Muslim Students, Challenge Yourselves!

by Azly Rahman

[An introduction to a speech on “student idealism” delivered at the annual gathering of the Malaysian and Indonesian Muslim students in Washington D.C., USA., December 2007. (PART 1)]

Assalamualikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Peace and Blessings to all of you. May Allah Bless our gathering and grant us wisdom and serenity amidst this increasingly chaotic world in which the powerful amongst us continue to trample over the powerless. May we see this trend reversed, in our lifetime.

I thank you for inviting me to me speak on something which makes me feel twenty years younger – on “student idealism”, on what is it, and what to do with it. I love the word “idealism”. It brings us right to what the Greek philosopher Plato said about the difference between “forms” and “appearance”. Of what the Hindus say about “Maya” and the troubled “yuga” in which Prince Rama would come back to bring salvation. A world in which the “rapper” and the “hip hopper” would say “for real…my dude?”

Twenty year ago, when I was very young, when I was president of the Malaysian Student Association and then of the Southeast Asian Student Association in an American university in the Midwest, friends and I used to explore issues of what to do when we have ideals. Countless hours of dialogues amongst friends of all races and nationalities, coupled with our obsession with the topic of the impending collapse of the dreaded apartheid system in South Africa and the subsequent release of Nelson Mandela – hundred of hours of these — yielded in us some sense of idealism. We studied the secret mission, logic, and innerworkings of the American multinational corporations in propping up dictators around the world.

We studied what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex”. We were passionate about all these, blending what we learned in the classroom – knowledge gained from professors of the anti-Vietnam war era – with what we can possible do as “citizens of the world” imbued with the idea of universal human rights. The Internet and the World Wide Web was beginning to take shape. As you know, both were developed out of womb of the US Military – under a project called DARPA-NET. The Internet began with 5 computers talking to each others, sharing military intelligence. That was the consequence of the evolution of Cybernetics Theory.

We read philosophy, politics, race theory, and radical sociology – to get a better grasp of what we mean by being a committed student of idealism. With two good friends of mine – one Chinese and one Indian, one a student of Engineering and the other of Philosophy and Psychology — we would have our summer midnight strolls along the man-made river across our campus – talking about issues and possible resolutions. Never had we thought that Malaysian politics would have gotten worse.

We spoke up against racial discrimination, corruption, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. We spoke for equal opportunity and the respect for all cultures. We questioned almost everything, true to the meaning of academic freedom we were trained in.

We were in America. We had the freedom to do that – speak at forums where Malaysian officials visit to speak of this or that program the government is doing. I remember on one occasion when Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was visiting the campus as Education Minister, we had to announce our name and our Identity Card (IC) number in public if we wanted to ask questions. That was way before Malaysian students all over the world had to sign the Surat Akujanji and be in an oath-taking ceremony to pledge loyalty to whoever the leader is and however he/she conducts himself or herself as a leader. Signing it, like many of us are beginning to experience, will take away your rights to seek outside help in case your fundamental rights as a citizen, under Article 10 is violated, as in the case of the student in UPM whose laptop was taken away. He was not allowed to seek the help of a lawyer.

Have things changed these days? Especially in our public universities back home? Your guess is as good as mine. Your analyses too might be better than mine, since you are in contact with friends back home.

How privileged you are to be able to sit in classrooms in your Liberal Arts and Social Science classes at Rutgers, Syracuse, Stevens, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, etc. wherein your professor will never call in the Special Branch or the FBI or the SWAT team or the Ninja Turtles everytime he/she hears someone badmouthing President George Bush or any of the members of his family, including his dogs.

America has its major flaws but democracy is constantly reinterpreted. We might even have the first woman president or even better, the first African American president from an Opposition party. This is something we can also look forward to in Malaysia – the radical changing of paradigms without much damage done to our national psyche. People here do not panic when there is a possible or imminent change in government. They just continue living and they cheer when a politician gets jailed for corruption and abuse of power. As long as the economy’s fine, as long as the streets are safe, and they have a job, things move on.

This is the essence of American pragmatism one can learn from. As a nation being colonized by the British and as one which is founded upon the principles of a republic, Americans speak up for universal human rights as well. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, as many Americans now believe. Democracy here is a “lived experience” permeating even in the lives of young children in the classroom in which children are encouraged to speak up, ask questions, or even disagree with the teachers.

As students we must understand not only how fragile the world has always been but how changes happen across time and space. We are seeing exciting changes happening in Malaysia. No longer are people keeping silent — after 22 years of being silenced. The old regime is slowly crumbling, being deconstructed, making way for a newer world order in an age wherein change and complexity is the norm. Wealth and power are merely ephemeral constructs and very fragile these days. What happened to Marcos, Thaksin, the Shah of Iran, Suharto, or even John Howard of Australia can happen anywhere in the Asian state. Money and Machiavelli can’t but happiness or political stability. Ethics and spirituality can do a better job.

Never take stability for granted, nor geographical boundaries as constant. What happened to Singapore in 1965 can happen to Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, or even to the tiny kingdom of Perlis in 2025. We must be ready to manage change and perhaps direct its energy to our heart’s desire, with Fate conspiring.

In this postmodern world, anything is possible – boundaries shifting, the wealthy and the powerful hunted down for corruption and finally jailed for life, campuses and classrooms becoming an arena for free-flowing exchange of ideas however radical and ridiculous these ideas may be. We might even see all forms of university programs that teach racism through indoctrination and singing outdated propaganda songs about a child playing with fire, banned.

We might even see politically-appointed educational leaders removed and replaced by those interested in freeing our universities. We might even see students of all races sit together during lunch breaks and at dinner tables, talking about how to feed to poor of all races and how best to build a future postmodern republic that is founded upon peace, anti-elitism, virtue, social justice, and deeply meaningful inter-cultural understanding.

I am a dreamer — after seeing many nightmares in broad daylight.

It seems that we are living in two worlds – one that allows us to speak out our mind in this forum and not get hunted down, and one that makes us afraid to even think of how to express our idealism. This is the world of America on the one hand, and Malaya on the other. I call it Malaya because we are still a colony – colonized by ourselves and the structures we have allowed to be installed and become institutions and ultimately institutionalized and alienate us. Malaysia declared its Independence fifty years ago – but it remains a state that merely declared its Independence. Some say that we are evolving into a ‘police state”. It is up to you to characterize what this state means.

In relation to all these then, what is an ideal Muslim student and the nature of idealism he/she embodies? How must he/she function in a world that demands not only racial and religious tolerance but a synthesis of ideas foundationed upon idealism whose flame will not be allowed die? How do we train ourselves to become what I call radical, world wise thinkers who must think like a social futurist?

We shall explore this further. At the end of this talk I am more interested in how you come up with more radical questions than the responses to the propositions I made.

  1. #1 by pratamad on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 7:04 am

    Bravo! This is inspirational. The “idealism” here is what many concerned Malaysians need, for many have somewhat become apolitical or trying to avoid confronting political reality. The essence of “idealism” keeps us in a timeless mindset but focuses on the objective. Many of us may not live to see the many idealistic scenarios to materialize, but that should not stop us from fighting for the idealism.

    Take my case for example. Lately I have come to realisation that I have to fight like a student leader that the author describes. But I am reaching 40 with third child coming! However, when I think about the environment my children will be leaving in, when I think about the disastrous consequences of sitting there doing nothing, when I think about the sacrifices that our forefathers have made, the foundation that they have laid for us which is now almost shredded to pieces by the greedy cronies of the powers-that-be … YOU HAVE THE CALL FOR ACTION!

  2. #2 by Godamn Singh on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 7:22 am

    Did some poster some time ago call it “hollow sophistication”??

  3. #3 by k1980 on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 8:06 am

    Once you gain control of the Judiciary(and the EC), you’ll control everything, especially “democratic” elections,,2235349,00.html

  4. #4 by Colonel on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 8:46 am

    Some poster who since left the blog used to call it “hollow sophistication”.

  5. #5 by bystander on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 9:11 am

    You are an idealist and I fully support and share that ideal. Sometimes I dream like you. If only half the malaysian muslim could dream and think like you, malaysia will be so much more peaceful and prosperous to live in with enough for all and little difference between rich and poor. But all malaysians including non muslims must have the courage to think different and dream like Mr Azly Rahman to achieve those ideals. And not just be mere followers of corrupted BN officials and ministers. Lets have the courage to vote different. Lets have the courage to vote opposition and for change.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 9:25 am

    Here is a question.

    Would it suffice and even more practical for Muslim students to answer the questions that are posed by non-Muslims and the West, rather than, when they don’t have a good answer, falling back on the same tired – you don’t understand crap?

  7. #7 by csl on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 9:32 am

    I just wanna ask the writer if all Malaysians are ready to accept the truth and face the challenge yet? Who dare to put the country in risk? From most rakyats (probably 99.999962%) are seeking for fuel subsidies scene, including some senior politicians, we should able to find out how far we are away from the minimum standard that qualify to take the challenge. Not to mention that, those parents who sued the teachers who punish their children. We might be more intelligent to see the big picture. But not all. Just like those western country gov which pay the jobless people a minimum sum of money to let them survive. It won’t work in Malaysia.

    But, I do respect you, Azly. You are truly a man.

  8. #8 by Saint on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 9:49 am

    Change in the mindset of Muslim students is not going to happen. The government and religion has trapped and subdued their minds from thinking “out of the box”. This is the objective of UMNO and the Malays do not realize it.

  9. #9 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 9:56 am

    Dr. Rahman brought up what is ground breaking history of what is likely to be either a women or black president in the US. I frankly think its will be President Obama.

    The very minor discussion it now generates here leads me to believe that a President Obama will not have great impact on racial and social debate in Malaysia. That surprises no one.

    But why is it so unanimous and what does it mean? As a racial divided country, it should mean a great deal. When Thaksin was elected PM, there were many who admired Thailand for electing a Chinese descendent as PM and say what a shame we cannot have.

    I get it that our government frowns upon racial debate and that is part of it but a big part of the excuse is that racism exist everywhere and their formula is no worst. But the election of Obama will signal a historical progress in racial tolerance. Are we so politically castrated that we don’t ask whether we are also racially progressing?

    I ask this is because I believe at some point, perhaps sooner than most people think, quite a number of people are going to ask again, whether our failure to have a non-Malay PM is a reflection of our own backwardness. In fact, Hindraf is asking the question whether the Indian inequalities is a reflection of our own backwardness and a lot of people agree.

    I have also come to the conclusion that no way is our political system set up to answer these questions and it will lead to discontent and real consequences like Hindraf.

    There is a number of ways this can play out but I don’t see any of the possible scenario leading to progress that matches what is happening in the US and eventually other countries too. I find being a Malaysian then a bit unproud, embarassed. We bring our children in this world and filled them with hope and invest much in their future but this issue is leading me to believe that no matter how much hope I give them, I have to admit to them the reality that being Malaysian, there are something we have to be ashamed of, something that some parties including our government may take severe actions against them for taking that stance publicly.

  10. #10 by kritikus on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:22 am

    syabas azly, you have painted the best picture of the worst case scenario. divine intervention is the only solution to this country’s serious vice problems. this country has plunged itself into the pagan era where corruption, incest, female extermination, greed, ethnic cleansing, power craze, murder, massacre and sorts of violence existed and you and I know what happened to those human race. History will tell you.

    those that ignore the divine signs, that is surfacing now and they are certainly surfacing, just look at the winds, earth movements, floods (water), and fire (heat, global warming) which are allah’s way of warning the greedy, power crazy human race, that my wrath is nigh.

    Allah strikes when you are in a complacent, relaxed and drunken mood. when it comes it really comes and you are caught with only your underwear with nothing and nowhere to go.

    do you realise what is happening to the climate and its disastrous and devastating wrath and destructions. people say it the cause of global warming, destruction of the eco-system and environment and all other forms of climatic change.

    but I say, allah says, hey you people watch out and repent cause I know what you have done to my blessed earth, my creations, my human race and you are not going to get away with it but I let you sleep on your laurels, and bed of roses and will strike and definitely strike when you are totally in your dreamland.

    Azly wait and see, there is more to come for this country besides just floods. this country is heading for disastrous and devastating consequences.

    wassalam, scholar of jurisprudence and philosophy

  11. #11 by cheng on soo on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:27 am

    Thailand, Chinese only 10% to 12%, but had had at least 2 PM, Chinese, (Thaksin n Chuan Lekpai), many Town mayors, etc
    Msia, no hope lah! Chinese PM or not, not so important, but big corruption, inefficiency, racist, divide n rule, NEP (for another umpteen yrs), dictatorial, discriminate severely minorities, HP6 leaders, will not get Msia anywhere in this globalized world!
    Wawasan 2020, is unlikey to achieve.

  12. #12 by Libra2 on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:34 am

    USA is a “hundred years” ahead of Malaysia in liberalism, democracy, human rights and racial equality.
    Malaysia has still to find one leader to match Abraham Lincoln. In fact each elections sees inferior beings siting in the cabinet. It’s regression to the dark ages!
    America is going for a black president but here we want only Malays, never mind his ability or intelligence, even for the post of a District Education Officer not to mention Vice-Chancellors.
    In Malaysia university students are still being treated like secondary school students! Now, how can be progress when minds are shackled.
    It is for this reason I bundled off both my children to the US for their tertiary education and I don’t regret one bit for using up my entire life savings for their education. Why?
    They have been protected from racial prejudice and injustice. They have been freed from forced support (Aku Janji) for a corrupt regime. They have liberated minds.
    How much can this country progress when the Education Minister himself waves the keris like a brainless idiot and speaks like a moron?

  13. #13 by greenacre on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:36 am

    In Malaysia we are not what we are. The term Malaysian is a misnomer. WE are Indians, Malays and Chinese and others.

    Even in a private (international college) where I work they want their forms filled up with race religion and what not. The bloody rot is everywhere.

  14. #14 by bra888 on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:58 am

    During my time, when I was in secondary school, I’ve never learned anything about Nelson Mendela and Sir Martin King Luther from the government textbooks.

    As a matter of fact, form 4 and 5 was suppose to learn world history, but that did not happen for my form 5.

    I’ve learned about the 4 rising civilization, the rising of the Islamic civilization, and the fall of the European countries.

    Form 5 history textbooks are almost 100% similar to form 3 history textbooks.

    If you ask me, the history textbooks that I have is very brainwashing, worthless, repeating, and a waste of my life.

    To me, I like to learn about the 4 rising civilizations because it is something new so I have no problem with that. However, as for the history about the rising of the Islamic civilization and the fall of the European countries, it gives me the impression that the textbooks are purposely talking good about the Islamic civilization and talking bad about the European countries.

    Form 5 history textbooks however is a waste of my life because it is the same as form 3 textbooks. I’ve never learn anything that promotes the people to fight for their basic human rights from them. Never learned anything about the great people from beyond our country.

    In conclusion, our history is so short and selective, that there’s almost nothing new that I can learn from the form 5 textbooks. Even the race riot issue was not discussed in detail, therefore I believed that it is possible that we will repeat that mistake again. It is the same as the Japanese covering up their own mistakes.

    As long as the future generations don’t know the exact details of that race riot issue, it will be bound to repeat itself again.

  15. #15 by megaman on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 3:02 pm

    I have a story for you, Azly to ponder upon.

    There are 2 frogs in a well. One a seemingly wisely and older frog that dominate over the other.

    He teaches the younger one that well is the world and the sky that the frogs see in the opening of the well is where they would go after death where hundreds of virgin female frogs wait for him as long as he follows his teaching to the word.

    He teaches that to think of the world beyond the well is blasphemy and any effort to remove them should be countered violently and without hesitation.

    He teaches that whatever plights that hit them are due to actions of ingrates and heretics living beyond the well and whatever good that befell are due his leadership and teachings.

    But alas, all is not well, the well is drying up but the older frog still gets a major portion of whatever food is available leaving the younger one to starve even when the world beyond the well is lush and nourishing.

    How can the younger frog comprehend the existence and importance of knowledge and expanding their horizons when they are constantly being brainwashed and sees any external assistance as a form of intrusion ?

  16. #16 by disapointed86 on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 4:45 pm

    After i finish reading the speech by Mr. Azly Rahman..i was so touched and amazed that there is Muslim guy having such a mind and idealism…i love his “dream” and how he thinks about Malaysia today..IF ONLY OUR PM AND ALL HIS CABINET possesed 1/2 of his intelligent..i think Malaysia will surely be a better place to live in..someday i hope to see a chinese PM in malaysia…(for sure who does not practise discrmination against all races) ..for exp: Mr Lee Hsien Long of Singapore..

  17. #17 by shamshul anuar on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 4:51 pm

    Dear Azly.

    Many thanks for your remarks. Indeed , in the era of globalization, Malaysia must think as a nation. There is no denying on that. And there is no denying that quite of number of our politicians perform below expectation, not to mention unsatisfactory performances at local councils.

    IN some areas, actually Malaysia is regressing. One example is local council, proficiency in English. I was not born yet during Independence in 1957. However, according to my father, Tunku did in number of times reminded Malaysians not to emotional about language subject. In a number of occasions, he warned Malaysians on the importance of English . If Tunku had his way, English would have became the language of our school.

    But emotion got the better of it. Malaysians accused him for his “soft spot” on English. 40 years later, we admitted our mistake. And we are paying the price .

    As for local council, do remember that once upon a time, punctuality was the order of the day with regards to transport system in Penang.

    However, I beg to differ with regards to some opinions. Mr Chen On Soo lamented the fact that Malaysia never has A Chinese Prime Minister. What Me Chen forgot is the concept of “law of human nature”. Naturally the largest etnic group will have the most influence in politics. As the malays form the largest group, they naturally has the most influence in politics as compared to other races . That is the fact of life, That is the reason why all presidents of USA are white people.

    That is also the reason why all Prime Ministers of Singapore are Chinese. Why Malays must be condemed for practising what the world practises.

    As for Libra2, USA( like all countries in the world) has its weaknesses. No doubt its the world power with advance technology and education system. But there is also a flaw. From my conversation with my American classmates during my study there, I notice that they do not really know history. They do not really know the world as it was not taught in the school.

    Malaysian education system has its flaw, no doubt about it. But certainly it also has its plus point. There is room for improvement.I voucH that our older history text book is much better than the current one. I still remember reading about Manchu Dynasty of late 19th century China during Form 5. Once my sister cautioned me that she still remember stories of “Princess Pocahontas” , later immortalized in Walt Disney animation.

    As for “democracy ” in the USA, there is good and there is bad. And USA has its flaw. Back in my study times in USA, I once witnessesed racial clash between Black and Korean Americans, forcing FEderal Govt to intervene. But politics is an expensive affair in USA. Various industrial sectors “invest” in politicians.

    As for criticisms, once a while do temper with rationalty. I once cautioned my university mate that he ( while criticizing and condemning Malaysian Govt) must also remember that he was given scholarship right up to doing PHD. Criticize but do also give credit when it is due.

    While many are fond of criticizing Malaysia, who could deny superb performance by Malaysia in rejecting IMF cookie cutter prescription dring economy crisis in late 1990s.

  18. #18 by A true Malaysian on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 6:13 pm

    Well, how nice if Malay Muslims have the same ‘idealism’ of yours, then I can be sure that Malaysia is the best place to live in the earth, not USA. Taking into the fact that Malaysia is rich in resources and practically no major nature disaster.

    I am looking forward to read more of your writings. Cheers, Azly Rahman.

  19. #19 by cancan on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 7:45 pm

    Interesting article on idealism,Azly.

    Islam,like any other religion in the world,teaches its followers to be good.

    In Malaysia,Islam is being hijacked and manipulated by the Umnoputras for political gains.

    How can we change and guide the Malays back to be moderates muslims ?

    Why must we allow the Umnoputras to continue dividing the rakyat
    through religion to boiling point ?

    Can someone please do something now ?


  20. #20 by HB Lim on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:01 pm

    Azly, most comments here have commended you for your idealism but I am interested to know what are your thoughts about Malay special rights, about deliberate discriminatory policy in favour of the Malays in the appointment of public offices, about the admission of university students, about a Chinese PM, etc. Because there are also comments that you are talking hollow sophistication. I have known of many who talk like you but when it comes to the crunch, they are still Malays and/or Muslims through and through who would not give up their special rights and who still cling on to their so-called birth rights as bumiputras.

    You can sing the tune of a idealist and a liberal to a crowd clamouring for liberalism and liberty but when your special rights are threatened, what would you say and do? That is more important than singing the tune to please the crowd. It is easy to sing when you still have those special rights and treatment.

    The truth, I think, is that the majority of Malays have been pampered for too long they think the government owes them a living and everything that is necessary for that and they have been so instilled with the notion that they are special people with special rights that they no longer respect the non-Malays’ rights. This is of course no good for the non-Malays but in the long run, I fear the Malays will suffer the most.

    With the tongkat, you tend to walk too slowly and when the world has reached far distances, you would be further and further left behind. Think about it. Most of the non-Malays would go on to advance in tandem with the development of the civilisation of the world and as they do so, the Malays would still be clamouring for more governmental support.

    How much can the government do in an increasing Malay population in a more and more demanding world? When natural resources run out, it has to take from the non-Malays to be given to the Malays. Would this type of nation where one group is subsidising another lasts? Would it help the psyche of the Malays to know that they have been so dependent? I know for sure that the Malays are as capable as any other people. But the government is spoiling them like a parent who is spoiling a child and destroying his future by showering too much on him without the proper disciplining and independence. The proverbial throwing into the deep end of the water.

    Politically, the government has always been re-elected, despite scandals and inefficiencies, by Malay votes and by instilling fear of a racial riot if the Malays’ demands are not met or if their rights are questioned or threatened. All these factors work on one another until we have now this seeming trap from which we cannot escape.

    It is fine to pontificate idealism. But I think we need more than that. We have to take the deliberate practical steps to push the Malays out into the real, competitive and unsavoury world and experience it and live in it all by themselves without shelter, tongkats and wheelchairs and be a citizen of the real world before we can talk idealism and liberalism and high philosophy to them.

    As it is, whenever a Malay starts to pontificate, I tend to think, like the two earlier comments, you are a hollow sophistication but I do not blame you. A quick example – most non-Malays are inundated their whole life about the problems of saving enough for their children’s education. Most Malays are not worried at all about that kind of problem because they know that even if their children are lower than average students, they would still be able to see their way through university, college or vocational schools with the government’s help and if all else fails, the government would be there to grant a loan to start a business or something with the many Bumiputra schemes. I am not accusing the Malays who take advantage of those things, I would if I were them, but I think it is not going to help them in the long run and it would mostly if not certainly be futile to talk to them about more egalitarian things which if applied would mean the deprivation of their special rights.

    The only way is to forcibly reverse the protective policies. The Chinese says short pain would be better than long suffering. But who would do that which certainly means that they will lose the majority votes. So, the system feeds on itself and it goes on and on….with some non-Malays like MCA and Samy Velu supporting it for personal gains. For some, like me, it is best to forget about talking about egalitarian things or idealistic politics in Malaysia.

    Eat and be merry. Send your children overseas if you can. If not, teach them to make money as much as possible for Malaysia is still a great place if you have money. Politics, forget it, for the Malays would become more and more demanding and vocal as there are less and less to be shared amongst them. The blame would be placed by them on the non-Malays for taking things and food away from them.

    Sometimes, my advice is that if there is no choice, just give whatever they want to them. What can you do when their population is rising at a much faster pace than the non-Malays? What can you do when the only place you can call home is Malaysia?

    But at times I think maybe, just maybe, as a first step if all right thinking citizens could think and vote intelligently to deny the government the two-third majority and by and through that, force the government to incrementally dismantle racially based laws and policies and incrementally change the mind-set of the more ordinary Malays to become more independent and more and more like Azly, there is still hope for the Malays and the non-Malays who are left with no choice but to live here in Malaysia.

    Malaysia started on the wrong footing by adopting a loose constitution which has been amended beyond recognition and by electing into government a party with a racially divisive political platform. Azly, I hope it is not just talk but what you say are words from your heart. But how many Malays are like you? It would definitely be past my life time for Malays like you to form a politically relevant group, if at all there will be grown such a group. Some say as Malays get more and more educated, there will be grown such a group. But I think an educated person would become irrational also if you threaten to take away their special rights.

    Forgive this rather morbid comments. I salute people like Kit Siang and his followers who go on and on with seemingly endless resolve and energy and courage to change the system. I am made of much softer and useless element. But you can be assured of my vote and all those I can influence. Your voters are mostly like me who logically see no way out of this quagmire but still entertain a glimmer of hope, a miracle. Each has only a vote – throw it in the direction of a sure and further rot or throw it for a glimmer of hope. The choice is clear.

  21. #21 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 10:27 pm

    HB Lim,

    You sound so much like Barack Obama who managed to ‘dethrone’ the favorite Hilary Clinton in this week’s Iowa Caucus – a voice for change, an audacity of hope and a plea to reclaim the lost middle ground!

    I would walk coast to coast of the United States to vote for this guy. Every time you listen to him speak, your hair would stand on end. This same experience comes from many Americans among whom is Judge Judy, a judge herself. Obama could be the next President of the United States if voting transcends the racial barrier. As it is most of his supporters are whites and not blacks, mostly first-time voters.

    Although you and I may not live to see the ‘change’ in our country more like you should visit this blog and post your thoughts. More should speak from the heart.

    Let’s leave our country better than when we found it.

  22. #22 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Saturday, 5 January 2008 - 11:09 pm

    Promoting idealism in this cruel competitive world is like giving an air-con to the Eskimo. You should instead teach students to be pragmatic. Take the world as you see it and improve on it with what works. Take a leave from Lee Kuan Yew – ever the pragmatist.

  23. #23 by bystander on Sunday, 6 January 2008 - 11:15 am

    HBLim, you have given an honest and accurate view of the problems we malaysians, esp non muslims face. Questions raised are very petinent. Even intellectuals like Dr Bakri Musa and Din Merican have stated that they are NOT willing to give up their special malay rights. Yes, what is the point of talking about idealism and liberalism when it comes to the crunch, deep down the malays still want to hang onto their special malay rights. Yes, What a quagmire we are in.

  24. #24 by shamshul anuar on Tuesday, 15 January 2008 - 10:59 pm

    Dar HB Lim.

    I refer to your responses to Azly. Perhaps I can shed some light to some of your questions .

    ON CHINESE PRIME MINISTER: I am afraid the Malay community will not take it. That is law of human nature. Surely you cant expect the Malays to “act abnormally”. What I mean with “law of human nature”. The largest group in any country ussually will have the most influence with regards to top executive post. That is the reason why the PM of Singapore is a Chinese, President of USA have always been white or President of Philipines always a Christian. I am sure such a view is logical. After all, no Malay ever win in Chinese majority area .

    SPECIAL MALAY RIGHT: What overlooked by majority of non Malays is that special rights are derived from the fact that the country previously known as malay states.

    Such a fact is recognised worldwide, manifasted with all treaties between Malay states were inked then by Malay rulers and foreign powers. After the war, London thought it woud be easier to tighten the grip on Malaya by introducing Malayan Union. But there is a legal issue. Sovereinty of Malay rulers was the stumbling block.

    An envoy was despatch to obtain Malay rulers’ consent on Malayan Union. Malays objected due to 2 clauses. The first is that Malayan Union did not recognise sovereignty of Malay Rulers, hence denying whatever legal claim Malays have as the native of the land.

    Second was the “jus Soli” , a very liberal immigration policy. A compromise was made. Sovereignty of Malay Rulers restored but Malays accepted “jus Soli” hence giving citizenship to non Malays.

    However, as Malay “gives” something to non Malays, they expect returns. This is the part that you will not get to hear from DAP or Lim Kit Siang. Since they agree to grant citizenship to non Malays, they also put clauses that recognises the fact that the Malays, due to fact that they are the original people, deserves some rights not accorded to others.

    As such, their religion is accorded as Official Religion, and sizable employment in public sectors reserved to them. Certain traditions such as monarch system is well cherished by Malay community.

    I remembered my American friend questioned me what right I have to consider Malays as native of the land. I told him the existence of Malay Rulers until today. He nodded and said I have the point.

    So if anybody questions the Malay rights, he can expect to be challenged on his right “that is citizenship”.

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