Posted: 28 Jul 2013 04:30 PM PDT
The strict controls on Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia, has nothing to do with faith; but has everything to do with control.
Mariam Mokhtar, FMT
The recent controversy about students eating in a make-shift canteen in a shower room, adjacent to the toilets at the SK Seri Pristina in Sungai Buloh is not a new scandal.
You may remember that three years ago, in Kedah, another school principal accused several Chinese pupils of showing disrespect to Muslims by eating in the school canteen during the fasting month. The Umno-Baru government was damaged by that outrage. The Speaker Pandikar Amin rejected a motion to debate in parliament, the racial slurs allegedly made by the two school heads.
In modern day Malaysia, Muslims are perceived to be an insensitive and intolerable lot, who are easily confused and who will force others, from other faiths to bend to their will.
Umno-Baru claims that using the word "Allah" will confuse Muslims, that promoting "halal bak kut teh" will also confuse the Muslims.
The recent fatwa against Muslims and claims that competing in beauty contests is sinful, as too much flesh will be on show.
Are Muslims so weak willed and easily led astray? What does that say about the faith and Muslims in general?
If the truth be known, the strict controls on Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia, has nothing to do with faith; but has everything to do with control. Umno-Baru will use religion and a few well chosen muftis to impose its will and its Umno-Baru style of Islam.
It knows that Muslims would not dare contradict the word of these muftis. No one wants to be seen to go against the word of God. Does the Umno-Baru government suspect that large numbers of Muslims wish to reject the religion?
Few Muslims would dare question these muftis, despite their incorrect interpretations, because the hassle they receive is not worth it. Anyone who speaks out is deemed seditious. They are arrested, charged and jailed. With this culture of fear, the rakyat is easily cowed into submission.
In the canteen scandal, the Acting Selangor police chief A Thaiveegan has apparently said that anyone spreading photos of children eating in the shower room would be charged with sedition. When this statement made him look foolish, he then claimed that he was misquoted.
This is how our authorities, the Education Ministry and all our government agencies operate. They work in fits and starts. They react. They backtrack. They cover-up their inadequacies.
Breeding places of racism
Although there are many Muslims who realise that Muslim bullies predominate among them, very few will dare to publicly condemn the actions of the thugs. The image of Islam in Malaysia is tarnished. Islam does not need any form of defence, but the country's image does.
When did the rot set in? Is this scandal a manifestation of the dreaded BTN made popular by former PM Mahathir Mohamad? He alone cannot be held responsible because we allowed him to do as he pleased, so he became emboldened. Some people challenged his authority, but this was not enough.
If our schools are breeding places of racism and religious bigotry, what hope is there for a multi-cultural, multi-faith Malaysia, which we once enjoyed?
If the headmaster of SK Seri Pristina has no respect for children of other faiths, what sort of example is he teaching the Malay and Muslim children? Why is he trying to lower the dignity of the non-Muslims and why is he ignoring the health and safety regulations?
The headmaster, Mohamad Nasir Mohd Noor may have apologised for his action, but a nasty precedent has been set. School children have enough academic challenges to face, but now non-Muslim school children find that religious freedom, a right which is accorded them in the Constitution, is being denied.
The other damaging aspect of this debacle is that Nasir is eroding the true meaning of fasting, one of the pillars of being a Muslim. By hiding the non-Muslim children in the shower-room as they eat their lunch, Nasir will not produce better Muslims.
Posted: 28 Jul 2013 03:24 PM PDT
MANY opposition supporters believe that we will have two-party system once BN is ousted, and if the PR lets us down, we can always vote in BN or its successor. Will it really be so?
by Wong Chin Huat, The EdgeMANY opposition supporters believe that we will have two-party system once BN is ousted, and if the PR lets us down, we can always vote in BN or its successor. Will it really be so?
Theoretically, a party system is largely determined by political institutions' incentives, the most important of which is electoral system. While voters decide how many and which parties would survive, their behaviour is often influenced by the political system, especially the electoral system.
In the framework proposed by American political scientist Gary Cox, when the chief executive (president or prime minister) dominates the political system, vis-à-vis his/her colleagues in cabinet or legislature, the contestants for power face two extreme outcomes: all or nothing – winner takes all, losers get nothing.
This "winner-takes-all" characteristic of political contestation then forces political groups to consolidate into two blocs, hence, the two-party system.
However, this "winner-takes-all" characteristic can be a double-edged sword. If the leading party is so strong that the opposition parties see no chance of winning, it will not pay for them to converge or merge into a single bloc. Why compromise your own ideological position when it does not get you extra power?
This was why the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) would not move towards the centre until Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's Semangat 46 Party (S46) and Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan brought the dream of regime change.
And once the dream shattered in the 1990 and 1999 elections, PAS quickly moved to pursue its Islamisation agenda and DAP lost no time in severing the ties with other opposition parties.
Posted: 28 Jul 2013 02:28 PM PDT
Many Malaysians have written to say to ignore the ramblings of an old political hack and I agree generally with this strategy.
By Koon Yew Yin, FMT
As most people are aware, the intention of Dr Mahathir Mohamad in writing the piece,'Chinese better off after Merdeka' for the New Straits Times is not to foster greater political consciousness amongst the Chinese; neither is it to improve inter-racial cooperation among Chinese and Malays.
It is also not meant to provide new ideas on how to transform the country and take it forward so that it can compete with nations such as Singapore which is one of the op-piece's main targets.
Mahathir's aim is really to spread alarm and suspicion among the Malays and to stampede them into panic on the political transformation which is taking place among Malaysian Chinese and among all Malaysians.
Part of the recent political transformation among Malaysians is a questioning of what have been the real achievements of the Mahathir era and what sort of legacy he has left the country. This is where Mahathir is evasive or silent, and for good reason.
Numerous studies have shown how despite our progress during the Mahathir years, the country's economy actually lost ground when compared with Singapore and other countries chiefly because he permitted – many critics say, tacitly encouraged – a culture of high level corruption and wastage on mega projects.
These, together with bad governance, have continued till today and have contributed little to national productivity.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of billions of ringgit was invested in his pet projects which have benefited the selected few and Umno.
Sure, some of the massive wealth derived from the hard earned incomes of citizens and the oil and gas bonanza went to the middle class and professionals. But the greater proportion was siphoned by the coterie of Chinese, Malay and other Malaysian businessmen, politicians and other associates of the BN.
This has led to a situation where Malaysia's income inequality and illicit financial outflows ranks among the highest in the world, a development which Mahathir refuses to write or talk about, despite the fact that he is happy to provide his two cents worth on practically every subject on Malaysia.
At the same time as Mahathir frittered away our national wealth and failed to lead the nation to compete with our neighbours in the region, he has presided over the lowering of educational standards, the abuse of executive power, and the racialization of the civil service.
Most damaging of all, he has been responsible for breaking up our racial unity and social cohesion carefully built up since independence by the earlier prime ministers through implanting and arousing new racial and political demons in our people.
One demon is that of the alleged Chinese control of the economy. As . Mahathir knows, it is the GLCs and Malays that control the commanding heights of the economy. There is no longer any Chinese control for the simple reason that much of Chinese capital and enterprise have been driven out of the country by the NEP.
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