Religiosity–False and Ridiculous–in Malaysia


June 9, 2017

Religiosity–False and Ridiculous–in Malaysia

by Dr. K. John@www.malaysiakini.com

I am genuinely angry and tired of much “false religiosity” which is found in many cultures and belief systems in Malaysia. I call all such unexamined cultural beliefs, worldviews; whether one is consciously aware of the existence of such implicit beliefs, or assumptions, or lack thereof.

Recently two examples of false religiosity were made evident in the Malaysian public square. I have addressed one of them through a previous column. Find it here.

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Zahid Hamidi and other Disciples of Zakir Zaik (Dr Asri Zainal Abidin–5th Left)

It related to misinformation and misguided statements made by Dr Asri Zainal Abidin, the current Mufti of Perlis. If I am not wrong, the post of any mufti is a public service appointment on behalf of the state government and they usually act as formal advisors to their rulers.

In this column I will address the second example of the same kind and quality of false religiosity.  But, before that, let me state a more positive note.  One of my connections (a Muslim friend) sent me a good and correct teaching (by WhatsApp) about what is truth in Islam, as an Abrahamic religion. I am glad such clear teaching is available, and many thanks to modern technology. He was responding to that earlier column.

In January 2017, the media reported that Khalid Samad, MP for Shah Alam was found guilty of a charge by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department, or JAIS, in the syariah court case for “illegal preaching”. And, as a consequence of such a punishment, it was also reported by the media that he may also be disqualified from being an MP, according to Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law, Shad Saleem Faruqi.

More recently, in a similar vein and mode, this past week, JAIS again made a statement criticizing a local mosque which invited another elected member of Parliament to address them publicly inside their local mosque. JAIS used the name of the Sultan of Selangor, saying that he was “angry” about the matter. JAIS also issued a statement publicising the matter and then decrying the so-called wrong-doing and highlighting the anger of the Sultan of Selangor. My question: is not anger also sin, especially in the month of Ramadan?

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What Offence Did MP S. Sivarasa commit doing his duty as Subang Member of Parliament? Matters can become ridiculous in Malaysian politics under Najib Razak

I have serious problems with such false or mislabelled religious jurisprudence which denies any human being the full rights of citizenship, and especially that of  Members of Parliament. Khalid Samad is a Muslim representative but the latest charge is against R Sivarasa who is MP for Subang, and the mosque is well within his constituency. Sivarasa was performing a formal function as a people’s representative disbursing public funds.

Khalid Samad was sharing his faith and virtues in terms of Islamic thought, philosophy, and his personal life experiences with Palestinians as a result of his recent visit to Gaza. I therefore ask, so what is wrong with what he or Sivarasa did in the mosque?

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Can someone explain to me, in serious theological or logical terms, what is wrong with such sharing of truths from his heart about his first-hand experiences learned in Gaza? Or, why could Sivarasa not be present as a people’s representative within a mosque?

Do mosques belong to JAKIM or JAIS?

Do these mosques actually “belong to JAIS”? Are all mosques then under their direct administrative jurisdiction? I was under the impression that there is no Islamic equivalent of ecclesiology. Where in our Rule of Law system is such a hierarchy of jurisprudence provided for?

If such mosques are in fact directly under the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) which is a federal government department with a minister in cabinet, what is the legal basis of such provisions? Why and how then was the one green lung behind my house converted by JAIS into a mosque after the fact? (For more information on this issue, please refer to this article and a reply by the state legislative assemblyperson for Kampung Tunku.)

What can be there be any legal or religious basis of such thinking?  Are all mosques in Malaysia funded and therefore built by JAKIM with zero funds from federal income tax revenues? Or, is it totally and fully funded by zakat or other such funds?

How then would such a financial administration and authority system be established within the nine Malay states? What about Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak? Is there a specific state enactment which establishes all these mosques under the full control and determination of some form of state Islamic administration? I ask because I am now a Selangor resident; who is seriously upset about the state administration of both land and religion.

JAIS’s simplistic thinking too may be simply partisan and political. To them, Khalid Samad had no certification to preach at this mosque. Did he really preach or teach the wrong Islamic doctrine? Really, and is not every Muslim allowed to stand up and speak about his experience of faith after a standard prayer at any mosque?

My understanding of the history of Islamic thought is that such sharing in the mosque was always encouraged, while it was dependent on the listeners to ponder the accuracy of such preaching or teaching. Is not this human attempt to control and manipulate religious thought reaching serious and partisan levels? Is that true Islam?

G25 and a moderation movement

G25 is a community of ex-public servants of Muslim faith who publicly made a statement committed to pursuing a just, democratic, peaceful, tolerant, harmonious, moderate and progressive multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious society in Malaysia. They extolled two simple and clear Islamic principles or virtues:  ‘wassatiyah’ (or moderation) and ‘maqasid syariah’ (the higher intentions of a comprehensive well-being of the people) which affirms justice, compassion, mercy, and equity.

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The Gutsy, Outspoken and Moderate Muslim  Tawfik Tun Dr. Ismail (TTDI)

It was one Old Putera G25 member, Tawfik Tun Ismail who framed his personal views about JAKIM and then went to declare them publicly. TTDI, as he is fondly known among Old Putera, first questioned the role and full legal authority of JAKIM in its current capacity as a created and established federal department. JAKIM is a federal department set up under the Prime Minister’s Department of the government of Malaysia.

The then-media publisher The Malaysian Insider which published that story and raised the issue too has since been closed down. All these records of truths of interest can still be found on the internet though. I fully agree with TTDI and want to support G25 as a true movement for moderation.


KJ JOHN, PhD, was in public service for 32 years having served as a researcher, trainer, and policy adviser to the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the National IT Council (NITC) of the government of Malaysia. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

Malaysia’s Human Trafficking Problem: Corruption hinders Decisive Action against Traffickers


May 26, 2017

Malaysia’s Human Trafficking Problem: Corruption hinders Decisive Action

by Rebecca Schectman

http://www.newmandala.org/malaysia-must-wake-human-trafficking-problem/

 

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This is pure and unadulterated bullshit, coming from Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Laureate.  The Rohingyas are powerless and stateless. But push them in a corner, they will fight back in order to survive. Malaysia is equally to blame for lacking the political will to deal with human trafficking. Our Police Force is incorrigibly corrupt.

On Sunday, 21 May, Rohingya community members, local leaders, and NGOs working on human trafficking gathered at a Rohingya graveyard near Alor Setar, Kedah to commemorate the second anniversary of the discovery of mass graves and trafficking camps at Wang Kelian. I attended the event representing Tenaganita, an organisation that has worked on migrant rights and human trafficking issues in Malaysia since 1991.

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Image result for Wang Kelian rohingya cemetery

 Some 300 Rohingya gathered at Kampung Kepala Bendang near here today(May 21, 2017)  to pay tribute to the discovery of several mass graves in Perlis, thought to contain bodies of fellow migrants.

Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign and Tenaganita have called on Malaysian authorities to address the corruption that allows Malaysia to be a trafficking hub in the region. At the Wang Kelian memorial, Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid of MAPIM, the Malaysian Consul­tative Council of Islamic Organisation, stated that authorities should work with trafficking survivors to identify the ‘big fish’, the leaders of trafficking syndicates and the corrupt Malaysian officials who allow them to operate. Tenaganita recognises that the camps and bodies found at Wang Kelian are just the tip of the iceberg—currently, the Global Slavery Index estimates 128,800 individuals are trapped in modern day slavery in Malaysia. That’s about 0.4% of Malaysia’s total population, putting Malaysia among some of the least responsive countries to combat human trafficking.

While the trafficking camps and mass graves found two years ago are potent reminders of the deadliness of trafficking, it is also important to note that there are multiple trafficking schemes seen in Malaysia. Beyond forced labour and sex trafficking, Tenaganita has uncovered cases of marriage trafficking, the sale of babies, organ harvesting, child prostitution, and child marriage. Not all trafficking happens across the Malaysia-Thai border. Traffickers often use budget flights to bring men, women, and children into Malaysia for exploitation. Many of Tenaganita’s cases involve women trafficked to Malaysia for forced labour as domestic workers, which counters the stereotype of trafficked women only being victims of sex trafficking. Like refugees and migrant workers, domestic workers are not adequately protected under Malaysian law. Traffickers know this and often exploit people who are eager to come to Malaysia, such as asylum seekers fleeing their countries or women desperate to support their families.

Corruption, inadequate training of enforcement officers, and limited awareness of trafficking dynamics all contribute to the lack of enforcement of Malaysia’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM). Only a fraction of all prosecutions for trafficking crimes result in convictions according to the 2016 US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, which states, ‘accountability for traffickers remained disproportionately low compared to the scale of the human trafficking problem in the country’.

Trafficking prevention has not been adequately addressed at the national or regional level. For example, there are no mechanisms for safe repatriation, or the protection of trafficking survivors upon return to their country of origin to ensure they are not re-trafficked. Traffickers nimbly operate across borders—governments and enforcement agencies must also work closely together when prosecuting traffickers, protecting survivors, and preventing trafficking crimes. The newly ratified ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) takes steps in the right direction, but does not incorporate cooperation by civil society organisations like Tenaganita who have been fighting human trafficking for decades.

 

At the graveside memorial, I saw that the lives lost at Wang Kelian had not been forgotten, at least by the Rohingya community and organisations working on the issue. But despite some efforts to enact legislation, the Malaysian government still lacks the political will to address issues that mostly affect non-Malaysian workers, migrants, and refugees, all of whom are acutely vulnerable to trafficking, forced labour, and debt bondage. It is now time for Malaysia to get serious about enforcing existing legislation and especially going after the collusion between authorities at all levels and trafficking syndicates. The horrors of Wang Kelian must not be allowed to continue, whether through the trafficking of refugees across the Thai border or the trafficking of young women into domestic servitude within Malaysian homes. Unless there is a concerted effort to tackle the human trafficking business in the country, Malaysia will continue to be a trafficking destination.

Rebecca Schectman has worked with UNHCR and Tenaganita in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a 2016-17 Luce Scholar. She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2016 with a degree in International Relations and Latin American Studies. She has worked on issues ranging from preserving memory of human rights abuses in Argentina to studying citizen feedback platforms in Uganda. Her research interests include migration, forced displacement, development, and human rights.

 

The Harapan New Deal–Mahathir


May 9, 2017

The Harapan New Deal–Mahathir : The Hobson’s Choice for the Opposition?

Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

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Strange Brew in the Politics of Convenience

“I see Datuk Seri Najib is bending backwards to appease the Chinese, in the process of course he has antagonised quite a lot of Malays.”

— Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

“Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua.”

–Prime Minister Najib Razak

Everything columnist P Gunasegaram wrote in both his articles about the former Prime Minister and does ‘Harapan need Mahathir’ is correct and if you believe that saving Malaysia means getting rid of the current grand UMNO Grand Poobah then yes, the Opposition does need Mahathir.

“Correct” in everything, other than bringing PAS back in the fold. Then again, it is somewhat correct. I know what Guna means about bringing PAS back in the fold. There is a dialectic going on within PAS that scares the hell out of the Abdul Hadi Awang-UMNO wing of PAS and it is probably this element that Guna thinks is worth working with.

Hopefully the strategists in the Opposition are working on this because the Opposition has only ever been successful when they present a unified front against the hegemon. While Abdul Hadi Awang attempts to work his magic for his patrons in Putrajaya, he is mindful of manoeuvres from within to undermine the post-Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat reality he is attempting to forge. But this is not what this article is about.

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The Return of an Old Warrior–Can he make a Difference?

As I have argued, needing Mahathir is a Hobson’s choice of the Opposition’s making and while racial politics has always been a feature of opposition politics, the rhetoric coming from the de facto Opposition leader is furthering the fear-mongering racial narratives that used to be only the province of UMNO only.

Those dark paths to retaining power is always fraught with danger and it is naïve to think that the Opposition is “using” Mahathir. Nobody has ever used Mahathir and as one dejected DAP political strategist told me, referencing a line from a forgettable Nicholas Cage film ‘8MM’, “When you dance with devil, the devil doesn’t change, the devil changes you.”

You have to give it to former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even when he is peddling his ‘Malay’nationalistic narrative, he manages to include the ‘domestic’ Chinese under his protection by claiming that “local businesses, largely Malaysian Chinese owned, will definitely lose out to those of the Mainland Chinese.”

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Najib Razak’s Secret Weapon for GE-14 to subjugate the Malays

The operative word here is “Chinese” and even though Mahathir said, “It is this massive immigration that we object to. If the project is by Indians and a few million Indians are to come and live in Malaysia, we would also strongly object” – this probably does not include a certain Indian national (preacher Zakir Naik)who has been granted PR status and will no doubt be the loudspeaker du jour from the UMNOo regime to shore up ‘Malay’ support.

While Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali is grateful that the Bandar Malaysia, or whatever is called, is flushed down the toilet at the moment, I do wonder though that if those “local largely owned Malaysian Chinese” concerns are as relieved as Perkasa? This considering the fact that business in Malaysia is an unholy brew of ‘ketuanan’ politics and Chinese plutocrat enablers.

Same strategy

Foreign interlopers are a legitimate concern; that is why the strategy is used the world over and extremely effectively by far-right political parties. Here in Malaysia, where the distinction between local and foreign Chinese is unappreciated in the crowd that Bersatu and Pakatan are attempting to win over, this idea that appealing to the baser fearful instincts of the Malay electorate spells nothing but trouble for Malaysia.

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Yes, it is putarbelitism ala Najib’s UMNO

Anti-Chinese narratives fuel ‘ketuanan’ politics and while it may seem like a good political strategy to further the narratives that the Malay community is under threat from foreign Chinese intervention, the reality is thanks to Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses, the social contract, the racist rhetoric of UMNO, the ‘putarbelit’ narratives of the Opposition, this meme that the Malay community will always be under siege, is what is going to destroy this country in the near future.

When the former Prime Minister writes – “Pimpinan tertinggi DAP mengaku bahawa oleh kerana penduduk Cina adalah minoriti di Malaysia, tidak mungkin DAP mendirikan kerajaan di peringkat pusat di Malaysia, jauh sekali menjadi perdana menteri walaupun jika DAP menang semuakerusi yang ditandingi,” in attempts to reassure the Malay polity that all is well in the state of Denmark, the only thing the DAP can do assume the role that MCA played while the UMNO regime made its carpetbagger deals with the Malay community.

Just four years ago, DAP’s Tony Pua was warning Malaysians of the former prime minister’s attempt to redefine racism. He wrote – “When Malays vote overwhelmingly for UMNO in the past, it is never ‘racism’. When a 100 percent Malay crowd hold weekly protests against the Pakatan Rakyat government in Penang, it is not ‘racism’. When Chinese voted for MCA in the past, that can’t be ‘racism’. When Chinese also voted strongly for PAS and PKR in the current elections, PAS and PKR are not accused of ‘racism’.

“When Malays increased their support for the DAP candidates in the same election, Dr Mahathir accused DAP of spreading “propaganda” that influenced educated Malays into perceiving the Barisan Nasional (BN) government as corrupt.

“However, when the Chinese also voted strongly for DAP, that is proof of DAP ‘racism’. When many Chinese turns up at Pakatan Rakyat events, that is beyond shadow of a doubt, Chinese ‘racism’. What type of senile perverted logic is that?”

Some would argue that it is the same “perverted logic” that sustained the hegemon and still does all these years. Does anyone really think that there would be no blowback from this kind of rhetoric? Racism and racial politics do not exist in a vacuum. There is a reason why the former Prime Minister is relying heavily on the DAP to provide him with his anti-racist credentials.

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PKR and DAP’s Ketuanan Melayus

What the DAP has become is the fig leaf for the type of ‘ketuanan’ dogma that the Najib refuseniks hope will cause enough rifts within the Malay community that would cause Umno to implode from within and enable them to pick up the pieces when the dust clears. In other words, the DAP has become those best friends in the “I am not racist as some of my best friends are black people” defence.

Like I said, in another piece, Mahathir could be the Trump vote – “Trump used every bigoted trick in the book, from demonising Muslims to scaremongering about a ‘Mexican’ menace to warning about the yellow peril all because of a weak entrenched political establishment. The de facto opposition leader is doing the same thing now – pointing out compromised trade deals made by a weak potentate and the threat of ‘foreign’ migration. As with Trump, he camouflages these with legitimate economic and social anxieties. And like Trump, he has a diverse coalition of ideologically disparate power groups working with him to destroy the establishment.”

What has Trump been doing since he won and promised to drain the swamp? Simple, he has been placating the far-right elements of the GOP (Grand Old Party, or the Republicans) while attempting to maintain the status quo and re-energise a divided GOP.

Hopefully this will not sound familiar.

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

When a sophisticated Jordan trained Islamic Scholar becomes a Bigot and Racist: Taking on the Malaysian Indians/Hindus


April 24. 2017

When a sophisticated Jordan trained Islamic Scholar becomes a Bigot and Racist: Taking on the Malaysian Indians/Hindus

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

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Dr Maza–Zakir Naik bootlicker

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but when a supposedly learned religious man makes an ‘incorrect’ analysis of another faith, the damage he causes is worse than if the remarks had come from an ignorant oaf.

Of all the muftis in Malaysia, the one from Perlis, Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (Maza), was considered the most progressive and respected, whose insights resonated with many Malaysians.

His views on Act 355 were applauded when he said that this ruse was just another political ploy by PAS and UMNO Baru. He disagreed with the use of khalwat squads to test people’s morality. He said that non-Muslims had a right to use the word ‘Allah’.

Maza opposed forced conversions of children, when one parent decided to convert to Islam. He blasted the syariah courts for taking years to reach a decision on divorce cases. He courted controversy when he said that religion should not be forced on Muslims.

Whilst Maza’s reputation soared, that of other muftis plummeted. The respect Maza enjoyed ended when he published his poem on Facebook last week. He allegedly claimed the Hindus worshipped cows and practised ‘suttee’.

Maza exposed his poor understanding of Hinduism and its practices. Hindus do not worship cows and suttee has been outlawed for almost two centuries. We cannot say the same about some ‘Muslim’ practices, like female genital mutilation.

Maza’s back-pedalling did not help him. First he said that his poem was directed at Narendra Modi, the nationalist prime minister of India. That simply exacerbated the problem, so he said that Malaysian Hindus should ignore his remarks, because they did not apply to them.

He also alluded to “our preacher” being handed over to a tyrannical government. Was he referring to Zakir Naik, the controversial Muslim preacher who is purportedly seeking refuge in Malaysia to escape two arrest warrants issued by the Indian authorities? Why does Maza harbour a soft spot for Zakir, who seemingly likes to stoke religious fires amongst Malaysians?

Maza’s work and opinions are highly valued and sought after. He is also human and it is possible he made a mistake, and should apologise. The only positive aspect of Maza’s debacle is that he has put the spotlight on Malaysia’s marginalised Indian community.

When government-linked companies (GLCs) took over British rubber estates, they converted land into housing developments, golf courses and oil palm plantations. The displaced Indians drifted to urban areas to form Indian ghettos, which became breeding grounds for gangsters.

Bumiputra policies and quotas denied Indians access to education and work opportunities. Places in local universities were limited and Indian graduates claimed they face discrimination when applying for jobs.

Lack of self-confidence

With so much against them, is it any wonder that the Indian community suffers from a lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, the highest rates of suicide and low performance in business, equity ownership and employment in professional sectors and the civil service?

A few have escaped the poverty trap, and at the other end of the social spectrum, there are many qualified and successful Indian professionals, who form a large proportion of the country’s top lawyers and doctors.

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Restrictions on places of worship mean that Hindu temples are forced to be built without planning permission. The Indians could only watch in silence when Hindu temples of historical and cultural importance were demolished.

In 2000, TimeAsia reported that Indians had the lowest share of the nation’s corporate wealth – 1.5 percent compared to 19.4 percent for the Malays and 38.5 percent for the Chinese.

In 2003, The Economist reported that Indian Malaysians comprised “14 percent of juvenile delinquents, 20 percent of wife and child abusers, 14 percent of its beggars, and that under 5 percent of successful university applicants were Indian.”

In 2011, the erstwhile MIC Deputy President, Dr S Subramaniam, claimed that Indians were ashamed of their community, were looked down upon by the other races, and that 45 percent of the country’s crimes involved Indians.

The Indians are viewed as an afterthought, because if Chinese or Malay communities were treated as badly, there would have been a severe backlash; but with Indians, the common response, is “Who cares? They are only Indians. Even their own politicians fail to promote their cause.”

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Zakir Naik granted PR status by Nalaysian authorities

Zakir Naik was granted permanent resident (PR) status, but many Indians remain stateless, and do not have birth certificates or identity cards. The Indians form the highest percentage of deaths, whilst in police custody. The poorest Indians survive on a ‘hand to mouth’ existence.

Ironically, Maza’s faux pas has highlighted the plight of Indian Malaysians/Hindus. Will he help make Malaysians understand that we cannot alienate the Indians? Issues which affect the Indian community are not solely an Indian problem; they are a Malaysian problem.

Malaysia: Vision 2020 on Track? Nah, Bangsa Melayu, Not Bangsa Malaysia


April 21, 2017

Malaysia: Vision 2020 on Track? Nah, Bangsa Melayu, Not Bangsa Malaysia

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan

http://www.thestar.com.my

IT is sometimes disheartening to see the spat between Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Nevertheless, when a sitting Prime Minister is attacked, regardless by whom, of course he would react. What we see today is unavoidable.

 

There are some instances that require us to put aside our feelings about the spat. Vision 2020 is one of them. Despite the spat, Vision 2020 remains our national agenda.

Najib himself has not dismissed Vision 2020. Just a few months ago, Najib was quoted saying, “A lot of people asked about Vision 2020. The Government has put in place numerous programmes and the framework for us to achieve what we have aimed for. This includes the 11th Malaysia Plan and National Transformation Policy, aimed at ensuring that our country attains developed nation status in the year 2020. There is no issue about this and I want to stress that we are working according to schedule.”

Vision 2020 sets nine challenges. They are, in summary: establishing a united Bangsa Malaysia, creating a developed society, fostering a democratic society, establishing an ethical society, establishing a liberal society, establishing a scientific society, establishing a caring society, ensuring economic justice and establishing a competitive economy.

Image result for Tan Sri Nordin SophieMalaysia’s Late Strategic Thinker–One of a Kind

The drafting of the Vision is largely credited to the leadership of the late Tan Sri Noordin Sopiee. He made crucial contributions when he was Director-General of the Institute for Strategic and International Studies.

Today, quite a few people are questioning if we are still on track to achieve Vision 2020. I, too, have serious concerns.

When our research team looked into the issue, those concerns were confirmed. We found that the Economic Planning Unit, under the Prime Minister’s Department, has said that the average income per person has fallen by as much as 15% from US$10,345 in 2013 to US$8,821 in 2016. To be a high-income nation by 2020, our gross national income per capita (GNI) must be US$15,000. This means we must double our GNI in just three years. This is almost impossible.

IDEAS issued a statement on this, in which our Research Director Ali Salman said, “When our GNI was US$10,345 in 2013, the goal was realistic but challenging. Now it will be extremely difficult and with 2020 being just three years away we simply cannot afford to drop further down.”

One of the main reasons behind the drop in GNI is the currency depreciation that we suffered. The main lesson here is that we must stop giving excuses about the depreciation, and fix the situation so that our ringgit does not fall further.

Various people have commented on this matter. There are junior commentators who become childishly emotional, failing to see that critical voices are valuable contributions to push the country forward.

I hesitate to entertain them because there are so many out there who try a bit too hard to seek attention from their paymasters. Hopefully, given time and opportunity, these beginners will mature into adults, and then we can take them more seriously.

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Malaysia’s Top Economist

It is the comments by more worthy experts that worry me. For example, I asked Professor Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram what he thinks. Dr Jomo hardly needs an introduction. He has held various posts at the international level, and he is now the holder of the Tun Hussein Onn Chair at none other than ISIS.

I asked Dr Jomo if he thinks we are en route to creating a united Malaysia and a robust economy by 2020. Let me quote him directly here. On creating a united Malaysia, Dr Jomo said we are “off track because of the ethno-populist nature of the Barisan Nasional and its peninsular (and Sabahan) component parties”.

On creating a robust economy, he said we are “off track as we grossly understate the denominator. We pretend we have one or two million migrant workers although the minister says 6.7 million”.

He added that the recent depreciation of the ringgit by one third, which was not helped by the 1MDB scandal, has greatly diminished the numerator as well.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Impressive Infrastructure but at the expense of Quality Education and Human Resource.–Corruption at an all time high, thank you, Mr. Prime Minister Najib Razak

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And this in Kuala Lumpur too: Crammed into a one-room flat at a people’s housing project in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, Abdol Wahab Musa’s family of 16 offer a glimpse of how the urban poor in the capital city make ends meet.–http://egagah.blogspot.com

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We do have some big challenges that need resolving. We should conduct open conversations about this. From my experience, there are many people in government who welcome critical comments positively. We should all ramp up efforts to stop the country from getting even more off track, and everyone should contribute ideas where they can.

For starters, I think it would be helpful if the Government ensures that we are consistent when introducing or implementing policies affecting businesses. The Government has said they want the private sector to be the engine of growth.

Thus, hurdles preventing them from becoming the engine of growth should be removed. Otherwise businesses will never be able to play their role to help us make the economic leap by 2020.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/thinking-liberally/2017/04/11/are-we-achieving-vision-2020-with-three-years-to-go-there-are-some-major-challenges-ahead-if-we-are/#PFmBckJGaqXo3vgZ.99

RUU355 Circus –The Political Game Najib Razak plays


April 4, 2017

RUU355 Circus –The political game pyromaniac Najib Razak plays

by Dr. M. Bakri Musa@Morgan-Hill, California

Image result for Najib's Political Game

Does this circus clown understand what he means–He has, in fact, destroyed everything Malaysia has achieved over nearly 60 years (since 1957) in his  wake.

If I were a non-Malay, I would support RUU355 with unrestrained enthusiasm…As a Malay however, I am terrified at this crude fascistic attempt to make Islam an instrument for repression. It pains me to see my faith debased as a political and social tool to control the ummah. Greatness can never emerge from a controlled and repressed society. Islam thrives only when there is freedom and justice. Oppression promotes neither.–Dr. M. Bakri Musa

Many applaud Prime Minister Najib’s recent U-turn on RUU355, the legislative amendment to “strengthen” the Syariah. That circus, which is far from over, exposes Najib’s mischief and vulnerability. Lauding him for withdrawing the government’s sponsorship of that bill is akin to praising a pyromaniac who had tried to start a fire but failed. Najib should be condemned, not praised, for his dangerous game of stirring religious discord.

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Two Malaysian Clowns with a Mad-Cap Indian Mullah

Whenever Islam enters the discourse in Malaysia, all rational discussions evaporate. Leaders and followers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, descent with gusto into the gutter of religious and underlying racial bigotry. I would have thought that such a realization would have cautioned leaders to be more circumspect when treading on matters religious. On the contrary, as revealed by Najib’s latest and very crude mischief, they are only too eager to fan the fire.

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With over 60 years of a corrupt and incompetent UMNO-led administration, Malaysia is littered with debris and garbage, literal as well as figurative. Any idiot with a matchstick could start a conflagration with ease. Imagine a mischievous one, if Malaysians let it be. It is time to grab the matchstick away from Najib’s reach.

RUU355 began as PAS Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill. Clueless on matters of statecraft, PAS leaders, well exemplified by Hadi, resort to simplistic and gimmicky maneuvers, as with introducing “Islamic laws” and making Malaysia an “Islamic state.”

For his part, Najib was desperate to be seen as a latter-day Malay hero championing syariah. He also sensed an opportunity to create mischief by driving a wedge in the opposition coalition; hence his over eagerness to take over the bill’s sponsorship. Later, caught and surprised by the unanticipated strong opposition from the now emboldened non-UMNO Barisan partners, specifically from Sarawak, Najib was forced to backtrack.

Clever only by half, Najib now finds himself on the unfamiliar terrain of having to make difficult choices. He opted for throwing PAS under the bus, hoping that his support among conservative Malays would not be too adversely affected. The risk of losing his crucial Sarawak partners, and with that the fall of his government, was much greater and more immediate. Earlier, Najib had hoped to endear himself to PAS followers and entice their party away from the opposition in time for the next election.

Image result for Sarawakians must remember Adenan SatemIn respectful memory of Adenan Satem and a stark reminder to his successor and Fellow Malaysians in Sarawak. Embrace Najib Razak at your own peril since he will destroy harmony with his Islamism and embrace of Zakir Naik and Hadi Awang

With Najib’s vulnerability now exposed, expect more challenges and shifts in the wind, and for him to be jerked around like a yoyo. It would be quite a sight! As for PAS, it is but the flighty woman jilted by her hitherto ardent suitor and now not welcomed by her previous partner. Not a pretty sight for a far-from-pretty old maid.

For Malaysians, the choice is simple. Deny Najib the privilege of leading Malaysia. Snatch the matchstick away from him.

If I were a non-Malay, I would support RUU355 with unrestrained enthusiasm. I would do likewise for all Islam-centric legislations, including the introduction of hudud. My assertion here is not meant to shock or raise eyebrows, nor is it a clumsy attempt at sarcasm or literary spoof, rather a matter of pragmatism if not blatant opportunism.

As a Malay, however, I am terrified at this crude fascistic attempt to make Islam an instrument for repression. It pains me to see my faith debased as a political and social tool to control the ummah. Greatness can never emerge from a controlled and repressed society. Islam thrives only when there is freedom and justice. Oppression promotes neither.

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Perlis Mufti who is a Fan of Qutbist Zakir Naik

Our ulamas and scholars have failed us here. They they have subverted what should be a political debate into a test of our faith. Oppose RUU355 and you are destined for Hell! How infantile!

There are many reasons (most are selfish and self-serving) why non-Malays should support the expansion of Islamic institutions. One benign rationale would be not to interfere with the wishes of the majority (Malays), as long as those do not impact you adversely. The constitution protects and spares non-Muslims from hudud. You could say that they do not “deserve” such divinely-derived laws!

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Malaysia’s Political Ulamas

Non-Muslims should for example, push for public executions and whippings, following Afghanistan’s example. Turn those into revenue-producing events, with “premium” front-row seats commanding hefty prices, and market them as showcasing the “beauty” and “superiority” of Islamic laws.

Sell ads to whip and sword manufacturers, much like oil companies advertise at Formula One races. Such public executions and whippings could rival major spectator events like boxing to draw foreign tourists.

It is also in the self-interest of non-Muslims to encourage Malays to be obsessed and consumed with matters religious and the pursuit of the Hereafter. With more young Malays preoccupied with studying revealed knowledge and prophetic traditions, there would be that much fewer to pursue STEM. Meaning, less competition for non-Malays wishing to become doctors, scientists and engineers.

With young Malays opting for Al Azhar and Pakistani madrasahs, there would be less competition among Malaysians aspiring for Oxford and Harvard. Not that our community is a formidable competitor on that front.

For non-Muslim politicians, embracing pro-Islam postures would be a sure way into the hearts of Malays and capturing their votes. Those politicians would become instant darlings of the Malay community, fast eclipsing the likes of that mualaf Ridhaun Tee, and without having to change your name or religion. You don’t have to suck up to UMNO or PAS politicians either! All you have to do is don white kopiah (or hijab, for a woman) at Muslim functions, and of course support RUU355 and similar legislations.

Non-Malays should be heartened that the Padang Merbok pro-RUU355 rally drew thousands; overwhelmingly Malays. It went well past midnight. Not even the early evening rain dampened the mood. They came from as far north as Perlis and Kelantan, giddy with the excitement of doing God’s work, as they had been led to believe.

Imagine the acres of paddy fields not tilled that day and the next, the thousands of rubber trees not tapped, and hundreds of fishing boats idle in port. You do not need to be an economist to see the impact; all negative. Or perhaps it was minimal as they were marginal participants in the modern Malaysian economy, consumed as they were with the Hereafter.

As one of the few non-Malays present at that rally noted, the only non-Muslims affected by RUU355 would be casino operators. Few, Muslims or non-Muslims, have sympathy for them.

I compliment that the non-Malay for his deep understanding of Malay culture and values. It is a sad commentary that individuals like him are a rarity today. Not so a few generations ago.

Following the failed Malayan Union, a coalition of populist Malay organizations under PUTERA, together with the primarily non-Malay trade union group AMCJA, put forth a proposal for self-rule.

A central feature of that proposal would have liberalized conditions for citizenship. The leftist Malay leaders in PUTERA enthusiastically embraced that simply because those new citizens would be called Melayu, not Malayans. Non-Malays, being pragmatic, too accepted that. They could not care less about the label as long as they were granted citizenship.

Malays were easily seduced into relaxing the citizenship requirements in return for the Melayu label. Never mind that those would-be culup Melayus were not Muslims and could not speak Malay or give a hoot about Malay mores and customs!

Thank God the British rejected the PUTERA/AMCJA idea and instead imposed the Federation Agreement.

To Malays, the label is all important. Do what you want with the content, in line with our culture’s premium on peragga (appearance). It was true then and it is even more true today. Label something as Islamic or hudud, and Malays would swallow it without question. Likewise, anything from the land of the Prophet is holy. Even the flies in Mecca are hallal! It is not a surprise that Najib’s receiving millions from a Saudi sheik be viewed as borkat (divine bounty) by Malays and not, as the rest of the world sees it, blatant corruption.

Two centuries ago the British nearly succeeded in destroying the Chinese civilization by giving the masses what they craved for–opium. In the process the Brits made tons of money and controlled China. The Chinese elite, from the emperor down to the mandarins, were aware of the dangers opium posed but they could not prevail against the mighty British.

With Malays on the other hand, our leaders are the biggest pushers of the metaphorical opium. Non-Malays should let that be and let Malays be narcotized. Then like the British in China of yore, non-Malays could control the economy and country even more. If Malays were to complain or be resentful, flatter them that a much bigger and better reward awaits them in the Hereafter.

That however is a distracting issue. The key conclusion from Najib’s latest U-turn on RUU355 is that he and the party he leads are now vulnerable. Najib is floundering. As any boxer will tell you, that is the best time to knock your opponent out.