Archive for category Azly Rahman

A Yellow Mellow tomorrow

an instant poem to be shared quite urgently
by Azly Rahman

I told you already
of the fate of this country
that has moved so fast
and now we have another BERSIH rally
yellow mellow what will it be like tomorrow?
we all won’t know until we wear yellow

I have advised the country already
to go to the national square and treat it like a samba party
why aggravate the authorities when they too wish to join in the party?
they are all lonely and want to be clean and happy
in their hearts they powers that be want to be corrupt-free

what then must we do
for a yellow mellow hot potato tomorrow? Read the rest of this entry »


Beyond the ‘Dong Zong issue’

by Azly Rahman
Mar 28, 2012

I read with interest about ongoing governmental discrimination against Chinese schools, as highlighted by Dong Zong.

Why are quality teachers and an abundance of resources still channeled only to Malay-dominated schools? Why are children in Chinese schools criminalised by the ‘sanction on teaching staff” which will ultimately deprive students of a good mother-tongue education?

What actually is our illness with regard to denial of the students’ right to their own language? Do policy makers actually understand the relationship between culture, cognition, consciousness and citizenship?

What does nationalism mean these days, and how do we understand it vis-a-viz use of language in schools? Whose brand of nationalism is being made dominant and what should an inclusive one look like?

What is the real issue behind the age-old request for the Chinese schools to have more teachers? How are the children criminalised by all this? Where is the peaceful path to this gentle profession called education? Read the rest of this entry »


Sin City, Jay Bee – a tribute to Johor Bahru

by Azly Rahman

Where have all those memories gone
Of the city that never sleeps
Sin-filled you are
… Offering life’s panorama
A pandora box of a lushness of emotions

Jay Bee
You may be called a city of filth
Of gang wars and transvestite agalore
Of rock kapak geniuses conceived immaculately
From the womb of Papa Rock
Ahhh New Johor … New York you may want to be
Thou shall never attain that notoriety Read the rest of this entry »


Education in multicultural Malaysia

by Azly Rahman
Mar 9, 11

Q: Being a multicultural society that Malaysia is, how should our education system be designed? Or, should it be designed at all?

A: Education is a deliberate attempt to construct human beings who will participate in society as productive citizens. The question whether our education system should be designed or not is quite irrelevant when education, schooling, training, indoctrination, and the spectrum of ways by which the child is “schooled” are all based on intentional design.

Schooling is the most contested terrain in any society; it is a battlefield or a conveyor belt for the creation of human beings. We go back one step before the question of design. In a multicultural society, who should be entrusted to design schooling – politicians or philosophers of education trained in the study of political economy and anthropology and alternative historicising?

Are those designing our schooling system equipped with the varieties of philosophical perspectives in education? We have essentialism, progressivism, romanticism, cultural rejuvenation, social reconstructionism, spiritual capitalism, technicism… or even cultural revolution.

These philosophies call for a different perspective of what a human being is and how to draw out the potentials in each and every human being. Hence the Latin word “educare”, from which education comes from, meaning “drawing out”.

My question for all of you: What philosophy of education will be suitable for a multicultural society such as Malaysia? And how do we translate such a philosophy into praxis (Paulo Freire, “Cultural action for freedom”). Read the rest of this entry »


Coloniser-colonised thesis revisited

by Azly Rahman

Learning about the current Tunisian revolt, and remembering the work of Martin Luther King Jr, I have somewhat come to draw a parallel between analysis and hope, between reality and manifestation. From Albert Memmi to Martin Luther King Jr.

In the case of the Tunisian youth ‘chasing out’ their dictator of 23 years and their anger over the royal robbery of the monarch, I found an explanation in the 1965 classic by the Tunisian psychoanalyst and political-cultural theorist Albert Memmi in his seminal work, The Colonizer and the Colonized, in which he proposed that the only way to resolve the contradiction of the oppressor and the oppressed and put an end to the brutality of the dictator is through revolt.

One can find a similar theme in analysing the master-slave narrative in works such as Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

That is what is happening now in the streets of Tunis; the coloniser who was once a colonised mind has turned into a coloniser and now is deposed by the colonised. Revolt is the way to overcome the slow death of the masses via hegemony of developmentalism and the illusion of nationalism.

That was the path Algerians took in the Battle of Algiers within the context of The French-Algerian War, in which the colonised fought against the brutal French colonisers, ending in a few million deaths. Read the rest of this entry »


MRSM schools obstacle to national unity?

by Azly Rahman

As hypermodernising societies such as Malaysia progresses in syncrony with the advancement of capitalism, and as race and religion becomes the foundation for decision-making in education, especially in elitist well-funded schools, Malaysia is faced with another dilemma of education and national development.

Is this country creating sophisticated ethnocentrists that will continue to sustain race-based ideologies?

Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (Mara Junior Science College) schools, well-funded, well-staffed with advanced degree faculties, and well-taken care of by the Malay-centric government may be one example of a phenomena of a successful failure in the system’s 40-year evolution.

The school system prides itself in innovative curricular experimentation drawn from best practice of schools, particularly those of the United States; as its original template was based upon.
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Reconceptualising federalism

By Azly Rahman

“… Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free. Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go. Is it not strange, though true, to say that virtue itself has need of limits? …

“To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the very nature of things that power should be a check to power. A government may be so constituted, as no man shall be compelled to do things to which the law does not oblige him, nor forced to abstain from things which the law permits … .” – Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, Book XI
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Pakatan Rakyat ready to rule?

– by Azly Rahman
Dec 20, 10

Just do it.” – Nike slogan.

As a disinterested and apolitical analyst of Malaysian politics I believe that for the good of all Malaysians, democracy needs renewal, either through evolution or revolution all through its inevitable march towards its final solution. It is not political philosophy that is at issue here but the people that translates it into practice.

Except for the allegedly orchestrated bloody racial riots of May 13 1969, Malaysia is fortunate to have seen peaceful stages of evolution although her prime ministers hailed from the bourgeoisie-class of hybridised Malays helming the race-based party that has no clear ideology; a party that is losing its effect in rallying the Malay electorate due to its own poor understanding of the meaning of nationalism and cosmopolitanism in an age of cybernetics and globalisation.

Is the death of Malaysia’s National Front or the Barisan Nasional near? Can Malaysian politics be “gentlemanly” or borrowing Kung Fu Tze’s word for gentleman, “Chuan tze” enough for the 50-year race-based coalition regime to give way for a coalition of multiculturalists such as Pakatan Rakyat to rule for the next 50 years? Are Malaysians ready enough for this gentlemanly act that will give meaning to the evolutionary democracy Malaysian-styled?

Perhaps the nation is ready. An era awaits no nation. It only needs to be cemented by political will. Read the rest of this entry »


Of megalomaniacs and mega-towers

By Azly Rahman

Here is an excerpt from the Facebook campaign, now numbering to almost 160,000 members, rejecting the Menara Warisan proposal:

Rakyat Malaysia mengatakan TAK NAK kepada Menara Warisan 100-tingkat yang memakan kos RM5,000,000,000 yang dicadangkan oleh PM Najib Razak dalam Bajet 2011. … Malaysians saying no to the RM5-billion 100-storey Mega Tower proposed by PM Najib in the 2011 budget. Malaysia needs better education, better health care, better public transportation, safer neighbourhood, cleaner water, but not taller building. We don’t need another white elephant! …

“Malaysia perlukan pendidikan, perubatan dan pengangkutan awam yang lebih baik, jiran-tetangga yang lebih selamat, air yang lebih bersih, dan bukannya bangunan yang lebih tinggi. … Kita tidak perlukan seekor lagi gajah putih yang membazirkan wang rakyat jelata. … Wahai, saudara-saudari warga Malaysia sekalian, biar kita bersatu tak mengira kaum, agama, budaya, bahasa, pendirian politik, geografi atau kelas. Biar kita bersatu dan membela nasib endiri. Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

I am beginning to sense that the issue will contribute to the downfall of the current regime of Barisan Nasional in the next general election. It is as if the last BN hurrah to showcase megalomania and illusions of grandeur will be a rallying point for the masses/rakyat fatigued by he struggle to survive the daily grind while robber barons rob, dine, and wine.
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Neo-Maya, Neo-Malaya

By Azly Rahman
\Verily… the evolution of modern man can be characterized by his worship of the monolith and in building tall structures so that not only he may reach the heavens and touch the gods, but become avatars and demi-gods and enslave fellow men — as those who owns those towers of powers and monoliths of machiavellianism owns the means of writing the script for evolution — ar

And thus sprach Zarathustra,
prophet of long ago who spoke of good and evil
of this world as battleground
of the sacred and the profane
of the triumph of Man
of the triumph of Superman
Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s GPS for General Election-13

By Azly Rahman

Come Malaysia’s general election No 13, how lucky will we be to have the entire nation bold enough to experiment with radical changes, a mega-trend, a paradigm shift, and the will to even replace the blue ocean in which sharks and piranhas battle against each other in a seemingly calm sea of change?

So – are Malaysians ready with a global positioning system that will leave behind that ancient regime calloused with the will to use religion, ethnicity, and race to cling on to power fast waning? As the Malaysian election approaches, people are talking about ‘the new politics’, ‘sustainable capitalism’, ‘new economic model’, ‘radical multiculturalism’, ‘politics of moderation’.

What are these? Are they merely another set of rhetoric, or are they signifiers to a new world of Malaysian political-economic realism? After fifty years of a Rostowian and Friedmanian developmentalist agenda – that we adopt and have a difficult time understanding, and yet we imitate – we are faced with a brand new old question: where do we go from here?
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Door to any house of worship open

by Azly Rahman

“I sincerely and genuinely reiterate that my visit to the Surau Al-Huda was not politically motivated, and had no motive to put into question the sanctity of suraus and mosques,” Serdang Mp Teo Nie Ching said on Saturday…

Teo explained that she had visited the Kajang surau on Sunday, Aug 22, as their MP, in order to hand over to them the state government’s monetary contribution for repairs to the surau fence… She had timed her visit in order to break fast with the surau’s committee members and congregation…

“Since I was invited to say a few words, I in all sincerity gave a brief explanation of the state’s education programmes that benefit the people of Selangor,” she said, adding that she welcomed advice from all parties on better execution of her duties… (Malaysiakini report, Aug 28, 2010)

The Perkasa panic over Teo’s visit to a surau in Kajang intrigues me. The latter had gone there in humility to present a state donation to repair the fence. She is now a sensation and forced to mend fences. She may be meeting with the biggest religious head of the state – the Sultan. There will be repercussions. There has already been.
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Educational absurdity in Hulu Selangor

by Azly Rahman

“If we win this by-election, you can come to Kuala Lumpur the next day to look for me. I will write a personal letter to approve the money and it will be transferred to the school board’s account. If we lose, don’t have to come.” – Najib Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia

If these words quoted in Lim Kit Siang’s blog were uttered and they were true, we have reached the highest level of idiocy in charting the future of Malaysian education. How much shame must we parade in our desperation to win this or that election that is a theater of the absurd anyway?

The essential question is, how dare we use education – the only means for social and economic progress for ALL races – to bribe voters!

We hear all too often now that education is being prostitutionalized in the name of political gains. That gentle profession and a noble enterprise, from the Latin educare (drawing out the potentials) have been overused in election campaigns. From rice to roads, credit cards to cruises, youth facilities to new universities – all these have been used as political baits throughout our history. Read the rest of this entry »


From PERKASA to pekasam?

by Azly Rahman

I am following with interest the development of the collaboration between non-governmental organisations and political parties. I try to analyse the role of local NGOs and international NGOs viz-a-viz the parties they augment or even sabotage.

In a free country such as Malaysia, we will see more of the interplay between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic forces as they deal with angelic or demonic political groups.

It is not easy to read this as we members of the public are always presented with perceptions in this endless game of invented realities. I wish Malaysians are by now well-equipped with the skills of critical media analysis and in political economics to engage in intelligent discussions on the politics of the day.

How would one read the media hype over Perkasa? How might one read Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s patronage of this interesting group? How about the pledge by the retired and aged Umno leader to uphold the struggle on the rights of the Malays? How do these go with the neverending story of the present regime to hold on to power as the 13th general elections greet us?
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Class divisions in access to healthcare — what about Malaysia?

By Azly Rahman

‘Why can’t all Americans have the same access to healthcare to those enjoyed by members of Congress?’ is a popular question on the ObamaCare debate.

At the time of writing I am following the debate over universal healthcare for all Americans. If the US$1 trillion Bill passes, it will help insure 32 million Americans that do not have access to healthcare.

This is another controversial issue in the tradition of Democrats and Republicans. This is a good case study of one of the enduring issues of an advanced capitalist state.

I know friends who do not have health insurance and who question the human rights dimension of it – right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, endowed by the Creator who insist that ‘all men are created equal’ and cautioned by the Enlightenment thinker Jean Jacques Rousseau that “… everything is good in the hands of the Author of Things and everything degenerates in the hands of Man”.
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Of crossing overs and cultural cancer

By Azly Rahman

Should I cross over for those millions of ringgits?
That is a two million ringgit question.

How much does one get for ‘crossing over’ these days? I do not know. But if there are millions of ringgit involved, this nation will continue to rot as corrupt politicians continue switching allegiances, getting appointments to good positions, and making horrifying decisions for you and your children.

We must destroy this culture and heal anew.

We were convinced things will be better after the elections. We were sure that the revolution was going to benefit the masses and no party hopping would occur.

We are wrong. Things are getting more complex, in a complex time of rising prices.
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The weakness of PERKASA

by Azly Rahman

I have been following with interest, yet again, with the development of a new Malay-centric interest group called Perkasa.

Is its creation a necessity in an age where in the emerging force of change is multiculturalism and the rise of neo-Malays with cosmopolitan and cosmotheandric perspectives ready to abandon ultra-Malayness?The weakness of Perkasa lies in the gradual boredom-ness of its existence, in face of the excitement of radical marhaenism.

Ho hum. That is what all these newer developments in Malay-consciousness is about, as if we have not heard enough calls to protect the rights of the Malays – rights already enshrined in the constitution.

Ho hum. That is an expression of boredom unto all these, when we know that modern crutches and structures of disabilities of the Malay culture – ultra-nationalistic Youth parties, Biro Tata Negara, cow-head protesters and a myriad others – are still used to make the Malays scared of their own shadow.

Ho hum, when we are presented with the boring story of yet another organisation whose goal is to promote the philosophy of ‘we versus them’ in a country mystified with the slogan ‘1Malaysia’; of being and becoming one in a metaphysical world of blue ocean strategies of shark-eat-shark.
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On “Singapore Maths” and world-class education

By Azly Rahman

The article below, from The Seattle Times and which was linked to the online publication of the National Educational Association (NEA) should be of interest to Malaysian educators teaching Mathematics.

Costructivism as a paradigm of teaching and learning has been around for quite some time and infused in many a school in the advanced countries. Constructivism is drawn from the work of Socrates, Piaget, and Brain Science theorists. It is essentially Deweyian in philosophy as well..

The superiority of the Singapore education system is something the Singaporeans have worked hard to build.

Essentially the Singapore Malays, arguably have learned the meaning of affirmative action and meritocracy well. The idea of “Mendaki” as a means to help the academically underachieving Malays in the city-state is admirable, perceived from an educational standpoint. Born in Alexander Road Singapore and growing up in Johor Bahru, I have always been fascinated by the way the Singaporeans run their city-state. As a teenager , I spend my weekends roaming the streets of Singapore, fascinated by the buildings, the food stalls, the bargain stores, the movie theaters, and how law is enforced.
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Mandela-isation of Anwar?

by Azly Rahman

“Man proposes, god disposes”
Thomas a Kempis, ‘Of The Imitation of Christ’

While America awaits The Super Bowl, Malaysia awaits The Super Trial II this week to listen to the arguments concerning the predicament of Anwar Ibrahim.
Philosophically, what ought to be the shape of things to come? Where do we go from here, as a nation? Where do we wish to bring this nation that is in need of deep reflection on the meaning of nationhood and democracy?

Maturity after Mahathirism

If we take 1998 as a framework in looking at the changes this country is seeing politically, Anwar can be seen as an embodiment of Nelson Mandela.

His spirit did not die for the six years he was jailed and upon his release a momentum was created that grew in strength to first, become institutionalised in the form of a strong Parti Keadilan Rakyat and next, of Pakatan Rakyat.
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Praying for peace is not enough!

By Azly Rahman

There is a Buddhist lesson in how we ought to perceive Malaysia’s emerging style of terrorism.

When one is bleeding after being shot by an arrow, the first step is not to look for the culprit that shot the arrow and pondering why was it shot but to pull out the arrow from the victim’s body and to quickly put a stop to the bleeding. This is what Siddharta Gautama would teach as crisis intervention.

Malaysians might never know who carried out the series of church bombings, nor what organisations are behind them, and if there is a higher order involved in the long-term planning of terror.

Postmodern debates will be a tedious exercise on whether this or that name of a Universal God can be copyrighted or whether a pastor or an archbishop can be pushed to the ground or physically attacked for using the forbidden name of the Universal God during their sermons.
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