Sunday, March 7, 2010

Appreciating the Indigenous Tolerance

(Mingguan Malaysia, 7 March)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

Appreciating and responding to the indigenous tolerance

Once again, the issue about the non-Malay can be the Prime Minister (PM) was raised up by several Malay Muslims scholars. This opportunity was taken advantaged and disseminated widely by the ultra kiasu websites and those anti-Islamic. I'm not sure what were their tricks and intentions whether hidden or being implied by bringing up this issue. If it is true that non-Malay can be PM, it should not be raised up because it is difficult to become a reality, let alone touching the sensitivity of the indigenous race. Moreover, to me, the next rightful people after the Malays are the Bumiputeras from Sabah and Sarawak, and not others. Even if they qualify, they should not accept the PM post. This is because there are still a majority of qualified and more deserving Muslims from its own land. Do not compare with Thailand, because the non-Siam over there is more Siamese than the Siamese itself. I do not aim to defend the Malays, but I tried to understand the psychic of the Malay race compared to the other races, after understanding the psychic of my own race. Isn't it better because all of us are in the community with Malays as the majority?

As non-Malay, I am grateful to be in this fortunate land. Although I was born after independence, unable to witness on how the social contract was agreed upon, but I am very thankful that my ancestors were accepted as citizen on this land. My ancestors were accepted totally without any conditions. My ancestors were not imposed with any conditions that would change and hampered their lifestyles and their self-esteems. They were the same as where they originated from, without any slight changes at all. They have their freedom with their own languages, living in their own groups, having their own schools, and even to reap their wealth without any restrictions and obstacles, to the extent of having abundant wealth. History such as this has never happened in other countries in the world. In other countries, they were not only rejected, but will be accorded with strict conditions in order to be accepted as a citizen. Most significantly they will be assimilated. We are very lucky to be here. We must appreciate this blessings rather than to be ungrateful.

I do not need to submit the evidence, have a peek at our neighboring countries such as Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of countries accepting was only around three - accepted only ten per cent while the rest were declined. Compared to our country, the non-indigenous are more than 40 per cent. At the same time, the nation wealth controlled and obtained are more than 70 percent which had created anxiety among the indigenous. This is the type of tolerance that is incomparable that the future generations should be aware of. According to Amy Chua, a professor of Chinese origin who has migrated from the Philippines to the United States, tolerance does not mean that equality or respect, but tolerance is to provide opportunities to all kinds of people the lifestyles, work, and participation and succeed in the society without looking at their ethnic backgrounds or religions. Although Amy Chua has migrated to America, her opinions are still considered acceptable and not ultra kiasu. We need more people like her. Tolerance is neither equality nor the same for everything. What happened before and currently in our country were exactly stated by Amy Chua. The Muslims did not prevent the non-Muslims to be more successful in any sectors of employment and participation. Let alone to intervene in the affairs of their religion, unless our religion is being challenged.

As citizen who understand the history, I can feel how lucky we are today. If it is destined, there was no acceptance by the indigenous; would I be still alive today? Throughout my readings, those who had migrated will not be accepted back, except for those with talent and extraordinary ability or perhaps those who were traitors with selling secrets of the country's sovereignty or selling the country's assets such as bringing out of money from the country or selling sand to the neighboring country.

Therefore, it is not surprising for people like Tan Siew Sin and Sambanthan with their speeches around the years of the 1950s, appreciating the tolerance shown by the indigenous. They were grateful for the opportunity given and being accepted as who they were. This history must be understood by all Malaysians without fail. Otherwise, they will be ultra kiasu. To claim something that should not be claimed. To dig up something that is not necessary to be dig up at all.

Many have wondered why there are not many indigenous who are successful or controlling the wealth in their own land? Indigenous phenomenon of not successful in its own land is never a new phenomenon. It happens everywhere, especially in the Southeast Asian countries and other parts of the world that are willing to accept the arrival of migrants. This fact is acknowledged by all scholars, that the success and wealth owned by those who migrated had sunk the wealth of the indigenous in their own land, until causing anxiety or envy among the indigenous towards them. However, many scholars did not state the source that caused it to occur in such a way. I have the answer that had not been provided by the scholars including Amy Chua.

To me, the indigenous felt safe and comfortable in their land. They think well of their friends who came to migrate. They do not envy the wealth owned despite living in separate groups according to their own way of lifestyle which was rather extreme. Indigenous people had been contented with their lifestyle of having enough to survive, although this attitude should not happen. This is the nature of the indigenous that I have known. Not greedy, grateful with what they have. If they were rich, they live luxuriously and not building empires. Attitude of humility, gentle, politeness controls them. That's according to the Malay poetry written by Lim Swee Tin, Usman Awang and Muhammad Haji Salleh which I had observed.

The understanding and background of this had made me overwhelmed with the ceremony of launching the latest book of eminent professor Syed Naguib al-Attas by Raja Nazrin Shah recently. Raja Nazrin high regards on scholars was beyond my expectations being that his majesty is a prince. His text of speech applauded the scholar impressively and almost filled with emotions. This does not include the respect given to Syed Naguib while on stage. Syed Naguib was led by hand and was asked to remain seated when he wanted to pay tribute to the prince. This is the nature of the Malays which I highly praised. Not arrogant, but very humble, ignoring the degree in ranks. However, do not be taken advantage by others.

Today we see as if we are taking advantage. Indigenous with such attitudes provided the opportunity as what the Malay proverb stated to drink from muddy water. True, they are not concerned on the importance of wealth because wealth cannot be brought along into death. Only faith and piety are valued by Allah SWT. But don't take advantage to the extent of damaging them through corruptions, womanizing, usury, money and all types of bribery stretching in front of their eyes.

Let us not follow or imitate the behavior of the Jews. Why are the Jews so successful and can even build an empire even it is not on their own land? The answer is simple; the Jews took advantage on the weakness and the attitude of compromising of others, especially the Muslims. When they were homeless, the Jews were friendly with the Muslims in Palestine. However, little by little they became treacherous, to control the indigenous people and the wealth in their land. Among them were to provide loans through the usury system and bribing them. When the loan were not paid, high interest were added, thus the land was used as a replacement. Land owned by indigenous was taken inch by inch. Eventually, almost all indigenous Palestinian land falls into the hands of the Jews. The race, which before were homeless, succeed in turning the indigenous to trade or to be homeless in their own land.

The same thing happens in Singapore. Singapore needs to grow in order to build their strength. The easiest way to grow is to buy sand from our country compared to Indonesia which is too far and very costly. To meet the requirements, they will find the Malays through their affiliated ultra kiasu intermediaries, in the land office which was easily bribed and those easy to renegade, to obtain and buy sand. Their goals had been achieved. The country has not only grown many folds, instead today they wanted their country to continue multiply. It is not surprising that it will merge with Pulau Batu Putih which has been lost to this ultra kiasu country. Do we still want to remain sitting down to see the dignity and sovereignty of the country being pawned and humiliated? We are willing to sell the sovereignty of the country merely to obtain a little wealth. Meanwhile, the intermediaries are the ones getting wealthier. The bigger Singapore becomes, the bigger the threat towards our country. It is not surprising that one day they would dominate us, if we continue to be complacent and contented with their cunning tricks. Furthermore, with the valuable lands in our country that had fallen into their hands, including an island that is still with them. Do we want to remain silent?

Latest, the Catholic church wanted the magazine Al-Islam to openly apologize for their article entitled "Entered Church in Search of the Head Covering Apostate Maiden" pertaining to their reviews in the church. I do not see the need to apologize to those who have hidden intentions toward us for being tolerant. Why must we yield to their threats? It is already enough with our failure to defend the use of the name of Allah. The church should not act as what the Malay proverb said like the creeper plant that climbed the trellis. They do not differ from the ultra kiasu group which only wants to win.

What about their action taking away and apostate the Malays such as Azlina Jailani and other Muslims were not considered as wrong? Haven't they realized that the Malays cannot be apostate according to the constitution Article 11 and 160 (2) which stated "Malay means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language and conforms to Malay customs ". Had the church ever apologized to the Malays that had been apostate which were clearly conflicted with the constitution? Why this tolerance is not appreciated?

Therefore, my request to them is to appreciate this tolerance. Do not take advantage when others are weak. I am worried that if we are too demanding, we would jeopardize the patience in the Malays. When patience is no longer there, I fear the race that I have known would lose their thoughtfulness. Appreciate them. We will not attack if not under threat, but we would not attack without resistance.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Trivial Issues Consequences

(Mingguan Malaysia, 28 February)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

I feel strange why there are many Muslims today wasted their time debating and discussing trivial issues, when there are more important and serious issues that need to be given attention in approaching the 21st century. Issues on the future of Islam religion and the Muslims survival are among the main issues that need to be given attention compared to issues such as whether or not to march when celebrating the Prophet’s birthday. I am confident that all Malaysians understood and already knew the answer. Why should we debate on issues that are already cleared, including issues such as the caning punishment on women who had been sentenced by the court and continuing disputing among them?

In conjunction with the Prophet SAW birthday, shouldn't we better discuss whether the Muslims are following the character of the prophet or not? The disunity among the Muslims is increasingly destroying and many more matters relating to our future in this fortunate land. Whether the decision to march or not, this does not question the faith or the life and death in Islam. What is more important is the teaching of the celebration. What is the use of a large-scale celebration when it has little impact? The best, great celebration, the effect is also great or moderate celebration, the effect is great, too.

It shouldn't be otherwise, great celebration, money exhausted; the impact is little or less. The worst, there is no celebration, the remembrance of the Great Prophet diminishing. Regardless, at least the celebration reminds us of the Prophet's struggle. That's the beauty of the culture in our society showing our feelings and love towards the Prophet SAW.

If we review his biography, the Prophet had never in his life wasted on matters that were not of benefiting. The Prophet's life is of quality in every second that passed. Every moment was used for the purpose of social struggle, in the sense of ensuring that Islam and the Muslims continue to excel, competent and quality. The pride of all is that Islam had spread to every corner in the world. This resoluteness in the Prophet's struggle must be followed and emulated.

Apart from the resoluteness in faith, the main foundation must start with the bond of unity and brotherhood. Both of these elements are the fundamental strength. We only have one last prophet, the Prophet Muhammad SAW. He is our reference together with divine revelation of the Quran. The way of life and the rules brought along had proven to be capable of creating a great glory and admired by the world, none has ever disputed, including the non-Muslims. This is because; the Prophet's lifestyle was the best as Islam brought in by HIM. Hence, there is no issue arises to dispute his credibility from any angles even to this day. Michael Hart (2007) placed the Prophet as the most influential person in history compared to other great figures in the history of world civilization. Are we still doubtful?

Therefore, there should not be any disputes among the Muslims pertaining to issues or problems that had been solved and resolved. For example issues on the caning punishment on adulterers and alcohol consumption. The Sharia court, being the highest legal source in the Islamic countries, pertaining to the Muslims issue, had decided, and therefore respect that decision. The expertise of the learned judges in their fields should not be disputed. Why some of the Muslim women in the NGOs were so anxious? Who actually are to be caned? Why should we waste time holding protests here and there? We seemed to act on behalf for the non-Muslims. They do not need to react because we have become their representative. We are humiliating the court decisions and our own religion. What should be the appropriate action? Haven't we realized that they were clapping their hands when we distance ourselves from the religion and the Prophet's teachings? We are not united nor being brotherhood in many things.

Do we want to continue to allow the Muslims to be immoral without providing any guidance? Are we afraid that among us will be caned later with the implementation of the punishment? Why are we championing the human rights? I would like very much to see that we also fight for the rights of Allah apart from the human rights. Only then we will get the respect from everyone. I'm not saying that the current punishment is hundred-percent adhering to the Islamic law, but at least there are precedents toward that direction. Do respect the decisions because they were under the jurisdiction of the experts. The culture of referring to the experts must be recognized so that non-experts will not be entertained. If you have not mastered the readings of the Quran, it is advisable for you to refer to the learned ones. Do not be like the ignorant acting to be clever for it will eventually be just a waste on oneself.

Offenders must be punished. We cannot allow them to go around scot-free. Fee sex, alcohol, and other immoral activities such as drugs, often lead to addiction. Releasing the offenders is not in accordance to the teachings of Islam after the process of counseling or advice which did not have any impact on them. Disobediences must be tackled, otherwise it will be a cancer to the society, spreading and damaging others.

This form of thinking told by
Eleanor Roosevelt that great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. Today we discuss endlessly on people whom we do not like, rather than putting forward our ideas. The idea or the plan had its pros and cons. Accept the good even though it may come from our enemies, and we should not only reject the bad, but at the same time we should stand together to object. For example, the ultra kiasu plans on the ideas of Malaysian Malaysia. Among the ideas are to allow what is forbidden by Islam in the name of human rights such as free sex, alcohol, gambling and so forth. We do not object if that is what they want to do, but these ideas will not bring any good to the Muslims, but instead will create chaos to the country. So we have to reject and be prepared to face them at any time, whether with arguments, facts and actions. In fact we should discuss the dangers that would happen if we allow those ideas that are against Islam to perpetuate, especially the damage that would befall on our people.

Instead of discussing, we continue to blame others on who are right and wrong. Discuss small issues will make our minds small, not creative nor innovative. This does not include our other lifestyles as we prefer to discuss the life of an artiste compared to the lives of scholars with their researches and statesman with their experiences. In the developed countries, scholars, statesman, entrepreneurs and professionals who had proven to excel will be revered. They will be deemed as high status and are invited to teach at the university and be bestowed the title of professor even they might not have done any researches. Recognitions were given based on their knowledge and great experiences in their life.

In comparison with us, the culture of such knowledge does not exist, instead we encourage the culture of worshiping a handful of artistes when their lifestyles involved with controversies and gossips which are not developing the minds. Discussions like these will only turn off the mind and not toward a quality life. The time has arrived for us to embrace the way people think in the advanced countries which elevated people with knowledge and scholars in high places compared to other matters that are not beneficial. Reading materials or books read by them are high quality, compared with developing countries where the people prefer to read the entertainment articles and news of no values.

Please note, if we read and discuss major issues, indirectly our mind becomes larger, thus producing a nation with strong spirits. If not, we will continue to waste our time disputing trivial and small issues. The main issue that should be the focus by the Muslim community today is related to the unity of Muslims and the goals of the Muslims in facing the 21st century as to the strength to defend from the enemy threats. We should seriously discuss the planning of the enemy movement through the
Freemasonry which melt and destroy the faith of the Muslims through their alliances with several of the opposition parties and the NGOs.

This movement seems to have accessed into the individuals and organizations of the Muslims. Their goal is to separate the religious life. Religion is considered as something dangerous. Preventing the Muslims to unite, and at the same time turning off the spirit of
jihad in the Muslims. If previously the Freemasonry's target was the Christians, today their target is the Muslims after the fall of the socialist system.

The collapse of the socialist system provided a bright future to the Freemasonry to have a strong foothold again in the late 20th century. Economic system created in the new form and was named the modern capitalist economic system hidden behind the veil of economic globalization. Name of globalization is used by the Freemasonry to camouflage the invasion of the new imperialist colonial order on the Islamic world.

Fathi Yakan and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi considered the globalization as a process of hegemony or domination of political, economic, cultural and social development of the United States over the world especially the Islamic world and third world through the process of westernization and Americanization them. They also succeeded in cheating these countries with the term of without economic borders or free and open economy.

This economic globalization is very dangerous because of evil planning by the Freemasonry with their theory of 20-80. Only 20 percent of the Muslim country wealth is owned and the rest 80 percent are left in poverty. Their purpose is none other than to control them. Their next step is to make the Islamic developing countries preoccupied with entertainments which are harmful. Mass Medias and information technologies without borders are used to attain this goal until they cause the widespread of entertainment hubs, captivated singings and increased prostitutions.

In conclusion, what appeared as strong resistance towards caning punishment and Islamic Sharia courts could be relevant to the Freemason movement which are the hot topic of today? Why are the wrong such as entertainment and immoral activities not opposed? Let's think together. To me, this movement had subtlety accessed into certain individuals and organizations of the Muslims. This further led to a handful of us to be no longer sensitive to the problems and the future of Islam and Muslims. The Muslims fought and disagreed with each other. We were disturbed over trivial issues compared to bigger issues and eventually our mind become smaller. Meanwhile we knew the Prophet requested us to be concerned on all big issues that are related to our lives. The Prophet Muhammad said: "Whoever sleeps and do not bother about the affairs of the Muslims, then he is not among them (the Muslims)".

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Be Firmed on Article 152

(Mingguan Malaysia, 21 February)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

I rushed back to the capital on 15.2.2010 merely to attend the invitation from GAPENA, KALAM and PENA as panelist on the subject Malay Language Civilization Discourse in conjunction with The Language Fighting Day 152 in Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Although it was a Chinese New Year holiday, guided by the principles which occurs when a clash between national interests with the interests of the race, then the national interest must be prioritized.

However, I was so disappointed because the number of participants who attended was fewer than 200 people, while the matter under discussion was a national policy issue. Where is the sensitivity in us as citizens in this beloved land of ours? The date 15.2 was chosen because in conjunction with the spirit of Article 152 of the federal constitution pertaining to the Malay Language (BM) as the national language. Strangely, why are we discussing something that had already been the national policy? Why was it not implemented since before?

I was so touched to participate in such forum, let alone to listen to the views of other panelists. The fact is BM was known as the language set forth in the constitution which has no authority in its own land. We are busy with other languages, especially English language (BI) compared with BM. The language was portrayed as not important. The question is, how can we expect others to respect our own BM if we are not serious to elevate BM to be the core in the building of a nation?

We are willing to spend large amounts of money up to billions of ringgit to empower BI, but to which extent similarly or more are being used to empower BM? We willingly spend to purchase computer equipments and all BI laboratories with sophisticated equipments for the purpose of teaching and learning of BI, but whether the same are provided for BM? At times it is difficult to blame the vernacular schools for their indifferent approaches toward BM, when we are not serious to provide the platform to enhance them in this unity language.

I do not think anyone would reject the importance of BI in facing the current modernization and globalization. It is foolish to reject the need to learn foreign languages because it is required by the religion. However do not be too enthusiastic with the foreign language until its own language trade places in its own land. Where had the slogan gone that language is the soul of a nation which used to be pinned in the heart?

Is BI a factor that will determine the progress of a country or to change our attitude? I observed that a number of the developed countries such as France, we will not be entertained if we are to speak English over there, however their country still progress. In Japan, the country was destroyed after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; they continue to rise up with the spirit of being Japanese. Today, the Japanese remain as a world leader standing tall with the other developed countries. In other words, the spirit of loving the identity and language as the soul of a nation had uplifted their country. Similarly with other countries, they rise up with the molding on the belief in empowering the language as the soul of the nation in all aspects.

Sometimes I felt snubbed, why must I defend BM, after all it is not my mother tongue? Why should I face the condemnations and criticisms from my own race for merely defending the language of others? After consideration, I realized that in fact that the spirit to love the homeland and Islam over turned everything else to the extent of forgetting one's origins. I do not perceive this as a sin as labeled by the ultra kiasu.

If BI is the cause for the weakness in our children, then do a large-scale change in the way of teaching and learning in terms of domains, cognitive, psychomotor, and various aspects of the pedagogy, rather than changing the basic education system itself. Sometimes I feel weird that we were brave to transform the national education system that involve the future of the Malay race, but why are we not brave enough to touch or change the structure of the vernacular schools, when we have the power to do so based on Article 152 and Education Act 1996? We can't even be firmed in reaching to the level of standardizing and increasing the school curriculum in BM. In the end, the national education system is victimized.

I was very impressed with the presence of a professor from Korea in the discourse, who is fluent in the Malay Language. He suggested that Jawi writings also be strengthened in an effort to elevate BM. He said BM and Jawi are very closely related and cannot be separated. Are we not ashamed and snubbed with these types of views? Similarly, the views provided by Dr. S. Nathesan Sellapan who was also in the discourse as a panelist. He said the struggle to empower BM is the responsibility of all Malaysians, and not just the Malays only. This means, the non-Malays must also bear the same responsibility as being done by the Malays.

The question is how it can happen when the Malays themselves are not in unison on the position of its own language. Just look, when the government decided to restore the teachings of science and mathematics in BM, how many Malay NGOs came forward to go against the decision? As a result, others took advantages. We became the losers.

Why are we not acting like the non-Malay NGOs? When the question to defend their mother tongue language and schools, there is no such word as NO, in unison they united their hearts. If there is news or any action to change the features of their schools, such as additional time and standardizing the BM syllabus, they are in unison to object. The government decision cannot even change their stance. Eventually the government had to bow down to their pressure and stance. Whether it is appropriate or not, we should think by ourselves? Why can't the Muslims have this attitude?

At least, we should practice the culture of referring to the specialist, as done in the developed countries. For example, if we are ill, then refer to the medical doctor, and not referring to the doctor of philosophy. Similarly, it should be the practice in the field of language. Let the language experts solve the problems if there is a language flaw or lacking in terms of implementation. Instead, the non-specialist were the ones busy trying to change something that are outside their expertise, without referring to the specialists. Finally, the decision made did not achieve its objective and eventually bit by bits the civilization of the nation diminishes.

Just look at the signage, names of shops and housing estates, do they reflect the Article 152? Are those in the City Planning Department sensitive to this belief? This does not include facility such as suraus which are not available, even there is, it is located in the parking areas that is repulsive. Sometimes I am impressed when the west could understand us better than we ourselves. We look at the suraus in Carrefour and Tesco which are placed in strategic places, beautiful and clean.

Are we not the one who approved this building realized this reality. We want to see and hear many names such as Teratai Park, melor etc., instead of Ki Park, Monte Kiara, Country Height and other types of Height. The western names are considered to have standards, therefore we rush to buy houses in that area and names with BM are considered substandards. Are these names reflecting the spirit of 1Malaysia and Article 152? This does not include the dominance of foreign cultures that have drowned the local music, songs, customs, arts and cultures. If insignificant issues are not addressed, how could issues of significant are confined? I am hopeful that 1Malaysia will uphold the beliefs of being Malaysians.

Regardless, top-down approach is the most effective in determining the direction of a country, rather than bottom-up. Sometimes I was very impressed with the few NGOs that enthusiastically fight for the belief and identity of the country race, but do they get the support and encourage from every parties? I am afraid it is only self gratification. Do not be too political involved to the extent of putting aside the importance of religion, race and country. If that's the case, I would be very concerned that we will be extinct. Do not just be political when having the power or governing for one term or five years. When not selected again, we became quiet. The struggle of the language as the soul of the nation is a lifetime struggle rather than action-oriented.

Consequently, others took advantage. When others dominate, we accuse them, while the fault lies with ourselves for being negligent and not firm. Where will the Malays and Muslims go if they continue to lose their power? Will my prediction be true that the Malay civilizations will become extinct in its own land if they do not have anymore confidence on themselves but to trust the strength of others? While we know that Allah provides the strength to every creature created, it is imperative for the creature to be grateful and not obnoxiously ungrateful.

Sometimes I was puzzled to see that we are so disturbed on the extinction of the species of plants or animals and human rights, but we do not pay attention to the extinction of the language and culture of the nation. Let alone among us with a fixed mind who do not want to be left behind with people who are considered advanced. In the name of globalization, they are easily agreeable, not only providing the way to end the historical journey of the language as the soul of a nation, but also contribute in accelerating the process. In fact, they should be wiser by approaching together with the environmental groups and human rights activist.

Most of us in the third world considered globalization as a new phenomenon caused by the explosion of information technology or the influence of the West, and therefore willing to change such as using BI in every aspect. We must remember, although about 50 percent of Europeans know English language well, however they do not leave out their mother tongue language in the education system of science and mathematics. European leaders such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and others, continue to use their mother tongue in official communications. In the United Kingdom itself, the language of Wales and Scotland, was based on indigenous language regions - Celtic, used in their daily life and education system at the kindergarten and school. They began to realize on how severe is the effect on the fate of the language being squeezed by the policy of using the United Kingdom English all this while.

Ironically, developed countries with their main language as United States and United Kingdom, are encouraging their people to master other languages such as Arabic, Chinese, and even BM itself, and to learn the psychic of these nation for economic and political purposes. The education policy in this country allows education in its own culture form starting at the kindergarten level and primary school. It can been said that almost all computer and telecommunication companies of today such as Microsoft, are actively translating every product or products in various languages in the world on the grounds of globalization.

The most saddening part today is that our reaction towards the globalization and advancement of information technology are different from the reaction of many leaders of other countries (including developed countries) which are towards an increasingly multi-cultural and pushing forward their own culture. Malaysia is increasingly lowering its own culture and moving towards a more monolithic-western culture. Let us not become Singapore which regretted on their actions for being too entwined with BI until marginalized their mother tongue language and they are now known as Chinese banana.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be Grateful in the year of Tiger

(Mingguan Malaysia, 14 February)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

Happy Chinese New Year.

When I propose
the formula of equal and fairness according to the population statistics of 60 : 40 (Muslims : non Muslims) pertaining to the rights in the construction of houses of worship, political and economic distributions in resolving the ethnic problems in Mingguan Malaysia dated 27/12/2009, I was denounced, scolded and criticized. To me, that is the formula of equality, putting things in perspective. Lately, the Center for Policy Initiative (CPI) led by Lim Teck Ghee wanted to adopt the formula in the public services due to the dominance of Muslims in this sector, so that zero sum game does not happen. Nobody was angry or criticized him; instead all can be said as agreeable.

Previously, this formula was opposed; now flauntingly want it to be received. These characteristics should be excluded in facing a challenging world. When feel inadequate, need to increase. When already exceeded, became silent, instead if possible wanting for more. Too engross to win big or
ultra kiasu. Who are actually practicing the zero sum game? I am confident that CPI already knew the answers.

Prior to this, the BN component parties which I do not need to mention, was busy urging the government that the public services must reflect the race population which is 25 percent of Chinese, 15 percent of other races. The question is why the formula is not applied in the field of economy or in the private sector dominated by the non-Muslims? Isn't this called fairness?

Studies had been made, providing the answer that the non-Malays were not interested in working in the public services because of the low salaries. Even those interested, they would only choose the sectors that provide higher returns such as the high-ranking positions. In the police services, for example, from the 250 non-Malay youths studied, 80 percent wanted higher rank positions rather than the low-rank positions. This study has clearly indicated the psychic of the races existed in the country on their inclination. Try to understand this fact with an open mind.

Apparently, the trend of deliberately highlighting the negatives or still not enough with the intention of hiding the positives, are continuously happening. This group will intentionally turn a blind eye on history of the public services in this country, which cannot escape from
Article 153 of the federal constitution. This section clearly defined that it is the responsibility of the Yang DiPertuan Agong to determine the reserves for the Malays and the Bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak by allocating a proportion of positions in the federal public service that he thinks necessary. According to Mohd Suffian Hashim (1987), this rationale was in the early independence, the number of the non-Malays in the civil service were too many, rather than the Malays in its land itself. At that time, the non-Malays were more exposed to education in the city compared to the Malays which were from the villages.

According to the study by Comber (2007), the participation of the non-Malays (Chinese) currently were not many in the public services, because they were fascinated to the corporate sector or the business itself. They were considered as a better career compared to the public sectors which the salaries were just enough to survive. Moreover, these people were ambitious, proud of their cultures, and did not want to be governed and prefer to rule independently. These psychics need to be understood by all. Studies had shown that the perception existed that it is difficult to get positions in the public services sector because these had been taken by the Muslims or the Malays. Even if succeeded to obtain such position, then it would be difficult to get promotion. This argument was further supported that the non-Malays were not quite comfortable working in a Malay environment, because of their upbringings or the political socialization of racial overtones, such as place of stay, education, media and others (Yew Yeok Kim, 1982). Furthermore, the criterion of having a credit in Bahasa Melayu was also another hindrance.

In fact, the government has given and provided opportunities to the non-Malays in the civil services. We have seen so many non-Malays faces holding high positions in the public services including the chief secretary of the ministry, senior positions and so forth, compared to before. Isn't this a change and openness? In the banking sectors for instance, many banks are owned by the Muslims, reflecting the number of non-Malays as many compared to the Malays in the non-Malays bank. This is one of the features of openness in Islam. I request Teck Ghee to make a study on the percentage of the Malays being accepted to work in the non-Malay companies and how many of the non-Malays were being used to promote sales? Therefore, aren't Malays appropriate to be in the public services? Only then there will be a win-win situation.

Issues raised by the CPI reminded me on the RM15 million approved by the cabinet to help the single mothers who are Muslims. This issue was continuously manipulated by the author and the ultra kiasu Medias. They urged the government that non-Muslims single mothers should be included. I do not deny that the government should help those in need, regardless of religious background, race and ideology. The principles of Islam are very clear in addressing this issue.

As the Yang DiPertua for the Parents-Teachers Association in the school with the non-Muslims as the majority, I have approved plenty of school fees assistance to non-Muslim students compared to the Muslims, because they need more assistance after investigating their backgrounds. Do not accuse me of being racist, for the sake of responding to the call of
1Malaysia, without taking any advantages. It is not wrong to assist the kafir zimmi, as long they are not against Islam. What is so worrisome is that a small group that is considered kafir harbi, had openly humiliated and opposed Islam. This group is not fit to be in this fortunate land.

I am not as
cunning as the ultra kiasu to manipulate the idea of 1Malaysia to fulfill their ambitions. I also want to see that fairness is being practiced in the ultra kiasu state which announced wanting to rule according to Umar Abdul Aziz. Why CPI didn’t made a study or provide the same views on the ultra kiasu state in term of economy distribution? Didn't the Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz would want to see fairness is done? Including Muslims stalls which were demolished? Why the policies of Umar Abdul Aziz did not appear? I remind the Muslims to be cautious with the policy of Middle Malaysia, including their think-tank which tries to act independently without taking any sides. Actually, there are hidden intentions to fulfill the agendas of the ultra kiasu explicitly and implicitly.

I suggest that studies be conducted, based on the 60-40 formula in all fields with respect to the constitution, not by emotions and wanting to be a champion for 1 = 1. All parties understood that the income per capita for the Muslims are still lagging behind compared to the non-Muslims. This means, in terms of logic, because relatively of the large Muslim population, certainly more among them have to be assisted compared with the non-Muslims.

Similarly with the economic issues, the non-Malays controls have exceeded 70 percent, meaning that single mothers who are non-Malays would have more opportunities than the single Muslim mothers. Furthermore, the lifestyle of the single mother Muslims are different from those non-Muslims. Single mothers from the non-Muslims can work in all sectors irrespective of
halal or haram. But single Muslim mothers are limited. They cannot work in places such as shops involving gambling, alcohol, usury, night club or obtaining their income forbidden in Islam, although I do not deny that there are some who work in such places. This means that Islam has limited opportunities in the field of employment compared with the non-Muslims.

At the same time, the Muslims should not be choosy in their occupation. I seldom see the Malay Muslims in the laborer sector, compared with the Indonesian laborer. It is very sad to see the teenagers and the youth loitering around and wasting their time without any work. However, I am proud to read the news of a few Muslims who were willing to be scavengers with the garbage piles to the extent of losing their life. Despite this sad news, but the spirit to survive should receive credits. These type of group must be viewed seriously by all of us and be assisted through the New Economic Policy and should be supported by
zakat. In fact the problems of single mothers and poverty should not arise, if the zakat institutions are transparently fully driven.

Today we are facing problem because there are few rich Muslims who want to continue to be rich without any regards to others. The characteristic wanting to be rich is good and noble. But that wealth belongs to Allah, it should be shared with others or to save the single mothers. Do not be too busy marrying just a handful of artists who want luxury living. This must be stopped. Many mothers are single mothers who need protection and to be rescued by assisting and marrying them. I am very proud to see the leaders of the country and their wives were willing to come down into the field to help those in need, including people with disabilities.

I think, the time has arrived for Malaysians who are capable to come forward and become the people champion in this issue. Do not just conserve your wealth. When you die later, the wealth can never be brought into the grave. If the wealth is used to help the children of the nation, the wealth will continue to grow and expand. Otherwise, we will continue to hear stories of wealthy Muslims involve in marriages and divorces. Some married today, divorced the next day or a month later. Marriage is so sacred and holy, not to be ridiculed. Do not only value when useful and only discarded when useless. We were often insinuated by the non-Muslims for allowing polygamy. Whereas polygamy is something noble, if treated with care, compared with those cannot polygamy but having women or mistresses. I hope the ultra kiasu will not be angry with this argument because they consented to adultery previously. In building a better 1Malaysia, this basis need to be understood.

Regardless, the culture of requesting and demanding what the Muslims have, must be given to the non-Muslims, requires rational and logical thoughts. If we accept this formula, then eventually we will see in each housing estate, 1 mosque, 1 church, 1 Indian temple, 1 Chinese temple, and 1 each for those who do not worship anything, although they actually do not need. Requirements must be viewed in terms of race history, basic religion concepts and resident population, with respect to the constitution. Then this is called fairness, putting things in perspective.

In my opinion, this is the essence of the idea of 1Malaysia. Otherwise, later the Muslims will demand the economic cake to be based on the formula of 60:40. Will the non-Malays willing to sacrifice and share their more than 70 percent of the economic control? If not willing, do not resort to such cheap publicity. Just be grateful with whatever you have. Do not always accuse others of damaging the race relations in this country! Actually this ultra kiasu nature is the caused to all of these.

Finally, to all who celebrate Chinese New Year, I wish Gong Xi Fa Cai. Hopefully with the arrival of the Tiger year will reduce the nature of ultra kiasu tiger to less kiasu. The year of the tiger teaches us to be more careful in all aspects of life. Avoid feelings of resentment and envy, increase the attitude of gratefulness and accept the opinions of others. This attitude will prevent us from falling down easily, because once we fall, we may not be able to rise up again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Winning on one side

(Mingguan Malaysia, 7 February)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

Incident in the speeches with racist overtones in the recent 1Malaysia Meetings, should be an exemplary for all parties, especially in raising sensitive matters that affect the racial sensitivity. It has been a political practice in the country where an offense done will be used as a weapon to fell a person ignoring the thousand good deeds the person has done. This is the reality that we need to accept.

Thus, we must be careful in debating so as not to be trapped. Arguments submitted must be accompanied with facts. Emotional argument will only affect oneself and degrade the religion, especially if it is not supported with academic facts.

This incident reminded me on the invitation by the MCA Youth on February 2, 2010 recently to debate with them on the Chinese education system together with Professor Khoo Kay Kim. I have to turn down the debate as the organizers were not quite professional in conducting it.

Before the invitation was made, I have reminded the organizers several times that to choose a relatively neutral place to debate such as the chambers of the Public Institutions of Higher Learning (IPTA) and not the Chinese assembly hall as proposed, or at least, the hall near the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. However, my request was not heeded.

The organizers provided a simplistic reasoning that the public halls were all full, except for the Chinese assembly hall. I feel very strange that their youth head, a deputy education minister, could not find another hall, or at least a school hall under the supervision of the ministry. However, I still agreed to attend even if it is held in a place with full of ultra kiasu, because the organizers informed that the debate will be broadcasted live through one of the private television channel.

I feel relieved if it can be broadcasted live. This is because I do not want the debate and my arguments to be manipulated later on. Two days before the debate took place; the organizers informed that there will be no live telecast, just only a normal debate, which will be attended by a group of ultra kiasu. I had to cancel the decision to participate in the debate because of the bias attitude from the organizers. Do not accuse me for being a coward to face with them.

My question is why must we really have the debate in the Chinese assembly hall? Is there no other better places? The reason given that the forum had to be held there because of Chinese New Year is not a valid reason. There is still plenty of time available. What is important is that the forum must be organized professionally, in a neutral place in order for it to be attended by all levels of the society. Then it is fair to me.

I do not want to be a victim manipulated by the racist newspapers and the ultra kiasu. I have had enough experienced so far. The only thing that I wish to remind is that striving for truth is a bitter struggle. We need a lot of patience. Patience is to be followed by efforts to obtain knowledge through reading and study. This is very important so that the facts or arguments submit are difficult to be shot down or disputed.

Even better, let those in their respective areas of expertise do the arguments, so that it has more authority. Sometimes I feel very strange that when those not having any related field of expertise, also want to write and speak until their writings and opinions strayed away. This is one of the features of ultra kiasu.

This culture was also mentioned by Syed Hussein al-Attas as moronic culture, referring to the political culture which has no intellectual value. I remembered the words of a poet of Islam that we should be the one who knows, he knows what he knows, and that is the best. Otherwise, be the next group of people which is people are aware that he does not know and he himself knows or others may not know that he is aware that he does not know. This category is still acceptable. But do not be the human with the lowest standard, which is he is unaware that he does not know or he actually does not know but pretend to know. This last category is considered ignorant. This should be avoided when submitting arguments.

In discussing the political landscape of Malaysia and to eliminate this moronic culture is difficult. We like to label someone whom we dislike without trying to evaluate the facts that were submitted. More seriously until we are willing to reject the good that was done because of political sentiments.

Just look at the political culture between the government and the opposition, which is UMNO (BN) with PAS, PKR and the ultra kiasu party. In the eyes of the opposition, there is nothing good in UMNO which has been ruling all this while, all is bad. Pondering, all this while, was there not even a good deed that UMNO had done for the country? Are we enjoying all this while happened naturally without planning? At least provide opinions even though not many, a few also is fine, on UMNO good deeds. Vice versa, UMNO views on the opposition. Do not reject all. Moronic culture such as this must be stopped. It does not benefit anyone.

As an academician, I see both UMNO and the opposition have a role in democracy. Both contributed in the development of politics, providing a check and balance. But, do not because of being angry of one mosquito; the whole mosquito net is burned. Just because of one person who brought in the problem, everyone is condemned. Just one or two people involved in corruption, all are said to be corrupted. My question, when we rule, is everything fine, no corruption at all?

Always remember the help provided by others, and forget the help we provided to others. Remember the wrongs that we did on others, forget the wrongs that others did to us. Can't we politically engage based with this attitude? Are we not Muslims and related! Why are we so calculative and revengeful among ourselves?

All these incidents reminded me of another similar incident when the strong person of the Gerakan party issued a statement that the Malays were also immigrants. The statement was very sensitive, but not many came forward to demand the person to resign. What was so saddening, this ultra kiasu group supported this statement.

This incident portrayed that there exist a silent pact which is very cunning. They are united in silence. Similarly, the issue on the name of Allah which was discussed freely in the ultra kiasu websites. Sometimes it was horrifying to read the articles and comments that were published. Those who do not worship Allah also do not support us or protested. This does not include the interference by the ultra kiasu humiliating the position of the Malay rulers and with the latest on the late Sultan of Johor? Imagine the speeches made among them to which not understood by us at all. Why some of the ultra kiasu are still free and not subject to any action?

That's what I had always said, if it is on the Malay, the whole Malaysia become noisy, as if there is no other story. If it is on them or their own group, they pretend to be silent. This is the fate of the Malays in the Malay land. If the offense was committed by the Malays then they were forced to resign and to provide a public apology. If is on them, is there any pressure made? Have they provided any public apology when their actions had actually hurt the hearts of the Muslims? I think the Member of Parliament for JELUTUNG understand what I mean.

I see the relationships among our races are increasingly fragile. There is rarely a win-win situation happening. What we see is always a party wins big and the other party is losing substantially. The question is until when this moronic culture culture must continue? In this life, we need to be transparent and don't be only clever manipulating issue for cheap publicity.

I was so encouraged to see how the ultra kiasu politicize the 1Malaysia idea. If there is any deficiency or something that is felt to be unfair, then the idea of 1Malaysia was to be blamed. In fact, they understood the actual purpose of the idea. I still remembered, at one dinner function and it happened that in the function more meat was served compared to vegetables, because the numbers of non-Muslims were countable. Those who do not eat meat left the function immediately protested uttering the words, "this is not 1Malaysia"? 1Malaysia was blamed for not providing equal rights with equal taste which is 1 = 1 or one meat serving = one vegetable serving.

In resolving this crisis, we need to immediately emphasize that the 1Malaysia idea is not a concept of equal rights with equal taste but supported by the federal constitution. The Constitution is a living constitution. Hence, it must be the basic reference in understanding the life of the nation. This is the basis of the 1Malaysia speech that we should use when we are given the opportunity to speak in public, so that what we convey will not be manipulated.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Education problems in Malaysia

(Mingguan Malaysia, 31 January)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

The conflict between Zulkifli Nordin (PKR) and Khalid Samad (PAS) pertaining to the name Allah draws the attention in the study of political Malay Muslims. I do not need to comment on the views made by UMNO on the name of Allah. Since beginning, UMNO had been accused for taking the opportunity to profit them in this issue. In other words, nothing good is in UMNO in the eyes of both of the Malay opposition party, similarly with the non-Malays. The name Allah was considered as a drama played by UMNO yearning the sympathy from the voters in the upcoming elections.

I feel strange, before they accused UMNO for not being democratic, are they really practicing what they struggle? I also fear if they ever rule? If indeed the claim to be truly in practicing the freedom of speech, why the need to take action against Zulkifli Nordin? Shouldn't Zulkifli Nordin be given the freedom of speech? As Muslims, Zulkifli Nordin is free to speak out in the scope that is allowed. I do not see what Zulkifli Nordin did was in conflict with Islam or democracy. Do not find the faults of others when own self is at fault. Pity Zulkifli Nordin, I sympathize with the fate of our brother. Hopefully the rakyat of Malaysia especially the Muslims understood the drama being played. Do not simply accuse others of playing drama.

I pondered until when will the Malay Muslims unite? Why on such basic issues we are still unable to unite? Do our hearts ever tick that the name Allah should be protected, or are we allowing others to use the sacred name to their likings in order to protect the political interests? Why must we need to split up in all aspects of life? If not 100 percent agreeable, at least we can agree to 50 percent or 40 percent, or at least 10 percent, so as not to reveal our big quarrel or split from A to Z.

Instead, we quarrel in every aspect. All that were good were rejected just because only a group that did not had the same understanding with us. Sometimes I pity the Muslims. How long do we need to be like this? When can we sit together to reach an agreement on issues with fundamental features? I do not deny that we can agree to disagree, but not in every issue. At least we can agree with the basic issues. Unfortunately, in basic issue also we quarrel.

As Muslims, we feel very unfortunate, because those unrelated with the name Allah also do not support us, or at least to be neutral. I only heard the statement made by the President of the MCA which was neutral, wanting us to stop pointing fingers to UMNO in this issue. However, his statement was highly criticized by the ultra kiasu group and in the internet. He was considered as trying to earn UMNO sympathy and to conceal MCA internal problems.

The ultra kiasu group is also completely against UMNO and the Muslims who want to defend the name of Allah. If they are sincere, certainly among those who are not Christians i.e. Buddhism-Taoism-Confucius would have acted neutral, because they do not worship Allah. Instead, they supported the use of the name Allah among the Christians, whereas this issue was unrelated to them. This is the fate of UMNO always alone in defending the Muslims internally and externally in the Barisan Nasional. I wondered when will be the moment the non-Muslims would support the Malay Muslims. Is it true that the ultra kiasu party supports the cause of Islam brought by PAS? Haven't the Muslims realized sometimes they are being used?

I can conclude here, meaning that whatever the Muslims do, it will still be considered as wrong because of different political ideology. I fear with these kinds of sign happening. Others are clapping and shout with joy to see our weakness and disunity and possibly waiting for the right moment to take advantage.

Let us learn on how others unite. Avoid questioning religion that is fundamental in features for this will unite them. Just look at the recent issues related to their secondary education. When the government was busy improving the education standards through the improvement of primary and secondary national schools, the Chinese associations led by Dong Jiao Zong were busy requesting for the need to support and increase the number of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools (SMPC). The vernacular schools would require a sum of money 300 million a year to cover the operating costs. Currently another school was opened in Kulai, Johor making it into 61 units all together with over 60,000 students. They provided a simplistic reason that the demands for such schools are increasing and the operating costs is increasing, too. The Government assistance is needed to ease the burden of the Chinese community and the relevant parties. The effects and consequences of the emergence of this school have never been studied, especially in terms of performance of the Malay language and their association with the Malays in a country with the roots of Malays.

I was never surprised by the increase in demand over this SMPC. In fact, if build 100 more, it will never be enough. As long as there are national-type schools in the country's education system, the demand for secondary SMPC will increase. I am very confident, entrepreneurs, alumni, associations and bodies of Chinese business will continue to provide undivided support and financial assistance. That is how united they are, as if they actually respond to Islam as Allah says in the Qur'an, hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not be divided (Al-Imran: 102).

If it is destined that tax exemption be given to those who help the SPMC, I believe most of the income tax will be poured into these schools. That's their attitude which I praised them, united in silent regardless of background or political ideology. To them, their ancestors’ education should be prioritized compared to others, including matters relating to the nation building and patriotism. This does not include their support for the Private Institute of Higher Education (IPTS) such as the Tunku Abdul Rahman College and University, Wawasan Open University and others.

To me, as long as the vernacular schools exist in the system, the SMPC issue will continue to ring. I am very confident that if the government continue to fund or build more SMPC, there will be no Chinese students studying in the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK). Just imagine the situation of our country at that time. Will unity be increasingly strong or fragile?

Every week there are issues raised by the Chinese education Dong Jiao Zong and its allies in the newspapers and those condoning it? It seems as though the issue of education in our country has not been solved. I do not see those facing financial problems as highlighted. It is intentionally caused in order to attract sympathy and strategy for the upcoming election. In fact, we should together discuss on how to provide input into the existing national schools to further enhanced their standards. Instead, they continue singing and give pressure to the government. This ultra kiasu strategy must seriously be addressed and carefully handled.

In my opinion, we do not need to be noisy rising up problems and lack of provisions here and there. A simple formula, enter all of them into the government schools. They already have a good foundation in Mandarin while in the vernacular school. Why should hands be itchy in opening national type private schools? When experiencing difficulty, the government will be blamed for not helping the private schools. All that are bad is UMNO while the good are with them. Imagine that after this, upon their completion of their studies in SMPC, they would continue their studies into the racist private. When would they have the time to socialize and mix with the Malay students?

I am very confident that this situation exists because of our attitudes that are too racist and looking down at the ability of the national schools. If you do not believe, conduct a study and look at their views of the national schools compared to the national vernacular schools. The majority will say that the vernacular schools are better than the national schools. Their teachers are more diligent and dedicated compared to the National School teachers. In other words, all good schools are the racist schools, while the less good are the National School.

Sometimes it is quite disheartening to hear a principal in a large national school in Johor recently, when asked for the recipe of success until the school became the first group of the 20 selected High Performance Schools (SBT). The answer given was so simplistic, because by practicing to read the yasin and greet to kiss the hands of the teachers. In principle, I do not deny that both factors had also contributed. But other solid factors should have been highlighted based on our studies and researches to provide a much acceptable answer. Do not give such simplistic answer. Otherwise the ultra kiasu will take the opportunity to manipulate these answer.

Moreover, I am worried that after this the students will act every day by reading the yasin and greet with kissing the hands of the teachers and do not put additional effort anymore. We should be careful in providing simplistic answer. Islam is not so as easy as assumed. Similarly with the belief that by drinking the zam-zam water resulted in more blessings and a clean heart. If it is so easy then the Muslims should not struggle anymore. Gather all the students who fail the test or the mischievous, then together drink the zam-zam water and they would be intelligent and well manner thereafter. This form of thinking should be adjusted and changed. We need to distinguish between the main arguments and the supplementary arguments, without denying Islam as the basic factor for excellence. Do not misunderstand on the concept of surrendering.

To me, the principal need to reply more academically taking into account the factor of dedication provided by the Malay Muslims (also non-Muslims) teachers in the national schools, and many other factors such as the background of pupils, parents concerns, location, and others. I have been to these places quite often. In fact it is not only the schools, even the mosques in the towns were also administered properly and had received several national awards. Congratulations!

I do not mean to aggravate this issue. But I do not want to hear the ultra kiasu group looking down and insult and condemn the national schools. This is the very bitter truth to be swallowed, but had to be expressed. In fact, many national schools are great and may be better than the vernacular schools; just that they are not clever in highlighting themselves such as the ultra kiasu highlighted their schools and themselves. They are clever in acting, giving high publicity to obscure our eyes until we are fascinated and sometimes influenced without having a second thought. Remember, today they are busy with the membership campaign recruitment among the Malay Muslims. Therefore, in an effort to divert their attention and make us more relevant, we should argue based on knowledge and research, rather than providing strange and emotional arguments.

When I presented these examples, I seek the Muslims to learn on how others have reached the stars. Do we want to continue remaining in the clouds? Can we sit together to discuss the standards of our national education? What is the level of unity among the people of different races in the country? How far do we understand the relationship between the majority and minority? What are the guidelines and formulas that need to be shared? Or do we want to use the approach of human rights which are sometimes directly unfounded?

I think the time has arrived for the Muslims to unite and think about their future. Do not be too political. It will not benefit us, but will destroy us. Why are we willing to challenge among ourselves and sometimes almost to the extent of using violence among us? Does it provide any benefits? Are we unable to discuss on strengthening the building of a race nation rooted in Islam as the federal religion?

We need to think and sweat it out to strengthen the basic issues of religion and the nation in a multiracial society. We can not deny the rights of the non-Malays because we have accepted them as it is. However, that does not mean that we need to acknowledge all the demands. We have the constitution as the basis to live in the country. It should be preserved and courageously translated. Let alone to defend the holy sacred name of Allah. I wish to congratulate Zulkifli Nordin. Continue fighting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

There is no absolute freedom in this world

(Mingguan Malaysia, 17 January)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

When my article was not published in the newspaper last week, many readers wondered why I did not write, what had happened? I am touched with their questions. I did not expect that my humble writings received that much attention. This humility had made me realized and grateful for the blessings provided by God in this prosperous land.

All these while, I had patiently faced the condemning and criticize from those who were not agreeable with my writings. Some even prayed that I hasten my death and end up in hell. The extremist listed me in the registration book of death. Alhamdulillah, I still have the strength to face these challenges and pressures. I value friends of the same faith who provided me the encouragement and strength to continue my writings and not to fear with the threats and warnings.

If we are too afraid with humans, where are our confidence to Allah SWT? All these reminded me on the real meanings of Islam. If all these while I had to face the slandering and defamation from the day I embraced Islam until today, why must I be doubtful now? I have not done any great sins or any evil. I only wish to create the awareness among friends of the same faith that not to be complacent and to rise up defending this holy religion, and not allowing it to be taken advantaged. Is it a betrayal to my own race? Shouldn't my descendants be appreciated for my actions?

I leave it to the fate to be determined by Allah SWT. Nothing in this life is more important than to get HIS blessings. HE created mankind, and therefore HE also determines the time of our death.

I was blacklisted and accused for being a hypocrite because of sending my children to the vernacular school. Can't they understand what I had written? I had repeatedly stated in my writings before this that my children studied in the vernacular schools and I have never denied that. Those hypocrites were those that do not read my entire articles. They only take the negatives and then manipulated the sentence so that I would be hated, admonished and humiliated. This provocation by the ultra kiasu is very dangerous in the Malaysia politics. They will continue to look for opportunities for political gains and mileage, by way of sympathizing which is a timid way of obtaining power.

Honestly, my children have a good background in the Malay language (BM). They have never failed in the BM, and did not enter the transition class after completing primary school. Therefore, was it wrong for me to enroll my children into the vernacular school as long when they still exist in the education system? In fact, I even suggested that if the vernacular schools continue to be established, then it would be better for the Malays to study in the vernacular schools, while the non-Malays should study in the national schools. This is for the purpose that the Malays can master the language of the non Malays, while the non-Malays are able to communicate in Malay proficiently. Isn't this much fairer and will achieve national unity? Whichever, this will not happen.

Furthermore, by sending my children to the vernacular schools, at least I practiced what I preached. Writing based on facts and reality. Otherwise, I would not be practicing what I am preaching. I do not want to feel enthralled with myself or merely theorizing. When my children were there, it means that I am aware of the development and what was happening in the school. If there are issues that I have raised about the vernacular schools which are not correct, please get them corrected, but do not resort to personal attacks until to the extent my parents and ancestors not at fault were scolded; from those presently alive to those who had already been dead.

To the followers of my writings, the theme is closely related to the development of race in a country where its nation empowered Islam as the federal religion. I did not see what I had written is wrong. I prefer to be straight forward. If it is not true, let us debate academically rather than being critical.

So far we had been talking about the freedom to speak or freedom of speech. Do we respect the freedom of speech? Sometimes I ponder whether the freedom of speech will be provided openly if the ultra kiasu rules. I am just giving a different opinion, can't I? Do not simply accuse others for not being democratic. When embarrassed due to own doings, is it true that we are practicing democracy fully? If the racist newspapers can write freely on whatever they think, why can't I? What advantages that they have, and what am I lacking? Do not ridicule your own selves.

What is freedom of speech? Freedom of speech does not mean that we can speak anything we like without any considerations. Freedom of speech is to present arguments that can be of beneficial to others. Encourage others to be thoughtful rather than to be rigid and narrow minded.

It is immoral when we disputed something that has become the rights of a race, especially if it had already been written in the constitution. We are very sad when there is a small group which was ungrateful had disputed the Islamic way of life, while the Muslims had never disputed their way of life such as building houses of worship as one pleases without permits and licenses, even under the trees and along-side the road.

Islam took the approach of respecting the human rights of every person. Among the rights are the rights to live, the rights to accumulate and possess wealth, the rights to be independent without any hindrances, the rights to travel, the rights over children, the rights for justice, the rights on dignity and respect on a person, equal rights under the laws and so forth. All these freedom are subject to the balance of living in a nation.

Let us not be confused with the freedom professed by the West. The West declared that every individual has the freedom to do anything according to their heart and soul even though it may conflict with the needs of religion and against the noble humanitarian values. Take an example, marriage with the same sex. Today they began to realize that absolute freedom destroyed them. Even former U.S. President, George Bush urged the West to return to Christianity. Human rights which are in conflict with religion must be abandoned. What is so puzzling is that when the West had become aware and had admitted their mistake and their downfall, why are we in the East busy discussing on the absolute freedom which ruined the West?

Since the beginning, Islam had guaranteed human freedom in accordance with the physics of the human nature itself. Reminder; the physics of the human nature is subject to the laws of the Creator. Because of this, we object a Muslim to have the freedom to convert to other religions freely. Professing the Shahada by Muslim is the testimony of a seal on a pledge or agreement made between God and HIS slave. Pledge and agreement are compulsory to be fulfilled, and anyone who apostates mean that the person has violated the agreement. As such they deserve to be punished because the freedom has been abused.

The freedom allowed is the freedom to provide opinions, ideas, reprimanding and constructive criticism to the related party. This freedom includes freedom of the press and the Internet which disseminate accurate information to the public, rather than news that is not true, slandering, obscene and abusive words, reports that are not benefitting or publishing photos disgracing other people.

Let us not debate claiming that we pay more income tax and therefore we are free to do and get anything without any restrictions. Tax paid will appropriately be distributed. Have we not realized that our taxes paid were used to provide security, peace and stability? Value this peace for allowing us to accumulate and make lots of money. Who are actually benefiting from the value of this peacefulness? Value this and don't be too ultra kiasu.

My blog was horribly condemned, cursed, abused and have I ever replied with matching words? I am willing to be treated as such. I have my principles not to be like them. If I were to give the same reactions, what differences would I have compared to them? Should I lower my dignity to their level? It is definitely no. I write based on researches and readings. If you do not agree with me, provide your facts and we can debate. If you want to debate, make it professionally. Do not invite me for a debate in a place full of ultra kiasu. Don't be too emotional until destroying own selves. These types of attitude will thwart away the national development. I have never invited them to visit and read my blog. They are free to access any sites or a thousand other blogs, especially the ultra kiasu sites and blogs. Go and read and comment as much as you can, I have never forbid. Isn't that we called freedom?

Today we should ask what can we contribute to the country instead of asking what can the country give to us when we pay income tax. I am confident that those who spoke so much had not paid much tax. Large companies that paid taxes actually appreciate the security provided, although undeniable that there were a few who escaped and took the money out to invest abroad. There were also those who surrendered their citizenship and become citizens in other countries. We do not need to feel regret, because such people can be considered non existing, for even if they exist, they will be burdensome.

Only those insane will acknowledge absolute freedom. Absolute freedom does not actually exist in a civilized human life. I remembered the words of Dr Carmen Lawrence (2006); " depends not on our capacity to hit back at the terrorists, but on our capacity to think for ourselves."

Therefore, do not be surprised that if Muslims come forward to defend their rights because it is in the scope of freedom. Freedom means in defending the dignity and the rights respectively. Rasulullah SAW stated, which means: "Whoever was killed in defense of his wealth is a martyr, killed in defense of his dignity is a martyr, killed in defense of his religion is a martyr and killed in defense of his family is a martyr." (Hadith narrated by Abu Daud, Nasa'i and Tirmizi)

Absolute freedom does not actually exist in a civilized society because civilized society is a society that is controlled by the system, rules and laws. Those who make their desires as a guide are not a free society, but are a lost society, forever lost. There must be a limit to freedom. For the Muslims, freedom is guided by the Quran and Sunnah. Meanwhile the non-Muslims based their freedom on their spiritual books respectively. In the context of a living nation, the constitution is a guide to the meaning of freedom. Thus, refer to the constitution if there are problems and conflicts. If we are interpreting the constitution following our own interests and desires, then the consequences will be bad.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What is still left for us

Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

I was asked to write about the polemics name of Allah which had been decided by the court in favor of the Catholic Christians recently. The ultra kiasu website which is anti-Malay and anti-Islamic was celebrating the victory. Writings supporting the court's decision filled up every space without taking into consideration on the sensitivities of the Muslims at all. That is their true colors when they can accused the other media as not correct and which media is actually correct? This group is never grateful; instead they are even more daring and rude.

I do not deny the rights of other religions to use the name Allah, at least the name will be spoken by them, and who knows a day will come they might also circumcise. However, I am doubtful because why now it had become a big issue? What is the purpose behind the issue? Who are they targeting? As Muslims we need to understand this issue.

For those who are not in the NGOs, they may not see the true intentions. But for us who are in the NGOs, we are well versed with their techniques and tactics. They will continue to demand until they achieve their goal. They will maximize their demands even though it may sound extreme. They know that if the government is unable to accommodate all their demands, at least a little part will be given. That little part is what they actually aim for. That is why they are constantly demanding and requesting especially when the Muslims themselves are facing a weakening unity. I do not think they would be that brave if the Muslims are united. History had shown that when a nation is strong, it will usually be feared.

My friends in the Facebook complained that there are among the Muslims had apostated from Islam and embraced other religions. This group is very active in their preaching even though they know it is contrary to the federal constitution. The same thing had happened to Siti Hasnah Vengarama or Banggarma Subramaniam recently. We were very surprised on why the non Muslim had the courage to marry Banggarma with a non Muslim man which is already contrary to the federal constitution and is wrong legally.

Although Banggarma admitted that she is no longer a Muslim, but she is still subject to the sharia law even though she may not be practicing Islam. Those responsible in marrying her should refer to the religious authority as a sign of respect to the Islamic religion. Ironically, there is no action taken by the Islamic religious authorities. Isn't this called tolerance?

I still recalled that when this issue came up, and before anything else we saw the reaction from the Malaysia Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Tao (MCCBCHST) urging the Sharia Court to allow Banggarma to profess Hinduism and to leave Islam immediately, without going through the normal court process. The Christian priest being the president of MCCBCHST viewed that apostasy as legitimate because she embraced Islam at the time she was small and she did not practice the teachings of Islam. The priest requested that she be given the freedom in choosing her religion as she is above the age of 21 years old. The Sharia Court is considered not qualified because it does not have the jurisdiction over 'those who do not practice the religion of Islam'.

My question is how this priest could say whether the Syariah Court is qualified to justify on this case. Don't be the judge. We must be professional and not emotional and have sentiments. Respect Islam as the federal religion. Instead, before this matter can be brought to the court, they had already become the judge. I am so worried if these kind of judges exist in the court.

Back to the issue on the name of Allah, all the non Muslim NGOs wanted us to respect the decision made by the court. Ironically, if the decisions favored the non Muslims, we were asked to respect the court and that the decision made was considered to be fair but if the decision favored the Muslims, the court was biased and was influenced by certain people. Were these considered proper? Why can't we act more professionally?

Whatever are the reasons we have on the issue of the usage on the name of Allah among the non-Muslims, the damage and pain are being felt more by the Muslims. Throughout my observations, in the western countries, the majority of the Christians do not use the name Allah at all, either in the churches or in their daily conversation. Even in their films, I did not see nor hear the name Allah is being used at all.

It is without any doubts, the name Allah has been used in Indonesia and several other Arab countries. Similarly goes for Sabah and Sarawak. The question is does it mean that other countries should follow the same?

I just wonder why we should attend to the requests by the Christians in the peninsula which only amounted to less than 9 percent, compared with the other religions which has more than that. As I had spoken earlier, even though they are little in numbers, their publicity drowns the other religions. Whereas we are aware in terms of rights, those with the religion of Buddha, Confucius and Taoism are having more rights, because they consist of 22 percent.

To me, any arguments to allow the Christians to use the name of Allah, should also consider the harm and sensitivity on the Muslims and in compliance with the constitution of our country. It is not that we are afraid with the Christians' movements; however think about the restrictions with the position of only 9 percent. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Council of Islamic states must act firmly without any compromise on those publishing their brochures that are misleading the Muslims. This is of great importance to avoid any further damages that may befall the Muslims which are relatively weak and to avoid conflicts.

The justifications provided by some Islamic scholars and organizations that do not forbid other faiths from using the name Allah for God, are intricately unacceptable. They reasoned that the Muslims should not fight for the name of Allah with the Catholics. They have their rights to name their God as Allah because in the Qur'an the polytheists also used the name of Allah. Is it true? They seemed to claim that Allah 'allowed' HIS name to be used by the non Muslims to refer to God the Father, Jesus and all worships which are incorrect and polytheistic beliefs.

As a former Christian together with the others, we are familiar on how they work. It is only that I want to remind the Muslims to be more vigilant and careful. The name of Allah is one of the claims made by the Inter Faith Councils (IFC). Although IFC has not been successfully established, they reside under MCCBCHST. It can be said that almost all of the 14 claims that were submitted had been successfully fulfilled. These claims had in fact jeopardized the position of the Islam as the federal religion.

Among the claims made by them were, first: that a child born to Muslim parents should not directly be Muslims. Second, the non-Muslims who have converted to Islam should be given the freedom to return to their original religion (apostasy) and is free from any legal action. Third, any conversion by the Muslims to non-Muslims should not be handled by the sharia courts, but instead by the civil court. Fourth, the identity card of a Muslim need not be recorded that they are Muslims. Fifth, non-Muslims need not embrace Islam if they want to marry the Muslims. The Muslims should be allowed to exit from Islam (apostates) if they want to marry the non-Muslims and no legal action will be imposed. Sixth, a person or married couple who changed their religion to Islam should not be granted custody of the children.

Seventh, the non-Muslims who are family related with a converted Muslim should be given the rights to claim on the person's estates after demise. Eighth, the government must provide sufficient funds to build and maintain houses of worship for the non-Muslims similarly to what they provided for the mosques. Ninth, the non-Muslims should be allowed and cannot be prevented from using the holy words of Islam when speaking with others. Tenth, the bible in Malay and Indonesian languages are to be distributed to the public openly.

Eleventh, non-Islamic subjects professed by the non-Muslims should be taught in all schools. Twelfth, Islamic programs based in the native language must be curbed. The propagation of other religions other than Islam should be spread in their native language, and thirteenth: the Muslims who pay the zakat should not be exempted from paying income tax and the zakat money should be used for the non-Muslims also, and finally, Islam should not be mentioned as the first choice in the Malaysian society such as the clothing attributes covering the aurat for the students.

My question is that almost all the claims had been addressed and haven’t the leadership of the Muslims today lay down enough tolerance? To me, we have over provided on the basis of democracy and of fear with their intimidations. These are our weaknesses that causes others to take advantage without due respect on us.

The tolerance provided by the Muslims has actually reached a very high level. In my opinion, the Muslims have never or very rarely interfere with the non-Muslims religious affairs. Let alone to interfere in their religious term such as Pope, Paderi (priest), Sami (Monk) and others. This is because of our principle of respecting the other religions.

Therefore, is it wrong for us to defend the remaining few that are still left? If the remaining few is continued to be taken away and shared, what will be left for the Muslims in this earth? Hence, the government prohibition on the usage of the name of Allah in the Herald newspaper was accurate and positively meaningful for the Muslims. It should receive undivided supports from all Muslims. At the same time do not act outside the limits of religion such as burning the churches, which is already extreme. Even if there is war, Islam forbids us from demolishing or destroys their houses of worship. That's the beauty of Islam. Even so, we do not know who actually burn the churches! It could be the Muslims? It might not be them also? Or perhaps it could be the non-Muslims taking the opportunity to profit themselves during a disturbance or conflict? Essentially, do not simply accuse the Muslims.

What happened today is that we are only defending the name of Allah from being used indiscriminately. Stringent conditions should be applied if the name is to be used. Power in the constitution should be fully applied to defend and save the honor of this beloved religion. I hereby hail to the Duli Tuanku and the Council of Malay Rulers to intervene to save the sanctity of Islam from those who tried to contaminate the purity of this ad-din. Take this as an inspiration for us to to rise up and to be more proactive rather than action-oriented. When it happened, it started to chaos. Shouldn't we always be on the alert and consistently pious to defend the dignity of this noble religion rather than only act when it is required? Hopefully Islam will continue to shine and radiate.