Archive for category nation building

What does ‘moderate’ mean?

By Hafidz Baharom
Free Malaysia Today
January 14, 2015

COMMENT

The writer disagrees with those who say that extremism is not a major Malaysian problem.

I would like to respond to the letter dated January 12 published in The Star entitled “Ethnic divide, not extremism is the problem” signed by 33 high-profile learned Malays from all walks of life . They argued that ethnic divide and not extremism is the major problem facing Malaysia.

I do not deny a growing ethnic divide. I take Shah Alam as an example. The citizenry of Shah Alam has always been majority Malay, yet in my time at primary and secondary school, we still had a large group of non-Malay friends in the classroom. Such is not the case these days.

However, this was not the issue highlighted by the open letter of the 25 retired civil servants to the Prime Minister. Instead, the letter focused on the internal struggle within the Malay community and, in particular, on those using religion as a mere tool to garner support.

In my definition, the fight against extremism is the struggle against those who insist on using the Malay community and Islam to call to behaviour that either is violent, instils fear, or is just plain ridiculous.

In other words, anything beyond moderate is “zalim” or extreme. Read the rest of this entry »

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My father would be shocked, says Nazir Razak

BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
14 January 2015

The youngest son of Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak, who died on this day 39 years ago, has called for the setting up of a national consultative council to bring Malaysians together, just as his father did after the 1969 race riots.

Banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said this when asked by The Malaysian Insider (TMI) what message his father would convey if he could speak to Malaysians today.

“I think he would say that it is time to set up another national consultative council, like he did in 1970, to discuss critical issues around preserving harmony and fostering unity amongst Malaysians,” says Nazir. “I think he would be shocked that it is 2015 and race and religion divide Malaysians even more today than during his time.”

Nazir was replying to questions posed to him and his other brothers, Johari, Nizam and Nazim about their father as part of a series of articles TMI will be publishing over the next few days to mark the passing of Razak, who died of leukaemia in London in 1976, to the shock of the nation, at the young age of 54. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hishammuddin is right that the terrorism attacks in Paris which finally left 20 dead can happen in Malaysia but why are the extremists in the country allowed to purvey their rhetoric and politics of hatred and intolerance unchecked?

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is right when he warned yesterday that the terrorism attack in Paris, which finally left 20 dead, can also happen in Malaysia.

Hishammuddin said he came back from Paris and London last month where he had discussion with their intelligence agencies and what happened was not something unexpected.

He said what happened in France should not be taken lightly as it is not impossible to face the same scenario in the country, and that Malaysia must beef up its security, especially in the Sabah coastal area.

It is most unfortunate that the Defence Minister is looking at the problem solely from the perspective of security intelligence, preparations and assets instead of why Malaysia is becoming increasingly prone to threats of terrorism, whether in the country or emanating from the country as evidenced by Malaysians rallying to Islamic State’s Caliphate cause despite mass murders and beheadings.

The Global Terrorism Index 2014 released by the Institute of Economic and Peace in November, where Malaysia climbed 42 places in the international terrorism indicator, citing religious extremism as the primary cause of terror attacks worldwide, should be a wake-up call that the peace, harmony and unity of Malaysia’s multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural polity is placed in jeopardy if nothing is done to check the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism which had increasingly aggravated racial and religious polarization in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »

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I am Muslim, and I am Malaysian: The story behind the #Iam26 petition

— Tariq Ismail
The Malay Mail Online
January 6, 2015

JANUARY 6 — This is a call to Malay Muslims. This is a call to Malaysians.

For centuries since the Malaccan Empire to modern times, the Malays have lived and worked with other races. Our culture has been a melting pot of Chinese, Indian, Arabic and Indonesian and this is what makes Malays unique to the world.

Age old adats are still practised today and one Malay adat stands out above the rest — RESPECT. It has been ingrained within us since childhood to respect our elders, our neighbours and each other. But before we begin to respect one another we must first respect ourselves.

I grew up a spoilt brat within my own four walls as a result of my upbringing. I went to the best schools that were afforded to me and my lingua franca whilst growing up was English and Malay. But what held me together, and I thank both my parents and late grandmother Toh Puan Norashikin for this, was religion.

Without going into too much detail of how my religion was taught to me back then, there is one fundamental core that I subscribe to and which I wish to share with everyone — both Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Read the rest of this entry »

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Email to Najib asking for meeting before Wednesday’s Cabinet on five important measures to deal with worst floods in recent decades, including the formation of a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat Floods Catastrophe Joint Action Council

Before 9 pm last night, I sent an email to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak asking for a meeting before Wednesday’s Cabinet on five important measures to deal with the worst floods in recent decades, including the formation of a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat Floods Catastrophe Joint Action Council.

The floods catastrophe in the past fortnight – which the Prime Minister only realized was a major catastrophe and that Gua Musang and Kuala Krai were among the two worst-hit areas on the fourth day of his return from Hawaii – is a major national disaster and saw the best quality of all Malaysians.

This was the ability of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, gender or age to unite and come to the aid of the flood victims – with a quarter of a million people evacuated to the relief centres and easily a million of the total number of people affected by the floods catastrophe.

The costs of the floods catastrophe has been estimated at RM1 billion, and still counting – with the Meteorological Department warning that although the worst of the second wave of the floods catastrophe seemed to be over, a third wave of the monsoon surge is expected to begin on Jan 7 or 8, with possible continuous heavy rainfall up to three days over certain states, especially in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.

The formation of a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat Floods Catastrophe Joint Action Council will formalize what is already happening on the ground in the various flood-stricken states with regard to the flood relief efforts being rendered by Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat parties and members to the flood victims, regardless of race, religion or state in the past fortnight. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to trigger a Malay renaissance

By Hafidz Baharom
Malaysiakini
Jan 1, 2015

COMMENT It is clearly numbing that we have certain parties thinking that getting 20,000 Malays at a singular event somehow will give birth to a renaissance period here in Malaysia. I will say this openly, that will not be a renaissance. It would just be a pathetic flash mob entitled, ‘I talk, you all listen’.

In the last week, the Malay Consultative Council or Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) decided that there was a need to re-establish Malay dominance in the country through a renaissance.

Of course, they brought up the same old so-called threats – lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs), liberalism, secularism and the usual suspects – threatening the Malaysian way of life.

For those who may not know this, the MPM is made up of a huge list of Malay NGOs, including the Malay Chambers of Commerce (DPMM), my alma mater alumni organisation Alumni UiTM, Cuepacs, the Malay College Old Boys Association (MCOBA) and even the Malaysian Malay Contractors Association.

Though personally, it makes no sense to me how alumni associations involving schools, universities and even Mara Junior Science Colleges (MRSMs) could even think of backing this movement in the first place.

Firstly, for all the lawyers out there; if an organisation says they were appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office but have no letter nor official documentation to prove it, would that be a case of fraud or false representation?

And secondly, would all parties involved in the council that made that statement be liable for legal action under the Penal Code? Read the rest of this entry »

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Finding hope for Malaysia in 2015

By Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
Jan 1, 2015

COMMENT Difficult is an understatement for the year Malaysia had in 2014. Today marks a new beginning, an opportunity for assessment and moving forward.

With so many Malaysians suffering from bouts of despair with the national leadership on both sides of the political divide, I wanted to take an opportunity to share some positive observations on the present situation and the country’s future.

Despite all the challenges the country faces, it is vital not to be blinded by negativity. Doing so will let the dark forces that have been fanned since 2013 win. Malaysians deserve better – a hope for change and the promise of better governance.

While acknowledging the devastating tragedies of last year as well as the deterioration in race relations and the woefully inadequate performance of political leaders, I highlight here developments and lessons that are strengthening, and can further strengthen, Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let’s band together against the extremists in 2015

Zan Azlee
The Malaysian Insider
2 January 2015

Another new year has arrived and we are now in 2015. I have never declared or committed myself to any new year resolution because I think it’s all crap. You change when you want to change.

But this time, I’m going to commit to a resolution. It is simple. I will continue to use every platform that I have to promote moderation, open-mindedness, multiculturalism and religious pluralism.

I have done it for years and will continue doing it with even stronger force this year because 2014, to me, was the year of overbearing racial and religious extremism.

Groups like Isma and Perkasa, and individuals like Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, have been so loud throughout last year that my ears are still aching and ringing into the new year. They definitely do not speak for me. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015, time for moderate Malaysians to stand up

BY MOHD FARHAN DARWIS AND MD IZWAN
The Malaysian Insider
31 December 2014

As Malaysians bid farewell to 2014, moderate Malaysians have been urged to stand up and beat back the tide of hate and bigotry that have inflamed communal relations throughout the year.

A group of progressive Malays today hoped that Malaysians would be able to reclaim the national conversation on race and religion and reject extremist elements brought about by certain quarters.

This, they argued, was because it was up to each individual to preserve the tolerance, moderation and respect that had been an enduring feature of the country’s pluralistic society.

“Moderation has to be promoted not just because that is what our forefathers wanted for us,” said former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam.

“But because it is one of the ways which our country will remain peaceful and harmonious,” he said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider.

Musa said 2015 would be even more challenging for Malaysia socially and economically, given the depressing forecast on the world economy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians must stay strong, hopeful and confident despite a year of great adversities with three air disasters, worst floods disaster in decades and the rise of bigotry and extremism to build a common, united, moderate and prosperous future for all Malaysians

2015 New Year Message

    It is so easy to give way to despair at the tides of adversity Malaysians have to go through in 2014 and to write off the future for Malaysia – the unprecedented three air disasters in a year (MH370, MH17 and QZ8501) which no other country had ever had to experience, the worst floods disaster in recent decades and the rise of bigotry and extremism putting to the ultimate test the Merdeka and Malaysia national compacts of 1957 and 1963 to be an oasis of multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural harmony, tolerance and co-existence in an increasingly troubled and fractious world.

    Every cloud has a silver lining and this holds true for the adversities Malaysians had to undergo in 2014 – the air disasters and the worst floods disaster in decades galvanizing Malaysians to stand in sympathy, support and solidarity with the victims and the aggrieved and the rise of moderates, best exemplified by the Open Letter by 25 Eminent Malays to the Prime Minister and the snowballing of support by ordinary moderate Malaysians regardless of race, religion, politics or region to save Malaysia from the bigots and extremists.

    Malaysians must stay strong, hopeful and confident despite a year of great adversities with three air disasters, the worst floods disaster in decades and the rise of bigotry and extremism to build a common, united, moderate and prosperous future for all Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib and Cabinet to endorse the Open Letter of 25 Eminents to send a clear message to the nation and the world that Malaysian government fully committed to moderation against intolerance, extremism and bigotry

The Open Letter by 25 Malay former top civil servants and personalities on December 8 asking the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to show leadership against festering extremism and intolerance is undoubtedly the No. 1 News Event of the Year.

Never before has an Open Letter by the citizenry struck such a resounding chord in our multiracial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation, as evidenced by the enthusiastic support from all groups of Malaysian society, not confined to Malays and Muslims, like ‘I am #26’ online petition with over 5,000 supporters; “KamiJuga25″ (We, too, are 25),signed by over 1,600 supporters; 95 NGOs in Malaysia, 22 Muslim activists and a multitude of support demonstrated by diverse groups and strata of Malaysian society in the past fortnight.

But the reaction has started, and the assaults on the 25 Eminents will escalate in personal attacks, character-assassination and viciousness employing the full resources of the intolerant and extremist media and social as we witnessed in the past two days.

This is the time for all moderates, crossing race, religious, gender, age and even political party lines to take a stand for moderation and marginalize, isolate and defeat intolerance, extremism and bigotry which are the greatest threats and enemies of a plural society like Malaysia.

This is the time for the positive politics of inclusion to replace the negative politics of exclusion! Read the rest of this entry »

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The politics of inequality

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
20 December 2014

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad does not mince his words. Not since he started in politics and definitely not now, more than a decade after stepping down as Malaysia’s fourth prime minister.

But there are days where you wonder where is he coming from. Today, he said the Malays’ grip on politics was weak due to disunity and them having to beg from other races for support to remain in power.

“Now Umno, PKR, and PAS have to beg for support from DAP Chinese to win the general election. When we become beggars, we no longer have power,” he said in his keynote address at a youth leadership programme in Kuala Lumpur.

He added that even if the country achieved developed-nation status, the Malays might be left behind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance in the country for the next 12 months and end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry

The Police deserves commendation for the return of the 31 Christian hymnals to Catholic priest Father Cyril Mannayagam in Tangkak last night and an amicable settlement of the latest religious standoff in the country over the police seizure of the books which were meant for Orang Asli parishioners.

The police and various government agencies should learn from such an uncalled-for spat and be aware of their role and duty to be extra-sensitive to promote and not to undermine inter-racial and inter-religious understanding and relations.

I fully share the sentiments of the Sabah Speaker and former Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, who expressed dismay at the “never-ending problem” of religious controversies over the Allah word issue, hudud and the confiscation of Bibles, hymns and other Christian literature published in Bahasa Malaysia and that “Just as one incident is solved, another one cropped up”.

Let all Malaysians hope and pray that the Sabah Speaker is not correct when he blogged that “it is beginning to look like this is going to be part of the Malaysian ‘culture’ for a long time to come”, urging that Sabah and Sarawak should not “slide down the slippery slope that some states in West Malaysia appear to be heading for” but should continue to take the lead in “maintaining the solidarity between those of different religious faiths”.

Let the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals in Johor start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance in the country for the next 12 months and end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry which had dominated and poisoned inter-racial and inter-religious relations in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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95 NGOs back the 25 ‘Eminent Malays’

NGOs CALLING FOR RATIONAL DISCOURSE IN SUPPORT OF 25 CONCERNED CITIZENS

We, a group of Malaysian NGOs fully support the recent open letter from a group of 25 personalities that identified themselves as “a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia” to urge the government to hold a public discourse on Islamic law vis a vis the Federal Constitution. The 25 individuals, who identified themselves as “moderate Muslims”, comprised of, among others, retired civil servants, judges and ambassadors.

We applaud the courageous action of these towering figures to stand up and publicly address sensitive yet critical issues plaguing our nation. Too often in the history of nations, the extremists have triumphed not because they enjoyed majority support, but because the majority were silent and idle. Like similar minded NGOs working for the love of our nation, these 25 senior citizens chose not to be passive and have voiced their dismay and abhorrence at the current state of the nation.

We share their sentiment that “there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways”. We would further add that a similar process of consulting relevant experts and stakeholders, be applied to matters related to the process of legislation of other laws too. These should be undertaken in an ambience of transparency, best practises , mutual respect and permeative consultation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Another 25 Malaysians Petition Prime Minister

#KamiJuga25

Petitioning The Prime Minister of MALAYSIA

Azrul Mohd Khalib

Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Seri,

We, the undersigned Malaysians, wish to express our admiration, faith and support to the call recently stated so eloquently by 25 courageous and respected individuals. Their words have inspired us all and electrified the nation. As many other Malaysians, we stand together with them.

And like everyone else who support their concerns, we too have a stake in building this country.

We call upon the leadership of this country to stand with other fellow Malaysians in delivering on the belief and promise of a common vision and a shared destiny: a just, free and caring nation of ideas, of dreams and of promises which promote inclusiveness and celebrates the unity of its people through diversity.

The letter by the 25 distinguished Malaysians brings into perspective the need for us to put an end to our petty differences and false promises, the racism and the bigotry, the intimidation and the blind hatred. For far too long, these unfortunate attributes and the sins of our fathers and those before, have strangled our politics and each other.

Those who speak in arrogance, bigotry, ignorance and prejudice do not speak for us.

After all, the Malaysian story has been shaped by every language and enriched by every culture. We are a nation of Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and many other faiths and non-believers. This diversity is our strength.

We have chosen to hope and be together over fear and bigotry, the unity of purpose over conflict and disunity. To those who seek to sow conflict and discord, know that we reject the idea that we need to dominate and discriminate in order to progress as a people and a country. We believe in a shared destiny as Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Everyday Malaysians’ lend support to prominent Malays with #KamiJuga25

By Zurairi AR
The Malay Mail Online
December 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — Another group of Malaysians have come up with an open letter in support of reasonable, rational and informed dialogue today, adding to the lively discourse following a similar message by 25 former high-ranking civil servants last week.

Calling itself #KamiJuga25, Malay for “We are 25 too”, the group aims to get “everyday Malaysians” to chip in the conversation in support of the original 25 signatories, not just from the Malay-Muslim community.

“In almost every letter we have seen distinguished recognisable names listed in as signatories. This letter is intended to allow for the everyday Malaysian to also say ‘kami juga 25’,” co-creator Azrul Mohd Khalib told Malay Mail Online.

“It is intended to complement existing efforts and to strengthen the voices which are getting louder by the day,” added Azrul, who is part of social movement called Malaysians for Malaysia.

In the letter addressed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the group urged Malaysian leaders to deliver a country that “promotes inclusiveness and celebrates the unity of its people through diversity”.

“We also believe that it is not only Malay Muslims who have a voice and stake in this country, it is every Malaysian who believes in a common vision and shared destiny, ideals which are no different to when Malaya became independent and Malaysia was born,” the 38-year-old said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Never before have there been so many time-bombs ticking away in Malaysia which could spell disaster for the nation if they are not defused or detonated

(Speech at the DAP Gelang Patah forum “1MDB in RM42 billion debt – Is Malaysia on the Verge of Financial Turmoil” in Johor Baru on Tuesday, 16th December 2014 at 8 pm)

My first book “Time Bombs in Malaysia” in 1978 quoted my speech in Parliament on the Third Malaysia Plan in July 1976 where I warned that several time bombs were ticking away in Malaysia and unless these time bombs were defused, Malaysia could be blown to smithereens.

I would never imagine that today, more than 36 years later after the first edition of “Time Bombs in Malaysia”, we are faced with even greater dire straits as never before in our nation’s history have we a situation where so many time-bombs are ticking away in Malaysia which could spell disaster for the nation if they are not defused or detonated.

The RM42 billion 1MDB scandal, which is the subject of tonight’s forum, is one such Time Bomb in today’s Malaysia.

This mega financial scandal, exposed by Pakatan Rakyat MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli, is now also being questioned by UMNO forces led by former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir, his cohorts like Tun Daim, to the extent that a police report against 1MDB has been lodged by an UMNO division leader, creating huge waves in UMNO.

Until the seventies, when there was greater regard for good governance, public integrity and financial probity, the biggest financial scandal was the RM65 million Bank Rakyat scandal.

The then Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, who could not stomach any corruption or misuse of power, was shocked by the RM65 million Bank Rakyat scandal and insisted on parliamentary accountability and a White Paper was issued following a Price Waterhouse inquiry into the Bank Rakyat scandal – and the RM65 million Bank Rakyat was the subject of parliamentary debates and scrutiny in 1979.

Since the eighties, corruption and financial scandals increased by leaps and bounds from the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal, the RM600 million Maminco tin-buying scandal and the RM1.5 billion Co-operatives Finance scandal in the 80s, to the RM30 billion Bank Negara foreign exchange scandal and RM11 billion Perwaja scandal in the 90s, and the multi-billion ringgit Scorpene and defence procurement scandals and the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal in the last decade.

Now, Malaysia has shot into the stratosphere of mega-financial scandals running into tens of billions of ringgit which is becoming the rule rather than the exception, with the RM42 billion 1MDB Scandal reigning currently as the King of Mega Scandals – and I leave to Tony Pua who, together with Rafizi, have become the unchallenged authorities on this “mother of all scandals” to elaborate later at this forum.

But the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal is not the only Time Bomb now ticking away in Malaysia. We are faced with a host of economic, financial, political, education, race and religion, nation-building Time Bombs which if not defused or detonated will spell disaster for Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Patriotism by universal standards is alive again in Malaysia – Concerned Malaysians

The Malaysian Insider
14 December 2014

We the undersigned Malaysian citizens from all walks of life hereby register our hopes, admiration and, above all, our support to the call for rational dialogues that was recently penned by 25 right-minded, inspired and courageous citizens.

The widely-published Letter penned by 25 eminent and determined Who-is-Who in Malaysia certainly ignites a bright and encouraging light at the end of Malaysia’s darkened tunnel of politics.

We concur with the issues raised by this group of distinguished Malaysian Malay-Muslims and appeal to the country’s leadership and especially the ruling political party to address the concerns raised vis-à-vis the “continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country”.

Indeed Malaysia’s ability and “responsibility” in “demonstrating that justice is done and seen to be done”, is the very cornerstone of this multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural population once dubbed with hope as the “Rising Asian Tiger”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Like Don Quixote, Perkasa officials have their imaginary enemies too

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
13 December 2014

Perhaps the sedentary life of a civil servant or seeing too many ballot boxes finally got to retired Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

Yesterday, as the Perkasa vice-president, he warned that the Malay rights group would defend Islam against anyone that attacks the religion.

Today. he described Malays who criticised Perkasa as either idiotic or blind, and to the extent of taking potshots at Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin – who is no fan of the rights group.

Now why does a man like Rashid, who rose from the ranks to be the EC chief, believe there are Malaysians who are enemies of Islam. Or that critics are just idiots or blind?

In short, why does he behave like the famous literary character Don Quixote, who believed windmills were giants that he had to fight to death? Read the rest of this entry »

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Seeking moderation in a troubled Malaysia

— Mustafa K Anuar
Malay Mail Online
December 13, 2014

DECEMBER 13 — In recent years, as many of us are aware, ethnic bigotry and religious extremism have permeated various strata of our society to the point that ethno-religious relations have reached an all-time low.

This is bad news as it is something that our founding fathers (and mothers) did not plan for or foresee when Malaya achieved its independence from colonial rule in 1957.

Nerves were frayed as tension escalated over the years — from the cow-head incident in Shah Alam to pig heads left in the premises or near mosques to Molotov cocktails thrown into church grounds to body snatches to the seizure of Bibles in Selangor. Differences and diversity have been frowned upon while what we have in common is given less prominence or appreciation.

As if the above incidents are not enough to drive a wedge between the ethnic and religious communities in the country, the Malay community often have been warned about the purported threat from the Other, the primary objective being to create a siege mentality among them. Read the rest of this entry »

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