Archive for category Azly Rahman

Church bombings the work of demons

By Azly Rahman

Peace, mercy, and blessings to all Malaysians.
My heart goes to those affected by the recent bombings. Today’s ‘World Briefing’ section of The New York Times carried the news.

The three attacks on the churches are terrorist attacks by definition. Thus begin a rough period of turmoil ahead beginning with the blowing up of the French-speaking Mongolian translator for Malaysia’s arms dealings. Violence, Machiavellian-styled will be the order of the day — we have entered a period of the emergence of demons and demolition. I hope these are not the work of those out to create chaos; in view that the current regime is losing power and seriously challenged by the growing strength of the emergent alternative government. The ends justify the means. Violence is the means and the end as well. While physical violence is the means to cling on to power, structural or the unseen/hidden/structural violence is the goal of the State.

We are entering “into interesting times,” as Mao Zedong would say. You and I are part of the game – in the Malaysian matrix of complexities.
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BTN and the price of indoctrination

By Azly Rahman

What price indoctrination? Herein lies the question on the RM550 million spent over 10 years on a civic-consciousness programme that turned out to be a project of instilling fear into the Malays – fear of their own shadow and fear of other races.

The Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses use Russian-styled pseudo-scientific pop psychology, drawn from the work of Bulgarian mind-bending experts in ‘suggestopedia’ developed by Lozanov and Barzakov with creative visualisation para-psychological techniques, into which the mind is emptied before propaganda is funnelled.

When the mind is half-asleep, subconscious wide awake, the body is relaxed, the room darkened, the voice of the propagandist-facilitator reigns supreme, suggesting anything to ensure that the doped, docile, and domesticated mind enters a game of master-slave narrative.
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BTN must leave all campuses beginning with UiTM and MRSM

By Azly Rahman

Mara means “to advance (forward)”. It is the opposite of “retreat” and the declaration of defeat. It does not mean Undur.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) must live up to its name. So must its younger brother Maktab Rendah Sains MARA. It is in the interest of the public to suggest good ideas for reform – and to advance.

In my lifetime I have been affiliated with both organisations. I taught in the former institution and I was schooled in the latter. Whether a product of historical accident or not, I am proud of my experiences in both. Maybe, there is a reason for things to happen. I came from a poor family and was given the chance to have an education I wish many more Malaysians had, my parents included.
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What Chin Peng’s story can teach us

We need to explore the story behind the armed struggle to understand the ideology behind the movement. We might denounce the atrocities of the communist insurgents/Malayan co-freedom fighters, but we must also recognise the intellectual value and power of the Marxist critique of society as a legitimate, systematic, liberating, humanising and praxical (the translation of theory to practice) body of knowledge that has evolved into an organic discipline itself.

By Azly Rahman

The story of the Malayan nationalist leader Chin Peng’s request to come home interests me academically. I hope he will one day be given the chance to speak in Malaysia’s universities, sharing his story on Malaysia’s struggle against imperialism.
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An alternative to BTN: cross-cultural understanding

By Azly Rahman

BTN is tsunamied. It’s demise might be inevitable. The writings are on the wall — and in cyberspace.

Malaysians wish to see the closing down of the operations of Biro Tata Negara – for good. I think it has done more harm than good. It is based on a flawed understanding of Malaysian history and promotes a communalistic and combative rather than cosmopolitan and collaborative Malaysia.

The danger is in hegemony; the fish does not know it is in the water and keeps on swimming round and round in the fish bowl.

Let us consider an alternative to teaching Malaysians how to become and behave like Malaysians. The root of this change must come from our reconceptualization of language and culture. Through education for critical consciousness, we can all begin the dismantling process of dismantling race-based institutions such as BTN.
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BTN — Between true education and indoctrination

By Azly Rahman

I agree we must give credit to those working hard to “improve the psychological well-being of the Malays” and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness. This is important. This is a noble act. The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust– or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education. Herein lies what the work of Malaysia’s Biro Tata Negara is about.

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal. In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. The work of BTN should be stopped and should not be allowed anymore in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared of counter-educational activities, especially when they yearned to be free from the shackles of domination. Look at what has happened and what is still happening to our institutions with the University and University Colleges Act and the Akujanji Pledge.
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Single stream schooling: The bad and ugly side

Written by Dr Azly Rahman
Edited by Helen Ang
for Center for Policy Initiatives

‘Ideas move nations but indoctrinations remove intelligence’.

According to government figures, only 7 percent of students in national schools are non-Malays. Parents fear sending their children from their past experience of the government indoctrinating young minds in the guise of an educational setting. Inciting racial sentiments in the classroom and boot camps (BTN, National Service, 1Malaysia) is in fact a big business nowadays.

Language issues come to mind as we speak about identity formation, befitting the notion of “language as culture,” and “culture as the habits we acquire and the tools we use in a house we inhabit in order to create our realties.”
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The Asri problematique and the rise of denominational Islam?

By Azly Rahman

The current uproar over the arrest of Dr. Asri, former Mufti of Perlis interests me. I am not particularly interested in the political and ideological dimension of it; rather in how this issue will develop in this hypermodern country plagued with internal contradictions. “The center cannot hold” as the Irish poet W.B. Yeats once said, and “Things Fall Apart” as the title of the great African novel of Chinua Achebe suggests – these describe the Malaysian theological dilemma, a dilemma that has a history and a future.

Malaysian Muslims are yet faced with another challenging situation; one which presents an interesting extrapolation of the historical dilemma the Muslims have been facing intellectually. Coming soon would be a public intellectual crisis that involves the Grand and subaltern voices in Islam. Those of the Wahabbi, Salafi, Sunni, Syiah, Sufi, and the “denominations derived from traditional and indigenous practices” (the tariqats primarily) will come out in the open to assert the “truth-ness” of their perspective and practice of Islam.

Essentially now, Islam seems to have many ‘denominations’ based on cultural, geographical, political, economic, and intellectual factors Read the rest of this entry »


Landslide victory or political immorality?

By Azly Rahman

Isa Samad’s second coming – into Minangkabau politics – signifies the coming of a disturbing age of loosening morality. What does a landslide victory mean? Will we see a kingdom of peace on earth that the Minangkabau people inhabited? Will this “landslide victory” of an avalanche of postal votes establish another forty years of the reign of One Malaysia?

Let us look at the semiotics of Bagan Pinang – of the sign, signifier and the signified of this by-election that is telling Malaysians something about the shape of things to come.

The Negri Sembilan people have spoken. They have voted for corruption to reign. What does the victory say about hegemony and political immorality?

Thus spake the Minangkabaus
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The cultural logic of Najibo-nomics

By Azly Rahman

Fashionable it may seem to credit this or that “economic miracle” episode to this or that country to the name of its leader, economist, dictator, emperor, etc. – the larger picture of the historical march of “freakonomics” is neglected.

Freakonomics is what the global society was plagued with beginning with the American sub-prime-inspired crisis; a breakdown of the world’s casino-capitalist system.

Fashionable it may seem to cite this or that case-study to a proposed “Harvard” study, just like calling a university “Harvard of the East” or “Princeton of the Peripheries” or “Oxford of the Outbacks” or even “Cambridge of the Caribbean” – it misses the point of what and how casino capitalism works.

It misses the point that the world is undergoing yet another wave of perpetual revolution in the field of economic thinking.

Malaysians are into this fashionable game of assigning this or that terminology to this or that epoch of “economic cultural depression and how these are cured”.
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From cow-headed to level-headed education

By Azly Rahman

How must we re-educate those who protested in such a style against the relocation of a Hindu temple? What gross deficiencies in our educational system contributed to the creation of beings that displayed such hatred?

What then must we do to reverse the evolution of hate groups sponsored by those who wish to sustain the dying ideology of ethnic politics?

These are the difficult questions Malaysian children will inherit. In the cow-head protest there were children involved; those tender young minds who will hopefully understand what respect for race, ethnicity, and religion means. Hopefully they will be strong enough to release themselves from the shackles of hatred, after 52 years of Malaysia’s independence.

We must blame the continuing survival of communal politics for the creation of hate-based groups. Because our Independence is an illusion and Malaysia is an imagined community that is thriving on rhetoric and slogans, we have a fragile system of in-breeding of hyper-modernised politics of hate.
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Dream of a sincere merdeka

By Azly Rahman

Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains – Jean Jacques Rousseau

There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents – Thomas Jefferson

Malaysia is approaching its 52nd birthday. But it is middle age characterised by bipolarism, schizophrenia and illusions of grandeur. How did we get to this stage? And how do we de-evolve?

In essence, we are a troubled nation, hyper-modernised by half-baked sense of democracy, paying lip service to the idea of a civilised society and insincere in our pledge to create equal opportunity for all.

Consider the latest problematic phrases we are living with: The Perak Fiasco, 1BlackMalaysia, One Too Many By-elections, 100 Arrests, and A Troubled Monarchy. Then there is also the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock, the caning of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, and the Ramadan drama of the cow-head protesters.

These and many other issues are unresolved. The essence of these lies in the erosion of virtue. At all levels of governance, we have lost all sense of spiritual control; our institutions eroded by our addiction to corruption.
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Cow-head politics: Fear not, those who misrepresent Islam

By Azly Rahman

In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Compassionate

1. By Al-‘Asr (the time).

2. Verily! Man is in loss,

3. Except those who believe (in Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’rûf)which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar)which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allâh’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islâmic Monotheism or Jihâd, etc.).
— Surah AlAsr (Time)

For Muslims (those who submit to the Will of Allah) and those who are embarking on a journey of peace, Ramadan is a time for deep reflection and contemplation on the sufferings of the self and of others. It is a month in which the oftentimes arrogant, boastful, aggressive self retreats to this Inner Cave and work hard towards cleansing the body, the mind, the spirit, and the soul. It is a long but reflective journey Muslims believe must be taken.
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Multimedia Super Corridor vs. Multicultural Supra Conquistadora

By Azly Rahman

There is an ongoing and intensifying war between Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat. And the country is watching. It can both be a healthy and an unhealthy educational process. The war is to win the hearts, minds, and souls of Malaysians as we await another ritual of Malaysian democracy: the 13th. General Elections. Like the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians it has been a long 50-year war between Malaysia’s forces of hegemony and of counter-hegemony.

Hegemony, borrowing the Italian Marxist thinker, Antonio Gramsci who wrote on the Fascist government of Mussolini, is a condition of subtle and total control — of the mind, media, machinery, and materials projected as a form of “intellectual and moral leadership” of the ruling party whose developmentalist agenda follows that of the Fordist paradigm of post-industrial revolution.

Malaysia’s ruling regime, particularly in the time of its fourth Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has survived on hegemony and the language of vision and utopianism its developmentalist agenda fuelled by informational and communication technologies, architectured through physical installations such as Cyberjaya, Putrajaya, and the Petronas Twin Towers – all these are iconic/signs-symbols-signifiers of ultra-exclusive-Malay ideological dominance.
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Utusan Melayu … or Ugutan Melayu?

By Azly Rahman

What is the function of a newspaper in a multicultural society? Is it to expand the mind of readers or to instill fear of others –or even of oneself?

Utusan Melayu (I am still familiar with this name rather than Utusan Malaysia) or the Malay Messenger has some good stuff to contribute to society but generally its and mission and vision is to build soul cages of the Malays. The mind of the Malay is warped, distorted, and archived into a realm of fear of itself and of others. Through the Malay language it brings thinking into a tabloidic dimension and relegates politics into a subject of advancing the backwardness of ultra-communalism.

Utusan Melayu is synonymous with Ketuanan Melayu, Tuntutan Melayu, Rasul Melayu, Kongres Melayu, Kesatuan Melayu, and other forms of glorified anomalies of the progressive Malay mind yearning to be free from the shackles of feudalism, superstition, and neo-feudalistic and urban-superstitious beliefs.
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Malaysia no longer “Tanah Melayu”

By Azly Rahman

Today is July 19, 2009, 40 years after the May 13, 1969 tragedy.

I dedicate these notes to Teo Beng Hock, a young Malaysian who ought to be an inspiration to many wishing to call Malaysia home.

Because we have agreed to become a country rooted in a social contract that ought to give equality, equity, and equal opportunity to all who have given up their natural rights in exchange for “citizenship” and the rights of the State to tax them (with or without representation), we must recognize that Malaysia is for Malaysians.

This will be the most humane perspective we ought to work towards in holding. What is needed is a system of check and balance that will ensure that each generation of Malaysians will progress without the trappings of mistrust, hatred, and institutionalized racism.
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Preamble to a Penanti proclamation

by Azly Rahman

Two scores and ten years ago, our forefathers and foremothers brought forth in this kampong the plan for a just republic that never materialised. We argued and waged peace for a republic of virtue but instead were given a warmongering State of Denial.

We toiled to establish a kingdom of peace and tolerance but saw instead the evolution of a dictatorship of plutocracy and totalitarianism. We have become ‘It’ in our journey towards the ‘Thou’. The “I” in us has gone astray, intoxicated by the “it-ness” of things.

Two scores and ten years ago, we thought we had Independence – given on a silver platter by a dying imperial power. But what we got was a state that evolved out of ketuanan Melayu. We wanted Liberty but we got Plutocracy.

Two scores and ten years later we are seeing a country divided, sub-divided, and further sub-divided into tribes and post-industrial tribes. The politics of race have strengthened and inspired the few to plunder and patronise the many. We are seeing chaos disguised in the name of consensus. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia– After the Battle on Bonkers Hills

by Azly Rahman

Two Hills were won – Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang.

I still remember when I was a child; the name “Bukit Gantang” is associated with a “panglima” or a warrior of fierce look and disposition equipped with the keris, Steroid-pumped up body and a tanjak (headgear). Hence Panglima Bukit Gantang. “Gantang” is a unit of measurement used to calibrate the amount of rice. A bigger unit than “secupak”. The more powerful one is in society, the more gantang one gets. The lower the rakyat is in rung of the “dog-eat-dog world”, the less “cupak” one gets. That’s the ugly side of the language of power/ideology/class of the people of “semangat padi”.

I still remember the word “selamba”, close to the sound of “Selambau”. I know what selamba means — “poker-faced” and no shame in playing dirty games. Selamba saja muka dia … That’s from a Johor dialect I grew up with. Now, “lahabau” is a bad/unacceptable/inappropriate/cuss word used by my friends from Melaka. It mean “jackass”, or worse, maybe. It is actually an affectionate greeting. Truly the Melakkans are good at ‘gangsta-use” of language. They would curse good friends secupak segantang ( a “truckload” of nasty words) when the meet friends who they have not met for months, years, maybe — wondering where this “lahabau” have been all these years. That explains my fear of meeting my friends from Melaka. Fear of being called “lahabau” or “hamlau” or “cilaka kau” in the process of being greeted! Yes– they are the fierce Vikings of Malaya, those modern Melakkans. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s wrong with non-Muslims quoting Quranic verses?

by Azly Rahman
April 05, 2009

I read the following troubling Malaysiakini newsstory. It happened in Malaysia:

‘Belittling Islam’ – police report against DAP leader

by Jimadie Shah Othman | Apr 5, 09 11:52am | Malaysiakini

A police report has been filed against Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming for allegedly belittling Islam during a ceramah in the campaign for Tuesday’s Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election.

The report was filed by Malay Unity Action Front president Osman Abu Bakar at the Taiping district police headquarters this evening.

According to him, Nga – who is also the Taiping MP and Pantai Remis assemblyperson – made the disputed remarks during a ceramah in Changkat Jering two days ago, the contents of which were also published on Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s blog.

In his report, Osman accused the DAP leader of belittling Islam by reciting Quranic verses from the Surah Al-A’ raf for campaign purposes. Furthermore, he said the holy verses were recited improperly. Read the rest of this entry »


A Palestinian global village

by Azly Rahman

Below is my early my early thoughts on an aspect of long-term solution for the Palestinians, besides waiting for the creation for a Palestinian state hopefully with a 4-billion-dollar funding from the United States.

Create a “PALESTINIAN GLOBAL-VILLAGE” in every country that cares for the plight of the Palestinians. Just like in the early days of the migration of the Protestants to America during the Reformation Period, young families of Palestinians can be given land in a “city-state” created by each country. Just like Proton City in Malaysia, or Cyberjaya or Putrajaya or Brasilia, these modern enclaves ought to be created.

Nations can “adopt” the Palestinians. They are now helpless and will continue to be massacred by the forces of state-sponsored terrorism.

Of course the plight of the natives of each country need to be taken care of first and as well, but the crisis that’s plaguing the Palestinians will continue to last for decades until the United States as the sole Military Empire stop continuing to give the world an eerie silence. Read the rest of this entry »