Thursday, March 8, 2012

Malays Even More Bewildered

When Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak scrapped the proposed new salary scheme this morning ( March 8) he must already know the still-born salary scheme will remain an awesome reminder of how complex the dysfunction has become in the country’s Administration.

Najib, in wishing to steer Malaysia through a Transformation that will take her into high-tech industrialization and make her a high-income country by 2020 must have felt deterred time and again because of the state of administrative and the social plus economic dysfunctions the country is facing.

Prices of food and medicine are very high. Many government agencies have lost by the billions. Mas, the flag-carrier, is a big let-down and Proton is reported to have spent RM 3.4 billion of its reserves in three years for nearly nothing.

Perhaps because it rained heavily yesterday and it continued to patter right through the night, a certain chill is felt this morning as PM Najib announced a temporary pay scheme for civil servants some say is inadequate and uneven.

The going is tough for Najib. Many other matters also need immediate attention.

In a discussion with two police officers recently I was told the police force has been stunned by “private domains” for the past many years. When an OCPD, for instance, is transferred to another district he will take with him his team leaving the replacement cleanly out of the accumulated information, experiences and contacts.

‘Over and over again new OCPDs will have to start afresh, which is one reason why police performances have been slow to stamp crime. The district is the key,’ they said.

The complaint is about “private domains” forming in government and it is clearly a widespread disease exuberantly exhibited in Jakim of the PM’s Department when former Mufti of Perlis, Dr Asri Zainal Abidin, was condemned as a Wahabi and a terrorist simply because he applied to become director of the outfit to replace the outgoing Narkhaie Haji Ahmad.

That event hit the Administration and Islam in Malaysia hard in the groins, bringing to light that the Islamic division of the PM’s Department is possessed and needing exorcism.

Narkhaie and his friends kept hitting Dr Asri and even included in the barrage his successor, Dr Juanda, for months. It should have been stopped but nobody from the misty heights of power intervened in that exhibitionism of power dementia.

In the mix of widespread corruption and the abuses arising from the “private domains” in government, some 85 percent of projects that were drawn for the benefit of Malays and Bumiputras in the New Economic Policy (NEP) had been “leaked” and slipped into the hands of others, according to former PM, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

It tells us policy and project slipways can be constructed with the right payments to the right people in the Administration and the Executive. In fact, a distortion of 85 percent suggests these slipways are normal practice, i.e. integrity had been a bad word in the government and the Malays/Bumiputras had been taken for a ride by their own kinds.

The NEP was bastardized.

It would do us all a lot of good if we are reminded that the overwhelming materialism and the startling corruption in a corporatist state will bring syndications between the “private domains”. Collusion is the word and the compound often translates politically into warlords.

It makes for a certain modeling of neo-fascism wherein the bosses cannot and will not tolerate criticism but can withstand a slew of supported allegations of corrupt practices emerging from Civil Society or the Opposition since the integrity of the Judiciary would have also been compromised in the making of such a state.

This is the critical conflict in Malaysia. It is not about a choice between Transformation or Reformation. It is about what the Transformation is finally about.

In the rule by fear of the neo-fascist regime, every agent of government is potentially a rent-seeker and as a member of an aggregate of one kind or of another in the corridors and in the heights of power, these can finally decide who are heard and who are snuffed among the aspirants and critics.

Power is thus about the ability to force compliance, to eliminate and to loot, having nothing to do with delivering the highest public good.

Policy is made or unmade by a differentiated hierarchy and since many of us have heard about policies and projects being distorted by some small-fries at payments as low as RM50,000, government became a comedy of deliberate errors and money was all it took to derail the NEP.

Even water-catchment areas have been taken for cronies to build holiday bungalows. Who cares for the public good! That's hogwash!

In short, in a state of dysfunction as decadent as this, seeking to refurbish the nation with integrity cannot be enough. We need an ideology and the construction of a new bangsa (people), either a Malaysian people or something else that is accommodative, like the Jawi most Malays were before Independence in 1957.

In those days, to convert to Islam would be to "masuk Melayu" (become Malay). Circumcission, which is khatan, was to my generation, masuk Jawi. We, the Jawi, had had our own belief system, a close recall of the Abangan in Jawa.(here).

In its origin the Jawi is a mixed people upholding universal beliefs such as the Beringin Songsang (The Inverted Tree/here) and bearing the best of Singosari - Majapahit cultures.

It was Jayakertanegara of Singosari who built the Chandi Jawi in the 13th century.

Monsieur, I choose to be honest and honestly we face ideological hopelessness the way things are in this beautiful country. We will have to go back to Tun Abdul Razak for ideological coherence and political cohesion.

Umno, having openly traded votes for money in the purchases of positions from bottom right to the level of party president, cannot and will never again be accepted as representing Malay nationalism as it had been once before.

As for the MCA and MIC, they are corruption-ridden too. But since the Chinese and Indians, having motherlands that are mega stars today and can very well become the No. 1 and No. 2 economies in the world by 2025, it is the Malays who are being crapped into bewilderment with a bogus nationalist outfit on top of the heap and the alternative made of a strange emergence of Islamic fundamentalism in a mix-up with a Zionist-led global remark having Paul Wolforwitz of the Neo-Cons quite apparently calling the shots that echo in the brain-cavities of Brother Anwar Ibrahim.

The Malays are seriously bewildered.

Here it is unlike in Indonesia where, according to a Pew report, about 65 percent of the people have opted for Islamic fundamentalism, giving itself into the haunting religious fervor the readings of which laid bare burnings and killings in Ahmadiyyah villages in Jawa and clashes with Christians in Maluku and a bit in Poso, Sulawesi, where fortunately most Christians are in Menado.

The powder-keg had exploded in Egypt, in Iraq and in Nigeria. In Pakistan the evil is a terror-ride involving Muslims versus Muslims first and Muslims versus the two percent Christian minority second, killing a Governor and a Minister so far.

Even if it is true not more than 30 percent of the Malays can be drawn into the making of a Holocaust, it has to be remembered only five percent of the Malays in amok should be enough to run the country 30 years back in a few days and making recovery impossible in 15 years.

A neater equation may bring recolonization as a necessity for recovery should we blood-let again in Malaysia.

In Malaysia Islam enjoys power. That power somehow became extraordinarily incoherent in 1988 from when parliament began passing constitutional amendments which finally led the country into two separate criminal laws and two sets of judiciaries, one of which being Islamic.

But from 1988 until now the Shariah Law cannot replace Common Law so as to enable the country to opt for the Shariah as the sole legal and judicial system.

Malaysians will then be given to Muslims and Dhimmis (protected subjects).

The amendments caught us all in a bind. Did Mahathir, who presided over the whole development then, intended Malaysia to shift into an Islamic State? Had he desired to become Pasha Mahathir Mohamad?

Such a momentous shift of statecraft must have been carefully reasoned. From 1988 to 2003 Dr Mahathir Mohamad was at the helm. He must know why he did it with his late friend, Hamid Othman. Will Mahathir give us the chance to understand why the constitutional changes were made by explaining it in his blog or directly to the Press, I wonder.

Then, from out of the blue as it were, at the launching of Jati on February 21, which is possibly the flagship of royal assertions in Malaysian politics, the mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, told the Malays in Malaysia God wants them to be loyal to the Sultans who, he said, are The Shadows of Allah on Earth (Zillu’l-Lah fi’l-ardhi), a script taken from a set of weak Prophetic Traditions (Hadith), the good Dr Asri quickly said were of no worth.

This Shadow of God stuff is about one of the weaknesses of Islam, i.e. the failure to provide for a social structure and statecraft that can contain power without concurrent and phenomenal abuses. It's absolute monarchy we're talking about.

The Abbassid sultans applied to themselves that lofty height, declaring themselves as The Shadows of God, theoretically meaning they provide for the victims of society, meaning the oppressed, a shade like that of an umbrella, promising to redress social and natural injustices.

In reality most of them reached for momentous opulence instead, securing in their harems from anywhere between 200 to 1000 women, ‘who have neither been touched by the light of the sun nor by that of the moon.’

The last sultan of the Abbassid spent six months straight in his harem when he was told by his vizier that the Mongol, Hulagu, had already amassed his forces on the eastern borders of the empire. The sultan asked his vizier to take care of the threat and continued to enjoy himself with his women.

The debauchery ended in 1258. Baghdad was lost to Hulagu. The Shadow of God had to leave the city taking with him (Him?) his 800 women only to be killed outside the city that had housed some of the greatest achievements of Muslims and of Islam.

Who wants to return to the medieval confusion in the new millennium? The Internet already has dozens of blogs denouncing Harussani’s engagement with the medieval confusion.

But Monsieur, the fact remains that Malay Royalty is stuck in that mindscape, each sultan having for himself a name of God attached.

Hence, I should think it is necessary for the PM’s Department to decide whether or not that is the Islam we want as a basis of the nation’s official religion. Which one of the sultans had refused to sign his state into the Malayan Union in 1946. Do you know? Was it HIM?

Thiz iz actually and cruelly humorezz, dat iz Malays in de new millennium seeking shelter in the umbra and penumbra of God here on dis earth. There are naina Malay rulers in the small peninsular one can drive from south to north in less than a day and find himself/herself facing only one King with one Garuda in Thailand. Aiwah! It iz the baziz of de Malay ideology in the new millenia, iz eeet?

When the Mamluks (former slaves) took power and established their empire, they decided to style the head of state as Na’ib Allah (Vice God). How about that for one-upmanship! Goldziher has this in his Islamic Studies.

The law resides in the person of The Shadow of God or The Vice-God. They can do anything without having to be answerable for their actions, of course. Perusing again the writings of ibn Batuta and especially on his visit to the court of the Tugleq Sultan (Tugleg Dynasty) in India will give the reader a little touch of the quaint concerning these Shadows of God.

In ibn Batuta’s account the sultan had a supplicant butchered before him and his guests while he continued dining. Ibn Batuta escaped to the convenience where he vomited.

This same sultan catapulted a beggar to his death and had another dragged a few hundred miles until both his legs sundered from their attachments.

The Sultan is the Shadow of God. The Law resides in him. He can do anything. Some Malays appear to be wanting that for themselves in the 21st century. Neat!

Can the majority of the Malays resolve their ideological froth? Or will the majority finally join the rising religious fundamentalism and engage the kafirs in war? Will they be led by The Shadow? It's laughable Monsieur is it not? Hehehe! It's a terrible state of bewilderment. It's acute!---a. ghani ismail, 8 March 2012.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Did Hang Tuah ever lived? Was there a historical Jesus?

The season inside the hollow of history remained. In another reversal of Malayan history Professor Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim, an emeritus of the subject, reportedly want removed from the textbooks the spirit (semangat) of the Malay warrior (satria) the indomitable Hang Tuah, saying he is nothing but a myth. The folk hero, however, long grown into a geist though he was not mentioned in the Ming records, is appearing like he refuses to go.

Hang Li Po was a Chinese princess Sultan Mansur of Melaka (Malacca) was said to have taken as a fifth wife. Nothing else about her was significant and hence, fact or fiction could not and cannot matter more than a dime. Prof Kay Kim wanted her out too.

But Hang Tuah is a folk spirit, a zeitgeist of the Malay, him declaring ‘Never shall the Malay disappear from the face of the earth,’ making the Melayu an eternal substance, i.e. if they can find themselves apart from the Arabic religion that has damned, in their own society, most things Malay as khurafat (superstition).

It’s a lasting confusion Malays face. The Malay Muslim has an obvious religious problem about accepting the pentacle in the Hindu epic, the Pandavas, which Hang Tuah and his four compatriots, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, Hang Lekiu and Hang Kasturi obviously reflect.

The same five is to be found in Prophet Mohammad with the four Khalifah Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliphs), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali mentioned every Friday in the mosques of Malaysia.

“Rightly Guided Caliphs”? Where’s the line between the fact and the fiction?

To be Malay or to be essentially Muslim had been and still is an existential choice the Malays must make to find self and the “I AM”.

When they finally made it they insisted constitutionally the Malay must be a Muslim and compressing that into power they refused themselves the freedom of religion. It’s sad.

Sadder still, Hang Tuah and his friends enjoyed their drinks (hic!) and thus became inadmissable to the hardening sinews of Islam in Malaysia. Islam damns alcoholic drinks as haram (forbidden). How do we appreciate Hang Tuah and his comrades who have been described occassionally drunk?

Yesus Kristos!

Yes. Yesus Kristos would pose a larger problem to Khoo Kay Kim. The wondrous Son of Man has hardly any documentary evidence to support the belief that he was indeed a person that had walked the earth, preached, taught, healed, is The Way to more than a billion Christians in the world and miraculously turned water into wine on one occassion before the heart warming stuff was forbidden centuries later by Muhammad. But it is evidently not a historical fact, making for a twain between history and religious belief and so Jesus may stand a chance in a Shariah Court.

Here in Malaysia you can go to jail drinking miraculously made wine, beer or stout if you are a Muslim. Therefore, choose!

Hang Tuah

Hang Tuah was a myth when this writer was in school. Growing up he found the mix of facts and fiction a common grace in the Malay Hikayat. It’s folk history but devised for good purposes, like the Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiah, which was about Muhammad Hanafiah who was a son of Ali and as real as you or me.

But the said Hikayat was mostly fictitious, used as a means to keep up the struggle of the Prophet’s family for Islam following the demise of Ali and his sons, Hasan and Husayn from Fatimah Zahrah al-Batul.

It became a description of heroism, of glorious fights and fighters, a little bit on the art of war and the excellence of Jihad the Malays themselves had required for a time.

Later they devised their own in the romances of Hang Tuah and of Jebat the alternate Ego. But the Malays were never able to decorate their own group of five as well as the Javanese had done with the Pandavas in the Kakawin.

No Vote

The good professor’s view isn’t going to affect a single vote in the awaited general elections and is therefore free of political perversion. It is unlikely the Ministry of Defence will rewrite the names of our frigates either, from KD Hang Tuah, KD Jebat and so on to Michelle Ma Belle or something like that.

As for the Ministry of Education wanting to remove the name of Hang Tuah from our history text books, this writer suggests we take a deep breath, count to ten and stay as we are. Hang Tuah was and is real.

Hang Tuah was Laksamana Bentan, once the capital of Johor-Riau-Lingga. Megat Seri Rama who krissed Sultan Mahmud of Johor was also Laksamana Bentan, himself from the island of the Orang Laut, once before written as Sea Gypsies but who must be billed as a great people who had led the other Malays through the thousands of islands and intervened decisively in Malay history time after time.

One of them, having had enough of the extravagance and the debauchery of the court in Jambi, stormed the palace and raped the queen before the eyes of her consort, the king, a fitting justice indeed for a ruler who had no control of his wives spendings and himself kept raising taxes till the taxes surpassed 30 per cent of trade items on top of port charges he levied at will.

And you would have read about Lapu Lapu, of course.

How do we treat the stories we read about the exploits of these great seafarers and warriors? Is there no place for a little romance for them like those we have in volumes about Alexander The Great?

“History must be based on empirical records. Historians must only accept written records,” Khoo Kay Kim was reported to have said, adding that empirical records available here were at best “scanty”.“There is no evidence in the Malaysian records,” he said. “These are stories. Early Malaysian history is based on stories.”

The “stories” Professor Khoo meant must be the Hikayat, a genre that is well-known to any and all students of our history. But the “written record” thingy has a kink in it. Because we are a story-telling community, we have to consider using oral recordings to augment the need for tangible evidence in the study and writing of history.

The Malaysian National Archives in 1972, led by Datuk Alwi Jantan and Datuk Zakiah Hanum, deliberated over the question of “oral history” and decided to keep oral recordings to provide for the gaps in the written documents.

This writer then worked on the Aziz Ishak Archives and after reading through the documents and letters in the former Minister’s files, the National Archives decided to have the points in them clarified and augmented in recorded interviews, starting what Professor Zainal Abidin Wahid of University of Malaya had termed “essential oral documentations”.

Since “History must be based on empirical records [and] Historians must only accept written records,” we have now to ask whether the National Archives had done wrong to allow for oral recordings?

We need to question that again. Do oral recordings of witnesses to an event betray the purity of history?

I had gone to Beruas, Perak, to interview a few living witnesses of the 1944 Sino-Malay clashes and especially when Sheikh Osman and his men had gone there to free the son of Panglima Hitam who had been taken captive.

Then, as the story went, when I followed a thread on Datuk Bahaman after some people had thought Tok Guru Peramu was the great warrior of Pahang, I found Hang Tuah still alive in some spiritual exercises in Pahang, which led me to trace the same in some Malay [and Orang Asli] villages along the Pahang, Bera and Serting rivers, involving members of the Semelai and Temuan tribes.

In short, in Hang Tuah we may be dealing with a Malay archetype, like Arjuna of the Mahabharata who was and still is to some Malays in Jawa a warrior archetype.

To the Malays (including Asli of course) Hang Tuah was born in Kampong Sungai Duyung, Melaka, to Hang Mahmud and Dang Merduwati. There are still families in the kampong who believe they are descendants of Hang Tuah.

There he grew up with his four comrades. Their teacher was Adi Putra. Many among the Asli of Serting and Bera said he had studied some silat from them too.

He learned to meditate and had his meditation cleft on the seaside of Cape Rachardo (Tanjung Tuan). That samadhi has since been demolished by the religious authorities because it was deemed as khurafat (superstition).

He had had a girlfriend or fiance in Melor, daughter of his Asli teacher in Ledang and of course there is a Hang Tuah mausoleum in Tanjung Kling, Melaka.

Are these notifications of the legendary figure real or are they merely incurred by the story-tellers for special effects?

But Hang Tuah is about blind loyalty. Why oh why do we need such a myth or an archetype of such an extraordinary loyalty?

There has been a lively debate about who ought to be the hero, Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat, a question raised by the Bugis, Raja Ali Haji, in the 19th century.

That question, raised in Tuhfat al-Nafis, still resounds in our classrooms and even across tables in coffee shops.

Why would such a debate be deemed unhealthy? Because it is about a myth?

As for Hang Tuah's terrible sense of loyalty, it is understood in Malay tradition as undivided loyalty to the Palembang House that founded the kingdom of Melaka, a matter that was to test Perak in later times when the Sultanate was contested by Tun Saban who had been Bendahara of Melaka, with his sister, Tok Temong, and the Temusai Nakhoda Kassim from Johor on his side. Perak was hitherto ruled by the Haluan, Tok Masuka(here) and not by a king (Raja) or Sultan. A contest against the Palembang House occurred in Johor as well.

It is essential to understand the context of the Hang Tuah romances before an opinion is structured, certainly. But we know little of our history because the research had been scanty, not because of scarcity of sources.

But other than the Hikayat, Babad, Kakawin, Teromba etc. which contain reflections of native histories, the written sources would be Ming records, some Indian inscriptions, colonial writings or sourced from the palaces. Can we then avoid oral sources

As long as we know the Hikayat, Kakawin or Teromba are a mix of history, ideological reflections and romances, do we really have a reason to hollow out Hang Tuah from the history textbooks? ----a. ghani ismail, 21 January, 2012

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mat Sabu and The Rubric of Umno’s Hilarity. Who is Traitor?

It’s been somewhat of a Thrilla in Malaysia what followed Mat Sabu’s loose canonization of the “Muslim-Communist” leader, Mat Indera, into a folk hero. What hatched as a reaction is still cackling. That has become standard reaction of Umno and the Barisan Nasional. .

Mat Sabu, the new deputy president of Pas, had anticipated the ritual TV airing of Jin Samsuddin’s movie, Bukit Kepong, a film shown every year since it was made more than a decade before. It was to glorify the police force and condemn the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), its 4th Regiment led by the Malay-Muslim of Siak origin, Ahmad Indera.

Umno Press Corp moved into action immediately after Mat Sabu said what he said on August 27. It caused the polemical blitz and soon the polemics turned into a pugilistic stretch of relentless hounding of Mat Sabu.

He had poked his head into the hornets’ nest and the extraordinary transformation of the hornets into a cackling school of crows will not stop.

Umno and the government have been viewed as paranoid.

A group of six leaders of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) with 25 people, mostly from the estates, were recently detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO), the six for 28 days before popular protests loosened the grip of the paranoia and they were charged in open court.

The reason for the amazingly zealous reaction was ostensibly the T-shirts the six had brought with them which had the portraits of Che Guevara and former CPM leaders printed on them. No weapons were found.

For the speech of Mat Sabu even former IGP, Tun Haniff Omar, was roped in from his perch at Genting Highlands Casino to draft Mat Sabu into a dangerous renegade who should be “investigated” for possible undesired connections.

It seemed, Mat Sabu is possibly guilty of “incitement”, and therefore, of sedition as well.

It is indeed surprising for Tun Haniff to have forgotten Lai Tak, the CPM Secretary-General at that time. He was a Police Special Branch implant!

Haniff Omar had been a meticulous person in his tenure as IGP. Has he forgotten too about who, or which forces, had been behind the Communists or PKI in Indonesia after the Second World War? Is he getting old?

Mat Sabu, often a loose cannon, had said Mat Indera was the “real hero” of the ill-fated Bukit Kepong police station the communist attacked and razed to the ground on 23 February 1950.

Did Mat Sabu know the police have reasons to worry over the possibility the CPM had insurrected not once but twice before and may rise again to destabilize the country for another shot for power?

He later placed Mat Indera, who was a hafiz, as equal in stature and in meaning with the popular folk heroes such as Tok Janggut of Kelantan, Mat Salleh of Sabah and Rosli Dobi of Sarawak.

They were fighters who were willing to die for the masses against the appetites and the tyranny of the colonialist and of the native elites in some cases.

After the Bukit Kepong Incident Mat Indera was betrayed by two or three of his comrades, drugged and dragged to the Balai Polis (police station), taken from prison to prison until finally he was hanged in Taiping Prison in 1953.

Then, in the hilarious polemics which Umno launched a scholar declared the British had never colonized Malaya and hence, it was futile to regard Mat Indera as an anti-colonial freedom fighter.

Who hanged Mat Indera then? Who had the power to execute? The Malay sultans?

That swung the debate away from Mat Sabu to Occidental diplomacy and imperialism, leaving the question gaping as to why we celebrate 31 August as Independence Day if Malaya had never been colonized. Had it all been a great hoax?

Why was the pre-independence generation made to listen to the British anthem and to stand and sing it in school and even in the cinemas? It was God Save The King, and later, the Queen.

Colony or Protectorate?

The truth can often become a divine comedy in the ensuing obscurantism of a Malaysia that has become Independent without ever having been subdued as a colony.

Former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir, also said Malaya was not colonized. Said he, the Malay sultans appealed to the British to become their advisors, which is not particularly correct nor is it absolutely untrue, a clever misuse of semantics Mahathir had mastered and successfully used to confuse both his supporters and his enemies.

It’s something like someone who dances on both sides of the street and gets himself hit by a truck in the middle.

Truth is, the Malays were no longer powerful by the time the Brits came.

Under Islamic rule the Malay Hindu-Buddhist empires had broken into petty states.

Once Malacca had fallen to the Portuguese the Malays had to rely on Aceh to regain the great port.

There were only about 200 Muslims in the court of Malacca when the Portuguese gained control over it, according to Portuguese sources. When Raja Melewar of Pagar Ruyong arrived in Rembau about 200 years after the fall of Malacca, there were only two Muslim families in Rembau according to records.

Islam had been an imperial religion and in the Malay world, after the Muslims had taken Majapahit, they divided the great empire. A similar dismemberment of Malacca had left the Malays belonging to petty kingdoms. .

An army of 10,000 Malays had been defeated by less than 400 Portuguese Sepoys in the attempt to retake Malacca. Later, in Kota Tinggi, Johor, 12,000 Malay fighters were defeated by about 400 Portuguese Sepoys.

Where went the Malay forces that defeated Kublai Khan's invasion of Singhasari in 1293? To a Hindu-Buddhist heaven and thence into voluntary oblivion? Kublai's forces were more than 12,000.

The serial defeat of the Johor Malay forces was in the early 16th century. There had been no recovery upto the British Intervention of 1874. There were the Bugis and Raja Kechik of Minangkabau but that was a different story. They did not engage the English or the Dutch.

The greatness of the Malays had been with Srivijaya and Majapahit.

In Malacca the greatness belonged to Tun Perak and to Hang Tuah.

Were they Muslims. How deeply were they Muslims? Did not Hang Tuah and his comrades enjoy their drink? Wasn’t his martial teacher an Asli (Aborigine) and so was his fiancĂ©?

When in the 19th century the Malay sultans and nobles suddenly found themselves facing organized Chinese miners and the agents of British trade and government, they were warped in power struggles.

It was resource contests, Chinese and Malay miners fighting on both sides of the conflicts in Perak, Selangor and Sungai Ujung, with Malay royalties involved.

Hence, even if the Europeans were kafirs (infidels) and viewed by some as crusaders, the sultans were glad to enter into power-sharing with them and to enjoy the great wealth now available because of the demands of industrial Europe.

It did not work for everyone. Some fought after discovering the sultans had signed away their rights to impose and to collect taxes.

In the case of J.W.W. Birch who was killed in Pasir Salak in Perak in 1875, he also banned slavery, which was allowed by Islamic Law, the slave-trade a source of income in the Malay archipelago too.

The European colonization was not as simple as it could have been. The sultans and the nobility living in opulence under British or Dutch rule couldn’t be properly regarded as colonized, of course. They were paid pensions, rent and some owned estates, plantations and mines run by English or Dutch companies.

But for the masses, and the few who lost their rights to impose and to collect taxes, the Residential System was de facto colonization and for the masses it was oppressive.

The EIC and VOC

British and Dutch imperialism had come as mega corporations, the EIC and the VOC being the largest joint-stock corporations of the time.

These corporations were given royal charters enabling them to declare war, take captives and to execute them, meaning they represented the English and Dutch Crowns. "Protectorates" were relationships or occupations of native states conducted through the chartered companies.

Later, when they became defunct (1800 in the case of the VOC and the EIC in 1874), the “Interventions” and the “Protectorates” were directly or indirectly run by the respective colonial offices and their agents.

Native rulers were paid pensions and/or rent. Sometimes they sold parts of their territories, like in the case of Singapore.

They gave the powers to the Residents to administer their states, collect taxes and determine policies, ‘except in matters relating to Islam and Malay customs’.

That is a neat surrender to colonization, surely.

As for the ‘matters relating to Islam and Malay customs,’ the Selangor Religious Department (JAIS) exercised that power several weeks ago to charge two senior members of Pas for teaching or speaking on Islam without the letter of authority issued by it.

It means senior members of the Islamic party cannot freely speak on Islam.

It’s poetic justice, of course. It is the Islamic State acting against the advocates of the Islamic State. What better means is at the disposal of the divine jester to deal with these? It's like the duo were hit by boomerangs they had thrown themselves many years before. These swung around and.....Bingo!

That law the JAIS used is an Islamic law, making the statecraft complicated and confusing.


In Sumatra in 1946, the same cultural and power complications led the people to rise against the sultans and they culled the royal families who did not support Indonesian Independence Sukarno and Hatta had declared on 17 August 1945.

Mat Indera was from Siak Sultanate in Sumatra. The Siak Sultanate supported the Republic of Indonesia under Sukarno and Hatta.

Top CPM leader, Abdullah C.D. was also from Siak. There the Muslims and the Nationalists had risen together with the Communist and Socialists in the Social Revolution.

Mat Sabu

The times have changed and Mat Sabu failed to respect the need for caution.

Communism has decayed but the CPM may rise again in insurrection as a proxy belligerent.

As for Mat Indera, history must insist his case be reviewed in the context of its ideological hinterland and of the times.

A lot of Malays had wanted Independence together with Indonesia following the Japanese Surrender in 1945.

After Sukarno and Hatta declared the independence of Indonesia on 17 August of that year without including Malaya, Malay nationalists were laden with a very serious choice to make.

The choice in Sumatra was simple – either join the Republik Indonesia that Sukarno had proclaimed or welcome back the Dutch.

It was this ideological contrast that determined the political behavior of the Malays across the Straits of Malacca at that time.

So where do we go from here with the Islamic laws, the ISA, the EO, the Printing Presses Act, the Sedition Act, the OSA, Police Act and so on and so forth? To prison?

Who are our heroes and who are the villains?

As for the votes in the general elections, this writer does not expect the issue to affect more than 0.2 percent either way. But the trophy belongs to Mat Sabu who has become immensely famous in a matter of three weeks. He may do it again if he wants to. ---a. ghani ismail, 13 September, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Remarks in Ramadhan on a Matter of Regime Change

Turmoil is now the key word in Malaysia. It is ideological, economic, social, cultural and religious conflicts from the turnings of the marionettes plaguing the nation into becoming yet another country in the world that’s stricken.

When cleavages occur in those five areas of society it is in the order of history to demand of such a society for liberty, equality, fraternity or let the nation die - ou la morte!

Old institutions have been replaced in the transition from the agricultural society to the industrial. New institutions have been mauled by power and corruption.

Islam Unbecoming

Islam had been stifling for ages in the Malay world. It kills ideas and initiatives. Books deemed disagreeable by the mullahs were and are still banned.

We were born a democracy with rights. But in the 54 years that have passed we have instead been laden by dozens of draconian laws in addition to the Islamic baggage, making the country more of a dictatorship by the ruling elite.

In the long playing contest for resources deduced by a couple of thinkers into a Clash of Civilizations, Malaysia has finally come to read positive after the Muslim authorities insist on passing more humiliating laws and regulations in recent years.

These demanded Muslims must attend one-day courses before they can marry, the course worth currently RM80 each. Those who have divorced must undergo a course for three-months and pass an examination on how to conduct a lasting matrimony before they would be allowed to marry again. But you are free to marry four wives at any one time. Try thinking.

Trouble is about shift-workers and the likes of lorry drivers who must lose job or income to attend the courses. When asked, religious administrators simply say as they do about the punitive laws of Islam, i.e. you don't have to worry if you don't break the law. So, don't divorce, ever! Try thinking!

The Malays who had built great empires in the Hindu-Buddhist period and reputed to have produced more than 70 percent of the world GDP in those times had been reduced to patented subjugates under an Islam that enriched the Arab and Gujerati traders.

Industrially, since the arrival of Islam, the Islamised Malays in the whole of the peninsular produced not much more than the rehal (Quran stand) and the tombstones. Do you need Islamic law and judiciary to protect and enhance that?

Why did the Malays faithfully subscribe to such an innane religious regime will remain a question few can claim to have half of an answer. Said Professor of Education, Isahak Haron, more than 90 pefcent of the Malays do not understand what they recite in their daily prayers which they do in Arabic.

But that does not answer the tolerance to abuse of such order.

People who stood up have been made to face wild allegations, like former Mufti of Perlis, Dr. Mohamed Asri, who was reported to the National Security Council as someone with links to terrorists. Is that enough to put the Malays down to the ground in an infirm obeisance forever?

In the meantime Malay society has transited into a gender roles reverse. Women account for about 70 percent of enrolments in colleges and universities suggesting Malay men should be getting ready to become house-husbands, something unthinkable to conservative Muslims

Christians are denied the right to distribute Malay translations of the Bible or the Gospels, the whole of which is available in the Internet in Indonesian, making it a lot of ado over actually nothing.

Christians are also legally forbidden from using an assortment of words including the Name of God, “Allah”, and the word “Qur’an”.

The Christian-Muslim clash has now become critical, coming in the guise of an interaction of forces gilded from the plebeian and leading to the making of religious corruption, conceit and deceit to sustain a rotting regime of crony capitalism and shared power.

It is a parody of the truth and of justice. This is an indictment, recalling Mukhtar Lubis in his Senja Di Kota Jakarta (Twilight Over Jakarta).

The result is distrust, distaste and disillusionment, a riot of strong colors that brings in alienation and a certain social breakdown.

In the ensuing anomie is a curious phenomenon. Youths, especially Malay youths, splash acid on people, blinding some and disfiguring the faces of many. It is a clear sign of social disintegration.

Some Malays had been in the habit of poisoning friends and strangers during the colonial era, like there was little other means to secure their self-esteem that has been dying under the colonial yoke. It was called santau and which began reappearing about a decade ago.

Then, year after year when the success had changed the skyline of
Kuala Lumpur and Umno delegates would be housed in the four and five-star hotels to attend the party general-assembly, these leading lights of the Malays would vandalize the rooms leaving behind carnage. It was obviously to inform how they feel about the opulence.

From 2004 Umno delegates in the party supreme council elections openly sold their votes.

The corruption in the party had gotten to its core.

The mischief had been afoot once again. These are behaviors of social disintegration we are talking about.

The Malays became divided and in a forum on 23 August 2011, the well-known Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani, straightforwardly said there were three reasons the Malays were divided, (i) Prime Minister Najib’s government is weak, (ii) the government is without integrity and (iii) the government is corrupt.

Financial Turmoil

In the face of the financial and economic turmoil that is expected to reach deeper than ever in 2012, nothing is there to guarantee Malaysia a safe passage through the turbulence.

The wakes of the American currency and financial crises and the European sovereign funds crises have started to impact. The morrow is in a very dark cloud.

A divided house as dreadful as this cannot, by any fluke, hold the house of cards before a gale. But what’s coming is a super typhoon.

Prime Minister Najib’s mega projects are now surrounded by high food prices, a property bubble that cannot last a year before it bursts and it litters the streets with instant bankrupts and the critical loss of confidence in the custodians of the law and of order.

In a Malaysian society that is divided into two sets of laws and judiciaries – the secular and the Islamic - it will, as a necessity of history, cause widespread confusion and needlessly enlarging the middle ground with the bewildered.

Alienation is not a new tune to hum. It was sang aloud in the social dances of numbers written down as The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fannon in about the middle of the 20th century and by Victor Hugo, as Les Miserable, a century earlier.

These books were necessary readings in the book-lists that issued from the desk of Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak Bin Hussain, who was architect of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in the early 1970s.

The NEP aimed to eradicate poverty and to restructure society to make it possible for the diversity in Malaysia to finally blend into a single identity, a single people, sharing a common heritage and aiming for a common destiny.

But if in Hugo’s Les Miserable the financial crisis Louis XVI caused had turned French society into a simple parasitical state in which the Church, the Nobility and the Workmen made the rest of the people pay for their sustenance and expenses, the same parasitic syndrome of a house divided by an artificially constructed social stratification recurs right here in Malaysia in the 21st century.

The difference is in the fact that in the present phenomenon some make it outright brigandage and these blatantly loot.

It is not about the predatory of colonial regimes. It is a looting by the dint of a capricious alchemy of power and quick riches obtainable by the application of corruption, conceit and wanton abuses by the natives upon their own kinds.

More and more people do not and cannot see eye to eye with the Muslim authorities. In numbers we are easily more than 70 percent of the population. This will surely lead to a final breakdown of Malay and Malaysian societies.

In the constitutional, institutional, cultural, structural and religious conflicts values have and continue to grow upside down, beginning at the top and rotting at the core.

Politicians took over water catchments in the hills to build palatial holiday villas. Others of lesser quantities showed their privileges by having the authorities convert parts of playing fields or recreational reserves into plots for residential bungalows.

In banks the small persons will have to wait six months for a loan of RM 2,000 to be processed and approved knowing a single loan of RM400 million had been approved in a day and by a phone call from the politically weighty.

Unpaid, the RM400 million is mysteriously written off, the latest such maneuver amounting to RM 13 billion, a tidy sum, of course.

In the society it’s not what you know but who you know that counts. Meritocracy becomes blankly a wasting humor. The people feel themselves betrayed.

In that setting sun 85 percent of projects meant for the poorer among the Malays and the Bumiputeras (natives) leaked into the hands of non-Malay tycoons and entrepreneurs. Most Malay contractors and licencies simply sold off contracts and licences given to them.

In the meantime predominantly Malay bureaucracy had long been purchased and the policies of Tun Razak bent beyond breaking point, bastardized, as it were, into a mad mongrel.

Money did not flow downwards. Most of it kept going up, up and away, like the takeoff of Captain Marvel and then some of it may come back to go sideways.

In the industrial and cosmopolitan transition some young workers working away from home and living 20 to a small house became pregnant and threw newly born babies alive into rubbish bins or left them to die under bushes.

The Muslim community bore no compassion for the unmarried mothers. It was adultery conclusively proven by the delivery of the little lives and the mothers must be punished.

The fathers got away, adultery being a crime that must be seen by four immaculate male witnesses or no crime had taken place in Islamic law.

Monseigneur, thiz iz impozzibly wicked!

Senor, vive le difference! It is the way of Almighty God.

It iz clever of you not to menzion the name of Allah, Monseigneur.

I know my world Senor. Here in Malaysia I, as a servant of the Church, a servant of the people and of God, am forbidden by law to use the Name “Allah” and a host of other Islamic terms including “Qur’an”, “Jannat”, Hadith etc. etc..

Monseigneur, you are lucky. Elzewhere in the world you can get yourzelf a death penalty for menzioning the same words. They will charge and sentence you to death for blasphemy!

Senor, you have endangered yourself for to tell me that, and I am a Christian, you may be hanged for the same offence you warn me of.

It is Catch 22 and yet, in the frothing of the lark a Malay doctor having marital problems sent his children for safe-keeping to the Christians several days ago. He will not trust the Muslim half-way houses, if there are any, that is.

He can be put in jail for three years or fined RM5000 or be punished by both for doing what he did.


A Christian woman had been sentence to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. The Governor of Punjab, a Muslim who stood up for her, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.

A Christian member of President Asif’s cabinet (Christians form the largest minority in Pakistan. They are 1.6% of the population or 2.8 million souls in 2008) had also been killed.

It has been a stretch of worldwide high and deadly emotions.

An attack on the Coptic Church in Alexandria killed 21 on the eve of the New Year (2011).

Four months before a church in Baghdad was the target. It is happening where Jews, Christians and Muslims share the same shrines of the Abrahamic religions and could be seen praying side-by-side and together even.

In Syria the writer had found himself praying side-by-side with a Nestorian (Suriani) woman at the sepulcher of Prophet Zakaria in Allepo (Halab). It’s the same Zakaria who was guardian and master of the occultation of Mary, Mother of Isa (Jesus).

At the mosque of Yunus (Jonah) in Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq) there would be Jews, Christians and Muslims praying under the same roof.

The Marionettes

But now the marionettes are dancing to a different tune in the game of numbers (see Deuteronomy). The reaches of the game had lanced Indonesia in Maluku, in Jakarta and in Poso (Sulawesi).

In Mindanao the fighting had started more than 300 years before, during the colonization by the Spaniards. It continued sporadically from that time and will not end given the scanty peace efforts and the new religious zeal.

The present stretch of religious violence worldwide had been triggered from the event of September 11 in New York.

Then, as it seemed possible that the torments and the lamentations of September 11 will soon disappear, the world was bloodied beyond the recognition of the mind by a Norwegian.

He said he belonged to the Knights Templars.

Salahuddin the Great routed them a little distance from Nazareth during the Crusades. One escaped.

Religions should have been, at least from the beginning of the 21st century, better equipped with the open-mind. But that has been rendered futile apparently. Only do not give up! We still have President Obama in the US as a moderator.

Les Morte

A nation and society cannot survive serious cleavages occurring in the fields of politics, economics, culture, demography and religion all at once.

If it is agreed Malaysia has gotten there, while the powerful would wish to suspend Parliament and use the Emergency Ordinances to rule by decree, the route out of it is to resume the revolutionary cry for Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, ou le morte (or death)!

Change will have to be prescribed urgently. The ruling Barisan Nasional will possibly lose all states in the peninsular other than Pahang, Johor and Melaka.

The rest depends on the peoples of Sabah (32 ethnic groups) and Sarawak (30 ethnicities), who have become more important than ever before.

Prepare to incubate the new Malaysia with every tribe and every occupational group represented as a beginning of proportional representation, a means to secure freedom and fairplay. This is a democracy with a Bill of Rights. Adios Amigo! --- a. ghani ismail, 23 August, 2011


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting a Mocking Bird to Raid a Church

Silence in Islamic capture is required behavior. It is the insistence of subjugation,a clean surrender to the power vested by religious belief inside a primitive appetite of the mighty religious jurists in a state that is conceived as legally co-extensive with the whole of human life.

Islamic law rules even what you eat, the manner you eat, how you transact and where you turn in prayer.

When officers of the Selangor religious department raided the Methodist Church in Damansara Utama in the night of Wednesday August 3 where a charity thanksgiving dinner was being held, the primitivism was recalled making the raid an act to protect the religion and to stop Christians from proselytizing the Muslims.

Twelve was the number of Muslims attending the dinner. Probably all were members or associates of the NGO, Harapan Komuniti, which, we are told, had organized the dinner to collect funds to help AIDS victims.

The Harapan Kommuniti is a partner of the Malaysian AIDS Council.

In the distresses that followed the nocturnal action of the religious authority the people were once again dismayed while Muslims, even leaders of the Islamic party, Pas, were divided once more, a patent reaction that has repeated itself over and over again like in a pavlovian experiment.

Islam is holistic according to this line of thought and the Islamic State, said the great Pakistani scholar and founder of the Jemaat-i- Islami, Mawlana Maududi, is coextensive with all of life.

Hence, the rulers of Islam must, as of a necessity, become authoritarian and therefore, making it difficult for the people to draw the line between good and bad laws.

Had Maududi lived he would have to explain the social breakdown in his country which is torn to shreds by sectarian conflicts between Muslims.

The Muslims, in the evolution of the Islamic State for which Pakistan was born, are crapped by the diversification of the monotheistic religion as it evolved into becoming a mass of conflicting sects to make cohesion, coherence and comprehensibility nearly an empirical impossibility.

The Islamic State is ‘the very antithesis of secular western democracy’, someone remarked.

The State is assigned to administer the Divine Law and therefore no Non-Muslim can be parked into policy-making, nor can Non-Muslims proselytize, and as Dhimmis they must pay the capitation tax (Jizya) and be confined to a class of non-citizen residents who have no vote.


It could have been worth something as a decolonization strategy like in the ideological conceptions of Jean Paul Sartre and Franz Fannon when Western colonization was receding after World War II.

But the great minds of the Existentialists had obviously failed to address the emotions involved in religion the fact Fannon was a psychiatrist notwithstanding.

The Islamic resurgence that had begun in the 60s went several ways but as we have witnessed, the most successful had come from the city of Qom, the seat of fundamental Shi’ah Islam which provided us with the foundational approaches of Imam Khomenie upon whose understanding of Islam Iran now stands.

In the early days of the religion there was Ali, the Prophet’s cousin, son-in-law and the last republican caliph.

His attempt to steer Islam into a universal humanistic religion and to regard all his subjects as ‘brothers in faith and brothers in kind’ was overtaken by the Umayyad dynasty which imposed discrimination including over non-Arab Muslim subjects (here).

The ideal religion had been overrun by the Arabs themselves.

Islamic history took a turn that led into a bewildering mix of glorious conquests, of stupendous civilizations which flowed along tracks of copious literary and scientific achievements, but with legal and judicial confusions.

Now Muslims react to American, European and Zionist hegemony with suicidal terror to stand a chance in the asymmetrical wars. The Americans hardly accept Obama's reforms, which are good, like the healthcare insurance. Obama promised an independent Palestinian state and that too would be disagreeable to them.

Panic seemed to have been struck in the government of Malaysia to cause it to pass a series of constitutional amendments pertaining to Islam in both, the federal and state constitutions. This began in 1988.

These laws gave wide and sinister powers to the Muslim authorities.

They denied the rights of citizens to apply to the civil courts in prayers for civil and constitutional justice.

The bunch of enactments passed in 1988, I had been told, were suggested by the “dangerous” passages former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, had installed in his political networks which involved several NGOs in Indonesia, America and Europe.

It included the think-tank of the German Christian Democratic Union - the Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS).

Anwar’s think-tank, Institut Kajian Dasar (Institute for Policy Research) was funded by KAS, which was the same body to later fund the Malaysian Inter-Faith Network (MIN) which became quickly viewed as anti-Islam.

The bases for the blanket security options had been sown from before the 1987 leadership crisis Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir, had had to face.

In 1988 the tussle in Umno had brought the backbone of the ruling coalition to fall dead on the bench of Justice Harun Hashim.

Mahathir won in 1987 by the wisp of his whiskers he failed to shave. He won by 43 votes. The challenger was Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Following the fateful contest 10 of Razaleigh’s sympathizers filed complaints in court to declare the contest null and void.

The reason was about some illegal party branches.

That caused the judge to conclude some of the delegates who voted were illegal while at the same time some of the party divisions had also been illegal.

In his mind it had to roll into an avalanche that swept and buried the party as a whole – a kind of roller-coaster legal effect that should be written in the annals of Law in orange, to make it neither this nor that.

Anwar had risen from Umno Youth chief to Umno Vice-President in the 1987 party elections.

Meantime he had become close to B.J. Habibie of Indonesia and thence to Paul Wolfowitz, the American Neo-Cons leader who became one of the architects of the Iraq War.

In 1985 Wolfowitz was US ambassador to Indonesia.

Thus developed Anwar’s power-romances, which became known in Umno as “Super-Politics”, suggesting the network Anwar knitted through the Institut Kajian Dasar (IKD), his Muslim Youth Movement (ABIM), the Asia-Pacific chapter of the World Assembly of Muslim Youths (WAMY), the ABIM frontline in the Pas and ICMI, Habibie’s Muslim intellectuals outfit in Indonesia, had grown into an intercontinental giant.

Putting into focus the Christian think-tank, KAS, and adding to it the spread of Paul Wolfowitz’s connections to the already big-bodied Anwar, it would be rather easy to imagine the nervousness seizing the mighty Mahathir, the ruler of all he sat on.

Mahathir, with his sidekick from Kedah, Abdul Hamid Othman, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department presiding over JAKIM (the Islamic affairs wing of the department)swung into action with the bunch of “Islamic laws” of 1988.

These took most people by surprise and in the surprise many observers cautioned against using legislations to curtail one or another political rival.

Like the Emergency Ordinances (EO) which were passed to contain the Communist Insurrection of 1948, these laws fail to fall into disuse after the challenge had passed.

The EO was applied twice in the past months. The Islamic laws were used several more times than twice in the same measure of time.

It had even threatened the former Mufti of Perlis, Dr. Asri and his successor, Dr. Juanda. Dr. Asri was reported as a "terrorist" to the National Security Council while Dr. Juanda was called a "Wahabi". It was senseless, making Islam a mockery.

Dr. Asri had vied for the top post in Jakim. It's about a contest for resources.

There is disquiet as a result. People regard these actions as signaling a strong possibility that it is exactly what the government wants to do – i.e. apply emergency rule and the “Islamic laws” to sustain the Barisan Nasional (BN) in power against popular distastes.


Anwar is back in the dock.

He is on a repeat performance of a sodomy charge and also a repeat performance in bed, i.e. of someone that looks like him and a Chinese doll, said to have been shown in 1999, which can make it a classic.

Will there be changes made to the relevant Islamic enactments if he were to be found guilty and removed (for the last time possibly) from posing a political challenge?

Anwar is only a political rival, not a Christian crusader in disguise or a Jew merchant from Venice.

He must have learned from his days in WAMY, which was based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that the 22 Arab countries have to consult the US and the Europeans before they can decisively act in any significant matter of statecraft or diplomacy.

Europe lies merely across the Mediterranean from these states. The distance makes for fondness. Si, si!

There lies a critical difference in the political understandings and the political outlooks between Anwar and the remaining power contestants in Umno.

Razaleigh did not approve of using the Islamic enactments to act as political constraints to contain the Anwarites and the Pas.

But Razaleigh was already out of Umno in 1988.

Nothing stood in the way of the design.

Members of the BN in the legislatures voted for the enactments, like loyal disciples. So now we have to live with them.

New legislations were added to the basic body from time to time.

The passage cleared, the way power moves when the citizens cannot effectively protect themselves from government has always been to add claws and fangs to the simian.

We must listen to Maulana Maududi again and again. He wrote to say in an Islamic State no behavior can be regarded as personal and private.

The Tanzimat (Reform)

The Ottoman, which was the largest Muslim empire and lasting until 1925, came to confront industrial Europe that stumped its westward expansion after Budapest.

Admitting it was no match to the order and the power of the new industrial civilizations, the Ottoman, from 1835 to 1873, had conceived westernization and attempted serially to change its laws and legal system, reform its judiciary and its political system, following the French and German models.

The ulama rejected it.

That movement, known as Tanzimat (Reform), caught the interest of the sultan of Johor, Tunku Ibrahim Iskandar, who considered it in 1927. It would have made Malaysia a secular federation.

But it fizzled out. And so the story refuses to end.

In its stead on Aug. 3, 2011, a thanksgiving dinner held by an NGO administering to AIDS victims was raided on the suspicion the Christians were proselytizing.

The dinner was held in a Methodist church and it involved 12 Muslims in the gathering of more than 100.

What will happen to the 12?

How do unintelligible laws become useful in honoring a modern industrial nation….? Salaam! ----a.ghani ismail, 10, Aug. 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Launch of Tengku Li's Amanah

Whether it's a bygone quest or it’s the last straw, the Amanah (Trust), an NGO forged over months of painstaking study for the best bulk of the popular protest in the killing of the mocking bird, is looking good.

It was five minutes late in the launching by the noble man, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, on July 22. It was a Friday, a day of prayers for Muslims and a day of hope for all Malaysian brothers and sisters.

The Angkatan Amanah Merdeka launching left us gaping with the question about what it will be when it’s time for the good wolves to huff and to puff to bring the whole corrupt house down.

It’s not anymore an existential question, like it had been with Hamlet asking his conscience ‘To be or not to be?’ as he walked down the endless steps of becoming.

The question having been answered by Tengku Li and his associates now begs for a clear remark about whether or not Ku Li, as he is better known, will one day take the Amanah out of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and surface it as a yellow submarine into the frontline of the Pakatan.

It is possible that the Amanah would be required to helm the Pakatan if Anwar Ibrahim ends up in jail again.

Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, is biting his finger nail in deciding when he will dissolve parliament. Some in the BN may be thinking of avoiding the general elections by calling an Emergency.

Umno and the BN is being battered everyday. They are almost sunk after destroying as many cherished institutions as can be counted without tears.

Said a former minister at the launching of Amanah, the government is misgoverning the economy into a mess of super-costly projects, high and still rising prices of food, of housing and of essential items.

It’s a cipher for certain regime change.

Following the daring showdown of right against might in the Bersih 2.0 through the streets of Kuala Lumpur on July 9, the BN can hardly be expected to let the cross-party new organization Ku Li is leading to exist.

It can be counted to pull out the required number of votes and force through a regime change.

That nearly happened in the 8 March 2008 general elections.

The Opposition had taken 51 percent of the total votes but fell short in the count for a majority in Parliament.

Of state governments the Pakatan took five but quickly lost Perak in a blur of sexual trysts and a case of poor leadership which together counted as a very high price to pay for moral misconduct and general inexperience.

The Amanah at the top is sexually safe and secure as a sum of leaders who have mostly been clobbered into good shape and others as social idealists of note like Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, 70, who had risen from a wasting village and taken by the Lord into Oxford University and became State Secretary of Sabah. Then he became the No. 2of SUHAKAM, the Human Rights Commission.

There’s Daniel Tajem, in-out-in of SNAP in Sarawak, who’s still living in a village among the people he represents politically and as a lawyer.

Former MCA president, the inspiring Ong Tee Keat, obviously towers as a man of conscience. He too is a beacon, like Razaleigh.

Given the ready pool of the morally injured among the people, it’s hard to miss a win with the group of leaders of the Amanah – a line-up of moral and ethical beacons that can, with freedom of speech, expression and assembly, light a path to the freedom from corruption, from collusion and from cronyism.

Other than former Minister, Tan Sri Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, 72 (one of his brothers had risen to the helm of the Umno Youth), there are Dato Subramaniam, formerly MIC deputy president and Ragunath Kesavan, former Bar Council president, with Bujang Ulis, Dr. Patau Rubis, Wilfred Bumburing and even a guy who has climbed Mt. Kinabalu more than 50 times, making the group into Pegasus, the constellation the ancients identified as the messenger or postmaster of the gods.

Therefore the powers will want Amanah blacked out.

Tengku Li said in his speech, “This morning can just be another interesting social event in the Malaysian landscape or it could be the start of something unprecedented that it could alter the course of our country’s future and direction.”

The room to move is calculated. It is limited.

The Tengku is aware some in Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR had blamed him for the failure of the September 16 lunge for power Anwar made.

As a result Anwar slumped, only to mount again in the re-run of a sodony charge, this time with the famous and invincible rectum of Saiful Bukhari, one of his aides.

In the Pas some are dismayed by the series of losses in recent by-elections. Nik Aziz Nik Mat is aging. Some who are equally disturbed by the rise of Mat Sabu as deputy president want Anwar as president with Hadi Awang replacing Nik Aziz as the Murshid ul-Am (General Guide).

Mat Sabu is not a religious scholar. Mat Sabu, as a carpet-bagger without any political base, is an obvious risk.

It’s about a simple thought for the culture of power, meaning Tengku Razaleigh could prove to become a torn in the Pas’ stronghold of Kelantan, which is also the Tengku’s home-ground. But Tengku Li is aiming for the center, the federal power.

The start of Amanah is a bit tough and hence the launching of Amanah passed in the media, including in the cyber portals, as a monumental whimper of a consortium which included more than a hundred corporate leaders who had come dressed in suits, many armed with blackberries, cameras and tablets to ensure a memory in digital-space of a reasoning for peace, for sanity, for a correction of systematic errors and for a return to development for the people.

This is the difference in Tengku Razaleigh’s touch. He brought leaders in the corporate sector to ground zero and to walk alongside the NGOs, intellectuals, workers, farmers, fishermen and the people at large, a final refinement of the Opposition that can make the Pakatan become the arm that will nail the coffin.

Elite Rule

There is a certain rule in Malaysia of the super-elite. It had arisen in the evolution of the New Economic Policy into a systematic dictatorship and which bastardized the whole of the policy while the civil service had become more and more the Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) cadre outfit.

Former Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had said about 85 percent of projects meant for Bumiputras had been leaked and given to Non-Bumiputras, suggesting a system overwhelmed by graft and mutual gratifications.

After some high government officers had stunned the people by openly campaigning for the BN in recent by-elections, a broader-based participation became immensely necessary for the people to protect themselves from the power-elite.

‘The rich must help the poor and the successful must help the unfortunate,’ Tengku Razalegh recalled. It was what Tunku Abdul Rahman had said in his vision of a united and happy nation.

It’s not about nostalgia. It’s basic in the formula for peoples who must rise to protect themselves from the dementia affecting governments when power is assumed for the competitive accumulation of money and of wealth in the human search for grand opulence in the Order of Mammon.

Met Him? Know Him? Your fate and destiny are your simple choices. ----a. ghani ismail, 23 July, 2011

The Amanah website is at

Friday, July 8, 2011

Into the Dark After Power Becomes a Lark

Just when the general elections was said to be “around the corner”, in a sudden exclamation of terror 31 members of the revived Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) were intercepted and remanded on the mainland in Penang. The spaces of shock it caused were soon replaced with bewilderment.

Most of the 31 were poor Indians from the estates. There was a boy of 14 and a woman of 64. The party was taking a ride on the BERSIH 2.0 campaign for free and fair elections.

The only crime the group could have committed was about having with them T-shirts printed with images of outlawed former Communist leaders of Malaya – Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, Abdullah C.D. and his wife, Suriani.

Power became a lark when these were alleged on June 26 to have been a band out to collect men and weapons to wage war against His Majesty, the King.

Seven days later police released six leaders of the band and immediately rearrested them under the Emergency Ordinance (EO). Police power became widely seen as a toy.

It was pre-elections noise, a ritual in Malaysia, this time grossly an over abuse of authority.

It was all about BERSIH 2.0, a loose coalition of 62 NGO’s that planned a rally for free and fair elections on July 9, which is today.

A Fairy Tale

Like in a fairy tale of ancient British tyrannical regimes, the Minister of Home Affairs, Hishamuddin Hussain, outlawed yellow attire and the people laughed, no longer worried the country was under serious threat.

With senior Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister himself acting out a poorly scripted game of deceit, the King decided to intervene on July 4 with an unprecedented royal edict.

For the people that settled the staged storm and BERSIH 2.0 leader, S. Ambiga, said she would call off the rally if that’s what the King wanted and the storm clouds parted to let through a wonderful ray of hope.

But His Majesty merely cautioned against BERSIH walking in the streets. The rally could be held in a stadium.

The King is the Sovereign and Sovereigns are the spirits of nations, so there was joy beaming in the faces of the people.

Yet the Minister of Home Affairs reminded the next day he had declared BERSIH outlaw on July 1, meaning the King, the symbol of the nation’s sovereignty, had acted in error – a disruption of the realm’s protocol and of a Royal edict, which was a certain disregard of the national virtues invested in the person of the King, His Royal Highness The Yang Di Pertuan Agong.

People were in gloom, like the affront was an omen of bad days to come. But what called for the vainglory?

It was mainly the prices in the bread and butter spread and of property, the latter a bubble that is knocking out a chunk of the middle class from the BN’s captive voters the ruling coalition cannot endure.

Then it is about sustainable corruption or of unimaginable high costs that continue to grow in the BN, the latest flair being that of the Minister of Tourism, Ng Yen Yen, who approved RM1.8 million for six Facebook pages of promotional writings.

Given the bulk of the overburden the Prime Minister has had to carry and his reluctance to remove the driftwoods from his Cabinet, it became popular to believe the ruling coalition, the BN, is going under in the 13th general elections scheduled for August or September.

But for panic there was no need. It’s a snap election the Prime Minister can choose to delay for a year or so.

And there are serious snags in the Opposition the people can clearly see.

After the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has all but lost its registration through dirty play in the party elections and the mad internal struggles continue unabated, people have been suggesting Najib invite either the Pas or the DAP to join the BN and be done with the tensions and the uncertainties.

PM Najib teased the Islamic party, Pas, but he had made no offer.

As a result the Pas president, Haji Hadi Awang, flung the idea into a cesspool in his policy speech at the recent party general assembly and remarked afterwards the country under the BN is headed for bankruptcy and with a debt luggage that’s already 54 percent of the GDP she will be mistaken for Greece in a matter of months.

The BN is in big trouble for failing to manage the prices of food, fuel and every other essential item.

The prices of fish and meat have reached the unthinkable. Beef is now about RM22 per kilo, from RM10 about a year ago.

Cheese slices costing RM2.50 two years before is now more than RM9.

That’s the immediate challenge Najib should have sorted out but is failing. It is eroding the value of the Ringgit and eating into the people’s earnings and savings at one and the same time.

This is the “terror” in Malaysia.

Since more than 70 percent of workers in the country earn RM1500 or less per month, unless immediately checked and by using an emergency ordinance (EO) for it, the result of an extended hike of food prices as it is now will cause a massive pressure driving more and more people against the BN by the day.

The EO should have been recalled for this problem and not for the detention of the MP for Sungai Siput, Dr. Michael Jayakumar, and five other members of the almost defunct PSM that’s merely trying to remain extant, in the dark and the damp of rubber and oil palm estates.

Now it is the BN that’s a lark which is seen as frantic for having missed the cuckoo’s nest in the strange mix of cross-ardor rising from a poorly managed rapture of Saiful’s underside in Anwar Ibrahim’s second sodomy trial.

This had been followed against all counsel to the contrary by a video showing a man of remarkable likeness to Anwar enjoying a sumptuous Chinese cuisine, the man with a pot-belly belying the tale of betrayal between old friends.

The attempts to kill the Opposition Leader’s character frothed and failed again, a case of blameless sustained ineptitude since the money flowed, nevertheless.

It is likely it is the serial failures that’s forcing the BN to the corner and to continue with the comic strips and abuse of power, making it lose the favor of more and more people at each turning and tossing of the misconducts and misgovernment.

BERSIH 2.0 should be in rally today. The BN is rapidly losing the people’s faith each passing day of this sad episode in the noisy heats before the 13th general elections will be finally called.

Think of sunshine. To find joy, think of sunshine on the other end of the elections when we will have a Bill of Rights in Malaysia. When there’s the will the way will come. But who will promise us the Bill of Rights? Will you? ---a. ghani ismail, 9 July, 2011