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The Malay psyche and Chinese philosophy

Posted: 22 Nov 2013 09:52 AM PST

Prices of goods and the assessment rate going up is a sign of bad economic management. This sort of Chinese thinking is based on ancient Chinese civilization. 

Selena Tay, FMT 

A survey done by this columnist and a PAS friend pertaining to the recent notice issued by KL City Hall (DBKL) pertaining to the impending assessment hike has revealed that Malaysian society is now divided over this issue.

Surveys after GE13 have shown that the Malays are going back to Barisan Nasional and that is why the Malays in KL who will be affected by the hike are not protesting against it. This is because the Malays are supporting every initiative by the BN government.

Why is this so?

It is due to none other than the mainstream dailies who have portrayed the Chinese as overwhelmingly voting against what the former labels as the 'Malay government'. One of these dailies also urged the Malays to rally behind their Malay government and this is what is happening now.

To put it simply, this particular daily stressed that the Chinese are opposing a Malay government. Sad to say, the Malays have obeyed what this daily has urged them to do. Therefore, even if the government were to hike up the prices of goods, the Malays will be keeping quiet.

Thus the rift in society deepens as the Malays are fully backing the government now while the non-Malays will be protesting against the price hikes.

This also explains why PAS has been struggling to obtain the Malay vote – it is because PAS has been portrayed as kowtowing to DAP and giving too much leeway to the Chinese. In GE13, the Malay vote for PAS has dropped from 45% to 40%.

Still, the Chinese are adamant that the assessment hike is too excessive. It is illogical as it is between 100% to 300%. The bottom line is that the Chinese view the government as having mismanaged the nation's economy and the price and rates hikes are due to this said mismanagement.

Prices of goods and the assessment rate going up is a sign of bad economic management. This sort of Chinese thinking is based on ancient Chinese civilization.

In ancient China during the era of the dynasties, each time taxes are raised, it was due to the emperor's extravagance. And each time the emperor was extravagant, the court officials, the provincial governors and judges also became corrupt.

When this happens, there never fails to be an uprising by the common citizenry.

Clash of philosophy

Therefore the Chinese opposing bad governance is something that is imbued deep in the heart of Chinese philosophy. Of course now in modern times, the only way to change a government is via the ballot box. And that is the reason why the Chinese use the power of the vote to reject BN.

However, the Malays due to baseless and unfounded fears of a Chinese becoming prime minister, swung their vote in BN's favour at the eleventh hour.

In this issue of the assessment hike, the Chinese deem that the excessive increase is wrong but for the Malays, everything that the government does is right because the government is Malay.

This means that all the government's initiatives, whether good or bad will get the total and undivided support of the Malays.

Of course this is only a generalisation but the fair-minded Malays are few and are an exception to the norm.

This columnist's friend who conducted the survey among Malays found them agreeing to the assessment hike as they say that the hike is good for the nation.

The Malays are unhappy that the Chinese are opposing it, saying that the Chinese always oppose anything that the government does.

This assessment hike is really an eye-opener on the clash of philosophy between the Chinese and the Malays and the whole exercise shows how divided Malaysian society has become.

The pre-Merdeka Malays were a gentle and friendly people but this all changed after the late sixties.

Still, the situation is not all that bad. The PAS Malays will protest the massive assessment hike and in them there is still hope that the Malays will be able to see the difference between right and wrong without using racist lens.



Ulama group flexing its muscles

Posted: 22 Nov 2013 09:37 AM PST 

The ulama group in PAS is setting the tone for the party election this year in their bid to put more ulama figures in the top leadership line-up.

Joceline Tan, The Star 

THE grand old man of PAS Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has been very quiet. He seems to be staying out of the fray in what is arguably the hottest election in the history of the party.

Some said he is unwell but even illness would not have stopped this indomitable politician if he wanted to push for something. At the opening of the party muktamar yesterday, his face looked pinched and he could hardly crack a smile as he leaned hard on his walking stick during the launch of a book written by president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang.

It is all for the better that he keeps mum because his standing in PAS is so special that almost everything he says is analysed and interpreted in a hundred ways.

Nik Aziz is an old hand at the game of politics and he can sense that emotions are running high over the polls. He knows there is some kind of revolt within the ulama brotherhood over the way the party's Islamic agenda has been sidelined in the name of politics.

The ulama in the party are setting the tone for this year's muktamar.

For a start, there was not a single contest in the Dewan Ulama as the ulama wing is known. All the posts were settled by consensus. It was their way of saying that this is the way we do things. More importantly, they are sending the signal that they are a united entity and that they will be speaking in one voice.

They unanimously agreed during their wing's annual meeting that there should be a review of the party's position in Pakatan Rakyat. It does not mean that they want to take PAS out of the coalition but they want clear guidelines and assurances that the Islamic agenda will not be compromised by the partnership.

They also passed a resolution that the party's two top posts must be held by an ulama while at least one of the three vice-presidents must be an ulama.

The pro-ulama group in the Youth wing also tried to push through a similar resolution at the Dewan Pemuda meeting but it resulted in a fiery debate with some insisting that it was not right to make the top posts exclusive to the ulama.

When the resolution was put to the vote, those who stood up to support it outnumbered those opposing it. But there were also vocal objection from the floor and, in the end, the resolution was thrown out on the grounds that it would require amending the party constitution.

That particular resolution alone was as good as using a loudhailer to announce that they want incumbent deputy president Mohamad Sabu out.

It confirmed just how paranoid the ulama circle feels about Mat Sabu, as he is known. They are terrified that he will be their president should anything happen to Hadi.

The ulama brotherhood has never been this restless. Given the way events have unfolded in the last few weeks, it is evident that the ulama group has put a lot of planning into its cause.

The outburst by the Penang PAS several days ago seems to be part of the plot. A group of PAS leaders from Penang headed by their deputy state commissioner Muhammad Fauzi Yusoff claimed the party was sidelined by the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government and threatened to pull out of the coalition.

It was very embarrassing for the party but the Penang group had felt frustrated for some time and one of the Youth wing delegates, in explaining the public airing of their grouses, had said: "Please don't get the idea that we are mad for power. We just want to take power from those who are mad."

The timing of the Penang incident was to tell the party leadership that their Pakatan marriage in Penang is on the rocks.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was visibly absent at the opening ceremony of the muktamar. He sent his president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim while DAP sent its central committee member Tan Kok Wai.

The top PKR and DAP leaders know that they have become an issue in the PAS election and it was best to keep their distance until the storm blows over.

During a packed press conference by Hadi, Mat Sabu and secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali yesterday, almost all the questions were about the aggressive moves from the ulama group.

Hadi took it in his stride. The nice thing about him is that he does not take things personally and is able to smile his way through awkward situations. He has also become quite astute at steering his way around tricky questions.

Mat Sabu looked tense, clutching his handphone and not saying a word. His future is on the line and he knows that a great deal of the offensive coming from the ulama camp has to do with him sitting up there as their deputy president.

He broke the glass ceiling when he won the post and the conservative ulama have been unable to accept him. He is a threat to their policy of "leadership by the ulama".

The ulama brotherhood in PAS is moving in one voice this year. There has been an awakening among them because they feel that they have given away too much in the last few years.

Voting for the central committee posts had to be postponed but voting for the posts of the deputy and vice-presidents went ahead. The results will be known before noon today.

A lot is resting on the deputy president contest between Mat Sabu and his challenger Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah.

If Mohd Amar makes it, it means that the ulama clout is still intact and the party wants to return to its original Islamic ideals.

But if Mat Sabu wins again, it means that the party is opting for pragmatic politics over its Islamic agenda and the ulama influence is on the wane.

Everything is about to come down to this moment.


PAS at the crossroads

Posted: 22 Nov 2013 09:31 AM PST 

The answer will be unveiled tonight. If Mat Sabu and the other Erdogan leaders manage to keep their edge, the party's all-people roadmap and its cordial relationship with PKR and DAP could be further consolidated. 

Tay Tian Yan, Sin Chew Daily 

Mat Sabu has been pretty quiet recently.

The deputy president of PAS used to be highly exposed PAS leader in local media, and is known for his outstanding and vastly popular speeches or rather stage shows.

He is also a very popular figure among Pakatan component parties, one of the PAS leaders easiest to work with.

His power to mobilize people has been well acclaimed. He was the key person behind several mammoth public campaigns.

Unfortunately he lost the Pendang parliamentary seat in Kedah during the recent general elections, a seat PAS never thought it would lose at all.

Some in the party until today still cannot accept the fact that the seat was lost, the seat was held by the much revered late president Fadzil Noor. Even when PAS was at its lows, Pendang voters still went with the party.

The defeat was not only that of Mat Sabu alone but the so-called Erdogan faction of professionals in the party as well.

The party elections two years ago catapulted Mat Sabu to the pinnacle of his political career. He defeated two other opponents with cleric backgrounds in a three-cornered fight to become the party's first ever non-cleric deputy president while the Erdogan faction clinched the three VP posts.

Mat Sabu, Husam Musa, Mahfuz Omar, Salahuddin Ayub and other central committee members have vowed to transform PAS into a party for all Malaysians while pushing for closer cooperation with other Pakatan allies.

If PAS were to gain a broader support in the GE, in particular support from the Muslims, the status of the Erdogans would be further consolidated. So would the party's more open roadmap.

But the outcome was that Mat Sabu and many of the Erdogans were defeated in the elections, and the party's overall performance was lackluster.

The party's muktamar and party elections beginning today would serve as concluding benchmark. It would be an opportunity for the conservatives and clerics to reclaim their stakes, and time for them to hold the Erdogans accountable for the electoral flop.

It is impossible for the clerics to repeat their past mistakes. In the 2011 party elections, two clerics, Nasharuddin Mat Isa and Tuan Ibrahim both ran for the party's deputy presidency in a contest that eventually gave the post to Mat Sabu.

The cleric camp is under the commandership of Kelantan deputy MB Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah this time. Mat Sabu is facing a severe test and if he loses the contest, he will be out for good. Fortunately Amar is not a strongman nor a national-level leader. His chances will be very bad if his opponent is Tuan Ibrahim, who enjoys very good acceptance and status and is deemed the next to claim the party presidency.

The clerics have also modified their electoral strategy. They have done a lot of preparations this time round, and taken aggressive onslaught initiatives.

They launched an online campaign several months ago, hitting out at the Erdogans' roadmap, including the control by DAP and Anwar Ibrahim, compromising on religious matters especially on the use of the word "Allah."

Mat Sabu has found himself under assault. Online rumors have it that he is a Shiite, a heresy among the country's strict Sunni system. This could deal a lethal blow on Mat Sabu.

The answer will be unveiled tonight. If Mat Sabu and the other Erdogan leaders manage to keep their edge, the party's all-people roadmap and its cordial relationship with PKR and DAP could be further consolidated.

But if the clerics have the day, PAS will then revert to its old way, which could bring it closer to Umno, or splinter into a third force outside Pakatan and BN.



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