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

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