The Theology of Donald Trump


July 9, 2016

The Theology of Donald Trump

by Peter Wehner

SINCE Donald Trump assures us that the Bible is his favorite book, it’s worth asking: Just what is his theology?

After Mr. Trump met with hundreds of evangelical Christians a couple of weeks ago, James Dobson, who is among the most influential leaders in the evangelical world and serves on Mr. Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board, declared that “Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit,” by which Dr. Dobson meant the Holy Spirit.

Of all the descriptions of Mr. Trump we’ve heard this election season, this may be the most farcical. As described by St. Paul, the “fruit of the Spirit” includes forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, hardly qualities one associates with Mr. Trump. It shows you the lengths Mr. Trump’s supporters will go to in order to rationalize their enthusiastic support of him.

Dr. Dobson (below) is not alone. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, has praised Mr. Trump’s life as in many ways exemplary and said that he believes that “Donald Trump is God’s man to lead our nation.” Eric Metaxas, who has written popular biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has rhapsodized about Mr. Trump and argued that Christians “must” vote for him because he is “the last best hope of keeping America from sliding into oblivion.”

And should your conscience tell you that Mr. Trump might not be the right choice, Robert Jeffress, the influential pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, explains that “any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee” is “motivated by pride rather than principle.”

This fulsome embrace of Mr. Trump is rather problematic, since he embodies a worldview that is incompatible with Christianity. If you trace that worldview to its source, Christ would not be anywhere in the vicinity.

Time and again Mr. Trump has shown contempt for those he perceives as weak and vulnerable — “losers,” in his vernacular. They include P.O.W.s, people with disabilities, those he deems physically unattractive and those he considers politically powerless. He bullies and threatens people he believes are obstacles to his ambitions. He disdains compassion and empathy, to the point where his instinctive response to the largest mass shooting in American history was to congratulate himself: “Appreciate the congrats for being right.”

What Mr. Trump admires is strength. For him, a person’s intrinsic worth is tied to worldly success and above all to power. He never seems free of his obsession with it. In his comments to that gathering of evangelicals, Mr. Trump said this: “And I say to you folks, because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back. Remember this: If you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You’re more powerful. Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don’t use your power. You don’t use your power.”

In eight sentences Mr. Trump mentioned some variation of power six times, to a group of individuals who have professed their love and loyalty to Jesus, who in his most famous sermon declared, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “Blessed are the meek,” who said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness,” and who was humiliated and crucified by the powerful.

To better understand Mr. Trump’s approach to life, ethics and politics, we should not look to Christ but to Friedrich Nietzsche, who was repulsed by Christianity and Christ. “What is good?” Nietzsche asks in “The Anti-Christ”: “Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is evil? Whatever springs from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power increases – that resistance is overcome.”

Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I’m guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one. It is characterized by indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations), the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless. It celebrates the “Übermensch,” or Superman, who rejects Christian morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad. So, too, for Donald Trump.

Those who believe this is merely reductionism should consider the words of Jesus: Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? Mr. Trump’s entire approach to politics rests on dehumanization. If you disagree with him or oppose him, you are not merely wrong. You are worthless, stripped of dignity, the object of derision. This attitude is central to who Mr. Trump is and explains why it pervades and guides his campaign. If he is elected president, that might-makes-right perspective would infect his entire administration.

All of this is important because of what it says about Mr. Trump as a prospective president. But it is also revealing for what it says about Christians who now testify on his behalf (there are plenty who don’t). The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

The French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul wrote: “Politics is the church’s worst problem. It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.” In rallying round Mr. Trump, evangelicals have walked into the trap. The rest of the world sees it. Why don’t they?

Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the last three Republican administrations and is a contributing opinion writer.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on July 5, 2016, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: The Theology of Donald Trump.

The June 2016 by-elections: The Opposition and Mahathir thoroughly plastered


New York

June 22, 2016

The June 2016 by-elections: The Opposition and Mahathir thoroughly plastered

by Dr Bridget Welsh (Received via E-mail)

The by-election results for Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar are in. UMNO held onto their seats, and increased its majorities.

Najib got the formula: Cash is still King

Given the tragedy surrounding the polls stemming from the helicopter accident in Sarawak last month, the fact that by-elections disproportionately favour those with access to resources, and the reality that these contests were three-cornered fights with a divided opposition, these results are not unexpected.

The important implications of these by-elections lies less in the winning, but in the losing – as the shifts in campaigning, voting and political alignments reveal that old dreams are gone. Malaysian electoral politics is shifting, and all indications are that the direction is not toward a stronger, more vibrant polity that offers meaningful choices to the electorate.

Declining engagement

At this marker before the next general election, it is important to identity key trends. Importantly, voters are not engaging as in the past. This is evident in the decline in voter turnout. Malaysians are tired of the politicking and turning away from elections.

The drop in voter turnout from 2013 was a whopping 14 percent in Sungai Besar and 13 percent in Kuala Kangsar respectively. Importantly voter turnout levels were also a drop from 2008. What is even more revealing is the decline in voter registration more broadly, especially among younger Malaysians.

Voters are disappointed with the options provided and tired of a political contest that appears to be about the fight for power rather than the fight for representation. Voter disengagement advantages incumbents, as shown in the by-elections results, and this unhealthy trend reinforces the sense of disempowerment that has deepened with the governance scandals over the last year.

Both campaigns were devoid of any meaningful new messages. They were not about any real reform or policies that help Malaysians. Neither side had anything substantive or new to offer the electorate. Instead the campaign was about fighting enemies, be they Mahathir Mohamad, Najib Abdul Razak or Abdul Hadi Awang.

Battles over personalities dominated over the concerns of ordinary people as the past featured more than the future. If there was any issue that stood out, it was hudud, which was carefully placed by UMNO to serve as a distraction to reinforce opposition splits, fears and insecurities – emotions that favour the incumbent.

UMNO’s use of race and religion for campaigning is not new. This issue however became less about hudud than about the person who introduced the hudud bill, namely Hadi, as here too the election became about old strategies rather than new ones. The overall shallowness of the campaign speaks to the fatigue in the political system and the widening deficit of new ideas and leadership for moving the country forward.

To fill the vacuum, both sides turned to relying on resources and patronage in campaigning. Buying votes has now become the norm for the BN, especially in by-elections. Yet, the crass exchange of funds for votes was so blatant that it set a new low standard of vote-buying. The Electoral Commission seemed to endorse this practice.

While the BN may relish in their victory, this practice will be difficult to replicate on a national scale, especially given the rising debt and fiscal constraints tied to the economic mismanagement of the Najib administration. This mode is not viable to win GE14.

The opposition on its part has joined the goodie game. In an ‘if you can’t beat, then join them’ dynamic, Pakatan Harapan parties handed out rice and other sundries. The use of state funds (or rather people’s funds) were similarly used to woo electoral support, feeding the practice that elections are about what you get materially in the short term rather than in the long term.

The opposition has adopted a campaign tactic it will always lose, not only for the fact that they do not have the funds to be competitive, but more for the reality that it undercuts the opposition from any advantage they have to fall back on principles. For every bag of rice they distribute, they undercut all criticisms of an unfair electoral process. They are becoming what they said they were fighting against.

Loss of dreams

The move away from campaigning over ideas and defending principles underscores broader shifts in the political disengagement among the electorate at large. The stakes in Malaysian elections have changed. While 2008 was about change, and 2013 about the possibility of a change in government, current elections no longer appear to offer the option of meaningful difference.

Today it is not clear what the opposition stands for. These by-elections did not reveal an alternative political narrative for the opposition, a wasted opportunity to genuinely construct a new foundation. For many voters, the dream of change is dead.

It is thus no surprise that there were political realignments in voting, with some Chinese and Indians moving away from the opposition (although between 5-10 percent in a preliminary study of the data). This lack of viable alternative leadership also contributed to the increasing fragmentation among Malay voters. Malays are more divided in UMNO’s favour. The overall momentum is changing, from anger directed toward UMNO moving toward disappointment with the opposition for failing to meet expectations and achieve its promises.

The by-elections do however suggest emphatically that another dream is dying – this is of PAS and hudud. The biggest loser in the campaign was Hadi Awang’s PAS, as the results show that the traditional Islamist party cannot even win second place in a seat where it has repeatedly campaigned and even in a Malay heartland seat in Perak barely scraped through in second place. Preliminary analysis of the data shows that PAS held onto around a third of Malay voters, a record low in recent decades. Its connection to UMNO was electorally toxic for the party.

Not only is Hadi Awang undermining any hope of PAS governing, voters have shown emphatically that they care less about hudud, with the majority rejecting it as the centrepiece of a campaign. PAS was not rewarded for pushing its archaic exclusive moralism, a sign ahead that the party under Hadi Awang is heading towards a minor electoral status worse than 2004. The by-elections show clear signs that the dream of hudud is dying, as the voters have spoken what surveys have long shown – hudud does not win votes. Hadi Awang’s leadership is destroying the party – a dynamic that truly makes UMNO gleeful.

Votes of (no) confidence

Immediately after the polls there were many groups claiming victory. The first was Najib’s camp, with claims of a ‘vote of confidence’. This is a gross error in interpretation. Polls continue to show that Prime Minister Najib remains deeply unpopular – and his lack of presence in these by-elections (as compared to other senior leaders) was telling.

Supporters of the PM may live in a dream world of believing in confidence, but they are fooling themselves if they think that two by-elections will translate into a national mandate for their leader. The reality is that UMNO’s chances electorally are stronger without the scandal-ridden PM.

A second claim of victory came from Amanah, whose first entry into peninsular politics showed that they are a significant new Malay party. They performed well. This performance, however, rested very much on the support and machinery of their allies, especially the DAP. This dependence is not healthy. Although it received multi-ethnic support, considerable support for the party came from Chinese voters.

Amanah under a Boria Joker from Penang

Amanah has a long way to go to show it is an equal independent partner in the opposition alliance, and faces an uphill battle to bring in mass Malay support. A key step in that regard is to stop its myopic fight with PAS and focus on what it offers on its own and for the country as a whole.

Another claim has revolved around the participation of Dr Mahathir, with UMNO belittling his role. The results show that support of Mahathir for the opposition did not translate into cutting into significantly UMNO’s political base, as the party held its own. What is not clear is how this happened.

Neutralising dissent within UMNO was effective as incentives and intimidation were used in the campaign, with grassroots leaders inside the party feeling the effects. Again, these tactics will be difficult to replicate at the national level. UMNO’s greatest enemy has been itself, and divisions within the party and its base remain.

The most substantive vote of confidence surrounded the opposition as a whole. Taken together (PAS and Amanah) the opposition support remained high at 45 percent of the electorate. This is a loss of less than 5 percent of voters moving away from the opposition parties. As such, the opposition’s core support remains significant in what continues to be a polarised polity.

Entrenched losing mentalities

Opposition support is now however more fragmented. Looking ahead, it is unlikely that a pact can be formed to prevent multi-cornered fights in the next election. It is also impossible that Pakatan Rakyat can be repaired. Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall. Pakatan is broken. Even if Hadi steps down or is pushed out as leader in the next PAS party election, old formulas and coalitions are not viable.

As such, the reality is that the multi-ethnic opposition will need to address how it can maximise its support among opposition supporters and more importantly cut into UMNO’s traditional base if it to even maintain its electoral position.

These are difficult tasks ahead, especially given the internal divisions in PKR and imbalances among the opposition partners. A new viable national opposition cannot achieve these tasks with a focus on issues and enemies of the past, a lacklustre campaign that relies non-competitively on resources rather than people’s priorities and battles that appear to be about themselves rather than for the people.

If the opposition is to move out of a losing mentality, it will need to address three key issues: a new leadership, a new narrative and revamped principles/parameters for cooperation and campaigning. The burden on the opposition to change is higher than ever, to reject practices and behaviour that has resulted in losses since 2013.

In contrast, the by-election victories show that for UMNO, the strategies of maintaining electoral support remain the same – a controlling leader, a reliance on resources, the use of control of electoral bodies (through movement of voters as occurred in both by-elections and the advantages of delineation) and the manipulation of race and religion.

UMNO continues to effectively capitalise on fear and insecurity, touting the idea that any viable national alternative besides UMNO will result in loss of place and position for its political base. This may appear like a winning strategy for elections, but it remains to be seen how long a campaign based on a mentality of losing actually moves the country forward.

In this climate of economic contraction, the politics of losing is now more dominant than ever. Negative politics and politicking are defining the national landscape. Disengagement and division are eroding the democratic quality of elections. The June by-elections show that these developments are not a winning formula for ordinary Malaysians.

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.

Responses to racism in Malaysia’s Islam


June 15, 2016

Responses to racism in Malaysia’s Islam

by  Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

An article on Malaysia’s strain of ‘racist’ Islam – a subject as contentious as they could possibly come in the super heated cauldron of politics, race and religion in the country – drew a variety of responses.

From the authorities and our political leaders, there was a deafening silence. Perhaps the non-response is for the better as it allows other voices and the rest of society to have their say. We have become so cynical and distrustful of politicians and Putrajaya-appointed officials holding positions in authority that what they say is scarcely believable or has credibility.

The reaction of readers – those who have posted comments in the Malaysiakini and Din Merican blog where the article appeared is interesting.

The article had asked why Islam in this country has taken a hard line position and turned its back on its traditionally moderate roots and associated indigenous and Hindu-Buddhist values and mores.

Also why the defence of secularism and secular-oriented positions such as those espoused by the G-25 Group of prominent ex-civil servants have received little traction while, at the same time, rabble rousing groups such as the Red Shirts and ISIS type extremist views have gained ground among the Malays.

When it is convenient and politically expedient, Prime Minister Najib Razak uses Race and Religion to maintain Malay support for his administration. Is he is a responsible  Premier for all Malaysians?–Din Merican

It was argued that the rise of a virulent strain of Malay racism may be the major factor explaining the recent rapid spread of an increasingly conservative and reactionary Islamic ideology and practices in the country.

Although orthodox Islam rejects race and racism, evidence is growing that the resurgence in Islam in Malaysia is closely correlated with anti non-Malay sentiment; and a growing ethno-centricism directed at the non-Malay and non-Muslim communities.

Are extreme forms of these two makers and markers of Malay identity converging? Are they mutually reinforcing? If they are, we are in for unprecedented turbulence in our racial and religious relations.

Is the fused outcome – a form of Islamofascism – displacing or has it already displaced the moderate mainstream form? The response of most readers so far is in the affirmative but they appear to hold different views to explain the rise of Islamo-fascism.

Readers’ comments on racism in Malaysia’s Islam

One reader puts it down to the following explanation which gives our colonial masters too much credit for our current malaise:

Unfortunately the British engineered a constitution which had a subtext of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and ‘Ketuanan Islam’. Look at the State constitutions formulated by the British – a non-Muslim and a non-Malay is not allowed to hold the office of Chief Minister unless the Sultan of the state agrees to waive this caveat. This is a nasty piece of legislation and is a repudiation of democracy. If a party with majority seats and support has a non-Malay as its leader, what justification can there be for his or her disqualification from the post of CM?

There is none, other than downright racism and religious bigotry. To extrapolate and come to the conclusion that it is because Malays are inherently racists and religiously bigoted is wrong. Malays have an animist, Hindu and Buddhist past and the interaction with other races and religions allowed for n evolutionary form of Islamic practice which was accommodating and unique to Malaya.

Another reader has responded to the above explanation in the following way:

Proarte has succinctly captured the fundamental causes for the rise of Islamism.

However, while I agree that the Malays are not “inherently racists and religiously bigoted” the Malays as Muslims today have purged their religious practices of any of the ameliorating vestiges of their animist, Hindu and Buddhist past and sanitized it thoroughly for discourse in the public domain. Additionally their interaction with other races and religions has trundled to a halt. Malays won’t even eat in non-Muslim homes these days. So invitations so crucial to interaction have ceased.

Thus while previous aspects of Malay life and discourse may well have “allowed for an evolutionary form of Islamic practice which was accommodating and unique to Malaya” it didn’t take and ‘moderate Islam’ is a convenient media sound byte to bandy around on the international scene. Our very own far right ‘Islamofascism’ is only on the rise. And as long as Muslim political opportunism prevails there will be no letting up!

A third has argued that:

I feel it has much to do with inferiority complex. The advances made by non-Malays and their perceived affluence are being viewed with disdain by Malay Muslims on the whole. And coupled with the views of the robust but minority progressive Malays, the stage is set for yet another confrontation. Problems of inequality don’t seem to dissipate despite many affirmative actions. The crutch-and-rent-seeking mentality persists. The situation is further aggravated by a ruling party that is rakyat-unfriendly. Today, religion and race are two very explosive subjects that can rip Malaysians apart. And we are not getting any help from our tainted leaders, as they themselves are fighting for their political survival while enriching themselves The contending Islamist parties are a disgrace, pure and simple, and so is the ruling coalition. Is a solution in sight? Your guess is as good as mine.

As always with any controversial subject there will be those that may want to blow the whistle though for reasons not wholly clear.

The title is seditious! To be a Malay is not a race as per Constitution. Jika ‘katasayang’ orang Kristian Cina ini mula berpuasa, masuk Islam, saya pun orang Melayu. Mana ada rasis dalam konsep Melayu.Yang rasis tu, orang Cina lah.

Tak ada jalan masuk Cina. Wait.. after generations being a Chinese, I am still called a ‘penumpang’ in China, not to mention Khek penumpang ike descendants of Yap Ah Loy. I think we should call current administration as what it is. Desperate, manipulative, tak Melayu, kerana tak Islam. Clueless on how to run their own life.

Perhaps the authorities may think the subject is deserving of censorship. Perhaps our local scholars will engage in self-censorship or denial of reality. And those on the dominant side of the racial and religious divide may think that the subject is inconsequential or unimportant.

But for Malaysians from the minority communities, we can expect that the seeping and entrenchment of racialism and extremism into Islamic consciousness and dogma will have the most dire consequence.

(Disclaimer: The opinions and comments expressed by the writers are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of The Heat Malaysia.)

Also by Lim Teck Ghee:

Two visitors with conflicting visions

 

Malaysia: Rise of ‘Racist’ Strain of Islam


June 10, 2016

Malaysia: Rise of ‘Racist’ Strain of Islam

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

The Lay Preacher and Demagogue Zakir Naik

A recent article comparing the treatment accorded by the Government and the larger Islamic community to two recent Muslim visitors notes that the question as to why preacher Zakir Naik and scholar Abdullahi An-Na’im and their messages are resounding differently with the Malay Muslim community is a crucial one for Malaysians to ask

(http://www.theheatmalaysia.com/Main/Two-visitors-with-conflicting-visions).

The contrast in the themes articulated by these two visitors in their lectures and public engagements cannot be more different.

The Scholar Abdullahi An-Na’im

That of the scholar is a vision of a more humanistic and intellectually more rational and defensible Islam. The other by the preacher stems from a conservative and extremist position. Based on advocacy of Islam as a superior religion, Zakir offers simplistic but popular – with the Muslim masses – opinions on topics such as dealing with LGBT’s and other non-Islamic minorities, apostasy, the treatment of other faiths in Islamic states, the evils of secularism, etc.

Similar questions have been asked by others as to why Islam in this country has taken a hard line position and turned its back on its traditionally moderate roots and associated Hindu-Buddhist values and mores. Also why the defence of secularism and secular-oriented positions such as those espoused by G25 group of prominent ex-civil servants have received little traction while, at the same time, rabble rousing groups such as the Red Shirts and ISIS type extremist views have gained ground among the Malays.

Two scholars have recently contributed insights into the rise of a conservative and hard line Islam in the country. Dr. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hami in his paper “ISIS in Southeast Asia: Internalized Wahhabism is a Major Factor” (ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective, 16 May 2016) has dissected the impact of the Wahabbi brand of Salafism with its extremist world view from a political development perspective since the 70s.

Dr. Azhar Ibrahim, in his blog article, “Secularism as Imagined in the Malay-Indonesian World: Resistance and its Muted Counter Responses in the Discursive and Public Realms”, using a cultural anthropological cum historical approach has explained the failure of Muslim intellectuals and intelligentsia to engage and contest the anti-secularists.

Race in Malaysia’s Islamic Discourse

While the two papers are useful and timely, what is missing is a discussion of how the factor of race, and the rise of a virulent strain of Malay racism may be a key, and perhaps the major, factor explaining the recent rapid spread of an increasingly conservative and reactionary Islamic ideology and practices in the country.

Although orthodox Islam rejects race and racism, there is mounting evidence that the resurgence in Islam in Malaysia is closely correlated with the rise of anti-non-Malay sentiment, and an ethno-centricism directed at the non-Malay and non-Muslim communities.

Ahmad Fauzi and Ahzar Ibrahim are not the only two scholars who have failed to attach sufficient importance to the racial factor playing a critical role in the most recent phase of Islamic socio-economic and political development in Malaysia. Many other local scholars have chosen to ignore it or have studiously avoided the subject.

This avoidance is possibly because of the belief that Islamic extremism in Malaysia has spread primarily due to externally generated events such as the rise of political Islam in the Middle East. It may also be because of the view that an academic or public discourse on the subject – even from an academic or intellectual perspective – may be opening up a pandora’s box; or is not helpful to one’s academic or professional career; or perhaps reflects poorly on the integrity of the scholar’s own religious and racial community.

Recent events, however, have brought into the forefront the importance of putting the subject under the academic microscope and of engaging in an open and frank exploration of it, even if this discourse may be regarded as treading on sensitive concerns and issues.

The opening of this pandora’s box is also necessary because it appears that both extreme forms of the two ideologies – one religious and the other man-made – are not only converging but are also mutually reinforcing. The fused outcome – a form of Islamofacism – may be displacing, or perhaps may already have displaced, the earlier moderate mainstream forms.

Two examples of the convergence of “Ketuanan Islam” and “Ketuanan Melayu” can be highlighted, although more instances are taking place on a daily basis.

In September 2015, UMNO Supreme Council member, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, openly admitted that he is a “racist”. In his speech to participants at the “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” or “red shirt” rally which its organizers estimated to have attracted a crowd of 250,000, he emphasised that racism was allowed in Islam, so long as other races were not oppressed in the process.

According to him “I am racist but it’s racism based on Islam. Racism is allowed in Islam”. He was also reported to have quoted a hadith (a saying of the Prophet) on ‘assabiyah’ which he interpreted as justifying racism.

The UMNO leader may have been playing to the gallery during his speech. However what he announced reflects not only his understanding – and justification – of Islamic racism a-la its Malaysian variety. It also reveals a similar position held by UMNO’s leadership and most of the ruling party’s rank and file members since there are no reports of anyone from the party expressing dissent with Annuar Musa’s view.

More recently, the open display of the “keris” – commonly seen as the symbol of Malay nationalism – during the recent opening of PAS’s muktamar has led Dr. Mahathir to note that “PAS used to criticise UMNO for being a nationalist party, but now the opposition party is “more nationalist because their keris is longer than Umno’s”.

“We measure nationalism based on the length of the keris, The longer the keris, the more nationalistic. Now they realise that they’re Malays,” he added.

For non-Muslims and non-Malays, these new developments, and the racialism and extremism seeping into the Islamic consciousness of the Malay community, are no laughing matter.

What it means is that they cannot expect PAS, UMNO, or perhaps even Amanah, the latest of the Muslim parties and progressive Islamic NGO’s and conscientious scholars to draw attention to and fight the battle for equal rights within an increasingly Islamic Malaysian nation.

They have only themselves to rely on and should not, as in the boiling frog anecdote, wait too late to respond to the rising heat from this present incarnation of Islamic and racist resurgence in the country.

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.