Bersatu and the shaping of new realities


January 19, 2019

Bersatu and the shaping of new realities

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan

 

COMMENT | I am grateful to be read by so esteemed and prolific a writer as S Thayaparan. Needless to say, like any two writers, the good Commander and I can hardly be expected to agree on everything – this is a healthy thing.

In his article on Jan 9, Thayaparan alludes to what I believe are a good many shared goals and even some shared analyses. What differences we may have could arguably be ascribed to the fundamental level of optimism versus cynicism. Of course, this is my own biased view.

I agree with Thayaparan that UMNO’s core strategy of feudal patronage was indeed very successful in securing Malay votes, especially in rural areas.

How else could we account for the fact that in terms of individual parties, UMNO had won the most seats in Parliament? Or the fact that nationally, Harapan only won approximately 25-30 percent of the Malay votes.

I also agree with Thayaparan in that this is a very tempting strategy to replicate, in order to achieve the same level of Malay support that UMNO achieved; as well as with the fact that there are undeniably some in Bersatu and Harapan who wish to pursue this path.

Thayaparan seems to believe that it is inevitable that Bersatu will indeed go down this same road. Here perhaps we differ.

I am no seer, so it would be foolish to say definitively whether Bersatu will or will not turn out like UMNO in the end. I will be willing to say however: it certainly isn’t an inevitability.

In terms of electoral strategy, I think the primary argument that should be put forth to those trying to emulate UMNO’s strategy of feudal patronage is that the votes you win very likely come at the cost of other votes.

Once again, I quote the Aesop fable where the dog with the bone saw his reflection in the river, and dropped the bone he had in greedy pursuit of a second bone.

Should a party follow UMNO too far, especially in terms of its approach to race, the backlash will be real. That constituency of voters should not be taken for granted, as GE 14 demonstrated decisively their willingness to vote in protest.

Knowing one’s opponent

Secondly, every political strategy must obviously take into consideration context and landscape.

Simply put, Harapan needs to know exactly who it’ll be up against in GE 15.

Thayaparan writes:

‘A Bersatu grassroots activist, who I usually call on because she gives it to me straight, told me that it is easy for the other Harapan components to criticise Rashid. It gets them good press and makes them seem like heroes, like young Syed Saddiq. But, the “beloved” (and she means it when she says this) prime minister not only has to ensure that Bersatu is a viable party, but also that “Harapan does not mampus (die)”.

Okay, I said, if your rural heartland base needs to be better informed, then why not begin the process of dismantling the system – political tactics included – which separates them from the urban Malay voter? “You want us to win or you want PAS or UMNOo to win?” she replied.’

Two prominent young Harapan leaders, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad have both used America’s transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump as an example of a right-wing backlash.

This article does not look to ‘ignore’ these warnings and advocate some sort of no-holds-barred progressive agenda; nor does it intend to underestimate any particular political movement.

That said, if Harapan is posturing to fight the wrong enemy in the wrong way, it could end up shooting itself in the foot.

Feudalism impossible without controlling the government

The main problem with UMNO and PAS is that they cannot rule alone; for the same reason they can’t rule alone, these two can’t rule together either.

The Malay population currently stands at 55 percent. Unless you twist and turn electoral boundaries into some unrecognisable mangle, it is essentially impossible for UMOmno and PAS to appeal to non-Malays enough to win the federal government without some sort of ally.

Indeed, one can very easily argue that this scenario has already played out – not in GE-15, but in GE-14.

UMNO’s entire mandate was based on its leadership of BN, where every community was supposed to be represented.

With whatever shreds of that illusion now being shattered conclusively, UMNO is left as a party with a very narrow, exclusive ideology, and very few genuine allies.

PAS meanwhile has a dismal history of going it alone. In 1995 and 2004, they contested alone and won only seven seats each time. In 1999, 2008 and 2013, they contested in coalitions with PKR and DAP, and won 27, 23 and 21 seats respectively.

2018 was a bit of an outlier, with PAS winning 18 seats, but with each and every one of those seats coming from only three states (Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah) – making it fairly obvious that PAS cannot win elsewhere without strong allies.

So, it has to be asked: Who will Harapan really be fighting in GE-15?

As always, we should not imagine voters to be stupid. Even if they wanted to vote in someone they think would be more willing to deliver them government goodies feudal-patronage style, surely they understand that their candidate cannot do so if he is not part of the federal government.

This brings us to the most important point – why do we have to ‘out-feudal’ the enemy, when the purported enemy is in no real position to be the next feudal lord?

Certainly one should not preach complacency, but one should equally not be sending warships into waters where there are no enemies, leaving other flanks vulnerable.

Indeed, Harapan’s biggest enemy could be Harapan itself; if elections were to be held, say within a year, the biggest reason behind votes against Harapan would likely be under-performance.

Worrying about maintaining and growing Malay support is not necessarily wrong, but this can easily be a strategic misstep as a counterpoint to enemies who are now mere phantoms.

Umno has already been defeated, and at its current state of disintegration – caused in the first place by the party’s dependence on government-funded feudal patronage – it remains to be seen if it would even exist come GE-15.

PAS on the other hand has shown extreme resilience over the decades, and we can expect them to be a real force, but unless they do a 180 degree turn and somehow start to appeal to non-Muslim political movements, they will not be a primary contender for the federal government.

Redefining Malay politics

This brings us to the question of what then will the fight for the Malay heartland be about?Image result for FEUDAL MALAYS

A  feudal Umno  Patron

The impression I personally got from Thayaparan’s article was a belief that these rural Malays will always be dependent feudal peasants.

I choose a more optimistic view.

Bersatu and Harapan’s unique position – resulting from UMNO’s and PAS’ extremely weak position – gives them a golden opportunity to redefine what Malay politics is about.

There are numerous examples of late showing that there are clearly elements within Bersatu who want to go the UMNOo way, but I daresay the battle for the party’s heart and soul is not over yet.

As I wrote recently, at the very top of Bersatu is Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and his oldest dream to invigorate the Malay community – propelling them to become successful entrepreneurs, leading professionals and captains of industry.

While his unrelenting sarcasm and unfavourable comparisons might not be the best way to bring this about, I don’t think we can doubt the sincerity of his intentions.

All that remains to determine is methodology.

It won’t be any walk in the park, but I do believe that with the right leadership and policies, we can transition out from the rural heartland’s dependency on feudal patronage, into governance based on genuine empowerment – setting everything in place for Malays to succeed on their own merits.

If we take the time to look, there are always a few encouraging signs here and there – the takeover of Perlis Bersatu by Bersatu headquarters could be one such sign.

I am all for realistic analysis. It is foolishness not to base your plans on what the objective truth on the ground is. At the same time, all the realism in the world will do us no good if we have no vision; reality, after all, is often nothing more than what all of us make it.

Image result for Man of La Mancha

 

 

On my first day driving to my new job, I listened to a song from the musical The Man of La Mancha. Perhaps not for the last time, allow me – in the style of the good Commander – to quote some lines from the show:

‘I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger … cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle … or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words … only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, “Why?”

I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!’


 

NATHANIEL TAN is delighted to have begun a new job at Emir Research.

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

How can Malaysia become a developed nation? –Practise meritocracy


January 15, 2019

How can Malaysia become a developed nation?

-Practise Meritocracy.

 
2020
 

 

2020 will soon pass us by. 2050? Maybe. If we Practise Meritocracy

On June 12 last year, while delivering his keynote address at the 24th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia could achieve developed nation status provided that the right policies were in place, and that Malaysians worked very hard.

When he stepped down as Prime Minister back in 2003, he believed that Malaysia could attain developed nation status by 2020. But the policies put in place were changed by the succeeding Prime Ministers. Even if we work extremely hard, we cannot achieve this by 2020. Maybe by 2025.

In 1970, when the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced, our GRP per capita was the same as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. After 49 years, the GDP per capita of these countries respectively is four, three and 2.5 times bigger than ours. These countries do not even have timber to build houses. They import almost everything.

At one time, we were the world’s biggest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil. We also had petroleum. Yet we could not become a developed nation. Why?

The biggest albatross was the implementation of the NEP. The policy of helping the Malays become competitive was very good, but it was poorly implemented.

Of late, many government officers including former Prime Minister Najib Razak have been charged with corruption over huge sums of money. Najib, as 1MDB chairman, had RM2.6 billion supposedly channeled into his personal account. He said it was a generous donation from the Saudi Royal Family.

Corruption is ruining Malaysia, which is now branded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, worse than many countries in Africa.

My proposal: Practise Meritocracy.

Managing the country is like managing thousands of companies and conglomerates. Mahathir must appoint the best people as Ministers and Deputy Ministers, irrespective of race. If these leaders are really good, they would know how to make rules and regulations to help the people do better than before.

The government must always appoint the best people in its civil service. It must also practise meritocracy in promotions at all levels of management so that the whole machinery can operate efficiently.

Image result for Krishnan Tan

This reminds me of an experience I had when I was on the Board of Directors of IJM Corporation Bhd. All the Directors were engineers, and our Chief Financial Officer was WHO practiseD meritocracy ( pic above Krishnan Tan). When we wanted to borrow huge sums of money from the bank for some projects and expansion, Krishnan suggested that a more effective and less costly way would be to issue irredeemable convertible unsecured loan stocks or ICULS.

As engineers, we did not know anything about ICULS. We all agreed that Krishnan was the best man to manage the company. So we appointed him as CEO in 1984. His management was so efficient that the company continued to make more and more profit every year. As a result, the company’s share price continued to climb. The current market capitalisation of IJM Corp is about RM12 billion.

The private sector knows how to practise meritocracy to make a profit. If the government also practises meritocracy, Malaysia will become a developed nation.

The key to success is to practise meritocracy.

Koon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

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

Patronage is king in new Malaysia?


January 12, 2019

Patronage is king in new Malaysia?

by Dr.Terence Gomez

 

COMMENT | When Dr. Mahathir Mohamad led the opposition to a stunning election victory, he had an effective rallying cry that reflected why Umno’s form of governance was problematic: “Cash is king.”

If Mahathir is not careful, worrying recent trends indicate a similarly disconcerting problem about Pakatan Harapan’s government: “Patronage is king.”

When Harapan wanted to capture power, the coalition’s leaders told Malaysians to expect real change if UMNO was expelled from government. These reforms included ending ethnically-based policies, unfailingly applied since the 1970s to justify patronage favouring bumiputera, though extremely abused to enrich politicians in power.

The Prime Minister would also no longer concurrently serve as finance minister who had under his control a slew of GLCs like 1MDB and Tabung Haji, enterprises that had been persistently abused by UMNOo. Politicians would not be appointed as directors of GLCs.

These pledges contributed to Harapan’s considerable achievement of ending authoritarian rule in Malaysia. However, Harapan has been in power barely eight months and already alarming trends are appearing which suggest that this coalition is finding ways and means to renege on its pledges.

Equally troubling is a gradual and perceptible attempt to reinstitute the practice of selective patronage in the conduct of politics and in the implementation of policies, hallmarks of UMNO politics that led to its fall.

Soon after Harapan formed the government, it created the Economic Affairs Ministry, led by Mohamed Azmin Ali. Subsequently, numerous GLCs controlled by the Finance Ministry, under the jurisdiction of Lim Guan Eng, were transferred to the Economic Affairs Ministry.

Malaysia’s only sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional, was channelled from the Finance Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Department. The government did not publicly disclose why the shifting of these GLCs between ministries was necessary, but it is now clear that the Finance Ministry no longer holds enormous influence over the corporate sector.

With Khazanah under his ministry, Mahathir, though not also functioning as the Finance Minister, had secured control of Malaysia’s leading investment arm. When Mahathir argued that Khazanah had deviated from performing one of its original objectives, helping the bumiputera, this contention was disputed by numerous analysts.

Mahathir went on to appoint himself as chairperson of Khazanah, though this was, by convention, the practice. The convention also was that the finance minister should be a member of Khazanah’s board.

Instead, Azmin was given this appointment. Whether the prime minister and the economic affairs minister should have been appointed board members of Khazanah merited debate as Harapan had pledged that politicians would not be appointed as directors of government enterprises.

On Sept 1, 2018, a Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation was convened by Azmin’s Ministry. Mahathir stressed at this convention the need to reinstitute the practice of selective patronage, targeting bumiputeras, though no longer would the government allow for the distribution of what he referred to as “easy contracts.”

Daim Zainuddin, the chair of the Committee of Eminent Persons (CEP), established to prepare a report reviewing the state of the economy, endorsed the need for such a bumiputera policy, though he acknowledged problems of the past when he said: “We want to get it right this time.” Daim also stressed that the government would strive to change the mindset of bumiputera.

The nation was not told how this policy will be altered to get it right, nor how mindsets will be changed. Meanwhile, the CEP report, though submitted to the government, was not publicly disclosed.

Instead, the bumiputera policy was stressed when the Economic Affairs Ministry released its Mid-Term Review of the 11th Malaysia Plan, while other ministers have actively affirmed that GLCs will be divested, an issue also in the 2019 budget. Given Malaysia’s long history of political patronage, worrying questions come to mind of these divestments.

For example, one important equity sale by Khazanah, an issue that barely secured any analysis in the press, was that of its interests in CIMB, the country’s second-largest bank. Khazanah reduced its equity holding in CIMB by 0.66 percent, a seemingly small divestment.

However, does this sale mark the beginning of the transfer of control of CIMB to well-connected business people, even proxies of politicians, a common practice by UMNO in the 1990s? Will Harapan, through such divestments, move to create a new breed of powerful well-connected business groups, even oligarchs, a trend seen in other countries transiting from authoritarian rule to democracy?

‘Dr M should know better’

Another worrying issue occurred recently. Rural and Regional Development Minister Rina Harun of Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, approved the appointment of politicians from her party to the boards of directors of GLCs under her control.

This is extremely worrying because, under UMNO, the Rural and Regional Development Ministry was persistently embroiled in allegations of corruption, with MARA being the prime example.

The practice of patronage through GLCs to draw electoral support was rampant under this ministry as it has a huge presence in states with a bumiputera-majority population.

So important is this ministry, in terms of mobilising electoral support, that it was always placed under the control of a senior UMNO leader. During Najib Abdul Razak’s administration, then UMNO Vice- President, Mohd Shafie Apdal, served as its minister before he was unceremoniously removed from office. Shafie was replaced by Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Najib’s close ally.

What Rina, once an UMNO member, has done by appointing politicians to GLCs under her authority is so reminiscent of patronage practices that had undermined the activities of these enterprises.

Azmin subsequently endorsed what Rina had done on the grounds that “there are some politicians who have professional background, such as accountants, engineers or architects, who can contribute to GLCs”.

Mahathir should know better than to allow this. After all, he had stressed that GLCs function to fulfil a “noble vision”, including the alleviation of poverty, equitable wealth distribution and spatial development, promotion of rural industries and the fostering of entrepreneurial companies in new sectors of the economy. Mahathir had also persistently referred to Malaysia’s complex ensemble of GLCs as a “monster.”

During Najib’s administration, this vast GLC network, created primarily to fulfil the bumiputera agenda, became tools easily exploited by UMNO, so visibly manifested in serious corruption associated with Felda and Tabung Haji.

However, Harapan has refused to establish an independent committee to review this extremely complex GLC network that operates at the federal and state levels. Is this reluctance because Harapan plans to similarly employ GLCs for the practice of patronage, as recent trends suggest?

What is clear, even becoming the norm, is Harapan’s consistent message to the nation: selectively targeted patronage will continue. The primary advocate of this message is Bersatu, an UMNO off-shoot.

 

At Bersatu’s first convention after securing power, held two weeks ago, its president, Muhyiddin Yassin, was quoted as saying: “As a party for the ‘pribumi’ or indigenous group, Bersatu should not be apologetic to champion the bumiputera agenda”.

Muhyiddin went on to say: “No one in our society will be left behind. Hence, this agenda is not a racial agenda, but a national agenda.” These statements are strikingly similar to what Umno had stressed when in power.

These trends suggest that for Harapan, and Bersatu in particular, consolidating power, by marshalling bumiputera support, is its primary concern, not instituting appropriate economic and social reforms.

If the government hopes to change mindsets, Harapan must focus on just universal-based policies that assist all Malaysians. In the process, disenfranchised bumiputera will also be supported. Patronage need not be king.


TERENCE GOMEZ is a professor of political economy at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, Universiti Malaya.

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

Rebranding the myth of the ‘lazy Malay’


January 11, 2019

Rebranding the myth of the ‘lazy Malay’

Opinion  |by Dr. Azly Rahman

 

COMMENT | To wage war upon others, you dehumanise them. To enslave your own people, you call them lazy and create a structure of dependency.

To cure these two mental ills of the two colonisers, you deconstruct and destroy the myth. The once oppressed among us have become the oppressors. Brown skin, white masks. This is what I am writing about in the following passages.

Aren’t politicians the laziest, profiting from the myth of the benevolent ruler? They get paid a lot, they fight too much, they don’t attend well to the people’s needs. They go missing, produce contradictory statements, and churn out propaganda to fool people. They beg for votes and when they win, they invite the latter to a beggar’s banquet.

To call a people ‘lazy’ is to legitimise a system of discipline, punishment and continual dependency – the politician’s excretory rhetoric. Capitalism thrives by telling workers that they are lazy when they cannot produce as fast as the owners can profit.

Rebranding the myth

Consider how much the common person works these days, how many hours a day and on weekends, just to put food on the table in an economy plagued, plundered, and ravaged by those who called the natives ‘lazy’. How many jobs do people you know work these days before and after the 1MDB fiasco?

Malaysia is built upon the blood, sweat and tears of workers, farmers, share-croppers, Felda settlers, taxi drivers, petty traders, shopkeepers, and the working class whose culture the politicians say needs to be ‘changed’.

The myth of the lazy natives is now reproduced by the acquired ignorance of our leaders. What is the politics behind the continuing labeling? New Party. New Coalition. Same Excretion?

Billionaire-club Malays will often say Malays are lazy when they cannot enslave the Malays of blood, sweat, fears. “Sickos,” as Michael Moore would call them. That’s the worldview of the one percent. That’s their “mental habitus”, to borrow from Pierre Bourdieu.

We continue to carry the wrong sunglasses of history, fogged by the haze of winner’s history. Who cares if Yap Ah Loy or Sutan Puasa ‘founded’ Kuala Lumpur? I want to know what happened to the natives. How were they chased out by these ‘founders’? Just like how Christopher Columbus was instrumental in killing 10,000 Arawak Indians in his quest to be baptised as the one who ‘discovered’ America.

I want our young generation to learn the people’s history of Malaysia. Teach not the history of glory of kingdoms, of fake kings, but the sufferings and successes of our ancestors. Family history first that runs parallel to the one’s personal history. Therein lies the core of human dignity as makers of history.

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

Multiple truths

We must acknowledge that there are multiple truths to choose from, depending on one’s cultural perception of what spirituality means. I read and taught the major scriptures to see the beauty of each, especially as cultural perspectives, and good, magical, fantastical stories written by scribes, collectively, from long ago.

I love Bible stories. And the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Analects of Confucius, the Tao Te Ching, the I Ching and even the Dianetics of the Church of Scientology. These contain their own truths, fanciful stories of creation, deconstruction, destruction. Religion and its scriptures rely on storytelling and the crafting of degrees of believability, sustainable enough to be passed down from one generation to another. We live in a universe of stories we love sharing with one another. The Bible and the Quran too serve such purposes. One truth, many paths.

But what are we as Malaysians? Each of us a child of immigrants. Our place, this place we inhabit, is what Pramoedya Ananta Toer called “bumi manusia” or earth of mankind. Bumi Malaysia, where each race is a product of history, exploited by the colonial masters, in collaboration with the local rulers and chieftains.

Whether we were here as kampung folk, or we came as a band of kangchu and kangani, we are here, challenged to mediate our differences, to live as if civil war and genocide are words that do not exist in our vocabulary.

Orientalising to death

The British colonial policy of divide and rule, their conjuring up of the myth of the lazy native to describe Malayo-Polynesians, their construction of the other based on what was in it for them, their Conradesque narratives pounded into others ‘three-quarters as human’ as they are.

Peeking at the styles of other colonialists, we find similar themes of dehumanisation in the French ‘civilising mission’, the defining of ‘Bangsa Indonesia’ by the Dutch, and the Spanish racial delineation in the Philippines. All these illustrate the craft of imperialism.

Knowledge is power, and in the use of policies based on the construction of otherness and the emphasis on differences for economic-exploitative goals – all historical ingenuity. The story of Malcolm X’s return from pilgrimage in Mecca is, I think, a powerful narrative on the deconstruction of the matter and manner called race.

Back to who we now are, as peoples once enslaved. We are a model of civil dialogue. We seem to be doing well. We share a memory, a wonderful, yet equally challenging time we once had and lived gracefully. In poverty lies wealth, dignity, and ethics – this is what we learned from the post-Merdeka days.

We had to do that for historical logic – we came in and out of the bloody riots of May 13, 1969 and the brutal process of decolonisation, though we were spared the full Pandora’s box of human madness over power, wealth and violence.

We Malaysians learned to live with each other and grow with the differences we were born with and into. Because we are human beings, essentially and within us lies cultural hybridity, of the elements of cultures of ‘otherness’ weaved into our psyche, philosophy of living, and our physicality. We love each other’s food, fashion, and festivities. At the level of the masses we are good as a people of a relatively new nation.

But now we are facing a crisis of identity. A manufactured one. Today, identity has turned political – of the forbidden-ness and the halal-haram of things. Of fascist-type rallies fuelled by false sentiments of race and religion. Those uber-rallies that will soon lose their pomp and be seen as a genre of weekly pageants of irrationality.

The first mistake

Wherein lies the mistake of our cultural evolution? Education, I’d say. In this enterprise of “drawing out, of human potentials” lies that gentle profession the politicians have emboldened with the lava of racial prejudice and the myth of the limited economic pie.

Is there hope? We must begin with the amber, of what’s glimmering and what’s promising, but we cannot twist the arms of politicians if their bodies are wrapped with the straitjacket of wealth and power made out of that lava of latter-day-capitalism, insisting that the only way forward is to traverse the path suggested by Niccolo Machiavelli and Sun Tzu.

Maintain power by whatever means necessary, use deceit, use strategies to outdo the enemy, kill if you must, play with numbers, make statistics lie even better, and go to war with each other perpetually. Use education as a tool of apartheid, mental oppression, so that we may produce more myths, while the rich watch the numbers go up and down in the ticker-tape of the stock exchange. The ‘standards and poor’, where global poverty is the gold standard of the one percent of the new imperialists.

What do we actually want? Today the myth is recreated, reconstructed, and rebranded, as if we are living in an amnesiac society, ruled by leaders who are plagued with selective dementia.

It does not make sense to turn our politics and policy-making into a ghoulish carnival of the living dead, the ghosts of yesteryear being perpetually resurrected and used to instil fear in a new generation of Malaysians of each other – as if they must be forced to carry the burden of Malaysia’s violent episodes of history, crafted by the powers that want to maintain hegemony and the master-slave narrative.

That is what is happening now and, since independence, and the purposeful reluctance of accepting sane and logical solutions to our racial and religious ailments – like the debates over the United Examination Certificate (UEC), all-Malay elite boarding schools, proliferating tahfiz schools, English-language instruction, and the ketuanan educational-philosophical orientation.

We all want the best for our society, especially for the young ones struggling to make sense of the world. It is their future we are entrusted to craft. Hence, educational visioning must be undertaken as soon as a new government takes shape.

Leadership needs philosophy, process, innovation, and management of change, as we know. It needs empathy in the case of educational leadership, so that we may not discriminate and turn this gentle profession of educating into a hidden system of apartheid. This is what I see happening here. Continuation of unclear vision and the rabid hanging on to racial and religious dogma.

We have a lot to gain if we understand education for mental liberation in all its complexity in a multiracial society. One avenue to begin our restructuring is to learn from the diaspora who have seen what education looks like in diverse settings, and why advanced countries continue to advance and outlaw racial discrimination.

We should stop believing and supporting politicians who wish to continue to divide us through their rhetoric. We must wage an ideological yet dialogical battle with those who still call this and that race ‘lazy’, ‘greedy’, and ‘dirty’, and all kinds of demeaning and derogatory representations of these peoples’ pride and dignity.

These are the politicians who thrive on wealth, wilfully blind to the fact that poverty cuts across race and religious lines, that extremism is in all religions, and that the future generations need not be punished with the sins of their fathers and be made to feel helpless and hopeless with all kinds of unkind misrepresentation.

We must, especially through our educational philosophical and pedagogical design, shape a more peaceful, productive, and collaborative future amongst the races. So that we will not produce more amnesic politicians who will continue to sing us more lullabies about the ‘lazy, greedy, and dirty’ natives.

We have a lot to work on to achieve the goals of the political rhetoric of ‘Vision 2020’. But first, we must educate for peace, progress, and prosperity that “makes the many, one, and the one many”.

It must begin with a grand design of our educational future. A truly Malaysia future. No child left behind. Just look into the eyes of the children of Malaysians on their very first day of school. Do they tell us what discrimination means and will turn them into? Will they be in chains, when they are born free?

Have a safe 2019 fellow Malaysians!

Image result for dr. azly rahman


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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

 

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?


January 8, 2019

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Three years ago when the 1MDB and donation into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal account scandals took its toll on UMNO’s standing, one of the country’s more radical Malay bloggers posted a piece on the future of Malays in the country. The post had the provocative title,” Kita ni apa? Burung merpati dalam sangkar?” – see http://deminegara.blogspot.my/

In the reflective article, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

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Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

Image result for emancipated

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it;

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?  

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

In his latest article, ‘Bolehkak Melayu berfikir kritis?’ he highlights the failure of the Malay educated elite to analyse rationally the information that they receive on developments related to the community and Islam.

In his words, ‘Siapa orang Melayu yang tidak boleh berfikiran waras ini? Adakah mereka orang kampung? Adakah mereka sekolah setakat darjah 6? Adakah mereka ini kaki kedai kopi dan kedai mamak?

Kalau orang berpendidikan rendah berfikir macam tu memang kita boleh agak dan fahami dan maafkan. Tetapi sebaliknya, bukan golongan macam ini saja. Kebanyakan 99% Melayu kenalan saya yang pernah belajar di universiti luar negara, universiti tempatan, dah ada Master dan dah ada PhD..

Saya mempunyai ramai kenalan Melayu dan saya berani katakan yang tidak boleh berfikiran rasional, tidak tahu berfikiran kritis, tidak mahu berfikir panjang-panjang adalah orang-orang yang jawatannya tinggi-tinggi belaka.

Apa jawatan mereka? Guru sekolah menengah, guru besar, profesor madya, profesor VK7-6-5, arkitek, jurutera, pegawai tinggi GLC, pegawai eksekutif dan doktor. Bukan calang-calang pendidikan, tuan-tuan. Semuanya extra hebat belaka. Tapi fikiran? Macam tak sekolah tinggi pun. Percaya bulat-bulat, tunggang langgang dan habis-habis. Sebab? Nak menegak ketuanan Melayu dan keagungan Islam. Dosa fitnah? Tak kisahlah. Dosa mencerca? Sikit saja. Dosa menyampai-nyampai? Tak ada hal punya beb’  (author’s emphasis).

Tajuddin’s conclusion is a warning of the long and hard road ahead for the Malay community’s nation’s well being despite the election tsunami:

Apa nak jadi dengan orang Melayu macam ini saya pun tak tahu. Negara kita ni bakal hancur dengan Melayu yang tak boleh nak urus emosi dan berfikiran rasional.

, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

 

Bersatu’s inexorable move to becoming a sanitized, immunized and Bersih UMNO Terbaru 3.0


January 3, 2019

Bersatu’s inexorable move to becoming a sanitized, immunized and Bersih UMNO Terbaru 3.0

Opinion  | By P. Gunasegaram

Published:  |  Modified:

  QUESTION TIME | If anything, Bersatu’s recent annual general assembly starkly shows one thing – that it is merely an extension of the old UMNO (Baru,) and will use the model of Malay supremacy,ty and put back in place corruption via patronage politics.

The only way to check that unfortunate retrograde policy is for the other Pakatan Harapan partners, especially those who have three to four times the number of MPs Bersatu has, to exert their combined muscle to rightfully regain more influence in the coalition and restore the original reform agenda pre-GE14.

At the AGM, Bersatu vice-President Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, also a former Election Commission (EC) chairperson, termed pushbacks against delegates’ demands to be given government resources to help the party retain power as “stupid”.

Bad enough that you have the former EC chairperson advocating breaking laws but this same person was shockingly appointed in August last year to head a Putrajaya committee that will make recommendations on electoral law reform in two years time.

This same Abdul Rashid had been heavily criticised by both PKR and DAP, the dominant parties in Harapan, over his tenure from 2000 to 2008 as the EC chairperson. This continues a tendency for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appoint tainted,controversial and/or discredited people to important positions.

This includes Daim Zainuddin to head the Council of Eminent Persons; former Inspector-General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor (who brutally assaulted Anwar Ibrahim and gave him a black eye while in Police detention) to negotiate security arrangements with Thailand and former discredited aAtorneys-General to important positions.

Abdul Rashid’s comments at the Bersatu assembly are particularly galling and provocative and advocate extra-judicial measures to keep and extend Bersatu’s hold on power. These are clearly against the law but Abdul Rashid (photo) received a misplaced standing ovation from Bersatu delegates.

“Looking at the situation now, we cannot defend our position as the governing party because the division chiefs are being left out. It is lucky that the Prime Minister gave me a job with a big salary so that I can support my division,” said Abdul Rashid, apparently referring to his appointment to the government’s election reform committee.

“But the others, we don’t need to be arrogant by saying we shouldn’t give them jobs, that we would be taking away the jobs of others, that we should not take this or that. That opinion, to me, irresponsible. In the election, we must win by hook or by crook,” he said.

He added that although he did not like the idea of using government resources, it had to be done.

“All division chiefs should be given activities so that they can have the opportunity to defend their divisions,” he said.

Abdul Rashid also urged the government to restore the parallel village chief system practised by the previous BN government. “And our people must occupy these positions,” he said.

Village chiefs are traditionally appointed by the state government but the previous BN government appointed parallel village chiefs in states not under its control. The Harapan administration has abolished this parallel system.

“All development projects should be channeled to these (parallel) committees and the division chiefs must benefit,” he said as the crowd cheered him on.

Blown to smithereens

It is unthinkable that this man, who clearly advocates moves against current elections laws, heads Putrajaya’s committee on electoral reform. If anything, he will probably advocate changes in the law to allow these offences to take place.

Harapan leaders should forthwith put their foot down and demand that Abdul Rashid be removed as the head of the electoral reform committee as he has clearly shown, by his words at a public gathering, that he is not a fit person to come up with electoral reforms which are up to international standards.

That he had so much support from Bersatu delegates for his views is worrying, with other leaders echoing his sentiments. While Bersatu head Mahathir has said that what Abdul Rashid says is his personal opinion, he should immediately review Abdul Rashid’s position as head of the electoral reform committee.

The original UMNO  was founded in 1946 to champion Malay rights in the lead up to independence. Its founder Onn bin Jaffar left UMNO after the party refused to open membership to non-Malays. Tunku Abdul Rahman took over the helm and became Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.

That UMNO was de-registered in 1987 after the courts declared it illegal. Then prime minister Mahathir formed UMNO Baru or UMNO 2.0 and organised members of UMNO, who supported him to join this UMNO Baru, excluding others who did not. There was a breakaway group called Semangat 46 formed, headed by Mahathir’s then opponent , Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Mahathir altered the constitution of the original UMNO considerably by making it next to impossible to remove a sitting UMNO Baru President. This resulted in a progressive erosion of government accountability and transparency, eventually leading to 1MDB and its excesses. And UMNOMNO-BN’s first loss in the general election last year.

As droves of MPs start to desert UMNOo Baru, Bersatu may well become Umno 3.0 if it accepts these UMNOo MPs as members. That will irrevocably change the complexion of the coalition and alter the balance of power within Harapan.

Other coalition partners, in particular, PKR and DAP, should clearly resist this and state their irreversible opposition to such moves, simply because all UMNO and BN MPs are tainted because they knew full well of the corruption and theft within 1MDB when they decided to stand for elections.

If all of the UMNO MPs are accepted within the Bersatu fold and become Harapan members effectively and those within Bersatu who call for extrajudicial measures to remain in power are not checked, it is inevitable that Bersatu will become UMNO 3.0 and the strongest party within the Harapan coalition.

With that, the hopes of the majority of Malaysians for a fairer, more equitable country, where everybody is considered Malaysian and where corruption is a thing of the past and accountability and good governance will be practised, will be blown to smithereens.


P GUNASEGARAM says we have to guard our newfound freedom zealously instead of surrendering it back to UMNO goons and gangsters who want a return to the past. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

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