Archive for December 18th, 2010

The debate on pluralism

By Thomas Lee

Over the last few days, a controversy has been brewing over a statement by the Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim) that Islam considers that not all religions are equal, and that the concept of pluralism is antithetical to Islam.

The Umno-owned and controlled Utusan Malaysia daily has gone to town with stories suggesting that religious pluralism is a threat to Islam, and that Pakatan Rakyat supremo and opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is pushing for other religions to be put on an equal footing with Islam.

According to the newspaper, those who question the position of Islam and the Malays are practitioners of religious pluralism, in what appears to be a claim that Anwar’s rejection of Umno’s “ketuanan Melayu” concept is unIslamic, or even anti-Islam.

I think we should not just jump at Ikim and unilaterally condemn its view about the exclusivity of Islam without some serious objective evaluation and understanding of the teaching of the religion. Read the rest of this entry »


Singapore redefines braggadocio

By Tunku Aziz

FOUR years ago, on 18 October 2006, I wrote an opinion piece from my 30th floor office in the UN Secretariat, New York, for the New Sunday Times. The title, Singapore is simply a neighbour too far, I thought fairly described my assessment of the state of our relations with neighbouring Singapore. It upset a great many Singaporeans; it also made many realise that “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

A Singaporean behaves too much like an insecure lover, forever seeking assurance that she is the fairest of them all and that she is much admired and loved. The insatiable craving for praise and adoration would, in normal circumstances, point to a serious flaw in the national character. This much I remember from the Child Psychology lectures I attended in college all those long years ago. How else can you explain their supercilious behaviour towards us, the Japanese and Indians, all falling into the category of “stupid?”
Singapore is not an unknown quantity to us in Malaysia. In a sense it is of us, but not part of us. Forget the so-called historical ties that are supposed to underpin our relations because they amount to nothing in practice.

To view them through rose-tinted spectacles as is our wont would distort even further a relationship that has never been known for its convergence of views on even the most pedestrian of issues. Rather, it has always had all the makings and attributes of a potentially protracted and acrimonious future. Read the rest of this entry »


Five cardinal injustices perpetrated by outrageous Parliamentary six-month suspension of Anwar, Karpal, Azmin and Sivarasa

The outrageous parliamentary six-month suspension of four Pakatan Rakyat leaders, Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Permatang Pauh), DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh (Bukit Gelugor), PKR Deputy President Mohd Azmin Ali (Gombak) and PKR lawyer R. Sivarasa (Subang) in international consultancy firm APCO’s role in the “1Israel” “1Malaysia” controversy committed five cardinal injustices, viz:

Firstly, although Anwar was referred to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges, he was denied of the full opportunity to substantiate his parliamentary speech linking 1Malaysia to APCO and the One Israel concept as the Barisan Nasional majority in the Commtitee of Privileges perversely decided to rely solely on a letter from APCO as the basis to penalize Anwar.

Secondly, the refusal of the Chairman of the Committee of Privileges, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to accept the minority report prepared by Karpal and Sivarasa as part of the report of the Committee of Privileges to the House, demonstrating bias, unfairness and utter disregard of parliamentary conventions and accepted practices.

Thirdly, without giving Karpal, Azmin and Sivarasa notice and the fundamental right to be heard as referring them to the Committee of Privileges before charging them in Parliament for parliamentary contempt alleging that they had revealed information privy to the Committee of Privileges – going against the principles of natural justice.

Fourthly, forcing through the passage of the motion to suspend Anwar Ibrahim as MP for six months without any debate, which is completely unprecedented and unheard-of not only in the Malaysian Parliament but also in Parliaments of developed democracies.

Fifthly, the blatant conflict of interest committed by Pandikar in chairing the parliamentary proceeding to suspend Anwar, Karpal, Azmin and Sivarasa when he is also the Chairman of the Committee of Privileges and therefore party to the punitive actions against the four PR leaders. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysian History Syllabus: Delusion, Amnesia, Inertia and Arrogance

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

A few days ago, two senior academics involved in the writing of history textbooks emerged from the shadows with the public allegation that the history textbooks in the country are biased and littered with errors. According to Dr. Ranjit Singh Malhi, one of the two authors, “secondary text books have been used to promote political interests”. Ng How Kuen, the other concerned author, expressed his fear that making history a compulsory pass subject would mean that students would have to subscribe to the official version of events or risk failing the entire examination.

It is said that history is written by the victors but it is also true that we get the history we deserve. The disclosure that the teaching of history in schools has been skewed and has a political agenda – besides suffering from distortions and errors – is not the first time this issue has been brought to the public’s attention.

Earlier attempts to highlight the issue of what constitutes the true history of Malaysia and what is passed off as officially sanctioned history in the schooling and larger public system such as the BTN courses may have begun with a bang but they have all ended with a whimper. Read the rest of this entry »