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.