard after his parents emphasised how mathematical ability is easily transferred. Or that she received a scholarship offer because the government would like to uplift Malays by rationing scholarship offers based on race, in addition to her undeniably determined attitude.

This, we cannot understand if we are simplistic because our problems are not. Like underdevelopment and poverty, a problem for both Peninsular and East Malaysia. It’s mostly a problem in the rural areas, but even in the urban areas there are urban squatters, foreign workers, and those just hovering above the poverty line ― all of them labelled by the majority of society as unproductive, lazy and undetermined. It’s also mostly a Malay and indigenous problem, with pockets of Chinese and Indians.

Both West and East Malaysians are guilty of simplifying the truth ― and we need to look deeper. If Sabah and Sarawak voted for the opposition, does that mean BN’s reign is over? No. Because in Peninsula itself there are still many poor states, Malay-dominated with pockets of poor Chinese and Indians, who would vote for UMNO. And they vote for Muslim parties too, because Islam is part of many Malays’ identity.

Apply this to our society’s main problems: economic status associated with race. If Malays are poor and the Chinese are rich, I should give advantages to Malays, right? Then how far can a race-based policy that favours Bumiputera groups go? Would rich Malays benefit more than the majority of Malays? Would politicians grant certain groups special rights in order to trade benefits with each other, but not give them to the greater good?

This is why the solutions we need are even more complicated ― and they require debate beyond labels. This is also why involvement in policymaking is so important: we need to help each other, sure! But we need to do it in a way that’s best for everyone, and not just a few insiders.

The anger of West and East Malaysians after the Sarawak state elections ― in the form of cheap insults and deliberate stereotyping ― is sorely misdirected. We need to delve into the specifics and ask questions that we don’t usually tolerate ― and tolerate them with grace.

If basic infrastructure is what the East are lacking, ask why the West has so much of it. If racial and religious tolerance is what Peninsulars are lacking compared to Sarawakians, ask who is stoking intolerance, fear, and supremacism. If Chinese students feel they need to work much harder than Malays to get into local universities, ask who decides this allocation and why. If Sarawakians want Sarawak for themselves, ask who took their rights and natural resources away in the first place.

No matter how many questions there are, and no matter how specific they get, we all still want the same thing. Fairness, democracy, accountability, transparency, a fulfilling life. But we can’t understand this unless we go past labels to explore the deepest, most serious problems of our time. Beyond labels, we can see that we are all the same, that we desire to be equal, that we wish to be respected, as the complicated, diverse individuals we are, shaped by the complicated, diverse questions we wish to answer.

The cheap insults and simplified excuses must end now. We must delve into the specifics, the complicated, the uneasy. Then we can go forward. We all want the same thing anyway.

* This article was written by an Associate Editor from CEKU, the editorial arm of the United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students (UKEC).

 

Toward a Dystopian Malaysia:All Politics


May 17, 2016

Toward a Dystopian  Malaysia:All Politics

by Steven Sim

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

My  friend treated me to a stand-up comedy performance last Friday which was my birthday. The show featured four highly acclaimed comedians and everyone in the audience had a good laugh. What were we laughing at? Mostly jokes about sex, and very oddly, ourselves, about our silliness and stupidity.

One of the acts even had a female member of the audience come up the stage to spell “Laughs” with her derriere. She was a big woman, quite clumsy I must say but very sporting. The comedian kept making fun of the poor lady. And as can be expected, her antics elicited laughter from the audience.

The liberal, tolerant society

We cannot talk about race. The N-word must never be uttered. Here in Malaysia, the M-word cannot be spoken. It is sensitive. And then we are told we also cannot talk about religion. We may offend followers of a particular religion and they may turn violent towards us. It is sensitive.

Calling on Inspector Singh to help–Jaga Najib Depan Belakang, Kiri dan Kanan

So, instead of having laws to stop criminals like we used to, now we have laws to stop us from provoking would-be criminals. We’ve got laws that prevent us from commenting about race and religion. It is almost the same as legislating how women should dress so as not to “invite” rape.

Then it came to a point where we were not allowed to call one another “stupid”. We cannot ridicule or question someone else’s politics, for example. Look at all the “righteous” social media posts telling, even scolding us, not to call anyone stupid after the Sarawak election.

Because it is sensitive. As if our brain now is a big phallus ever-reacting to the slightest of stimulations. Perhaps one day not too far away, we will all not be allowed to call each other ugly or fat. These are sensitive remarks too.

We are not allowed to make each other angry anymore. Come to think of it, we actually have an Act of Parliament against making people angry. Section 3(1)(e) of the Sedition Act defines “seditious tendency” as promoting “feelings of ill will, hostility and hatred between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia”, and with the 2015 amendment, Section 3(1)(e) was created to include the promotion of “feelings of ill will, hostility and hatred between persons or groups of persons on the grounds of religion…”

What have we become? A nation legislated against making each other angry? Whatever happened to equanimity, forbearance, moderation, restraint, reticence, self-control, and sobriety?

It is easy to imagine the logical conclusion to this; I cannot comment on who you are, what you do, how you think, and vice versa, finally I, we, cannot say anything at all.

Because we are told, we need to respect the other person. The liberals’ idea of “multicultural tolerance”, my favourite living philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, used to say. As if respect now means, “shut up.”

There are two kinds of “respect” by the way:

The first kind is like when the white men came (sorry, did I make anyone angry with that label?) and they said to each other: “Let us respect the natives…even though they are stupid. Even though they bury their daughters alive. Even though they burn their widows along with the deceased husbands. Even though they bind-up a woman’s feet so small she can barely walk.” And then there is the other kind of respect, one where I assume you are more or less the same level as me and are expected to possess a certain degree of similarity in strength and wit. When you fall short, I call you stupid. Maybe I’m rude – but which one is respect, which one is patronising?

Comedians come to politics

Now, let’s go back to that stand-up comedy performance. Oddly enough, someone told me, now the only way you can make jokes about people and their stupidity and not get yourself into trouble is: quit politics and be a comedian.

I find the thought quite enlightening to be honest. We watch stand-up comedians quite a bit, and boy, how they “hentam” our stupidity as individuals and as a society. And we all laugh and laugh, gladly paying good money for being denigrated by them.

But what’s scarier.One day, just one fine day. Imagine if one of these comedians decided to run for office. He will tell us bluntly, “the truth”. He will say it to our faces, “this or that fellow is stupid, we should block them”. He will tell us he is here to protect us from stupidity. He will tell us he has a great plan to build a huge wall, to segregate between us and the stupids. (For the uninitiated, google: “Trump AND wall”.)

We are going bongkers-from Football to Doa

We, who are used to being “rational” – or are we? – we will then be shocked that many people are impressed by that comedian and want to hand over power to him.

The bar to be a hero suddenly becomes so low: one just needs to be brave to call another person stupid in his face. Because earlier no one was allowed to call anyone stupid or to say anything at all due to everything being “sensitive”. Everyone had to shut up on the pretext of being tolerant. The guy who finally said, “hey, stupid” is now the courageous leader who dared say the truth. Alas, the pent-up emotions of a society, who was stopped from making one another angry, finally rebels, resulting in the rise of fascism.

We need intolerance, not tolerance

The unfortunate thing is, we have substituted being political with being politically correct. The political problem of inequality now becomes the cultural problem of intolerance.

Because of the general disregard of politics, the problem of economic and political inequality inevitably becomes the problem of race and culture. One is rich or poor or powerful or weak not because of some systemic injustice but because of one’s race, or religion. The solution then, we are told, is to understand and tolerate one another: the other race is lazier, smarter, more scheming, less materialistic or more savvy, but let’s try to live with one another peacefully. The classic example here is once again national slogans encouraging us to see ourselves as one country, one nation, one people – 1Malaysia.

These are  UMNO Political Jokers

We are then misled to think that solving the world’s problems is not through political action, not through the institutionalisation of good governance and justice, but rather through respect and tolerance for those who are different from us. Hence, the oft quoted reminder to “jaga sensitiviti.”

How then should we move forward?

The first step is to realise that our problem is not mainly intolerance but rather injustice. Do not fall for this tolerance nonsense. It is about politics not political correctness. We need to move from subjective multicultural tolerance to the objective universal intolerance against human sufferings and oppression.

Recall the big woman who had to spell “Laughs” with her derriere. It was so painful, and yet hilarious watching her. The audience was enthusiastically cheering at her clumsy act and she eventually won the prize for her comedy: a large screen TV. And then she did the unexpected, grabbing the emcee’s microphone, she said: “I’m gonna give this to an orphanage in Kulim.” The hall erupted into huge applause, this time without laughter but with no less happiness. There was no mistake there, no one was confused or did not understand what was happening: we were united by our antagonism against human sufferings. It was a universal thing.

And we have seen this at work many times, even at a larger scale. Žižek provided an anecdotal example of this sort of solidarity; speaking of the 2011 protest at Tahrir Square, Egypt, he observed: “Here we have direct proof that freedom is universal and proof against that cynical idea that somehow Muslim crowds prefer some kind of religious fundamentalist dictatorship….The moment we fight tyranny, we are solidary. No clash of civilisations. We all know what we mean. No miscommunication here.”

We share the same antagonism towards human sufferings and oppression and the same anger against the stupidity which supports them. There is no mistake about it, there is no two ways about it – there’s nothing subjective about it. There is nothing to respect when people continue to support corruption and tyranny whether under duress or not.

Think about it. Here is Malaysia, think about the Bersih demonstrations. Malaysians of all races and religions, male and female, of all ages, went to the streets. And for those who could not attend in the national capital, especially from Sabah and Sarawak, they organised their own local Bersih gatherings. Once again, there was no miscommunication. There was solidarity among Malaysians, and even across the South China Sea, to demand for a free and fair election. We shared the same antagonism, we were united not by subjective tolerance of each other but by our objective intolerance against corruption and injustice.This is what we really need again.

Please do not make our society into one where no one is allowed by law to make another person angry because of some tolerance nonsense we mistake for real respect. The consequences of such a move is scary to say the least – it is the kind of material for novels about some dystopian society somewhere. There is no such human rights as the right not be angered. You reserve the right to call me stupid, and I, too, the same right. Because at times, being humans, we do stupid things and must be chastised.

Steven Sim is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.

 

 

Sarawak’s 2016 Elections by Welsh (continued)


May 7, 2016

Welsh’s Part 2–Sarawak’s 2016 Elections

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Bridget Welsh on the the slowly-shifting sands of the Sarawak political landscape and what it means for the 7 May election.

While the Sarawak campaign may lack dynamism, the nature of the state’s politics has been transforming. Over the last 10years, voting has changed considerably, with more support for alternatives and, importantly, greater engagement in politics.

The seats the opposition have won in state elections has moved from two in 2001 to 16 in 2011, with gains in parliament from one seat in 2004 to six seats in 2013. The share of the popular vote won in Sarawak state elections has jumped from 29 per cent in 2001 to 44 per cent in 2011. Chief Minister Adenan Satem and his team, led by the head of the BN Prime Minister Najib Razak, aim to stop and reverse these gains, and in the process assure that the state remains a BN stronghold. By looking at voting behavior, we can understand the electoral battlegrounds and the slowly-shifting sands of the Sarawak political landscape.

Voting analyses in Sarawak have concentrated on three distinct areas: urban-rural differences, ethnicity and age. I have studied voting trends in the past two elections; the state election of 2011 and parliamentary election of 2013 (GE 2013). The findings on voting in those studies are estimates based on polling station results and assessments, a study of voting at the smallest unit of analysis available using a methodology that has become common in understanding voting behavior, known as ecological inference.

The findings reveal important differences among the Sarawak electorate, and show the type of constituencies and communities that are the most contested. Rather than simplistically and mistakenly boiling down the election to ‘Adenan,’ it is necessary to better appreciate the diversity of Sarawakians and the variation in their political engagement.

BN’s rural advantage


Sarawak is Malaysia’s most rural state, with many remote areas and the country’s worst transportation infrastructure. It is also the state with the most rural constituencies. Of the 82 seats, 30 of these can be seen as rural (36 per cent), another 38 as semi-rural (46 per cent) and 14 of these are urban (17 per cent). The share of semi-rural seats has been increasing with the expansion of infrastructure and development. Within many of these seats there are more and less urbanized areas, requiring analysis to focus on polling stations that reflect the specific towns, villages and long houses.

The BN maintains a clear advantage in rural areas, where it wins close to an estimated two-thirds of the support. By contrast the BN has only won slightly over a third of the support in the urban areas in recent polls.

In this election both sides are heavily fighting to break the urban-rural patterns of voting. The opposition is facing an uphill battle. The People’s Justice Party’s (PKR) long-standing support for land rights and Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) more recent Impian efforts underscore their attempts to win rural support. With recent improvements surrounding Native Customary Rights to land and promises to stop dam construction, rural issues are less heated than in the past, making the opposition campaign even more challenging. Many rural folk, however, have yet to receive promised compensation and continue to face serious conditions of poverty and poor infrastructure. They also question the sincerity of promises. Furthermore, discrimination remains a problem for many marginalized communities. Rural folk are more aware of issues than in the past, as information technology has improved.

This election almost all of the political parties have stood local candidates in rural communities and have worked the ground for some time in most of the seats. The breakthrough for the opposition in rural areas happened in 2011 in Ba’kelalan and Krian where PKR candidates won. The rural areas are becoming more competitive, although in these polls arguably less than a third of the rural seats are seen as meaningfully competitive. Both opposition rural incumbents face difficult fights.

It is noteworthy that Najib has visited almost all of the competitive rural seats, promising long-overdue development projects.

Table 1: Estimated Share of BN Support in Sarawak’s Urban, Semi-Rural and Rural Polling Stations

Election BN
Urban Semi-Rural Rural
2011 (s) 35.41% 57.61% 62.24%
2013 (p) 36.10% 58.89% 65.67%


Semi-rural skirmishes

With almost half the seats in semi-rural constituencies, the outcome of the Sarawak elections will be determined in these areas. It is here where the opposition will reach or fail to reach its goal of breaking the two-thirds mark of the incumbent.

Not surprisingly, the BN also holds an advantage in these areas. Nevertheless, the opposition has been gaining ground in semi-rural areas, following the national trend. Seats such as Batu Kawah and Repok were won in 2011, and gains were made in Senadin around Miri, a seat that has become more urban in the past five years.

This time round the contests in many of these semi-rural areas are quite fragmented, with many independents and parties contesting in multi-corner fights. For example, the new seat of Batu Kitang is competitive, but a place where a three-corner fight will hurt opposition chances. Similar observations can be made about Jepak, outside of Bintulu. If there are breakthroughs, they may come from unexpected quarters, tied to the role of sabotage against BN candidates as a result of Adenan’s leadership in handling the choice of candidates and long-standing feuds within BN parties, inadequate attention to accommodating the local clans in candidate selection in communities and from local strongmen backed with resources and local networks to sway the outcome.

The results also may be shaped by greater access to information and expansion of opposition machinery and engagement in these seats, as has happened elsewhere. The BN’s advantage in semi-rural areas remains strong, where it wins close to 60 per cent of support.

Ethnic bases

While the Sarawak campaign has not highlighted ethnicity openly, differences in ethnic voting and mobilization remain prominent features of the Malaysian political landscape. The BN relies heavily on Malay/Melanau support to control its majority in Sarawak, giving Adenan’s party Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) a similar dominance in the state to that of UMNO on the peninsula. Support among Malays/Melanau for the BN is higher in Sarawak than in West Malaysia, where more than three-quarters of Malays/Melanau supported the incumbent coalition.

In the 2013 general election this number increased to nearly 90 per cent. It is likely that in this election, the number will return to the average in state elections, around 78-80 per cent. Malay support for the BN in Sarawak contributes to their dominance in ethnically-mixed seats.

Table 2: Estimated Share of BN Support in Sarawak’s Polling Stations by Major Ethnic Groups

Election Malay/ Melanau Chinese Iban Bidayuh Orang Ulu/ Others
2011 (s) 79.24% 24.82% 65.39% 64.79% 48.42%
2013 (p) 88.97% 24.12% 65.95% 64.77% 52.52%

By contrast, Chinese support for the opposition mirrors the level of support of Malays for the BN, at more than three-quarters. The 2016 campaign has seen concerted efforts to woo Chinese voters, through allocations to schools, clan associations and repeated calls that Chinese could be effectively left out of the state leadership.

Adenan has avidly courted the Chinese electorate, while unpopular Najib has largely stayed away. This election, movement among Chinese voters will be decisive in the outcome. The BN hopes to wrestle back seats from the DAP in Sibu, Sarikei and Miri in seats such as Dudong, Repok, Meradong and Pujut, and set in place a national pattern of a return of the Chinese to the BN fold. The opposition is fighting hard to maintain Chinese loyalties, capitalizing on concerns about corruption and the economy.

The changes in voting among the Dayak communities over time have been more gradual. While the support levels of the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu remain consistently in favor of the BN above the majority in the last two polls, these levels of support have dropped over the last decade, by 5 per cent for the Iban and Bidayuh and 10 per cent for the Orang Ulu.

The 2016 campaign has focused on trying to win greater Dayak support, with opposition parties featuring their new younger Dayak leaders and greater efforts in political engagement. The battlegrounds in the rural and semi-rural areas as well as debates around religion and representation will all be shaped by the votes of the Dayak community. There is a perception that these communities can be easily influenced and are most impacted by money politics, notably vote buying. While clearly a factor in voting among the Dayak, it is important to recall that the surprise 1987 results were a product of a swing in Dayak support. The BN takes the Dayak support for granted and feeds the division within the community, using well-honed divide-and-rule tactics. Greater awakening with calls for better representation and leadership and splits among the Dayak communities could influence outcomes.

Generation mobilisation

Any changes along ethnic lines, if they do occur, are likely to come from the young. A third important trend in Sarawak has been greater mobilization of the youth for the opposition. Looking at variation within saluran or streams in different polling stations allows for an estimate of differences in voting by age. The opposition is winning a majority of younger voters, while the BN holds onto the older electorate.

Table 3: Estimated Share of BN Support in Sarawak’s Polling Stations by Generation

Election Younger Voters Older Voters
2011 (s) 39.28% 59.84%
2013 (p) 43.01% 64.17%

Sarawak is an older electorate than in other states in the country. Only 12 per cent of the 2016 voters are in their 20s, with another 21 per cent in their 30s. By contrast half of the electorate in West Malaysia is younger. The young in Sarawak have been leaving, in search of work and, in the past few years, registering elsewhere, especially in Johor and Selangor. Nearly a quarter of the electorate in Sarawak (23 per cent) is over 60, with 3 per cent over 80.

While the older age compensation gives the BN an advantage, the nearly a third of younger voters can and has had a meaningful impact. The effect of youth can be especially important in the urban and semi-rural areas. They account for much of the change in the BN’s support levels and whether they come out and continue to support the opposition this round will be decisive. The BN has not openly courted the youth this election, and Adenan’s appeal among the young is not as strong as it is among older voters.

Changing voter turnout

The final tallies will importantly be shaped by how many people come out to vote. Youth voting turnout will be especially important. Similar to Malaysians elsewhere, more Sarawakians have been coming to the polls. The 2013 general election was at a high mark for turnout in Sarawak, at 75.4 per cent, up from 69.5 per cent in the 2011 state polls. Voter turnout is important in Sarawak, as contests often come down to a handful number of votes, especially in fiercely-contested seats. In these close contests, voter turnout will affect the outcome, with higher voter turnout in close seats usually favoring the opposition.

There are important differences in turnout across the state. Traditionally, the BN’s more effective machinery and mobilization of their supporters works to their advantage. For example, voter turnout in the BN’s core base, rural areas, is markedly higher than in urban areas. Similarly, as shown below, the BN is able to mobilize ethnic groups that give them an advantage, namely Malays/Melanau and Bidayuh – communities that have traditionally been among the BN’s highest supporters. In contrast, youth turnout is lower, as many younger voters do not even register, disadvantaging the opposition.

Table 4: Estimated turnout by major ethnic communities in Sarawak

Election Malay/ Melanau Chinese Iban Bidayuh Orang Ulu/ Others
2011 (s) 71.11% 66.43% 70.91% 71.31% 60.29%
2013 (p) 77.92% 72.64% 75.62% 79.61% 63.37%

In the 2016 polls, turnout levels will likely drop, due to the lack of enthusiasm of the electorate for the campaign. The question will be by how much.

Who comes out will also shape the outcome. The opposition has been regularly calling for voters to return home. It is much easier (and less expensive) for the workers in Brunei to return than those across the South China Sea.

As polling day approaches, the variation and trends in support levels and political participation cannot be ignored. The dominance of the BN in their control of seats obscures important differences and changes that have been taking place. The BN is banking on stopping change in opposition voting trends to strengthen their advantage.

Bridget Welsh is Professor of Political Science at Ipek University, Senior Research Associate at the Center for East Asian Democratic Studies of National Taiwan University, Senior Associate Fellow of The Habibie Center, and University Fellow of Charles Darwin University.

This is the second piece in a five-part series. The next article focuses on money politics in Sarawak. Read the first article here. Bridget Welsh would like to thank Sarawakians who assisted with the classification of polling stations, seats and analysis.