Sunday, August 31, 2014

BARU BIAN’S MERDEKA DAY MESSAGE


THE MALAYSIA WE WISH FOR IS POSSIBLE

31 AUGUST 2014

On the occasion of the 57th anniversary of Malaya’s independence, we are again forced to confront the grim reality that is Malaysia today. Despite all the feel-good Merdeka day video-clips released by the major businesses and the public service announcements on radio and TV, the events that have happened or that have been allowed to happen by the authorities demonstrate all too clearly that Malaysia has become a country beset by ugly racism, religious extremism and fanaticism, political persecution, entrenched institutionalised discrimination, increasing crime and a gradual but undeniable deterioration in inter-racial harmony and mutual respect amongst various groups in this country.

In the days of Malaya’s newfound independence, the leaders of this country were men of integrity who had respect for all races and religions and practised what they preached. Now we have leaders in Malaysia who tolerate and even condone the actions of supremacist groups who preach hate and violence, their repugnant arrogance masking the insecurities they harbour. The actions of such groups threaten our peace and harmony and are a source of much concern for us. That these groups exist is sad, but the tragedy is in the fact that our nation’s leaders and even members of our judiciary, do not feel morally obliged to fulfill their duties towards all the citizens of this country, to ensure that every citizen’s rights are protected. “Without fear or favour” has lost its meaning and significance at a time when it is desperately needed.

Nevertheless, I believe that there are many people in this country who still have a vision of the Malaysia that was intended to be, and that could still be. This mostly silent majority must speak up, in whichever voice suits them best, and show the leaders and judiciary that their failure in fulfilling their sworn duties towards the people is unacceptable. I echo the call of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) for the people to ‘push harder for personal and institutional changes that will transform the country into a more tolerant and caring society’ so that religious extremism and racial polarisation will cease to exist in this country. We need not look further than to our closest neighbor Indonesia for inspiration. Joko Widodo, the new President of the world’s most populous Muslim country recently declared with full conviction, without fear or favour, that ‘When all is said and done, Indonesia is a secular country which protects freedom of religion and expression. Everyone must work to protect this. This is the only way to guarantee our future.’ This is the sort of leadership Malaysians need now, more than ever. Let us all do our part to bring about the change that will restore the real peace and harmony we all crave for Malaysia.
We wish our fellow citizens in Peninsula Malaysia a happy 57th Merdeka celebration on 31 August 2014.

BARU BIAN
Chairman, PKR Sarawak



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Raising a family of true Malaysians – Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi


Published: 27 August 2014
In many senses, it seems funny that Malaysians, particularly the Malays, find great difficulty in the idea of a united, harmonious and happy Malaysia. I am a Malay. All my Malay friends at UTM and other universities and all my relatives and that of my wife are… racist.
If I were to invite all of them to a marriage ceremony, the number would easily reach 3,000. Based on a simple sampling of 5% of this population that I engage in socialising, I have established that they know nothing about the idea of “Malaysia”.
All they know is the condition of “we just have to tolerate those immigrants and make sure they don’t make us like Singapore” mindset.
I have always thought that some of my friends and relatives whom I respect as pious Muslims would be different, but they too turn out to be racist when political issues are discussed. It came as a shock to me.

I thought that Islam would be one of the answers to eliminate racism, but apparently, the “Malay-view” interpretation of Islam always take precedence. Islam is not the problem but its racist interpretation is. I know this for a fact because of my vast reading of Islam, thousands of hadiths and many versions of Quranic Tafsir.

In this Merdeka celebration, the “idea” of Malaysia seems only in a dream or in a Petronas or a DiGi commercial.

The idea of Malaysia does not exist in our schools, in our public universities, at our housing and our cities. But I still remain optimistic. Why? Because my family is not racist. My wife who is a retired teacher is not racist.

My 28-year-old lecturer daughter educated at IIUM is not racist. My 26-year-old journalist daughter educated at TAR College and Taylor's University is not racist.

My 23-year-old son in his third year at UCSI University is not racist.

My 20-year-old SEGi University daughter is not racist.

And my 18-year-old Inti University son is also not racist. How did I manage to form my own small country of “Malaysia”? There are a few simple strategies that I had developed. I will save the most important one for last.

One of the simple strategies I used was the choice of schools for my children. All of my children had gone through some years at a public school. When we could afford it, I sent my eldest daughter and second child for two years to an all-Malay private religious school so that they could immerse themselves in some Islamic culture.

However, I was most careful to take them out after two years and put them back in the public school because I did not want them to grow up without having any Chinese or Indian friends. All my daughters’ friends who had gone through 11 years of “Islamic” education are racists.

When my daughters were put in a “special Arabic” class in a public school which was a poor excuse to put all the best Malay students in one or two classes and given the best attention, I wrote to the school, much to the dismay of my wife, to take them out and put them back into a multiracial class. I did not want my children to grow up knowing Islam as being synonymous with racism and bigotry.

For my three other children, I was able to send all of them for two or three years at private international schools, but following the national curriculum. If I had more money, I would have insisted on an international curriculum.

But sending them to private schools was already a strain on our two salaries. We were both extremely happy to see the three of them playing, gossiping, going to McDonald’s and  movies with Chinese and Indian friends without any shred of racist thoughts.

My two sons are not as intellectually developed as my three daughters and the private schools did not have the best teaching staff. I even had to take my sons out for two months to coach them personally before their SPM. But we were both happy that our children were free from the racist and bullying issues of public school life.

My children would sometimes spend the night at their non-Muslim friends’ homes and we always welcome their friends at ours. I made sure that our children grew up in a well-balanced society and not stuck in a Malay or Malay-Muslim centred social prison.

When the time came for my eldest to choose a college or university, I had already decided as a grand strategy for creating a new Malaysian citizenry that none of them would ever step foot in a public university like UTM, UKM, UM UPM, USM and worst of all… UiTM.

Let me explain why. First, I would like to go on record as saying that our public universities have the best trained academic staff to turn our children into architects, engineers and doctors, regardless of race.

That Chinese students dominate the honour lists is testament to the non-racist policies of public universities in terms of academic teaching and instruction. But the racist attitudes of the Malay lecturers, professors and administrators are a different story altogether.

I have 28 years of seminars, administrative meetings and socialising with academics and administrators as well as private conversations with graduating non-Malay students to testify to this fact. The university culture of students choosing group work members of the same ethnic background still persists and this was one of the things that I had wished to avoid.

However, at the public universities, I was not as concerned about racism as I was about the freedom of my children to be exposed to political consciousness. What I mean by political consciousness is not about joining DAP or PAS or Umno, but a keen awareness of the social and political issues of the day and the freedom to contribute towards solving these issues through organising clubs, societies, meets and even dialogues with political leaders of all parties.

At the time, my daughter was 18, I had already had 20 years of experience in the university and I knew for a fact that my children would never have the opportunities to grow politically like I had at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, US.

In my assessment, our public university students from undergraduates to PhD graduates are politically “dumb”. Not because they are stupid or slow thinking, but because of the academic culture that thrives on praising the “political masters”.

I, in my classrooms always remind the students that Umno and BN are not the “political masters” of this country and that PAS or DAP are not “political masters” in their respective states. They are all our “political representatives”. The real political masters are you graduates in the classrooms that are over 21 years of age.

I always tell the students to “take back” their country from those who seek to milk its wealth selfishly. In private conversations, it seems mine is the only class that seeks to inspire the students to be true democratic Malaysians at our faculty in UTM. You do not ever get that kind of talk from the vice chancellor, dean or head of department.

It was then to my wife’s dismay and surprise that I suggested my eldest daughter go to TAR College. My plan was to send my children to private universities and colleges away from public universities. But my eldest wanted to go to the International Islamic University. Why? Well… her boyfriend was there. If it were before 1997, I would have said okay, but the Anwar-saga left me dangling in the shredded faith of a true Malaysia by a political party that I had voted for twice before that and from a prime minister that I had once had the privilege of meeting with other student leaders in his hotel room in Chicago.

But I reasoned that IIUM still had a strong Islamic spirit from its international staff that would be void of a racist flavour. And so I said yes, and so she went through an education that still had a pure spirit of non-racist Islam for five years. However, her political consciousness suffered because IIUM was becoming a political prison. Fortunately, I was able to light this fire of consciousness through my many discussions with her about the social and political events after 1997.

My second child had no problems accepting my idea of TAR College. Although she had enough subject distinctions to attend public universities, she did not like the Malay dress code imposed there and I supported her simply because of my political strategy.

Between the two of us, we outvoted my wife. After her diploma, she spent a year at SEGi University but changed to Taylor's University with a Mara partial loan. In all this time, I monitored closely all her assignments and smiled inwardly as they took on a more critical discourse of local social and political events that would have been a taboo subject matter at any local university.

I noted also that Taylor's University had invited Nurul Izzah Anwar for a talk a month after inviting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for a special speech. In a public university, the likes of Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Mohamad Sabu would never grace the podium of a lecture hall but at Taylor's perhaps they still could.

If I were a rich man, I would spend every sen on educating my children overseas so that they could bloom into a whole human being conscious of social, spiritual and political issues and with the inspiration to change the world. You can’t do that at local universities, and I suspect eventually at the private universities also.

It was thus that my wife finally accepted my grand strategy of developing our children at the private universities.

As a Muslim mother, my wife was very concerned that our children would grow up “wrong” Islamically because her definition of Islam was restricted to tudung or head covers and prayers.

However, after listening to religious scholars and leaders spouting racist statements and tudung-ed individuals with vileness in their hearts against other religions and races, she began to accept that though our children were not too ritualistically Islamic with the tudung and prayers, they were good-hearted individuals without a shred of racism in their hearts.

This proved beyond a doubt that the religious curriculum of our country, not through the fault of Islam per se, is the most important contributor to the sustaining of racism in this country. Thus, if our children had had a “proper” religious education, they would eventually turn up racist also. I had the fortune of being transferred to a national-type Chinese school in Taiping where I chose to stop learning Islam from Form 2 onwards even though the Chinese head teacher wanted to hire a single ustaz to teach me alone. I was, therefore never indoctrinated, and being in the US for graduate and post-graduate schools, I was further away from a Malay-centric Islamic university education.

Amid all these strategies of choosing schools and universities, I would constantly engage my children in private conversations on the simple values of human survival and what they mean for being a Malaysian.

First, Prophet Muhmmad taught a non-racist Islam and that all other religions like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism are God’s guidance to mankind to rise above petty ethno-centric concerns to rise higher than the angels in human kindness that is a key to a peaceful existence. When you stand in front of God on judgment day, you stand alone with your deeds and values, not your race or social status.

Second, motivation gurus and Western spiritualists teach us that our differences in race and religions are our strengths and not a cause for conflict. No man can live alone and so likewise no race or society can exist. A simple example would be a husband and wife.
Two completely different individuals with completely two different physiological and psychological make-up have to live together to raise five to 10 other individuals with different ideas and emotions. If we can accept our spouse and children’s different views and concerns, why can’t we accept other races and religious concerns?

Third, although man can determine many things in life, there are four things that he cannot: his time of death, a natural disaster and his fate in heaven or hell. Do not judge poorly or look down on others, for it may be the grace of God that they may be favoured more.

Finally, in a democracy, you control the destiny of your children and never let any politician tell you otherwise.

In closing, I have written this anecdotal piece to politely tell Malaysians that we have serious problems in our school values and in the way our universities produce the next generation of professional Malaysians.

If things do not change politically, I told my children that I will leave them with one house each, one car each and a RM20,000 start-up capital so that they can start saving to be able to educate their children in private schools with international curriculum and finally send all of them off overseas.

This is the only way that they will be free from a Malay-centric Islam and a university system that thrives on producing a professional slave labour force dancing to every racist beat choreographed by irresponsible political leaders who have defiled our Parliament.

Only then can our sons and daughters return to rebuild and reignite the dreams of Datuk Seri Onn Jaafar and our politician forefathers of a united, harmonious and intelligent society deep in spiritual consciousness. Happy Merdeka! – August 27, 2014.

* Prof Dr Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/raising-a-family-of-true-malaysians-mohamad-tajuddin-mohamad-rasdi#sthash.B4OxkOoW.dpuf

Friday, August 29, 2014

The advent of Najib's new despotism

9:52AM Aug 29, 2014
By Lim Kit Siang

MP SPEAKS The flurry of arbitrary arrests and selective prosecution of Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including Members of Parliament and state assemblypersons, in the run-up to the 57th Merdeka celebrations on Aug 31, mark the advent of a new despotism in the Malaysian political landscape.

Today alone, PKR vice president and MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli (right) and PKR MP for Padang Serai N Surendran were in court to face criminal charges.

The former for the new-fangled accusation of “defamatory and provocative” statements against Umno members under Section 504 of the Penal Code and the latter a second charge of sedition within 10 days in connection with the Court of Appeal’s ruling that reversed Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal in his second sodomy trial.

The last ten days have seen another Pakatan Rakyat MP and two state assemblypersons hauled to court with PAS MP for Shah Alam Khalid Samad and DAP Penang assemblyperson for Seri Delima RSN Rayer charged for sedition and the PAS Perak state assemblyperson for Changkat Jering Nizar Jamaluddin charged with criminal defamation of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Other Pakatan MPs who are facing trial for sedition include DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok and PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua.

If the BN government gets it ways to secure not only conviction but also a disqualifying sentence of either fine of over RM2,000 or one year’s jail, it would mean five parliamentary by-elections, namely Seputeh, Batu, Pandan, Padang Serai and Shah Alam and two state assembly by-elections, vis a vis Seri Delima in Penang and Changkat Jering in Perak.

If we include the possibility of a by-election in Permatang Pauh if Anwar fails in his appeal at the Federal Court on October 28 and 29, then we are looking at the likelihood of six parliamentary and two state assembly by-elections as a result of the recent spate of arrests and prosecution of PR leaders.

PM's rule rich in irony

It is the height of irony that Najib had announced in July 2012 that the Sedition Act would be abolished as part of his National Transformation Plan to make Malaysia the “best democracy in the world” but in actual fact, Najib is setting a record in invoking the Sedition Act against MPs and assemblypersons, putting to shame Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s (left) 22-year “dark age” as prime minister.
Five MPs (including the late Karpal Singh) and one state assemblyperson had been charged with sedition in the six-year Najib premiership while the 22-year Mahathir premiership had seen only one MP charged, jailed and disqualified as a parliamentarian - Lim Guan Eng.

Of course, Mahathir had recourse to the notorious detention-without-trial Internal Security Act but this is no excuse for the advent under the Najib premiership of a  new despotism against democratic liberties through resort to Sedition Act and a panoply of undemocratic and repressive laws.

It is not just the Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail  and Najib who must be held responsible for the new despotism in Malaysia, but all the cabinet ministers and all the BN component parties and leaders who must either disassociate themselves from the democratic regressions or  must be held, whether as principals or as having aided and abetted in the new despotism in Malaysia.



LIM KIT SIANG is DAP’s Gelang Patah MP.
~ Malaysiakini

Sedition net snares another PKR leader

1:17PM Aug 29, 2014
Malaysiakini



Johor PKR vice-chairperson Hassan Karim today joined a growing list of opposition politicians investigated for or charged with sedition.

Hassan gave his statement at the Shah Alam police station at 2.30pm today, for a remark he made about the Selangor sultan in relation to the ongoing menteri besar crisis.

He is  being investigated  under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act – the same section under which PKR’s Padang Serai MP N Surendran was charged on two separate occasions in the past fortnight.

Malay rights NGO Perkasa had on Aug 16 lodged a police report against Hassan for tweets that it said maligned Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

But Hassan toldMalaysiakini that there were several police reports lodged against him over his Twitter postings.

"There were three Twitter postings they were referring to, but I exercised my right to remain silent," he said.

Hassan said he was released on police bail after questioning and was told to be present at the Shah Alam district police headquarters again on Sept 29.

"They asked me to go there again, but it is not clear whether they will charge me. That remains for the prosecution to decide," he said.

Perkasa in its police report was referring to a tweet where Hassan said: “Sultan jenis apa dia ni? Ketika Selangor dalam krisis serius dia lari luar negeri.” (What kind of sultan is this? When Selangor is in crisis, he runs overseas.)

In a separate tweet, Hassan also urged the sultan and incumbent Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim to learn from the Perak crisis.
 
~ Malaysiakini

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In Merdeka message, Christian leaders urge Malaysians to save country from extremism


BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
Published: 28 August 2014
The Christian Federation of Malaysia urges Malaysians to be united and live in peace and harmony. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2014. 
The Christian Federation of Malaysia urges Malaysians to be united and live in peace and harmony. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2014.

Still reeling from the seizure of Bibles and the refusal of the Federal Court to grant the Catholic church leave in the Herald case, a Christian group, in its Merdeka and Malaysia Day message, has called on Malaysians to be committed in saving the country from religious extremism and racial polarisation.
In its message titled "We must continue to hope", the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) called on the people to push harder for personal and institutional changes that will transform the country into a more tolerant and caring society.
"We enjoin our fellow Malaysians to support movements and groups that seek to unite us as Malaysians living in peace and harmony with each other," said the statement signed by Christian leaders  Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng, Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok, Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam and Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing.
CFM said that given its "painful experiences" in the seizure of the Bibles and the unsuccessful leave appeal, it was concerned over the status of the holy books and the outcome of the other cases pending in court related to the use of the word "Allah" by Christians.

It added that there was also an escalation in ethnic and religious extremism fueled by lies and inflammatory speeches that was ripping apart the social fabric of the country.

"We believe that all Malaysians truly have cause for concern.

"Given the many challenges we are facing today, and compounded by insensitive and illogical statements by some members of the government and governing political parties and by the pursuit of economic policies that only add to the rising cost of living, it is not surprising that many have succumbed to pessimism and cynicism," CFM said.

It added that to survive as a united nation, Malaysians should resist and oppose these destructive forces.

"All who succumb to fear and despair eventually become enemies of hope.

"On the other hand, we must also avoid naive and false optimism that come from ignorance and indifference or an intentional act of sweeping important issues under the carpet," it said.

In line with its themed statement, CFM said that genuine hope demanded the courage to take risks and the moral will to carry through one's convictions by resisting the forces of destruction, hate and violence.

"Genuine hope is never the denial of truth, the sober realities of life, the rot and corruption that infect our society.

"Genuine hope must expose the veil of lies, fraud and deception that are often used to coerce and subjugate minds through misinformation and fear," it said.

CFM added that hope can also be gained from  authentic dialogue, humility and mutual respect and "demands for others what we demand for ourselves".

CFM also remembered the victims of flights MH370 and MH17, and also prayed for the nation's leaders to uphold the freedom of religion guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and seized 321 Malay and Iban Bibles on January 2. The Bibles have yet to be returned despite the Attorney-General announcing that there was no case against BSM.

In the Herald case two months ago, four of the seven-member Federal Court bench dismissed the church's application for appeal, citing that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision to ban the word "Allah" in the Herald. – August 28, 2014.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/in-merdeka-message-christian-leaders-urge-malaysians-to-save-country-from-e#sthash.yLCM8JMd.dpuf