Saturday, May 23, 2009
ISLAM IS NOT THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP
SOMETHINGS BETTER SAID WILL HAVE TO BE UTTERED
PSRM is a party of academic snobs and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is something of a disjointed group of political newbies led by Anwar Ibrahim, journalist, Shamsul Akmar, said. He was in a hurry.
It’s a knee-jerk reaction to my recent postings that say the Pakatan Rakyat is poised to win the next Malaysian general elections, not because it entices but because more and more voters do not want Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN).
Many among my friends were shell-shocked by the matter-of-fact statement.
Professor Emeritus Dr. Isahak Haron of the UPSI said I was being “mystical”. He expects my reading to be correct again even if it does not appear right at the moment. But the reading here is simple.
The former PSRM is now a component of the PKR, which is the weakest of the trio in Pakatan Rakyat but with the largest number in Parliament (31 seats). Other than the PSRM the PKR is mainly led by a motley of Anwar Ibrahim's secretaries and NGOs. But was the PSRM leadership scholars and snobs?
Other than Kassim Ahmad who had led the party for 18 senseless years and has left it for good, the others I knew in the PSRM were not all scholars nor were they egoistical snobs. Syed Husin Ali and Gamany can’t be snobs.
I concede, however, the party had gone rather wrong after Boestamam (Pak Boes) left the helm to Kassim in 1967, at Kangar, Perlis.
Pak Boes regretted that day, saying he had to retire but the party ought to have chosen someone else.
Since then it was true the new stars of Partai Rakyat (later PSRM) would talk far above the heads of their audiences whereupon my friends and I, including Drs Ahmad Kamar and Dr. Raja Mukhtaruddin Dain, not only distanced ourselves but also launched into a lengthy and extensive study of Islam.
Shamsul, worried about what would happen to the Malays should Pakatan win the 13th general elections, said Pas would be the better choice compared to Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He mentioned several bloggers having trouble over the same question.
People ought to be told Anwar Ibrahim knew he was in deep trouble soon after becoming the number two in Umno in 1993. He suggested I quickly move to the Pas with the late Fadhil Noor at the helm then. Fadhil was Anwar’s deputy in Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and we were close friends.
Today we have some writers dividing the Pas into the Traditionalists and the Erdogan groups, the latter meaning the Anwarites. That isn’t quite right.
Pas had been a variety all the time since it was born and with many socialists joining the party soon after. Socialists, including Pak Boes and Pak Sako, had been together with Abu Bakar Baqir in Gunung Semanggol when the Hizbul Muslimin was formed in 1948. The party was promptly banned by the British Colonial Government.
Fadhil Noor joined ABIM in the early 70s followed later by Hadi Awang, with Dr Haron Din, Abdul Ghani Shamsuddin and Ahmad Awang from the Persatuan Ulama Malaysia (PUM) and many more Pas stalwarts acting as advisors in the Muslim youth organization.
There was unity among those from the ABIM in Umno and Pas even if the groups had to undergo a severe initial shock following Anwar’s decision to join Umno in 1981.
By 1985 Anwar had gone places. He met Paul Wolfowitz who was US ambassador in Jakarta in 1986. The beginning of the Reformasi would soon be seeded.
ABIM was to get together with B.J.Habibie’s ICMI in Indonesia, ushering in a new element, new thinking and new Malay-Islamic outlook.
Habibie, an aero-engineer who was one among 20 bright-sparks Suharto sent abroad to become Indonesia’s future technocrats, would soon inspire with his wonder-ideas, like using the reflected sunlight from the sand in the shallows of the sea along the shorelines for energy.
He planned to make helicopters and submarines in Indonesian and usher in industrialization in a big way.
Since then, the ABIM in Pas and the groups under Fadhil Noor and Hadi Awang were no longer the same as they had been when the ulama took over the party from Asri Haji Muda in 1982.
By 1995 the scenario we see today had been set. It was sensed sometime in the late 80s.
We were told a multiracial party like the Gerakan had been in 1969 would be needed to change the pattern of votes if the Opposition were to win.
Gerakan, in 1969, listed members of the Malaysian stardom with the late Prof. Dr. Syed Hussein al-Attas as president, his brother, Naguib, and the venerated Prof. Dr. Wang Gung-wu, V. David from the labor unions and many more greats leading the party that Dr. Lim Chong Eu founded.
As a result of the intrusion the votes broke the historical distribution and several states fell to the Opposition.
The similarities between the election results of 1969 and 2008 had too many things in common to be given to coincidences. Anwar had advisors who had studied well the voters’ behaviors in Malaysia.
A Gerakan of the 1969 sort was required and it was this Gerakan-type party that skidded in the making and became the PKR we know today – broad-based, no doubt, but with drug addicts, thieves and sex-savants inside.
Anwar was in prison at that time, people fearing for his life after he was severely beaten by the then IGP in police custody.
As a result PKR divisions were formed riding piggy-back on Pas. Now many party divisions are non-performing. Wan Azizah, the president, had six growing children to take care of.
The PKR, however, functioned as a vote-collector and soon it will be put in better battle order by Azmin Ali and his task force.
Now that the Pakatan is poised to win federal power, the people who worry like Shamsul should be told there was pre-planning and in the end the Malays will be secure in the Pas, no matter what the ancient Nik Aziz Nik Mat is saying. He seems to fear retirement and the loss of fame, or notoriety, whichever applies.
Pas under Abdul Hadi Awang is going for the Welfare State. In Islam the Welfare State is simply a national and a universal order that guarantees a set of securities.
These securities begin with Food and Water Security, Health Security, Employment and Old Age Securities, Education Security by which everyone, young and old, are entitled to free education and will be paid a stipend sufficient to meet their basic needs.
Then there are Supplies and Consumer Security that traditionally were the domains of the Muhasib, the responsibility given to former Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas, when Terengganu was held by the Pas in 2004-2008.
The same department is responsible for Moral and Ethical Security which makes it impossible to hoard and escape punishment, or to purchase votes like it has happened in the two previous Umno Divisional and Supreme Council elections.
The list of securities is not exhaustive, of course. When in Medinah with Abdul Hadi Awang I dropped my wallet in the mosque during Subuh prayer, Hadi told me it will not be picked by anyone and we can retrieve it when we return to the mosque for Zuhur. The wallet was there, intact.
All shops, including jewel and money-changer stores, would be left open without any guard during prayer times in Medinah and Mekah, which are Haramiyah, or sanctuaries.
It’s hard to believe nobody would be tempted to steal in whole towns of shops and stores left open and unguarded.
That’s the Islamic state of security Hadi has been talking about several times in his speeches and Dr Mahathir denying that is so. Mahathir was not honest. In fact, many believe he and some of his men were corrupt.
Aaand…and…and Umno too became corrupt.
Said Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen, chairman of the party’s Disciplinary Board, the party is already corrupt at the core.
People know that this is true, and the corruption had begun sometime in the 80s under Dr. Mahathir who wanted to remain PM for life.
Can the Malays any longer trust their future to Umno? Is corruption somehow tame and developmentally neutral, even after Bloomberg suggested more than RM300 billion had been lost to corruption in Malaysia?
What glory is there in the BN taking over the Perak government when two of the three grasshoppers should have been charged in court for accepting money and sexual gratifications?
What about the BN’s decision not to contest in Penanti on May 31? Is that what a political struggle is about? Isn’t there anything more to gain in whipping the Opposition during a by-election run?
Can it be the same as it would be with Islam under the Pas?
The list of securities in Islam given above is in the limited case, the object here is merely to show that Islam is not the Devil’s Workshop some in America and Europe would have us believe.
There’s freedom of religion in Islam. For the Socialists looking for nationalization, in the times of the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, five essential items were nationalized, namely weapons (it was wartime), grains, salt, sugar and fabrics.
You would term those primary industries today. But the nationalization is merely “an attire” or a dressing in Islam. It is only useful when it serves to secure the People.
But where then is the “explosion” to be making history with in Islam, like with the Proletarian Revolution in scientific socialism?
That lies in the fight against “Falsehoods” (Taghut), the expressed arrogance of the Rich and Mighty that mars human liberty, equality, fraternity and dignity. It’s as easy as that, something everyone can understand.
If you have a problem with the PKR or the DAP, try Islam then, sans the mythic, the patriarchal, tribal and the superstitions. --a. ghani ismail, 19 May, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
THE PERAK IMBROGLIO -
SWINGING FROM THE CEILING FOR PEOPLE POWER
As soon as one democratic history was made in Ipoh with the unprecedented disorder at the opening of the new session of the Perak State Assembly on 7 May, another history was being readied to repeat itself from outside the august building that’s become september.
If there had been chandeliers in the state assembly hall, assemblymen, fully dressed in the splendorous outfits of the state’s lawmakers, could have been seen swinging from the ceiling in the attempt to disrupt the proceedings the Pakatan Rakyat conceived as illegal.
The Pakatan Rakyat (Pakatan) literally means People’s Pact. It was contesting in court the legitimacy of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government the state ruler appointed in February. The judgment shall be read on Monday 11 May.
But in the wake of the failed attempt to disrupt the May sitting is to be seen the seeding of a failed state many observers have decided is staring at us eye-ball to eye-ball.
The turn of events in Perak from February, when the Sultan decided to appoint a new Menteri Besar, has now reached the point when the Pakatan will probably gain much politically by returning to People’s Power.
The court will decide who the legitimate Perak Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) is this Monday.
Whether it will be Nizar of Pakatan or Zambry of BN, it is the people who must be finally the kingmaker and the people are not sure that the monarch was vested with the power to dismiss Nizar.
That makes for a crack in the wall large enough for People’s Power to slip through and to continue aggressing for change.
This time the change is spelled into a simple compound of ending the BN (and Alliance) rule of more than 50 years in the 13th general elections which the new PM, Najib Tun Razak, will have to decide as early as he possibly can for a mandate.
It is now about the force of popular perceptions in a circumstance of a weakened government abruptly underscored by massive corruption and a ruling-elite of contractors, businessmen and professionals that’s popularly assumed as unreservedly arrogant.
It is also about a Prime Minister with a luggage heavy enough for him to be evenly distracted, isolated and demonized, which is what the game has become since Najib Tun Razak took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah) about a month before.
The doubt about the monarch’s power-reach is one thing and the problem of the PM and the power-elite is another. The third disturbing factor is about the police political over-reactions.
The BN, having lost enough popular support to be denied the two-third majority in parliament on 8 March 2008, turned under Pak Lah to using the police to stem the tide of popular demand for change and for basic democratic liberties.
On 7 May in Ipoh the police force apparently recoiled like a disturbed cobra and struck, arresting 69 in the ripples of the protests advanced by the Pakatan lawmakers in the State Assembly.
Some were arrested for wearing black T-shirts to mark 1Black Malaysia, a lithe marker of the 7 May opening of the “illegal” Perak State Assembly.
Others were arrested for standing around the State Assembly building and some for drinking tea at coffee-shops within a given radius from the building.
It was as though the State Secretariat building was conceived as a nuclear bomb test-ground.
When lawmakers, both federal and state, were among those arrested and were handcuffed and taken to the Balai, what was messaged in our heads was a repeat of the arrest and subsequent injury vested on the then Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, who was taken from his house in 1998 by a troop of police personnel wearing balaclavas and armed with automatic weapons.
The reactions were plain: If that could be done on the deputy prime minister and the lawmakers it can be done to any of us without a squeak being heard. It is feudal and it is tyranny.
It’s the kind of action designed to drive the people into a sense of impotence and that failed before, leading instead to the popular rejection of the BN and which has stayed for more than a year since 8 March 2009.
The pictograph issued to our brains from the day of Anwar’s arrest and subsequent abuse in police custody was of a Police State.
It was this pictograph of the Police State that has been the most tangible evidence of power misuse in a nation popularly conceived as ruled by a self-seeking and corrupt elite, now intervened by three monarchs for good measure.
This same hyperactive police force, we are often told, is faction-wracked.
When one senior officer is transferred to another location, it was said the group of his subordinates would follow him, leaving his successor having to begin anew in the arts and sciences of crime-busting in the given locale.
In the circumstances of rising prices, flips-flops or fumbles of policy decisions and which have even led to royal interventions in at least three states, increasing crime rate, unemployment, falling morale and growing malaise, the accumulated distresses must lend something familiar to the critical mind – i.e. failing statecraft.
Hence, more and more want a recall of People’s Power to furnish the gloom with a bright yonder. Allahu Akbar! Workers Unite! Ahem, it’s a naked backside of a China doll!
And yet the Pakatan is poised to win bigger in a Perak state re-election and in the 13th general elections. The People have had enough. --- a. ghani ismail, 9 May, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Gazing With Gamany Into The Future Of Pakatan Rakyat
When in a seizure of gloom Gamany of Daim And Gamany (retired) called to dispense present Pakistan as the prescribed end-time of Malaysia, the surrender of the socialist’s sense of optimism caused the hurt in the heart a paste of the Balm of Gilead cannot lighten.
Gamany was my teacher when I was in primary school, probably a member of the socialist circle in Taiping from back then, which was when I was introduced to the colonial banned items but was too young to read them.
These items were books and pamphlets, including Marx and Engel, and the manifesto of 1848, available later in the University of Malaya library where I read them in 1962.
I knew of the circle in Taiping in 1951. I had to collect these items for my eldest brother who was a member.
That’s a glimpse of personal history, when Gamany was my teacher, and later becoming a friend.
Now, a little older and wiser, I can tell Gamany he erred when he assumed the Pas would follow the path of the Taliban someday, possibly because the followers of Nik Aziz Nik Mat had gone to Kabul to show support for the Taliban regime before the Nato forces displayed their powers of Light-N-Sound in that wonderland weapons test-ground.
Taliban means students. The community is properly a Deobandhi movement, the Dar’ul-Ulum (House of Knowledge) in Deobandh being the oldest university in South Asia and the second in the world.
Nik Aziz Nik Mat, currently the Kelantan Menteri Besar, was a student of Dar’ul-Ulum before he did his Masters at al-Azhar in Cairo.
Deobandh was traditional. Even if the great Muslim reformist/modernist and member of a Freemason Lodge, Jamaluddin al-Afghani, had taught at Deobandh before leaving for Cairo and recruiting into the reform movement the then Rector, Muhammad Abduh, the Dar’ul-Ulum itself retained rather of a conservative outlook through the 20th century.
It was itself physically a small campus with merely about 15,000 titles in its library when I visited it the first time in 1972.
Dar’ul-Ulum, it should be recalled, was and is financed by Muslim endowments, and hence purposed to preserve the traditions, leaving little room for the westernization of al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh.
Islam and the Pas cannot be equated with the Talibans or the Deobandhis, surely. Pas president, Hadi Awang, belongs to the Egyptian Ikhwanu’l-Muslimin of the Abdul Rashid Rida school.
The Syrian Rashid Rida was publisher and editor of Al-Manar. He was a member of the reformists but who differed from Muhammad Abduh and al-Afghani about westernization. He inspired Hassan al-Banna, founder and leading light of the Ikhwan and Syed Qutb the martyr.
Now I need to ask Gamany whether or not because of the differences in worldview with the Muslim traditionalists of Pas, he finds little patience with them as it is with the American and Europeans and therefore, he too regards them as “Terrorists” who should be eliminated?
To a socialist, as it would be to a Muslim or a true Biblical Christian or Jew, optimism is interwoven with Life, the lost of which would sunder the soul and render it to prostitution of one sort or another.
‘…as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to the ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshipping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
‘Therefore the Lord was very angry…’ (Judges, 2:18-20)
Gamany, now 80, had sunk by the weight of the conflicting ideologies in the Pakatan that bunched the former Partai Socialist Rakyat Malaysia (PSRM) with the Singapore-branded Social Democrats of the DAP, the Muslims in the Pas and the youthful sets of ‘Anwar’s secretaries and NGO activists’ a few of whom had ruined the pride of the revolutionaries with their rides on belles from China.
After the magical orgasms of two of these seekers of sexual succulence were over, so was the Pakatan government in Perak, stumped and slumped, but not spent.
The circus cast returned to the fore merely as snarling lions, the growls and roars lost in the driving spurts of New Malaysia, and yet it won against the Barisan Nasional (BN) in Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections.
The rot in the Barisan Nasional (BN) has certainly set and Pakatan is definitely looking good for federal power in the near future, many expecting it to win in the 13th general elections.
Therefore, either Pakatan is cleansed from the Rambo sexuality and corruption pronto and a bridge is built between the differing groups and parties inside it, or, as Gamany said, the components of the pact will fight one against the other.
PKR’s Civil Society isn’t and cannot be about drugs-sex-politics, surely, and it is best for those notched at the top of the Pakatan posse to know they had dragged a few of these into the ark, strapped to the folios of the long gone hippie wave but still wishing to be free to suck into the shamanic soma of Shangrila.
Ces’t la guerre! This is war! This is not a New Age passage to release sexual pent-up on a springboard having only the water below as the attire of entire casts of stags!
This is war of a democratic sort, a fight for hearts and minds against inequality, against the denial of rights, against unjust laws and against tyranny, not of the classical industrial proletariat (landless workers) versus the bourgeoisie (landed owners of capital) in Marx’s 1848 manifesto for turning over power.
This is a Malaysian and global run against the sustained feudalism and plutocracy, the latter being the rule of the rich and powerful, for the rich and powerful, by the rich and powerful, the proletarian and peasant blurred in the structures and processes of the patron-client that’s able to lift, in a jiffy, a poor clerk into becoming a millionaire. Aaaand it is filthily corrupt.
For this war we have our own foundational and structural priorities. We have our own theories and strategies.
Even the “Marxists” in Kerala and Tamil Nadu do not keep to the textbooks and are not revolutionaries in a class struggle of labor against capital as proletarian revolutionaries of the kind imagined by many in Malaysia because of the Communist Insurrections.
In Indonesia, Tan Malaka did not keep to “scientific socialism”, nor did Musso keep to the instructions of the Comintern.
It was a fight against oppression more like this:
‘Why should you not fight in the cause of God, when the oppressed men, women and children are crying out,” Our Lord, deliver us from this community whose people are unjust, and make us worthy of having You as our protector, and make us worthy of having You as our support.’ (Qur’an, 4:70)
There in the Holy Qur’an and the Bible we can find the unity of purpose the Pakatan can use to seal the pact with, i.e. if that is what it wants to do.
In Islam it is a struggle between the class of mustas’afin (the poor, dispossessed, exploited or oppressed) and the mustakbirin (the powerful and arrogant). Islam is meaningless without this struggle.
It must be simple to see the two classes would be differently expressed between historical epochs and Marx’s proletariat was the mustas’afin of the European Industrial Revolution when the bourgeois was the mustakbirin.
Were the classes the same in Asia? Are the classes remaining the same in the post-industrial age?
Since the Muslims have a perception of their own about the class struggle, how the simplicity of Marxist dialectical and historical materialism are translated into a class and/or moral struggle will decide whether or not the pact can survive the change after power is acquired and distributed between the groupings in it.
Outside the dogmatic and show of bookish ideological fundamentalism, the Pakatan foursome can find enough sense in the class and moral struggles of the scriptural revolution to spring a unity of purpose and unity of thought so the different groups within it can become complements.
But should the DAP and the socialists in the PKR insist on seeing Islam in bits and pieces and name-call the Pas as Taliban or a party that’s glued to the Hudud and the Islamic State like it is a tri-foliated weed, the result will have to be a carefully graduated cooperation under stress that will have to win power first and then agree to battle forevermore.
The Muslims have their own idea of history and their own traditions, now working their way out of the crumpling orthodox fundamentalism and having the more stable financial institutions, insurance and securities in a world gone limp by the post-Bretton Woods super laissez-faire economy.
It is the Atlantic Axis that has become bankrupt while it was wishing to contain China and create a Greater Middle-East by diplomacy and by force.
The “New Islam” in Malaysia was very much Anwar Ibrahim’s brainchild. He introduced the Islamic financial institutions in the country, plus the International Islamic University to found the New Islam.
In Malaysia it was Ustaz Ahmad Awang who led the initial studies of the Islamic laws governing the financial institution. He is now the Perak Pas Commissioner and a member of the Pas Central Committee.
It is clear if PKR can get it’s act together it is especially suited to play the role of bridging the differences between the Chinese dominated social democrats of the DAP and the Malay Muslims in Pas, and to lend a hand to the socialists in the PKR so the trio may walk together in confidence as a unity in diversity, as it had been in the Indonesian experience.
It should be remembered former Pas president, Dr. Burhanuddin al-Helmy, was a socialist. It is also well-known that former Acheh governor and member of PUSA (Persatuan Ulama Seluruh Acheh), was a leader of PESINDO (Pemuda Sosialis Indonesia).
Are you still afraid? In all its blessed life it seems likely the PSRM never did acquire even a single fruit stall to lend a helping hand to the peasants and proletariat. For 18 years under Kassim Ahmad it’s likely it merely talked itself almost to death. Could that be the reason for your fear? ---a. ghani ismail, 2 May 2009