Friday, October 17, 2014


by Azly Rahman


There is so much worry that the Malays are going to be left behind in the new English Language requirements for university entrance – the Malaysian University English Test (MUET).

There are so many groups making excuses that the kids from rural areas will be left behind.

Well, hasn't this been an argument since time immemorial? Never-ending excuses for those 'speaking for the Malays'.

Here is my advice to those learning and teaching the lingua franca.

You've got to work hard for it; just like anything else in life. We should have progressed a long time ago as a nation with good mastery of the English Language had we not politicised the issue.

It is time to grow up cognitively and have a 'do or die' attitude towards the language if one really wants to get a good university education with English as a medium of instruction.

Cry daily if you must – if you wish to master the language or any language for that matter or to master any skill. Look at what Bruce Lee did with his art.

All this talk about helping the Malays is not helping the Malays. Get on with the programme, hit the ground running, and get tough with what you want your students and children to do with regard to mastering the language.

Stop making excuses. It is not like all the Malaysian shop and road signs, even in Kelantan, are written in Urdu or Swahili.

The situation is very bad. Maybe if all of us master the language, we could actually understand terms such as 'liberalism' and 'human right-ism' without talking nonsense and confusing them with 'lebai-ism' and 'animal magnetism', as propagated by the 'Islamic state'.

I’d like to share a poem I wrote last year for my English teacher on the occasion of her birthday.

Ode to an English Teacher
(on the occasion of her birthday)

Somehow or rather
everytime I think of you
these verses come
serenaded to me as a child
whose love for the language
is immense
maybe not so much because of the profundity
of Beowulf
of Gilgamesh
of John Donne's poems
of Jonathan Swift's modest proposal
of the eerie opening words of Shakespeare's Macbeth
or the wonders of Keats, Shelley, and Byron
or of late
the beat poetry of Allen Ginsberg
– of Howl and the Velocity of Money
maybe not all these
but simple verses you taught us as a child
learning to know the world
and to be friends with its wonders
and with the great books
i would love to devour
till the end of time
because you have taught us
the power of the word
as it becomes flesh
as it becomes
of power
in hope that
they will come back to become
a desiderata
you once taught us to read
to recite
as children
promised a world
in which
only language
makes reality
breaks reality
bends reality
become these
becomes us

That was my tribute to my English teacher who taught me the beauty of the English Language and how it has helped me explore other areas of knowledge such as philosophy, politics, anthropology, cybernetics, and a host of other fields of study.

I am a strong proponent of a radical change in Malaysian education that ought to bring back English-medium schools and to teach all subjects (except Bahasa Melayu) in the English language.

This must happen at the secondary school level in order to have a generation of good citizens and workers able to not only do well in our universities sloganised by the idea of “globalised campuses” competing in this or that world rankings, but also for them to participate in challenging a global economy that still uses English Language as lingua franca.

Most importantly, I'd like to see Islamic studies be taught in English in order for the ideas of liberalism in all its intellectual glory to take root. This might be the best antidote to the Ebola-isation of the idea of the 'Islamic state' we are seeing as a global-ideological pandemic.

We must go back to the drawing board and policy-makers, especially politicians and ultra-Malay linguistic nationalists, must be honest with themselves: what is best for their children must also be made available to the children of the poor.

And this includes challenging to greater heights those so-called children from the rural areas.

But first, as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said about teachers: “Educate, but first we must educate the educators!”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



(instead of complaining about MUET and "menguit-nguit") 

There is so much worry that the Malays are going to be left behind in the new English-Language requirements for university entrance re: M.U.E.T. There are so many groups making excuses that the kids form rural areas will be left behind. Well ... hasn't this been an argument since time immemorial? Never-ending excuses for those "speaking for the Malays". 

You've got to work hard for it; just like anything else in life. We should have progressed a long time ago as a nation with a good mastery of the English Language had we not politicized the issue. It is time to grow up cognitively and have a "do or die" attitude towards the language if one really wants to get a good university education with English as a medium of instruction.

Cry daily if you must -- if you wish to master the language or any language for that matter or to master any skill. Look at what Bruce Lee did with his art. 

All these talks about helping the Malays are not helping the Malays. Get on with the program, hit the ground running, and get tough with what you want your students and children to do with regard to mastering the language. Stop making excuses. It is not like all the Malaysian shop and road signs, even in Kelantan, are written in Urdu or Swahili.

The situation is very bad. Maybe if all of us master the language we could actually understand terms such as "liberalism" and "human right-ism" without talking nonsense and confusing them with "lebai-ism" and "animal magnetism" as propagated by the "Islamic state."


-- ar

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Lamenting the Bukit Bintang bombing

by Azly Rahman

and now...

Here is the bane of an open society and one that is moving down the ladder of a failing state, FAILING STATE, in which the road to lawlessness is already paved.

No - I am not a pessimist and a ‘worst-case-scenario’ analyst. Futuristics may be the lens I am using now to look at trends, the movement of the ‘futures-wheels of society’, karma of postmodernity, the impact of the evolution of complex systems, the view of Chaos Theory, the transcultural flow of ideas be they violent or peaceful as they travel instantaneously across time and space, and most importantly as Malaysians, what we reap from what we sowed and what we are experiencing as a karma of a global city.

“We are living in interesting times...”, chairperson Mao Zedong once would have said, citing a famous Chinese saying - indeed the time is now with almost 30 million people living in a highly complex society that is still trying to mediate the contradictions of a capitalist system and a government that, not only tries to manage chaos out of order, meet the needs of the microbial-multitude of demands made by groups, but also this - a government that is becoming so corrupt and corrupting and crowned itself as the Untouchable and prone to its own implosion and controlled internal demolition yet able to sustain itself by building rationale and structures of a defence system of a survival mode that imprisons its governors inter-generationally.

And we now have a classic problem of a hypermodern society, an open society threatened by its enemies, as Karl Popper would, say. The enemies are home-grown, borne out a strange brew of an Oktoberfest of the excesses and the sane-ness of religious and cultural philosophies.

BUKIT BINTANG - the Times Square of Cyber-Hyper-Malaya. Her Trafalgar Square. Her Hatyai Square. Her Jalan Wong Ah Fook Square in ‘Sin City Johor Baru’ (from a poem I once wrote that got the Johor government excited).

That glitzy, red-lightsy,
excitement inducing street of a global city,
and a clone of a clone of a Times Square of New York City -
that Bintang Walk of a semiotics of a city
of all kinds of future possibility
culture of red lights gone crazy,
people worshipping neon gods unrepentantly,

Of gangs from many nations and principalities

Of many businesses done openly and by secret societies

By people rejected by their societies - from Yemen to Yugoslavia and the Filipino district of Makati

By those from North America to Nigeria to the Bangladeshi and the Pakistanis
scene of urban decay and homelessness of a consequence of a system of international slavery
and of  human trafficking framed as ‘progress’ needed for Malaysia to be defined as a ‘high-income society’

Aha - these rhyme and I am happy.

BOMBS in BUKIT BINTANG. Bombs over Baghdad.

If it is gang-triad related, in Bukit Bintang we have got to do what Lee Kuan Yew did in the 1960s to round up all the triads and send them to jail mercilessly.

If it is al-Qaeda and Islamic State-related, we have got a bigger problem that will have no end to the story of Malaysia - of a 1,001-Nights of a Rubaiyat of Wall-Street type of forthcoming city violence, urban terrorism, and religious-flavoured chaos of a magnitude a ‘foreign intervention’ would be necessary when it comes to maintaining regional/South-East Asian security in this Age of Neo-Pax-Americana of and ‘Asia-as-Pivot’ ideology.

I don’t know... do you?

This is my morning-after complaint. I hope you respected readers share my concern of a beautiful country going crazy.

I leave you with these verse of my beloved city...

‘Sin City, Jay Bee’

Azly Rahman

Where have all those memories gone
Of the city that never sleeps
Sin-filled you are
... Offering life’s panorama
A Pandora’s box of a lushness of emotions

Jay Bee
You may be called a city of filth
Of gang wars and transvestites galore
Of rock kapak geniuses conceived immaculately
From the womb of Papa Rock
Ahhh New Johor... New York you may want to be
Thou shall never attain that notoriety

Sweet city sin city
Celebrating the velocity of money
It is there I knew love’s inner beauty
As we walked up and down the Lido Beach
whose middle name is ‘filthy’
Ohh Jay Bee... you are a soul that is one with me

Jay Bee
Sin city
where politics stink
where corruption gets a nice daily wink
where the power elites are the underground kings
where the poor are hoodwinked
where the children of the working class roam the streets in motorcycles with bling bling
where the smell of ganja filled the air like a pissed-on fermented drink
Ahh Jay Bee
City of Sins

Your hunchback of Tanjung Puteri is dead and gone
Committed seppuku at the sight of what has become
Of you sin city Jay Bee
Si Bongkok died of a death he long-willed for
As the sight of the crooked bridge broke his heart that exploded with a roar
Ahhh... thanks to the Johor Corridor
And the Disney of Nusajaya Johoreans adore
Sin city
Jay Bee
Your economy, like a Segget River , stinks till eternity

Love is gone
Of the one my heart held on
As I walked countless miles
Along the Lido beach
Time has not been kind
To this city that never sleeps
To this sin city
That weeps
The yesteryears of the loss of pride that run deep
Love is gone
The deal is sealed
Sin city you are now sold
To the forked tongued nationalists grown old like ageing Disneys

Sin city
Jay Bee
You were once mine
You will no longer be

Tuesday, October 07, 2014



-- Selangor beer festival anger brewing?

if one doesn't drink and don't like parties and don't want to have beer bellies ... don't go to such festivals. if one loves live jazz and rock kapak music in a KL jazz-kapak club serving beer and one doesn't drink (like yours truly ... ), for whatever reason, just order iced coffee or teh tarik kaw kaw ... nobody's forcing one to drink. just enjoy the music sober ... music that can be enjoyed sober or half-sober ... unto you your Oktoberfest, unto me mine ... but rock and roll will never die (though we will ...)
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? -- ar


-- the sunnah of bearding?

if one doesn't want to grow a beard (like yours truly) for whatever reason and match that with a skullcap or a turban and occasionally with a long white or green robe, don't preach that it is a "sunnah"/an act greatly enjoined by religion, and that is the identity of this or that religion. To beard or not to beard oneself, that is not the question ... just let it be ... identity is not a game of perception management .. it is a political act. but I do like to see one grow a beard like those folks from ZZ-Top or Rasputin the Indestructible Monk though ... or even like Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. Bearding is not an issue ... unto you your beard unto me (with no beard) is mine ... though I may one day grow (a white) one to look like Al Pacino's (aging) Serpico ...
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? --ar


-- varieties of Islamic interpretations celebrated?

yes ... one can believe in whatever variation of Islam these days simply because there are a growing many .. Sunni, Shiah, Sufi, Salafi, Secularist, etc. .. who is one to say which is right which is wrong, correct? Unto you your mazhab/school of thought, unto me mine (though my belief will remain private ...) ... each mind is as unique as a single snow flake and each experience of the soul cannot be replicated by another and each one human self-chart his/her own journey .. so who are we to judge?
To each his/her own as long as your school of thought doesn't go around beheading people, forcing people to convert to your belief system, while shouting "God is Great .. God is Great" ... ! In essence keep your faith, but keep it to yourself and papa and mama don't preach ...
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? --ar


no-end to the seizure of Bibles in Malaysia?

Just return these books and encourage people to read each others' texts. They are just texts ... you read, you use your mind to agree or disagree ... and to enjoy reading them as written artifacts of world literature. Why this drama of banning this or that word ... just read ... read .. read .. "Read in the name of thy Lord who created thee ... who created thee form a clot ... " (even these many don't know how to read the meaning of these words ...) ... read thineself, read the world .. read anything you wish to read .. even signboards and billboards (which is what I love to do since young ...) . But if yours is not a reading society, unto you your passion in reading, unto me mine ... if you disagree with a book, scripture, billboard .. write a book about it, don't go around parading your ignorance and inability to handle intellectual debate or even worse, banning books or burning them!.
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? --ar


a council not to be trusted?

how could these ultra-religious people be talking about banning this or that cultural festival and wishing to protest against this or that in a multicultural society, when they have lost the credibility on these counts 1) humiliating women who aspires to become state leaders, political intricacies aside 2) back-stabbing other members of a coalition-for-change parties 3) and worst, welcoming the death of a Malaysia ISIS-soldier as "martyr", sending the wrong message to Muslim youths of this country? Why should one care about these kinds of "Oktober-fest protests" when these people engage in the "Ides of March" and "May Day everyday" in their own religious 'hood whilst forever talking about moderation and morality whilst driving in their luxury cars making tons of money becoming show-biz preachers on prime-time TV? Marx was right about the ecstasy pill of the modern masses in a theocratic state, wasn't he?
does this make sense any longer?
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? --ar


defending Islam?

why must one defend Islam when the religion need no defending nor apologizing. If one read good things from its scriptures, then there will be peacemakers; if bad things from reading it, there will be warmongers and head-severers. A text is a text -- it will produce discourse leading to belief, ideology, and action -- whether that action is for cultural freedom, or to shackle a young man or woman into blowing himself up for a jihadist cause he/she too believes in wholeheartedly.
If one believes it is a religion of war and violence, there will be believers playing the role of jihadists of the Islamic state; if one believes it is a religion of peace, there will be production of human beings with such a belief system acting accordingly. In each there is an internal defense or a rationale of what kind Islam ought to be practiced as a "way of life".
In these -- no one should defend anything. The reality is -- Islam is indefensible and needs no apology to humanity. The challenge is to choose wisely.
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? --ar


"reading the scriptures"

read well ... read closely ... take only the meaning you are comfortable in taking as elements of a belief system you will construct and live by without relying on authority that may turn you into another pawn in their game of egotism. be ready to abandon anything that you find confusing or simply does not make sense. that's what your mind is for -- a tool for critical engagement with text, subtexts, and the universe. who said all religious texts should not be made open to scrutiny? who said you should not revise these texts so that each verse you read gets closer and closer to your heart's desire, closer to your jugular vein? -- ar


fifty years of robber-baron fiesta hasn't it been? 

to worry about the image of Malaysia as a "moderate Islamic country" tainted by a cultural festival is missing the point of a bigger Oktober-fest of a nation infested with and debilitated by massive corruption cases unattended to and the culprits go unpunished arrogantly, waves upon waves of witch-hunting fiesta of those speaking up for the betterment of society, a fiesta of money-spending and shopping spree of the rakyat's money by leaders only interested in a political siestas and feasting daily on caviar ... so then: what are we talking about of a "global image of moderation" when the excesses of Oriental despotism is a long historical fiesta of festival of hungry ghosts haunting the nation like a specter of a long-gone spirit of true independence?
Deal with this. That's a good enough Oktoberfest for all of us.
simple pragmatic philosophy in a multicultural society, is it not? --ar


Need a formula for world class Malaysian universities? 

you wish to compete for top-ranking positions amongst the world's universities? It is a difficult task. Better not compete. Unless we work on these:
The culture of freedom of inquiry,
acceptance of varying viewpoints,
intense scrutiny of ideas,
respect for diversity,
putting critical thinking as criteria for good learning and teaching,
celebrating frontier thinking,
engaging in hybridized and interdisciplinary research and inquiry,
freedom from governmental dictates,
mastery of the language of instruction
hiring inspiring faculty that will push students to greater intellectual heights
and not throwing out and/or threatening to imprison good professors who are critical of society --
all these are the right stuff that make the ground of world-classism in academia fertile.
So-- prepare your ground well, then plant the seeds of progressive thinking.
Are we doing that yet? Is your society governed by these principles, in fact? -- ar

in conclusion 

-- blessed is Malaysia with diverse cultures and wisdom to learn from; even better if these gifts of authenticity, ethics, and possibilities of cultural co-creation are consciously structured into the education system, curriculum, teaching and learning practices in the most inclusive model -- so that each child is accepted as a gift of immense intelligence, hopes, and dreams to be unpacked and nurtured, each culture celebrated, the gap between the rich and the poor closed tight, and consciously engineered to evolve into a truly learning and reflective community and see wealth and power as privileges to help others with less to start with ... how do we create this consciousness into a truly grand idea of our own Malaysian Oktoberfest of ideas?

Sunday, September 28, 2014


a journey in three tablets
by azly rahman 

Tablet I

"Ujud satu Ujud
Di lebur sifat Nafsiah .."
said the wise man
in paving the way for this long journey to begin
in silence in solitude
in the service of oneself
in the service of others in need

and so that is the journey as it means
as second Odyssey of a life made supreme
"ujud satu ujud .. di lebur sifat nafsiah"
as words of the man rings again in the ears of this arjuna
in his second Odyssey across the seven minds
from his abode of Love
to the end of his Destiny
where no soul knows where one should end up in

"There is only one existence in you
And that within you is bathed in the Grace of Desire"
as Arjuna have understood it evolvingly
how then must his journey begin?
From the Source of immense mystery
only him and only he and the Innermost being shall ever agree
that there is no boundary between this and that
and between what is real and what shall be Reality

Such a long journey this man has chosen to embark upon
through all the joys and misery
yet the Logos within still sings praise of his being in its entirety
where art thou Al Mustafa he asked,
one who ought to be his guide in this journey of a lifetime
accompanied with two faithfuls: Memory and Sensibility

Exist one must
with Desire one is blessed with
A simple philosophy, Arjuna thought
Until at his deathbed he asked a question
None could make sense of what it should mean to be

And as in blind poet Homer's telling of the story
The song of the sirens of this Odyssey too
pierced into Arjuna's soul
ripping apart every single cell of the body
a grand explosion of joys and anger in one
in smithereens every moment of consciousness
all in the name of
that one and only Existence
in Desire and Eternal Flame one is bathed in

and where should I now go ...?
Arjuna asked ..
a grand illusion this might turn out to be

Tablet II

you are born into this world
alone and in your aloneness
you may find loneliness a joy
and aloneness a suffering, the Man said to arjuna
what is Real and what is Not
is in your mind

no knowledge is so secret except one you craft
for your own understanding of who you are
and what you shall become
and how you want your life to become
you are a Book of Signs
to be read daily
only by yourself only
as daily as karma shall decree
you are words and words and verses and verses aplenty
so mystified till the meaning is lost
so revered till the essence is gone
so guarded until the words becomes mere rituals of spoken nonsense
said the Man to Arjuna

show be where Truth lies in you, said the Man
show me what your Al Mustafa and Al Mahdi hath shown thee
said the Man as his eyes looked into the warrior's, now bewildered

Tablet III

and in his deep reverie, the Chosen one
heard these words spoken into his soul
like the sirens of Homer's Odyssey::

love thyself
love thine enemies
a hundred battles
a hundred memories
were they not thine beautiful eyes that i saw?
as bright as Venus could be?
that captured my soul
as i was walking slowly
towards eternity?

were those thine lips as sweet
as memory red
as the sweetest strawberry
as though heaven-sent
for my lips and eyes
that are mine only?

carved like the open shore they are
a tempestuous wave
of a night of rage
thine lips smiled a thousand whiles
shifting sands
weeping are mine
yearning for yours
as the calmness of the night
to ease things entire ...

beauty is a loss of words no longer
i see beyond this
no sound nor fury shall prevail
for thine eyes hath pierced the many worlds entire
each teardrop thine shed
of a memory we once shared
becomes a drop in the ocean of mercy
only sages and sadhus and siddharthas
would cry to sleep
yearning for the soul to be free
from this bond
of the longing and the belongingness

have i not seen you before
in a distant memory?
when my soul was not yet in me
when my spirit is but a form none can see?

have i not met you
in that lone dark street
that face i yearn to see
to feel
to touch
in no haste?

of immense beauty you are
larger than any Universe i have seen
what form you are?
wherein do you reside?
why have you cometh to haunt me?
from here till eternity?

release me
from this madness
of uresolved hopelessness
i called thine name
from mount ararat
from the ruins of paradise lost
from the snowtops of kilimanjaro
from the ocean floor of my humility
thine love is a weapon
thine gaze is a curse
thine eyes a cage
of endless horizon for my battered soul
whose life is lived for a love forsaken
when madness and melancholy
and the dread of what i live for daily
is all in the circle of the cries
of longingness

for thee i worship

show me where your Existence lie
and where your Eternal self resides
tell me why it is hiding from you?
show me where you it is in your self
wherein the spoken Word in you
will never be in disagreement
with the Eternal Logos within
tell me how your Desire is a sea of Love
unto which you are, like John baptized
until which thou are like Jesus a reason to Live
a reason to Love
a reason to Be

and tell me how you are borne One and Only
and that the mysteries of the Universe is all within thee ...

and with these questions, Arjuna began to lose consciousness
as they were too strange yet too familiar
too simple yet too profound
for a soul like him brave as a warrior

and who is this Man ?
Arjuna thought as he sat in deep thought
under the bodhgaya tree ...

- ar

Friday, September 19, 2014

Address terrorism, not flimsy sedition

by Azly Rahman

'Dewan ulama delegate pays tribute to slain militant, saying he was a martyr’ - The Malaysian Insider

That was what I read yesterday -  a most dangerous symbolic act Malaysia is seeing from an influential political party- the romanticising of diabolism, and if a political party can do this, imagine what we will be facing in these immediate years to come - home grown ISIS!

We ought to be afraid and to be very afraid - when the modus operandi of ISIS is to strike global fear through the broadcasting of beheadings, rape, mayhem, murder. My question to the government is, what are you going to do about this celebration of martyrdom and diabolism?

What is martyrdom or “shahidism in jihadism...”? I am still grappling with these words.

It might be the most misunderstood concept in the Socratic maxim of the life examined. My questions are:

  • Who or what would you die for and why? is the question...
  • Who decides whether one has died for god and paradise awaits...? and
  • Which god is worth dying for in all its validity?
I don’t know.

I am more interested not in the question of what to die for but what kind of life have you lived to the fullest with the wonderful gift of life giveth - because my question is - must religion have enemies if ‘religio’ (from the Latin) means ‘connectedness to a universal higher force of life that will not require warring factions’?

Then there is this story of ISIS handing out its new curriculum in Mosul, Iraq - removing the arts, humanities, and liberal ideas to the schools to impose a theocratic paradigm of teaching and learning, echoing the vision of society in what the Boko Haram of Nigeria and the Talibans of Pakistan hold.

Critical to Malaysian education is the equal emphasis given to music, the arts, humanities, cross-cultural studies and philosophy to be structured into the curriculum, across all subject matters, across the lifespan of the mind, and the monitoring of all formal and non-formal religious schools .

Taken seriously by the Malaysian Education Ministry, this might even be the most important advice for preparing bastion against religious militancy in schools and a peaceful and sustainable weapon against the country's takeover by ISIS-inspired groups. We must remember what Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Afghanistan were like before what they are now, (and not all hell that broke loose is the fault of the Americans, mind you...)

In the late 1980s in Malaysia I have been in schools that mirror what is being promoted by the curriculum of the Islamic state - girls and boys separated in class, even in group discussions requiring intermingling, English Language arts and drama activities sabotaged by religious groups, music lesson discouraged, students given the free hand delivering all kinds of khutbahs/sermons and talks inspired and fuelled by religious and politically-motivated teachers - all those that ISIS is promoting. I don't know how things are these days.

Religious martyrs?

I cannot understand why there are Malaysians who still think that those who died fighting alongside ISIS is a ‘shahid’/religious martyr when they are killed. I must say that even God will not accept the reason for this ‘struggle’ when beheadings and forcing Christians to convert to Islam at gunpoint, and raping women are the modus operandi of this ultra-mega-global terrorist group.

I cannot understand why our education system has not prepared its citizen to choose what is right and what is outright wrong, even in matters of religious belief.

We must ponder on this proposition: stop sending students to those troubled Middle Eastern countries.

Find more peaceful places where they teach liberal ideas, humanism, diversity of opinion, and how to respect women; that’s where our students should go to study and not in countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or any other countries as such where students will bring home ‘fiery’ ideas they cannot truly understand their cultural context only to be coming home with those ideas and messing up the lives of others in Malaysia.

The same situation applies here. Why should international students come here to study in Malaysian when the universities are not conducive to intellectual freedom and when academicians are not free to free the minds of students? What quality thinking education are they getting learning from the idea of democracy a la Malaysia?

We have to suspend our bickerings that do not add value to the evolution of a progressive, tolerant, and intelligent, and civil society we harped so much upon when we craft the Rukunegara of Principles of Nationhood.

We have a bigger threat affecting all races and religions.

The 1980s ‘Islamisation Project’ (transplantation of the radicalism of the Islamic Brotherhood/Ikhwanul Muslim of Egypt, and strands of Wahhabi-ism, laced with ideas of Muhammad Abduh, Syed Qutb, or al Maududi, embraced by some Islamic youth groups ) is bearing a poisonous fruits, as seen from a perspective of Complex Social Systems. We might be seeing our own half-baked Islamisation gone wrong turning into fully-cooked chaos.

In the case of these useless political bickering, dark-clouding of good political discourse, and endless media coverage given to personality bashings, and the ridiculousness of the over-abuse of the useless Sedition Act, let us resolve these and form some kind of collaborative governance and deal with the emerging issue of the ISIS threat and rebuild this nation, emotionally, economically, culturally, and socially.

Re-embrace your own culture

Most importantly I submit, especially for the Malay-Muslims - leave Arabism behind - particularly the disabling values of Arab tribalism that is now an epic of endless troubles borne in antiquity and globalised with such magnanimity to the current phenomena of the spread of this ‘Khalifahdom-propagated ideology in which beheadings, rape, and Attila-the-Hun-styled mayhem’ is the leitmotif of ‘Islamic millinearistic movement of global dominance and forced supremacy’. The disabling strands of it are deadly.

My plea for the Malays: re-embrace your own culture and relearn the essence of its beauty and the profundity of its philosophy. The wave of the Islamisation project of the 1980s has swept it to the middle of our own ocean of mercy.

Yesterday, thinking of all these I lamented the state of things entire with these verses as I think of my time growing up in Johor Baru back in the late 1970s.


when things were fine and dandy
when my teachers were groovy
when there was no ISIS nor Muslims that went crazy
when there was just you and me
and a dog named boo and no cellphones to do selfies
when life was just carefree
and you could roam around the village and the city freely
when puppy love and monkey love and sewel love were true love actually
when one could just pluck your neigbour’s rambutan and not get arrested unnecessarily...
when sepak takraw and sepak yem were cool games to make you happy daily
when girls do no wear the tudung and you could see genuine smiles as they ride their Chopper bikes around the kampong endlessly
when you tell seditious jokes with your friends and not get arrested immediately...
when P Ramlee was king of comedy
and Latifah Omar was the real beauty
and Si Tora Harimau Jadian was a Halloween tiger you wouldn’t want to hold lovingly
TODAY is a time when many Muslims are going mad crazy...
with beheadings as modus operandi
no longer at peace with themselves not feeling kind of groovy

when a truly multicultural feeling and a sense of unity goes well with bell-bottoms and dungarees and smiles all day and people are mad happy! - azly rahman

Friday, September 12, 2014




Salam/Peace to all.

Since I started writing on my beloved homeland Malaysia in 2006 I have had hundreds of requests to have my work translated for readers who are proficient in the national language, Bahasa Melayu.

I have always had this feeling that what I have been trying to say for the improvement of the lives of my fellow citizens and especially the wonderful and bright children of the future will not be complete without more people getting access to these hundreds of writings I have produced over these eight years or so. I have continued to write knowing that only a few of those fluent speakers of the English Language will benefit, while in my heart I await the day a publisher will be interested in a compilation of some key writings translated into Bahasa Melayu.

I owe my ideas to my readers who have given me the inspiration, motivation, and the criticisms for me to continue writing. I have grown much better in my work sharing what I think the country is all about and suggesting the road it should take in order to make the journey to progress, meaningfulness, and perhaps contentment more bearable. This path we are traversing, riding the wave of globalization is a deeply challenging one. It need to be understood by as many of us as possible. Ideas worth putting into practice need to be shared in the two languages in Malaysia widely spoken: English and Bahasa Melayu.

The essays in this volume are mainly drawn from my articles in Malaysiakini especially those written from 2010 to 2012.

I have authored  them with deep passion and hope that the ideas will stimulate further dialogue on the issues dear to us. I believe that our country needs to move beyond the mundaneness and the danger of divisive politics and begin to first intellectualise the issues plaguing our conditions of hypermodernity, analyse them using critical perspectives, and next bring the proposed solutions closer to our hearts’ desire and to the people’s dream of a better Malaysia.

In writing these essays, which have numbered to more than 300 since 2006, I have in mind a mature audience such as you, who wish to go beyond readings of society, politics, education, and culture at the level of merely descriptive analysis. I wanted my readers to also be introduced to the language of cutting-edge cultural theory – one that brings out the best in providing a multidimensional or kaleidoscopic view of the “hypermodern condition” that a society like ours is drowned in at this moment in history.

I hope you will find this translated volume not only informative but also challenging to our insatiable urge to dialogue on the issues of our times.  I hope that they will also generate good conversations on our vision to create a better Malaysia that we will cherish as a truly multicultural nation yearning to break free from the shackles of racism, materialism, and all forms of oppression.

I am grateful that my dream of seeing my writings in this beautiful Malay Language has come through. I am grateful to my readers for your continuing support, and for my publisher Gerakbudaya and "Pak Chong" for seeing the necessity for this translation, and most especially my gratefulness to a most gifted translator and culturalist of the Malay world of performing arts I am proud to have worked with in this project, Pauline Fan. My special thanks too goes to Sherly Kusumasetiadi for her excellent ways of managing this project, and my most cherished friends in academia who have lent their support throughout: Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Professor Murray Hunter, and Dr. Bakri Musa.

Humbly I submit, this project would not have been possible without your support. I hope you will enjoy these writings I have carefully chosen from two of my latest books, The Allah Controversy: and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity, and Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections 13.

Wassalam. Peace to all.
Azly Rahman,
New Jersey, USA
July 2014

Oleh Azly Rahman

Salam hormat pembaca budiman,

Semenjak aku mula menulis berkenaan tanah tumpah darahku Malaysia sekitar 2006, aku mendapat ratusan permintaan agar karyaku diterjemahkan buat para penutur bahasa kebangsaan, Bahasa Melayu.

Aku selalu merasakan bahawa apa yang aku cuba nukilkan buat memperbaiki kehidupan rakyat lain seperti aku, terutamanya anak-anak yang bijak-pandai generasi mendatang, tidak akan sempurna jika tidak ramai yang dapat mencapai ratusan tulisan-tulisan yang telah aku hasilkan selama lebih kurang lapan tahun. Aku masih terus menulis walaupun mengetahui bahawa hanya segelintir penutur yang fasih Bahasa Inggeris akan mendapat manfaat, sementara dalam hati aku tertunggu-tunggu tibanya hari di mana hadirnya penerbit yang akan berminat dalam mengumpulkan tulisan-tulisan utamaku ke dalam Bahasa Melayu. 

Aku terhutang idea ini dengan para pembacaku yang telah memberikan ilham, dorongan dan kritikan kepadaku untuk terus menulis. Karyaku semakin bertambah baik dengan berkongsi apa ada pada negara dalam hematku dan mencadangkan jalan yang sepatutnya diambil untuk menjadikan haluan negara ke arah kemajuan, pengertian (meaningfulness), dan kepuasan masih mampu ditanggung. Laluan yang kita susuri ini sambil menunggang arus globalisasi adalah suatu yang mencabar.  Ianya perlu difahami seramai yang mungkin. Idea yang wajar dilaksanakan perlu dikongsikan dalam dua bahasa paling luas dituturkan: Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu.
Esei-esei dalam judul ini kebanyakan diambil daripada artikel-artikelku yang muncul di Malaysiakini terutamanya yang ditulis dari 2010 hingga ke 2012. 

Aku telah mengarang kesemuanya dengan semangat yang mendalam dan dengan harapan idea-idea ini akan merancakkan dengan lebih lanjut dialog berkenaan isu-isu yang rapat dengan kita. Aku percaya negara kita perlu bergerak melampaui kehambaran dan bahaya politik yang memecah-belah dan mula berfikir dengan rasional (intellectualise) isu-isu yang menghambat keadaan kemodenan melampau (hypermodernity), menganalisis menggunakan tinjauan kritikal, dan kemudiannya membawa cadangan penyelesaian yang lebih dekat dengan kehendak hati dan impian rakyat tentang Malaysia yang lebih baik.

Dalam menulis kumpulan esei ini, yang telah pun berjumlah lebih daripada 300 naskhah semenjak 2006, terdetik dalam fikiranku khalayak yang matang seperti anda, yang berhasrat untuk pergi lebih jauh daripada sekadar di peringkat analisis deskriptif dalam pembacaan tentang masyarakat, politik, pendidikan dan budaya. Aku mahu sidang pembaca turut diperkenalkan dengan bahasa teori budaya yang canggih – bahasa yang mampu memberikan sudut pandang pelbagai segi atau tinjauan kaleidoskopik terbaik tentang “keadaan kemodenan melampau (hypermodern)” yang melemaskan masyarakat kita saat ini.

Aku harap anda semua akan mendapati judul terjemahan ini tidak hanya bermaklumat malah turut mencabar keinginan yang membuak-buak untuk membincangkan isu-isu masakini. Aku harap ia turut menjana perbincangan yang baik terhadap visi kita untuk mencipta Malaysia yang lebih baik yang akan kita nikmati sebagai sebuah bangsa yang benar-benar jamak-budaya yang meluap-luap ingin membebaskan diri daripada rantaian perkauman, materialisme dan segala bentuk penindasan.
Aku bersyukur bahawa impianku untuk melihat tulisanku dalam Bahasa Melayu yang indah menjadi kenyataan. 

Aku berterima kasih kepada pembaca-pembacaku atas sokongan berterusan, dan penerbitku GerakBudaya serta “Pak Chong” dalam melihat perlunya terjemahan ini, dan penghargaan yang lebih utama kepada penterjemah berbakat dan pakar budaya dunia seni persembahan Melayu, Pauline Fan yang aku berbangga dapat bekerja dengannya dalam projek ini. Penghargaan teristimewa juga buat Sherly Kusumasetiadi atas pengurusan projek yang cemerlang, dan sahabat dunia akademik yang paling dihargai Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Profesor Murray Hunter dan Dr. Bakri Musa yang sentiasa memberikan sokongan.

Dengan rendah diri, aku mengaku projek ini tidak akan menjadi kenyataan tanpa sokongan anda. Aku berharap anda dapat menikmati tulisan-tulisan yang telah dipilih dengan cermat daripada dua buku terbaharu tulisanku, “The Allah Controvery: and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity“ dan “Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections 13“.

Azly Rahman,
New Jersey, Amerika Syarikat
Julai 2014

KALIMAH ALLAH MILIK SIAPA?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba 
 oleh Azly Rahman 

…Azly telah jelas dapat melihat sambil menebusi gejala dan sandiwara yang sedang melanda negara ini. Beliau telah mengambil pandangan yang jujur ​​dan ikhlas menyatakan punca asas bagi keadaan kemelut Malaysia pada hari ini. Pendekatan ‘menyelami’ dan objektif ini telah dapat mengambil kira beberapa naratif kolonial pra-Merdeka, pasca tahun 1969, dan era pasca Mahathir. Beliau telah mentafsirkan makna-makna yang penuh muslihat dan juga yang membinasakan; hasilan arus pembangunan yang pada masa kini amat bertentangan dengan aspirasi yang dikongsi dan dipegang bersama oleh masyarakat Malaysia yang telah berevolusi. - Professor Murray Hunter 

 Tulisan Azly ini merentasi beberapa bidang yang penting dalam pendidikan, budaya, politik, ekonomi dan masyarakat. Banyak daripada penulisan beliau, walaupun sesetengah pembaca mungkin mendapati agak pendek dan kurang menjelaskan jawapan soalan yang dibangkitkan, di samping terlalu padat teori, telah berjaya mencabar status quo dalam pemikiran rasmi tentang bagaimana hal ehwal negara harus dikendalikan. Dengan memberi tumpuan kepada asas-asas falsafah dan politik bagi dasar dan tindakan, Azly menyediakan alternatif yang menarik berbanding ulasan-ulasan yang bersifat mengampu daripada orang-orang yang lebih dekat dengan pengurusan kerajaan (dan kuasa politik) di negara ini…. - Dr. Lim Teck Ghee 

Azly menggesa kita agar membaca tanda-tanda yang banyak di alam semesta sosio-budaya kita sendiri sebagaimana kita mengemudi lautan dunia hiper-moden yang semakin berpotensi untuk mengkhianatkan supaya kita juga, sama seperti orang Polinesia belayar di Pasifik, boleh berjaya dalam memaju ke hadapan atas hasrat menemui dunia-dunia baharu, yang tidak termimpi oleh mereka dan juga janji-janji yang terdapat di seberang perairan baharu yang belum lagi diterokai…. - Dr. Bakri Musa



Lecture: Edward Said


Lecture: Noam Chomsky


Lecture: Jacques Derrida


Lecture: Jean Paul Sartre


Movie: 1984


Movie: Animal Farm


Movie: Chicken Run


Poems: Rumi


Dialogue on Religion: Karen Armstrong


Dailogue on Religion: Huston Smith


















The Bhagavad Gita


Jesus of Nazareth


Siddharta Gautama


Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)