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Archive for January, 2010

Long stretches of Klang Road have long been, and still are today, heavily settled by the working class Chinese, eight in an extended family to a house, many self-employed, girls at a trinket stand, husband-wife running a noodle stall in nearby Brickfields or somewhere in the city. It is a place where 10 Chinese votes equal one Malay vote in Kelantan. It is without Allah, without Umno, and without Anwar Ibrahim. It is DAP area, hands down, and as reward for this fact its population receives only the minimal municipal services. Try asking for a traffic light, so a local Chinese school, around 80 years old, relies on community donations and its alumni. In this way, it minds its own business. Although it’s the DAP that gets the money to rule for no work, the MCA, DAP’s Chinese rival party, does the administrative talking to City Hall.

On subsidiary roads that branch off from Klang Road are pockets of Malay village-kampungs, mostly along parts of the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor border, increasing in concentration towards Puchong. May thirteen never reached Klang Road in spite of this demographic; the Malays were left unmolested, and so too the Chinese by the Malay army. A good part of Klang Road, totalling about 10 miles ending in the beer brewery Guinness in Petaling (recall Hasan Ali of PAS going after breweries for being un-Islamic?), falls within Teresa Kok’s Seputeh, near which are the constituencies affecting Cheras, Puchong, Petaling Jaya, and farther on Kinrara and Teratai, almost all DAP areas, among who is Jenice Kok, whose parents, accused of being communists were jailed, the place she was born. Or so the story says.

Hence, once wild boar heads are thrown into the mosques along Klang Road, it can mean only this: a Catholic-Islam conflict in Malaysia is now expanded to mean a Chinese-Malay war, dragging into and with it the DAP. Almost immediately, a cloud has surfaced over the Chinese along Klang Road: had they done it on their Malay neighbours?

The DAP, Teresa Kok in particular, had been asked to stay out of the Catholic-Islam strife, an ancient one imported from Europe and the Middle East, brought forward to this day and, therefore, can be contained and managed. Besides, Catholic or Islam, it had nothing to do with the party; in Malaysia it’s a conflict made political, the invariable consequence of an Umno vs Anwar/PAS collision which is 12 years old. The general Chinese sentiment takes a hands off attitude: this is none of our business and, more than that, Anwar or Umno, Catholic or Islam, all are unworthy of taking sides. Hence by and large, DAP people heeded the advice, stayed clear of the way, but this was ignored by Lim Kit Siang, DAP boss, because of his personal association with Anwar and Teresa Kok because she is (supposedly) a good Christian.

Anwar uses the platforms of religious freedom and human rights that are framed within his party’s PKR slogan called New Politics. This message has a particular appeal to the Anglophile Chinese and the suburban Malay privileged noveau riche class schooled in Australia and Britain. Even Jenice, Chinese-educated, Australian alumnus, buys into it. But they don’t understand or they forget, more likely it’s the former, this is Malaysia where the Western political framework of liberty and human rights to dissent and to agitate are not applicable. Once the boar heads are tossed into the Klang Road mosques, the point in it is not about Chinese-Malay acrimony over freedom to worship, but from which direction those heads had come. It couldn’t, therefore, be an accident of history, and because Klang Road is heavily Chinese all eyes are on them. Teresa and Kit Siang have gotten into a fight that they could have stayed away, so two boar heads simultaneously in two mosques are intended to show precisely that there’s no accident here. Lau Bee Lan, the judge who ruled to reinstate Allah for Christian use, is Chinese. Nobody has yet to openly asked for her head.

Welcome, then, to the war; the stakes have just now been raised. What’s your bet: Kit Siang, Teresa? Here, in a brief two-step chronological order leading to the denouement waiting to happen:

  • In 2007, Bersih, a newly minted and American-financed (via National Endowment for Democracy, see image above) “civil” group of politicians and assorted people, launched and carried out its first major project: a street march and protest for free and fair elections. Administrators of Bersih were presented as without political partisanship in the likes of Wong Chin Huat, an ex-journalist. But how could that man, teaching journalism of all things while pretending to be upholder of democracy as opposed to being an American lackey, have mustered 40,000 to march on the King’s palace? How could he, without Anwar or Hadi Awang of Islam’s PAS sending in their party rank and file?

  • In 2008, and in the name of the home minister and after a disastrous general election, Umno goes after The Herald, mouthpiece of the Catholic Church, members of which, most overtly from their newspaper, signed up and joined the Bersih protest. After election, it was Umno’s time to get even: if the Church wants to take sides, get political, well the party can teach it a thing or two. Thus, the Herald was permitted to continue publishing but it was strapped to the condition that the Allah word (among other Muslim words) could not be used.  Score settled, except for the problem: the Church went to court with the ban. Ostensibly it was about religious freedom, but in their hearts they would have known. Things have just gotten worse since, for all.

Couched in this same, two-step dance, Umno worked then succeeded to break up the Hindraf mass movement of Hindu Indians who, following Bersih, went out on the streets with some 20,000. Thereafter Umno, in the government’s name, penetrated its senior ranks, pulling away at their collars in different directions (with, evidently, unspoken offers of money but openly with positions in the ruling Barisan federal coalition). It worked, and Hindraf today is broken into three nearly indistinguishable, measly parts and thus ends the story of the short, happy life of a Gandhi Macomber.

As it did to Hindraf, Umno could do the same for the Anwar coalition of fascists, Islamists, the Left, day-dreamers, do-gooders – these making up the so-called New Politics. This New Politics ignored, conveniently, that Anwar’s PKR is the product of Old Politics where Umno Islamofascism, today called Ketuanan in refashioned form, is Anwar’s creation. On the banners of Malay supremacy (ketuanan) in Islam, language, and constitution rights, and parts thereof, Anwar had rode into Umno through its Youth wing entrance. And when he rode out, circa 1998, 15 years or so later, Islamofascism came out with him in persons like Zulkifli Noordin, Azmin Ali, Hasan Ali, Ibrahim Ali (why, all the Alis?), any or all of whom are either the inheritors or the progenitors of Anwarisma. The PKR party could not have been born without help of the core; foremost, to offer a vehicle outside of government institutions and instruments to keep Anwar out of  jail by painting his prosecution with a political halo. Politics, it may be true, but it’s still painted. This, the Anwar-Umno fight, was revitalized fortuitously for him in the March 2008 elections. And, now, in the follow-up step, the Anwar-Umno collision has drawn in PAS and DAP once they’d join the Pakatan coalition with Anwar as head.

Getting even with the Church may be a minor “aberration” (premier Najib Razak’s word). But the aftermath has been anything but aberration. With an almost exact same effect Umno had acted against Hindraf, Umno using the Allah word drove a spike straight, not just into PKR, but right through into Anwar’s other, twin Malay heart, the Islamic PAS. Anwar’s henchman Zulkifli Noordin is personification of the upper layer  PKR core melting into PAS. Yet, he says, in effect and in contravention of a common PKR-PAS position, Umno did the right thing to prohibit the Allah-word use, then went on to launch a criminal complaint against a mid-ranked PAS leader, one Khalid Samad for saying otherwise. Against Khalid, that spat in Zulkifli’s universe is only a minor aberration. Worse is this: he has filed a private member’s Parliament motion to make explicit that Malaysia is an Islamic state. That, as incontrovertible proof, is New Politics in its guts, which helps explain why Anwar will not have Zul removed in spite of Zaid Ibrahim, good man, also ex-Umno, weighing in for the expulsion. Some things close to the heart are not for barter, but Anwarisma is revealed once more.

Umno using the Church, sympathizer of the American-financed Bersih organisation, as tool to rip apart Anwar’s own people, that core, is easy enough. (In this regards, when Umno accuses Anwar of being an American agent it is not without some factual basis.) It reaffirmed, once again, but often ignored, that at the heart of Anwar’s New Politics is getting back at Umno – the party to which he gave a new post-Merdeka meaning, a new reason for being.

After having broken into Anwar’s core, what could be Umno’s next logical step, the next hammer blow, on the spike that will splinter not just PKR but also the Anwar alliance with PAS and DAP?

An answer to that question is intended to be obtuse, so that’s easy enough: Umno has less to gain (from Malay votes) than the losses by Anwar-PAS from a pig inside a mosque. All those dissenting against Anwar  over Allah would have shown theirs hands already. This would suggests, therefore, that the boar came from opportunists and the target has to be the DAP, specifically Teresa Kok. Probably the nearest jungle to Klang Road is Ulu Langat, a Malay area where, also, boars may be found. Ulu Langat to Seputeh is a long way but possibly the nearest. Inversely, a Chinese wanting to insult the Malay would have used a pig, so readily available everyday, and it would mean poking into a matter to which the general Chinese population is indifferent.

The boar is for Teresa wading into the Klang Road pockets of Malay territory to fill up her branch membership and for the DAP poking its nose into the Allah fight, a fight that is, after all said and done and even in all overt appearances, between the Malays in PKR/PAS vs those in Umno. The Church foolishly had gotten into the way, first by refusing to see in 2007 that if it joins Bersih it takes Anwar’s side. If it sides Anwar, it is against Umno. Second, The Church acted in belligerence and utter naivety, believing the New Politics to be Malaysia’s Second Coming. Political Christianity enters the Islamic state of Malaysia. And, thus is Pakatan cracking up not just on the fault line Anwar himself created for a post-Merdeka Umno, Malays first, Malay supreme, but there is now to be collateral damage to the Chinese routed along the aisles of the Church.

Anwar (right) with Teresa (in red) and Kit Siang (shirt not tucked in). A happy family: all within the four seas are brothers.

In this way, the Anwar-Umno collision expands into a political feud, that feeds into a religious war, and after that Malay-Chinese civil war, and so return Malaysia to the ethnic battle lines in 1969, a little redrawn, yes, but with the added flavour called Islam. Hence: Malay-Muslim versus the Rest of Malaysia. Anwar, clever man that the world says he is, having taken his war against Umno, the New Umno for which he could justifiably claim he had made, has since moved it from the courtroom into PKR, thence PAS, after that DAP, then Pakatan, and now engulfing an entire nation, across race, across religion, across territories; and the proof (here, here) to which is, he now uses the PKR machinery and Pakatan sympathizers to openly campaign in advance of his second sodomy trial. And then there are all those ducks, queuing up to follow  him in flight to a country in conflagration. And such a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious flock it is. This, then, is New Politics, nice, catchy all-encompassing phrase to so many incongruities.

New Politics is, for the lack of a truer word, fascism remodeled, much like National Socialism, the progenitor of Nazism. Except, however, that the likes of Eli Wong (Anwar’s Chinese woman face) and Kit Siang have not the intellectual caliber to see that Anwar in the docks is Umno’s self-immolation, a destruction of itself for bringing radical Islam into what had been a party created purely to secure independence from colonialism by a certain route. If Anwar had won in Umno, fascism wins. And after fascism comes extermination – the fascist moment. Annihilation of entire classes of peoples had occurred wherever fascism went. So it is not an act of sacrilege or hatred when Umno and ex-Umno fascists displayed a cow head, now followed in lockstep by a boar. Rather, such an act asserts a supremacy of being.

Taking off a head has always that facist “moment”, so heady that even Malaysiakini is willing to call the animal in the mosques, “pigs” when there are vast specie differences between a wild boar and a pig. (The online newspaper has since changed the word to “boar”.) Muslim rural communities in jungle fringes and rubber/oil palm plantations actually live among boars. Malaysiakini (they would follow NED’s pitch: democracy includes the right to information) is not alone to want to inflame the situation, so has Razak Ahmad of Reuters and Malaysia Today, all Anwar’s collaborators by various degrees.

Under New Politics then, Malaysiakini et al have more rights than the rights of Malaysia to be unmolested by Arabian Islam, European fascism or American democracy. So much perversity, so much naivety, so much manipulation and so much distortion: all that – making and unmaking a potpourri – has to happen because in the Anwar pot its New Politics is a stew of contradictions. Zaid Ibrahim, ex-minister, discovered this belatedly, after joining Anwar. Hence, his insider’s admission – PKR is the poor man’s Umno – is revealing if you were to think the phrase through. It could only mean PKR is not just Fascist, like Umno is, but also Red and of a radical kind, like a once-upon-a-time in poverty-stricken Russia where killing the entire Czar family was intended to prove and demonstrate the inevitable, the old order must give way for the new. In Malaysia, it is the new Islamist-fascist-socialist order:  strange, convoluted mix so Anwar, for easy referencing, names his fight with Umno, Ketuanan Rakyat, People’s Supremacy, a slogan which if you were to read it over and over and over and over and over its motive begins to reveal itself.

So, what to do with the two boar heads? Teresa Kok must answer that, and if May thirteen breaks out either in Seputeh or Kinrara (her other constituency), then she must bear responsibility for needlessly involving the Chinese into a war. Thrice Umno had tried to get at her, once with imprisonment, but still she doesn’t get it because she can’t see her priorities on the one eye and the deception going on on the other. Thanks to the DAP, the Chinese trinket seller has to detour going home, by-passing the mosques. And the Malays won’t buy her trinkets. Maybe Teresa has money to spare from her 12,000 ringgit (?) a month state income for the poor girl.

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On liberty, the law, the Islamic state, and individual morality.

The above picture, published in The Star, is a Malay sitting on a ledge beneath a Pahang hotel room window. Her male companion had urged her to hide when suddenly the pounding – the horror of Malaysian horrors – came from their room door, where behind it were not only the Pahang Islamic officials but also journalists from various publications. Surprise! It is the happy new year “khalwat raid”. For Malaysian editors salivating in their imaginations of naked breasts in hotel towels, damp panties and semen patches on bedsheets, looking for soft porn in other words, accepting Pahang’s invitation to peep into such a room in a state of love-making provide for just the place to catch their saliva dripping. After they found her, the officials pulled then lifted her away from the window. Photographers clicked away meanwhile, and her greatly distraught face on the shoulders of two men, her legs flailing in the air, became fodder for ‘Free the Press’, for the World, and for the ridicule and shame. The Star, The People’s Paper, went along with doing the officials’ laundry work,  and the Jakarta Post carried the same photos. After the ordeal (and it was supposed to have been sweet love), and after answering her family, colleagues and friends, she might still have to go to jail or pay a fine. Or both. Malaysian justice. Press freedom*. Islamic morality. The evil of Ridhuan Tee. In this way, thus, young Malay girls sometimes give birth in darkness and in secrecy, and after that toss out the babies inside grocery bags.

That has to happen because, if they don’t catch you in a hotel room, they’ll look for you in the hospital.

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Brief background: Earlier this year Malacca Islamic religious officials (JAIM) visited two Malays, a woman and her husband, at a Malacca hospital. The couple now face criminal prosecution, probably for illegal sex, on the evidence of the baby born almost immediately after their Malay customary marriage, the akad nikah. The circumstances leading to their prosecution is identical to Soh Cher Wei and Zhao Mingfu: marriage had come after love, although the Press are in a habit, picked up from the White man’s tabloids, to call it “sex (or birth) out of wedlock,” which is to imply something sinister, something immoral.

Ridhuan Tee went to town with the Zhao-Soh’s case with that sinister implication saying, in effect: see, this bunch of immoral Chinese. But, we, Muslims (he wouldn’t dare say, “we, Malays”), are not like the Chinese; we don’t behave like that and our high morals don’t tolerate bastards. In seeing the Malacca case (which is so close to home), Zhao should be reminded in death and therefore comforted (and maybe thank Allah even) that he and his wife are not Muslims – or else, to jail she goes. This leaves you to wonder, was Ridhuan a virgin before marriage? Was his wife? Here’s a suggestion for Ridhuan Tee to campaign for Ketuanan or for purity in the pages of Utusan: produce a law to make inspection mandatory for all Muslim women – and men – for proof of virginity prior to every first marriage. No certified virginity, no marriage….

In LoyarBuruk, a lawyers’ website, Aston Paiva under the headline “Criminalising Liberty” wrote a four-part defense (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) of the Malacca couple. Bottom line: the Malacca prosecution arose not from a personal but a criminal, public law. Worse then making criminal a private matter such as love, the prosecution would violate a guaranteed constitutional right to liberty which includes to mean, to be left alone on individual matters as sex, marriage, giving birth, and so on.

Five, ten, twenty years ago, nobody would want to touch an Islam-inspired case, much less challenge it so openly, so Paiva has touched new ground and has to do it carefully. Thus, he meanders through a bit of political history, the Constitution and the legal enactments, always on tip-toe on points of law so that the Zulkifli Noordins and the Ridhuan Tees, the Umno/PAS/PKR ulamas and ustazs won’t throw petrol cocktails into his car while accusing him of interference in Islamic affairs. Paiva points out what ordinary, decent people have harboured in their hearts: under a certain regime, Islam is brutalizing the Malays. The religion in the hands of the Ridhuans and the Zulkiflis can only get worse.

There are two other ramifications from the Malacca case avoided or missed in the Paiva defence.

  • Malaysia is an Islamic state for half the country’s population, the Malays. Sharia law is inflicted on them thanks to the Constitution that made the Malay a Muslim. Ironically, Paiva has to turn to it to save the couple: he is saying the constitutional right to liberty supersedes a bad law that had made public – by making criminal – a private affair. Even if he is right that sex is private, but being Muslim is not. The Malacca couple is made Muslim at birth and not by choice so that even in adulthood it is near impossible to get out of the religion, and that nothing in the Paiva’s argument will move a dot or a tee in regards to the khalwat law. Islam is the other source of that and all the related Islamic laws; and Islam is religion, hence a public institution. If the couple is not Muslim, then Section 54 (of the 1991 Syariah Enactment) can’t touch them. Nothing can be done about Islam (other than shutting down the religious departments) that is used to make law and, in Malacca and other states, sex criminal. But, not the Constitution. There, breaking the mandatory link between Islam and being Malay, breaks Islam’s hold on one half the population. Decouple Islam and being Malay at the root source, which is the Constitution, then the Malays will have back their freedom and their privacy and dignity.

If amending the Constitution is the key to ending the tyranny, then the question arises: which of the two sides, Umno or PKR/PAS, is more likely to amend it so as to give Malays back their freedom? Bet on Umno because Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad are no longer there. Together the two men had backed the creation and gave legal powers to organizations like JAIM and the radical Ikim “institute”. Besides, Umno can be negotiated with: a third tie-breaker Malay bloc trading Umno to remain in power in return for freedom. With Anwar, the Zulkifli and the Hadi Awang types, negotiating on Islam is a one-way street. And don’t count on Nga Kor Ming, Lim Kit Siang or Eli Wong and the Tian Chuas for support because Anwar has got them in his pockets. Anwar has only to bark once, and they will roll over like dogs in a circus.

The remedy then is as simple as adding (in italics) to the definition of Malay – “who professes the religion of Islam or any other religion”.

  • One of the saving graces in the Malay life is the presence of the Chinese, Indian and the native Sabah-Sarawak peoples. If Muslim-Malays were 100 percent of the population at the time of independent birth, then Malaya today would be like another Pakistan, an Arab appendage. It would be a total Islamic state. One half a population who were Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and atheists made the Constitution of the Federation as it is today. They allowed Malays to see, experience and witness another possibility into how to live, without Islam, and so to be unshackled from hudud laws and all the phony saints or ustaz named Ridhuans and Zulkiflis who dictate their lives. They allowed for escape. This other face of Malaysia let Lina Joy, for example, to pick her way out of the constitutional entrapment that makes a Malay a Muslim even before birth. In Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, the circumstances would be impossible for Lina Joy. She would have gotten death instead. Although she had shed her Muslim religion, the problem of her Malay identity finds no resolution because of the Constitution.

To avoid jail because of prior love, the Malacca couple, under an amended Constitution, have only to declare they profess another Allah or they are atheists – that is, they had not chosen Islam, which is true. Soon enough a Malay has to stand at Umno’s PWTC to say: “Give me back my liberty!” But, for the couple, it’s too late. Perhaps there’s still hope for the child. Or, maybe not.

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*On the Press: Worse than an earthquake, Haiti again shows how they are irredeemably evil. The Press answered why the editor has to be controlled, made partial to virtue not independent. From Guernica. On disaster porn.

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Allah Haunts a Nation

The Dangers of Anwarisma & A Counter Proposal

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INTRO

Islam in the archipelago, someone wise once said, “had not constructed a civilization, it appropriated one”. Consequently, when Islam’s rival Christianity seeks to permeate this civilization, Malays resist because having imported a culture in its entirety they would have bought into all its past, as well as all its fights. Thus Catholics get to use to word Allah but it’s Muslims who throw a fit, a strange, convoluted kind of anger. Yet because Allah, previously hidden only in the Malay heart, is now out in the open, for the contest and for all to claim, a window of opportunity has arisen. It is to restore the Malay identity from inside out and from ground up and, above all, independent of influences foreign to this part of the world and its peoples.

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Once Anwar Ibrahim suggests holding an “interfaith dialogue” instead of openly resisting Umno’s Ketuanan fascism, you can tell from his idea that Malaysia is at the end of the ropes. That Anwar, the man who must also be held responsible for locating Islam into the heart of Umno’s politics and, thence, mainstream Malay life is now without ideas to put the genie he had let loose back into the bottle. So, it isn’t just Umno or the government that is at a loss into how to deal with – would you believe, over one word – but also Anwar, and by extension his party cohorts in PKR and PAS. If Anwar has the answer, he wouldn’t need to call for a “dialogue” which, you have to suspect, is euphemism for persuading the Church to back off from insisting on the use of the Allah word as if it was Bible translators who invented the problem and not Umno ministers and, before them, he and his friends in PAS.

Malay history in Malaysia is a history of grievance invention and manufacturing enemies; is this, therefore, anything new? Thirty or so years ago when several Islamic radicals went around in the quiet of many nights to wreck the idols and statutes in Hindu temples in Selangor’s Kerling and other nearby rubber estate towns, Anwar came out nearly apologizing for the attackers. They would be out of jail now, one of whom was a government-sponsored student on holiday from Australia. The attacks, which stemmed not from Umno, could have been stopped by detoxifying the Islamist seed of destruction germinating in their heads. It was left to grow instead and Umno, powerless on matters of Islam, recruited Anwar not for the detoxification but to rope ABIM and its types into the party ranks. And the poison worked both ways.

Today it has a come a full circle: ABIM squarely in Umno’s camp and Anwar stands outside both.

There are other ways to stop the arson and bombing. One is as straightforward as going back to the doctrinal root sources of making petrol bottles, but cultivated by organizations like ABIM, the place where Anwar acquired his Islamism from which Arab supremacist ideology drew inspiration.

Quran verses are not issue specific – can a Catholic use the word Allah, for example – some are contradictory, so that anybody wanting justifications for doing what they do finds in it a treasure trove of ideas to give religious injunction to their actions. Hence, political pragmatism tells Anwar to permit Catholics to use the Allah word, and he has no problem citing verses to back that contention. Yet ABIM, among dozens of other Malay organizations, can quote you dozens of other verses for the exact opposite reason, that is, no, you can’t use the word.

All is well and good for Anwar (and PAS) to tell his people don’t go out onto the streets. But neither party, PKR nor PAS, is saying, let’s go out to the streets to support our Catholic “brothers”. They would demonstrate for free and fair elections, against unfair trials, and in support of the use of Malay as medium of primary school science instruction. But, yet, on a matter as fundamental as obeying the rule of law (Anwar’s favourite theme), in this case, a court decision, and on a matter as essential as the Catholic’s freedom to worship, Anwar stayed away from the streets. Why? Clearly, the answer harks back to Anwar’s politics: sticking to the law and supporting Catholics would guarantee that he alienates whole voting blocs from ABIM and like-minded organisations.

Even this is a minor concern. The greater one is that possibly, and just possibly, he’d prefer, as a matter of personal conviction to Islam’s exclusivity, the Church don’t use the word. Imagine, then, should he become prime minister. It is too early to say, of course, but how can you not contemplate the possibility of the things he harbours? Recall the history of grievance invention, recall Kerling.

Now, if Anwar (and PAS) can’t stop the likes of ABIM, why should Umno? Hence, the burning continues and why not with the window of opportunity offered by the police: sorry, we are really busy and our hands are tied. If this is read as an opportunity for Islam’s fanatics, then it must also represent a kind of opening for Anwar, which is to fill into the shoes of the prime minister Najib Razak and the home minister Hishammuddin Hussein, both seemingly powerless to stop the arson attacks. All Anwar needs do is place a call to Pantai Baru, his old hunting ground in the ABIM days, to say to the man on the other end of the line: hey, send some guys over to PJ … please, tolong – you tahu mana itu Assumption Church ka? Thus, the bizarre happens, agitators calling for the Church to be grounded sets themselves under the cross to protect it. And Malaysiakini promptly fawns over the idea: novel, hardly; but strategic, yes, because it goes with the notion of the manufactured enemy. If Jesus is not the enemy, why should that man-god need protection? Predictably the Islamist-attackers move on to Malacca, Taiping and more recently Seremban.

Anwar may say its Utusan’s fault for the church attacks but that’s like blaming the dog’s tail for its wagging. In contradiction, Zaid Ibrahim has so far been the only PKR Malay leader willing to concede that the root source of the attacks lies somewhere in Umno’s political past handed down to the present. This means Umno’s politics to spread fear, using Islam, did not emerge overnight, not even in the last two months under the stewardship of a man named Ridhuan Tee or one year or ten years. It could only have grown over time. Islam, and Ketuanan Melayu by extension, might have acquire the urgency of battle once Umno’s fortune and interests are crucially at stake, but the exigency of purpose would have to be there all along.

Because Zaid is right, then Allah is a political problem, and not a national interfaith problem and not even a legal or an ontological one. If this mess is political, whose politics is it to begin with? It isn’t therefore PKR or PAS or Umno politics but Malay politics that must be resolved. And if this is fundamentally about Malay politics, why bother talking to some clergymen whose primary concern is purely to give expression to biblical theology? And, understand that this theology within the Church is already a settled affair. In the beginning, the Bible says, is the Word. And the Word says there is Tuhan comprised of Allah, the Son, and the Spirit. Nothing is more plainer than that. The clergy would have to seek Vatican endorsement to change biblical meanings.

Anwar’s purpose of “interfaith dialogue”, if it is not to extract concessions from the Church would be pointless. Suppose he succeeds, and he is likely to in spite of the Vatican, then Anwar will emerge as  victor, as if he has just yanked out one of Umno’s fangs that, having sunk itself into Islam, would have been used otherwise to extract voter blood. Points scored for Anwar? He emerges as The Deliverer: the case having settled out of court, there might be quotas on use of the word, and so on with other conditions.

But here is the other outcome: Umno has proven once again to the masses why the Malays need it – the defender of Malay, and by extension, Islam’s interests – hence, Ketuanan Melayu. Worse than this perception, which is that Umno gets what it wants in a contest,  would be this: the general Malay population will wake up to a new heightened reality. This reality tells them they can get anything they want, only invoke Allah. Kerling laid the ground, and now for the fruits of the reward. Once more, and this time in a momentous sort of way, the Malay soul is corrupted by the taste of raw power delivered time and time again by an Arabian religion.

Kongzi was right 400 and 1,000 years before the invention of Christianity and Islam: respect the gods, yes, but keep your distance. If man cannot yet cope with the life, how can he begin to contemplate death?

Pity the Malay soul, now ever closer to be completely colonized by an Arabian faith so alien to its gentility, its patience and stoicism. In raw form, this faith, as expressed by bomb-throwing church arsonists and by the rabble rousing from the ulamas at the steps of the mosque, speaks of conquest and belligerence, hatred and intolerance. And Anwar’s hand is, by all indications, to be seen once again at work in this stark, repugnant conversion of the Malay soul.

Below are excerpts from Sadanand Dhume’s The Colonized Mind, appearing in Guernica, Dec 2009:

Islam was a relatively recent import to this part of the world. It washed up on the western tip of present-day Indonesia in the twelfth century, took root in the fifteenth, and became dominant across much of the archipelago as late as the seventeenth. For the most part, it arrived through trade rather than conquest, by Indian dhow rather than Arab charger. It was preceded by more than a millennium of Hinduism and Buddhism, whose achievements included Borobudur, a massive ninth-century Buddhist stupa, and Majapahit, a Hindu-Buddhist empire whose influence stretched to present-day Cambodia. …

“In Indonesia Islam did not construct a civilization, it appropriated one.”

[Yet] the Javanese had not confused being Muslim with being Arab. They had bent Islam to their culture rather than the other way round. In Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, V. S. Naipaul writes: “It was as if, at this far end of the world, the people of Java had taken what was most humane and liberating from the religions that had come their way, to make their own.”

This is the only place in the world where you might call yourself Muslim yet name your children Vishnu and Sita; seek moral guidance in a wayang shadow puppet performance of the Mahabharata; and believe in Dewi Sri, the goddess of the rice paddy, Ratu Kidul, Queen of the South Seas, and Nini Tawek, angel of the Javanese kitchen. …

Gua Semar, the abode of Semar, guardian of Java. According to legend, he had tended a small plot of rice for ten thousand years before the first settlers arrived to clear the forests. Gua Semar was one of the most famous meditation spots in Java. General Suharto would visit to bolster his spiritual power, and had once brought an Australian prime minister here as a token of special regard. The priest unlocked a metal gate. We followed him down mossy steps to a low-lipped cave that demanded we stoop to enter. Inside, the confined space sharpened my senses: plastic bags rustled like small explosions; the scent of flowers thickened; the flame, hissing and spitting, concentrated both sight and hearing. When my turn came, I allowed my hands to linger over the flame, savoring its heat before passing it over my eyes and ears.

Once we were outside again, walking briskly in the cold and dark, our breath foggy, I asked the priest about Gua Semar. Where were the locals? He said some of the villagers wanted to follow him, but the local representative of the orthodox Islamic group Muhammadiyah—he had studied somewhere: Egypt, or Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia; the priest wasn’t sure—had forbidden it.

We tagged behind him to another two caves, dank and cold and holy, but my mind had deserted the rituals; it had been invaded by the tale of the potato hajjis, their sudden wealth and its unforeseen consequences. Something about the story illustrated the special cruelty of Islam in poor countries far from its heartland. Farmers in Thailand or Vietnam or China might have ploughed their extra income into schools and hospitals, or into business. But here they caught a flight to Saudi Arabia and paid to have their sons educated in intolerance.

It was the most successful form of colonialism: the colonized mind identified completely with the colonizer. The Javanese had held out for centuries, but finally they had lost. Their idea of there being many paths to God, none better than the other, had broken under the weight of the orthodox Arab injunction about the one true faith. The Javanese now skulked like criminals….

If Dhume is right, then it speaks to the present state of the Malay mind today uneasy about what they had bought into. Who are they, the ones filled by so much unease? Where do they go? What do they do? How will the children live?

They themselves would have to supply the answers, but here is a pathway: learn from China, the Chinese. This is because the Chinese (unlike, say, Anglo-Saxons, Turks and Arabs) have nothing to sell to the Malay soul, no ideology to indoctrinate, no religion to proselytize, no system of government to advance, no culture to propagate. The Chinese, as a class, is a people who rather keep to themselves, to be left alone,  govern however you like, only be careful about it. They covet nobody’s wealth or land, other than to retain that which were handed down from their ancestors.

What they possess instead is a method on how to sustain what is today a unique, and the longest surviving civilization, a culture contiguous and intact from its roots 5,000 years earlier, and found nowhere else in the world yet independent and opposed to foreign forces. This is the reason China, and the Chinese, makes non-interference the pivot of its relations with other nations and other peoples. Do whatever you wish, lets leave each alone; if we have money to spare, here, you can borrow it – you don’t have to convert or be a democrat, only be truthful to your word and return the cash when you are better off. This way of conducting a relationship is called honour.

The Malays must now discover this method, for their own sake. Self-doubt will have to be the beginnings of  their discovery. Among the Malay kin, this doubt is to be found in people, each in their own ways, like Zaid Ibrahim (because of his junzi character), Razaleigh Hamzah (because of his Malay loyalty), and Khairy Jamaluddin (because he has youth and understands intuitively that the grass bends to the wind). But not Anwar; he is a lost cause.

Those people have doubts because they are people who remember who they are and from whence they came. Anwar? He is at once foolhardy and dangerous to himself and to the general Malay well-being, and there is a litany of examples from his past as evidences but which people rather ignore today because all need him (or think they need him) to fight Umno. This is also to say Anwar’s character is in serious doubt (no, not over semens on a mattress, his sperms there are dead already)  for he can be fickle and confused, one day looking to Pakistani Islamism for inspiration, next day Turkish ethnic bigotry, and now a convoluted American Jeffersonian creed. He’s too cocksure of his destiny, a fate informed by a materialist outlook akin to Mahathir Mohamad’s on the one part, Western ideology on the other, and supremacist Arabian religiosity on the third – a highly inflammatory cocktail now exploding around the churches.

Inside of the Chinese worldview is a highly independent pathway which, if it were to summed up in a sentence for the Malay’s appreciation but on his terms, says this – and it is borrowed from Sima Qian (司马迁, circa 100BC, an emperor’s senior confidante serving the Han dynasty).

“A man dies once, so whether his death is as weighty as Mount Tai or as light as feather depends on the reason for which he dies.”

A man’s life “depends on the reason for which he dies”: below is the same idea given to modern-day expression by China’s Wen Jiabao (温家宝).

At the 2:00 mark with Wen Jiabao speaking to Mao Zedong’s son, Anying who died fighting US invasion of Korea (shuzheng translation):

“Anying, my colleague. Many seasons have come to past. I am here to see you on behalf of the Chinese people. China today has prevailed and is stronger. Our people have endured. Rest in peace then.”

Then at 2:50, speaking to the others who died with Anying:

“It’s been a four hour travel. … I have come to see you. The Chinese people wish to honor you. … They have not forgotten. Even if it’s been been more than fifty years. Life’s great where it excels / death stills where you may lay.” (浩气长存 haoqi changcun)

The extensive background affecting Sima’s personal and professional fate in his sentence will be ignored. What needs annotation is that he wrote it after Confucius, and in that context there are two points of note that can be extrapolated from it:

  • (a) life and death are merely flip sides of an existence, and the two are not contiguous, a notion which has to be false, logically and objectively; and,
  • (b) your individual person, not Jesus Christ, not Allah, is at the centre of that existence, so that when taken out of the pre-defined notions set up by the Bible or the Quran, the individual person, from the pauper (such as Ridhuan Tee) to the prime minister he is left alone to discover the grand world or his individual purpose of being. Freedom starts thereof….

Those are first principles, yet they are not binding and have no force of law unlike the Ten Commandments and the Hadith. This Chinese worldview has everything to do with the issue over Allah because the problem in Malaysia has come to mean that the life of one is the death of the other. This is insoluble.

Allah’s problem is a manifestation into the rivalry between Christianity and Islam, so that this much has to be acknowledged. Worse than that, these are two irreconcilable dogmas fought over on the grounds of a third, secular (Western) law that permits one and only one victor. In these circumstances, are the ingredients of Molotov cocktail stirred in, so that political power will have to step in and it alone will eventually decide the outcome. In Saudi Arabia, there would exist no such problem because Islamic power there is so complete and so total that neither the Bible nor The Herald would be permitted in the first place. Anwar was being disingenuous, and therefore hypocritical, to cite some old forgotten text, talking of the precedence of Islam’s protection of the Church that is impossible to verify and which is the opposite in fact today.

Given the reality of the circumstances, given that only power remains as the final arbiter, the Church is left with the only viable option, which is to climb down to save for itself something in order not to lose everything. To climb down is to deal: be permitted to use Allah, subject to conditions which the Church will pledge in a signed document that will also allowed for government monitoring. This way Umno has something to show for negotiating with the Church.

The Chinese do not take sides on this matter because there is no moral side worthy of taking. The “reason for which he dies” – God for Christians, Allah for Muslims – is hardly as weighty as Mount Tai, so that God and Allah must surely wink at the agreement, shrugged their shoulders as if to say, way to go, man, deal is better than no deal; now, can you check out shuzheng, something there about getting along. Allah to God: Who is this Kongzi anyway? Somebody you know?

After that the Zaids and the Razaleighs must begin the task of reconstructing the colonized mind, the Malays shouting from mosque balconies and the Anglophile Malaysians sitting on those church pews. Begin the detoxification there…. You’re eight hundred years late but, what the heck.

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The last time the Uyghur Islamic fanatics went to town to torch (Manjit Bhatia’s favoured word when Tibetans were burning houses) Chinese shops and houses in Urumqi,  after killing the occupants, the Chinese government acted swiftly, within days. The police rounded up 1,000 Uyghurs for the weeding in order to find out who did all that.

The Western media –  New York Times, Guardian, Reuters, AFP – had a field day with writing that news. It wasn’t the fault of the Uyghurs that they killed 200 people and burned more than 400 buildings; they are just oppressed people venting their frustration. Rather, they said: Look, it is the Chinese and their Chinese government; they’re the oppressors. For proof, they pointed to the 1,000 arrested (late last year a dozen of them were put on trial, eight since executed).

Riding on that news and its morality, Nathaniel Tan (above) dashed to his keyboard to write in support of his Uyghur Muslim “brothers” the following:

I hope the world pays more attention to this. I really hope the Chinese government stops this heavy handed violence against Muslim minorities. Mass arrests are not the answer.

See, how his morality, like that of Ridhuan Tee’s, is so perverse: it’s the fault of the Chinese and their “heavy handed violence against Muslims” that the Chinese and their houses are torched.

Now, the same problem has reached shore: Nathaniel’s Muslim brothers in Malaysia are burning his church. And, he complains that the police aren’t doing enough to catch the arsonists. Go catch some real criminals, he whines at the police.

But arresting people is not the answer…. Maybe good boy Nathaniel has forgotten. And maybe he has also forgotten to offer the other cheek. So, as reminder, he should say, as did Thomas Lee, to his Muslim “brothers”: no, we won’t burn your mosque; we’re Christians, Praise to Allah. Rather, there’s this other church down the street. Try it, the window there has no glass, fits your Molotov to the tee. And promptly they drove from PJ to churches in Malacca and Taiping. No violence, no arrests, against my “brothers”, please, they’re just oppressed people….

Poetic justice, they say.

The Chinese-educated have a phrase that fits nicely these Nathaniel types and his co-religionists in Wong Chun Wai and the Thomas Lees –  eat bitterness, 吃苦 chiku in hanyu pinyin. Know what that means, Nathaniel? Grow up, boy, grow up. Better yet get an education, a Chinese education of course. Even burning Nathaniel’s church is only the beginning. Wait till they come for his infidel mother, if he has one.

You bad boy! Didn’t your mother tell you not to play with fire, just like the good Hisham said?

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God is dead, but Allah enters the fight for Ketuanan.

See any thing? Allah? The Hand of Hisham? Ketuanan? (A tip to the investigators: the last time houses were burned there were dead Chinese inside. Add this to your siasatan report: It won’t happen again.)

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This post, reworked with corrections, is retitled from ‘What’s Your Problem, God?’

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Our Allah: We’re the Chosen One, we’re the Tolerant One and we’ll burn you, alive…. Mr Lim, try reasoning with that.

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How should the Chinese respond to the word “Allah”?

The DAP? Nothing. Stand to one side, on the grassy pedestrian pavement, fold your arms and watch the fire race pass the door front. If any of them steps up, get the women and kids inside, and be quick, pull out the bicycle chain and wait behind the door.

When Lim Teck Ghee of the Centre for Policy Initiatives said one is to reason with the Umno fascist types, he assumes two things, (a) they value reason as an ethical supreme, and (b) they are capable of rationality. George Orwell, a man always with head on his shoulders, was once asked for his response to fascism and why he went to Spain at a time of a civil war between the Left and the Fascist Republicans. His famous answer: To shoot the fascists. Very likely Teck Ghee doesn’t believe in any of the assumptions. He was just being nice (although it has to be remembered that kindness kills, as it did for South Korean Christians while visiting Afghanistan to administer to distressed Muslim souls).

Anwar Ibrahim has publicly said little on the matter in the same way he has said little concerning his party-mate Zulkifli Noordin (upping the official and constitutional status of Islam) and concerning political accomplices like Hasan Ali of PAS (forbidding beer sales). Anwar could take the side of the Catholics and go to town with it, in Sarawak and Sabah especially, because of the Putrajaya prize. But he won’t because he is a victim of his multi-racial New Politics (remember Eli Wong’s New Politics?) approach – seeking common grounds, universal values, and dropping discordant issues. Now is Umno’s answer to him: get real. Allah is either Muslim or Christian – nothing common, nothing universal in that, and there are no two ways about god. Anwar is instead calculating he will let the issue blow over, as it has to once the case reaches Court of Appeal.

Because of the relatively short time frame – and note Umno is in no hurry to demand for an urgent judicial appeal – Hishammuddin Hussein, with Mahathir’s kids standing in earshot behind the curtain, is going to milk it for all it’s worth and get even with those who got his friends in the dock over a damn cowhead. Thus, Anwar has let underlings like Khalid Ibrahim do the talking, but that only after its Pakatan partner PAS has given formal and conditional endorsement.

PAS backing the court arose only because it has to quickly answer to its members clamouring to know: this is about Allah, so do we go out onto the streets? PAS isn’t answering to its Chinese and Indian sympathizers and it doesn’t need to and couldn’t care less. Besides, most Chinese (other than the this-is-not-the-way little Nathaniels and piteous Thomases) and Indians aren’t voodoo believers in man walking on water.

Should DAP Perak’s Nga Kor Ming (supposedly a Christian) stand at a Ipoh market to cite the Quran, yelling about the wonders of PAS Islam, shut him down. If DAP Wilayah’s Teresa Kok (effectively, what now, Teresa angel?) raises a stink in her blog, even as much as a whimper, that’s equal to 90 out of 100 demerits on her way out of Seputeh – and Kinrara. If she wants to do evangelism, champion her Christianity, she can do it in her bedroom under bedsheets shared with the likes of Eli who, like her, thinks that what’s private is not public. God is private matter and look where it has gotten everybody. They didn’t know about god’s privacy, did they? Which then goes to show their deficient education; they hadn’t read Kongzi. Selangor’s Lau Weng San has said enough that’s already obvious – inter alia sedition and contempt – to countless people. But, and this surely he should know, who runs the country: the High Court of Malaya or Umno?

Umno’s rule by administrative fiat, arbitrary rules written in a gazette out Parliament’s sight and without a care for constitutional limitations, has been long time coming. Mahathir Mohamad had made it plain countless times – Umno, not even Barisan, is boss. Abdullah Badawi’s way of handling the issue was to pretend it didn’t exist, so The Herald went along merrily with the pretense. Hishammuddin triggered the present controversy when he applied fiat law to the case, which could have been handled by mere persuasion – and the Church, seeing the keris held in Hisham’s back, would be easily persuaded. What the Church got instead was a display of Umno’s pure power, tyranny coupled to Umno’s legendary incompetence, explaining, hence, why there was a lot of toing and froing over the publishing permit of The Herald in 2007, 2008 and finally 2009.

This power-incompetence combination over Allah is revealing in two present aspects of Umno. (a) In the party core is a fault line and so (b) the Hisham-Mukhriz hardline members, informed and inculcated by Ketuanan fascism, the flip side of which is a deep sense of insecurity, are not giving a hoot for Najib Razak, the prime minister. Whereas Najib does and say everything that gives an appearance of a progressive worldview, Hisham does the exact opposite – the street marches over Allah being the latest example. Whereas Najib has a plethora of mistakes to account for and Hisham, as home minister in particular, has his pulse on those. Predictably Hisham then does that which gives him greatest satisfaction, explaining why the ones on trial for treasonous, national theft of fighter jet engines and the ones on trial for murder inside a police station are only… Indians. Race purity is a requisite of doctrinal Ketuanan Melayu. Supremacist justification is not helped if your own kind steals from you, and the armed forces constitute a manifestation in the two components of fascism: purity and power.

In this argument, therefore, the street marches (especially after Friday Muslim prayers) speak of an extension of that purity and power. As it is with the state of Malaysia, the Constitution and the sultanate, the fighter jets serve Malays only. More so, then, Ketuanan because it applies only to Malays and being Malays is synonymous with Islam and Islam’s Allah has, in Malaysia, Malays on its (His?) side. Allah is purely for the Malays and so, consistent with Islam’s doctrinal approach, any other religion is either inferior or a fake.

Umno’s hardline faction isn’t interested in etymological qualifications of the word Allah (updated: here’s Farish Noor intellectualising one word). They know it, anyway. Language is central to fascism, hence to Ketuanan. The peninsula Orang Asli, the Dayaks, Ibans, and the Kadazans, as a single Malaysian group is the ultimate existential repudiation to the Ketuanan of Umno, rendering it a sham, and that being Melayu was actually contrived from an ethnicity made with White man’s laws, from a religion bought from Arabs, and from a language strung together with Roman letters. Among the Sarawak people, they would be embarrassed to claim Ketuanan Dayak. For farther evidence into the supremacist phony, anybody has only to turn to Umno’s nemesis found in Malaysia Today, as in the person of Raja Petra Kamarudin, royalty, calls himself a Malay but half White, salivating to have touched skin with White women (sure they’re Polish not Catholic Slavs?) then bragging about it to the world. Or take the Mahathirs and the Ahiruddins, respectively, Umno’s one-time protagonist and mouthpiece, seemingly masters in cogency, groveled to by the herd, and yet, individually, they find impossible to reconcile themselves to the fact – and to the truth – of their motherlands and their ancestry.

Umno must have control of the Malay language because, when taken over for use by aborigines, even, not especially, for religious purposes, it exposes Ketuanan’s single most important source of irritation and its Achille’s heel – the aborigines, not they, are the original. Hence Umno decides who, when, where and how the language is be deployed and not just because it affects Islam, but the actual building mortar (language and religion) in fascism’s pillars of purity and power.

Ms Lau, understand this: in Islam, Malaysian law is inferior, nothing. Nobody needs to die, except Caesar

Lau Bee Lan (above), the judge who ruled in The Herald’s favour, didn’t see the wider dimensions and, hence, the ramifications that enter into the equation, which is this: secular law (justice, constitutional rights, etc) constructed on religious ethics (religious and other freedoms) sit on shifting Arabian sand dunes, if not, British bog. (Updated: For this reason, Islam’s fanatics on Jan 8, in mosques, can scream at judges in the face: ‘we are bigger than you, we’re greater than the law. Don’t mess with us.’) But then, how could she if, as judge, she has to account for only the law? Worse for her, she has to deal with fiat law, Umno’s exclusive turf that even the MCA and the other mosquito parties dare not touch. It didn’t help matters because Christianity, which Lau is reportedly a devotee (this is reason to which Selangor’s Khir Toyo said, let the case be a “lesson”), is also a dogma. Between two dogmas, Islam and Catholicism, among the world’s three most undemocratic religious institutions, there is no middle ground and only one winner. So much for New Politics, Eli.

Neither the Chinese nor the Hindu Indians have much, if any, at stake in this fight. Where the danger exists is when Umno aggravates the issue, openly and publicly, into yet another Ketuanan project. Signs of this aggravation come when the word currently in use, “non-Muslims”, was intended and is expanded to include the Chinese. Aggravation comes once they ask for the head of Lau Bee Lan. Until then, Umno wishes to and will win this round, both on the street and in the courtroom. Let it.  Let the Umno-Ketuanan fascists have just enough rope to hang themselves with. Besides, Zhao Mingfu’s case is more important.

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