Should you 'migrate' from Malaysia? - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, October 02, 2017
Malaysiakini: Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble, An' if I stay it will be double, So come on and let me know. - The Clash (Should I Stay or Should I Go)
COMMENT | Former law minister
Zaid Ibrahim stirred the hornet’s nest (and God bless him, I say) when
he urged young Malays to migrate and the usual cries of “stay and fight”
could be heard throughout the echo chambers, which is the alternative
press. Lordy, the whole issue reeks of hypocrisy that I want to spend more time on the Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) website because, at least there, the editors justify everything in the name of the kind of Islam they advocate.
By the way, my friends at Isma, if some random dude brings his fugly
dog into a self-service launderette and this apparently goes against the
dogma of the Islam you advocate, then the answer is not Muslims-only
launderettes but ‘No Pets Allowed’ signs. See, problem solved. You are
Anyway, back to Zaid (photo). Here is the gist of what he wrote
– “So I urge young Malays to plan their lives properly. Don’t make the
same mistake I did. Malaysia is a sick Muslim country that teaches you
the wrong things.
“News are classified by the government as fake or real, depending on
whether they like them or not. Corruption and abuse of power are
glorified, while beer festivals are held up as an example of evil.
Muslim scholars don’t like gays and liberals, although gays and liberals
are God’s creations too. “They will continue to make you intellectually poor by stifling you,
giving you no freedom to grow and develop your minds. London is the
place for you to migrate to. Many Malays are already making their homes
here. Bring your family out and join them.”
Please note the words, “young Malays”. Now, how many times have we
seen non-Malays telling their young to leave the country for the very
reasons Zaid articulates? How many times have we been witnessed to
confessionals by non-Malays who have left and met with a chorus of
approvals and anonymous posters slagging off the country? How many times
have we heard of non-Malay politicians, activists and do-gooders
holding PR (permanent resident) status in other countries? How many
Indian Malaysians have their PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) cards “just
Indeed, when young James Chai wrote
his piece about staying put in Malaysia, the Malaysian social network
scene was filled with non-Malay folks who took a collective dump on what
he wrote and again talked about how this country was an Islamic manure
hole (or heading in that direction) and the non-Malays should abandon
this ‘no hope’ country.
So why it is when Zaid advocates something mainstream that non-Malays
tell their young to do and for the same reasons, we get anguished
pieces of how “people should stay and fight”? I do not know about other Malaysiakini columnists but I get a
whole lot of mail, most often in Malay, from young people who are in
the front lines and do not get the help they need from politicians who
seem more interested in dethroning PM Najib Razak rather than ensuring
our rights are defended.
When people make statements like “stay and fight for our rights”, I
genuinely have no idea what these vague pronouncements mean. As long as
we do not have politicians like Zaid, who make their views clear and
demonstrate a propensity to not engage in the strategy that the
opposition thinks will get them into Putrajaya, the more the efforts of the children of folks like Malaysiakini columnist FA Abdul will be in vain.
Lunatic voice of reason
When you are a Muslim like Zaid going against Islamic
state-sanctioned groupthink, you cannot change your social settings on
your social media account, because his acts of defiance are more than
just proudly wearing a Metallica T-Shirt in a mosque but actions that
could cause him his freedom. It is one thing to not conform to the norms in your social circle and
another to defy the mainstream political norms of the country, go
against the rather dumb strategy of your political alliance of choice
and remain the lunatic voice of reason in a sea of political
Fa Abdul’s children are the beneficiaries of the compromises older
Malaysians made because we blindly followed establishment narratives of
what this country is. Fa Abdul’s children continue to deal with these
problems because we do not question the narratives and strategies of the
All this, of course, brings us back to the question: should
Malaysians abandon this country? So, yeah, people say stay and fight for
their rights but the real question is, are there political parties that
do that? Are they Malay/Muslim politicians and their non-Malay/Muslim
allies who Malaysians could point to and say, “They are the line in the
sand against Islamic and racial extremism”?
If you want people to stay and fight for their rights, you must be
able to demonstrate that staying and fighting is something that is
worthwhile. We are not yet at the stage where you can point to
incremental changes (elsewhere) and say that this is progress. We are a
developed country with narratives that are evidence that religious and
racial plurality is something we had, but lost like many Islamic state
narratives in countries all over the Middle East.
Do not for one minute think that just because you are living in an
urban bubble that your safe spaces are immune from the transgression of
Islamic extremists. What you consider safe spaces is, in reality, a
boxing-in strategy of extremists interested in playing the long game.
The problem is that this goal of saving Malaysia from a kleptocracy does not deal with the real issue of Islamic extremism and ‘ketuanan’
politics. People do not leave their homelands because they have corrupt
politicians. People leave their homelands because of religious and
racial extremism. Malaysia has not reached that stage where our lives
are at risk. However, this does not mean that we should be foolish
enough to believe that that will not happen.
We have had racial riots. We are now a target of the Islamic State.
We have a compromised ruling establishment and an opposition strategy
that is to conform to the game Umno has played all these years and
people hope that this will change if they get federal power.
People who ask Malaysians to stay and fight should ask themselves:
will Malay/Muslim politicians go against the conventional Islamic
groupthink to safeguards these “rights” that would really save Malaysia
from becoming just another statistic in a failed state column?
Add to these non-Malay politicians who would support the efforts of
these Islamists in the name of Asian values or the social contract.
People often say that politicians are using religion to divide this
country, but nobody wants to acknowledge that, especially in the
peninsula, there are many Malays who believe in the Islamic dogma that
the state advocates and also support the various Malay power structures
and brokers in the opposition.
If you want people to stay and fight for their rights, you have to
make it clear that those rights are not negotiable and “fighting” for
these rights means not engaging in politics that erode these rights.
Look, Malaysians just want to live in peace, but if the people insist
on turning this country into (in Zaid’s words) a “sick Muslim country,
which teaches you the wrong things”, I do not think it right to ask
young Malaysians not to migrate if you can’t back up your fighting words