Archive for August 20th, 2007

What Has Oxford Done?

by M. Bakri Musa and Din Merican

Both are graduates of Oxford, but what a difference between the two! What separates them is that elusive quality: class. One has it; the other does not. When you have class, Oxford will bring out the best in you. When you do not, not even esteemed Oxford can do much for you.

One is a crown prince, a sultan-to-be whose recent wedding warmed the hearts of Malaysians for its elegant simplicity and regal restraint. His eloquent speeches inspire the young and old alike; they enthusiastically embrace his enlightened vision of Malaysia. He appeals to their idealism and decency, and they in turn respond in kind. His understated passion and cool rationality resonate with the citizens. He elevates the tone of our civil discourse. In short, Raja Nazrin is “Yang Teramat Mulia” (“The Most Esteemed”) personified.

The other is a neophyte political operative, with grand pretensions of being the next Prime Minister. For now however, he is till struggling just to have the title (but not the qualities) of a “Yang Berhormat” (“The Honorable”) that goes with being a Member of Parliament. His obscenely ostentatious wedding a few years back dragged on for days, with multiple ceremonies. Its extravagance easily outmatched the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, minus of course the royal elegance. Today he is again indulging in excesses; this time hurling insults at Malaysians and assaulting their sense of decency.

In his speeches to his followers in UMNO Youth, he instigates and brings out their dark side. To him, the Mat Rempits, those midnight marauders of unemployable youths who terrorize our streets, represent the best of our community. He champions them. Like them, his trade in stock is taunting and provoking, with undisguised racist undertone. Lately he resorts to simian references; no surprise as he is surrounded daily by the opportunist monkeys in the jungle that is UMNO. This fraud of a leader coarsens our public debates, dragging them to his barnyard level.

We humbly apologize to Raja Nazrin for this jarring juxtaposition of images. We are comforted by the fact that a Prince Charming beside a toad will never lose his regal bearing. A toad beside a prince however, will make its warts all the more revolting to behold, and its croaking unbearably grating.

While the constant croaking of a toad may be harsh on the ears, the repeated racist rhetoric of a leader, genuine or fake, can have devastating consequences. We would have thought that this would be obvious; we need not remind ourselves of the ghastly tragedy of May 1969.

This wet-behind-the-ears pseudo-leader is oblivious of these dangers. Born years after those horrific days in 1969, he did not live through the calamity that nearly ripped our nation apart. It would be unlikely for him to have learned that part of our history at Oxford. It is also painfully obvious that no senior leaders in his party have taken him aside to apprise this uncouth young man of that blemish in our history. This glaring omission speaks volumes of the caliber of UMNO’s current leadership. Read the rest of this entry »


We are law-abiding patriots

by Dr. Chen Man Hin

Malaysians have proven to be patriotic since merdeka in 1957, and are now asking that the Constituion be respected and honoured.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a speech to the 2007 Youth Patriotism Congress at PutraJaya, called on the people to be patriotic and warned not to play with fire when speaking on sensitive issues.

It can be said that at least half the populatioon are born on and after Merdeka. they form the active adults who have demonstrated loyalty to the country by being law-abiding citizens.

They are questioning why they should be discriminated since Merdeka. Now at the 50th merdeka anniversary they are asking to be treated equally as citizens of the country in accordance with the Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »


Negarakuku rap — end the persecution mania and listen attentively to the legitimate grievances sung by Wee

When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister 45 months ago, he invited Malaysians to speak up and pledged to “hear the truth, however unpleasant”, from the people.

Wee had acted on Abdullah’s invitation and spoken up about the injustices and wrongs in Malaysia 50 years after Merdeka so that the country could be improved to become a better nation capable of competing with the rest of the world.

Instead of a “thank you” from the Prime Minister, Wee is now the target of a sledgehammer attack by the entire government machinery led by a cohort of Umno Cabinet Ministers orchestrating a campaign to demonise, criminalize and crush him.

The very spectacle of the entire state machinery led by Cabinet Ministers to crush a 24-year-old undergraduate for his rap on internet conjures an image of shame for Malaysia on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary, both nationally and internationally.

Is the campaign to demonise, criminalize and crush Wee, with irrational, excessive and outrageous demands of prosecutions under the National Anthem Act, the Sedition Act and even the Internal Security Act, the stripping of citizenship, the cancellation of passport and extradition of Wee from Taiwan to Malaysia, the signal of the end of another one of Abdullah’s reform pledges when becoming Prime Minister 45 months ago — to “hear the truth” from the people?

As I informed the Malaysian Dialogue in Petaling Jaya yesterday afternoon, Wee can be faulted for his rough language, irreverent expression and lack of sensitivity when touching on religious matters, but he cannot be accused of being unpatriotic, disloyal or guilty of the capital crime of treason or sedition.

Wee had done what very few Malaysians had done, taking the national flag Jalur Gemilang with him when he went overseas to study, and waving the national flag when his multi-national university sports team won a game, showing his pride and love for the nation.

Which Umno Minister or leader demanding for a pound of flesh from Wee for his Negarakuku rap had such love and pride for the country as to take the national flag with him or her when going overseas? Read the rest of this entry »


Caliphate Anyone?

By Farish A Noor

Communities have their own ways of dealing with crises of all kinds: structural, institutional, functional or cultural. But what is even more interesting is to see how each community, or sections within each community, deals with such crises and the antidotes that are offered as the panacea for all that is wrong in the world.

In such a depoliticised world bereft of ideologies that are taken seriously and political vocabularies that work, the trend seems to be to offer culturalist solutions to problems that are fundamentally structural-economical. Hence the return to the politics of authenticity and nostalgia that we see all around us lately: As the ravaging effects of globalisation make themselves felt and seen around us, so many communities seem to have retreated to the protective blanket of cultural essentialism, falling back on unreconstructed myths of the past or equally vacuous notions of collective purpose that often deny the contingencies of individualism and personal agency.

In the Indian subcontinent the reaction of the Hindu right was to show two fingers to globalisation via recourse to a politics of nostalgia couched in terms of a politicised myth of Indian greatness and uniqueness. In the Far East the discourse of ‘Asian values’ was the foil used to fend off calls for democratisation, transparency and reform. Why, even in the West the fall-back position of claiming a singularly unique Western civilisational origin seemed the immediate refuge for those who could not cope with the
provincialisation of Europe in an increasingly plural and cosmopolitan world where movement of capital and ideas was becoming commonplace.

What of Islam and the Muslim world? Well the answer to that was given a week ago in Indonesia where a massive rally was held in the stadium of Jakarta, organised by none other than the Hizb’ut Tahrir (HT) movement of Indonesia who had invited their fellow HT activists from all over the planet, to re-affirm their determination to overturn the dominant paradigm of the modern nation state, wage war against the evils of Secularism and democracy, and to restore the fabled Caliphate as the sole and primary political agent on the Muslim landscape. Read the rest of this entry »