Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Time ticked off for ‘Losing Faith’ article, but does it matter?

Ng Kee Seng
Executive Editor
QUICK TAKE: Malaysia’s ticking off of Time Magazine over a not too friendly report on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is just plain “silly”.

Common sense will tell that the international magazine would not give a damn to such warnings. Neither is it worried about Malaysia’s meagre circulation figures.

If Time is worried about the Home Ministry’s warning, it would not have responded with this: Time Magazine ticked off over article in Malaysia?

“He (Najib) has backtracked since to appease Umno conservatives, many of whom want him out,” it wrote, adding that “religious jingoism is a bigger sin than political calculation, because how a society treats its ‘other’ reveals its core.”

One wonders why the federal government continuously shoots itself in the foot when it comes to trying to beef up Najib’s image as prime minister.

There can only be two reasons. One, it is just incompetent, lacking in strategic ideas and living in the Stone Age.

The second, it is just arrogant and thinks it can lord over the rest of the world.

Malaysia’s print media market is just too small for Time to be worried about readership. 
Malaysians can always subscribe to Time’s online edition to continue following Time. It’s as simple as that or is the Home Ministry not aware of this alternative?

Time came under scrutiny when its distributor was ticked off over the article on the government’s handling of religious issues.

Well, Time was not set up to please Najib or anyone else for that matter.

The Home Ministry deems the article as implying religious harmony is under severe strain in Malaysia.

Time went further in its criticism of Malaysia, stating the country is not a progressive society under Najib, pointing out there is a critical front undergoing testing times, and that is religion.

Time, through the pen of its Asia Editor, Zoher Abdoolcarim, said “Malaysia – where US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit in April – is an example among Muslim states and matters more because it is a study in how a country can or cannot reconcile Islam with the contemporary age.”

Ahh! This is the reason why the Home Ministry is worried. Time is widely read in America and the rest of the world.

Of course it is not worried about what Malaysians think of the article or it would have acted swiftly to stop the Taliban-like extremists who threaten Malaysians with religious bigotry and the May 13 violence and bloodshed.

Zoher wrote in the March edition: “The challenge is greater for Malaysia given its distinct ethnic groups, about half of the 30 million population is Malay, nearly a quarter Chinese, followed by indigenous peoples and Indians.

“I was right about Najib as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, but wrong in his assertion that Najib will be the man to enable Malaysia’s transition from tradition to modernity.”

In the article titled “Losing Faith”, Zoher wrote that Najib was a moderate when he came to power in 2009, introducing changes that made Malaysia more open, but things changed almost immediately after.

“During a party conclave in December, several Umno leaders called specifically for Sunni Islam to be enshrined as state religion. This came after the arrest of two Shi’ite Muslims for possessing books on Shi’ite Islam” he wrote.

He also pointed out the growing intolerance on the use of the word Allah in reference to a non-Muslim deity, even though such usage has long been common.

He also referred to the seizure of Bibles in Selangor, controlled by the opposition, as a form of the growing religious intolerance in Malaysia.

Zoher quoted two verses from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, urging those who would impose their dogma to take heed!

Zoher’s recollection is telling of his disappointment: “In 1984, I co-wrote a story about Malaysia's young politicians to watch, among them Najib Razak, then the 30-year-old head of government of his home state, Pahang. When I interviewed Najib in a hotel suite in the federal capital, Kuala Lumpur, he was urbane, confident and relaxed enough to be smoking a midday cigar. At the time Malaysia was a sleepy, mainly agriculture-based economy just in its second decade of industrialisation. I remember thinking that the British-educated Najib — a political blue blood (his father, a Lincoln’s Inn barrister, was a former Prime Minister) from the heartland — could ...”

~ The Ant Daily

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