by KJ John
Jan 15, 2013
In 2007, I wrote a column entitled, ‘Why I will not vote for BN’. No one then really took me seriously, although I was told that MCA circulated that column during the MCA central committee meeting. Even later, a representative of the then chief secretary told me, but after the fact, that the man was not too happy with my column either.
My retort: Well, he could have easily called me to understand my reasons and explanations, if he was interested to listen. If they could listen, then the government maybe could have addressed those reasons well before the general election. Finally, PM Najib Abdul Razak is trying, but is it too late?
This time around, allow me to state positively why I have no choice but to still vote for Pakatan Rakyat again. I will record three reasons in this column. Neither is this because I love BN any less, it is just that given our real choices and options, the unknown angel is better than that of the known devil.
My first reason is the ‘Allah’ issue and how it has been so badly handled by the BN government, and why they need to better understand the real issues about the true and real etymology of the ‘Allah’ word. My good friend and fellow writer to Malaysiakini, Bob Teoh, has documented the core issues quite well for all those interested to know the truths about this word. His book is entitled, Allah: More than just a Word.
I will not explain all the reasons involved here, which the High Court judgment by Lau Bee Lan has argued rather well. Citizens should read this judgment before talking about this issue.
I have three reasons why I think the BN government has boo-booed on this ‘Allah’ issue.
First and foremost, the then home affairs minister’s decision of banning the Bibles was misplaced and wrongly done. The judgment records this. The government, of all stakeholders within the nation state of the three territories we call Malaysia, should better understand this truth.
The government was, and is, an integral fourth party player in all negotiations for the formation of the federation of the Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak representatives who made decisions for the merger and formation of Malaysia as a brand new nation state. The colonial powers moderated the formation.
The Malay language then became the official national lingua franca for nation-growing. But, believe it or not, the Sabahans and Sarawakians had been using the ‘Allah’ word even before they became Malaysians! Is this so difficult to understand and appreciate? How then can BN leadership assume that Sabah and Sarawak are still fixed deposits, when one cannot even understand the very essence of the language of their hearts?
Second, by choosing to appeal this High Court decision, the BN government is stating their real intent that they consider such historical evidence as wrong and that their Ketuanan Melayu agenda must be fought regardless, even when it makes no rational sense. Consequently, both the 18 and 20 point agreements with Sabah and Sarawak are made irrelevant, null and void.
When we make this issue the focus of the 13th general election, it becomes all about the dignity of Sabah and Sarawak’s people and the mutual respect for their original agreement. All Malaysians must know this issue and vote to honour our agreements with our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak.
Thirdly, no Arab nation that I am aware of has banned the use of the ‘Allah’ word yet; not even Egypt, or should I say, especially Egypt. I visited Egypt in 1980 and was there for about 10 days staying with a Lebanese friend who then lived there. We attended many events, including church services, and in all the places I went to I was greeted with the peace greeting in Arabic, which only in Malaysia, is it supposed to be a Muslim and not an Arab cultural greeting.
When are the Malays going to understand and appreciate that they can never really become Arabs, whether by external attire or by cultural traits? Muslims yes, but Arabs no!
The federal government is still heavily dominated by Malays (as a direct result of gerrymandering and improper governance after almost half a century) and we have been abusing the Malaysians of Sabah and Sarawak, much worse than the White Rajah has ever abused them!
Why is it that after almost 50 years of this willing and voluntary merger, their position and placement (with rights and privileges) as the bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak, is not better or equal to even the middle 60 percent of the Malay bumiputeras or even in the same category of non-Malays?
Why are these non-Muslim bumiputeras not given equal privileges as the Malay bumiputeras in all matters related to the New Economic Policy- (NEP- ) type agenda? Why are their rights and privileges not secured under the federal constitution in equally the similar ways? Are we not then neo-colonial rajahs?
Finally, while it has been proven worldwide that education is the best arbiter of progress and improvement of the poor and marginalised, and while our education system has uplifted many Malay bumiputeras from farmers and fishermen to IT professionals and engineers, and all this done within one generation, where then are the Orang Asli and the Orang Asal in all such calculations and performances?
An issue of integrity
Why has our world class education, that even raised people like Idris Jala to global prominence and worldwide governance capabilities, not done the same for the other bumiputeras of Sabah, Sarawak and also the Orang Asli? In fact, can anyone even produce one public document that states that the Orang Asli of the peninsular is even truly considered as bumiputeras under any existing criterion? Even the Portuguese of Malacca are!
My above three points relate to our current national philosophy of leadership and development for our nation state. We must mean and demonstrate equality of both rights and privileges for all Malaysians. 1Malaysia cannot mean anything less! We cannot have a federal constitution that recognises one group of Malaysians, but exclude many others, equally included, but agreed to by the same framers of the same constitution. This is an issue of integrity.
Even worse still, it is becoming equally obvious to all Malaysians that the so-called royalty in some Malay states can be influenced, and are increasingly demonstrating their blind partisanship on related issues, but denying constitutional rights and privileges which can impact every Malaysian. My concern is being recorded because the fact is also that the royalty in the Malay states only exist because they are defined and qualified by the same constitution. The royalty must respect the same constitution which gives similar equal rights to every other ordinary citizen.
The Malaysian nation is at a serious crossroad between a feudalistic era of nepotism, cronyism and non-transparent business deals, and a new era demanded by the Internet-worked age of social media and democratic aspirations of all people, regardless of colour or creed. The foci of the GE13 will be all these issues. It is for these issues, that about 180,000 people arose to peacefully assemble last Saturday. May we learn to be wise in this general election and vote for change.
KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at [email protected] with any feedback or views.