Wednesday, June 17, 2015

G25 slams civics bureau for being ‘ultra-Malay racist’


Former diplomat Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin has criticised the National Civics Bureau, calling it an ‘ultra-Malay racist’. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 17, 2015.
Former diplomat Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin has criticised the National Civics Bureau, calling it an ‘ultra-Malay racist’. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 17, 2015.

Former diplomat Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin of the group of prominent Malays, or G25, today accused the National Civics Bureau of being "ultra-Malay racist", demanding that Putrajaya dissolve the "anti-national" agency.
This comes after the bureau said the open letter penned by G25 last year, calling for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam and Islamic law in Malaysia, gave ground to pluralism and liberalism.
Noor Farida said that given the agency's contentions and labelling, it was unbelievable that Putrajaya could use public funds to establish and run an organisation such as this.
"One would have thought that in a multiracial and multicultural country like ours, the government should be sparing no effort to promote inclusiveness among the races.
"Instead of promoting national unity, the buerau is undermining it. Notions like ‘Ketuanan Melayu' appears to be its main agenda. Whatever happened to the Ministry of National Unity? It has now been relegated to nothing," she told The Malaysian Insider.
The G25, consisting of retired civil servants and influential leaders, in a letter urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to address religious and racial tension and exercise leadership in guiding Malaysia back to moderation.
It decried the "lack of clarity and understanding" on the place of Islam within Malaysia's constitutional democracy, as well as a "serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions".
It also expressed concern at how religious authorities were "asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction" and that fatwa issued had violated the Federal Constitution as well as the consultative process.
The bureau, which has been accused of brainwashing civil servants and perpetuating racism in the form of Malay supremacy, said members of the G25 had been educated under a "socialist" system, going through English-medium schools during the socialist era.
It said that although the G25 was said to have no political interests in penning the open letter, Noor Farida had political interests as she had helped Malaysia resolve the Pulau Batu Putih issue when she was the ambassador to the Netherlands.
It also red-flagged the Malaysian "indie" music and literature movement, saying that it was anti-establishment and could impact the results of the next general election. 
In a document that was earlier available online but has now been removed, the bureau highlighted student activist Adam Adli Abd Halim, DAP member Melati Rahim and writer and independent filmmaker Amir Muhammad as being members of the indie scene. 
Noor Farida said today that she was confident that most Malaysians would like to see the bureau dissolved, adding that the government should instead redeploy its resources on strengthening the Unity Department.
"This is a concern because the bureau is acting more like an agency of the ruling party than a government department which is supposed to be above politics.  And they see us as the opposition. This is unfortunate as we are scrupulously endeavouring to be non-partisan.
"We should demand that the government do away with this agency as it is clearly anti-national and is obviously against the spirit of the constitution," she said.
On accusations against her and the G25, the former civil servant said the bureau’s claims were "astonishing" and "mind-boggling", noting the lack of thinking skills and competence of its staff.
"We all attended government schools which in those days were English medium. I hadn't realised that the government at that time, which was the Barisan Nasional or Alliance government, was promoting 'socialism', at least according to the bureau.
"As for its analysis that my involvement in the Pulau Batu Putih case (which was heard by the International Court of Justice), it is unacceptable that they regard civil servants performing their duties for their country as having political interests. Does this mean that civil servants undertaking their duties are politicians?"
The bureau, she said, seems to follow in the lead of Malay rights group Perkasa and Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia in its attacks against the G25.
"Why they are attacking us, only they themselves know. They seem to be following the lead of Perkasa and Utusan Malaysia who have been actively hostile towards us," the former diplomat said.
"I suspect this might be due to the fact that we have been critical of the religious authorities and their excesses. They seem to think that we are attacking Islam. 
"Unfortunately, they are unable to make a distinction between Islam and the religious authorities who to us are tarnishing the image of Islam through many of their unjust actions."
Besides Noor Farida, the signatories of the 19-paragraph letter comprised former high-ranking civil servants, including directors-general, secretaries-general, ambassadors and prominent individuals, all of whom are Malays.
The group has now expanded to 44 members. – June 17, 2015.
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