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.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Better kiasi than ultra kiasu

(Mingguan Malaysia, 3 January)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

My gratitude goes to an ultra kiasu website which is also anti-Malay and anti-Islamic, the Malaysian Insider for willing to review and published my article in their site. Pity them, the article and the good comments that supported me were filtered out and were not published, while the bad and negative were exaggerated, instead. The website is so ultra kiasu. We should request the Communications and Multimedia Commission to monitor the website. They deliberately did this so that I will be condemned and criticized, including among the Malays themselves which I think were not many, in order for me to surrender or to kill my character (character assassination). Well, these are the reality of life that I have to face. The acquaintances of the ultra kiasu are many, the camouflage enemy acting good externally but are actually evil internally. As usual they also associate me as a mercenary writer and an UMNO collaborator.

Honestly, nobody ever forced me to write. It comes from the conscience of a Muslim who wants Islam to return with a strong hold on this earth. Back to the subject website, I have only one advice for them, which are to argue the facts intellectually. Avoid using obscene and abusive words. When I write, I am ethical and carefully guarding my morality and do not personally attack anyone at all. I do not act like the website manipulating and provoking every issue. I was not disturbed at all by the ultra kiasu comments but instead they actually even made me stronger to write and to be grateful to live in this fortunate land.

For those who are ultra kiasu, why are you so apprehensive? There were many Malay writers denouncing the Malays and Islam, but the Malay Muslims were unperturbed. They don't react that easily and do not use insulting words to the extent of accusing the writers' descendants. These characteristic of the Malays deserve my respect very highly. Unfortunately, when I touched just a little about a group in my race who is ultra kiasu, it became as though Malaysia has no other issues, whereby the whole ultra kiasu groups came together to condemn, insulted and used offensive words against me and my descendants. This is the difference between the Malay Muslims and my race. Therefore, do not be baffled if I come forward to defend Islam and to create awareness among the Malays before it is too late. I am not God to change the Malays, not acting more Malay than the Malays, but I am just using my capacity doing my obligation as a Muslim, eventually we may become strong. Just imagine if the ultra kiasu is to administer the country, what will happen to the religion and race of this nation in this noble land of ours?

I think the characteristic of the Malays being too tolerant is because they are Muslims. This is also one of the factors that I embraced Islam with Allah's blessings. If it was destined that the Malays were not Muslims, I will not be concerned. Religion unites all of us all regardless of race, without denying the rights of the non-Muslims. However, I am still worried whether too much tolerant can forever be accomplished until those being honored became ungrateful? Is it true with the sayings that the Malays forget easily to the extent of making the others always remember? Thus, because of this forgetfulness, the ultra kiasu became an opportunist and rude.

Just observe how the ultra kiasu thinks, if there are writings in favor of the Malay Muslims then I am associated with UMNO. Was it true that all this while when UMNO leads the country, the ultra kiasu suffered and was oppressed? Were the wealth owned by the non Malays which exceeded 70 percent were the result of their own efforts and not because of the system practiced by the nation which was led by the Muslims who allows the non-Muslims to have a pleasant life after all? If all the Malay Muslims were bad, obviously the non-Muslims would have no place in this land! Why not be grateful for enjoying the benefits? Is my formula currently being practiced?

Are they actually that good in administering both Selangor and Penang? I do not see any difference. If in the Municipal Council, look at the faces and how greedy were they grabbing the municipal projects. Previously, it was the UMNO cronies, but now when they are administering, were they not their own cronies? They are all alike. Will the jet engines not disappear if the ultra kiasu is the administrator? Are all the ultra kiasu executive councils in the coalition clean in terms of personal character and administration of the state?

I am not saying that UMNO is all well. UMNO also must change in the aspect of personal moral leadership and in managing the country that if they still want to remain relevant in getting the Rakyat's confidence. Don't wait until the ultra kiasu group succeeds to administer. When the ultra kiasu group succeeds to administer later, we will eventually regret for life. By then, there's no use crying even with tears of blood.

Remember, this ultra kiasu group consists of very cunning people. They are deliberately ruthless and ignorant. I dare to label someone because my research was on the perceptions of the Chinese on the Malay politics in my doctorate thesis. The term ultra kiasu, average kiasu and less kiasu were the scales of my research. Those who were barking, had they ever made any research? I am not a Muslim scholar, as what they claimed me to be for as my field of research was related to politics and government. However, that does not mean that I should allow myself to be ignorant without learning about Islam!

I was asked to produce the facts with my writings. Are my writings all these while not based on facts? Besides, I am not writing journals. No need to advise me who were Thomas Hobbes and John Locke when talking about the social contract. Read also the opinions of Rousseau to understand the actual meaning of the social contract. Don't just quote words which are not in favor of own self merely for the purpose to be viewed as intelligent on one self but in fact is not!

I'm not interested to quote the words of these western scholars even though I had read most of their books. I'm more interested in the opinions of the Muslims, because the Muslims based their opinions from the Quran and Hadith. They are not easy to be manipulated. Do not allow ourselves to be ignorant. The Malaysian Insider and the ultra kiasu like very much these types of ignorant people for eventually they can be turned into the followers of Santa Claus.

Don't just take for granted that they have the 'moon' with them. If indeed there is a 'moon' in them, they would have a long time ago prohibited alcohol, adultery, 4 digits lottery and so forth. But they are very cunning; they disguised themselves to follow Umar Abdul Aziz just to ‘melt’ our hearts and spirits. When they are already 'melted', they will be easier to welcome Santa Claus. Have we so easily forgotten on the alcohol issues and the allegations on Jamaah Islam Malaysia (JIM) as extremist? Just because of politics, the significance of Islam and its followers are ignored.

They were so easily wound up with the formula that I wrote that based on the percentage of race (religion), 60% Muslim, 40% non-Malay (22% Buddhist-Taoism-Confucius, Christian 9%, 6% Hindu, 3% others) and in relation to the festivals and religious activities. I had already stated that on the basis of tolerance, the formula was never implemented. The question is whether their rights were ever denied all this while in contrast to what that had been written by the ultra kiasu website? If the website can write whatever they like, why can't I? Is their news not racist? Must it be that bad to accuse other people as criminals?

If you are not agreeable with my method, then provide the ultra kiasu formula. But basically it must be constitutional and not Malaysian Malaysia. If it is a Malaysian Malaysia formula, then it is better to discuss with Lee Kuan Yew to migrate there. Open a new website over there, and try to criticize the Singapore government, and I think the site would had been discarded a long time ago, let alone to open their own schools.

I remembered the latest book written by SP Huntington entitled ‘Who are we’. He wrote that America had taken the approach of assimilating all the races who came to migrate since the beginning in order to achieve unity. Basing on Huntington opinions, there are no questions arises that America is more open as alleged by this ultra kiasu group. Why they can accept Barack H. Obama to be the President? The answer is simple because Obama is whiter than the white people even though his skin is black. Why are we having problems today? The reason is because we had to deal with the ultra kiasu who are untouchables. Their attitude is of no different from where they originated.

Try asking and research on why the Siam people can accept non-Siam (Chinese) as Prime Minister such as Chuan Leekpai and Taksin Shinawatra. It is the same situation with Obama. Are we in the same situation? Do not gimmick. Tok Guru does not have to alter the constitution of Kelantan to appoint the non-Malay Muslims as chief minister. This is because the non-Malays there are very small in numbers. Take care and provide guidance to the newly converts who are still wandering around over there, which are more beneficial than making hasty political actions.

I think my sins of raising the ultra kiasu issues are not as bad as namewee issues offending the Negaraku anthem and disgracing our country together with his latest video clip where he used offensive and obscene words. Why are the ultra kiasu not condemning his actions, instead many are supporting him? Why so emotional when raising this matter? Isn't this ultra kiasu? I also have the right to speak in a democratic country. If you cannot agree with me, then argue in a sensible and educated manner.

I have never denied the rights of the non-Muslims for being the minorities in this country. If I do so, it simply means that I am denying my ethnicity. Know the limits and appreciate the tolerance that has been given. Do not be boastful with idealism when own self is not perfect. The Malays are very tolerant to the extent that their rights are eroding and they are not even making noise. That's why I have to create awareness in them. I fear that if the Malays are destroyed, the sanctity religion of Islam would also be crushed. I do not dispute their rights, but not to the extent of sinking the majority rights of Islam.

I write not to win the hearts of anyone or to be popular. If merely for popularity, I am already popular since before. I just had to write because those being honored by us are already forgetting themselves. I fear that this small group of the ultra kiasu will cause damage to all the non-Malays who are less kiasu. Those who are less kiasu should be appreciated and be protected against the ultra kiasu. The ultra kiasu must remember that whatever happens today, the Malays only lose for a short-term. In the long term, I do not think they will lose. The numbers of the Malays are increasing basing on the birth trends, as well as those who join the security forces such as the military and police. Whatever happens later, the security forces are responsible for this country. If this happens, who are the losers? Obviously the non-Malays who are the less kiasu will lose. The ultra kiasu group will certainly run off.

At times my tears trickled down thinking of the future of Islam and the Muslims. It is not because of kiasi (fear of death), but thinking about what our great grandchildren who will inherit our struggle for defending the dignity of the religion, race and country! Or will they also be 'melted' with the cunning strategies of this ultra kiasu group? If this happens, then it is very unfortunate for Malaysia, a country which was born with the name of Malaya. It is already enough with whatever that had happened. Do not repeat the same mistakes. If we make the same mistakes again, I am worried there is no turning back. Remember, sometimes Allah gave us the opportunity and at times not. Islam can never ascend as long as the Muslims do not adjust their thinking.

Look at how the Prophet treated them before Islam and after conversion. Remember this verse in the Quran that do not deny the rights of the non-Muslims; "O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him,- lowly with the believers, mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleases. And Allah encompasses all, and He knows all things." [Al-Maidah, verse 54]

This verse commands us to be gentle with the Muslims. It also ordered us to be firmed and to have a strong attitude with the ultra kiasu non-Muslims. Therefore we must not provide the same treatment of gentleness to every non-Muslim. Take a look at whether they are ultra, average or less kiasu. Especially if they have done so much damages to this earth such as the Kafir Harbi. Is it necessary for us to compromise with them?