Obama for Putrajaya

by Azly Rahman

“…Haji Ramli Street was a dirt lane where Obama used to while away the hours kicking a soccer ball. In the long rainy season, it turned to thick, mucky soup; Obama and his friends wore plastic bags over their shoes to walk though it,” said Adi, who at 46 is the same age as Obama….

“Neighborhood Muslims worshiped in a nearby house, which has since been replaced by a larger mosque. Sometimes, when the muezzin sounded the call to prayer, Lolo and Barry would walk to the makeshift mosque together.

… “His mother often went to the church, but Barry was Muslim. He went to the mosque. I remember him wearing a sarong,” said Adi. reported by Paul Watson in The Baltimore Sun, March 16, 2007

“… given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. …

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?

Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination?

How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defence Department would survive its application?”
– Barack Obama Call to renewal: keynote address June 28, 2006

Barack Hussein Obama for prime minister of Malaysia?

Of course this is a silly proposition, unless Malaysia is USA’s 52nd state!

We would like to see Malaysia evolve into a country in which race nor religion matter in the appointment of prime ministers.

What matter one’s moral righteousness, intellectual depth, uncompromising multiculturalist outlook, undying championing of the Constitution, prioritising of needs versus wants, and commitment to a two-term (eight year) prime ministership.

Obama’s America votes

With less than two weeks before the most exciting US Presidential election, Americans are again, as in the tradition of its democracy, getting an education of what it takes to be a president and what it means to be a voter.

Will the United States see her first “most hybridised”, “hypertextualised”, “heteroglossic” president in Barack Obama? And how can Malaysia learn from yet another interesting episode in American history?

No, I am not campaigning for Obama, McCain, Biden, or Palin. Being a permanent resident, I cannot vote for America’s president anyway – not yet. Nor have I campaigned for any prime ministerial candidate of Malaysia – not yet, as I am still waiting for a leader Malaysia deserves.

At this moment, I am more interested in analysing phenomena and to write about what is dear to my heart: the possibility of a republic of virtue that begins with a republic of the self.

Barack is a phenomena America is coming to terms with. He is an embodiment of America the absurd – of a white America wishing to move away from “whiteness” and dropping the “knapsack of white privilege”.

Barack means ‘barkath’ or ‘blessings’ perhaps this country needs to escape from a military-industrial complex it created.

Barack is a product of two of America’ best Ivy League traditions; a Columbia University graduate in Politics and International Relations and a Harvard graduate in Law.

He is “hybridised,” with a Kansas-born white mother and a Kenyan father and an Indonesian stepfather. He is also said to be a distant cousin of Vice President Dick Cheney whose ancestors are said to be great monarchs of Europe.

Barack has lived in Hawaii, Indonesia, New York, and Illinois. His Indonesian childhood experience as Barry Soetoro, son of Lolo Soetoro, has brought him fond memories of growing up Javanese and mingling with Muslims children in a secular school mistaken as ‘radical madrasah’ by right-wing Republican Islamophobic media spinmasters.

Hey, but what if Barack is a Muslim and proud of it – should Middle America freak out? Such is testament of how racialised this country is and how uncultured and ignorant Middle America can be. But that experience makes Barack Hussein Obama a deeply kaleidoscopic, hybridised, and cosmopolitan America citizen of the world, I presume.

Barack, Harlem, and the Bronx

Barack’s New York years at West 116th Street, at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) put him in touch with the reality of the “Harlem-ness and the Bronx-ness” of America.
A few more blocks down West 120th Amsterdam and Broadway, one sees a different reality of a Third World America.

America of the ‘projects’ against the backdrop of graffiti, ever-new dance forms, and gangsta rap, hip hop, and reggaeton

Barack’s education at Columbia must have accorded him with the nurturing of empathy especially for the multicultural poor. His Harvard years must have trained his mind in the cognitive tradition of John F. Kennedy.

He is an articulate man whose oratorical skills can even surpass that of the accomplished African-American actor Denzel Washington’s. Barack can even appear cameo in Denzel’s next movie perhaps called Abraham Lincoln Resurrected; the story of Barack Obama.
Barack represents the emergence of America the radical multicultural; a breakdown of grand narrative and hopefully a shift from America the warmonger to America the diplomat and peacemaker.

John McCain, a former prisoner of war, represents what America must evolve out of, replaced by a young and sensible man of all seasons and all reasons: Barack Obama.

United States of America must now be called United Socialist America, with the disappearance of Wall Street and the nationalisation of the US “central” bank.
A demise of the financial system that has propped up the Evil Empire in its crusade for global reach through gunboat diplomacy and democracy for the few.

Casino capitalism which has gambled away the lives of many locally and nationally is making way for a form of capitalism we do not yet know its name.
The American Century Project is cut short by 95 years.

What Malaysia deserves

Malaysia need a new Barack Obama as prime minister.
Well not necessarily a Columbia and Harvard graduate but someone with a good education and a good heart and a good set of analytical skills.

Most importantly Malaysia needs a prime minister for all Malaysians, not only for this or that race.

In Malaysia’s Barack will lie a man or woman who can dismantle all race-base policies.

Malaysia do not need a John McCain as prime minister.

In the Malaysia of John McCain, we will have a system of control akin to militarism, in which secret patronage politics, authoritarianism, and regimentation of a synthesis of Oriental Despotism and modern corporate crony capitalism reigns.

In McCain’s Malaysia, we have the institutionalisation of the war system, in which the regime is at war with its people and institutions and ideologues have been taken as prisoners of war.
Especially in this difficult times of “transition” of power that is giving Malaysians a cruel choice of a hegemonic flow.

If we are to have an Obamanised Malaysia, we will have longer campaigns that makes the prime-ministerial race more intelligent.

Creating more respect for our democratic institutions more respect for the rule of law, more informed citizenry whom will not tolerate civil rights violation and more articulated promise for radical educational reform.

Most importantly a prime minister committed to dismantling any form of race-base political parties – politics that will always be the root of Malaysia’s postmodern/hypermodern ethic and religious conflicts.

Of course Barack Obama will never become a prime minister of Malaysia. It is a silly proposition.

But may Malaysia be blessed with a leader it deserves at a time when the old regime, with its own “Bush-ism and Reaganomics as twin ideology, is rudely demanding for its rights to continue to rule a restless and radicalised multicultural nation.

Of course Obama would not want to belong in any of Malaysia’s race-based party – something that’ll painfully remind him of Jim Crow, Montgomery and Selma, Alabama.

  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 8:37 am

    Your information about Obama is a bit incorrect, regarding his first degree. He got a B.A. in New York. It was not SIPA where Madeleine Albright, former State Secretary, studied. See below (from wikipedia.com):-

    Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked for a year at the Business International Corporation and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group.

  2. #2 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 8:42 am

    Dear Doctor Azly Watson – it’s elementary. Your proposal will only work if Malaysia rewards talent – that it rewards know-how instead of know-who. And that is a BIG IF.

    Mediocrity know nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.

    – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) Valley of Fear, 1915

  3. #3 by taiking on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 8:50 am

    We inherited a fantastic system of public administration 50 yrs ago. The same system that has worked wonderfully in HK and S’pore. But umno decided to rubbish that system. Umno have also decided that the best way ahead for them is to rubbish meritocracy as well.

    Now we are left with a rubbish system which is being manned by rubbish leaders and administrators. It takes ages to do good. It takes only a moment to destroy it. How much time do we need to re-construct 50 yrs of determined and systematic destruction?

    We need a leader who is a Columbia and Harvard graduate. Not Najib. Nor anyone else in umno. They too are products of a system where meritocracy has been rubbished.

    The obvious alternative of course is to change the system by changing the government.

  4. #4 by monsterball on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:05 am

    hahahahahaha….Still with his bombastic words…he wants to impress us with his low class knowledge about USA.
    I have a strange feeling…Lim Kit Siang is purposely putting out Azly Raham messages..to expose something.
    As for me….who cares about USA politics…and Sermon on the Mount…when right at our front yard..lots of unsolved problems.
    Why can’t Azly…just choose one Malaysian subject…like how to get rid of corrupted cops….or even…speak..what Muslims…should follow..what doctrine…Taliban type…or a open minded type…strengthening the minds…to think for themselves..what is right or wrong…by themselves….depending on no one’s advises.
    But please …please….no more bombastic words….to show how well educated you are.
    Azly should like …to write like me…less educated up to professors….all understand…….hahahahahahaha
    Never mind broken English. bad grammars and lousy spellings…..since getting filthy rich and dressed up with Tun….or Tan Sri…requires no high qualification.
    Low class teacher…. .can still be Vice President of UMNO.
    Mat bin Mat..classic example….lousy low class dentist..another example. Best of all…botak..Albar..a lawyer with no brain…keep talking like a lawyer burok…making a fool of himself….whenever he opens his big mouth.
    Than God…Samy no more. How much can Malaysians tolerate?
    Malaysia memang boleh!!

  5. #5 by AhPek on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:26 am

    We can argue and we can talk till the cows come home the obamanisation of Malaysia can only happen when we packed off BN as the ruling party.The 51 years of hegemonic rule over this country has done nothing to the ordinary Joe Public but has succeeded in making many overnight millionaires and multi millionaires out of Bumiputras and their cronies,destroying all the institutions in its wake.
    First order of business in the education of voters thus is to get UMNO out of government and only then will the process of healing begins for this country.Then only can the dismantling of race-based parties happen,then only will good governance come in and meritocracy starts to germinate,and the proverbial Phoenix will rise.In short it is up to us!

  6. #6 by wanderer on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:40 am

    Yes, we have Obama in UMNO, sadly, they are all FRAUDS!
    Perhaps, we have to wait for another half century, where racist parties are fully dismantled and a glowing desire, equal opportunities for all. In a Malaysia, we no longer is identified by race but as anak bangsa Malaysia.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:41 am

    Even an Obama in Putrajaya won’t know what to do with our 1.2 million strong civil service. The bloated civil service that sleeps at lunchtime, takes 2 tea breaks a day, and watches the clock run down to 5 pm.

  8. #8 by greenacre on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:49 am

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry hearing about Obama and his audacity of hope.

    Even our Majlis Raja-Raja had declared us as, we,you and article 153 and not Malaysians. There is no way forward but backward i.e social contract but conveniently forgetting Article 4.

  9. #9 by bystander on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:50 am

    Dr Azly, you are such a nice compassionate intellect. fully concur with you. but the trouble is your writing is wishful thinking. it will not and cannot happen in the next 50 years until such time umno/bn is dismantled/disbanded. even the rulers insist that on malay supremacy and social contract which means you can only have malay as PM and also MB, malay special privileges and NEP and so on and so on. umnoputras are so racist and narrow minded with people like Chamil, Kj, Kerimuddin etc etc. the irony is that most if not all umnoputras would support Obama and not John Mccain because of his right leaning but umnoputras themsreves are leaning to the righter than right of Mccain. what a bunch of hypocrites.

  10. #10 by hadi on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 10:14 am

    Will it be a Malaysian dream. Or we will again fall into angan angan Mat Jenin the famous Bumiputra who will forever be bullied by the UMNOPutra.
    Only CHANGE can make Malaysia moves forward. Only CHANGE can make us find a leader of all season and all reason.
    If CHANGE doesn’t happen in the next four years, then we will continue to live in a state of denial. Or we will lay back and console ourselves to let the next generation to continue the fight.
    But a word of caution, if it happens tomorrow, the task to overhaul the humongous BN disease is insurmountable.It is so widespread and as the old habits die hard.
    Will there be tomorrow for Malaysians,or what about IF Tomorrow Never Comes.

  11. #11 by drmaharajahrk on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 10:21 am

    Prince Charles doesnt want to be Head of Christianity when he becomes King as many Englanders are not Christian anymore. He says he wants to be King for all Englanders.

    Here the Royalty say dont question special right of malays and social contract .

    Arent the Royalty here Sultans and Kings of the Chinese and Indians and other Malaysians too ?

  12. #12 by shortie kiasu on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 10:47 am

    When the dominant and domineering race of the country keep talking about ‘ketuanan’ of race, there is never a time when Barrack Obama can be a prime minister of Malaysia.

    The country would be doomed to be stucked in the mud of the racial squabling for ages to come.

    If Malaysia can another enlightened leader like Jaffar Onn, the founder of UMNO, then there may be a chance of salvation.

  13. #13 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 11:12 am

    What happened to the support of Anwar?
    He is not putting forward any motion to change the government in the parliament. Is he STILL having the majority as claimed?

    On the other hand, he challenged BN to allow such a motion, and he will put the matter to rest if they can prove that he indeed does not have the majority.

    So who is right now? No one dared to prove or disprove himself.

  14. #14 by drmaharajahrk on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 11:55 am

    in India the Dalits/ Harijans/ Pariahs/ Lower castes have special rights and the Government gives them special privilidges.

    They are given help by the state

  15. #15 by shadow on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 1:07 pm

    We don’t need a OBAMA to run our country. We only need someone like Zaid Ibrahim. He can bring the changes what the Malaysians are looking for. GOD BLESS MALAYSIA.

  16. #16 by riversandlakes on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 8:00 pm

    Yes, I support Malaysia as the 51st state! Obama ’08!

    Note: The USA has only 50 states. D.C. or Puerto Rico are not American states.

  17. #17 by zak_hammaad on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 9:48 pm

    “Opposition parties might say they practise non-racial politics, but not in reality. Pakatan needs to stay together in a marriage of convenience because they want to replace Barisan. But look at how they placed their candidates (in the general election), Chinese area – DAP, mixed area – PKR, Muslim area – PAS.

    It will be a long time before we de-racialise our thinking. My own view is that we must accept our diversity. Barisan Nasional in its true ideal always propagated the ideal of multi-culturalism. The other parties follow this.” [Syed Hamid Albar]

  18. #18 by daniel3k on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 10:16 pm

    “The same system that has worked wonderfully in HK and S’pore. But umno decided to rubbish that system. Umno have also decided that the best way ahead for them is to rubbish meritocracy as well.

    – taiking

    The same system was put in place so that the Empire can be efficiently exploited for the glory of the Queen, Country and Cross. They are still efficient systems. Queen, Country and Cross may be gone but their bankers are still there to bang the local economy for them. We are still their b**ch.

    The British left the tribal countries to deal with the race wars they created while they handled their own class war. America is like the abused child who grow up kinda, but constantly relaspses and abuses others. For every one Obama that comes out from the West, there’s 99 western citizens who knowingly or unknowingly suck up the best resources of poorer countries. The only good empire is a dead empire. The only real border exists in our mind. Free it.

  19. #19 by katdog on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 11:16 pm

    Remember that America didn’t get where it is overnight or even in 4 years. America freed the slaves in the 1860’s. Yet there was still no equality. Martin Luther King fought and died for equal rights in 1968. Now only in 2008, 40 years after MLK we have a non white president.
    The road to change is long, hard and uncertain.

    Don’t expect Malaysia to be able achieve change in just 4 years. It takes many many brave souls their entire lives fighting to bring change to a nation.

  20. #20 by katdog on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 - 11:22 pm

    drmaharajahrk Says:
    “in India the Dalits/ Harijans/ Pariahs/ Lower castes have special rights and the Government gives them special privilidges.
    They are given help by the state”

    And this is precisely what we DON’T want to see in Malaysia. The poor of any race is still poor and deserves equal help. No particular race, whether minority or majority, should be afforded any form of special privileges (beyond what is already afforded to the indigenous inhabitants of Malaysia via our constitution).

  21. #21 by taiking on Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 8:58 am

    Ahpek said:

    “The 51 years of hegemonic rule over this country has done nothing to the ordinary Joe Public but has succeeded in making many overnight millionaires and multi millionaires out of Bumiputras and their cronies,destroying all the institutions in its wake.”

    Yes how very true! The rule has created a band of meritless, super greedy and power crazy umnoputras.

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