Rethinking race and its appeal in Malaysia

July 11, 2018

Rethinking race and its appeal in Malaysia

by Tan Zi Hao

Tan Zi Hao is a PhD candidate in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. He is also a conceptual artist whose artworks can be viewed at As both artist and writer, he is interested in the arts, language, cultural politics and mobilities.

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Despite the game-changing outcome of the 14th General Election, the spectre of race lingers in Malaysia. Appointing an ethnic Indian and Christian Tommy Thomas as the Attorney General has already attracted some predictable flak. When Hindu Rights Action Force 2.0 (Hindraf 2.0, a Hindraf splinter group) demanded that MARA University of Technology (UiTM) be opened to entry by all races, an online petition was immediately kickstarted and has collected more than 150,000 signatures in the first two days. The new Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng—also Malaysia’s second Chinese finance minister after a 44-year break—was condemned for uploading a Mandarin translation of his statement, even though it was officially released in Malay, and later translated to both English and Mandarin.

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If race remains as a potent category of exclusion, its perpetuation must have an emotional appeal rooted in the realities and assumptions of those who embrace it. However, public intellectuals who wish to do away with racism tend to give a response that is dismissive in nature: sociologist Kua Kia Soong proposes outlawing racism, law lecturer Azmi Sharom considers racists bereft of ideas, Dialog Rakyat committee member and academician Omar Abdul Rahman pushes for a greater collective effort in eradicating racism.

But these criticisms refuse to acknowledge the sentimental affect of racism. Key to most racial thinking is the seductive appeal of imagining one’s own race as a living minority in need of some protection. It enables a majority to be convinced of their own vulnerability, and to live as, to borrow from Benedict Anderson, an “imagined” minority. Without a doubt, the most vocal imagined minorities in Malaysia are the ethnic Malay majority, and the largest ethnic Chinese minority. They are the two “racialised” ethnic groups who succeed in the enterprise of self-minoritisation.

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To be an imagined minority is not only to assume victimhood, but to believe in the appeal that one’s own vulnerability is racially unique and significantly more urgent than that of others. The more vulnerable your “race”, the better your prospects. Unsurprisingly, the most controversial of all race-related debates in Malaysia revolved around the competitive narcissistic posturing of the Malays and Chinese. Actually-existing minorities—such as the Orang Asli, Orang Ulu and Dayak, or Anak Negeri—hardly make the cut.

The Malays and Chinese each have at their own disposal a plethora of rhetoric to foster their brand of imagined minorities. Among this is their special attention directed to tradition and heritage. From national institutions (e.g. Muzium Negara, and the Malay Heritage Museum) to privately-funded Chinese cultural institutions (e.g. the Malaysian Chinese Museum or Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum), in museumising what is in dire need of preservation they are able to articulate better their vulnerability.

Each of these museums emphasises narratives of loss and sacrifice, while de-emphasising narratives of elitism and privilege. Whenever narratives of privilege are presented, they are framed as an overdue accomplishment, an exemplary success whose arrival is the fruit of previous sacrifices. Additionally, while anti-colonial struggles are highlighted and detailed, complicity with colonialism is sloppily summarised and omitted.

Beyond infrastructural facilities, another effort in self-minoritisation is to think through racially-oriented solidarity movements and protests. For the Malays, Muslim solidarity movements with the Palestinians, Rohingyas, Pattanis, or Moros, yield a new awareness of being an imagined minority in places beyond Malaysia; for the Chinese, issues pertaining to the dignity of the Chinese language and the official recognition of Chinese independent high schools offer an avenue through which the imagination of being minorities can be constantly reinvigorated.

These movements are valid political expressions. But it remains crucial to question their almost organic proclivity for attracting only a specific ethnic, racial, or religious group. At the outset, their protests appear as reactionary and racially exclusivist, but in fact the principal premise is strikingly similar: a vulnerable minority against a dominant majority, the powerless against the powerful. The very impossibility of imagining cross-ethnic solidarities in these essentially anti-hegemonic movements in Malaysia is, in and of itself, a testament to how one is more appealed to race (or religion) than to the actual oppression at stake.

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That these solidarity movements only lend credence to identitarianism should compel us to question the limits of solidarity among Malaysians. Can a Malay who antagonise the Israeli occupation of Palestine stand in solidarity with a Chinese who calls for the abolishment of Bumiputra policies in Malaysia? Can a Chinese who insists on the recognition of Chinese independent high schools stand in solidarity with a Malay who demands for the recognition of the Pattanis in Thailand’s deep south?

More provocatively, can a Malay who applauds Indonesia’s assimilationism that had stigmatised and marginalised the Indonesian Chinese minority truly empathise with the marginalised Pattanis?

Truly empathise with the marginalised Pattanis? Can a Chinese who disregards the implicit Chinese privilege in Singapore genuinely lament the prejudicial effects of Bumiputra privilege in Malaysia?

These hypothetical questions, at a cursory glance, have little to do with race, but they bespeak the exclusionary temperaments of racial thinking.

The affect that these protests reveal, or at any rate create, is more fundamental than what the movements advocate. One finds in these ritualistic public demonstrations the highest realisation of imagined minorities: the subliminal emphasis on racial–religious identity over power inequality helps mould the psychological temperament that one is born into victimhood. They become symbolic tokens for self-minoritisation. Whereas the abovementioned museums exhibit narratives of loss and sacrifice, these protests stage and perform them, in public and in action. Under this operant self-minoritisation, it is not too far-fetched to claim that to become a “Malay-Muslim” or a “Chinese” in Malaysia, is to first learn to become a victim and to think like minorities.

“Opponents of racism need to understand that proponents of racial politics do believe in race. We need to listen to and explain these affective temperaments rather than dismissing them outright. It is only by first understanding the appeal of race and the complex imagination it summons that one can begin to find ways of uprooting racism”.–Tan Zi Hao

Many who still question why an ethnic Malay majority requires institutional protectionism miss the point. Recall what Arjun Appadurai provocatively identifies as the “anxiety of incompleteness”, whereby postcolonial ethnic majorities are burdened by an unfinished project of obtaining authenticity: equipped with temperaments of loss, a demographic majority will remain “incomplete”, “inauthentic”, and live as imagined minorities in fear of actually-existing minorities.

What is lost to the Malays in colonialism is lost to the Chinese in migration. Both imagined minorities seek to rectify their “incompleteness” by pinpointing, even racialising, one another as the dominant “imagined majorities” obstructing their attainment of an originary authenticity.

There is a seductive appeal to this track of imagination that liberal analysts and public intellectuals disregard. It is an imagination that is grounded on the fact of being “Malay” and of being “Chinese”.

However unscientific or unfounded these racial categories, the temperaments contained in them are disturbingly honest, intimately personal and subjective. Part of the affect of being “Malay” is to first identify how “Chinese” became the cause of their grievance, vice versa.

Opponents of racism need to understand that proponents of racial politics do believe in race. We need to listen to and explain these affective temperaments rather than dismissing them outright. It is only by first understanding the appeal of race and the complex imagination it summons that one can begin to find ways of uprooting racism.

Malaysia: Race-based power sharing coalition is here to stay?

July 6, 2018

Malaysia: Race-based power sharing  coalition is here to stay?

By Darshan

“Whether we like it or not, Malaysia’s political fundamentals are anchored in a race-based power sharing ideology, thus race politics will stay and BN is an established structure to effectively serve that purpose. All that BN needs is to adopt a moderate and inclusive approach moving forward.”–Darshan Singh

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A lot has happened since May 9, when Malaysians decided to alter the political landscape of the country, electing a loosely formed coalition called Pakatan Harapan (PH) into government. A devastating blow landed on the once mighty UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition when, for the first time in over 60 years, it lost the mandate to rule.

Never had I thought that this would be possible in my lifetime. I expected BN to lose a couple more seats but to win the election as usual.

While the majority of non-Malays were expected to vote for the PH coalition, what surprised me was the fact that a sizeable percentage of the Malay electorate decided to ditch BN as well. Traditionally, the majority of the Malay population had voted for BN, fearing a loss of political power if they did otherwise. This trend was expected to continue but unfortunately this time, it didn’t. Dr Mahathir Mohamad had successfully provided the necessary comfort in assuring that Malay rights and privileges would continue to be protected even if BN was no longer in power. After all, it was Mahathir who had indoctrinated the concept of supremacy during his previous 22 years as prime minister.

It will be interesting to see if the Malay electorate continues to vote for PH post-Mahathir in GE-15.

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UMNO Baru: More of the same racist politics under Dr. Achmed Zahid Hamidi from Pornorogo–Hidup Melayu

Personally, I think it was the inability of the former Prime Minister to offer any reasonable explanation for his alleged involvement in financial scandals which influenced the end result. It is a little far-fetched that BN did not expect to lose power, and even more amazing that the former Prime Minister was detached from ground realities.

Warning signs were all over that the people were disappointed and angry with the BN brand of politics, which was plagued by alleged corrupt practices and abuse of power and complete disregard for the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. The only democratic value left was probably holding general elections on time.

True enough, with the seizure of hundreds of millions in cash and belongings from premises linked to the former Prime Minister, public perception on embezzlement is slowly becoming reality.

Since losing power, BN has been in disarray, desperately trying to recover from the shock election defeat. In such a situation, it does not help when one-time allies decide to jump ship and walk away with those who have newly acquired power. Effectively, there are only three parties left in the BN coalition, and at this point in time, it is not even certain if it will stay this way. There are obvious cracks visible even among its surviving members.

In reality, this election defeat should be viewed positively as an opportunity for BN to review its structure and ideology, correcting the mistakes of the past and emerging stronger. Being in the opposition can be useful to test the newly laid foundation which can be continuously improved until the next general election is called. People will surely appreciate an opposition which roars responsibly in Parliament.

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UMNO Baru’s Malay First President

Whether we like it or not, Malaysia’s political fundamentals are anchored in a race-based power sharing ideology, thus race politics will stay and BN is an established structure to effectively serve that purpose. All that BN needs is to adopt a moderate and inclusive approach moving forward.

The majority will continue to claim rights and privileges while the minority will scream racism. This will not change even if the odds are tilted in any other way as we are a selfish and racist society.

Darshan Singh is a FMT reader.

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


Inclusive Politics is Malaysia’s Future

June 3, 2018

Inclusive Politics is Malaysia’s Future

By K Haridas

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There are many opinions about the role that Dr Mahathir Mohamad played in winning the 14th general election. Yes, it is true that he played a part, but not an exclusive one. He came in towards the latter part of the struggle, and while we acknowledge his role, we must never miss out on the many others who for years (since 1998) have been challenging the establishment and creating an alternative to Barisan Nasional (BN). This struggle cannot be seen in the context of just one general election.

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Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and The Iconic Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia

BN lost the popular vote in the 13th General Election but never reflected or learnt any lessons. The arrogance and blindness as well as political skulduggery of its members were astonishing. Cash was king, and with gerrymandering and constituency delineations to their benefit, they felt they could do as usual.

Perhaps more than anyone else, the one person who contributed the most to the opposition’s victory was none other than Najib Razak and his excesses.

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The entire opposition played a significant role. Leaders in PKR and DAP must be credited for their persistence, perseverance and vigour in taking on issues left by Najib. They fought in Parliament, had issues in court, and went to the people. Neither should we forget the relentless work of Rafizi Ramli and his Invoke team. I can appreciate their feelings when undue importance is placed on Mahathir’s contributions.

Invoke was on the ground for several months, doing the needed legwork, raising money, and educating the public. Rafizi put down a sizeable amount of his own cash, crowd funded, and led a team on the ground. If you have done this, then speak; otherwise let us be wise when we take issue with him. It is easy to comment without commitment.

While we respect Mahathir and his leadership, the fact is that PPBM only managed to secure 12 out of the 52 parliamentary seats and 22 out of the 102 state seats that it contested. If Mahathir was such an icon, PPBM should have done better. Further, the party is only open to Bumiputeras. There is no future for such exclusive parties, and it is amazing that Mahathir leads such a party and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman with all his intelligence succumbs to it. They are just UMNO 2.0. Mahathir himself needs a mindset change.

We must also thank unsung heroes like Zahid Hamidi, Ahmad Mazlan, Nazri Aziz, Rahman Dahlan and Salleh Keruak. Their remarks and the intelligence they exhibited over the years made many lose confidence in BN. They should each be awarded the erstwhile “broom award” that a former Selangor government used to hand out.

Destiny has its way of working into the issues of the day. The fact that PPBM was deregistered led to the idea of the opposition standing under one logo. The willingness of DAP to forgo its rocket emblem and PPBM to stand under the PKR logo for the larger good were strategic moves. The timing was also significant in that Najib waited and procrastinated until the very end to call the election. Mahathir came in and provided some leadership.

Najib’s leadership qualities were tested over the last nine years and many times, he failed badly in holding the nation to one direction. His divide-and-rule approach, playing the Islamic card when it benefited him, using money in shameful ways, all eventually caught up with him. It is amazing that he lost the UMNO bastions of Johor, Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka. It would be unrealistic to deny that there was a tsunami.

With the many good examples of affirmative leadership within the opposition and a cause that was built over the years, culminating with the 1MDB scandal, one can conclude that this election was Najib’s to lose.

However, many also speculated that he would win. Journalists like Manjit Bhatia and even Bloomberg, as well other international media were seen as being on Najib’s side. Yet, the many who had worked relentlessly held on, and the momentum carried them through. East Malaysia responded by breaking BN’s fixed deposits and voting for the opposition. Its people can no longer be taken for granted.

In the end, it was a Malaysian victory and credit must eventually go to the Malaysian voters. Now that we have achieved what many felt was impossible, it is important to focus on what is ahead. Power has the uncanny ability to divide individuals when the focus is lost. It is therefore very important for those in power to ensure that in the first two years of their rule, key issues in their manifesto are met.

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Power corrupts, absolute power corrupt absolutely. Najib was consumed by power and greed. He was an exponent of “Politics without Principles (Mahatma Gandhi)”. He must now full account for his misdeeds.

Power also distorts character because suddenly a lot of adoration, new friends, and temptations invade the minds and lives of those in authority. All the trappings of power require a newfound sense of humility, grace and a capacity to manage oneself. Otherwise, arrogance and pride soon take over and the ego ensures that issues that were previously not of concern become sensitive matters.

All the trappings of power require a newfound sense of humility, grace and a capacity to manage oneself. Otherwise, arrogance and pride soon take over and the ego ensures that issues that were previously not of concern become sensitive matters.

Imagine what this does to Najib and his legacy. For a man who has been in power in one way or another for over four decades, the rot does set in. A sense of invincibility, a belief that you are God’s chosen person for the job, and that cash is king and everyone has a price. This has worked before; why not again? All his sidekicks and the people around him just sang the same song, and soon many were out of touch with reality. Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power, says Abraham Lincoln.

Money, power, women and the fast lane provide the track, and soon one becomes numb to the realities around. It is only when you have lost power that sobriety returns. That is why a term of not more than 10 years is a much-needed period before one becomes susceptible to the ways of power to corrupt and rust one’s character. The Putins and Xis of life can extend the period of their terms in office, but soon realise that more power and autocratic rule is needed to sustain themselves in their positions.

Those who have lost power will do their utmost to divide those in power. It is therefore important to ensure that those now in power will not fall victim to such attempts. Secondly, there will be those who also attempt to infiltrate and divide. Those in power will have to learn how to lead and deliver as a team, and this calls for much patience and understanding. Among themselves, they must hold power to truth in a respectful way.

One must be aware in the Malaysian context of the ethnic fissures as well as the religious card that can be used to exploit differences. The Malaysian agenda must be at the forefront of all who are now in power. We placed you there to make a difference in our lives and to give us a sense of belonging to this nation.

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The activities of  UMNO characters like Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and Jamal Ikan Bakar must be monitored. They are racists

Leadership requires action and stern warnings. The first should go to Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who has indicated that race and religion are under threat. This is UMNO playing its old game. We should ensure that such expressions are not welcomed in the new Malaysia. As Malaysians, we are here to protect all interests including the race and religion of every community. He should be asked to explain in specific terms how his race and religion are now under threat, and he should be taken to task.

This is what being a Malaysian represents. It is time we sent the Tajuddins of life for re-education programmes. Perhaps we will need a new BTN for this purpose. I hope the government will take a stand, otherwise we will soon have all sorts of interest groups fanning issues of race and religion. I hope the present leadership will send a clear signal that such expressions are not welcome today. Is it not fair to expect this leadership from Pakatan Harapan?

Malaysians voted for an inclusive Malaysia. UMNO, MIC, MCA and other ethnic parties who have divided us over the last few decades have to move on to new turf if they are to remain relevant. I hope BN will become a party of consequence, with the earlier coalition members accepting their irrelevance and merging into one opposition reality that champions the Malaysian cause. It is only in this context that they will have a future.

New blood will have to come into BN, and herein is the opportunity for young and committed Malaysians who have politics in mind to go in and reshape the cause, idealism and direction that BN so desperately needs. It is only when we do our best by the whole that we are also fair to everyone. Such is the nature of inclusive politics.

K Haridas is an FMT reader.

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


Malaysia: Exorcising racism from our institutions

May 30, 2018

Malaysia: Exorcising racism from our institutions

If the Mahathir 2.0 Government is serious about reforming Malaysia exorcising racism and racial discrimination from our nation’s institutions is the primary and most significantly transformational change it needs to bring about.


 It is promising that UMNO and MCA have recently mooted the idea of opening their party doors to all ethnic communities. After 61 years of racially based political parties and policies, this is progress. If the new Government is serious about reforming Malaysia, exorcising racism and racial discrimination from our nation’s institutions is the primary and most significantly transformational change to bring about.

Multi-ethnic parties

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Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia

The first reform is certainly to call an end to race-based political parties. And logically, once we ratify the International Convention on the eradication of racial discrimination (which we haven’t yet done), our race-based political parties will have to go. It would be a gracious example by the Prime Minister if he shows leadership by example and renames and reformulates his “Pribumi” party into a multi-ethnic one. If all the erstwhile race-based parties can do that, then our country will be truly on the way to building one nation.

Needs-based policies

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The second essential reform will be to replace race-based policies with needs-based measures that truly benefit the lower-income and marginalized sectors. The NEP was supposed to end in 1990 but has become a populist never ending policy to win over the Bumiputras while benefiting mainly the political elite. It makes democratic and economic sense to utilise taxpayers’ resources wisely so that poor rural Malaysians are assisted based on need in their particular economic sectors. The ethnic Indian working class and the indigenous peoples in both East and West Malaysia are among the poorest communities in Malaysia; the former and the Orang Asli cannot rely on “Bumiputera” privileges, while the indigenous peoples of East Malaysia do not enjoy the same amount of state largesse as the Malays in West Malaysia even though they are categorized as Bumiputeras. Thus, only a needs-based approach can solve the endemic problem of sectoral poverty and marginalization.

Inclusive institutions

It is heartening to see the calls for reviewing the BTN. Racism has been thoroughly infused in all the national institutions, including racist indoctrination of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ (Malay dominance) in state institutions such as the BTN which has been well known for years. There are other public institutions crying out for reform.

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The national broadcasting authority, RTM should not be expected merely to “shape up” as the new Minister has recently warned them. After 61 years of Government propaganda and exclusion of the Opposition and cultures considered to be “mainstream”, we expect a truly independent broadcasting authority which is fair to all Malaysians. This means that RTM must be accountable to Parliament and not the Information Minister. This institutional reform is crucial. A parliamentary committee assesses RTM’s performance, its content and output, ensures fair and effective competition and regulates how its commercial activities interact with its public services.

The RTM Board needs to be headed by a respected, non-partisan and creative Chairperson with other directors of similar qualities including a Director-General and Editor-in-Chief. This Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction for RTM; establishing its creative remit; setting its Budget; determining the framework for assessing performance.

After so many years of mediocre and partisan fare, dare Malaysians dream of a national broadcasting authority that is as independent, creative and dynamic as the BBC?

Merit and diversity in public institutions

Today, with the lack of ethnic diversity in the Bumiputera dominated institutions such as Mara, UiTM, the civil and armed forces, it is surely time that recruitment and promotion in these services be open to all ethnic groups based on merit if we are serious about inter-ethnic integration and promoting excellence. In fact, a common complaint in these Bumis-Only institutions is that there is not enough competition which leads to complacency and mediocrity.

Any affirmative action must be based on need by under-privileged sectors and class and NOT on race while a means-tested sliding scale of education grants and loans should be instituted for all who qualify to enter tertiary institutions regardless of race, religion or gender. I dare say this inclusiveness of our public institutions will produce a new attitude, energy and drive to spur our nation to greater heights.

Outlaw racism, racial discrimination & hate crimes

“Hate crimes” are criminal acts committed as intimidation, threats, property damage, assault, murder or such other criminal offence. Hate crimes violate the principle of equality between people and deny their right to achieve full human dignity and to realize their full potential. Their negative impact on the greater community cannot be emphasized enough. In order to nip this tendency in the bud, “Incitement to racial hatred” needs to be made a criminal offence. This includes attempts to deliberately provoke hatred against a racial group; distributing racist material to the public; making inflammatory public speeches; creating racist websites on the internet; inciting inflammatory rumours about an individual or ethnic group, in order to spread racial discontent.

In Malaysia, an Equality Act and an Equality & Human Rights Commission are needed to specifically deal with hate crimes and incitement to racial hatred. We already have a National Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) which can extend its jurisdiction to incorporate an Equality Commission for after all, equality is an intrinsic part of our human rights. Its work would be to encourage greater integration and better ethnic relations and to use legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment. Thus, its ambit would cover racist stereotyping in text books and the press; racial discrimination in the public sphere, employment, education, social services, advertisements. Such an independent commission would be empowered to issue codes of practice and be invested with powers to conduct formal investigations and to serve notices to furnish information or documents in order to enforce the law.

Finally, for an administration to convince Malaysians that it is genuinely keen to institute reforms for better ethnic relations and equality, our country should immediately initiate moves to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR).

Reforming for greater democracy

The road toward uniting the Malaysian peoples is through a concerted effort for greater democracy not only in the political realm but also in economic, educational, social and cultural policies. The basis of unity rests fundamentally on the recognition of the equality of all ethnic communities.

After 61 years of racial division, discrimination and demonization, Martin Luther King’s poser is particularly appropriate:

Image result for Martin Luther King Jr quote: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

Dr. Kua Kia Soong is the adviser for SUARAM.


Tengku Adnan:Overstaying his welcome

April 19, 2018

Tengku Adnan:Overstaying his welcome

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An Empty UMNO Vessel Makes the Most Noise

Tengku Adnan, the (caretaker) Minister for Federal Territories and UMNO Secretary-General followed a well-worn pattern of fearmongering when he warned recently of the threat posed by Christian evangelists.

Speaking to civil servants in Putrajaya last week, he cautioned them to be wary of the DAP (and by extension Pakatan Harapan) because, according to him, many DAP leaders are Christian “evangelists.”

Continuing, he stated that from Catholicism they become Protestants and from Protestants they become evangelists and born-again Christians, Methodists, etc.  “If they are Catholics, I can still believe them,” he said, “but when they are evangelists, they are considered new Christians. It is a problem.”

He went on to hint that the country’s sovereignty, the special rights of the Malays, the Malay language and many other things would be “destroyed if we are not careful.”

Appalling ignorance 

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UMNO Kelptocrats with the their Boss

In the first place, his remarks reveal an appalling ignorance about the Christian faith. He does not appear to even understand some of the Christian terms that he uses and yet  he is ready to condemn Christians. And he insults all Christians by trying to divide the Christian community into good Christians and bad Christians on the basis of their denominational affiliation.

If that is what he believes, he should explain what he thinks of the evangelical Christians who until the dissolution of parliament sat with him in cabinet and are part of BN. Are they, too, considered a threat to national security or are they good Christians by virtue of their support for UMNO?

An admission of failure?

The penchant of UMNO leaders to divert attention from pressing national issues by constantly playing up one imaginary threat or another – the Chinese, the Christians, the Jews, etc. – is tiresome and speaks more about their political bankruptcy than anything else.

It is, as well, simply mindboggling that a senior UMNO minister would be even obtuse enough to suggest that a small minority faith community [there are less Christians than UMNO members, for goodness sake] could depose the monarchy, overthrow the government, impose their faith on Muslims and abolish Malay rights. And this in a country that is staunchly Islamic, where Malay-Muslims vastly outnumber other ethnic and religious groups and have a near total monopoly of political, economic and military power.

If Tengku Adnan genuinely believes that our national institutions are still so weak and vulnerable after more than 60 years of UMNO rule, it would be a stunning admission that UMNO has completely failed the Malays, and indeed all Malaysians, and should be promptly removed from office come May 9th.

Faith and politics 

Of course, everyone understands that UMNO and the DAP are sworn political enemies and disagree on almost every issue. In a democracy, however, politicians discuss and debate their differences in a sensible and civilized way in order to give the voting public a better understanding of their respective positions.

What they don’t do is belittle their opponents’ religious beliefs or indulge in blatant racism and bigotry.

As a politician, Tengku Adnan should have the courage, if not the decency, to meet his political opponents head-on in a debate and challenge them on issues of importance rather than hide behind the walls of bigotry and hate and make snide remarks about their faith.

And in case he hasn’t noticed, non-Muslim politicians have, in general, been careful not to inject their faith into politics. You don’t hear non-Muslim politicians quoting their respective religious text, framing issues in a religious context or demonizing other faiths when discussing political issues.

It is not because they are less fervent in their faith but because they understand that in a multi-faith setting it is best to leave religion out of politics. After all, they are not in politics to promote their faith or to burnish their religious credentials but to promote policies, programmes and ideas that would help build a united, stable and prosperous nation for all Malaysians irrespective of race or religion.

Issues that matter 

Tengku Adnan should also know that the Christian agenda, if there is indeed one, is the same agenda that all Malaysians share  – a peaceful, united and prosperous nation. In fact, it was what UMNO itself used to care about before it allowed itself to be seduced by power and privilege. 

Rather than focusing on imaginary threats and sowing division and discord, therefore, Tengku Adnan might better serve voters by focusing on the issues that matter to  all Malaysians  – respect for the Constitution, good governance, corruption, national unity, the rising national debt, and the high cost of living. 

All the other issues – the position of Islam, the monarchical system, the special rights of Malay-Muslims as enshrined in the Constitution – are, in reality, non-issues because they are accepted and respected by all Malaysians including Christians. Only politically bankrupt leaders keep harping on these things because they have nothing better to talk about.

A great disservice

Tengku Adnan does Christians a great disservice by cynically stoking anti-Christian hostility to advance his political objectives. It recklessly endangers the safety and security of Christians at a time when radical militants are already targeting non-Muslims places of worship, as the police warned recently. It also feeds the kind of sentiment that very likely led to the abduction and forced disappearance of three Christian leaders last year. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

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Faking Malaysia (or is it, Malusia)

April 12, 2018

Faking Malaysia (or is it, Malusia)

by Dean Johns

Dean Johns Ad Lib

I shouldn’t by rights be writing this. Because after 11 years of contributing a weekly column to the first and still foremost of Malaysia’s pitifully few non-fake newspapers, Malaysiakini, I’ve had to take a break for the sake of my faking sanity.

But with another typically fake Malaysian federal election looming, I just can’t help adding a few more to the 500,000 or so words of calumnious columny I’ve already composed about this nation’s decomposing ‘democracy’.

Or, more accurately, about the ministers, members and supporters of Barisan Nasional (BN), the rotten-to-the-core regime that has been ruling and ruining Malaysia ever since the nation was granted independence by Britain 61 years ago, and changed its name from Malaya to Malaysia.

A moniker that quickly became fake, as the ‘si’ syllable in its new name represented the fact that it supposedly included Singapore.

But, for fear of having to deal with all those pesky extra Chinese led by the then young firebrand Lee Kuan Yew, UMNO, the dominant Malay member of the coalition of race-based parties comprising the the Alliance, as BN was known in those days, soon threw Singapore out and thus made the ‘si’ in Malaysia misleading.

Thus equipped with a fake name, and a constitution falsely deeming Malays to be definitively Muslim as well as providing special privileges for them on the grounds that they were the first inhabitants of the country, a clearly fake claim in light of the existence there of the ‘orang asli’ (original people) long before Malays migrated there from present-day Indonesia and the Philippines, the ruling coalition proceeded to create a fake facsimile of Westminster-style democracy.

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Najib Razak and his supporters

Complete with an agung (king) periodically chosen from not just one family of hereditary ‘royal’ parasites as in Britain, but nine of them, headed by the very sultans who had been bribed with cash, Rolls-Royces and other perks by the former colonial powers to keep their subjects abject.

And a coalition, as mentioned above, consisting of parties representing the various races, principally the Malays, Chinese and Indians, leaving little if any room for a proper opposition, plus so privileging the Malays as to inevitably promote racial resentments and tensions.

Or, indeed, outright hostilities, as on May 13, 1969 when there was an outbreak of bloody anti-Chinese rioting allegedly instigated by Tun Abdul Razak, father of current Prime Minister Najib Razak, in what proved to be a successful bid to seize the top job from the nation’s inaugural Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad–Malaysia’s Former Strong Man turned Democrat-Reformer

Ever since then, and especially during the 22-year+ premiership, or, if you prefer, doctatorship of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s always highly dubious ‘democracy’, or more accurately, as I proposed in a long-ago column, ‘dermocracy’, given that it’s based on race or in other words skin colour, has been totally destroyed by the increasingly incompetent and corrupt UMNO dominated Barisan Nasional regime (aided and abetted by a fawning civil service and an utterly corrupt Police force) and the millions of fakewitted Malaysians (mainly Malays) who have been systematically bullied, bribed, bullshitted and bamboozled into keeping on voting for it.

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Bullied by threats of a repeat of the May 13, 1969 riots, as in Najib Razak’s oft-expressed determination to hold onto power even at the cost of ‘broken bodies and lost lives’; or of arrest under the Internal Security Act, since replaced by the equally severe Sedition Act; or of dismissal of dissenting civil servants or withdrawal of government scholarships from students suspected of disloyalty to the regime.

To back-up all this bullying, Malaysian voters are bribed with often utterly empty promises of government expenditure on infrastructure and other improvements in their electorates, plus salary-raises, bonuses, extra handouts under the so-called BR1M scheme, and additionally bribed every election day with free meals, bags of rice and sundry other ‘gifts’ including hard cash.

Besides all this bullying and bribery, Malaysians are ceaselessly bombarded with barrages of BN-regime bullshit. Faked-over in every possible way, from being faced with Najib Razak’s fantastic invention of some apparently parallel nation he called ‘1Malaysia’, and under which banner he proceeded to create a whole raft of fake initiatives ranging from falsely ‘economical’ food outlets to the massive global financial fraud and money-laundering scam 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), to being fed a steady diet of fake ‘news’ by Malaysia’s regime-controlled and thus ruthlessly truthless press, radio, television and outdoor media.

And if all that wasn’t sufficiently bamboozling, BN has progressively, by which of course I mean regressively perverted the Police from a force for public law and order into a farce for the protection of regime flaws and ordure; turned the formerly independent and impartial judiciary into a regime-skewed and indeed screwed travesty of justice; made such a mockery of the so-called Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that it turns a totally blind eye to regime and crony corruption, and gets away with such faking outrages as the death of witness Teoh Beng Hock in its custody; has so comprehensively corrupted the ‘religious’ authorities (JAWi and JAKIM) as to constitute a disgrace to the very Islam it so faux-piously claims to ‘protect’; and so successfully suborned the Election Commission as to blatantly manipulate electoral boundaries, numbers and even racial mixes in its favour.

All of the above is concealed as far as possible from the Malaysian people, of course, by the BN-controled so-called ‘mainstream media’, newspapers, television, radio and increasing numbers of online sites all keeping silent about BN crimes and corruptions, and loudly proclaiming the regime’s fake propaganda.

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@Kini–Let us build something great together- The gallant men and women of Malaysiakini led by Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran.

And now, in an attempt to shut-down the small space for true, independent news and views opened-up by Malaysiakini two decades ago and since expanded by other online portals like Malaysia Today and Sarawak Report, the faking powers that be have passed a so-called ‘The Anti Fake News Act’. Which is in fact an act of bastardry designed to ban the spread of truths that BN deems to be fake, as in contrary to its corrupt and outright criminal interests, by way of penalties of up to six years imprisonment, or fines of up to RM500,000 (about US$120,000), or both.

So, as everything I’ve written in this piece is as far as I know the gospel truth about the BN regime, and thus very likely to be viewed by its self-styled censors as ‘fake news’ under the Act, I won’t be sending it to Malaysiakini for possible publication as a column.

Image result for Dean JohnsMy Friend Dean Johns


The very last thing I want to do is to risk costing Steven Gan, Premesh Chandran or any other members of the Malaysiakini family, of which I’ve so long been proud to be an honorary and I hope honest and honourable member, a slew of cash or a spell in the slammer, let alone both.

But from down here in Sydney I can relatively safely blog as much true or in other words fake fake news as I like, in the faint hope that it might by roundabout means reach enough of the vast majority of unfake Malaysians to help strengthen them in their resolve to finally force their fake and on-the-take BN government to for once and for all fake off.