Archive for category nation building

Deepening Malay Polarization More Dangerous Than Inter-Racial Divisions

Bakri Musa
21st Sept 2015

Over 46 years ago a largely Chinese group of demonstrators celebrating their party’s electoral victory triggered Malaysia’s worst race riot. Last Wednesday, September 16, 2015, an exclusively Malay rally in predominantly Chinese Petaling Street of Kuala Lumpur triggered only the riot police’s water cannons.

What flowed on Petaling Street last Wednesday was clear water, not red blood as in 1969. There was also minimal property damage (except for loss of business) and no loss of life. That is significant; that is progress.

Malaysia has come a long way since 1969, the current shrill race hysteria notwithstanding. However leaders, political and non-political, Malays as well as non-Malays, are still trapped in their time-warped racial mentality of the 1960s. They still view the nation’s race dynamics primarily as Malays versus non-Malays.

That is understandable as the horrific memories of that 1969 race tragedy, as well as the much earlier and more brutal Bintang Tiga reign of terror, had been seared into the collective Malaysian consciousness, permanently warping our national perception.

The challenge today is less the risk of inter-racial conflagration of the 1969 variety, more a Malay civil war similar to what is now happening in the Arab world and what has happened on the Korean Peninsula. Last Wednesday’s red-shirt rally illustrates this point. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tolerance of racism in Malaysia

Julia Yeow
The Malaysian Insider
20 September 2015

Malaysia Day has come and gone, and it’s tragic that a day to celebrate unity, interdependence and diversity was instead hijacked by a street rally which achieved little but show the world that Malaysia has become a country utterly divided along racial lines.

Covering Wednesday’s protest for work created a strange disconnect for me, almost as if the words shouted and messages on the banners were meant for, and coming from, people from some foreign, far-away land.

That was until I received a message mid-way through Wednesday’s rally. It was a friend who has been working and living in Malaysia for almost a decade, someone who has grown to love this country almost as much as her country of birth.

She was shocked and angry after having just read on the news that Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali had taken to the stage at the rally and said the following words:

“Dulu kita bukan masyarakat majmuk tetapi melalui rundingan dan tolak ansur kita menerima kaum lain. Kita bagi mereka kerakyatan. Kita bagi kerakyatan, kita ingat mereka berterima kasih.”

(Once, we were not a multicultural people, but through negotiation and give-and-take, we accepted other races. We gave them citizenship. We gave them citizenship, and we thought they would be grateful.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Rafidah Aziz should head the National Goodwill Committee to restore racial peace and social harmony as well as Malaysia’s international image as a model of multi-racial nation and safe haven for foreign investors damaged by Red Shirts Malay rally on Sept. 16

Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or even politics, must hold their heads in shame as the country acquires a new infamy in the international society.

As if we have not enough of shame and scandals which had seriously hurt the pride of Malaysians overseas, like the MH370 disappearance, the MH17 disaster, continued unsolved mystery of the motive for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu and the blowing up of her body with military C4 explosives, the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal, the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal banking accounts, Malaysia in the past 24 hours have acquired a new international infamy, a country of “anti-Chinese” demonstrations.

As a Malaysian, I feel very ashamed to read just now the Malaysiakini report “Overseas, red shirts rally seen as ‘anti-Chinese demo’”, as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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A paradigm shift in Malaysian politics?

Dennis Ignatius
15th Sept 2015

COMMENT In response to the massive Bersih 4 rally last month, Umno – let’s stop pretending that it is not behind it – is planning a counter-demonstration of its own tomorrow, Sept 16, which is Malaysia Day.

Many people have expressed concern that the so-called “red shirt” demonstration might provoke racial violence, especially given the incendiary remarks of some of its leaders, the inflammatory posters that have appeared across town and the provocative choice of venue (in the heart of what’s left of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown).

Understandably, there have been calls to ban the red shirt rally.

While the red shirts have, of course, the same rights as Bersih supporters to demonstrate, they do not have licence to threaten others. They can rally to support a morally bankrupt regime if they want, but they are not free to launch a campaign of racial intimidation.

Oddly, while the federal territories minister and the police are insisting that the red shirt will not be permitted to assemble as planned, the prime minister, the deputy prime minister (who is also home minister), and the Umno Youth chief all endorsed the Sept 16 demonstration. No surprise, therefore, that the police have now relented. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saya Melayu tapi saya tolak perhimpunan baju merah

— Mohd Fitri Asmuni
The Malay Mail Online
September 15, 2015

SEPT 15 — Perhimpunan “Baju Merah” tinggal 2 hari saja lagi untuk diadakan. Tarikh yang ditetapkan untuk Perhimpunan tersebut adalah pada 16 September 2015 iaitu tarikh yang sama dengan sambutan “Hari Malaysia”.

Pada tahun 2010, kerajaan telah mengisytiharkan 16 September setiap tahun sebagai cuti umum bagi seluruh rakyat Malaysia.

Pengisytiharan 16 September sebagai cuti umum pada setiap tahun adalah satu initiatif kerajaan bagi memperingati pembentukan negara Malaysia pada 16 September 1963 yang menggabungkan Tanah Melayu, Sabah, Sarawak dan Singapura bagi membentuk sebuah persekutuan yang dinamakan Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on all Malaysians to make a personal reaffirmation on Malaysia Day 2015 that they are not just Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Orang Asli but most important of all, they are Malaysians!

Malaysia Day 2015 Message by DAP Parliamentary Leader and MP for Gelang Patah Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on 15th September 2015:

Nobody would have expected that Malaysia Day 2015 would turn out to be the most critical Malaysia Day in the nation’s history, with Malaysia at the crossroads – whether for Sabahans, Sarawakians or Malayans.

In recent years, there is growing alienation and disaffection among the people in Sabah and Sarawak causing even calls for secession from Malaysia to be raised because of over half-a-century of neglect and underdevelopment of Sabah and Sarawak.

But is there full and unreserved support for the idea, concept and vision of Malaysia by the people in Peninsular Malaysia?

May be not, from the insistence of those who want to hold a “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 16, although this highly-charged and provocative racist rally threatens not only racial peace and social harmony of the country, but undermines the very idea, integrity and vision of a Malaysian nation.

But the organisers of the Red Shirts Sept. 16 “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” are the modern-day hijackers, which is why the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was spot-on when he rubbished the notion that the red shirts rallying tomorrow are defending the Malays or that Bersih 4 was racist. Read the rest of this entry »

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If Najib could set the example of walking the talk, Malaysia will be more united, successful and win greater respect and credibility in the international arena

If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, could set the example of walking the talk, Malaysia will be more united, successful and win greater respect and credibility in the international arena.

The latest example of Najib not walking the talk can be found in his prepared speech for the 32nd Chinese Cultural Festival in Kuantan on Saturday night, which the Prime Minister did not deem it important enough to personally attend.

In his prepared speech, Najib rightly said that the multi-racial population of Malaysia is not an obstacle but a source of strength for the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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The problem with vernacular schools

Zairil Khir Johari
The Malaysian Insider
4 September 2015

A question that is often thrown at me, usually with the intention to provoke, is whether I support the abolishment of vernacular education, and correspondingly whether I believe that the answer to our national unity woes lies in having single-stream education.

My answer each time I am asked this is no, and not because I am rehearsing a political line. I say no because I am a firm believer in choice and competition in education, as well as the fact that neither language of instruction nor ethnic make-up of schools cause disunity or a predilection for racism.

To be sure, it is an easy premise to believe – if children go to schools that are made up of only one race and speak only one language, they would find it difficult as adults to mix with those who look and speak differently. Read the rest of this entry »

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I am Muslim, I don’t have a ticket to heaven

Fa Abdul | August 13, 2015
Free Malaysia Today

How can we eradicate racism when we have half brained teachers who teach absolute nonsense to our children?


Nine year old Alicia who goes to Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Hartamas came home from school last week and asked her mom if she will end up in hell when she dies.
“Mommy, Lina said her teacher told the Agama class that when we die, the Malays will go to heaven and non-Malays will go to hell. Is it true?”

Eleven year old Yasmin who goes to Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Desa was confused over who her friends should be and decided to seek her mom’s advice.

“Ummi, my Ustaz says it is haram to be friends with Olivia and Annie. He said it is because they are not Muslim. But I like Olivia and Annie, they are my best friends. Will God be angry with me if I talk to them?”

Both incidents you just read about aren’t made up. The names have been changed to protect the identities of the children but the stories are very much real. Read the rest of this entry »

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The contrasting fates of Singapore and Malaysia

— Devadas Krishnadas
Malay Mail Online
August 10, 2015

AUGUST 10 — Fifty years ago, Singapore was ejected from the Malaysian Federation. The two countries have since travelled very divergent paths while sharing some common characteristics. Both countries were colonised by the British, both were occupied by the Japanese during the World War II, both are multi-racial and multi-religious, and both have experienced considerable economic improvement since independence.

They also have significant differences. These differences should have been telling in favour of Malaysia. It was the hinterland for the Singapore economy. It had land, a multi-source commodity economy and a sizeable population. Singapore found itself suddenly distinct from its major market, dependent on Malaysia for water and faced with the hurdles of setting up shop as a newly sovereign state.

However, today, Singapore has celebrated its 50th year of independence in the best possible shape — politically stable, economically promising and socially affluent.

Malaysia, in contrast, lags behind Singapore on these counts. Putrajaya’s credibility has been undermined by its handling of the controversy over 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The political landscape is poisoned by suspicion and distrust among the races.

The Malaysian economy is running on fumes. The ringgit is at a 17-year low as investor confidence bleeds away.

Malaysia has for decades suffered a brain drain of its most talented, with Singapore a major beneficiary.

What lessons can be learnt from this dichotomy that seemed so unlikely 50 years ago? Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on former PMs, DPMs and Ministers, former and current MPs, former heads of Ministries and departments, former and current civil society leaders to step forward as patriots to save Malaysia from becoming a failed state because of a fractured government, rampant corruption, socio-economic injustices and collapse of good governance

Malaysia is terribly sick and in an unprecedented crisis.

Never before in the nation’s history has there been a more fractured government and divided nation – with the government warring against itself after the sacking of Gani Patail as Attorney-General, the scuttling of the multi-agency Special Task Force on 1MDB and the Wall Street Journal report of July 3 about RM2.6 billion deposited into Prime Minister’s personal accounts in AmBank in March 2013, and the “witch-hunt” against the other three agencies in the Special Task Force, the AGC, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Bank Negar Malaysia (BNM).

AGC had already been decapitated with the sudden and shocking sacking of Gani Patail (who seemed to have become the first Malaysian to become a non-person and disappeared into Malaysia’s Gulag Archipelago) and the appointment of a new head, Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali, who had to instantly resign his Federal Court judgeship to replace Gani as Attorney-General.
The “witch-hunt”, grounded on the expose of an international conspiracy to “criminalise” Najib and topple the elected Prime Minister of Malaysia involving top government officers, seemed design to decapitate more than one enforcement agency.

The top two in the MACC, Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed and his deputy, Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull have gone on unexplained leave, raising the question whether their heads are on the chopping block. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seeking a meeting with Najib on establishment of Royal Commission of Truth and Reconciliation on the Low Yat Race Riot to ensure that there will be no recurrence of race riots because of petty crimes

I have written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak seeking a meeting on the establishment of a Royal Commission of Truth and Reconciliation on Low Yat Race Riot to ensure that there will be no recurrence of race riots because of petty crime.

In my email to the Prime Minister, I also suggested that the terms of reference of the Royal Commission of Truth and Reconciliation on the Low Yat Race Riot should include the following seven items:

• How Malaysia can be a world model of a successful, united, peaceful and harmonious multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation;

• Whether the police could have acted pre-emptively to prevent the petty crime of mobile phone theft from being transformed into a race riot involving a few hundred people;
• The attack on journalists;

• The role of social media with Ministers blaming it as a main culprit of the Low Yat Mob Incident;

• Whether one major cause of the Low Yat riot was the incessant incitement of hatred as a result of irresponsible politics of race and religion in recent years.

• Whether the Low Yat Incident is proof of the failure of nation-building policies, particularly the Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia signature policy and decades of Biro Tata Negara’s “racist” courses.

• A blueprint to ensure that there will be recurrence of race riots from petty crimes, which is particularly important for a plural society like Malaysia.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Not just Low Yat Plaza but whole of Malaysia is a time bomb if race hatred, religious intolerance, breakdown of rule of law and collapse of good governance not resolved urgently

Utusan Malaysia today said Low Yat Plaza is a ticking “time bomb” waiting to explode.

I say it is not just Low Yat Plaza but the whole of Malaysia is a time bomb waiting to explode if race hatred, religious tolerance, breakdown of rule of law and the collapse of good governance are not resolved urgently.

I fully agree with former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah who yesterday expressed the hope that everyone would bury the hatchet to strengthen the relationship among the different races in the country.

This is why I had called for a Royal Commission of Truth and Reconciliation on the Low Yat Race Riots last Sunday to ensure that there would be no recurrence of a petty crime of theft of a mobile phone mushrooming into a race riot involving hundreds of people.

Malaysia cannot continue to adopt the “sweeping under the carpet” mentality, which was why there had been no Commission of Inquiry into the May 13, 1969 race riots to learn from the disasters of our history to ensure an united, peaceful and better future for all Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Some questions about the Low Yat riots

By P Gunasegaram
Jul 15, 2015

QUESTION TIME For the past few months, the country has been gripped by the 1MDB scandal and mesmerised by all the stories and the allegations made. Meantime, the self-styled strategic development fund, with accumulated debts and payables of as high as RM46 billion, shows no tangible way out of the morass it is in.

Questions were raised as to why it should raise so much of borrowed money mainly to invest in dubious portfolios which it has not properly disclosed in its accounts or anywhere else. Combined with allegations made of money being siphoned off into accounts of businessman Jho Low, which have not been properly rebutted, it provided for a series of unsettling stories.

Even rating agencies’ ratings on Malaysia had to depend on how serious the problem at 1MDB was. To help stem the long slide in the ringgit, the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, had to come out publicly to state, although somewhat obliquely, that 1MDB did not pose a systemic risk to Malaysian banks, although some banks’ profitability could be affected.

And then came The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) shock report alleging that US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) were moved into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s bank accounts at AmIslamic Bank. No such allegation had ever been made against a Malaysian prime minister before.

Najib’s response was weak – the prime minister’s office only said that the prime minister has never taken any money for personal gain without specifically denying the allegations made in the journal. A letter by his lawyers to Dow Jones, the owners of the WSJ, confused rather than elucidated when it asked WSJ to clarify the report to say if it implied that the money came from 1MDB. The WSJ did not say that.

As the nation reeled from this shock announcement and the lack of zeal and specificity in refuting it, the riot at Low Yat happened. The authorities can cry out until they are blue in the face that the incident was not racial but they cannot deny in the face of video evidence that it had very strong racial overtones.

Such an incident happening in the heart of the city, the Golden Triangle area, barely a few hundred metres from the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters, is a severe indictment of the safety standards of our streets and public places which already have a bad reputation in terms of snatch and street crime.

KL residents are asking what this means for the future and what kind of precautions they should take when visiting public places while overseas visitors are querying if Kuala Lumpur is a safe place to visit. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Malaysian politics, keep calm and amok on!

by Sophie Lemiere, Guest Contributor
New Mandala
15 JULY 2015

In the wake of a brawl in Kuala Lumpur’s Low Yat Plaza, Sophie Lemière looks at how youth, prejudice and mob violence go hand-in-hand with politics.

The Malay word amuck or amok (rage) is the most famous Malaysian export along with palm oil (praised by Nutella lovers) and rubber (praised by everyone). Amok or to run amok has become a global concept to describe any sudden and ephemeral acts of violence to a killing rage. There is no cultural specificity here; we have sadly seen people running amok from Columbine in the USA to Paris and the beaches of Sousse (Tunisia).

Amok is surely the only Malay word the entire world uses, without even knowing its quasi-mystical origins. Anthropologists, psychiatrists and novelists have written extensively on this word, exploring the linguistic roots of amok to the intricacies of a psycho-pathological phenomenon; an unresolved intellectual quest well resumed by Yan Kon[1]. The “pengamuk”, the one who suddenly falls into a violent frenzy, was once seen as a hero: a mystical warrior getting his inner strength from god. Malay mysticism and history is filled with epic stories of such great warriors. Today, that heritage may be found in the hybrid tradition of Silat balancing an intense physical practice and mystic-religious beliefs with prayers to invulnerability charms[2]. Sadly today, for most, the pengamok has lost his nobility and is seen simply as a psycho.

This linguistic-mystic maze is now used to describe a non-event: the rowdy gathering of about 200 people at the empire of electronic goods, Low Yat Plaza in Bukit Bintang (Kuala Lumpur’s entertainment district), following the alleged theft of a mobile phone and consequent brawl. Read the rest of this entry »

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Silver lining in Low Yat Plaza incident

By May Chee
Jul 16, 2015

Was the Low Yat incident something waiting to happen? Or did someone start a spark, hoping to engulf the whole nation in flames?

I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m just glad that it happened.

I’ve always held the belief that bad things happen for a good reason. Provided of course, we learn from them, make reparations and put in place mechanisms to avoid such untoward incidents.

It has been rather difficult for a while now to spread cheer around. However, from the Low Yat incident, in spite of the ugliness displayed by some really irresponsible quarters, others have given us much hope.

I wouldn’t know of all the angels who came to the rescue of those battered, bloodied and disillusioned but I thank you all, for saving our fellow Malaysians and most of all, showing to the whole world out there that we do look out for everyone, irrespective of creed and colour. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Low Yat lesson: May 13 sequel unlikely but ethnic fault lines show risk remains

By Ida Lim
The Malay Mail Online
Saturday July 18, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Malaysia will not likely see a repeat of the May 13, 1969 racial riots but isolated clashes like last weekend’s melee at Low Yat Plaza will not be uncommon in a society still divided along ethnic lines, regional observers said.

Although Malaysians are largely deemed a peace-loving lot, the observers cautioned that racial politics and years of race-based policies have created a lingering resentment among the country’s different ethnic groups.

In such an environment, they said economic gloom and even minor personal disputes could cause ethnic tensions to flare easily.

“So, tremors like we’ve just felt in Low Yat will doubtlessly recur—for the ethnic fault line in Malaysia is widening,” Prof William Case told Malay Mail online. Read the rest of this entry »

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With Anwar in jail, is there anyone in Malaysia who could stitch together a new coalition with support from over 112 MPs to “Save Malaysia” from becoming a failed state and re-set nation-building policies?

There has never been a Haji Raya Aidilfitri like this one in modern-day Malaysia, when Muslims and non-Muslims gather to celebrate the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Firstly, never had Ramadan sales been so poor and dispirited, with one survey estimating a plunge in Ramadan sales of as much as 20 per cent compared with last year.

Secondly, never before have national issues been so dominant during Ramadan and in Hari Raya Aidilfitri open houses – questions galore about the catalogue of financial scandals, breakdown in law and order with Low Yat race riot the latest example less than a week from Hari Raya Aidilfitri and what the future has in store for the people and the country.

But so few answers! Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for Royal Commission of Truth and Reconciliation on Low Yat Mob Incident headed by Rafidah Aziz to ensure that there will be no recurrence of race riots because of petty crimes

This is the fourth day of the Low Yat Mob Incident on Sunday, July 12, 2015 and situation is returning to normal.

The term of “Low Yat Incident” which is the official terminology for the rioting on Sunday, reminds me of May 13 Incident, the race riots which took place in Kuala Lumpur after the 1969 general election where official figures put the casualties as less than 200 although different unofficial figures were much higher, even as high as suggesting four-figure numbers.

In my first speech in Parliament in February 1971 when Parliament reconvened after a 20-month suspension, I had called for a Commission of Inquiry into the causes of the May 13 racial riots and to propose a blueprint to reconcile the different races and build a united Malaysian nation.

But this proposal was rejected and up to today, there had been conflicting, divergent and even fictitious accounts about the causes of the May 13 riots 46 years ago.

This “sweeping under the carpet” mentality is still at work, for after the refusal to have a Commission of Inquiry into the May 13, 1969 race riots, there was also no inquiry into the causes and the events of the race riots in Taman Medan 14 years ago in 2001.

This is most unsatisfactory and unacceptable. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia is going through “the worst of times”. Are there enough Malaysians to make it “the best of times”?

Never before has Malaysia been in such a mess.

What is devastating is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Malaysia’s spirit cannot soar and reach for the skies, to seek and attain an ever-higher level of national achievement and human excellence.

Instead, we are daily bogged down by the mundane and sordid details of one scandal after another, as if we need constant reminders as to how far Malaysia has fallen from grace from the era of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak and Hussein Onn.

Dominating the landscape of scandals is the 1MDB “mother and mother of all financial scandals”, a hydra-headed monster capable of unending combinations and permutations to unveil the gravity of the collapse of an ethical government and the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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