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.

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