Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Are Malaysian Muslims still moderate?

The Transport Minister (and mind you not the Home Minister/Deputy Prime Minister) says there are at least 50,000 sympathizers of the Islamic State (IS) militants in Malaysia. He also said around 100 Malaysians are fighting in Syria and Iraq with the IS. Others estimate around 200 or more Malaysians who are actively fighting alongside IS militants. Over the past couple of years, at least 120 Malaysians have been arrested either trying to join IS or returning from fighting with IS. A recent leaked police memo highlighted the risk of suicide bombers running around KL. More revealing is a recent PEW survey of support for IS in Malaysia as shown below.

If this poll is to be taken at face value, people having a favorable view of IS in Malaysia at 11% of the population is amongst the highest compared to other predominantly Muslim countries. Despite the widespread media coverage of IS, a shocking 25% of Malaysians surveyed did not have an opinion on IS. It is likely that a proportion of these Malaysians did not want to share their real views on IS for whatever reasons.

The Government seems to be in denial that we have a serious threat of Islamic militancy festering amidst us. The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the Sedition Act and the recently passed National Security Council Bill are seemingly to counter the threat of Islamic militancy. However the problem is more deep rooted. UMNO has shamelessly exploited Islam to stay in power in an attempt to outIslamicize PAS and to disguise the rot within. Islam will never condone the corruption and abuse of power that is at the core of UMNO. PAS itself is nebulous about IS and has never taken a clear stance against Islamic extremism. While the Prime Minister has recently taken a supposedly strong public stance against IS, he was also the one to encourage Malaysians to emulate the bravery of IS fighters in Iraq. Witness his pandering to PAS in the recent UMNO General Assembly and his pathetic attempts to bolster his Islamic credentials in his speech.

This hypocrisy has to stop and both PAS and UMNO should stand up and declare publicly their respective positions on Islamic extremism. Malaysian Muslims need to face head on the challenges of global Islamic extremism and address these in a thoughtful and honest way bearing in mind that they live as part of a multiethnic and multireligious society. This soul searching is best conducted through open and honest discourse amongst reasonable people and not dominated by dictates and diatribes from the self annointed clerics. Continuing to deny the rise of Islamic extremism and merely hiding behind proclamations of being a moderate Islamic state is a sure path towards disaster.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What it means to be a Malaysian

Someone told me that I need to lighten up as they find my blog all doom and gloom. I have taken heed. I have made a list of things that mean inclusive Malaysia for me. The common everyday things that define all Malaysians. There is a bit of a generational bias here though and in no particular order, here goes:

Roti canai and teh tarik. All Malaysians enjoy roti canai and teh tarik (kurang manis or not).

Kumpulan Alleycats. Songs about longing and heart break in Malay, written by Malays and performed by Indians and Chinese for generations of Malaysians. What can top that for inclusiveness?

P. Ramlee movies. I grew up on them. We need remakes for the current generation.

Lat cartoons. Bulat, the quintessential Malaysian who captures Malaysia in a way that no one else has been able to. Time to bring out new editions and a TV series.

Mee goreng and nasi lemak. Yes food again but Malaysians are bound together by cuisine than anything else. A National Food Day?

Diabetes. No surprises here given our passion for food!

Nicol David. Our world champion of mixed ancestry whose rock star appeal cuts across the spectrum of Malaysian society.

Bahasa Malaysia. Malay as she is spoken in amazing variety from Perlis to Sarawak. Efforts to create Bahasa Baku and Bahasa Melayu have floundered against the Malaysian ability to speak as they will

Manglish. Know what I mean lah?

Fear of the supernatural. Spirits, bomohs, black magic, fortune tellers…you name it and every Malaysian will have a story or knows someone who has a story

Football. We may not be world beaters but which Malaysian has not played or watched bola sepak? The passion of fans of Liverpool and Manchester United FCs rival that of those in the UK.

Lepak. Whether in roadside stalls, golf clubs or malls, lepak is a national past time.

Ang pows. Those red packets now come in a variety of colors from green to yellow to celebrate all festivals.

Hospital Kerajaan (GH). Our world class public health care system brings all Malaysians together to share their ailments and seek common bonds.

Honda cub. The ubiquitous Malaysian mode of transport before the Protons and Peroduas. Also the Suzukis and Yamahas.

Yay for Inclusive Malaysia!

The Unexplained Money Not Objectionable (UMNO) Assembly

The UMNO assembly ended with a whimper. The party President and his coterie succeeded in drowning out any honest question or substantive debate with empty rhetoric. No issue was too difficult to avoid or obfuscate.

Can the President explain the unaccounted for donations in his personal account?
We need a united UMNO to protect Malays from the DAP and the Jews.
Can the leadership explain Malaysia’s position on climate change and the Paris conference?
What is UMNO’s position on Islamic extremism and the international backlash against violence committed in the name of Islam?
Malaysia is a moderate Muslim nation and I can quote extensively from the Koran.
What about the weak ringgit and the struggling economy?
Trust me.
What about 1Malaysia?
UMNO will form a perfect Malaysia with PAS.
What do think about Dr. Mahathir’s criticism of your leadership?
What about Muhyiddin?
I will shake his hand.
Do you think Malaysian firms are going to be affected by the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)?
Do not worry.

The thinking UMNO members must be weeping in shame and frustration. UMNO has become a tool for a few to enrich themselves and bamboozle the rest with despicable ethnic and religious bigotry. Naked power play and subverting the institutions of state for political survival is now firmly in UMNO's DNA and is being openly displayed by the current scandal ridden President. Reform from within is near impossible given the extent to which corruption is entrenched and power is manipulated within all levels of UMNO. The thinking UMNO members need to stop weeping and figure out how to get rid of the most incompetent and corrupt leadership that UMNO has ever had in its history. That is if there are any still left standing...thinking UMNO members I mean.