Archive for category nation building

Will UMNO General Assembly next week send out a clear and unmistakable message that UMNO will be the vanguard and not be the major obstacle to a movement of moderates against extremism in Malaysia?

I applaud the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s call to the majority of Malaysians to be united and speak up against extremism as the country cannot afford to have extremists given its diversity in terms of race, culture and religion.

Speaking at a Barisan Nasional youth retreat dinner in Kuching last night, Adenan said the country could become a worse place not because the minority did not do enough, but the majority did nothing.

The Sarawak Chief Minister warned that the danger of extremism is looming in the country and it is for the moderates to speak up for moderation, pointing out that the majority cannot be silenced for the fanatics and extremists do not speak for the country.

Adenan’s speech is like a breath of fresh air after the surfeit of suffocating statements, speeches and demands in recent weeks and months giving the world the impression that extremism has taken over the country and that Malaysia’s multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious diversity, tolerance, harmony and goodwill have suddenly become a liability instead of an asset – which seemed to be further reinforced by Malaysia’s shocking jump in the Global Terrorism Index 2014 to the Top 50 countries in the world to be watched for terrorism problems. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let the Global Terrorism Index 2014 be a wake-up call to all political parties, NGOs and Malaysians that we jeopardize the future of Malaysians if we do not check the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism and hew closely to the path of moderation

Malaysia has climbed 42 places in an international terrorism indicator that has cited religious extremism as the primary cause of terror attacks worldwide.
In the 2014 edition of the Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute of Economic and Peace, Malaysia is now 48th in a ranking that has Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at the top, having risen from 91st spot in the 2012 issue of the report.

Malaysia’s score on the index measuring the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities and casualties as well as damage to property has also risen steadily from 2012, going from 0.415 out of a possible 10 to the current 3.04. Ten signifies the highest impact of terrorism.

Regionally, the Philippines, (9th/7.29), Thailand (10th/7.19) and Indonesia (31st/4.67) scored worse than Malaysia. Singapore was 124th, with a score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism.

The Global Terrorism Index 2014 is bad news for Malaysia, for overnight, Malaysia has shot into the international radar of the top 50 countries under the world’s terrorism-watch, having overtaken 43 countries in a matter of two years as a country where terrorism is a bigger problem – overtaking countries like Uganda, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, France, Chile, Italy, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tajikistan, Spain, Jordan, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Germany, Canada and Serbia.

What has gone wrong as Malaysia has always prided itself as a model for the world for inter-racial and inter-religious understanding, tolerance and harmony that we are now in the top 50 countries in the world in the Global Terrorism Index on the negative impact of terrorism, when Malaysia should be one of the countries with score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for three-day extension of Parliament for a full debate on “Are Malays and Islam under threat?” as this concerns not just Malays and Muslims, but all Malaysians who want a successful Malaysia

With the approach of the UMNO General Assemblies 2014 from Nov. 25 to 29, there is a build-up of the rhetoric and hysteria that “Malays and Islam are under threat”.

National laureate A. Samad Said made a most pertinent point when he pointed out that despite claims of a growing threat against the Malay community, the country’s leadership has remained in the hands of Malays and is still led by a party which claims to represent the Malay community.

I agree with Pak Samad that it is most peculiar that allegations of Malays under threat are constantly being played up, which is why he advised the Malay community not to be too obsessed about claims that Malays are under threat.

Pak Samad had asked the most relevant question:

“How are Malays under threat? How can religion (Islam) and Malays be threatened when those in power have been Malay for over five decades?

“What have they (Malay leaders) been doing for five decades (if Malays can be under threat)?”

What Pak Samad prescribed is most apt, and I don’t think it could be gainsaid by anyone, that if the country’s more than five-decade-old UMNO Malay leadership cannot put the Malay community at ease, then it should surrender power to let other Malays rule. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who can count more than two Ministers in the Najib Cabinet who are committed moderates in the great battle between moderation and extremism – the raison d’etre for the foundation of Najib’s Global Movement of Moderates?

I said yesterday that the “ruckus” in Parliament on Monday created by the Selangor UMNO/Barisan Nasional chief, Datuk Noh Omar, the UMNO/BN MP for Tanjung Karang had thrown up a teaser – whether the majority of UMNO Ministers, MPs and leaders are like Noh Omar, who are not prepared publicly to endorse Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) initiative and yet deny being an extremist.

Actually, the “ruckus” had done more, as it also raised the fundamental question how Najib’s GMM initiative could have any chance of success when it is impossible to identify more than a handful of committed moderates in Cabinet and UMNO/BN leadership!

For instance, how many Ministers and UMNO/BN leaders are fully committed moderates dedicated to the moderate agenda of the GMM campaign, as repeatedly spelt out by Najib in various international forums in the past four years, as follows:

“The fight against extremism is not about Christians versus Muslims, or Muslims versus Jews, but moderates versus extremists of all religions. We therefore need to rally a coalition of moderates; those willing to reclaim their religion, and pursue the path to peace.”

I cannot count more than two fully committed moderates in the Cabinet who are willing to take up the cudgel of moderation against extremism and rally behind a coalition of moderates to reclaim their religion and pursue the path to peace. Read the rest of this entry »

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Negara-Ku starts roadshow to reclaim Malaysia from extremism

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
12 November 2014

New people’s movement Negara-Ku is set to carry out its “reclaim Malaysia” agenda nationwide with a roadshow beginning in Malacca tonight to return rationality, open and civil discussion, moderation and harmony to Malaysia.

“Kembalikan Negaraku” or “Return My Country” aims to take back Malaysia from racism and extremism, and provide a platform for safe debates, even on controversial issues such as the court’s recent decision on Negri Sembilan’s Islamic enactments on transgenders.

More than just focusing on issues themselves, the movement’s founder and chairperson Zaid Kamaruddin said they wanted to promote a climate where Malaysians could discuss matters without getting emotional.

Their aim was to also put forward the fact that all differences could be discussed with the Federal Constitution as a reference.

Zaid also said the roadshow was not just about promoting the movement but to draw all other civil society groups that wanted to promote healthy relationships among communities. Years before Negara-Ku, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched his 1Malaysia concept when he took office in 2009 but the slogan has since petered out.

“We support all other efforts that promote the coming together of Malaysians, to be able to express what they want,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malays and Islam are not under attack in Malaysia. It is multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which is under siege by intolerant and extremist forces which are trying to turn moderation into a dirty word in Malaysia

It is the supreme irony of ironies.

While the government continues to propagate the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates, this time at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit currently being held in Beijing, Najib had never been so weak and impotent at home to check the forces of hatred, intolerance and extremism rearing their ugly heads.

On the day that Bernama reported that the Prime Minister’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) proposal had received praise from the APEC foreign ministers meeting in Beijing before the 22nd APEC Summit, an ex-UMNO Minister had opened fire on Najib’s GMM initiative, claiming that Christian fanatics in Malaysia had seized on Najib’s concept of moderation and exploited it for their own interests.

Former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maiddin claimed that the Malays and Islam were under pressure due to the concept of moderation, asserting that there were signs the concept was on the wrong track.

He cited with approval a recent statement by Johor Umno youth vice-chief Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who said that moderation was unsuitable for certain issues, claiming that it reflected the thoughts and opinions of the Umno grassroots.
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Going the Taliban way to keep grip on Malaysia

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
8 November 2014

It is no longer a question of what else will certain groups of Malay Muslims take offence to in Malaysia.

Anything from a) places of worship of other religions must not be built in Malay-majority areas and b) alcohol cannot be sold in shops in Malay-majority areas, and even pictures of idols cannot be placed alongside Halal signs – has raised hackles among Muslim groups.

For them, it is not ridiculous to say that such things can shake their faith or affect their image. No detail is too small or trivial for them to assert their dominance or flex their muscles to get their way.

But the so-called guardians are also the same guys who won’t think twice of about plundering the nation or visiting an entertainment outlet and then insisting on a halal meal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s moderate Muslim face takes a beating

The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014

When Malaysia’s urbane Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak travels abroad, he invariably touts his country’s widely accepted reputation for moderate Islam, but that image is taking a beating at home.

Increasingly strident Islamist pressure, often initiated by Najib’s own government, is causing deepening dismay in the traditionally tolerant multi-faith country.

The trend is rooted in the decades-old regime’s attempts to strengthen its weakening grip amid repeated electoral setbacks, as a formidable opposition taps into broad sentiment for liberal reform.

But the ruling establishment is setting the country on an uncertain path, critics warn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s road to perdition

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
3 November 2014

There is no delicate way to put this: Malaysia is on a downward spiral, led down the dangerous path by overzealous religious authorities, misguided or plain stupid individuals and groups.

And perhaps more alarmingly, the government of the day is either allowing this implosion of a blessed country or has become a clueless bystander to the dismantling of multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia.

Not a day seems to go by without some new group seeking to change the complexion of Malaysia.

Not a day goes by without a reminder that stray words and ignorance are far more dangerous than sticks or stones.

Just another day in Malaysia:

Brouhaha over church site in Petaling Jaya Read the rest of this entry »

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Why would anyone flee Malaysia?

Zurairi AR
The Malay Mail Online
November 2, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — When I returned home to Malaysia from a studying stint abroad in September 2008, I inevitably went into a so-called “reverse culture shock”.

Back then Malaysia had just undergone a botched attempt at a regime change by Anwar Ibrahim following the 12th general elections, leaving so many hopes dashed. (The same would repeat itself after the 13th general elections).

Everything seemed horrible to me back then: People minded other people’s faiths too much, superstitious hogwash was all over the newspapers, people could not even bother stopping at zebra crossings to let pedestrians walk… everything left me feeling slightly depressed.

Six years on, much of the feeling still lingers on. Perhaps even worse, as I get myself directly exposed to Malaysian politics with all its racial and religious madness. It takes a certain masochism for someone to read news headlines every day, what more write them.

The thought of leaving Malaysia for a less claustrophobic land has indeed crossed my mind. As surely it has some of you readers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dr. Mahathir’s latest gaffe on Bible burning

— Koon Yew Yin
The Malay Mail Online
October 30, 2014

OCTOBER 30 — As the former Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mahathir — as with former heads of state all over the world — has been accorded much respect. Not only that, he is given liberties as befitting a leader who has served the country for over two decades, and whose experience and advice is thought of as being given with the best interests of the nation in mind.

But the public also knows that Dr. Mahathir is approaching — if not already reached — the stage of senility and dotage that is associated with old age. Threfore he is given some slack — in fact more than is due to any other political leader in Malaysia. His past controversial statements — many found in his blog and others made at public events — would fill up more than a book but they are mostly ignored as the ramblings of an old leader trying to remain in the public eye. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion in Malaysia to be a role model of moderation for other countries as part of his Global Movement of Moderates campaign

The explanation by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Monday on why the Attortney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail has not prosecuted the Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible has added salt to the wound, as it failed not only to win over doubters but have been received with scorn and rejected outright by majority of the critics.

What is worse, it reinforced the perception that the AGC’s arguments that Ibrahim Ali should enjoy immunity and impunity from legal sanctions because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution were not only shallow, superficial and cock-eyed but reflects a Public Prosecutor who has failed in his duties to be a responsible and trustworthy upholder of the rule of law and the protector of inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

The Monday statement from the AGC said Ibrahim had made the threat of burning the Bible “in the context of an incident in Jelutong, Penang, where copies of the Bible were distributed to members of the public, including Muslims” and “After the context had been studied as a whole, Ibrahim Ali’s statement does not fall into the category of having seditious tendencies”.

Does this mean that there are certain “context” where it is fully permissible to threaten the burning of the Bible? Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Pendatang’ and other manufactured crises

By Azly Rahman
Malaysiakini
Oct 24, 2014

Again, this question of migration has bored us to the point of death and dying and Sartrean nausea (see Jean Paul Sartre’s play La Nausee on the meaninglessness of concepts). Aren’t we all here in this land now, whether you like it or not? We just need to be good thinking and moral citizens and uphold the ideals of the constitution and live by the spirit of it. We don’t need to keep on manufacturing crises to sustain conflicts and produce new ones.

Why fight over whose grandpa or grandma was here first? Who knows what these interpretations of the history of migration should mean, but what is clear is one’s legal status and citizenship and what all of us have contributed and will contribute to the betterment of each other if not for this ‘imagined community’ and ‘nation-state’ of Malaysia.

I fear that these arguments about ‘pendatang’ will turn into us calling each other ‘binatang’, ‘menatang’, and ‘menate’ (as in Kelantan dialect). Not good for human progress.

Each citizen, lawful citizen, must be given the equal rights and privileges as Malaysian citizens, whether they have been a citizen yesterday or 10,000 days ago. There should be no discrimination in educational opportunity, welfare services, housing, or anything – these must come with the reward for loyalty. I hope we have read Rousseau’s idea of social contract, or at least understand how airlines give free miles as rewards.

So, let us quit arguing and move on. To those still producing these over-used and abused arguments, as if there are no intelligent things to argue about, I must say this: You are all wrong in framing your argument and asking the right questions. Read the rest of this entry »

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The ‘pendatang’ label and Gerakan’s ‘wayang’

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
23 October 2014

At Gerakan’s recently concluded national conference, the public was treated to a lone voice from the party who stated his view with regard to the birth place of the various racial groups in the country.

According to Johor delegate Tan Lai Soon, the Chinese and Indians were not the only pendatang (immigrants), but the Malays were also not natives of Malaysia as they had emigrated from Indonesia.

Tan said he wanted to explain the position of Malaysians in the country, as the original Bumiputeras were the Orang Asli and natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Except for the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli, everyone else in Malaysia is a pendatang.”

Tan noted that “when Umno members say that the Chinese are pendatang, they obviously forgot that they were also pendatang from Indonesia,” he said.

This view is one which many Malaysians hold – whether in public or privately. But it is one which Umno, Perkasa, BTN and “ketuanan Melayu” supporters do not like to hear about and are trying to suppress as it delegitimises the special privileges that they are addicted to. Read the rest of this entry »

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Recent “pendatang” furore not only proof of failure of Najib’s 1Malaysia policy but 57 years of UMNO/BN Malaysian nation-building

The recent “pendatang” furore is not only proof of failure of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia policy, but the 57 years of UMNO/BN Malaysian nation-building.

Apart from Sabah, which is a special case by itself, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, are local-born and 100% Malaysians – a figure which can be as high as over 95 per cent for Malaysians in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

Whether the ancestors of Malays, Chinese or Indians are immigrants, there can be no cause or justification for any Malaysian to describe another Malaysians from different ethnicity as “pendatang”, especially when the term is loaded in a very derogatory, pejorative and even abusive sense.

This is in fact questioning the citizenship rights of Malaysians, which is entrenched as one of the four “sensitive” rights in the Malaysian Constitution in 197i, whereby it becomes an automatic sedition offence to call for the withdrawal of a Malaysian’s citizenship. Read the rest of this entry »

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I want to believe in my government

— Amar-Singh HSS, Lim Swee Im
Malay Mail Online
OCTOBER 20, 2014

OCTOBER 20 — I want to believe in my government, I really do.

I want to believe that they care for all the people.

I want to believe that they are altruistic and want to serve, rather than lord it over the people.

I want to believe that programmes and plans put in place are there to benefit the poor and average person.

I want to believe that they respect and love our country and all the people in it.

I want to believe ….. Read the rest of this entry »

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If only Putrajaya’s words ever come true

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
19 October 2014

If only…

* Words count for something in Malaysia, then the cloud of pessimism that envelopes the country would long be gone.

But words have a hollow sound here, especially when they emanate from higher the political ladder.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rightly said that political leaders must lead the way with moderation. And then came the letdown.
He said Barisan Nasional and Umno leaders rejected all forms of extremism. Really? Is Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi still a member of Umno? What about Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin?

What about the collection of Umno division chiefs who have pressured the authorities to use the Sedition Act as a dragnet to silence legitimate dissent in “moderate” Malaysia? Read the rest of this entry »

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Was lack of “tongkat ali” the reason why the Cabinet abdicated from its collective responsibility from taking a stand on Nancy’s parliamentary answer on why Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was in Milan yesterday for the Asia-Europe (Asem) Summit, but this cannot be the excuse why the Cabinet had abdicated from its collective responsibility from taking a stand on the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer on why Perkasa President Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible.

Had Nancy correctly reflected the common stand of all Cabinet Ministers on the issue binding every Minister in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility, or had Nancy given a wrong, incorrect and unacceptable response, especially with reference to her statements that Ibrahim was not prosecuted because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and his action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution.

Has the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility in Malaysia degenerated in practice to mean “that no one is responsible”?

Or, to quote the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, was the lack of “tongkat ali” the reason why the Cabinet abdicated from its collective responsibility from taking a stand on Nancy’s parliamentary answer on why Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted, as it is inconceivable that Ministers, whether from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak, who support Najib’s initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates could endorse the answer given by Nancy in Parliament – making them collectively responsible for her answer.

It is no use MCA, Gerakan, MIC, Sarawak, Sabah and even UMNO “moderate” Ministers praising Najib for his recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly against religious intolerance and extremism and even pledging “full and strong support” when as Ministers of the Najib Cabinet, they are not prepared to walk Najib’s talk by refusing to compromise with any form of extremism and religious intolerance, like Ibrahim’s immunity from the sanctions of the law for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Religious, ethnic hatred top global threat for Malaysians, poll finds

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Nearly one-third of Malaysians see religious and ethnic hatred as posing the greatest danger to the world, according to the latest survey finding by Pew Research Center, a concern shared by Indonesia amid simmering religious tensions in both countries and the rise of violent militant Islamist groups.

The Washington-based research group’s Greatest Dangers in the World survey released yesterday showed 32 per cent of Malaysians who cited religious and ethnic hatred as the biggest global threat today.

In contrast, 22 per cent Malaysians surveyed pointed to nuclear weapons, 16 per cent said environmental damage, 13 per cent cited increasing income inequality and 12 per cent highlighted AIDS and other diseases as major global threats.

In neighbouring Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, 26 per cent of its people polled also cited religious and ethnic divisions as the main threat to the world compared to other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines which are more concerned with environmental issues.

Concerns about religious and ethnic hatred ranked the highest in Malaysia among Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh (30 per cent), Indonesia (26 per cent) and India (25 per cent). Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorising the Christian minority

Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
OCTOBER 17, 2014

OCTOBER 17 ― De facto law minister Nancy Shukri sparked an outrage when she said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted over his threat to burn Christian bibles because the authorities had concluded that the Perkasa president was merely defending Islam.

According to her, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had decided that Ibrahim’s alleged call for Muslims to torch Malay-language bibles containing the word “Allah” was in line with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that prohibits the proselytisation of other faiths to Muslims.

Malaysian law does not address hate crimes per se; Ibrahim was investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code that outlaws wounding the religious feelings of another.

News portal Free Malaysia Today quotes Ibrahim as saying at a press conference on January 19, 2013: “Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them.”

The Malay right-wing group chief was purportedly responding to a claim that Christian bibles were being distributed to students, including Malays, at a secondary school in Penang.

The government’s explanation that Ibrahim was merely trying to protect the sanctity of Islam gives the false impression that Islam is under attack in the country, and hence, it is fine to do whatever it takes ― even burning the holy books of a minority religious group ― to defend it. Read the rest of this entry »

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