Xmas in New Malaysia-2018

December 28, 2018

By Ambassador Dennis Ignatius



Image result for christmas in New Malaysia

Christmas is a special time of year for many Malaysians.

For Christians, Christmas is, of course, much more than coloured lights and tinsel; it is about remembering and commemorating the birth of Jesus the Messiah, the cornerstone of faith. It is both a sacred and secular occasion. For others, it is a non-religious festive occasion, a time to enjoy the festivities, the decorations and shopping bargains.

Whatever one’s take on Christmas, however, in Malaysia it is also an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and reaffirm our commitment to a nation of many peoples, cultures and religions all bound by common citizenship. It is what makes us unique.


But Christmas invariably brings out the bigots as well. In times past, they have complained that there were too many Christmas lights, too many Christmas trees, too much Christmas carolling. To them, every little coloured light is an affront to their faith, a provocation. Thankfully, there was none of that this year.

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True to form, however, the PAS youth chief (and the son of the PAS president Hadi Awang) insisted that Muslims should not only refrain from participating in the Christmas festivities, they shouldn’t even extend Christmas greetings to Christians. Going by his comments, Christmas itself is apparently haram.

While the son was spewing divisiveness and discord at home, the father was doing likewise in the UK. At a dialogue session in London, Hadi rallied against local council elections saying that it might result in non-Malay mayors who might “make alcohol and gambling permissible” and result in another May 13. It’s nonsense, of course, but that is the kind of rabid racism we have come to expect from Hadi and his ilk.


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Former political dissident Tan Wah Piow (L) and Malaysian activist Hishammuddin Rais pose for a picture with Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad on Aug 30, 2018.


What makes this year – the year of Malaysia Baru – special, however, was that the voices of hate were overwhelmingly drowned out by the voices of hope, tolerance and respect.

In keeping with tradition, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad wished “all Malaysians a joyous and blissful Christmas,” while Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah wished “every single one of you celebrating Christmas this year a wonderful and joyful celebration.”

The Sultan of Johor, always an outlier on such matters, went a step further by issuing his own Christmas card via Facebook wishing all his subjects celebrating Christmas “love, joy & peace and a wonderful time with families and friends.”

And then there were a number of state muftis and Islamic religious groups who, in effect, rubbished claims that wishing Christians was somehow haram. The Mufti of Penang even called for a fatwa to put an end to the nonsense about greeting others on their festive occasions. Even PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan ignored his youth chief’s warning and wished Malaysians a Merry Christmas.

A particularly welcome development was a video of police officers at a police station in Kota Kinabalu singing Christmas carols against the backdrop of a Christmas tree. It may or may not be recent but it was widely circulated and brought much cheer to Christians. Given all the past reports of police officers demonising Christians at closed-door seminars, it was particularly heartwarming to see them honouring Christians this way. For many Christians, that one single act did more to inculcate and foster national unity than all the political speeches on the subject combined.

Simple gestures speak volumes

The Pakatan government must now build upon these expressions of hope and do more to break the cycle of mistrust and disunity that has plagued our country for so long.

Some years ago, we had national-level celebrations for all the main religious and cultural festivals. There were national-level open house events for Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Gawai, Deepavali, and Christmas. There was even a national Christmas tree. And no less than His Majesty the Agong and the entire cabinet were present at these functions. Tens of thousands of Malaysians responded to these events.

Restoring that practice will be a major step forward. After all, in their Christmas messages, all our political leaders emphasized that coming together to celebrate each other’s holiday festivals is a manifestation of mutual respect for our unique diversity. It will speak powerfully to all Malaysians to see our leaders themselves demonstrate this respect for diversity by hosting national and state-level celebrations on festive occasions and yes, by lighting a national Christmas tree in Putrajaya. It would certainly set the tone for the rest of the country and silence the voices of bigotry and divisiveness.

Restoring that practice will be a major step forward. After all, in their Christmas messages, all our political leaders emphasised that coming together to celebrate each other’s holiday festivals is a manifestation of mutual respect for our unique diversity. It will speak powerfully to all Malaysians to see our leaders themselves demonstrate this respect for diversity by hosting national and state-level celebrations on festive occasions and yes, by lighting a national Christmas tree in Putrajaya. It would certainly set the tone for the rest of the country and silence the voices of bigotry and divisiveness.

In the end, it is the simple gestures of love, togetherness and mutual support shown by Malaysia’s First Couple (pic above)  that express respect, tolerance and inclusivity that do more to enhance national unity than anything else. Let’s hope that in Malaysia Baru the voices of moderation, tolerance and respect will grow louder and louder. And that the message of Christmas – peace and goodwill to all – will become a permanent feature of our Malaysia Baru.


Image result for dr mahathir at christmas

Let’s hope that in Malaysia Baru the voices of moderation, tolerance and respect will grow louder and louder. And that the message of Christmas – peace and goodwill to all – will become a permanent feature of our Malaysia Baru.

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

What has God to do with Politics: It is a Make by Man Activity

August 10, 2016

What  has God to do with Politics: It is a Make by Man Activity

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee

“I pray each day for the Almighty’s salvation for my country, Malaysia”–Rafidah Aziz

Besides, he [Tan Sri Muhyiddin] is starting this party to take revenge against UMNO… Allah won’t support this.”– UMNO Permanent  Chairman  aka Carma Type1,Tan Sri Badruddin Amiruldin.

Reacting to the latest piece of draconian legislation, the National Security Council Act which provides wide-sweeping and arbitrary powers to the prime minister, the country’s Iron Lady, former federal minister, Rafidah Aziz, has come out with a poignant and pointed critique of the state of the nation as it is conditioned by the present Prime Minister. According to her latest Facebook post:

“It shows how bad things have become…when we can no longer govern ourselves…but need all kinds of ‘laws’ to be enacted…and fences to corral us…like cattle.”

“We now have given new and distorted meanings to the concept of things such as loyalty, support, and governance.We see the young feeling disappointed. And those of my era seeing what had been painstakingly built…being chiselled away and demolished.”

According to her (and we wonder if she was not part of the problems created during the Mahathir era), what has been built by her generation of leaders has now been eroded and destroyed with the nation now entering into the global list of the bad and ugly. This whitewashing of her ‘Mahathirian’ past and demonizing of the Najib regime is clearly self-serving but many Malaysians appear willing to give it a pass, such is the depth of the present antipathy to the current leadership.

Rafidah’s impassioned plea echoes very much what the opposition, and now, Dr Mahathir, have been saying. But she has also been careful to point out – for reasons everyone is fully aware of – that she is not involved in any plot or conspiracy to discredit or topple the Prime Minister.

Hey, Politicos: What’s God got to do with it?

Rafidah must know too that she is not alone. Rival invocations for the Almighty’s intervention and wrath against those opposing the Prime Minister and his leadership, and Allah’s blessings for those in power are taking place regularly in the mosques as well as UMNO assemblies, and these are amplified by the Malay mass media.

When it comes to praying for change, she is outnumbered by those leading the prayers for the preservation of the status quo and decimation of the opposition.

It is futile for her and those of similar ilk to think that their prayers which place the country’s fate in God’s hands are in any way superior or can be more readily answered compared with those voiced by Badruddin Amiruldin, Jamil Khir, china pek Paul Low, Zakir Naik and the other assorted ‘religious’ devouts perched aloft the Barisan bandwagon.

Unfortunately too, history is replete with examples of dictators, tyrants and autocrats who have remained long in power, despite unending calls for divine intervention by the populace.

God (if He has any influence on political outcomes), it appears, favours the prayers of the strong and powerful rather than the meek and oppressed. Or perhaps God has a peculiar sense of humour and prefers to stand on the side line when it comes to the bad and evil found in the world of his creation. But it is best to leave God out of politics.

Change is in your own hands, Rafidah

When positive or negative change takes place in history, it is not due to the hidden hand of God working in mysterious ways but rather because of the actions of mortals, individually and collectively.

Besides praying, this is what Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, former UMNO Wanita leader, may want to do to ensure a better future for our younger generation:

1. A personal message of appeal to UMNO wanita leaders and members reminding of the importance of woman power in societal reform and urging them to take the lead where Malay men have failed. This message should be juxtaposed with the recent revelation by Zaid Ibrahim that the real reason why Najib remains Prime Minister, despite what has happened, is his success at creating a long line of eunuchs to serve him. According to Zaid, “They will do anything and everything for him: they fear him, and feel they are nothing without his grace and blessing. Their collective defence of their “Emperor” gives them a sense of belonging—and they are well-rewarded for their zeal.” See http://www.zaid.my/current/eunuchs-with-testicles/

Women do not have the femininity to lose and perhaps they may prove a more formidable agent of real change than men.

2. Organizing a joint appeal with past BN leaders calling on the Prime Minister to do the honourable thing and resign. There is always safety in numbers and the fact that she is held in high esteem by her Barisan Nasional colleagues makes her eminently qualified to lead the charge against Prime Minister Najib from within.

The above quote is by Malaysia’s Political God with blind spots and blemishes

There is still time – despite our rapid slide into the ranks of failed states – to undo the mess in the country. Lost money may have gone down the drain but it is replaceable. Lost national sense of integrity, decency and self respect are much harder to replace; and God will not help regain these which are lost. It is up to our leaders to own up to their mistakes and act with some sense of urgency to rectify them. At the same time, we Malaysians can no longer be content being free riders. No what has God got to with the plight of our nation since it is man made thing by Malaysians, politicians and civil society.

UMNO in Crisis

February 28, 2016

UMNO after Muhyiddin’s suspension–Leadership Crisis


Muhyiddin Blew his Chances by being Cautious–Not Prime Minister Material

COMMENT: The suspension of former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin brings reminiscences of Musa Hitam’s removal back in 1986.

Despite being an UMNO stronghold, both Johoreans suffered the same fate and lost their positions to fellow UMNO members from another state.

In an immediate response, Gerakan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia (GKCM) President Kamarulazman Habibur Rahman has warned that Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib Abdul Razak will have sleepless nights following Muhyiddin’s suspension.

The rebel UMNO group has warned that it will continue to expand its influence throughout the country.

At the same time, Pagoh UMNO Deputy Chief Ismail Mohamed has lambasted former UMNO Johor leader Hishammuddin Hussein for his role in chairing the committee to expel Muhyiddin as UMNO Deputy President.

Kamarulazman is right in that the suspension of Muhyiddin will see further infighting within the party, as currently, there are rumours that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is aiming for Najib’s position.

Unless Hishammuddin’s faction fights back, the more gentlemanly MP of Sembrong, who is also grandson of the founder of UMNO, Onn Jaafar, and son of former prime minister Hussein Onn, will be the next sacrificial lamb from the state of Johor.

Unlikely to remain quiet

After a brief stint of silence, Muhyiddin has turned on the heat on Najib lately. After his suspension, it is unlikely that he will remain silent.

While still holding the post as UMNO Deputy President, Muhyiddin would be careful not to cause any damage to UMNO; now that he has been suspended from UMNO, and his entire career has been ruined, Muhyiddin will be likely to fight back.

His struggle is not alone, as there are veterans such as former international trade and industry Rafidah Aziz who will continue to speak up.Other veterans may also join in the foray after seeing Muhyiddin being suspended, without even Muhyiddin being called to defend himself.

Under normal circumstances, such a suspension should have been carried out by the disciplinary board, but in this instance, its chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail has remained silent.

A fellow disciplinary board member, Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas has previously weighed in on Saifuddin Abdullah’s attendance at a Pakatan Harapan event in September last year.

It is unclear whether Megat Najmuddin or Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen is the current chairperson of the board, as various news reports quoted Megat Najmuddin as the chairperson, although UMNO legal adviser Hafarizam Harun later clarified that Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen is still the chairperson.

Mahathir’s faction beefing up

Getting stronger by the day

It appears that after the expose, the 1MDB scandal has contributed to the animosity within UMNO more than before.

When former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also started asking critical questions, and Najib remained silent, all hell broke loose for Najib. Few may agree with Dr Mahathir, but when the octogenarian started throwing mud at Najib, the 90-year-old former UMNO President suddenly became a hero once again.

Even I am inclined to think that he is trying to dismantle the fortress that he had built over the years, which keeps Najib’s position secure despite being a weak leader himself.

Dr Mahathir’s camp, especially former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief Kadir Jasin, will surely not cease from harping on Najib.

One of Dr Mahathir’s henchmen, Matthias Chang, has predicted that there will be a change of guard soon, when he asked, “The next Deputy Prime Minister – will he be Nazri, Hishammuddin or the outsider Tengku Adnan?”

Chang has put together several scenarios, one of which is for Zahid to “execute a coup d’etat against Najib before he is disposed because Najib realises that with each passing day, Zahid Hamidi can only get stronger and stronger and gather his palace guards for the coup d’etat.”

There is more to come, but the situation can only get worse. Meanwhile, the country’s economic slowdown will take the bite as investors’ confidence has dropped.

Umno Team B’s other alternative

Unlike the 1987 split in UMNO, where team B led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah later formed Semangat 46, now UMNO’s team B has in place a much stronger opposition.

The question of loyalty to UMNO will once again be raised, especially since the infighting within UMNO can only mean either Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, Hishammuddin or Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

UMNO will not change very much in its culture, until it has been brought to its heel. As pointed out by former Bersih 2.0 co-chair, Ambiga Sreeneevasan, corruption at the highest level carries on regardless of the exposes.

UMNO has become indifferent to the people’s suffering as highlighted by Bukit Lanjan state assemblyperson Elizabeth Wong during her recent Chinese New Year speech.

UMNO, as it is, even with a new line of leadership under Zahid, will not be able to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

If going by Kamarulazman’s statement that the group will cooperate with anyone to achieve its mission, perhaps it is time for re-alignment of forces to start a new Malaysia, where people of all races and religions will work side by side as fellow Malaysians, and the poor will not face discriminated due to race, religion or creed.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

Malaysia: The Crony Attorney-General has plenty to answer for dereliction of public duty

January 29, 2016

Malaysia: The Crony Attorney-General has plenty to answer for dereliction of public duty



The controversy over the decision not to charge the Prime Minister for any wrongdoing in the RM2.6 billion donation saga continued today when a member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) review panel questioned why the Attorney-General (A-G), Apandi Ali, did not help investigators in the probe.

Lim Chee Wee said the A-G was legally obliged to explain why he did not facilitate MACC’s request to access foreign bank statements through the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), to check on the money trail of the RM2.6 billion which was credited into Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts. This, he said, was to dispel any speculation of a cover-up.

Lim, the former Malaysian Bar President, said the A-G was also wrong to order the anti-graft body to close its investigations, adding that his power was only to decide whether to prosecute or not.

He said it was “arguable” that the A-G was legally obliged to provide assistance to MACC through MLA.


“The A-G is equally obliged in law to explain why he is not facilitating MACC’s investigations of the money trail of RM2.6 billion as disclosed by MACC in its 31 December 2015 press statement, by providing his consent for Mutual Legal Assistance which would allow MACC access to bank statements of banks operating overseas, through which the funds moved.

“Again this would help dispel the speculation of a cover-up by A-G and that the alleged donation is allegedly KWAP money,” Lim said, referring to the pension fund, in a statement today.

He added that the A-G was also under legal obligation to give detailed and satisfactory reasons to the public as to why he disagrees with the recommendation of any law enforcement agency, more so when the investigation involves a high profile suspect, for example a Prime Minister.

“For instance, A-G at his press conference held up a flowchart which showed the flow and utilisation of the funds of the alleged donation.Having done so and regardless, he should give details of the alleged donation and return of part of the donation, and alleged proper use of part of the donation, by assuring the public that he is satisfied with the existence and substantive truth of documentary proof of source, movement and return of funds, and that the funds were not used for personal benefit, for example it was not used to pay for credit card expenses, which is currently the subject of speculation,” Lim added.

Lim also called on the public to assure the A-G of their support to uphold his oath of office, adding that the support of the Malaysian people was worth more than one individual.

“The A-G’s decision to prosecute or not to prosecute can be challenged by any taxpayer in any courtroom, or questioned by anyone in any living room, meeting room, boardroom, or even coffee shop.In other words, A-G does not have absolute discretion in his prosecutorial powers, this is the legal position in Malaysia, Singapore and United Kingdom.

“The A-G must not be fearful of the power nor position of any individual and whilst he may suffer the same fate as his predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Gani if he were to prosecute, he has the support of the public and more importantly he will be upholding his oath of office,” Lim said, referring to the earlier A-G who was removed from office at the height of the investigations into the alleged financial scandal involving the Prime Minister.

To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense

January 20, 2016

To UMNO Prime Minister–Enough of Islamic State Nonsense, that’s Mahathirism-Anwarism-Dollah Kok Lanasism(1986)

by Dr.Clive Kessler


That the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu, of Malay ascendancy and primacy and domination, is a key principle of the Constitution, one that is deeply and pervasively embedded throughout its many clauses and pages? Simply, that this claim is a crude “try-on.” An outrageous, and outrageously over-reaching, “ambit claim.”A third-rate “con job.”One that could persuade only the ignorant.And that is precisely to whom it is these days addressed and targeted.–Dr.Clive Kessler

Enough of this nonsense! Enough already! Malaya and then Malaysia was created as a secular nation. Denial of this basic fact has become commonplace in recent times.

Malaysia-What's wrong

Ketuanan Melayu –First Order Political Bunkum

The pioneers in promoting the revisionist myth that there was or is nothing secular in the nation’s origins or about its Constitution have been the creative legal innovators and myth-makers of the PPMM: Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia (Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association) –- notably Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar — and their like-minded associates in CENTHRA, the Putrajaya-based and Saudi-friendly Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy, headed by on Azril Mohd Amin.

Their lead is followed, and their disruptive views are echoed, by a horde of Utusan Malaysia scribes and ideologues and, in their wake, a claque of well-connected writers and publicists and ambitious politicos. In the absence of any clear refutation, their increasingly unchallenged view now threatens to become “the default position”, the received and undeniable truth.

But are they right?  In short, no. And for three main reasons.

1.  The explicit and the implicit.

A key and basic tenet of their position is that the word “secular” can nowhere be found in the Constitution. Therefore, they hold, the Constitution and nation cannot be secular. It is in no way tainted in even the slightest way by any suggestion of secularist principles or ideas.

And since it — the word — cannot be found there, and since Article 3 affirms that, in its public international personality, Islam is the emblematic religion of the state, then (so they argue) Malaysia must be, on core constitutional and historical grounds, an Islamic state — or, at the very least, one that has been authoritatively launched from birth on an irrevocable path towards becoming an Islamic state based upon Shariah law.


Malaysia-Secular and Diverse Constitutional Democracy with a Monarch for All

Some now even go further. They now argue that, since Article 3 is allegedly “the best known” article of the Constitution in public consciousness (on what grounds or empirical evidence they claim this they do not say), it follows that Article 3 is the key or central article of the Constitution as a whole and that, in resolving all contested matters, Article 3 (in their own strong, revisionist sense of its meaning) takes precedence over and must “trump” all other legal arguments and considerations and constitutional niceties.

Is this supposed primacy of Article 3 explicit? No. Just implicit, implied, inferred.These authors are in fact very familiar with the idea of the explicit and the implicit, of what is tersurat and what is also tersirat, what is in the words and what is behind them, “between the lines.”

These same authors and creative doctrinal and Constitutional myth-makers are elsewhere quite happy to argue that the controversial idea of Ketuanan Melayu — which did not exist when the basis and terms of the Constitution were negotiated between 1955 and 1957, and which only achieved currency after it was coined by Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad (aka Dollah Kok Lanas) in 1986 — is a foundational principle of the Constitution.

How do they argue this?They say that, while the term itself is not used and does not appear explicitly in the Constitution, the idea is there, implicit and immanent, in Article 153 (the “Malay special rights” provision) and in the web of meanings linking that Article to other related articles of the Constitution.

The idea, they insist, is there behind the words and between the lines.They cannot find it there explicitly. They impute its presence, and in that way “build back” this post-1986 idea into the foundational meaning and conceptual texture of the Constitution. Even though the word itself cannot be found there!

On these inferred or imputed grounds they insist that Ketuanan Melayu is a key constitutional principle, that it is, and always has been, a part of the “social contract” that enabled the Constitution to be adopted and promulgated — and that people are now obliged in perpetuity to uphold that constitutionally “retrofitted” principle or doctrine as part of the nation’s founding “social contract”: as a key principle of the nation’s core official character and identity.

The stark contrast of approach here in these two related matters (their anti-secularist, pro-Islamic state reading of Article 3 and the imputing or inferring of Ketuanan Melayu as constitutionally based and embedded) proves one thing: that their ways of arguing are not consistent and principled but arbitrary and opportunistic.That is no basis for solemn and serious Constitutional reasoning.

2.  History

Article 3 does not say that Malaysia is a secular nation, but it does say that Islam is its official emblematic religion: therefore Malaysia is in no way secular. On far stronger and clearer Constitutional grounds, it can be said to be Islamic: even an Islamic state, or one in the making.

That is the revisionist position. It is one that is ignorant of history.It is one that is even based upon a wilful refusal to acknowledge the history of the Constitution and its origins in the so-called “Merdeka Process” and “Merdeka Agreements.”

To serious scholars the facts are clear and well-known.That the ideologues and revisionists do not care to accept them is another matter. But not one that adds any credence to their position or authority to their arguments.

The entire “Merdeka Process” was quite explicitly about creating Malaya as a modern, progressive, democratic and secular nation.

For a while it was thought that the word secular might be used explicitly in its Constitution. But, to allow for certain Malay sensibilities (including the fairly widespread Malay misunderstanding of the term “secular” as meaning or entailing “atheistic”), it was decided that the idea would be left unsaid — largely because it did not need to be spelled out.

But the secular idea was basic to the emerging Constitution and pervasive within it. The proposed basis of nationhood could not be seen or understood as anything but a modern secular Constitution: one that sought and was designed to create a progressive nation prospectively grounded in the popular sovereignty of its people, all of its people.

Nor, equally, in a balanced way, was there to be any formal mention of Islam as a key principle in the Constitution. This, it was felt, would add further weight to the Constitution’s and the nation’s secular, plural, inclusive and democratic character.

This was how things stood until the final evening of the long drafting deliberations of the Reid Commission. That was what the members of the Commonwealth-based Commission had thrashed out and agreed upon.

Suddenly, at the last moment, something happened.Some say that he had been lobbied heavily. Others say that a personally bitter argument erupted over Kashmir between the Indian member of the Commission, Judge B. Malik, and the Pakistani member, Judge Halim Abdul Hamid.

At all events, on the last evening the Pakistani member broke ranks. He would no longer be bound by the agreements already reached.  The Constitution might remain implicitly secular, he conceded, but there should be some mention of Islam as the formally emblematic religion of the new state, as part of its international identity and personality in the world family of nations.

Held over a barrel, and with their bags already packed, the other members of the Commission agreed to accommodate Judge Halim Abdul Hamid’s last-minute requirement — on the understanding that the added affirmation was to be purely nominal or symbolic: that it would have no flow-on effects upon any other Constitutional matters, and that it would not compromise or diminish (as had been agreed in extended discussions) the modern, democratic and secular character of the Constitution as a whole and of the nation to be founded upon it.

On that basis, and with little choice in the matter in the face of one man’s sudden intractability, the other members of the Commission agreed to Judge Abdul Hamid’s extraordinary last-minute requirement.

But what is significant now is not the dramatic personal ins-and-outs of the Reid Commission and its workings.It is what followed from that last minute accommodation of Judge Abdul Hamid’s exercise of a shock, peremptory veto.

Many, especially the negotiators for UMNO’s partner parties, were deeply disquieted by this last-minute development. So they sought and received formal assurances — which, on the grounds that they were sincerely meant and offered and so would remain binding, they accepted.

This assurance was approved and issued by Tun Abdul Razak, on behalf of UMNO and his successors who would later lead it, in the form of a document (now a key part of the official collection of British government published documents recording the decolonization process in Malaya) that was intended as a codicil, or accompanying explanatory document, to the Constitution itself — and specifying the terms of the agreement of all parties to it.

As is well-known, the Alliance Memorandum stated that “although the religion of Malaysia would be Islam, the observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion, and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State.”

If there is any such thing as a Malayan and Malaysian “social contract” by which people remain bound, this is surely a key part of it. “Pacta servanda sunt” is a key principle of law: solemn agreements are to be solemnly observed and punctiliously upheld.

Those who these days loudly shout that “the social contract” must be respected and that it entails, and has always entailed, general acceptance by all Malaysians (and especially non-Malays), in perpetuity, of the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu would do well to recall and abide by that obligation here in this matter.

They owe it not only to others, especially their non-Malay and non-Muslim fellow citizens.They owe it to themselves, if they are to live honourably and honestly and decently with their own recent political past — with themselves.

3.  Context.

To assess accurately whether or not Malaysia is foundationally a secular or an Islamic state, it helps to consider its Constitution.Not just legally, in lawyer-like manner, clause by clause but more broadly. Historically.

In the light of comparative political and Constitutional and social and intellectual history.There is no need to try to hunt down, as the decisive and tell-tale indicator, whether the word “secular” appears in its political or conceptual lexicon.And there is no need to get too fancy or philosophical about this matter.

All one has to ask is:

What kind of a Constitution is Malaysia’s?

Is it culturally and doctrinally and conceptually a Buddhist Constitution?

Is it a Hindu Constitution?

Is it an Islamic Constitution?

The answer is no, three times no.

What is it then? It is a modern, liberal-democratic Constitution.A modern Constitution, born of a modern and progressive and largely secular age, one that is couched in secular terms, and formed upon secularist assumptions.There is no other way to understand or classify or to typify it.

It was drafted and promulgated and enacted as the modern Constitution of, and for the continuing growth and development of, a modern, progressive, inclusive, pluralistic but cohesive, and secular society and nation.

A Constitution that — while it acknowledges and finds an honoured place for the ancient royal mystique and semi-sacred aura of its traditional Malay rulers, for their world-focusing daulat — was nevertheless founded upon the consent of its many and diverse subjects; meaning, on the principle of “popular sovereignty” (here the modern Malay word, often confusingly, is kedaulatan).But remember, as one always must, that daulat and kedaulatan, despite their being linguistically and etymologically cognate terms, are two entirely different things.

They are born of, stem from, and are anchored within two entirely distinct, different and mutually incommensurate universes of political meaning.The Rulers have daulat, the nation is built upon and (like all modern nations) is an expression of the sovereignty of its people.

That is where modern political legitimacy comes from.The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is a Constitution that rests upon and which affirms the principle of popular sovereignty.That is what modern Constitutions and nations are. That is their “ontology”.

And, yes, Malaysia’s Federal Constitution is — or was by initial intention and design — a secular Constitution. One for a society that was, or was to become, an increasingly secular nation.

One that would not be hostile to religion but hospitable and equitably hospitable to religious and human diversity.Malaysia and its Constitution were incontrovertibly established as secular, on secular foundations and principles and assumptions.The struggle these days — and it is now no easy struggle — is to keep it that way.

4.  In conclusion

So what can one say about the claim that Malaysia is not, and never was and was never intended to be, a secular state? That its Constitution is not secular and makes no provision or space for secular principles?

That Article 3 establishes Malaya and Malaysia as, at least prospectively but irrevocably, an Islamic state operating on the basis of Shariah law? That the doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu, of Malay ascendancy and primacy and domination, is a key principle of the Constitution, one that is deeply and pervasively embedded throughout its many clauses and pages?

Simply, that this claim is a crude “try-on.”An outrageous, and outrageously over-reaching, “ambit claim.”A third-rate “con job.”One that could persuade only the ignorant.And that is precisely to whom it is these days addressed and targeted.

Dr. Clive Kessler is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Thanks, Tawfik for Speaking up to Dr. Mahathir on my behalf

November 8, 2015

G25Tawfik Ismail

Tawfik Tun Dr. Ismail

COMMENT: Thanks, Tawfik for speaking up to Dr. Mahathir on my behalf. It is quite well known among my generation of Malaysians that your great father and my favorite politician, Tun Dr. Ismail B. Abdul Rahman, had a hand in the sacking of the 1969 UMNO Young Turks, also known as UMNO ultras, who included Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Musa Hitam  from the party. It took Tun Abdul Razak, Najib’s illustrious father and our Second Prime Minister, to reinstate them in UMNO.

I also know that because of this, Dr. Mahathir never gave you the opportunity to advance your political career. As a result, UMNO lost a budding leader gifted with guts and character. While he may be a man who bear grudges on his sleeves (for example he never forgot the Singapore taxi driver who insulted him), Tun Dr. Mahathir is someone who cannot accept anyone who does not pander to his whims and fancies, and who has the courage of conviction to speak up. So  I am not surprised that during the G25 meeting with him, he and you crossed swords again.

You are your father’s son and I am proud that you told him what you thought with no holds barred. Tun Dr. Mahathir distorted the original intentions of the New Economic Policy, destroyed the Constitution, and created UMNO crony capitalism. He also mentored Najib Tun Razak and laid the ground work for his rise to the premiership, perhaps out of gratitude to Tun Abdul Razak who brought him back to UMNO and paved the way for his own political advancement. Today, he has a change of heart and is hell bent to make that his pupil is thrown out of office. –Din Merican

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Tawfik Ismail Encounter at G25 Meeting

by Anisah Shukry

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin met the G25 Group of moderates and tried to seek help in their fight against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, group member Tawfik Ismail has revealed.

The son of Malaysia’s Second Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman said the G25, however, took a non-partisan position and would not get involved in such a matter.

Tawfik said former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin had summoned G25 for a meeting in September and told them of his unhappiness with Najib’s leadership and how he had come to be in his current position.

“And then he asked us how we could help. We said, well, first of all, we don’t think we are inclined to take sides in politics. We’re non-partisan. And we told him we felt that he and Dr Mahathir were not the right people to fight Najib. He was a bit taken aback, asked me to explain. So I said, you know, for every dart that you throw at Najib, Najib throws two darts back,” said Tawfik, adding that the constant barbs between both sides would just confuse the public.

He said Muhyiddin was told that the ills should be taken up by the young, who were going to inherit the country, and mentioned as examples UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin, PKR Youth Chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and DAP leader Liew Chin Tong.

“These are the young up-and-coming leaders who have a bigger stake in what happens in the future than Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin and Najib,” said Tawfik.

G25 also told Muhyiddin that by taking sides, they would not be able to perform their role of bringing moderation back to Malaysia, as they would be alienating certain segments of society.

“That’s what we told Muhyiddin. We need to have contacts with all our grassroots and we cannot do it if we are partisan.It’s best for us to bring the current players back to the centre. Because if you can’t get rid of them, you might as well change them,” Tawfik said of the group’s conversation with Muhyiddin, who was dropped as deputy prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle in late July, after openly questioning Najib over alleged financial scandals in his brainchild 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and the RM2.6 billion deposited into his bank accounts.

Council of Elders

The Malaysian Insider interviewed Tawfik in conjunction with the release of Drifting into Politics, a collection of writings by Dr Ismail himself and of which Tawfik is a co-editor with academic Ooi Kee Beng. It was also the 100th birth anniversary of Dr Ismail on November 4.

The G25 began as a group of 25 retired civil servants who late last year penned an open letter to the government appealing for a return to moderation and for rational dialogue on the position and application of Islam in laws and national policy.

The group has since grown in number and comments on issues involving race and religion while advocating moderation. Dr Mahathir, during the meeting with the G25 to discuss Islam and the constitution earlier this year, had tried to steer the topic to 1MDB and began attacking the government, said Tawfik.

“So I told him we’re here about Islam, not talk about politics. But he kept on insisting. Then I told him, if you get rid of Najib, who are you going to replace him with? And what makes you think he would be any better?

“He said, ‘well, you know, the person who succeeds him will be guided by a council of elders’,” said Tawfik.

However, Tawfik said he could not accept such an argument, as it would be undemocratic to have an unelected council of elders dictating the Prime Minister.

He said Dr Mahathir had also criticised Najib over the money that the Prime Minister allegedly lost.

“So I countered back, from the time you were prime minister to the time you retired, if I took all of your losses and counted it to present day values, I’m sure it will be more than what was lost in 1MDB.And then everybody around the table was stunned because they didn’t expect that confrontation,” said Tawfik, adding that the meeting ended with their argument.

The former UMNO lawmaker admitted that he did not hold Dr Mahathir in high regard and blamed the former Prime Minister and his policies for the current state Malaysia was in.He said Dr Mahathir had undone the work of Dr Ismail and Malaysia’s founding fathers in his desire to cling to power.

Racial issues only started when Dr Mahathir became increasingly concerned about “Malay rights” and began using the other races as a scapegoat to unite the Malays, said Tawfik.

Malaysia’s increasing “Islamisation” could also be traced back to Dr Mahathir’s attempts to counter the influence of PAS, he added.Ultimately, Dr Mahathir’s successors were only striking out on the path that he had carved himself, said Tawfik.

“Najib may be the son of (Tun) Abdul Razak, but, politically, he is the son of (Dr) Mahathir.”