Harapan's gathering storm - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Malaysiakini : “The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has—
from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject
party-mindedness.” ― Christopher Hitchens, Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left
| Ronnie Liu’s piece about the raging storm dividing Pakatan Harapan
partisans is interesting, but not in the way people think. When Liu (above)
writes that Harapan supporters are divided on the Chinese schools'
issue with regard to comments made by Education Minister Maszlee Malik,
and then goes on about how the education minister should be a minister
of education for “all” Malaysians, he is missing a very important point.
support is divided, there are generally two broad sides. In this issue,
for instance, there are Harapan supporters who value issues regarding
Chinese schools and who are offended by the education minister’s
remarks, and there are Harapan supporters who support the education
minister and have their issue with vernacular schools or place such
issues lower down on the scale of priorities.
Liu’s call to the
prime minister that Malaysia needs an education minister for “all
Malaysians” is the kind of inept politics that he is accusing Maszlee
of. How does an education minister for all Malaysians differ from what
Maszlee has been doing? Beyond his public gaffes, what is Maslee not
doing in terms of policy that reflects a new Malaysia policy shift? Liu
does not tell us.
First off, by prioritising one side over the
other, in this case those Malaysians who value issues related to Chinese
schools, and implying the other side is not part of the Bangsa Malaysia
agenda, is self-defeating. Liu makes the same mistake that P Ramasamy
made in his criticisms of the education minster: “While P Ramasamy is
correct to point out that Maszlee is behaving like an Umno clone, what
he fails to highlight is that the entire Harapan government is behaving
like the BN regime. This Malay/Chinese narrative is still defined along
the same old lines instead of the promised egalitarian policies that
Harapan campaigned on.”
Hectoring Maszlee (photo, above)
for what he said about the matriculation quotas is only a valid
criticism if Liu can demonstrate what the “new Malaysia” agenda is, with
regard to education. Can Liu point to any policy decision by Harapan
that is egalitarian, merit- or needs-based when it comes to education,
that differentiates it from BN policies? If Liu cannot do this,
calling for the removal of Maszlee is disingenuous and hypocritical -
and which only feeds into the far right narrative that the DAP is
pulling the strings in Harapan or is after Malay politicians who are
parroting traditional Malay political narratives.
Liu says the
Harapan government is attempting to promote Bangsa Malaysia. Fair
enough. Please give us policy decisions and initiatives which are the
opposite of what BN did when it was in power. Please give us an example
of how the Bangsa Malaysia agenda has replaced the so-called
power-sharing formula BN shoved down our throats for decades.
of the Harapan supporters who support Maszlee? Are their views not
important? This is what happens when Harapan made a pact with Mahathir
and reaffirmed BN era politics with the inclusion of Bersatu into its
ranks. You have Umno/BN supporters who believe that Harapan is the new
BN and who never subscribed to the Bangsa Malaysia propaganda that the
opposition – mainly the DAP – propagated. What about their views? I may
not agree with their views, but for non-Malay Harapan politicians to
dismiss them, after relying on their support, is a politically dangerous
move to make.
As far as they are concerned, someone like Maszlee
is articulating the kind of mainstream politics that sustained BN for
years before it was bogged down with the corruption scandals of
successive Umno potentates. What does this mean? It means for these
supporters who were willing to give Harapan a chance, they were signing
up for the kind of racial politics that sustained BN all those years and
which got wide-ranging support from all the communities.
of recognising the divisions among Harapan supporters and discovering
ways to bridge the gap between non-Malay and Malay supporters, Liu
merely replays the same talking points that Malay and Chinese
politicians have been regurgitating for years. It would have been
so much simpler if non-Malay politicians would just state their stand
clearly and say they believe that education policies, for instance,
should be needs-based, and reject racial quotas outright, instead of
contorting themselves and attempting to justify the propaganda of Bangsa
Malaysia when the reality in terms of policy is exactly the opposite.
way is to concede that the Bangsa Malaysia propaganda is bull manure
and acknowledge that Harapan wants to maintain the BN system without the
rampant corruption. To some Harapan supporters, this may be anathema,
but to others, especially the “conservative” Malay base of Harapan, this
may be welcomed.
Targeting Maszlee because some people in Harapan
lack the cajones to acknowledge that all those promises Harapan made
cannot be fulfilled because these would “spook the Malays”. Targeting a
Malay minister using dodgy logic and hypocritical arguments is more
damaging politically than not fulfilling promises.
The funny thing
is that Harapan can dig itself out of this mess. I am fairly confident
that no matter what the DAP does, it will not lose non-Malay support –
but then again who knows, maybe the non-Malays are capable of much more
in how they hold their elected representatives accountable than what I
give them credit for – but Harapan, because of the hypocritical nature
of how some non-Malay politicians behave, could weaken the Malay support
Don’t confuse winning the social media game as
translating to electoral gains. People are not stupid. Non-Malay
politicians have to commit to a truly egalitarian agenda or concede that
their Bangsa Malaysia propaganda has come back to bite them on their
What is "compassionate Islam"? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 20, 2019
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | “The point of modern
propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust
your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” ― Garry Kasparov
I am not trying to be snarky when it comes to Mujahid Yusof Rawa (above),
because I think he is desperately attempting to come up with a
counter-narrative to the right-wing Islamo-fascist narrative of the
likes of Isma.
Here is the thing though. Is “compassionate Islam”
something like the rebranding George W Bush attempted to do with
mainstream conservatism when his spin-doctors dug up some old
conservative literature, of a time when there was intelligent discourse
in the conservative intelligentsia in America? The American president
attempted (fairly successfully, I might add) to project the conservative
ideology as "people friendly" as opposed to the religious nuttery it
has become now and was sliding into when he was POTUS.
Islam need a “compassionate” makeover, when its adherents always tell
non-believers that their religion is the religion of peace and their god
is all compassionate? This is the same contra-indication when they
claim there is no compulsion in religion, but a religious bureaucracy
enforces dogma in every facet of their lives.
Whom exactly is
compassionate Islam supposed to be compassionate towards? For folks who
subscribe to the kind of Islam that Isma propagates, the idea of
compassion is meaningless. Islam is political power. Nowhere is this
more evident in Isma's “Malaysia is an Islamic state” campaign they carried out last year.
the press duly noted: “A thread on Isma’s Twitter account listed eight
items on its agenda, most notably the rejection of Malaysia as a secular
country, and to stress that Malaysia is 'Tanah Melayu' or 'land of the
Malays' with the Malays its native citizens. In addition, it called for a
stronger role for Islamic jurisprudence in the national justice system.
Currently, Syariah jurisprudence is under state jurisdiction instead of
federal. The campaign urged Malaysians to fight in implementing Islamic
obligations in the national context. It also wishes to promote the
assimilation of Islam into the Malay culture, among others, in its
language, tradition, clothing and food.”
Isma president Aminuddin Yahaya (above),
said: “We see these evil attempts still continue, and more dangerously
when those who believe in that are among the country’s leadership,”
which, considering what he has said about our non-Malay/Muslim
attorney-general, is fairly tame.
That is one narrative. What is
Mujahid’s counter-narrative? While Isma may take potshots at Harapan as
betraying the Islamic cause, it lists the numerous ways in which the
Harapan government has been buttressing the Islamic bureaucracy . Here
are just two examples. Isma’s homepage carried reports of Mujahid Rawa
creating a special bureau to confront the issue of people insulting Islam.
Isma also carried a news report of how Jakim was grateful its budget had been increased. As
far as incorporating Islamic values into mainstream Malaysian policy (a
major preoccupation of Isma) is concerned, in the beginning of the year
Mujahid Rawa visited Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad (below) with an agenda to further incorporate Islamic values into public policy related to healthcare.
meeting, among others, discussed issues related to the implementation
of the ‘Maqasid Syariah’ agenda in the national administration,
particularly in the context and scope of collaboration between MoH
(Health Ministry) and PMD (Prime Minister’s Department),” Dzulkefly
wrote on Instagram. “Maqasid Syariah” refers to the real purposes of
Does anyone see a counter-narrative here? Isma, on the
one hand, is part of the Harapan government's religious initiatives, and
on the other, claims the Harapan government is not doing enough to
Islamise this country. Meanwhile, the religious czar is talking about
creating a counter-narrative, but in terms of policy he is doing exactly
what the Islamic right wing wants him to do.
If you are confused,
spare a thought for the poor Muslims. What do they make of Mujahid
telling them that the Harapan government has stood up against “orthodox”
ideas, when he spiels against advocacy rights groups and liberals (who
he considers as dangerous as “extremists) and displays the kind of
orthodoxy that folks like Isma propagate?
Mujahid claims he wants
Muslims to abandon “rigid” thinking, but then why is the Harapan
government collaborating with folks like Isma, allowing their ideas to
propagate through government programmes? Mujahid claims he wants
to stop the backwardness of Muslims in Malaysia, but he offers no
evidence that the Harapan regime is committed to enacting progressive
policies in Malaysia.
Mujahid claims that people like the Isma
president, whose “ideas” run contrary to what Islam is all about, should
be dealt with with debates and dialogue. There has been no such
dialogue in the mainstream media organs. Indeed, progressive voices have
been shut out from the Islamic discourse and numerous state- sanctioned
investigations have been carried out because their ideas run contrary
to the ideas of the far right .
You can only hold debates or
dialogues if there are competing ideas. Having closed-door sessions and
coming out smiling and shaking hands does not demonstrate any kind of
consensus building, but is an acknowledgement that the Establishment and
pressure groups are on the same page.
I have discussed the
problem with Mujahid's moderation: “Therein lies the rub. Mujahid wants
an Islam that is convivial and not confrontational. However, when a
religion – any religion – is made the religion of the state, it is, by
very definition, potentially confrontational. Non-Muslims have to
understand then when it comes to Islam in this country, secular rules of
engagement do not apply.”
Some people think that I want Mujahid
to fail. I sincerely do not want him to fail. My instinct for
self-preservation trumps any kind of egotistical desire to be proven
People talk of certain ministries being the most important
for the betterment of this country. I believe the position Mujahid has
of leading the Islamic bureaucracy is the most important position in the
government’s portfolio. Everything else is dependent on how Mujahid
defines the Islamic discourse in this country.
Malaysiakini : “And how easy it is to recognise the revenant shapes that the old
unchanging enemies—racism, leader worship, superstition—assume when they
reappear amongst us (often bodyguarded by their new apologists).”―
Christopher Hitchens, Arguably: Selected Essays
COMMENT | The recent comment
by Education Minister Maszlee Malik linking the matriculation quota
system to job discrimination in the private sector is not only an Umno
narrative but also a Pakatan Harapan narrative. Whenever issues like
these crop up, Harapan partisans are quick to pounce on personalities
instead of questioning the underlying policies of Harapan.
been one year of Harapan rule and so far what Harapan has done in terms
of policy is to continue the efforts of the previous government in
maintaining racial and religious hegemony. Maszlee may be a convenient
whipping boy but the reality is that it is Harapan which is aping Umno’s
racial and religious narratives.
While P Ramasamy is correct to point out that Maszlee isbehaving
like an Umno clone, what he fails to highlight is that the entire
Harapan government is behaving like the BN regime. This Malay/Chinese
narrative is still defined along the same old lines instead of the
promised egalitarian policies that Harapan campaigned on. Icerd,
the Rome Statute, the backtracking on various social and educational
initiatives, the funding of racial and religious propaganda organs, the
polemics of Harapan Malay politicians and the silence of their non-Malay
counterparts point to a neo-BN reality instead of a “new Malaysia”.
discrimination in the public and the private sectors is not mutually
exclusive. Talking about the discrimination of the quota system and the
discrimination in the private sector either overt, or crypto, is not
something that can and should be had separately. It is part of the
grander, systemic dysfunction brought upon by years of governmental and
commercial manipulation. I may not believe in that mythical social
contract, but an argument could be made that the social contract of
discrimination and racism is a social contract between political and
When Ramasamy asks what is the difference
between Maszlee and Umno politicians, what he really should be asking is
what is the difference between the racial and religious policies of
Umno and Harapan? Is there a difference when it comes to tackling
discrimination in the public and private sectors? Ramasamy's question is
only credible if there are differences between the two and if there is
no difference, then singling out Maszlee for towing familiar Malay
narratives is unfair.
When Ramasamy makes the point of the
realisation that “some of our ministers, like Maszlee, are no different
from the BN era politicians who used race and religion to ensure their
political survival", this is unintentionally funny. Why? Because, if
anything, non-Malay political operatives have been scrambling to not
spook the Malays and are in a state of agitation because their base is
wondering when this “new Malaysia” deal will materialise. DAP, for
instance, having a closed-door debate is the very definition of not
spooking the Malays.
and religious issues are the bread and butter of Malaysian politics.
How could it not be? When the religion of the state dominates and
democratic norms subverted and we have racial policies favouring the
majority community, everything becomes an issue of race and religion.
When non-Malay political operatives defend their religious rights or
defend the rights as non-Malays, they are using race and religion as
political tools because they are the most effective tools when it comes
to dismantling hegemonic power structures and policies.
otherwise, to imply that only Umno/BN politicians do this, is merely
another red herring that Harapan seems to have an endless supply of.
Honestly, when you have a race-based party like Bersatu in the coalition
and the pre-election rhetoric of the then Harapan opposition of
Mahathir being needed to secure the rural Malay vote, what did people
think it meant in terms of Harapan’s policy when it came to racial and
And I’m for non-Malay political operatives
speaking up for their communities. When non-Malay political operatives
like Ramasamy, for instance, challenges Malay orthodoxy when it comes to
constitutionally enshrined rights of non-Malays, this is a good thing.
It is pointless drawing false equivalencies between non-Malays speaking
up for their rights and Malays defending their privileges and it is also
pointless claiming that race and religion are not the bread and butter
issues of all politicians.
Unless the system changes we
have to speak up when racial and religious supremacy rears its ugly head
and we have to think along racial and religious lines because not to do
so would lead us to a theocratic state. We already live in an
course, there is a way to weaken the racial and religious narratives of
this country and differentiating the Harapan regime from the previous
Umno regime. This entails not only introducing anti-discrimination laws
which apply to the public and private sector but also dismantling
institutions, including political parties, which are race-based.
is this really something the Harapan government is interested in?
Ramasamy points to the discrimination faced by the Indians in the
private sector and the monopolisation of bumiputera in the public sector
and asks what the government is doing about that. This is a good
question but why single out Maszlee? Why not single out the whole
government bureaucracy which seems to be there not to challenge
mainstream Malay political orthodoxy but to reinforce it.
this is why the Harapan regime abandoning something like Icerd was the
height of mendacity. Icerd provided the framework when it came to
formulating policy for the public and private sectors. When I wrote this,
“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.” It was written to
remind Malaysians that there is politics beyond race and religion. We
must take the first tentative steps.
honestly think that Ramasamy is slowly becoming the conscience of
Harapan but I think he should stop finding convenient whipping boys and
hold Harapan directly responsible for abandoning the fight for a “new
A new Malaysia was created on May 13 - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Malaysiakini : “Because of that, there exist all kinds of assumptions when ethnic
ties become strained and unhealthy. This can cause that event and I do
not want to mention the particular date.” - Then deputy prime minister, Muyhiddin Yassin, 2014
(Muhyiddin did not mention the date specifically, but Utusan Malaysia inserted May 13, 1969, to his quote in parentheses.)
| The quote above by the current home minister and former deputy prime
minister Muyhiddin Yasin that opens this piece demonstrates that, for
Malay power brokers, the May 13 riots is just another tool in their
political arsenal, to be used when circumstances warrant.
A couple of years back, in discussing the use of May 13 as a political weapon,
I wrote: “What really is terrifying of May 13 is the way how the state
uses it to demonise Malaysians based on ethnicity. The people making the
threats, the aggressors become the victims and heroes of their own
narratives, and Malaysians who do not subscribe to orthodoxy become the
villains and scapegoats for all that the system has wrought.” The home minister
now says: "What is the point of raising these old stories? These should
serve as a lesson, and more importantly, the government should focus on
what we are doing now and in the future.
"As the new government,
Pakatan Harapan promises to be fair (to everybody). We don't want to see
our country in chaos because of racial and religious issues."
political establishment has always contextualised the May 13 riots as
the culmination of simmering racial tensions between the Chinese and
Malay communities. A logical, if unfortunate, consequence of class and
race fears, which ultimately ended in bloodshed. With this narrative in
mind, I do not think people realise how important it is to discover the
truth about May 13.
The two competing narratives of May 13 tell a
story of Malaysia which is important if we are truly to become a "New
Malaysia". The first narrative, that of simmering class tensions brought
about by careless political rhetoric, is plausible, especially when it
is used as "a lesson" for people to be mindful of their speech and place
in society. This lesson has been drummed into our heads as a reminder
that racial and religious rhetoric could be dangerous, but what it
really means is, "do not spook the Malays". The second narrative, as promulgated by academicians like Kua Kia Soong, is best summarised in his description of his must-read book: “The
main thesis of this book is that the orchestrated pogrom against the
Chinese in Kuala Lumpur in 1969 was an attempt by the emergent Malay
state capitalist class to create a situation to justify the coup d’etat
against Tunku Abdul Rahman in the state of emergency that followed.”
is it important for us to discover the truth? Should we not forget
about the past and merely pay homage to platitudes, like “never again”?
The only way for us to discover the truth about ourselves is to discover
the truth about May 13. There is a big difference between the two
narratives. If May 13 was brought about by simmering race tensions and
provocative rhetoric by politicians, this means there is something
fundamentally wrong with our society, which goes beyond policy and
something that we should always be mindful of. I do not believe that
this is the Malaysian story.
However, if May 13 was a coup d'état
against a sitting prime minister carried out by a cabal of traitors –
and this is what they were – then the implications are entirely
different. This would mean that even with all our problems, when it came
to race and religion, Malaysia was not fundamentally dysfunctional, not
to the extent of its citizens hacking each other to pieces, based on
supposed racial tensions.
This would lay the blame squarely on
certain segments of the Malay political class and not, as in in the
mainstream narrative of the event, an attempt to evenly spread the blame
on everyone, thereby creating a "teachable moment". The truth
would reveal if Malaysia was really the country where citizens would
hack each other to pieces because of racial tensions, or a country where
Malay politicians would engineer “controlled” racial riots for the
purposes of a coup d'état. The implications of the truth are profound,
which is probably why the establishment – Malay and non-Malay – would
rather think of the future.
would the implications be for the Malay/Muslim majority if they were to
discover that the May 13 riots were not some sort of spontaneous racial
riots, but rather a planned event for the sole purpose of bringing down
a democratically elected Malay leader? How would the truth of the
May 13 riots change the discourse when it comes to non-Malay
participation in the social, economic and political terrain of Malaysia?
Malay political structures have always used the May 13 riots as
justification for discriminatory policies, but how would this be viewed
when preferential policies were based on lies? Maybe it would not change
a thing. Maybe it would change everything.
What would it mean to
the political personalities and political parties, which had built their
reputation as the defenders of race and religion, to have to
acknowledge that they destroyed one of their own with the blood of
innocent people? These are important questions nobody wants to
answer. Malay and non-Malay politicians do not want to discover the
truth about May 13 because the implication of the truth is far more
damaging to the status quo than the myth of May 13.
think that May 13th could never happen again are mistaken. If May 13 was
really a coup d'état against a sitting Umno president, then the reality
is that it is very possible for a sitting Malay prime minster to be
removed using racial riots as an excuse. What is important is
that we discover, once and for all, if this is true, and not wallow in
nostalgia for a country that was or wish for a country that could be.
Should Mahathir serve a full term? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 13, 2019
Malaysiakini : “I played by the rules of politics as I found them.”― Richard M. Nixon
| Despite whatever misgivings I have about the man, I am on record as
saying that Anwar Ibrahim has a legitimate claim to the crown of
Putrajaya. Malaysians owe a debt to Anwar Ibrahim:
“While the various alliances were flawed, what Anwar managed to do was
demonstrate that people working together, even if in a compromised
fashion, could wreak havoc on the Umno hegemon. This should not only
count for something, it means that the "hope" people have sprung from
the post-Umno moves he made.”
The statement by a PAS bigwig of
people rejecting a “convict” as prime minister really sticks in my craw.
Anwar was a political prisoner because the current prime minister and
Umno (when he was leading it) put Anwar behind bars and did it in the
most sordid way, thereby sealing his fate with a certain section of the
majority Malay electorate. Mahathir’s bogus trial of Anwar was a slow
acting poison that has forever crippled Anwar’s political career.
9, Anwar and his faction have had to deal with not only the internal
schisms in PKR, but also the machinations of various factions within
Bersatu and Umno, who are loyal to Mahathir. While Anwar and
Mahathir have made many public appearances suggesting that all is
kosher, the reality of Malay politics demands that we be sceptical of
the proposed handover of power.
Complicating matters is the
different styles of leadership of the two men. Mahathir, the strongman
who has publicly claimed that it is not important if Harapan is not
popular, reminding the civil service to remain neutral, and picking
fights with the Royalty, as opposed to the PM-designate who, by
circumstances of his incarceration and propaganda, has always had to be
on the defensive when it comes to his Malay/Muslim bona fides.
Anwar has backed Mahathir, the reality is for most Harapan supporters,
Mahathir seems to be the man willing to take on the opposition and slay
Malay sacred cows, even though he has been backpedalling on a whole
range of issues.
When people see the spectre of ketuanism
and when they see Mahathir as the only politician not mincing his words
against his opponents, there is an emotional reaction. People want to
believe he is capable of ending the systemic injustices in this country,
even though he was the main architect of the kleptocracy Najib took
control of. Anwar, meanwhile, seems incapable of asserting any kind of agenda, beyond reminding everyone that his reformasi days
are not over. His faction seems to be on the losing end of PKR
politics, and his once charismatic personality seems ineffectual in the
post-May 9 world of Mahathir-dominated polemics.
operatives – publicly – talk about handing over power to Anwar, but is
it tactically sound to make way for Anwar in Harapan? Should Mahathir
serve a full term and then let Anwar have a go at leading Harapan in the
next general election? PAS people, who still talk to me, tell me
Anwar presents a unique opportunity for them. If Mahathir reneges on his
deal and Anwar accepts it, then this will further diminish the Malay
leadership of Harapan and deepen divisions. If Anwar becomes prime
minister, then they will have a field day, mocking the "convict" as
someone incapable of leading a Muslim nation, who is only there because
of Chinese (DAP) machinations.
Lim Kit Siang (photo)
making a bet that Mahathir will hand over power to Anwar, may seem like
good public relations, but if Mahathir does not hand over power, or
some sort of deal is reached to extend Mahathir's reign, this would
further complicate the political terrain on which Harapan has been
losing ground. I was never in favour of this “interim” PM nonsense.
As I wrote here:
“The opposition is not offering any visionary ideas; merely apocalyptic
ones. Maybe this has something to do with the religious overtones of
the opposition, but at this point, it really does not matter. Choices
have been made. Compromises struck and the most important thing the
opposition should do is commit to the game they have chosen to play.”
this "interim" nonsense does is create more tension for the
Establishment. It allows the Malay opposition a talking point and
deepens divisions within the Malay power structures in Harapan. This
guessing game of whether the old maverick will relinquish power also
adds another level of intrigue for Harapan supporters, which blinds them
to the obvious failings of their chosen government.
Bersatu is evidence of how a power group which cannot legitimately claim
to represent its base – Malay – operates by establishing itself as the
prime mover in Harapan, where its allies (DAP and PKR), both with larger
representation, have to acquiescence to Bersatu. Will anyone trust
Bersatu if there was no Mahathir? Besides, Anwar will not gain any
legitimacy if he merely accepts the reins of power from Mahathir. While
many argue that PKR is the weakest link in Harapan, it does command a
majority of seats, while Bersatu is probably worried about how it will
fare in an Anwar stewardship. The perception fanned by the far right is
that Anwar did not fight for his position, but it was handed to him,
with Chinese connivance, courtesy of the DAP. Kit Siang's wager merely
adds to this perception.
Mahathir needs to serve his full term and
then step down, and allow Anwar to lead the charge in the next general
election. If Harapan manages to stabilise the economy and carry out
reforms, which Anwar used as the basis for his reformasi
movement, then no matter what percentage of the Malay vote keeps Harapan
in power, Anwar can make the claim that he is the legitimate democratic
heir to the throne in Putrajaya
At the moment, as Terrence Gomez rightly pointed out, the culture of patronage
is still pervasive in New Malaysia. This has deeper implications than
merely cronyism and corruption. The politics of patronage and Malay
political factionalism are not mutually exclusive. There is a reason why
moves are made to consolidate corporate and political power in various
Malay power structures. This was one of the major points of reform that,
in the early days, Anwar was pushing for.
Ultimately what is more
important is if Anwar demonstrates that he can make his move to the big
seat on his own, instead of relying on a handover. If Anwar is given
power by Mahathir, the Malay far right will claim he needs the Chinese
DAP to get power and hence he is their puppet. This would mean that
Anwar will always have to prove his Malay/Muslim credentials and we all
know how this works, in New Malaysia, right?
Anwar has to lead and
win a general election on his own if ever he is to be a threat to the
extremist forces in this country. If there is a handover, Harapan will
spend all its time justifying this move, instead of embarking on
Anwar could be more influential when not in the PM's seat if
only he rediscovers the reasons why people believed in him, all those
Harapan does not need more time; it needs to stop wasting time - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Malaysiakini : “Each wrong idea we follow is a crime committed against future generations.”Arthur Koestler, 'Darkness at Noon'
| Whenever Pakatan Harapan gets flak for its backpedalling, the
response from its political operatives and propagandists is to plead for
more time. This is a rather juvenile response from 'New
Malaysia' politicians because time is limited in a democracy while
fortunes and consequences change - sometimes overnight - in politics.
The reality is that Harapan has five years until the next elections to
demonstrate that they can manipulate the system to their advantage and
leverage that for another term. This is the realpolitik of it.
for more time is "the dog ate my homework" of excuses especially since
before the election, Harapan positioned itself as the magic bullet that
could “save Malaysia”. Recent public statements from the Harapan elite
that the reason why they cannot fulfil certain promises is because it
costs money as the former government left them with debt is a lie. They
are systemic changes they can make which would cost them very little but
it would not be politically expedient to do so.
Harapan and its
partners should cease attempting to gaslight its base and wallow in
propagandists' responses to criticisms. The most recent example is the
DAP response to my column
questioning the party's attempts to find a “middle ground” with someone
with extremist views. This is not what 'New Malaysia' needs.
Muhammad Shakir Ameer (above),
DAP’s national vice-chief, in responding to my piece questioning the
value of the party’s possible friendship with Perlis mufti Mohd Asri
Zainul Abidin, claimed
that my piece (and others who questioned such a move) was based on
“the desire to be confrontational, without making the effort to take the
middle ground to make peace and avoid prolonged animosity".
is exactly why most people – except die-hard Harapan supporters and
certainly not the base that Harapan thinks it needs to remain in power –
are sceptical of DAP and Harapan. First off, the DAP accusing
others of being "confrontational", considering the rhetoric of the DAP
when it comes to labelling personalities as "extremist", is predictably
hypocritical. Secondly, when the DAP has a closed-door
meeting because it does not want the views of its members to become
public, there is really no point in claiming that the DAP wants
constructive dialogue. The DAP, like any other political party, wants to
control the narrative.
Harapan’s religious czar Mujahid Yusof Rawa has claimed that he doesn’t consider "liberals" less dangerous
than "extremists". So how can the DAP - which has been aligned with
Amanah since its inception - talk about the middle ground when neither
the DAP nor its coalition partners make any attempt to define the middle
ground beyond making false equivalencies between the people opposing
religious extremism and the religious extremists.
who does not really address the points in my piece on the move by DAP
to engage with someone like the Perlis mufti, is like Harapan which
chooses to use red herrings in an attempt to deflect from their
blunders. To be clear, Ameer, the reason why people like me reject
extremism and extreme ideas is because it impacts our economic and
The Harapan grand poobah warns of race-baiting robbers attempting to derail the Harapan reform agenda. Anwar Ibrahim, the prime minister-designate, warns
that racial tension could derail the reform agenda. The rhetoric of
both appeals to Anwar’s “urban elites” but does that rhetoric translate
into real reform?
Some people dismiss comments made by the prime
minister and the soon-to-be prime minister as empty rhetoric especially
when the former goes on about a needs-based approach to entitlement
programmes but I think they are missing the point.
structures have for decades known that racial and religious politics
were economically unfeasible. They understood that by denying Malaysians
their economic potential, they were weakening the economy. I suspect
that part of this is why there is a reluctance to make public the
findings of the Council of Eminent Persons report. However,
Malay power structures have lacked the scrotal fortitude to do anything
about it. What they do is come up with deflections and talk about that
mythical "middle ground" when it comes to extreme religious and racial
ideas as if mainstream Malaysian politics starts from the centre.
over the years Umno people including Najib Abdul Razak attempted to
reverse the policies that favour the majority because they knew –
everyone knew – that it was bad for the economy and would only get worse
in a fast-changing geopolitical landscape. When Mahathir Mohamad talks
about not giving out handouts and upgrading skills, he is admitting that
the current disproportionate system has handicapped not only the Malay
majority but Malaysia as well.
I sincerely believe that there are
political operatives within the Harapan coalition who want to change
Malaysia for the better and this includes political operatives from
Bersatu, but unfortunately there are too many political operatives and
supporters of Harapan who believe that the old paradigm works and they
support the gaslighting that Harapan propagandists engage in in support
of the old paradigm.
There are good policy decisions that Harapan has made when it demonstrates it has the political will. The recent decision
by the political apparatus and the security apparatus to implement the
Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is a
shining moment for Harapan. Harapan is capable of so much more. So
the question is not if people should give Harapan more time but rather
that Harapan has a limited amount of time to carry out the agenda they
claim they want.
Harapan needs a backbone - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Malaysiakini : “Don't hit at all if it is honourably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!” - Theodore Roosevelt
| The rumblings from the rural Malay heartland, amplified by the union
between PAS and Umno, is an example of how policies that could save
Malaysia are held hostage by rural voters.
Commenting on the
global trend of identity politics and warning that rural Malay voters
should not be dismissed as “racists”, KRA strategy director Amir Fareed
Rahim has called for identity politics to be challenged by the politics
of hope and vision. The problem with all this talk of the politics
of “hope” and “vision” is that ultimately it means very little. What
“vision” does Harapan have for this country when it comes to the
foundation of mainstream Malay politics? If all Harapan is doing is
replaying the Umno/BN game, then it will surely lose the rural Malay
vote that seems to be the holy grail of Malaysian politics.
Malay voters understand they have nothing to lose if they vote for the
opposition because they understand the game is rigged in their favour.
They know that Malay power structures will not do anything to “punish”
them because they hold so much power – unequal power – when it comes to
who is running this country. Malaysia has not seen a rise in identity
politics because the foundation of Malaysian politics is identity
politics. While Harapan needs a message, what is more important at
this moment is that it needs to develop a backbone. Having a message is
pointless if you allow the message to be hijacked, or worse,
manipulated by your political opponents. To ensure that both do not
happen, you need a backbone.
In a recent forum about Harapan's
progress, a panellist argued that Harapan should be using state
propaganda resources to counter the “extremists' views.” Tengku
Razaleigh Hamzah, before the 14th general election, talked about how the
state had resources which not only included media organisations, but
also intelligence services, which gave them an edge in elections.
There has been much talk about how Harapan’s messaging has been failing. Most recently prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim (photo, above) conceded that Harapan’s dodgy messaging was the cause of much of its problems. He
also claimed that the “urban elite” was distracting from the bread and
butter issues of the rural people, which I suppose put him on the
opposite side of what E Nalini said at the forum: “But people who are
critical of the government and saying good things are being
The real issue is, what “message” does the Harapan
regime have? When Kok Lanas assemblyman Alwi Che Ahmad said, “Do you
know that (Attorney-General) Tommy Thomas is now a household name even
in the kampung? I don’t need to elaborate why.” Alwi does not need to
elaborate because what the far right has been doing is propagating the
idea that the non-Malays are taking over the government and not
respecting the royal institutions and Islam.
Their message is
working for the base which they need, and they are bereft of the
mainstream propaganda channels they used to have. What about
Harapan’s message? Harapan's message seems mainly about rebranding
Umno/BN era policies – with the qualifier that it would be less
“corrupt” and placating the extreme elements, which do not necessarily
include the Umno/PAS union.
Let us not talk about the
preoccupations of the non-Malays, but rather the fight for the Malay
demography. It is pointless for Harapan’s religious czar to blather on
about how mosques should be free from politics. If there are clerics who
are federally funded or (Harapan) state-funded, they should be pushing
the Harapan narrative on Islam. When you work for the federal
bureaucracy or get funds from the federal bureaucracy, you should be
pushing the official narrative of the state.
should be politicising the Islamic narrative of the Harapan state in
mosques and in the mainstream media. They should not be allowed to
propagate Umno's version of Islam. If they do not fall in line, they
should be fired. There are a plethora of young religious school
graduates who are waiting for an opportunity to take their place and who
have a burgeoning following on social media. The question is whether there is a difference between the Islamic narrative of the Harapan regime and the former Umno regime.
point is how the Malay power structures in Harapan are not defending
their non-Malay counterparts. You can call the MCA (I still do not want
to talk about the MIC) running dogs, but when the Umno/BN regime was
functional, the Malay power structures in BN created a narrative for
non-Malay participation in BN. They did this using not only state media,
but also localised policies that did not threaten the sensitivities of
the Malay vote banks.
Some political and religious operatives
claim the DAP is damaging Harapan’s “Malay” public image with the
statements they make. This is probably true in some instances, but the
larger, more important narrative is that when BN was in power, it
acknowledged in its propaganda activities that the MCA had to look after
Chinese interests and pushed the narrative that this was part of the
Unfortunately, Harapan does not have this
convenient tool. Harapan has made some bold symbolic moves, like
anointing a non-Malay as AG and making the CJ a woman, but what it has
failed to do is fight dirty with the far right. What Harapan
should be doing is demonstrating that the new regime will not bow down
to the far right when it attempts to diminish government institutions.
The way to do this is to use laws it uses against ordinary citizens -
those people who E Nalini said are saying "good things" - against the
racial and religious provocateurs of the far right. Let these political
operatives defend themselves in a court of law instead of contaminating
the court of public opinion.
can make all sorts of promises and throw goodies closer to elections,
but until the big showdown, you should be wearing down your opponents. A
good example is this royal fight between Mahathir and the royal house
of Johor. Many people are using Mahathir as a proxy for their pent up
feelings about the royal institution, but what this demonstrates is that
at least Mahathir is willing to slay sacred cows when political power
(his) is threatened.
Of course, Mahathir is not getting the
backing he should receive because most Harapan political operatives are
struggling to find their cajones. I do not blame the non-Malay political
operatives for not getting involved, and they should stay out of it.
However, Harapan Malay power structures should be jumping on the
bandwagon to drive home the point to the far right and their proxies
that there is a new sheriff in town.
Of course, the far right is
waiting to see if there is a handover of power, or even if the prime
minster's age permits, for him to continue the fight. That is a scary
proposition, since most in the Malay power structure in Harapan would
rather fight one another than their political opponents.
Malaysiakini : “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” ― Winston S Churchill
| Apparently DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng wants to “engage” with
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin after Asri (who claims there was a
misrepresentation) made comments about the DAP in the press.
is horse manure. The DAP secretary-general is not meeting the Perlis
mufti, but rather, the finance minister of Malaysia is meeting with the
Perlis mufti. Lim Guan Eng, who prides himself on being a “Malaysian”
first (whatever that means), is meeting with a religious operative who
has made it clear that someone like Zakir Naik is beneficial to Islam in
Malaysia. A religious operative who recently backed a Muslim convert
who allegedly disparaged Hinduism. Asri has a beef with the Hindu
community, once claiming that no rational Malaysian worships cows.
can the DAP have friendly ties with Asri? The mufti of Perlis has
dismissed the corruption allegations against PAS president Hadi Awang,
claiming that Hadi was a modest and pious man.
What about all the things DAP has said about PAS president Hadi Awang?
Will the DAP concede that it has been wrong about Hadi, and Asri has a
legitimate point of view when it comes to Hadi Awang?
that everyone should be “careful” about making allegations: “We punish
what is manifest. God knows all.” In other words, all those DAP
political operatives, including the Malay power structures of Harapan
that make allegations against Hadi, should be careful, lest they invite
divine retribution. How would it look, the DAP demonising the MCA for
working with PAS, but having no problem when the mufti of Perlis backs
Does anyone really think that Asri is unaware of the
things the Harapan regime has done for Muslims in this country? Does
anyone think that Asri was unaware of the looting of Islamic funds that
was going on when the Najib regime was in power?
Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim Chee Keong (above),
whose work is admirable when it comes to a whole range of issues, is
operating under a delusion in his rambling on about how the DAP needs to
engage with the Perlis mufti. This has always been the problem
with the DAP. In their quest to court the Malay/Muslim vote, they have
mucked about in scared provinces, instead of commanding the secular
higher ground. Forget what Asri said about the DAP and think about
what he said about Muslims being bullied and under threat from the
The Harapan regime has backtracked on the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (Icerd). They have backtracked on the Rome Statute. They
have given asylum to Zakir Naik. They have cleaned up Tabung Haji and
are attempting to carry out reforms on Felda. They have charged
politicians and bureaucrats with stealing from public funds, and kept
the quota systems which favour the Malay majority.
They have a
religious czar who has proposed policies like a syariah-compliant dress
code for the private sector, among other pro-Islamic initiatives. They
have increased funding of the Islamic bureaucracy. The DAP has funded
Muslim entitlement programmes and gone out of its way not to spook the
Malays to the chagrin of some of its base. Now we could argue this
is a “good” thing, but there is no rational argument that could be made
in support of the narrative that Muslims are bullied or under threat
under the Harapan regime. Why is Asri carrying on with this narrative?
Asri’s narrative is not based on any objective assessment of Harapan’s
polices, only on the emotional strategies of his religious supremacy.
Asri feels Muslims are under threat or being bullied because he feels
under threat and bullied. His Islamic narrative, which is overtly
bigoted and misogynistic, has been supplanted by the subtle machinations
of the Harapan state. This, at times, involves sanctioning the Islamic
far-right, much to the annoyance of the Islamists who prefer to operate
without any sanction from a supposedly Islamic state.
The finance minister is meeting with a religious leader who, when he was chiding the DAP for not making its stand clear on P Ramasamy (above, right)
who was accused of being a supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE), said: “I could also see this hate and anti-Islam
(sentiment) on Ramasamy, which is a trait of LTTE.”
A religious operative who, in a recent interview, claimed that he had the backingof
70 percent of Muslims when it comes to his fracas with the prime
minster, who claimed he was “deaf” to what the Harapan regime had done
for Muslims in this country . I have no idea why Lim Guan Eng
would want to engage with the mufti of Perlis. This perhaps is just
another way for the DAP to attempt to placate the far right forces,
which seems to be the only way the DAP knows how to operate.
DAP has a history of propping up so-called “moderate” Muslim
personalities, only to have those same personalities come back and bite
their behinds. Asri claimed that he was misrepresented. If this were the
case, why not make a statement clarifying his position? Why does it
take a meeting, initiated by the DAP, for him to make his stand clear?
someone like Asri needs is legitimacy. What he needs is his so-called
70 percent support from the Muslim community to see that he has enough
clout for the Chinese finance minister to kowtow to his narrative. And
this is exactly what the DAP is doing. The people who buy into the
narrative that Malay/Muslims are under attack will not believe anything
that comes out of the DAP. There is nothing the DAP could do to appease
or please these people. The more the DAP gives legitimacy to these
types of people, the more “moderate” Muslims will feel that it is
pointless speaking out because the establishment would always enable the
kinds of narratives that are detrimental to them, more importantly,
What the Harapan regime should be doing is flooding the
state-owned media with all the "good" they have been doing for the
Muslim community. What they should be doing is naming and shaming the
personalities and businesses that have been looting Muslim funds. What
they should be doing is defending the DAP in state-owned media against
the attacks of the far right. Instead, the DAP, like a dog with its tail
between its legs, conjures up a meeting with a mufti who insists his
narratives are the only legitimate Islamic narratives in this country.
is nothing non-Muslims can do to appease the Islamists in this country
except to capitulate to their every demand. Why do think this narrative
of Muslims being bullied under a Harapan regime is pushed into the
mainstream? The reason is simple. When hints of progressiveness are
detected, the Islamists and the far right react to protect their turf.
the DAP continues giving legitimacy to extreme forces, it is going to
do more damage to this country in the long run. The next religious
provocation will then crop up and the DAP will pussyfoot around the
issue because, to do otherwise, would be to offend people like the mufti
I was going to write that with friends like Asri, who
needs enemies? But the reality is that with friends like Lim Guan Eng,
who needs enemies?
Honest cops would have no fear of the IPCMC - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, May 04, 2019
Malaysiakini : "It is hoped the government carries out its promise to set up the
IPCMC without any further delay, which I am certain will go down as one
of its greatest achievements."– Ramkarpal Singh
| Bukit Gelugor parliamentarian Ramkarpal Singh is correct. If Pakatan
Harapan discovers its cojones and sets up the Independent Police
Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), this will go down as one
of its greatest achievements, which frankly speaking is something the
Harapan regime needs. People like to concentrate on the cops who are attempting to block this move but what the Wang Kelian hearings have shown us is that police corruption and political complicity go hand in hand.
are not dealing with a single organism here. What we are dealing with
is a complex network of political, business and state security personnel
that is the basis of a black economy, dealing with everything from
narcotics to human trafficking.
The fears of the rank-and-file are
not really centred on the complex web of political patronage but rather
on the banal everyday dysfunction of the state security apparatus.
Three years ago, two siblings detailed the horror they experienced when
they were detained by the state security apparatus. You can read about here
and, of course, the feeble attempts by the police higher-ups for the
brothers to make a “police report” which they said would be investigated
in a fair and transparent manner.
is what corrupt cops fear most with an IPCMC. That the average citizen
will have an avenue to turn to if the state security apparatus abuses
them and an independent body will then investigate their claims. It is a
simple as that.
Well, okay, it is not as simple as that.
All these cops who allegedly have a problem with an independent body
“punishing” them are the kind of cops who believe that working without
oversight comes with the badge. They are also worried that other cops
who so far have been compliant to orders which they know are wrong or
are just afraid that they would lose their jobs if they do not follow
orders, would realise that now there is an independent body watching
As someone who has been a part of the state security
apparatus, I can tell you first-hand that personnel are not worried if
they know that their own will “punish” them. What they are afraid of are
“outsiders” poking their noses into their business. I get that some of
my comrades will not like this kind of talk but this is exactly why the
Harapan regime is getting pushback from the state security apparatus.
addition, let us not forget that race and religion are part and parcel
of the state security apparatus. Political parties and right-wing
pressure groups have always claimed that the Royal Malaysian Police
(PDRM) is a “Malay” institution and attacks against the state security
apparatus are an attack against the Malay community.
of course, is one of the numerous racial flashpoints in this country
because the majority of the non-Malays view the state security apparatus
as enablers to hegemonic Malay political structures. When then home
minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, for instance, advised a shoot-to-kill policy because the Malay community is normally the victims of crimes and the top Terengganu cop claims that Malays do not
participate in gang culture, what we have to understand is that any
attempt at oversight necessarily means confronting the racism and
bigotry that permeates these institutions.
The silver lining is
that honest cops would not have an issue with the IPCMC. In fact, they
would welcome it. They would welcome it because they are sick and tired
of always having to look over their shoulder. They would welcome it
because it offers protection against the various hierarchical power
structures that define the state security apparatus. Which brings
us, of course, to all these coddling statements by the prime minister
and home minister about “reassuring” the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM)
that they are not being targeted. The truth of the matter is that the
PDRM should be targeted. They should be held accountable for the deaths
in custody, the torture, the corruption, the dereliction of duty. If you
are an honest cop, you would have nothing to fear.
the government is doing is attempting to negotiate with the PDRM.
Attempting to demonstrate that they should not fear the IPCMC. The fact
is, if you are corrupt, you should fear the IPCMC. And let me tell you
something, the people who fear this independent commission are the
people who have something to hide.
the state attempts measures which would reform the state security
apparatus, organisations like the PDRM play the victim card. This, of
course, is something they learnt from their political masters. This is
an institution which gave us the Copgate affair.
The Cliff's Notes version here
– “Nowhere is this more clear than in the infamous Copgate affair,
where former Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Ramli
Yusuff exposed the criminal underworld links between alleged mobster Goh
Cheng Poh, or Tengku Goh, and the inspector-general of police then,
Musa Hassan. Musa served as IGP from 2006 to 2010. This case points to
the nexus between criminal enterprises, police collusions and political
When former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi attempted
to set up the IPCMC, BN parliamentarians objected to the move and the
then Umno-owed Utusan Malaysia in an editorial wrote, "Although
(these objections) were from several parliamentarians, we believe they
are in line with the view of the majority of the rakyat." Abdullah
did not have the support of his political base when it came to this
issue. Do Mahathir and Harapan now have the political will and the
support of their bases to carry this out?
Preaching to the unconverted - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Most of the people I knew who converted was not because of the love of the faith but for the love of pussy!! They only heard what was sanitized by the brain washing proselytizers.They have their regrets as once in, they simply cannot check out!!! When they convert others especially the Christians, they don't tell them that they have to denigrate the Jews and Christians 17 times a day. That means their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and all they purportedly love all just for the sake of pussy or dick. Read all about that hate.......................
Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu
Malaysiakini : “People who change their religion should face the death penalty.” - Zakir Naik
Why is Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, a follower of Zakir Naik, and
member of Angkatan Skuad Mubaligh Malaysia, known as an “independent” preacher? What does this mean? JAIS had hooked up with Kalimuthu (in
2017) to give courses on the Tamil language to increase productivity when it comes to proselytizing in a multilingual milieu.
this course was supposed to do, was make it easier for Muslim preachers
(state sanctioned) attempting to convert Indians, using the Tamil
language as an entry point into their lives. The idea that
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin puts forward that Kalimuthu was
only testifying when it came to his personal experience with the Hindu
faith, is bunkum. What Kalimuthu was doing as a professional
proselytizer was creating a narrative for Muslims to use to convert
Hindus in the course of his professional duties.
So there is
nothing “independent” about Kalimuthu. He was a state actor, whose
mission is to covert people to Islam, specifically Tamil speaking
Hindus. So let us not play into this narrative that Malaysia is a market
place of Islamic ideas where independent preachers roam free,
disseminating ideas, some of which go against official narratives of the
This idea of Muslim converts as the perfect vehicles
to proselytize, is nothing new. Muslim convert Ridhuan Tee Abdulah, for
instance, always pleaded “special knowledge” when it came to the Chinese
community, hence his “attacks” against the community had the appearance
of legitimacy to a certain section of the Muslim community. This idea
of using converts to preach is propagated by prostylizing faiths all
over the world.
I understand the Hindu outrage when it comes to
what Kalimuthu said. While most Hindus expect their faith to be mocked,
especially in the current political climate, the reason why this
supposedly “personal” video was uploaded was meant as a kind of
advertisement to other Muslims and an anecdote by a former Hindu as to
the lack of Hinduism, hence the conversion.
Ridhuan Tee (above)
does something similar too. His provocations against the Chinese
community were meant to legitimize the greatness of his faith, at the
same time pointing out the supposed flaws of the religious and social
mores of the Chinese community. After all, why convert if your original
faith was fulfilling whatever religious expectations you needed, right ?
bunkum is exactly what preachers like Zakir Naik promote. If you listen
to what Kalimuthu says or even Ridhuan Tee, for instance, you will
notice the echoes of what Zakir Naik pushes in his “inspirational”
sermons. This idea that there is something wrong with your faith, which
is why conversion is necessary to ameliorate whatever feelings of doubt
you have about your faith and circumstances.
This idea that
converting in this country does not come with some state sponsored
benefits is something that is often overlooked in these conversion
debates. Nobody wants to have that conversation because to do so would
invite religious groups to lodge police reports that claimed you were
disrespecting the Muslim faith.
The Perlis mufti (above),
the onetime darling of the then Harapan opposition has a history of
denigrating the Hindu community. It is pointless listing the vile
comments he has made about the Hindu community. It amounts to how the
religion of the state targets vulnerable disenfranchised communities,
with the hope of inclusion through religious conversion.
problem with the religious discourse in this country is not that people
are going about insulting each other's religion, but rather the state
has the power to sanction people for trespassing on religious and racial
This power is often applied unequally, with the
state sanctioned religion and its adherents getting off scott-free, when
the same does not apply to the other religions in this country. Asri’s
lament that the Harapan regime has been lacking in protecting the
sanctity of Islam comes at a time when Asri is under public scrutiny for
comments he has made, the people he associates with and the realization
that he was never the moderate Muslim the then opposition built him up
While prime minister Mahathir Mohammad has to defend
Harapan's track record when it comes to Muslim issues, the reality is
they have not really differed from the Umno regime when it comes to how
the religion of the state is practiced in this country. Well,
there is a small difference. There have been attempts made to equalize
state action when it comes to religious provocations; hence we get
Muslims hauled up by the state for making derogatory comments, when
before, they would have been coddled by the state.
The Suhakam conclusion that Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat (above)
were kidnapped by state actors, also sent a chill down the spine of the
Islamic deep state. No doubt, with the embracing by the Harapan state
of someone like Zakir Naik, they believed all was kosher when it comes
to demonizing other religions and carrying out sub rosa religious
In the end, there will always be the Kalimuthus and the
Ridhuan Tees, because weak people will be used by the state or state
sanctioned bodies to propagate ideas of religious superiority, because
zealots understand that free will, when it comes to faith, is a more
frightening prospect than independent democratic institutions.
Malaysiakini : “You can fail many times, but you're not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else.” - John Burroughs
| The difference between Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and prime
minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim when it comes to dealing with the
Malays is not ideological but rhetorical. While the old maverick
is wont to lecture and bemoan specific traits of his “people” – while
blowing the dog whistle when it comes to the non-Malays – Anwar Ibrahim
likes to find scapegoats in his quest to project some sort of leadership
Despite the differences in rhetoric, both carry out racial policies which are detrimental to the Malay community. Anwar’s
latest tirade when it comes to the plight of the “rural Malays” is to
blame the “urban elites” for distracting from the economic woes of the
rural Malay communities. There is an element in the Malay
political elite of PKR who seem to think that their perceived lack of
“Malayness” is brought upon by egalitarian ideas that emanate from the
urban and semi-urban centres, which is dominated by non-Malay concerns.
“don’t spook the Malays” narrative is a projection about the perceived
lack of (rural) Malay support of the progressive Malay faction of PKR,
which ironically is the panacea for the lopsided policies that have been
detrimental to the Malay polity. Young Malay leaders, some of who
have jumped on the bandwagon, citing “ultra-liberal Malays” and other
such nonsense, are merely reacting to the right-wing elements in PKR and
from Bersatu, who are jostling for power in this post-May 9 reality.
scapegoating of the “urban elites” is just another narrative employed
by Malay political powerbrokers to deflect from the reality that
policies meant to favour the dominant Malay polity have been an abject
failure. Or rather, the short-term gains of such policies have come back
to bite the behinds of Malay power structures bereft and fearful of
progressive ideas that could change the political and social landscape
of the Malay polity.
When Anwar Ibrahim says
something like this: “…at times, the elite seems to ignore these real
problems. I’ve not heard them talking about… poverty, inequality...”,
the question becomes, where has he been? Not only have the urban elites
been talking about poverty and equality but these same urban elites were
suckered into believing that only the current prime minister has the
“trust” of the rural Malays, which is why they embraced his political
comeback and anointed him the Grand Poohbah of Harapan. It was
Anwar Ibrahim who was viewed as not up to the task of corralling the
rural Malays to the Harapan banner, even though he has spent an
inordinate amount of time and political capital to try forge a
relationship with this demographic.
People obsessed with meritocracy
when Anwar Ibrahim claims that people are obsessed with meritocracy,
and uses “somebody from the Dayak tribe” as an example of why
affirmative action is needed, this is not only mendacious, but I would
First off, children from tribes in Sarawak would be more
vulnerable to unilateral conversion rather than the inequalities of the
bureaucracies when it comes to preserving their special rights.
Secondly, what about the poor non-Malay kid who managed to score the
required nine As but is marginalised from the system because hundreds of
Malay students who do not qualify get to participate in the system,
merely because of race? What about the children of privileged Malays who
use the system at the expense of disenfranchised Malays?
claims that the urban elites are cut off from rural bread and butter
issues but the reality is that the urban elites are obsessed with bread
and butter issues of the whole country. Economic bread and butter
issues are the catalyst from aberrant political upheavals and when you
are the minority (especially when it comes to progressive politics), you
understand that while you may be hurting in a bad economy, the people
who could do the most damage to your economic and social stability are
the disenfranchised who wield lopsided political power, through their
Why do you think non-Malays – specifically the Chinese
community – are scapegoated as an economic threat to the Malay
community? Because it is easier to blame a community for bad policy
decisions than to reverse course and attempt policies which would not be
politically attractive in the short term, but specifically in this
context because Harapan does not want to do the hard work of using its
apparatus for messaging and shifting public opinion.
And it is
bizarre. Anwar claims that the rural communities want to be reassured
that the Malay language and their special rights are preserved and that
they are afraid of certain government policies, which they view as
threats to those issues. Really? When Anwar says that there is no harm
when it comes to mastering the Malay language, where exactly was anyone
posing a threat to the language?
Cause of the plight of the rural Malays
this got anything to do with the UEC demand from the Chinese community?
Is Bahasa Melayu under threat because of the refusal to recognise the
UEC? Then just come out and say it. Look, the reason why the rural Malay
communities are in the situation they are in is because, for decades,
successive Umno regimes deprived them of the opportunities and
advantages that urban people have.
They did this because they
wanted a convenient rural vote bank, which they could use as a potent
weapon, in terms of votes and narratives against the non-Malay
communities, who were not dependent on government handouts but who were
God’s honest truth. It is pointless for Anwar Ibrahim to lecture urban
elites into going down into rural areas and doing charitable work
because the onus is on the government, both state and federal, to ensure
egalitarian programmes which would help all marginalised communities,
instead of expecting more handouts from privileged urban people – who,
let’s face it, are struggling with economic issues of their own. Does
Anwar really think that all people who make their homes in urban centres
Besides privileged urbanites, who are so inclined
have their hands looking full as against the disenfranchised in the
urban areas, mucking about in the rural heartlands presents social and
public relations problems of their own. What the Malay political
apparatus should be doing is defunding those “Malays” institutions that
are leaching money from public coffers, which could be put to better use
instead of the indoctrination and subservience, which is the desiderata
of mainstream Malay politics and the function of those institutions.
of course, there are the Malay plutocrats who are engaged in larcenous
behaviour when it comes to Malay entitlements – and looting, when it
comes to Malay-Muslim fundings. In the end, Anwar’s folly is the
willful denial that policies meant to empower the Malays are, in
reality, predatory policies which disenfranchise the greater Malay
community and from which the fallout is the racial and religious
divisions in this country.
Anwar can take heart because his folly is shared by the political class in this country.