Archive for October 2nd, 2008

“Prime Minister for all Malaysians” – Abdullah’s greatest failure

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s greatest failure is his inability to honour his most important pledge to be Prime Minister for all Malaysians.

This is why his Hari Raya message that “This country belongs to all of us, everyone of us” and that “No citizen is recognized as being of a higher status than another in this motherland” fell like a damp squib.

If Abdullah had expressed such sentiments in his first 100 days as Prime Minister, it would have taken the country by storm like his sonorous statements made in his first months in office, such as “Work with me, not for me” and his pledge to be Prime Minister for all Malaysians.

Now, all these high-sounding statements fall flat, devoid of any inspirational quality, because Abdullah had failed to deliver a single one of the many grand promises for which he was given the unprecedented victory of over 91 per cent of parliamentary seats in the 2004 general election.

Abdullah’s Hari Raya message has only confirmed that the Prime Minister is suffering from a terminal form of denial syndrome when he said that the Barisan Nasional (BN) will not fail Malaysians and “whatever the circumstances”, the government is committed to discharging the trust and responsibility given it by the people. Read the rest of this entry »


An Eid in Jogjakarta

By Farish A. Noor
Oct.1, 2008

It has been many years, more than two decades in fact, since I last enjoyed celebrating Eidul Fitri anywhere in the world. Over the past decade Eid has always been a poignant moment for me, as I reflect on how badly things have deteriorated for Muslims the world over. It is sad, to say the least, that despite all the efforts of legions of progressive Muslim academics, activists and leaders the world over the image of Islam and Muslims worldwide has taken such a battering in the wake of 11 September 2001. During my long stay in Europe Ramadhan was often a testing time when academic-activists like myself would be drawn into public debates about how Islam constituted a ‘threat’ to European identity (while of course the fact that the capitals of Western Europe have been colonised by scores of McDonalds and KFC outlets is seen as something perfectly normal, as if Chicken fried ala’ Kentucky state was as European as croissants, bratwurst or fish and chips…)

After twenty-one years of living in Europe and watching the slide to the extreme right in the politics of countries like Holland, Austria and Germany, it makes a huge difference to be back in Asia and in Java in particular, the home of my ancestors. The past two months however have been laborious as I was trekking across all of Java as part of my research project. Finally, after eight weeks of non-stop travel and fieldwork, I found myself tired, smelly, dirty but contented as I nestled back in my adopted hometown of Jogjakarta, just in time to catch the takbir that announced the end of Ramadhan and the coming of Eid. Read the rest of this entry »