What clear narrative can Harapan offer? - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, October 23, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Government was rarely more than a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” ― Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam
COMMENT | PKR vice-president
Nurul Izzah Anwar said that Pakatan Harapan needs a clear narrative but I
would argue that the problems of Harapan go far beyond needing a clear
narrative, which it does by the way. The months of internal squabbling
within the party and the collateral damage of dealing with negotiating
with PAS has diminished the credibility of the party. Meanwhile, the DAP
as the Harapan anchor has had to fend off numerous controversies of its
To claim that the opposition is in disarray is an understatement and
to most people, it merely seems that this close to the election –
whenever it is – the opposition seems to be a coalition of petty
fiefdoms existing in an alternate universe where merely belonging in the
opposition washes away the sins of the past.
When Nurul says that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak does not talk
about his scandals, what this really means is that the Umno grand
poohbah is not playing defence. Umno is on the offence when it comes to
the corruption scandals that plague this administration. He does not
need to talk about them because he understands that these scandals are
complicated and that the opposition’s rhetoric that he is an
international outcast does not jive with the photo ops that “world
leaders” provide for future services rendered.
When this issue of holding this anti-kleptocracy was gaining momentum, I said it was a bad idea
– “As it is, this rally will only benefit the Umno regime because it
affords them numerous opportunities to point to the dysfunction of the
opposition, which means very little in echo chambers online, but is of
great influence for people who are sitting on the fence or disillusioned
with the opposition and finally, supporters who may not even turn up to
vote, much less march on the streets.”
Sure enough, what this rally demonstrated to fence-sitters was that
the opposition, even with their "Big Guns", was in disarray and Umno had
a field day, shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to the rhetoric
emanating from this rally.
Furthermore, when you talk about the opposition being oppressed and
the need for people to empathize with the opposition, and the path to
this “empathy” is a clear narrative, you are on the wrong path. Here is
the thing. People want to believe that politicians empathize with them
even if politicians clearly demonstrate that they do not. Therefore,
when the people see all the infighting that goes on in the opposition,
they translate that to the opposition only being concerned about
themselves and political power.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia central committee member Tariq Ismail
Mustafa said that rural folks need to be convinced that “change” can
happen but what exactly does change mean? What are they changing to?
Whenever I talk to PSM people, I know exactly what message they are
sending to people. A grassroots message that involves how the system
oppresses the average citizen, which is linked to the local affairs of
the community they are contesting in.
This is why I always said that Harapan is stupid not to involve a
grassroots movements like PSM in their strategy, even if it means giving
up seats to them and supporting them, because imagine what could be
achieved if PSM’s DNA was injected into the opposition body politics.
Maybe some people do not want that, which again points to why convincing
people that they need to change merely with rhetoric and not action is
Take this talk of election rigging. Our system has some very serious
issues. There is enough literature out there to support the proposition
that our election system is compromised. However, when the average
citizen sees that the opposition has denied Umno its two third’s
majority and won the popular vote, they believe the system works. If the
flawed system works than the opposition must be doing something wrong
which is what most people would think when they hear opposition types
talking about a rigged game.
As someone who believes that the opposition winning the next general
election – even this opposition – would be a turning point for
Malaysians politics because average citizens would come to understand
they have a choice, even if it means at this time, not exactly appealing
choices in the people they want to lead this country. In other words,
Umno does not have to rule in perpetuity.
But how do we get there? DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming says
that people have to be given two clear choices, the status quo or
change. The problem with this is thinking is what happens if people
think that the status quo is acceptable? You know what one Umno strategist is doing. When he talks to rural constituents, he says (and I am paraphrasing here)– “Yes, there is corruption, and Umno is working on it like they are
doing with all the arrests the MACC is making. We are addressing the
problem but more importantly, when former prime minister Dr Mahathir
Mohamad was in power, there was corruption too, and the country did not
become a failed state like what the opposition claims now, and the
opposition is trying to damage the economy and your livelihood.” Now, this is a clear narrative.
When it comes to the Malay demographic, perhaps it time to seriously consider what someone like Rafizi Ramli
flirted with, in the beginning of the year – Indeed, when Rafizi says
that: “We (the opposition) must honestly accept failings and offer
solutions that may be controversial”, it becomes clear that for some
Malay politicians, mainstream Malay political dogma is failing the
opposition but not Umno. What does putting forth controversial solutions
When opposition people talk to me, the discussion usually involves in
one form or another about the ways and means to propagate a clear
message. I always refer to the opposition winning big when they won the
popular vote as the perfect storm of political personalities, issues and
plain luck. People
wanted to change and they voted opposition because they were fed up
with the establishment. Therefore, I keep telling people that it is
possible but sometimes people need to see radical departures from the
"business as usual" politics. Anyway, it is much too late for that now.
I tell people it is a numbers game. Get more people to vote and overwhelm the establishment with numbers.
It would take a smarter man than me to come up with a clear narrative for the opposition.
COMMENT | MCA publicity chief
Chai Kim Sen made two rather disingenuous statements regarding the
arrest of the teenage bombmaker and his cohorts. The first was
oppositional types should apologise for casting doubts on the
credibility of the state security apparatus on their claims that there
were elements out to violently disrupt the beer festival, and the second
was there were some rights that should be sacrificed in order to
protect other rights and freedoms.
To be honest, I am not really interested in these statements. The
credibility of the state security apparatus has diminished by the words
and actions of people entrusted to safeguard our rights; and while there
are always situations where “sacrificing” certain rights for
utilitarian purposes, this is not one of those situations.
Keep in mind that according to initial investigations this teenage
zealot wanted to teach Malaysia a lesson. Therefore, there is the
question of the lesson he wanted to impart and what Malaysians actually
learnt from his attempted criminal act of religious murder. The great tragedy here is that in a functional democracy, the lesson
he wanted to teach would be dismissed for obvious reasons but here in
Malaysia, the state security apparatus gave him exactly what he wanted.
The extremely important lesson that this teenage bombmaker taught
Malaysians, and especially the state security apparatus, is that terror
works. It did not take a coordinated effort by committed hardened
Islamic State types to disrupt a festival in Malaysia. All it took was a
middle-class teenager with delusions of grandeur and the right people
to “fund” him.
In any other functional democracy, the state security apparatus foils
attempts at terrorism and ensures the safety and security of citizens
going about their daily lives. However, in the case of Malaysia, the
establishment tells us to be grateful to the state security apparatus
for essentially caving in to the demands of Islamists who either protest
violently - like the leader of the red shirts - or plan an attack on
civilians, all in the name of safety and security.
I say “caving in” because this is exactly what happened. What was the objective of this so-called teenage amateur bombmaker? His main goal was to disrupt the event and kill non-Muslims. We know this because initial investigations as reported
in the press reveal he “was motivated by incidents affecting Muslims,
and decided that Malaysia had strayed from its role as a true Islamic
nation”. We also know from initial investigations that he did not have
any contact with any Malaysian or Islamic State militants.
Think about this for a moment. This is made-in-Malaysia Islamic
terrorism. We are not talking about a young man radicalised by foreign
elements about the “plight” of Muslims in foreign countries. This was a
case of a young middle-class teenager who felt that there was something
wrong with the way how Islam was practised in this country and decided
that he had to do something about it.
We already have a high-ranking minister make the claim
that there is a concerted effort by the establishment – and this
includes their non-Muslim coalition partners – to make Malaysia an
Islamic state, but this is not good enough for this middle-class Muslim
teenager. This is not “true” enough for someone who would use violence
and attempt to murder non-Muslims in the name of his faith.
Same religious ideology
Some in the media have called this a “twisted ideology” but how
twisted can this be when what this amateur bomber believes in is exactly
the same kind of religious supremacy that dominates the discourse in
this country? Thomas Koruth Samuel in an article titled ‘The Lure of Youth into
Terrorism’ which you can read at the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for
Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) website, highlighted a certain point which I have often revisited – “Religious institutions, preaching a skewed and misconstrued
interpretation of a religion have the potential to capture the hearts,
minds and imaginations of the young people. In most cases, recruiters
would identify and target the more promising youth and pull them into a
smaller setting where a more comprehensive indoctrination programme
would be undertaken, without arousing the suspicions of the moderate
members in the congregation.
“Coupled with the actual injustices happening all around the world,
these ‘men of God’ clinically exploit the minds and hearts of the youths
into thinking that the only alternative left is that of violence.
Having the advantage of ‘god’ on their side, these youths are
manipulated into believing that they are actually struggling for a noble
and worthy cause, with the assurance of victory.”
I have no idea if this teenager went to a religious school. We know
that his father “was muezzin at the local surau, while his mother is a
housewife”, I wonder if the state security apparatus is concerned that
these types of extremists thrive in an environment where non-Muslims are
constantly reminded of their subservient place in Malaysia and where
establishment politicians routinely demonise other Muslims as deviants
Investigators, while looking at the diagrams of explosive devices by
this teenage bombmaker, were reminded of that other Malaysian bombmaker,
Azahari Husin, so to dismiss this teenager as some sort of religious
kook would be underestimating the level of danger these extremists pose. The important question here is not where this teenager learnt to make
his improvised explosive devices, but rather where he learnt his “true”
Islamic values. Anyone can learn to make a bomb but not everyone who
knows how to make a bomb would use it to kill innocent civilians in the
name of his or her religion. Writing about why Muslim Malaysian youths are radicalised, I made this point, which is as far as I am concerned the main point in this particular discourse – others may have a different view.
“Do not act worried about radical Islamic dogma infecting Malay
youths when the very basis of their identity is wrapped around the
pillars of racial and religious superiority. Do not act surprised that a
dogma that promulgates the meme that every other human being, including
Muslims, is fair game when it comes to achieving Islamic statehood,
though violence is attractive to certain youths when the same ideas
could be discovered in the way how the state carries out its agenda
against Muslims and non-Muslims.”
As far as I am concerned, the opposition does not owe an apology to
the state security apparatus. I think the BN establishment and the state
security apparatus owe Malaysians an apology for giving legitimacy to
this teenage fanatic's lesson.
Non-Malays are irrelevant to Malaysia’s future - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Bulls**t is the glue that binds us as a nation.” ― George Carlin
COMMENT | I cannot recall where
exactly I read this but in one those surveys that ask people how far
they self-identify with certain concepts, Indians by far identified as
“Malaysians”. I have no idea if the Indians taking that survey were
fooling the survey takers or fooling themselves. Then again, I know next
to nothing about what it means to be “Malaysian”.
So the survey that the Oriental Daily
carried out asking Chinese respondents a whole bunch of questions
struck me as rather funny. I mean if the majority valued good governance
over the economy and equality than why would the issue of the treatment
of non-Malays as second-class citizens be a major issue – as evidenced
by the rhetoric of opposition politicians and their followers – in the
current political landscape?
Anyway, all this is not important anyway. The only relevance the
non-Malay community - and by this I mean the Chinese community - is to
provide some semblance of an oppositional block in this country. The
Indian community (as a voting block) is irrelevant and is merely window
dressing to show some form of inclusiveness for mainstream political
power structures or in some rare instances as “kingmakers” in close
I have written
previously – “What Umno is worried about when it comes to its election
chances are internal sabotage, the manoeuvrings of PAS, the ‘situation’
(as one Umno spin master told me) in Sabah and Sarawak, and of course,
the tanking economy.”
I would argue and have done so many times, that the only reason why
Umno continues to make overtures to the non-Malay community is that it
needs them as a fig leaf in its charade as a multiracial/multireligious
coalition and maybe to hedge its bets against the possibility of a
sizable Malay revolt. Not to mention that the plum urban seats are the
trough from which its cronies feed from.
By rejecting BN (read: Umno), a majority in the Chinese community
have propped up the DAP, which is the only alternative to Malay hegemony
in this country. Most days you cannot really tell if this proposition
is true and certainly the DAP would do everything in their power to
dissuade people from this notion because they are constantly under
attack by Umno but it is mostly true, I guess.
Hooking up with Bersatu and Amanah and attempting a going back to
Malaysia’s roots of old alliance politics plays well with the urban
crowd, but the reality is that ultimately the non-Malays do not have a
role to play in this country’s future except maybe propping up a
destabilised Umno economically because of a fractured Malay polity.
These are perilous times for opposition Malaysian politicians because
they are not running on any ideology or common platform beyond the ‘PM
Najib Razak must go’ agenda. Opposition politicians rely on racial bases
to get by, with opposition Malay politicians running in places with a
sizable non-Malay polity, relying on their votes and whatever they can
get from the Malay community to remain relevant.
Meanwhile, non-Malay politicians stick to secure areas with sizeable
non-Malay demographics because these are safe bets, especially if you
are a Chinese opposition political operative. If you are Indian
opposition politician you are constantly reminded – check the comments
on social media – that you have to rely on Chinese votes to stay in the
In some ways, BN non-Malay politicians have an easier time because
they are given a seat and the majority Malay demographic will know how
to vote if they support the establishment. Sabah and Sarawak are foreign
lands and long-term comrades from the establishment and opposition tell
me, there are games played over there that could have a profound impact
on this country.
What this means I have no idea but I am not concerned because
ultimately, I am one of those people who think that the Peninsular
should stay out of Sabah and Sarawak and not because I hope that this
region could destabilise Umno but because I have no interest in
continuing to be a colonial power.
End of oppositional politics
I sincerely hope that Bersatu and Amanah make headways in this
upcoming election and become viable Malay power structures in their own
right because if they do not and the DAP remains the last political
party standing in this election, this would be the end of oppositional
politics in this country.
Some would argue that this is not necessarily a bad thing. The
opposition, if you really think about it, is composed of Bersatu, who
are Najib refuseniks, Amanah who are Abdul Hadi Awang refuseniks, and
the DAP, which has not managed shed its race-based image even though
they have had decades to establish themselves as a truly multi-racial
alternative to the current racial mainstream politics.
Some would argue that having Malay-based oppositional power
structures whose raison d'être is dethroning Najib while playing the
same racial and religious game does more harm to this country but it is
better than nothing I suppose, or at the very least a lone
Chinese-dominated voting block.
If you thought that the Chinese community was getting it bad from
Umno now, you would be witness to the community getting it worse if
Bersatu and Amanah are wiped out by PAS and Umno. Indeed, all PAS has to
do is hold on to Kelantan and maintain the status quo in Terengganu and
this would be a victory, even if they lose in Selangor.
However, the great irony is that Umno sincerely wants its component
parties to win over the non-Malays not only because of the reasons I
mentioned, but because if Umno is the last Malay political party
standing and PAS remains relevant, they will have to deal with the Malay
community in a way they have never dealt with before.
An emboldened PAS would mean more concessions to Islamic imperatives
and this pantomime of a tolerant Islam would be in jeopardy with only
the royalty (maybe) to keep up an appearance of moderation.
We are already witnesses to the Islamic games a weakened Umno plays
with PAS but consider what would happen if a strong Umno is held
accountable by the Islamists and a sizeable Malay population
indoctrinated by years of racial and religious supremacy unburdened by
alternative (perhaps more moderate) Malay power structures?
I figure non-Malay “irrelevancy” will someday soon be this country’s undoing.
The enemies of our secular state - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, October 16, 2017
Malaysiakini : “What the State can usefully do is to
make itself a central depository, and active circulator and diffuser, of
the experience resulting from many trials. Its business is to enable
each experimentalist to benefit by the experiments of others, instead of
tolerating no experiments but its own.” – John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”
Malaysiakini columnist P Gunasegeram ends his latest piece, ‘I am a pendatang and proud of it,”
with the appropriate “And know that I am here to stay whether you
bloody like it or not because this country is mine too!” which is
exactly how most non-Malay/Muslims feel whenever they read about the use
of the weaponised Islam in this country.
All you have to do is read the comments on social media when Johor’s
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar stands up for what is right and decent
when it comes to countering the agendas of Islamists in this country who
would use religion as a demarcation line between Malaysians to
understand the frustrations non-Malays have with a system that on the
one hand, finds utilitarian value in non-Malay contribution to this
country and on the other, is disgusted by their very existence as
Malaysians with hopes and agendas of their own. These agendas are not
necessarily different from each other but are anathema to the agendas of
these state-sponsored Islamists.
People often miss the larger narrative when it is easier to digest
soundbites. When a religious school burns down, this should have been an
opportunity for a national discussion on why these religious schools
exists in the first, what values they are promoting, how safe are they
and the corrupt practices that goes in the creation and maintenance of
these schools. Instead, nobody was really interested in this but carried
on putting all their eggs in the 1MDB basket.
The Muslims-only launderette issue becomes about how:
1) the Johor sultan was the line in the sand when it comes to this
type of religious mischief because politicians offered only mild
condemnation which sounded more like bemusement, and
2) the relevancy of an institution like Jakim (Malaysian Islamic
Development Department) to state religious bodies is questioned by the
moves of the Johor sultan who by cutting off contact between the federal
religious authorities and his state's religious department is making it
clear that – for the time being at least – he does not want religious
extremism from the federal level contaminating Islamic moderation at the
Where is our glorious opposition in all of this? As I saidbefore
– “If you are waffling on your commitment to a secular state, then you
have to make your case for an Islamic state and this is where the
trouble begins and ends. If oppositional Muslim political operatives and
their allies would just stop using religion as the basis of critique
and concentrate on furthering the agenda of the secular state,
oppositional Muslims MPs would not have to worry about attempting to
‘out Islam’ their rivals because this would not be the grounds on which
they battle for votes.”
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (photo) reminds us that BN – not Umno but BN – is committed to make Malaysia an Islamic state
and of course, we will not hear anything from the MCA and MIC about
this glorious agenda. Neither will we hear anything from our doughty
opposition because they have convinced themselves that they need to be
“Islamic” to win the votes of the majority of the Malay community to
replace the current Umno poohbah who is apparently the enemy of the state. Which brings up the uncomfortable question of what kind of state? The enemy of an Islamic state or a secular state?
Forsaking the Constitution
Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak blathers on
about how we should embrace new politics – whatever that means – and
not abandon the Constitution, but the reality is that by chipping away
at the Constitution which is what Umno is doing in its attempt to create
an “Islamic” state, is just further evidence that the Constitution is
not worth the paper it is printed on.
Meanwhile, the opposition is doing nothing about this. Nobody in the
opposition has ever made statements that reaffirm the primacy of the
Constitution or the opposition’s agenda of ending the Islamisation
process. We do not even know if this is one of the reforms that would
"save Malaysia," that the opposition intends to carry out.
Remember, “this meme
that by benching Umno, we as Malaysians, whatever our religion or
credo, would be safe from the machinations of Islamic extremists, is
irrational considering that we neither have a committed secular
opposition nor Muslim politicians who openly commit to secular agendas.
As long as this remains the default setting of Malaysian politics, there
will never be a period where secularism is safe from encroaching
I mean really, this whole idea of making Malaysia an “Islamic” state
is really about making Malaysia more like Saudi Arabia. And you know
what the Johor sultan thinks about that, right? Here is a reminder
– “If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practise Arab
culture, and do not wish to follow our Malay customs and traditions,
that is up to you. I also welcome you to live in Saudi Arabia.”
But what I really want to know is, what does the opposition think of
that? Does the opposition think that Malay culture should emulate Arab
culture and if so, does the opposition advocate that Malays who don’t
want to follow "Malay" customs and traditions are welcome to live in
Depending on your point of view, the balkanisation of Malaysia is
something that is a very real possibility because of this agenda of
turning Malaysia into an “Islamic” state. This is not something that any
rational person would want and I am including the Malays in this
equation because if they really wanted to live in an Islamic paradise,
they would have voted for PAS a long time ago.
Writing for Malaysiakini has presented me with opportunity
to talk to young people from all over Malaysia. This is purely anecdotal
but what young people tell me is that they are disgusted by politics in
this country. They voted for change and even on a state level, this has
not happened. Most, if not all, of them say that if Umno stops
“playing” with race and religion they will vote BN because they know all
over the world politicians are corrupt.
A common complaint or some variation of the same, is that Pakatan
Harapan is not doing anything to stop Malaysia for becoming an Islamic
state. Most young people who choose to leave do not leave because of
corruption but because of race and religion.
I am beginning to realise that the idea of voting for the opposition
to create a two-party system and the almost zealous advocacy (mine?) of
such, is an idea of diminishing returns.
Why was Zamihan really arrested? - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Malaysiakini : “The spectacle of what is called
religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has
filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to
make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind
belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and
the preservation of vested interests.” ― Jawaharlal Nehru
COMMENT | So this
government-employed preacher spews the usual hate speech against the
Chinese community but more importantly, took a swipe at the Johor
royalty and he is arrested for incitement. Incitement against a royal
family or incitement against the Chinese community? Why do I get the
feeling that if it were solely for the latter, there would be no action
taken against Zamihan Mat Zin?
Yes, that is right because no action has been taken against other
government-aligned (including employees) personalities who have made
racists or bigoted comments against non-Muslim Malaysians. Anyone reading my articles would know that I am all for free speech
but free speech isn’t really the issue here and it will never be. The
real issue is the biased manner in which the state monitors free speech.
University lecturer Ridhuan Tee Abdullah who apparently comes to the defence
of his community in this instance has said worse about the Chinese
community. This country gives shelter to an extremist like Zakir Naik
who has spread lies about non-Muslims and their religions. There are
numerous examples of establishment politicians who have demonised entire
communities and they have been exempted from incitement charges.
So when this preacher who thought he was riding a wave of toxicity
and attempted to deliver his own blows against the Chinese community
made his religious pronouncements, the only miscalculation he made was
taking a shot at the royal institution, which is one of the pillars of
Malay/Muslim political ideology.
With all the manure thrown at non-Malay/Muslim communities through a
variety of establishment mouthpieces, this idea that the remand of this
preacher is anything other than window dressing is the only rational
conclusion anyone not infected by Kool-Aid can come to.
Therefore, you take away the royal component from the equation and
what are we left with? Just another Muslim preacher talking manure about
non-Muslim Malaysians. I mean look, we have PAS president Abdul Hadi
Awang, a religious preacher, claiming that “Islam has to be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam must be followers (pak turut).”
I wonder how this jives with what the Malay rulers said when they made this pronouncement
- "As a religion that encourages its followers to be respectful,
moderate and inclusive, the reputation of Islam, must not ever be
tainted by the divisive actions of certain groups or individuals, which
may lead to rifts among the rakyat."
A rejoinder was also made “to continue following the core principles
of the Federal Constitution and Rukunegara”, but can this even be done
when it comes to how non-Muslims are treated in this country?
Does the Umno establishment really care about the Constitution and
the Rukunegara? Here are a few choice snippets that point to the utter
intellectual and moral bankruptcy of making the claim that these
instruments have any meaning in our current political climate.
I have made this point
before – “The constitution, which for all intents is secular-leaning,
has been co-opted by the state and Islamists to present a monolithic
view of the Muslim community. If the constitution is manipulated by a
handful of people then why isn’t another handful of people - and by
people, I mean Muslims working in tandem with other secular-minded
people - who defend the constitution and not engage in the kind of
political behaviour which many claim is detrimental to the Malay
To understand where I am coming from with regards to the Rukunegara, readers are encouraged to check out my piece - ‘The Rukunegara is nothing more than a placebo’ - and also check out what a former judge thinks of the Rukunegara.
“Former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad believed
that the incorporation of the Rukunegara as the preamble to the Federal
Constitution would compromise the interest of the Malays and
bumiputera. Abdul Hamid said if judges were required to consider the
Rukunegara in interpreting the Federal Constitution, it would lead to
rulings against existing laws and policies.”
I mean, look, if we have judges talking about the “dangers” of
incorporating the Rukunegara in the Malaysian system, what are we really
talking about when we read that the Malay rulers want us to “follow
it”? If the establishment has such a jaundiced view of these
instruments, is it really meaningful to consider the Rukunegara - and
the Constitution for that matter - as part of the discourse?
At the time of writing, another preacher, this time from the
opposition, has been arrested. Reasons unknown, for now. Wan Ji Wan
Husin, who is attached to Penang Chief Minister's office, has been
branded a "deviant" by the establishment, so we can only assume that
what he said went against the group-think of Muslim cabals in this
I have made the case of why this country needs more "deviants" like Wan Ji but here he is, in his own words - "I don’t agree
that only Islam can be propagated. The Federal Constitution states
that, but I don't agree with it from the viewpoint of religion. Let the
law practitioners debate if it’s from the law’s point of view. But as
someone who studied religion, that statement is wrong. Non-Muslims
should be given the right to give their views, as opposed to only the
Muslims who can do so. Maybe that's why people have accused me of being
So yes, I may not know the reasons for his arrest - at the time of writing - but I can deduce that they are mala fide
and that this preacher has said something that is verboten in the
Malaysian Muslim context. Please note what he said about the
Constitution and how people can disagree with it and advocate change
through discourse and changing social and political norms.
I will give you another example - the attacks against the DAP about
Lim Kit Siang wanting to be the next prime minister by Umno. There is
nothing in the Constitution that says that a non-Malay/Muslim is not
eligible to the highest office in the land. There is nothing in the
Rukunegara that points to the illegibility of a non-Muslim citizen
aspiring to the highest office in the land.
Yet we have Umno leaders talking about how “DAP blood” has “infected”
Malay power brokers who want to put a non-Muslim as prime minister. We
have Malay/Muslim political personalities warning the Malay/Muslim
polity that they will slaves to non-Malay/Muslim potentates. Is not this kind of behaviour “not following” the Constitution? Is
not this kind of divisive rhetoric going against the spirit of the
Rukunegara? If so, is not this kind of behaviour seditious and warrants
sanction from the security apparatus of the state?
Failing which, is not this kind of behaviour which demonises
non-Muslim politicians going against the rejoinders of the Malay rulers
and in doing so, demands sanctions from the state security apparatus?Does anyone seriously think that the Constitution and the Rukunegara are sacrosanct in this country? So, the question again.
“According to government data, the objectives of the NEP have yet
to be achieved. But I think the Malays have this consensus… these
special privileges that have made them comfortable. They have this
comfort zone where they face no challenges. Because of this, they don’t
see the necessity in putting in the effort to progress. So they are weak
and lack competitiveness. It is better to end something that does no
good to the people anymore.” – Kassim Ahmad
There is this meme as to the kind of Muslim the late Kassim Ahmad
was. To his admirers, the persecution of this public intellectual
demonstrated the fear the state had to what he wrote and said, and this
made him the poster child for the kind of Islam they believed was
“acceptable” in a multiracial and multi-religious country like Malaysia. To his detractors, he was a purveyor of falsity that threatened
Muslim solidarity and he was a puppet of the “opposition” whose writings
and speeches would cause the collapse of Malay/Muslim political and
Indeed, some opposition supporters would be perplexed of some of the
things he said about certain opposition politicians and the Umno state
would be perplexed at some of the positions he advocated after they had
branded him a deviant and an “enemy” of Islam. The truth was that Kassim Ahmad was a devout Muslim who believed that
his faith was hijacked by interpreters who had agendas of their own
that were not compatible with his own interpretation of what would lead
to a liberated world.
He had many young followers of his work who often told me that what
was inspiring of his interpretation of Islam was that it did not foster
fear but hope and that through questioning of what they were told and
taught, they would be liberated from the falsities that were all around
them. He encouraged dissent, especially on his own writings, and he was
cognisant that ultimately this was a discourse that had no winners or
losers, only people who were interested in discovering their faith. Unfortunately for him, the world is a cruel place. Those who make the
claim that theirs is really a religion of peace do not have the
empirical evidence to support such a claim. Indeed, the persecution of
Kassim Ahmad was evidence that thinking was verboten.
The duplicity, arrogance, and illegality of the Federal Territory
Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) in its persecution of this religious
scholar is a matter of public record. Indeed, not only was Kassim Ahmad
targeted but also his long-time advocate Rosli Dahlan. There were things he said and wrote about that a person could
disagree with. Depending on your own belief system, they were roads that
Kassim Ahmad walked that you would have no desire to travel on but what
separates Kassim Ahmad from the petty religious bigots that persecuted
him was that he would never dream of imposing his beliefs on others.
Indeed, he welcomed discourse. He welcomed the challenges his ideas
inspired. He wanted Muslims to think about their religion, but more
importantly, think for themselves. His was a quiet revolution of the
This is an example of what baffled
him – “Malaysia happens to be a strong upholder of hadith(s). Sometimes
the so-called experts, appearing on the Forum Perdana every Thursday
night, quote the hadiths more than the Quran.
“Muslim scholars, Bukhari and five others, collected many thousands
of so-called hadiths and classified them as authentic or weak 250 to 300
years after the death of Prophet Muhammad. These are collections of the
Sunni sect. The Syiah have their own collections of so-called hadiths. “To my mind, these fabricated hadiths are a major source of confusion and downfall of Islam.”
If ideology and religion is the lens through which some view the
world, it is understandable (for those who know anything about Islam) as
to why someone like Kassim Ahmad would find succour in this religion
which has been weaponised here in Malaysia and the rest of the world. A
religion he thought – which is different from “believed” because he put
in a great deal of effort and time into “thinking” about his religion –
could be a salvation to the problems of the world.
Here is another snippet in his own words - “In the University of
Malaya in Singapore, I joined the leftist Socialist Club and later
joined the People’s Party of Ahmad Boestamam, and quickly became its
leader for 18 years! Somehow or other, I did not feel real about the
power and success of socialism. It was simply to identify myself with
the poor to whom I belong.
“I was therefore critical of things I inherited from my ancestors.
The first scholar I criticised was Imam Shafi’e for his two principal
sources (Quran and Hadis). The book ‘Hadis - Satu Peniliai Semula’ in
1986 became the topic of discussion for two months, half opposed and
half supporting me. After two months, it was banned.” Anyone who has read what this scholar believed his religion was
about, would understand that Kassim Ahmad’s sympathies for the
marginalised were paramount in his belief structure. You could make the
argument that his beliefs gave structure to what he eventually hoped
rational Islam could accomplish.
Having the mindset of being critical of what you inherited from your
ancestors is the most potent tool an adversary of state-sponsored
repression could have. This was why they feared this quiet scholar who
simply spoke of things that his interpretation of his religion inspired
in him. His intellectual contribution to Islam was anathema to people who
believed that blind faith was true faith and his steadfastness in not
disavowing what he said, his noncompliance to the diktats of the state
was a wound that would not heal for those who wish to impose their
beliefs on others.
When I read of how the state persecuted him, I understand why he
posed such a threat. If Muslims realised that their interpretation
mattered then the so-called scholars would lose their influence and
their hegemony of the debate would vanish. Kassim Ahmad was a constant
reminder of what would happen if people embraced a religion that they
had thought out for themselves. In a time when the Islamic world is suffering from a dearth of
outlier voices, the passing of Kassim Ahmad is a great loss not only to
Malaysians but to the other sparks in the Muslims world waiting to be
ignited by people who choose not to subscribe to fear but who genuinely
want to understand their religion. I will end with this quote by Henry David Thoreau. Hopefully, it means something
“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through
confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have
henceforth to fulfil the promise of our friend's life also, in our own,
to the world.”
Who wants, or needs, a Malaysian Malaysia? - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, October 09, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | “They despise
and hate the government more and more, but they don't know how to set
about changing it. The country is dying for some sort of lead, and so
far all it is getting is a crowd of fresh professional leaders. Who
never get anywhere. Who do not seem to be aiming anywhere.
We are living in a world of jaded politics. Poverty increases, prices
rise, unemployment spreads, mines, factories stagnate, and nothing is
done.” – HG Wells, The Holy Terror
I realise that people may not want to read this, but it has to be
said. There will never be a Malaysia for Malaysians because, ultimately,
the various ethnic groups in this country do not really want this. They do not really want a place in the sun for everyone, but rather,
they want to dominate the political landscape with their preferred
ideology – however one defines them – instead of a Malaysia where
everyone is equal under the law.
The MCA and MIC did not start off as “running dogs” of the Umno
Establishment but were willing “partners” in the creation of the Malay
Malaysia state. What we see happening now in the opposition is exactly
the same narrative that the MCA and MIC went through, which was a
process of collusion, corruption and Islamisation that brought the
country to where it is now. It is like history repeating itself with all
the delusion and hypocrisy that comes with a new deal.
The chief Puad Zarkashi of Putrajaya's Special Affairs Department (Jasa) said
something stupid. He said the “DAP fights for equality, not
equitability as agreed to in the social contract”, which is dumb because
the two are not mutually exclusive. You cannot have equitability without equality but most important,
there is no such thing as the “social contract”. Even former prime
minister, and now de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir
Mohamad, acknowledged this when he said that the social contract was not
a tangible document or some such throwaway line.
I have no idea what is going on with the opposition these days. Look,
you cannot play the race and religion game with Umno, and now PAS. The
deck is stacked and they have the winning hand when it comes to this
twisted game. What you can do is not play defence. Stop trying to
rehabilitate the image of the DAP or out to Islamise the Establishment.
There is nothing anyone can say about the DAP that would change minds.
What Umno is worried about
What Umno is worried about when it comes to its election chances are
internal sabotage, the manoeuvrings of PAS, the “situation” (as one Umno
spin master told me) in Sabah and Sarawak and of course the economy
tanking. This idea that Umno was ever a “centrist” party is total horse
manure and could we please stop using euphemisms like “Malay narrative”?
What we are really talking about is Malay supremacy,
institutionalised Malay racism, or simply put Malay political and
religious hegemony. The non-Malays happily bought into this narrative
because life and the economy was always “good” here in Malaysia and
because we had our own space in the private sector and economy, which we
dominated and colluded with the Establishment in a myriad of corrupt
practices all under the umbrella of “Asian values” and the social
If the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang cannot foresee a non-Malay prime minister
in this century, it is because the opposition has never advocated such
an idea. You cannot lay the blame solely on Umno, when the strategy of
saving Malaysia is pandering to the Malay vote, when we have a history
of large-scale corruption that did not turn this country into failed
When PAS chief Abdul Hadi Awang blathers on about how Islam rejects
“the theory of secularism, Malaysian Malaysia and chauvinism without
denying the existence of worldly living”, can anyone point to an another
interpretation of Malaysian Islam that is a counter-narrative? Hadi, of
course, is mendacious as ever.
Malay supremacy is what he is really talking about because, in
Malaysia, ethnicity (Malay) and religion (Islam) are not mutually
exclusive. Does anyone really think that what Hadi is claiming is not
the dominant ideology and strategy of all the political parties here in
The DAP’s Edry Faizal said PAS wants to impose its version of
political Islam on Malaysians. Fair enough, but what is the version of
the DAP’s political Islam, because ultimately that is the most important
question. We can count the ways how the opposition has let down
non-Muslims ever since they came into power when the opposition had to
choose between defending secular values over Islamic ones.
Why opposition cannot talk about race, religion
I have already made my case
as to why the opposition cannot talk about race and religion – “If
“racism” is such a big issue to people who support the opposition, if
the systemic inequalities that some describe as an “apartheid” system is
really destroying this country, then do we really have a future when
the opposition will never address these issues? Even if by some miracle
they do manage to take over Putrajaya, the opposition would always be
beholden to a demographic that supports institutionalised racism.”
When Umno and Hadi target the Chinese community and make kissy faces
at the Indian community, does anyone really think that this is a new
strategy? Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that he
demonised the DAP because it was politics as usual.
The DAP, meanwhile, cannot defend itself against Umno propaganda
because they have aligned with the nemesis that through the decades they
claimed was destroying this country. I do not really think that anyone really wants a Malaysian Malaysia. I
think some people think that if the opposition manages to claim federal
power, there would merely be a continuation of the Malay narrative
because, then, it will become a situation of defending what you have
Kit Siang thinks we will not have a non-Malay prime minister in this
century. I think we will never have a non-Malay prime minister because,
unlike the civil rights movement in America, non-Malay opposition
parties will never want to place the Malay vote in jeopardy. There will never be an egalitarian movement which seeks Malaysians
regardless of race to coalesce into a civil movement to supplant the
Malay supremacy ideology. People will always say “baby steps”, but these
baby steps will always lead to giant strides of the "Malay" narrative. This should give some comfort to the Malay supremacists out there.
Jamal and Syed Saddiq - two sides of the same coin - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | The only difference is Jamal uses a sledgehammer and Syed uses the pen.
“You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an
airline - it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some
nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.” ― Frank Zappa
Jamal Md Yunos’ “mabuk” behaviour of smashing boxes of beer
bottles outside the Selangor State Secretariat (SUK) building in Shah
Alam and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s online petition “Hapus Budaya Pesta Arak di Malaysia” (Destroy Beer Festival Culture in Malaysia) are the same. The only difference is the former is the kind of thuggery that we are
used to and the latter the kind of bourgeois online activism that
extremists engage in when they do not want to get their hands dirty like
the leader of the red shirts.
The same kind of bigoted reasoning that Sungai Besar Umno chief Jamal (photo)
and his ilk use is right there on the online petition, that amongst
other reasons, a beer festival would lead to a “gay” carnival. How dumb.
It is like saying because people drink in private establishments, this
would lead to “gay” private establishments. I hate to break it to these
nut jobs, but the two are mutually exclusive. Jamal meanwhile continues his ‘screw you’ approach to the security
apparatus of the state. He has no problems leaving a mess in a public
space because he has the backing of the Umno state, which is making a
public mess all over the country. His type of easy Islamic extremism
entails bullying the non-Malay/non-Muslim communities, all the while
enjoying the blessing of the state, instead of fighting other Muslims on
foreign soil attempting to establish an Islamic caliphate.
Mind you, his action of smashing beer bottles in a supposedly Muslim
majority area is demonstrative of the hypocrisy of Muslims like him.
Imagine if a non-Malay had engaged in that type of behaviour, the Malay
residents would be up in arms that (1) a non-Malay was disrespectful,
and (2) that alcohol has stained their holy Malay/Muslim ground. In this
case, Jamal engaged in “haram” behaviour by handling alcohol,
stained "Malay" land, and he and his gang of thugs left other timid
Malays to clean up the mess they had created.
When he is finally arrested, he whinges that this is "going too far".
Unlike the late DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock (the most famous example of a
political operative killed in custody), Indians and other Malays charged
with various offences, he does not have to worry about death or
violence in custody. Those people were not privileged like Jamal. They
had no backing from anyone. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid says he disavows Jamal’s behavior
but he has never been sanctioned by Umno. No punishment means no
disavowment. Umno approves of his behaviour. To Jamal, this is all part
of the myth-making process.
While Jamal has been vilified – and rightly so – Syed Saddiq (photo)
has been blubbering on press conferences about how he was giving up
Oxford for the people of Malaysia and that he has been threatened with
exposure of “sensitive” photographs and warning of retaliation if his
family is attacked.
The fact that Syed Saddiq has his admirers – who I am told are legion
– is mind boggling. I still have not figured out what exactly is the
appeal of this young man. He is the youth leader of a race-based party, a
mainstream “Umno Muslim” and seems obsessed with his self-image to the
point that his dramas overshadow the so-called agenda of his political
The online petition of this particular Muslim cabal attempts to
portray their objection to Oktoberfest as something in line with
“Malaysian culture” but it is really an attempt to impose Islamic
culture and curtail secular rights in the hopes that by doing such, it
bolsters Bersatu’s Islamic credentials.
The petition endorsed by this so-called moderate young Oxford-bound
Muslim also played the religious extremist game by attempting to
homogenise Muslim opinion and coerce all Muslims into supporting
this ban - "Muslims no matter their political stand should be united
and steadfast on the issue. Harmony and unity between races can be built
without liquor festivals."
Read that line again. Armada Youth is saying that Muslims no matter
their political stand should be united in this issue. In other words,
Syed Saddiq and Jamal as Muslims should be united in this issue – which
they are – the only difference is that Jamal uses a sledgehammer and
Syed uses the pen.
There’s a storm coming
Siti Kassim (photo), the activist who seems to be one of the
few Muslims that rational people should support, but who gets no real
support for her work, rightly wondered when politicians are going to
start thinking like Malaysians.
And that is the key. What do demagogues and political wannabes like
Jamal and Syed Saddiq really think? They do not think of Malaysians as
individuals but rather as racial groups with a pecking order, and the
top of the totem pole is, of course, Islam and the “Malay” race.
People continue to think that this is a non-issue but really it is
the shape of things to come. Jamal is aligned to the opposition in the
state and here he is engaging in acts of violence against the elected
state government on an issue that he is on the same page with as his
supposed political enemy. What do you think this portends?
Each believes that his race and religion are the conduits to
political power and the only difference is that Syed Saddiq spends a
great deal of time also courting the non-Malay vote which means he has
to resort to all sorts of deceptions which seems to be working on people
who should be rejecting this kind of Islamic extremism.
Not long ago I gave my two sen
to this young so-called Malay moderate – “Separating Islam from
politics, especially in the younger Malay demographic, is crucial if we
are to have a ‘post-Umno’ era that the opposition is touting in the
run-up to the next general elections. Oppositional political parties in
their own way are pandering to the Malay/Muslim demographic using the
same old tools that Umno uses to maintain its dominion over the Malay
These people do not understand. There is a storm coming and soon
these Muslims who oppress non-Muslims will learn what real Islamic state
When ‘Hidup Umno’ rings loud in our schools - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
Malaysiakini : “The command of the old despotisms was
‘Thou shalt not’. The command of the totalitarians was ‘Thou shalt’. Our
command is ‘Thou are’.” – George Orwell, "1984"
COMMENT | I sincerely hope there
were no non-Malay students in the “class decoration and performance”
event at that school in Putrajaya.
When someone shouts “Hidup Umno”,
they are calling for Malay and Islamic supremacy in its purest form. A
non-Malay child forced to express such nonsense seems cruel in ways that
the systemic discrimination in this country does not. I suppose this
type of oppression goes on in myriad ways in government schools all
across the country, and the fewer non-Malays there are, the more
virulent the Umno propaganda is in those schools.
This, of course, makes you wonder what is going on in all those
religious schools that are apparently safety hazards. If Umno is pushing
the race and religion card in public institutions that are supposed to
be non-political and multiracial, I cannot help but think of the kind of
propaganda that is going on in those religious schools, where young
children are taught that their religion is superior to everything else.
If folks wonder why Muslims youths are being radicalised, it is because of events like these. I wrote about this before -
“When you: “1) Vilify political opponents as anti-Islam. “2) Persecute other Muslims and label them deviant. “3) Carry out propaganda programmes that claim that the Malay/Muslim
community is under siege from religious and economic agendas supported
by non-Muslim Malaysians. “4) Maintain that by virtue of race, you are superior to other Malaysians.
“When you do all of the above in an effort to define what it means to
be ‘Malay’, then do not act surprised that young Malays gravitate to
similar ideologies that make them the centre of the universe, and
violence an acceptable means to achieve hegemony.”People dismiss this school event as just another embarrassment for
the ruling party, but this in reality was another blatant Umno display
of hostility towards the democratic process, the constitution and civil
The next time some establishment apologist talks about creating unity
through national schools, I hope rational Malaysians will consider that
sending their young to any place but these fetid breeding grounds of
hate and discrimination is better than allowing them to chant “Hidup
Umno” while young teachers are invited to join Umno with promises of
positions of influence.
I would even argue that home schooling is better than allowing your
children to be exposed to this kind of horse manure. At least then the
only time they would witness such state propaganda is when they read
about it in comment pieces like this, mocking the state and its minions
for carrying out such programmes.
When Ku Nan invited all those “comel” (cute) teachers to
join Umno and become “division chiefs, branch chiefs, secretaries”, all I
could think of – was he referring to the cute male teachers as well? That I suppose is the qualification to become anything in Umno. Cute
young Malays, relying on their sexuality, to advance in the Umno
hierarchy. On the one hand, the Umno state cracks down on Malay sexuality on
cultural and religious grounds and on the other, we have a high-ranking
Umno minister encouraging "cute" young teachers to join Umno for
It all gets a little confusing because, Umno – and now with the help
of PAS – is pushing for an extreme kind of Islam, so this idea of cute
people bartering themselves for political favours has to be done in a
manner that conforms to the religious practices of the state-sanctioned
religion. And there is that cowardice again. Ku Nan has no comment on the
"kosherness" of such an event. Umno hacks behave indecently and then
they do not have the cojones to own up to it. The ban on a beer festival
becomes a game of passing the buck. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid
Hamidi claims that it is a police matter when the festival is banned.
The police claim that it was merely acting on orders from above.
Then the situation becomes one of "advice" and not banning. All the while, a hack from another state makes bizarre justifications as to why such festivals are allowed in his state without any problems. This is what “Hidup Umno” is all about. And I get that some folks
approve of the establishment and would chant along when asked, but when
you force kids to do it then you make them accomplices through no fault
of their own.
Ku Nan is right. Anyone who supports Umno is in the same boat. The
good ship Kleptocratic Inc, where subservience and opportunism go hand
in hand with religious oppression. Where a political party can flaunt
the rule of law and standards of decency and do this for the cause of “bangsa” (race) and “agama” (religion).
When former prime minister and now de facto opposition leader Dr
Mahathir Mohamad laments that he could not change the Malays – "What
else (can I do)...I have tried to be an example, tried to teach,
scolded, cried and even prayed. (But) I have failed. I have failed to
achieve the most important thing – how to change the Malays" – I hope
the opposition now realises that there is no need for grand agendas to change the Malays.
What is needed is the political will to stop these types of
propaganda events, maintain a separation between mosque and state, and
ensure that our public institutions are independent. If they can do
that, which is not something that is beyond the opposition, and
something that, contrary to what people think, is not some kind of
utopian ideal, we can start the process of changing this country.
Ku Nan is ‘Exhibit A’ on why anything is better than Umno and
hopefully that day will come young Malaysians are safe in our national
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
What Asian values are we talking about, Kayveas? - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, October 01, 2017
Malaysiakini : “I personally have great skepticism
about the theories extolling the wonders of ‘Asian values’. They are
often based on badly researched generalisations and frequently uttered
by governmental spokesmen countering accusations of authoritarianism and
violations of human rights...” - Amartya Sen, foreword to ‘The Passions and the Interests by Albert O Hirschman’ (1996)
COMMENT | Before I begin, I would just like to say that it is not constructive engaging in ad hominems with M Kayveas for presenting a contrarian view
– in the alternative press – on celebrating “Asian values”. Indeed, I
wish that more space was available (unlike the mainstream press) to
pro-establishment types to peddle their views.
I am going to answer all the questions the PPP president posed
because the reality is that these questions are rhetorical traps. These
traps are deployed by those who would wish to silence people who believe
that Malaysians, regardless of creed or race, have rights that the
state wishes to infringe on using religious and political norms, all
under the guise of “Asian values”.
Here goes. Kayveas wrote: “So where is the extremism that we are screaming
and hurling in every direction, in the wake of this demand to have or
have not a beer festival in public space, if I may ask?”
The extremism comes from the so-called security threat that people
opposed to this public event pose and the capitulation of the state to
these extremists. It really does not matter if non-Muslims enjoy the right to
"celebrate" in private, there is no law that says that these rights are
denied in public spaces.
“So why do we fight over so-called ‘rights’ to have a beer
festival in the public space when we could have gracefully enjoyed to
the last drop in private space like a hotel's grand ballroom?
The “fight” is not about celebrating alcohol. The fight is about our
right as non-Muslims/Malaysians to hold activities in public even if
those activities may cause “sensitivity” to certain religious groups.
“Should we not be thankful that alcohol is not peddled and celebrated in public venues where our young frequent to chill out?
You just claimed that non-Malays/Muslims enjoy unrestricted access to
alcohol and we should be grateful for that. We can assume that young
people have access to alcohol in this country. How does holding a public beer festival where young people would be restricted from publicly drinking a bad thing?
“Should we not let our Asian values triumph over this imported
foreign carnival fads that often leave much to be desired in comparison
to our own rooted Asian values?”
Certain towns in America are dry towns. There are laws that restrict
the sale of alcohol in countries in the West. There are laws in the West
about public intoxication. Therefore, when you say let our Asian values triumph, what values are you talking about which are distinct from Western values?
“Where do we go from publicly-held beer festivals?”
Yes, we should ask ourselves, what other types of festivals would the
state ban and who in the state decides which festivals to ban? What if Muslim agitators decide to ban Christmas carols in public –
which has happened – because Christians can listen to their carols in
private? Or what if Hindu processions were deemed “violent” and offended the
sensitivities of certain racial and religious demographics? Would the
triumph of Asian values still apply?
Selangor MB Azmin Ali (photo) is under pressure from
religious extremists as to his decision not to ban Octoberfest in
Selangor using that heinous excuse that the majority in Selangor are Malay/Muslims. This is where we go from here.
“How about fashion festivals as in the likes of carnivals in Rio de Janeiro or Jamaica?”
Do you understand the origins of these festivals? These carnivals are
a melding of Portuguese and African culture (after a troubled history
of slavery), not to mention a potpourri of other influences. It is about couture and music, dancing and joy, straight and gay, in
other words "this" and "that", mixing in peace. It is much more than
scantily-clad men and women.
Take a look at social media if you want to watch naked Malaysians
engaged in various sex acts. However, if you want to have a street
party, have a carnival or better yet, a Bersih march.
“Or if you would, some form of revived Woodstock that spills and oozes with drugs in the open?”
Woodstock is a music festival. Music festivals are currently
“allowed” in Malaysia. What are you suggesting? That we ban music
festivals, too? I would not worry about people scoring drugs in such events. I would
much rather worry of the corruption that allows for the free flow of
drugs in this country. The rural meth labs. The drug traffickers who
collude with elements from the state security apparatus. They pose more danger than the drugs that ooze out of music festivals.
“Or even a gay festival of sorts now that it is becoming very much a ‘westerner’ penchant?
“Penchant”? Sexuality Merdeka was banned for whatever reason and
politicians and extremist activists talked of going after the “gay
Religious extremists, their apologists and collaborators did not
acknowledge that Wikileaks exposed the fact that there are homosexuals
in government. I think a gay festival is exactly what this country needs if only to expose the hypocrisy that defines Asian values.
“…what is so wrong in Malaysians respecting the Asian values of
moderation, consideration and believe in the eternal truth that promotes
self-restraint, respect and endorsement of everything Asian?
The problem here is you haven’t defined what separates Asian values
from so-called Western values. You do not want people having beer
festivals. You do not want young people exposed to drugs and alcohol. You obviously do not like scantily-clad women because you object to
Brazilian-style carnivals. You do not want homosexuals having marches
and you do not want to be “Westernised”- which is kind of strange
because you have no problem wearing nice Westerns suits.
These are not exactly “Asian” values. These are values that are
exhibited by groups of people (normally religious) all over the world.
There is nothing distinctively Asian about them unless you consider
hypocrisy a distinctively Asian trait. Also, I do not think you understand what you mean when you write this
– “All Malaysians know and do cherish our superior Asian values which
must remain as the bedrock of a distinctly progressive future.”
A progressive future means abandoning silly ideas about the
superiority or inferiority of Asian and Western values and embracing
values that do not divide us along racial and religious lines.
I wish I could say that you have voiced the genuine agenda of the
Umno establishment but the reality is that many in the opposition
probably support your perspective. Hypocrisy is the most overt trait of
religion, and as we can tell, the basis of "Asian" values.