Malaysiakini : “And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as
being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in
the native land of the hypocrite.” - Oscar Wilde, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’
| The cancellation of Fa Abdul’s play 'Sex in Georgetown City' (later
renamed 'Love in Georgetown City'), is the kind of fascist tactic that
most Malaysians should be horrified with, but which goes unnoticed
because people do not understand how religious extremists count on small
wins to achieve a big victory.
I read Pravindharan Balakrishnan’s letter to Malaysiakini about
the cancellation of the play and marvelled at how Pravindharan talked
about “functionalism,” our education system and conflicting normative
values, which made it sound like we were at a tea party instead of a
knife fight in an alley, which is exactly what the fight against
religious extremism is in this country.
It is ridiculous talking
about our screwed-up education system when the reality is that in
Penang, for instance, the state government, which likes to claim it
believes in secular values, has made it a point to out-spend
the previous state government when it comes to Islamic funding. Just
last year when Lim Guan Eng was still chief minister, he crowed that
RM4.11 million to Islamic affairs showed that the state government did
not neglect the welfare of Malays and Islam in the state.
made this point numerous times. When you fund organisations that promote
a specific kind of Islamic narrative, what you get are religious bigots
and extremists, probably enjoying gorging on state coffers, spouting
religious propaganda to clamp down on our public space and define public
So when the Penang mufti. objecting to a play he did not
see because of its original title, says this - “Art and entertainment
activities that are left uncontrolled will only lead to the destruction
of humankind” – what we are left with is not a religious operative
attempting to crack down on our public space, but rather
state-sponsored, state-funded and state-sanctioned religious thuggery,
that is attempting to define art and what is acceptable discourse in our
Forget functionalism, this is about fascism. This
is also about lies and hypocrisy. Both of which are the currency
extremists trade in. Penang PAS Youth information chief Ahmad Shafian
Ujar claimed that this play will lead to ‘free sex, baby dumping, drugs and other social issues.”
community is he representing? I did not see Christian, Hindu or
Buddhist religious operatives protesting this play. So he’s there not
for the non-Malays, but for the Malay community, the Islamic community.
does this say about these social issues? It tells us that these "social
problems" are more prevalent in areas where religious dogma is public
policy This is a fact. Now, those places, I am sure, are not staging
English-language productions with titles such as 'Sex in Kota Bharu.'
when this religious operative blames the DAP state government for not
cracking down on plays like this, I blame the Penang state government
for continuing to outspend BN in furthering the agenda of religious
intolerance and for failing to redefine the Malay/Muslim agenda in
That RM4.11 million could have been spent on bolstering
educational initiatives for young Malays and after-school secular
activities for Malay students, instead of funnelling money to the
Islamic affairs bureaucracy which, let me guess, has no state oversight.
This is what people mean when they say that Pakatan Harapan is not
changing the narrative.
Drenched with sex
is the hypocrisy. These religious types always like to make it seem as
if non-Malays are obsessed with sex. Even though this particular play
was written and produced by a Muslim, the implication is that these
so-called liberal values are always attached to “sex”. The reality is
that the Malay/Muslim media is drenched with sex. The Malay press
reports endlessly on the sex lives of celebrities. They report endlessly
on the sexual activities of the average Malay rakyat.
readership laps up these stories. For all this talk about banning plays
and works of literature by these religious hoodlums, what is in the
Malay media is the constant exploration, or should that be exploitation,
One of the protesters of Fa Abdul’s play was worried that the LGBTQ agenda would be propagated by her play. How about this? A couple of months ago, Malay-language daily Kosmo! ran a cover story title – ‘Terseksa jadi hamba seks teman serumah’ (Coerced into becoming sex-slave of housemate). For the record, I am not an avid Kosmo!
reader. I have many young Malay friends who pass me this kind of news
stories because to them it demonstrates the hypocrisy in their
This particular story is about how a young Malay male
named Zach, in a loving heterosexual relationship with Shira, is
blackmailed into committing homosexual sex acts with his housemate,
Fariz, after the latter lends him money which he cannot pay back.
I have not seen Fa Abdul’s play, but this rencana utama
(lead story) seems to me something our moral guardians would latch
onto. I am curious though: if someone is blackmailed into committing
homosexual sex acts, is it still a religious crime? After all, Zach thought this was a test from god - Dia juga mengakui lebih positif dan menganggap perkenalannya dengan Fariz adalah ujian daripada Tuhan.
How does someone get coerced into committing homosexual acts?
Apparently, he could not repay his loan, so he had sex in lieu of
repayment. Then the guy records their sex acts and blackmails him for
And Zach eventually reconciled his relationship with Fariz as a test from god - Dia juga mengakui lebih positif dan menganggap perkenalannya dengan Fariz adalah ujian daripada Tuhan.
Why isn't there a clamour to shut down Kosmo!?
Because our moral guardians are more interested in clamping down the
public space in urban areas than in the Malay/Muslim public space?
Or maybe they just understand that life is stranger than fiction.
Malaysiakini : ADUN SPEAKS | Nobody expected
that PAS, which once boasted of providing an alternative political
system based on the principles of Islam, would go down the drain under
the weight of corruption, cover-ups and lies.
Its leaders have been exposed as corrupt individuals who would condone lying if it serves their narrow political interests. The withdrawal of the defamation suit and settlement against Sarawak Report
editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown merely confirmed that PAS had received
RM90 million from Umno just before the last general election.
Although its president Abdul Hadi Awang gave a detailed statement
in a London court about the confession of the party’s central committee
member Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz, yet in Malaysia, he pretended that he
had not heard the recording. The out-of-court settlement in the UK
with Rewcastle-Brown was another way of admitting that PAS actually had
no case against her.
Further, the failure of PAS to expunge the
actual statement from the article was proof beyond doubt that the party
had accepted money from Umno. Hadi’s meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad last Friday and the promise that PAS would not support Umno in the Semenyih by-election was an attempt to wiggle out of a tight situation.
PAS and its leadership are in deep trouble. Its leaders have been painted as corrupted and a bunch of liars. The
luxurious lifestyle of its leaders has been exposed to the public. In
short, the artificial religious moral order that its leaders created
have fallen flat. The party is in shambles.
Nobody trusts that
Hadi, being such an opportunistic person, would stick to his promise to
Mahathir that he would not support Umno in the coming by-election. He
is too deceptive and slippery to be trusted. Even after receiving funds
from Umno, Hadi would not think twice of betraying Umno. Umno deserves
PAS and vice-versa.
A new twist
A few days
after Hadi’s meeting with Mahathir, PAS leaders have come out with a new
story, saying that they met up with Mahathir to reassure their support in case there is a vote of non-confidence against the prime minister by members of the other Pakatan Harapan component parties.
This is another preposterous lie by PAS leaders to cover up their moral decadence.
is no such thing as other Harapan component parties trying to
destabilise Mahathir. It is merely a figment of the wild imagination of
PAS leaders trying to ingratiate themselves with Mahathir.
recent U-turns by PAS leaders is a fear that the party is losing its
political relevance in the country. Lies, corruption and opportunism are
undermining the party from within. If its leaders can condone
lies in the name of religion, then there is no stopping the party from
condoning other nefarious activities.
Amongst PAS leaders, there
is fear of being investigated and the party deregistered for indulging
in corruption. They do not have much choice other than to fall at the
feet of Mahathir.
Such is the saga of the party that sought to
provide a religious political alternative to Umno, but in the end,
replicated its adversary by indulging in vices.
Vote PSM for Semenyih - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Malaysiakini : "Kalau menang PSM berkhidmat, kalau kalah PSM masih berkhidmat.
Ini politik PSM. Tetap berkhidmat untuk rakyat. (If we win PSM will
serve. If we lose, PSM will still serve. That is PSM's politics. It will
always serve the people.)" - Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul
Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul's story is a familiar one when it comes to why
people join Parti Sosialis Malaysia. Working for an NGO when he first
came across PSM, he was impressed by their dedication to the rakyat.
As the PSM candidate for the coming Semenyih by-election,
he is doing everything you would expect from a candidate of a political
party that has always demanded real change, but has been failing at the
He has declared his assets and agreed to a debate.
The latter is a tiresome prospect because there are no real political
debates – even in the West – where it is all about personality and not
But, hey, it would be interesting to see how a PSM
candidate differs from the other mainstream candidates. As for how much
he's worth, that's another story. Unlike mainstream political
hegemons, PSM does work the grassroots and work for the grassroots.
Here’s the thing about PSM activist/political operatives – winning or
losing is not the point of their struggle.
I hate it when
mainstream political operatives talk about their 'struggle,' because it
does not mean a struggle for the people they claim to represent, but
rather their struggle for political relevancy in the rigged game they
choose to play in.
But talk to any PSM member/supporter – be they Malay,
Chinese, Indian or Orang Asli – and political relevancy, though
desirable, is not the paramount concern. Their concerns
are the issues – local – facing the communities they operate in, and the
larger socioeconomic context of political hegemony at odds with a
sometimes apathetic, but most often voiceless strata of society.
Independence and service
People often talk about the 'tongkat'
(crutch) mentality of the Malay community. On the one hand, they mock
and are dismissive of the entitlements for the community. On the other,
they choose the pragmatic approach of furthering these programmes
because it is beneficial to the party of their choice.
Nik Aziz talks about being independent and continuing working as a masseur so he does not have to rely on outside funds. He
talks about using his allowance as an MP to fund a service centre to
help the people, as former PSM Sungai Siput lawmaker Dr D Michael
Jeyakumar did. He knows his work could provide him with an avenue to
learn more about the people he serves.
What we are talking about
here are ideas of independence and service which are far more important
in changing minds than whatever the mainstream political alternatives
are offering, in terms of promises of more entitlements, or using the
federal machinery to entice voters to vote for them.
Nik Aziz may
be inexperienced, but his inexperience is that of not knowing how to
work the system to his political advantage. He understands there is
something wrong with the system, and he wants to engage with it and
change it. This is why PSM candidates say that win or lose, they
will continue working for the people. They understand there are no quick
This is echoed in the interview I
did with PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan: “Though we have
lost elections, we have won many local struggles in estates, squatters,
and at work sites, and these victories keep us going. "Our track
record in the grassroots struggle cannot be challenged by any other
parties. Today, some good policies are there because of our long
Breaking the system
in Semenyih have a choice. They could opt for the mainstream political
parties embroiled in a conflict about political power, or they could
choose an independent party/individual, which could be the first small
step in breaking the dominion of the two-party system, which offers
little difference in terms of policy or modus operandi.
Suaram adviser Kua Sia Soong articulates the
need for a third progressive force in Malaysian politics: “Thus, at the
by-election in Semenyih, PSM can spearhead a long-overdue ‘Third
Progressive Force’ to offer a non-racial, progressive and sustainable
alternative to BN 1.0 and BN 2.0 for the future generations of
PSM has always had a low-key approach to political
campaigns. This is because they are not flushed with funds like the
other mainstream political parties. Now that Pakatan Harapan is in
power, no doubt the federal machinery would be mobilised to exert
influence over the elections. We can see the kind of political games
played instead of narrowing in on policy.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is playing the psywar game, by claiming that PAS will not support BN in this by-election. His
latest meeting with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is typical 'Malay'
politics, all smoke and mirrors, to cloud the issue and make partisans
focus on anything but the lacklustre candidate Harapan has put up. Keep
everyone guessing and nobody will concentrate on the issues.
knows if PAS will support Umno – although they have been voices of
support – but that's the whole point of the game. Muddy the waters, and
make it a spectacle. Hadi, of course, is doing his part to 'keep
'em guessing'. If the Malays are spooked by the power plays of the
political elite, they will cling to stability where they can find it.
Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is playing the victim
card with his close encounter of the third kind with rowdy Umno
supporters. The youth and sports minister said he would lodge a police
report about his near assault by Umno supporters.
To get an alternative narrative, read PSM Youth chief Khalid Ismath's take on the situation, as reported in the Malay Mail:
“Khalid, however, said all other Harapan leaders and ministers did not
take the path that Syed Saddiq took, pointing out that the Election
Commission has dictated far apart areas for the parties running in the
Semenyih state race.
Malaysiakini : Power is the ability to direct or prevent the current or future actions of other groups and individuals.- Moisés Naím
| One question that kept cropping up before May 9, was, could Pakatan
Harapan control Dr Mahathir Mohamad if the coalition won the election?
Harapan political operatives assured their base and fence- sitters that
there were mechanisms in place that would constrain the former prime
minister who many claimed was the architect of the kleptocracy that then
prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was leading. Very quickly after
the election, it becomes obvious that Mahathir was still playing by his
own rules and all those voices pre-election were muted, embroiled in
their own battles of grappling with a bureaucracy that was attempting to
find its new master.
Most people view Mahathir’s backtracking on
accepting Umno members as some sort of betrayal of Harapan and the
people who voted for them. But is it really a betrayal? I was not the
only one writing of how the fall of Umno would see an infusion of Umno
talent into Bersatu. I remember writing of how that this was the game
plan, that Bersatu was the lifeboat for Umno members who wanted to jump
James Chin’s 2017 article on
why Mahathir is at the centre of Malaysia’s opposition power play is
required reading for anyone who thinks that Mahathir’s moves are out of
the ordinary. In it, he not only describes the political machinations of
someone I consider the shrewdest political operator in modern Malaysian
history but also clearly articulates the reasons why Mahathir joined
the then opposition.
numerous articles, I reminded readers that we should not be naive when
it comes to backing Mahathir. As Chin rightly pointed out, the reason
Mahathir joined the opposition was not for reform but to oust Najib. The
central reason why this was feasible because it involved the Malay
political establishment which is the only power structure which matters.
Two points, Chin made (and in all modesty which I have made numerous times also) are worth revising.
“The other two pillars of the Malay establishment, the civil service
and the security forces, would also be much more likely to accept a
non-BN government with Mahathir than they would one without. The Malay
establishment has a deep fear of the DAP who many view as Chinese
chauvinists who would destroy Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) and
Ketuanan Islam (Islam supremacy) should they win government. With
Mahathir at the helm of Harapan, these fears are minimised.”
“In summary, if the defenders of the Malay establishment are forced to
hand over power to someone from outside the Umno, should it lose the
upcoming election, there is no better person than Mahathir. For them,
Mahathir simply represents an alternative Ketuanan Melayu leadership,
rather than real political reforms.”
While PAS and Umno may
attempt to continue the narrative that the “Chinese DAP" is controlling
Mahathir, what they are really worried about is that the old maverick is
slowly consolidating Bersatu’s power in the civil service and the
people see these Umno defectors as merely corrupt politicians jumping
ship but it is deeper than that. What is really happening is people with
influence in the Malay establishment and people who actually have an
understanding of how the bureaucracy works – corruption and all –
pledging allegiance to Bersatu to carry on "business as usual" to
sustain a dominant Malay power structure, which Bersatu aims to be.
which is slowly replacing Umno as the right-wing Malay party capable of
maintaining the system of patronage and privilege of the Malay
community, is not something that happened overnight. It was the game
plan from the start and if you believe that Harapan political operatives
did not know this, then they are incompetent or are just plain lying to
their base. Or maybe the base was drunk on the Kool-Aid.
Nowhere is this game plan more evident than in the recent allegations
by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer that the Harapan win
rattled senior members of the judiciary (for a whole minute) but then
they “extremely happy” when members of the old regime were elevated.
"The talk among the judicial members was that they were appointed
because of the influence of an ex-minister who they served earlier.”
the question changes from “Can Harapan control Mahathir” to “Does
Harapan want to control Mahathir?” This is really the question, right?
Voters may have been fooled by the promises of reform but does anyone
really think that the power-brokers in Harapan were fooled into thinking
that joining up with Mahathir, the creation of Bersatu and the ousting
of Najib would really bring the reform that this country needed?
about the broken promises. Look at what is happening in Harapan.
Besides a few nanny state policies, what they have been doing is
reworking the policies of the former Umno/BN regime. This goes far
beyond renaming BRIM or retaining propaganda organisations or
re-tweaking economic and social policies to give them a new spin which
is the least of our problems.
These days, the DAP seems more
interested in deflecting than in reforming, going after the MCA which
has nothing to lose by reminding DAP of its failed reform policies.
Meanwhile, PKR and Amanah are having to grapple with the fact that the
Malay establishment has very little use for them and the smarter
political operatives are already forming alliances which would be of use
in a post-Mahathir milieu.
Sure, you can point to some political
operatives who are making noises about the moves of the Harapan Grand
Poohbah but the reality is that the real power-brokers in Harapan and
their influential minions are remaining silent because they understand
that this was the nature of the bargain they made to get federal power.
upcoming Semenyih by-election is a good example of the inevitability of
the ascension of Bersatu. Even if Bersatu loses Semenyih, it more than
makes up for it with further defections from Umno. While a loss in
Semenyih may look bad perception-wise, the reality is that the Malay
establishment never relied on elections to maintain power.
may claim bragging rights if they win Semenyih but it would be worse for
them in the long run if more members jump ship and they are straddled
with an “official” alliance with PAS. People will forget the Semeyih
loss in wake of more defections and consolidating power through
defections is a game not anything as unpredictable as elections.
So to retain federal power, does anyone really think that Harapan wants to control Mahathir?
Siti Kasim: An inconvenient woman - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Malaysiakini : “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we
are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound
by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” ― Abigail Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams
| For those of us who view religious extremism, which is reaching
critical levels as the existential threat facing this country, Siti
Kasim is the raised middle finger to the religious bigots, fascist
crypto-Islamists and race supremacists who have control and influence in
Whether fighting for the rights of women,
indigenous people, the LGBTQ community or opposing radical Islam, Siti
Kasim has made herself a target for the religious bureaucracy and
political operatives in the establishment.
While most Muslims who
do not support the darker paths of Islam are content to hope for a
moderate agenda from the political and religious elite, Siti openly
advocates a progressive agenda for all Malaysians.
interview, Siti reminds us why people who read are dangerous to the
established order of things, and continues in her effort to save
Malaysia from the political and religious class who view her as a threat
to their dominion.
Siti Kasim is an inconvenient reminder that
the progressive forces in this country that could save Malaysia are
being marginalised, and that speaking truth to power is problematic in
these partisan times.
Do you think the persecution you face is based on the fact that you are a woman questioning religious dogma? Yes,
being an outspoken woman does not sit well with the patriarchy culture
of radical Islamism. Also, a woman who does not conform to their view on
how a Muslim woman should be.
How do you cope with the harassment you receive?
try to ignore and focus on my causes. Of course, I can’t run away from
reading the nasty messages sent to me, but I take it in my stride and
believe that what I am doing is right for my country and my fellow
Malaysians. The supportive messages I receive give me the strength to
continue, and I know I am on the right path. I thank God for giving me a
strong constitution to face all the negativity thrown at me.
What do you think is the Attorney-General's Chambers' (AGC) role in the current charges against you?
I am not sure what is the AGC’s role in the current charges against me. (Note:This
interview was conducted before the AGC dropped the charges against Siti
Kasim for showing her middle finger to hecklers in a forum.) From
what’s stated by OCCI Fadzil, he received the endorsement to charge me
from the previous AGC. I believe it’s selective persecution against me
by certain quarters within the government.
do you engage with Muslims who believe in the Islamist mode of thinking
and believe that sanctions against you are justified?
have no hope of engaging with them. These are people who are
indoctrinated in radical Islamism. The teachings, the mentality of which
is no different from that of Talibanism and ISIS terrorists. Only
Taliban and ISIS terrorists will sanction others for being different
from them. The only difference between them and the Taliban and ISIS is
that they have no power or weapons to carry out their threats. When they
have those, the country will be torn asunder.
Yet our government
does not seem to realise that we have a serious terrorist mentality bred
with extreme prejudice inside our society, which needs to be
eradicated. This is a serious problem today.
participating in and leading terrorist organisations all around the
world. We have groups like Skuad Badar, which is nothing more than a
terrorist organisation without weapons terrorising people. We have
people like Amri Che Mat and Pastor Koh disappearing in plain daylight
and never to be heard again. We should be terrified. Not talking about
it is not going to make it go away. We need to tackle it head-on with
Does being a "liberal" Muslim who appeals to a
certain demographic bring with it more problems when engaging in the
Islamic discourse? It should not be. Remember our Rukun Negara has
the word 'liberal' in it, and it was written by Malay leadership at a
time when Malay society needed to progress. In fact, most of the liberal
Muslims I know have more knowledge about the Quran than the majority of
the Malay population because liberals read more on their own and don't
depend on the cleric class to tell them about their religion.
Do you think that Mujahid Yusof Rawa (photo) is doing enough to offer a counter-narrative in the Islamic discourse in this country?
They are still not facing the fact that our religious-bent Malaysian
education system is delivering to us every year a more radicalised
Islamist generation who are intolerant and increasingly militant in
mindset. It is no surprise that PAS is increasing in strength, and Umno
has to be more radical Islamist than before in order to gain Malay
votes. We need to change this mindset by changing education to go
back to our secular humanist roots. The roots that made the Malays
progressive and more developed in the 80s.
What do you think is
the most important issue facing the Orang Asal community in this
country and what has the Harapan government done to address this issue?
I'd like to correct the usage of Orang Asal and Orang Asli. The 'Orang
Asal' term is used for Sabah and Sarawak indigenous people, whilst Orang
Asli is for those in the peninsula. The Orang Asli are largely
forest or agriculture based, although several individuals have achieved
levels of educational and economic success comparable to those of the
Nevertheless, it is no hidden secret that the
Orang Asli rank among the most marginalised of Malaysians today, not
just in terms of numbers, but in their ability to determine their own
fate. The once politically autonomous and independent people are but a pale likeness of their ancestors. Much
of this has to do with the fact that the Malaysian nation state does
not recognise the Orang Asli as a separate people - that is, as distinct
groups associated with particular territorial bases and requiring
'government' on a different basis from that of the other communities.
as can be discerned from their demands, the Orang Asli are not, at
least not yet, seeking self-determination in the sense that they want to
secede from the Malaysian nation-state. Rather, the desire is to
exercise full autonomy in their traditional territories, both in the
control and ownership of their lands, and in the determination of their
way of life and in the way they deal with the dominant society.
issue of Orang Asli land rights is but the most visible and deeply-felt
manifestation of the principal problem facing the Orang Asli viz-a-viz
the unwillingness of the state to recognise the Orang Asli as a distinct
people. Using the 'land rights' problem as a strategy for Orang
Asli political mobilisation is rational because the issue is deeply felt
among the communities, easily identifiable, and it is the source of
much social stress for the Orang Asli.
With the recent suit which
our federal government initiated against the Kelantan state government,
it can be seen that the Pakatan Harapan government is attempting to
correct the wrongs. We have also seen more Orang Asli senators being
appointed when they came into power.
From our engagement with the
current government, we can see there is a lot more improvement than
before, at least with the current minister in charge of Orang Asli
Affairs. We hope the Harapan government will continue with its
determination in trying to solve our Orang Asli problems.
Do you believe that Harapan has a moderate Islamic agenda?
have, but they do not know how to go about it. They do not have the
leadership for it. The political will is missing. I will be talking in
more detail on this subject in my column soon.
Do you think it
is important for non-Muslims to speak up when they witness Islamic
transgressions or does this make the situation worse?
need them to stand up for fellow Malaysians, and Malays who are being
persecuted by the conservative Islamist authorities, to ensure Malaysia
will always be the home for their children and grandchildren to live in
and prosper. When any public policy is based on any religious ideology,
every citizen must have the right to speak up about it.
Is the press doing its part in highlighting Islamic provocations?
No. It has not done enough to highlight and criticise.
Why do think "moderate" Muslims are afraid to speak up?
look at the social media comments by their so-called fellow Muslims
against anyone who does not conform to them. The amount of vile
comments, threats of sanctions, harassment, persecution and even threat
of physical harm by the Islamist elements in Malay society are enough to
scare away and silence many Muslims.
Do you think the Malay community needs Islamic departments at state and federal levels?
ideal conditions, the answer would have been 'no', but in our
environment we need a federal department that can monitor and revamp
radical Islamic teaching that is going on today to abolish them. That
should be their job.
We don’t need them to do dakwah (proselytisation). No government should be using tax money to propagate any religion.
Malaysiakini : “If Mahathir cannot help create a wave of change among the rural
Malay voters for the 14GE in the remaining 100 days, then no other
political leader could accomplish this ‘Mission Impossible’.” – Lim Kit Siang
| The quote by Lim Kit Siang that opens this piece is open for debate.
Most post-election analyses have determined that Mahathir did not create
the Malay tsunami that his allies hoped he would.
For the record,
in numerous pieces before the 14th general election, I advocated that
Harapan should stop waffling and endorse the former prime minister for
the top job, using the same line of reasoning as Kit Siang.
upcoming Semenyih by-election comes on the heels of the Cameron
Highlands debacle. Post-May 9, the Malay power brokers in Harapan and
their non-Malay enablers have failed to counter the Malay and Islamic
narratives of the Umno/PAS union. This by-election is seen as a
bellwether for Malay support of Harapan, and Harapan political
operatives tell me that they are leaving nothing to chance.
thought that Harapan playing the BN game in Cameron Highlands was bad,
you will witness the full glory of neo-BN in the Semenyih by-election.
Most analysts agree that Harapan has to play the race and religion card
in Semenyih. This has received blowback from many quarters, which
Harapan partisans have been calling and emailing me,
outraged that the strategy seems to be to court the Malay vote in the
upcoming Semenyih by-election, which runs contrary to the idea of New
Malaysia. Firstly, there is no New Malaysia. This should be evident by
If Bersatu and Mahathir were needed before the election to
court the rural and semi-urban Malay vote, why is there opposition to
tactics and strategies to maintain the Malay vote post-May 9? Lim Kit
“Pakatan Harapan lacks any personality capable of convincing rural
Malay voters to support the pact, aside from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”
2017, Kit Siang said that while he did not agree with all of Mahathir’s
reasoning for not allowing the DAP to contest under the Bersatu ticket –
if the DAP were de-registered – he understood his stand. Meanwhile,
Mahathir said that PPBM (Bersatu) needed to remain a Malay party because
the Malays were still communal.
said: “If they (Malay voters) see a multi-racial party, they will not
support it. They (Pakatan Rakyat) got a lot of support from the Chinese,
but little Malay support and without it, you can’t win. So we can
replace Umno with our group (Bersatu), not by being like Umno, but we
would be a Malay party.”
Kit Siang seemed fine with this and offered a kind of restatement of old Alliance-style politics when he claimed
– “Bersatu was still more Malaysian than Umno, as the former wants
Malays to unite and work with other citizens, while the latter wants
Malaysians to remain Malays, Chinese and Indians and is even trying to
polarise the next elections as a battle between the Malays and Chinese.”
this whole idea of Bersatu and Malay power brokers playing the race and
religion card in Semenyih as something anathema to New Malaysian
politics is horse manure. There are two kinds of partisans. The ones who
understand they were making a deal with the devil to oust Najib, and
those who believed there was a new Malaysia.
'RM90 million scandal a positive strategy'
and PAS people who I talk to are feeling good about the upcoming
Semenyih by-election. Umno has never been the underdog, one said, and if
we take Semenyih, we would have demonstrated that we are still a force
to be reckoned with in the Malay community, an old Umno friend, said
Meanwhile, PAS political operatives tell me that they
are going to be playing up the “persecution” card in their campaigning.
“This RM90 million scandal could be a positive strategy for us, because
the AG is a non-Malay, and we can argue that this is some sort of
religious persecution,” one of them said.
Indeed, for people who
held their noses and voted for Harapan, knowing full well what they were
getting into, the stench is becoming unbearable. But what else is there
for Harapan to do, asked a non-Malay political operative who spoke to
me a few days ago. People, non-Malays, talk about the “Malay” strategy
as if it were something in the past and not the strategy Harapan
employed to give it federal power.
I keep asking Malay political
operatives in Harapan why they do not offer a counter-Malay narrative to
what Umno and PAS are offering. The answer is always the same. The
grassroots are not interested. Those who voted for Harapan are mocked by
those who did not vote for Harapan, as being lied to by Mahathir. They
took a chance on us and now we have to deliver like Umno, a Harapan
political backer informed me.
I argued that this is the problem.
The Malay political elite does not want to change the narrative. The
non-Malay establishment has calculated that it is better that they play
along, instead of making waves, allowing the discourse to be dominated
by this New Malaysia horse manure which plays into the hands of the far
I often reference this Bersatu strategist I like talking to
because she gives it to me straight: “Commander, it is like this. The
Malays are in a win-win situation now. Those who did not vote for us are
not going to be marginalised by Harapan, and they know it. “Those
who voted for us are a bit confused as to what exactly the Harapan
Malay agenda is. PAS and Umno are pointing to those policies which they
say usurp Malay rights and Islam. We have to play the race and religion
card and if any non-Malay member says how can we do this, they are liars
because they knew this would be a fight for the Malay vote.”
the real question about playing the Malay tune, in Semenyih and beyond,
is how far right is the Malay Harapan establishment willing to go, to
defeat the Umno and PAS union, and how far is the non-Malay
establishment willing to follow the Harapan Malay establishment?
“Ong said given the more serious nature of the
revelation, Najib must ask the two ministers to quit to reflect his
seriousness in upholding accountability.” - Malay Mail, June 26, 2013
COMMENT | I really did not want to get into this whole “fake degree” fiasco but then I read Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming’s piece
about not needing a degree to be an effective politician and realised
how much trouble we are in. Ong couldn’t even bring himself to name the
minister in question, and chose instead to backtrack on earlier
positions he held while maintaining he has been consistent.
piece is politics at its most craven. Ong is half-right. You do not
need professional qualifications to be an effective politician. However,
professional qualifications most times add a veneer of legitimacy to
mendacious politics because people are conditioned to think that
professional degrees add an element of credibility to political
But it adds very little to actual governing and
policy-making which entails a different set of skill sets, most
importantly political will. Ong says that a professional
qualification is not needed to be an effective politician. This is true.
A politician lies or spins, works the party system, makes alliances and
enemies and generally does despicable deeds to court votes, and you do
not need a professional qualification to do this.
Do all politicians do this? Maybe not, but mainstream political parties are filled with elected politicians who do this. Furthermore,
Ong now claims that when being part of the government or a ministry,
“it is more important for you to know your scope of work and your policy
responsibilities. Having done a degree may be helpful in training you
to think more broadly and critically and hence, better equip you to
govern. But it is not guaranteed.”
With regards to “degree mills”,
Ong said: “My stand on this issue is clear and has not changed. It is
not acceptable for politicians to buy degrees from degree mills and then
try to pass these off as being genuine academic degrees.” On this issue, Ong's stand is not clear. I would argue his stand on this issue was
clear but since coming to federal power his stand has been reversed.
What Ong says now is radically different from what he said back in the
day. The justification he is making now is a mockery of what this
Pakatan Harapan reform government is supposed to be about. It does,
however, demonstrate that Harapan operatives are excelling in
In 2013, Ong had askedthen
prime minister Najib Abdul Razak to sack two ministers who Ong claimed
had fake degrees. If anything, his stand then was clear. Two
points need to be understood when considering Ong's change of position.
And this is so funny because the headline for the report blares out
“Sack ministers with dubious degrees, DAP MP tells PM”.
The first, Ong has a clear position on this issue and demanded the resignation of ministers with fake degrees. “It
is truly disappointing that on the first day for ministerial replies in
the first parliamentary sitting since the 13th general election,
Malaysians have to accept the reality that Prime Minister Najib Razak
has appointed two ministers with two dodgy degrees each from
institutions which are degree mills.”
The second, Ong shifts the
goal posts. In his piece yesterday, he claimed that not having a degree
does not necessarily impede a politician's ability to carry out his
policy responsibilities but the question here is, does having a fake
degree impede the minster’s ability to carry out his responsibility? We
should refer to what Ong said before Harapan came into federal power:
to entrust two ministers with fake degrees with the serious
responsibilities of human capital development and the management of
certifications and standards is not only a gross embarrassment but also
most ironic for a prime minister who has made transformation his clarion
Bending over backwards
Should the police
investigate someone for having a degree from a degree mill or a fake
degree? Probably not. But if having a fake degree is part of the
systemic corruption that someone like Ong used to rail against, then why
is Ong now making all these justifications for a member of his
Ong asked then prime minister Najib for the resignation
of the two ministers in 2013 and asked for the ministers to resign to
prove their commitment to reform. Why is Ong not asking the current
prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the resignation of Deputy Foreign
Minister Marzuki Yahya (photo)? Why is he not asking Marzuki to
resign? Why is he not asking for the Harapan political elite to
demonstrate they are committed to reforms?
2013, Ong made the case that fake degrees hamper the ability of
ministers to effectively carry out their policy responsibilities. He
called it an embarrassment for the reform agenda of the Najib regime.
Now when a deputy minister who has to be a credible spokesperson for
Malaysia has been caught with a fake degree, why isn’t Ong applying the
Does Ong really believe that his position has not
changed? Does Ong really believe that his muted goal posts-shifting
piece about fake degrees is really the way how to reform the system? I
mean, does anyone else realise how funny this is?
Bersatu deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir said that Marzuki was not appointed
for his academic credentials and here we have Ong telling people that
academic qualifications do not necessarily mean a minister would be good
at his job, which directly contradicts what he said back in the day
when he was going after the Umno regime. Is there some sort of
collaboration when it comes to shovelling the horse manure or do Harapan
political operatives all think the same way?
Now people may say
this is not a big issue. Truth be told, I am not really bothered by
politicians who go around carrying fake degrees. As far as I am
concerned, all the ministerial appointments have been a dodgy affair and
it would not matter if the appointees had sterling academic
qualifications. The reality is that most of them are not really
interested in reform or do not have any ideas for reforming the system.
is alarming is the way how politicians who used to claim to want to
reform the system and hold the government accountable are now bending
over backwards to defend issues which before they came into power they
claimed were indefensible.
The question is not how Marzuki can be a
credible deputy minister but how those who backtrack on their positions
just to defend Marzuki be credible reformers?
Wang Kelian – into the heart of darkness - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Malaysiakini : “You know I hate, detest and can't bear a lie, not because I am
straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me. There
is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies - which is exactly
what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget.” ― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
| I have no idea what will become of the Royal Commission of Inquiry
(RCI) into the mass graves at Wang Kelian. While NGOs and activists have
expressed support for the government’s decision to set up this RCI, I
remain sceptical if anything will come of it.
Wang Kelian is more
than just a mass grave. It is an indictment of a system that is mired in
corruption bordering on the evil and a society that has very little
interests in the plight of marginalised peoples who come to our
The executive director of the human rights NGO Tenaganita, Glorene A Das, reminded
the powers that be to also investigate the individuals (including those
who may be politically linked) who were behind the cover-up of Wang
Kelian: “The reported cover-up of the activities of human trafficking
syndicates and the annihilation of vital evidence needs to be explained;
those involved in it should be brought to justice, without fear or
And this is an important point. The fact is that Wang
Kelian could not have happened if the was no collusion among crime
syndicates, the state security apparatus and most importantly, the
political class who were needed to facilitate and give legitimacy to a
cover-up. We are talking about high crimes perpetrated by local actors
working in concert with foreign high-ranking officials.
in mind, the idea that the police are going to “assist” in this RCI is
laughable. One of the things I argued that the new Pakatan Harapan
government should do, after their historic May 9 win, is to unearth the
killers and slavers of Wang Kelian. I have a deep mistrust of the state
security apparatus. Please refer to this piece.
it you will discover that all Bukit Aman has done is to stonewall
journalists investigating this case. They dodged questions from the then
opposition political operatives, contaminated (or worse) the crime
scenes and these were enabled by the ruling BN regime. International
publications like the Guardian reported that the state department
claimed that there was high-level participation of government officials
in Malaysia and Thailand in the Wang Kelian mass killings.
police Special Branch report compiled over 10 years detailed the
systemic corruption within the enforcement agencies, claiming that at
least 80 percent of law enforcement officers at the border were corrupt.
The DAP’s Steven Sim (photo), who has been doing sterling work,
which often went unreported, questioned then home minister Ahmad Zahid
Hamidi on the status of 12 police officers who were persons of interests
in this crime and what did the home minister say in his written reply?
That there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.
No independent investigation was done
Aman, when this issue first seeped into the mainstream media, claimed
that there was no evidence that any police personnel were involved.
Never mind that evidence was tampered with. Never mind that there was
circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing. Never mind that political
operatives from the highest levels of the Umno system were repeating the
same denials as the state security apparatus, despite no independent
investigation having been done.
We are now to believe that the police are suddenly interested in discovering the “truth” Unfortunately, the "truth" is unpalatable when it comes to human trafficking in Malaysia. As per this report:
In one of their major coups in 2011, the Special Branch arrested eight
Immigration Department officers based at the Kuala Lumpur International
Airport (KLIA) for their alleged involvement in a human-trafficking
operation. When interrogating the suspects, one of them was asked, "Who
else are in the payroll of the syndicate?" And the shocking answer was:
"It would be easier if you asked us for the names of officers not on the
Do you know what is dangerous about the game we are
playing here? Forget about the fact that Bukit Aman assisting in this
investigation should raise red flags. Consider the political operatives
and their hangers-on who could have been involved in this. What we have
are political operatives who are now part of the government, who were
also part of the old regime. Who can you really trust when it comes to
this RCI, in the sense that some kind of political interference could be
applied to save the collective behinds of political operatives in the
establishment and the opposition.
What we have are political
operatives and their hangers-on who could have profited or covered up
crimes in the old regime and who now work in this new regime. Would they
really be interested in the truth being exposed? Would they really be
interested to shine a light on the nexus of criminal enterprises, the
security apparatus and political power in this country?
of the state security apparatus? Has there been any real reform since
the Harapan government took over? There were rumblings of closing down
certain units and chatter on the streets was because these units had
become so entangled in criminal syndicates they were supposed to be
investigating. It would be easier to close down these units and sweep
everything under the carpet. I have said before, that the state security
apparatus is riddled with petty fiefdoms, whose allegiances shift with
the turning of the political tide.
I hope I am wrong. I truly do hope so, but I think nobody really wants to confront the heart of darkness which is Wang Kelian.
A Malay Malaysia - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, February 04, 2019
Malaysiakini : The ends justifies the means, that's the system I learned that in school then I dropped out Hit the streets, checked a grip, and now I got clout I had nothing, and I wanted it You had everything, and you flaunted it Turned the needy into the greedy – Ice T (New Jack Hustler)
| One of the things I find interesting is former prime minister Najib
Abdul Razak’s public transformation of his image as a privileged Malay
politician to that of an everyman attempting to fight the system
hell-bent on destroying him. The Pakatan Harapan regime, for various
reasons, comes off as malicious or tone-deaf to the message Najib is
disseminating to the Malay base.
What Najib is doing is tapping
into the class resentments in the Malay community, while demonising the
Chinese community through a stand-in – the DAP. Harapan plays the same
narrative – like demonsing the PRC – not realising (or not caring) that
this narrative ultimately arrives at the same destination, the Malaysian
Chinese community as a scapegoat for the mendacity of mainstream Malay
international business deals, or toxic communal relationship or
dissatisfaction of economic standards brought upon by unbalanced
economic polices that favour a specific capitalist class in the Malay
When Harapan came into power, I warned
that what we had was a “Malay” opposition, which would use race and
religion in lieu of policy. What Harapan had to do was change the
narrative because what they are up against was decades of indoctrination
and entitlements programmes that had failed the Malay community.
is the relevant bit – “The Malay opposition will define itself by
offering a virulent counter-narrative when it comes to issues of race
and religion. They will attempt to force the Harapan regime to
demonstrate how committed they are in their secular principles and, of
course, their egalitarian principles – if they are committed to these at
Far-right Malay friends have this fantasy. When the Malays
finally win the demographics game, and minorities are insignificant when
it comes to political power, they believe they would have this racial
and religious paradise without all the problems multi-culturalism
brings. Never mind the economic and social repercussions of having a
mono-ethnic Malaysia, what I find hilarious is how blind some of the
mainstream Malay intelligentsia are to the class divisions in Malay
Free Malaysia Today (FMT) ran a piece recently, where Syed Husin Ali discussed the type of conflict “yang akan dihadapi oleh masyarakat Melayu sekiranya negara ini hanya didiami oleh satu bangsa sahaja
(that will be faced by Malay society when this country is inhabited by
only one race).” Syed Husin rightly pointed out that the type of
conflict would be a class conflict. For the record, I am a Syed Husin
Ali fanboy, and have followed his career and writings for years.
Two points are worth considering . Syed Husin (photo) discussed the two competing interests that would come into conflict - “Pertama
kata beliau, adalah kepentingan nilai seperti agama dan moral, manakala
kedua adalah kepentingan berkaitan politik seperti perkembagan ekonomi
dan pendidikan. Apabila kepentingan-kepentingan ini bertentangan, maka
wujudlah konflik. (Firstly, is the importance of religious and moral
values. When mixed with politics in economic development and education,
conflict will arise.) ”
And then he dived into the nature of the eventual class conflict that would arise - “Misalannya,
kurang kekayaan dalam kalangan Melayu. Orang Melayu yang di bawah akan
menganggap mereka miskin kerana kekayaan dikumpul oleh kelompok
(orang Melayu kaya) yang sedikit. Justeru, timbullah konflik. (For
example, Malay poverty. These Malays may think they are poor because
wealth is in the hands of a small elite (rich Malays). This will give
rise to conflict.)”
Syed Husin, who, no doubt, has studied other
mono-ethnic societal breakdowns, points out the various degrees of
manifestation that such class resentment brings.
When people understand that something is wrong...
first manifestation is where people understand that something is wrong
and that they are at the bottom of the totem pole, but are afraid to
express this resentment. However, this does not last long. Sooner or later they express their anger and eventually - “Ataupun orang boleh sampai angkat senjata kerana marah. Keadaan ini boleh menimbulkan revolusi. (Or people reach the point where they take up arms in their anger. This will give rise to a revolution.”
wrote about this decades ago, in a position paper that was mocked by
the military establishment because I was told that this would never
happen in Malaysia. Never mind that May 13 happened and the policies
that were created post-May 13, planted the seeds – in my opinion – of an
eventual class conflict in the Malay community.
One of the
reasons why I think Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is ahead of the curve
is because they understand that there is a class conflict within the
majority community. While PSM is portrayed as some sort of “Indian”
party – honestly the dumb casual racism they face online is indicative
of the failure of progressive politics in this country - the reality is
that for years they have been trying to tap into the class resentment of
all communities in Malaysia.
Someone like the potential Semenyih
by-election candidate, PSM Youth member Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, has a
better understanding of the frustrations of the Malay disenfranchised
than anyone from the other mainstream Malay political parties. PSM’s
class dialectic is what mainstream Malay power brokers fear.
While PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan (photo)
may be the public face of the party, the Malay and Chinese political
operatives and grassroots activists bear a message that is drowned out
by partisan politics and religious fervour. The sooner they get a
foothold in mainstream politics and the majority Malay community, the
sooner we should see progressive politics seep into the political
landscape based on class divisions instead of racial or religious ones.
What I found interesting about Mariam Mokhtar’s latest piece
is that it is a scattershot of the class divisions within the Malay
community. What we are talking about are Malays whose privilege has some
value at the moment as opposed to Malays who think they have privilege,
but in reality are low down economically than non-Malays who have no
Then there is the issue of religion. What do the
privileged political and plutocrat class of the Malay community do? They
use religion to narcotise the working class and disenfranchise the
Malay community. It is effective up to a point. What happens when they
cannot use the non-Malays as a convenient punching bag? Well, what
happens to rich Muslim potentates in many Islamic states?
masses fall prey to a more virulent strain of Islamism, which tell them
how corrupt their rulers are and how a truly Islamic state is where they
would achieve parity. This is the experience of nearly every Islamic
state – moderate or otherwise – in the world. Why do you think the
disenfranchised and the working class are prey to Islamic extremists?
Why do you think Islamic extremists find ample opportunity to recruit in
academic institutions? The answer is because young, disenfranchised
people slowly awaken to the fact that the system screws them over, while
rich people are not subject to the same laws as them.
Does anyone really think that jailing corrupt potentates is going to solve the class divisions in the majority community?
The Icerd-supporting hypocrites - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, February 02, 2019
Malaysiakini : “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you
hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are
doing the oppressing.”
― Malcolm X
COMMENT | Malaysiakini columnist Zan Azlee’s latest piece is a response to Hafidz Baharom’s letter– and the discourse surrounding the hypocrisy of supporting Icerd but justifying the overt racism of certain property-owners here in Malaysia.
you, I do not think Zan understands the etymology of the term
“institutional racism” (which I will leave to readers to discover and
which is why I use the word “overt”) but I understand where he is coming
from. What he means, I assume, are the pro-Malay racist policies that
define the social, economic and political landscape of Malaysia.
do I think that Zan was justifying racism but it sure as hell comes off
that way when a couple with the means to pay for accommodation are
rejected based on the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs.
The last thing they would think is the landlord is “fussy” and I am sure
if you told them that this landlord supports Icerd, they would burst
out in laughter.
The idea that you can be in favour of something
like Icerd yet still believe that individuals are perfectly within their
rights to discriminate based on race or religion is exactly the kind of
horse manure that infects this country and which helps the political
class maintain power.
One “award-winning” journalist when
interviewed on a radio station actually said that while racism is a
problem, she did not believe the state had the right to legislate when
it comes to personal property. She made the distinction between the
“discrimination” of (and by) the state and babbled on about how
education would slowly ameliorate individual racism.
state is always legislating when it comes to individual property. The
state is always legislating when it comes to how we conduct business.
This idea for anti-discrimination laws when it comes to tenancy
agreements (for instance) and something the state should not get
involved in, is complete horse manure.
The central theme of Icerd is eliminating all forms
of racism and discrimination and while the legalese of this convention
is contextualised in support of certain race-based agendas, at the heart
of it, what its proponents hoped Icerd would do is put us on the road
towards reforming a system which is mired in the kind of racism and
bigotry detrimental to social and economic cohesion.
goes beyond to use Zan’s term “fussy” landlords but rather the poisoned
racial discourse in this country where certain types of racism are
accepted – nay, encouraged - but where people clamour for the state to
get rid of its racist policies. “Racial preference” is such a
quaint term. It’s like saying some of my best friends are people in my
non-preferred category but I just do not want to rent out to them.
Landlords having specific criteria that anyone could theoretically
fulfil is not racism. It becomes racism when the criterion is race, or
bigotry when it comes to religion.
Of course, people are blind to
some things in this country or worse, do not really care. This idea that
the state was racist, which created a separate space for the non-Malays
to compete, live and die in, has resulted in a discourse which not only
alienates people but also encourages a siege mentality in the non-Malay
It like people who scream that there is no
discrimination in the private sector and that the only discrimination
that exists is the kind carried out by the state. Or when they claim
that there is discrimination in the private sector but it is more
important for the state to handle the discrimination it perpetuates.
people fail to understand is that the political class in this country
benefit when people condone certain forms of racism instead of rejecting
them outright. Racists will make all sort of justifications for
their racism which will include prior experience with a specific race,
falling back on racial stereotypes, deep-rooted anger for the systemic
racism by the state or just plain, old-fashioned ignorance.
the political class likes this state of play. Indeed, when mainstream
politicians advocate some form of anti-discriminatory laws, what they
are really doing is inviting the non-Malays especially to call out the
racism of the state while defending the racial preference of the
individual which is spun to look like the preference of the community
even though many people would object to justifying racism in their name.
Or at least, that’s what I hope.
Why do they do this? Because it
helps their narrative that without the protection of preferential
policies, they would be at the mercy of the minorities who have no
problem – or so they claim – with preferential policies of their own.
get to point to the hypocrisy of these people who clamour for something
like Icerd but have no problem being “racists” when it comes to their
interests. This is why the majority need the protection of the
state and why the minorities want to strip the majority of this
protection or so the official mainstream goes. This whole idea that some
pundits like to propagate that, “We are Malaysians, we are all racists”
to support certain agendas while disavowing others is really dumb.
I hear this, I say, “Speak for yourself.” I am always questioning my
ideas when it comes to race and religion. I support legalisation and
ideas which address these issues and sometimes disagree with the
Imagine what would happen if a non-Malay
politician said that he or she supports something like Icerd but also
supports the right of landlords for racial preference. What signal would
this send to the Malay community? So it's easy under the cover of
anonymity to promote a racist agenda but not so easy to justify such a
stand either politically or morally when you are promoting a "new
All this goes back to the Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid.
That stupid idea that seeks to eliminate race from the discourse under
certain - political expedient – conditions. This has made an honest
conversation about race impossible. If people were seriously interested
in reform, they would support something like Icerd and condemn the
racism that is perpetrated through government policy as well as condemn
racism carried out by some of the rakyat.
The political class is
hypocritical and mendacious when they want to tackle racism in the
property market (for instance) but ignore the racism in the government.
However, the rakyat is hypocritical when they justify certain forms of
racism, but demand that the government confronts the racism in the
Is wooing PAS a good idea? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Malaysiakini : Renji - Another well argued article. Why is Thayaparan the only writer on what’s going in in Malaysians politics worth reading? In my view it’s because he is objective, honest and truthful. The paucity of comments demonstrates that few really want to see the wood from the trees.
“In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
| This is God’s honest truth. I am more wary of the crypto Islamists
within Pakatan Harapan – more so now that Harapan is the establishment –
than I am of PAS.
There was a meme floating around before the
Cameron Highlands by-election, that Harapan should be working in some
form or another with PAS. After the by-election, Deputy Prime Minister
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was asked, considering the results, if it was
time for Harapan to woo PAS.
Malaysiakini columnist P Gunasegaram advances the same idea in his post-mortem
of the Cameron Highlands by-election: “And they should not exclude a
possible alliance with PAS for this, thus pulling the carpet from under
Umno. This may require a leadership change within PAS and the dropping
of DAP’s virulent opposition to the Islamic party.”
About the only
thing I disagree with Guna’s point is that it is not so much the DAP's
virulent opposition to PAS, but rather that the DAP has hitched its
wagon to Amanah’s narrative of Islam, and any sort of relationship with
PAS would be defined by PAS trolling Amanah in the religious, political
and social discourse.
I do not think people understand how
damaging the fallout has been with Amanah splintering from PAS, or how
PAS blames the DAP for this. When the so-called moderates of Amanah left
PAS, a vacuum was created in the Islamic discourse in PAS, which has
not been filled. This suits PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang just fine.
Two points I have made
before need to be considered. The first when I warned not to
underestimate PAS: “Some opposition analysts think that PAS was crippled
when Amanah broke away, but my thinking is different, especially when
speaking to PAS grassroots-level organisers. While a political party
needs a robust dialectic within it to remain relevant, PAS is now free
to define (centrally) its own version of moderation without having to
rely on non-Muslims (or Muslims who are simpatico to non-Muslim
politicians) input to craft a narrative which resonates with their
And the second, when I warned
of PAS’ foreboding green tsunami: “PAS has remained true to its
principles, and in numerous articles that mainstream English speakers
can’t be bothered to read, told their supporters that winning the
federal government at the expense of their Islamic values is not
something which PAS desires. What they want is a Malay/Muslim tsunami
which legitimately leads them to federal power or to create coalitions
with like-minded political hegemons, so long as power-sharing does not
involve them in betraying their Islamic values.”
Non-Malays think Hadi (photo)
is the problem. He is for them, but for most of the base, Hadi is doing
a great job. Strategically, PAS is not working with Umno. It is Umno
that is working with PAS. Hadi has managed to define, sometimes through
proxies, the Islamic narrative in this country and had made federal
Islamic institutions irrelevant when it comes to the Islamic narrative
in this country.
While people may snigger and claim that Hadi has
been bought and paid for, the reality is that PAS has leveraged its
indifference to moderation, as a means to federal power, into a powerful
symbol of racial and religious unity.
Anecdotally speaking, one of the benefits of attending the anti-Icerd rally
was to observe and listen to the PAS base and what they thought of the
political climate, which on the one hand does business as usual and on
the other attempts some kind of reform. What people do not get
about some PAS partisans is that when they see politicians caving in or
back-tracking on policies that undermine the Islamic narrative of PAS,
they become more convinced that the politicians are cowards and out to
subvert Islam, and that PAS is the line in the sand when it comes to
Brilliant moves of Harapan?
may think these are brilliant moves of Harapan in burnishing their
Islamic/Malay credentials, but all they do is remind people that Harapan
political operatives are duplicitous and weak compared to the political
operatives in PAS, who have always made their positions clear.
discussion about “constructive” dialogue, when it comes to Islamisation
and moderation, cannot happen in the current political climate, and it
is not because of PAS. Forget about PAS’ history of socialism or
whatever left-leaning ideas that were the foundation of the original
struggle. What we have today is an Islamic party committed to the
religious dogma it has imported from external forces that seek to define
the Islamic narrative in Southeast Asia in this post-Pax Americana
unbiased reading of the conflict between DAP and PAS is that it is not
an overt religious conflict, but rather that PAS believes that the DAP
is carrying out a sub rosa agenda of Christianisation and a racial
agenda under the cover of the kind of multi-cultural agenda they are
Whether this is true is beside the point. If the DAP had
remained committed secularists and did not demonise the MCA as betrayers
of the Chinese community, thereby defining the conflict as racial with
the BN hegemon, this would have redefined the religious and racial
narrative with PAS.
PAS understands all to well that it would be
more difficult for them if they were dealing with committed secularists
and a race-neutral political party. They know it would be harder to
convince a sizable section of the Malay community of a nefarious
Christian agenda if there was no circumstantial evidence of such
political operatives talking about their religion.
If we had an
authentic non-Malay political party which did not think that securing
the Malay vote meant pandering to the same preoccupations that the Malay
power brokers do, it would be harder for PAS to make the argument that
the Malay community is victim to a plot to destabilise race and religion
in this country.
A post-May 9 PAS is not interested in moderation
as defined by the non-Malays. Why should we, one PAS strategist asked
me: “Look at the Harapan manifesto. They buat (make) so many promises. When we object they called us racist. Now dia bikin the same thing as us. Dia (Harapan) tipu (deceive) and they say we cannot be trusted. How-lah, Thaya?”
my opinion, working with PAS is not the answer. What Harapan needs to
do is to redefine the Malay discourse in this country, which does not
necessarily mean official proclamations of needs-based policies.
Limiting the Islamic bureaucracy, democratising the spaces in which
Malays hold their discourse, and facing head-on Islamic transgressions –
as Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (photo, above) claimed he used to do – is what will keep Islamic extremism at bay.
policies for the Malay community through independent institutions,
reforming the education system (minus religion), constantly monitoring
corruption in agencies tasked with helping Malays mitigates the
corrosive politics of race and religion that PAS and Umno are dishing
All these reforms do not necessarily cater to the non-Malays,
which should be an idea of how Harapan can out-manoeuvre PAS and Umno,
while still playing the race and religion card.