Monday, June 06, 2005

18] Outside the Matrix

Outside the matrix
Azly Rahman
May 16, 05 12:52pm

"May 13, 1969: Beginnings "

The nation was in ruins. As a child in Sekolah Temenggong Abdul Rahman in Johor Bahru, I was saddened and baffled when my favorite Math teacher who liked me a lot suddenly threw my exercise book out of the door one morning. I cried.

A child’s horrible experience. I was puzzled and afraid. She is Chinese. I did not notice she was that; since my beloved aunt is an adopted Chinese girl given to my grandfather during the Japanese Occupation. I was about 7 then.

I heard of a few Malays in red headbands in great numbers - from Muar, Batu Pahat, Johor Bahru, and Pontian rushing to Kuala Lumpur. I heard the words ‘Kampong Baru, KL’. That sounded like ‘Kampong Melayu Majidee’ to me - a place where I grew up. I heard the words “curfew” and darurat (emergency) for the first time. I heard that Kuala Lumpur was burning. I was scared.

It took me many decades to understand what is possible after May 13, 1969. May 13, 2019: Age of corrupted machines Fifty years ago, Malaysia was devastated by the death of hundreds of people predominantly Malays and Chinese.

It was May 13, 1969.

Whatever the reason for the bloody racially-motivated conflicts, the nation has come together to build a strong sense of multi-culturalism out of the ruins of colonialism. Malaysia became a laboratory of social experimentation in race relations and communal politics. The 22-year reign of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad provided the structure for hegemonic formations and the creation of a few ethnic Malays, Chinese, and Indian who were rich.

Fifty years into the darkest moment, May 13th was remembered by a National Day parade of towering Malays consisting of mountain climbers, a solo trans-Pacific sampan sailor, Petronas Twin Tower parachuteers, and a child who scored 20As in a high-stake state testing. The towering Malays were paraded at the foot of the towering twin towers of Petronas.

Fifty years into the darkest moment, bright professors from Malaysian universities either fled the nation to teach in Beijing or Nairobi, or were jailed without trial for being too bright and suggesting too much to correct the gap between the digital haves and have-nots. The gap was too much for the nation not to notice. Too many people were getting filthy rich out of the blood, sweat, and tears of the poor.

Fifty years into the darkest moment, books were banned, 19,500 National Service ‘deserters’ were arrested, tried and put in a special juvenile detention camps build in all the 13 states, beside National Service training camps. Perlis was the first state to be humiliated. The case of the Ahmad Harizal from Perlis was just the beginning of a great witch-hunt. In public universities, vice-chancellors were wrestling with each other to be recognised as the next minister of education and hopefully the next prime minister.

University students continue to read less, think less, and act less on matters of social justice concern - there were not enough jobs to go around. Thousands were jobless, young and old. The case of two university lecturers who were fired for refusing to sign the Akujanji in 2004 became finally too much for the academic community not to rebel against the moronism of the higher education leadership.

Through the minister of education’s unique interpretation of higher educational philosophy, they can get their Bachelors degree in two and a half years and their Masters in eight months.

Malaysia’s Age of Biotechnology has progressed; sanctioned by the idea of ‘Islamic Biotechnology’. It is not clear if stem-cell research into the creation of the Master Race has become secretly started. It is not clear what kind of Master Race is to be produced. What has proliferated is genetically-engineered crops produced for the world market.

The political system has become very corrupt; the crime rate has increased and environmental degradation has continued. Political dynasties proliferate. Few families are controlling the nation’s economy – for their own political gains. Huge real estate projects are created, benefiting those few and their international partners.

Old political foes continue to squabble to settle old scores. The climate of real political consciousness has been clouded. There is no transparency even on the real issues of the ongoing tedious arguments. The government continues to mistrust its people and belittle their intelligence. The people begin to mistrust the government and belittle the leaders. Time waits for no nation.

"May 13, 2019: Revolutions"

Gradually, something happens. In the process of the creation of towering Malays, the major squabbles over national schools, the emergence of more and more racially-motivated youth political parties, more raids on Zouk-like clubs, and more jailing of 18-year olds who missed the National Service, something happens.

A revolution in thinking takes place in virtually all spheres of Malaysian life – a spectre is haunting Malaysia. A Maya/Virtual Prince who revolutionised the minds of the Malaysians using the power of the broadband is spreading the revolution like wildfire.

A nice, peaceful revolution that began with the idea that “… all men are created equal and endowed by the Creator the inalienable rights to life, liberty, social justice, and happiness” and that “man is born free… and everywhere he is in chains” and the idea that “the revolution must begin with the conviction that the wealth of the nation is to be shared equally regardless of race, ethnicity, color, creed, and national origin”. Affirmative action has became a buzzword and a well-implemented one.

The revolution is so sweet it permeates the mind of the prime minister, would-be prime minister, government servants, servant of the Sultans, university professors, vice-chancellors, university students, labour unionists , school-children, and people on the street.

It is simply revolutionary to think that one could design an economic system that is colour-blind and one based on the meeting of needs more than wants. Free public education is extended to universities. Knowledge and power are finally understood.

Gradually, as the idea of ethics, creativity, and social reconstructionism gained momentum, even children in school begin to learn to share and to look out for each other regardless of race, ethnicity and national origin. To display wealth with arrogance is a sin in this new Malaysian republic.

The gap between the rich and the poor is almost gone. People begin to leave the urban areas and live in pastoral areas, living a life of pastoralism. They sharpen their senses daily with Nature as their teacher. They become good thinkers. Citizens do not watch the idiot box called TV; they write poetry and perform in village theatres. Local government rules. There are no war toys in their children’s possession.

They do not need the National Service to prepare for war. They are prepared for perpetual peace, through a politics of trust and guided by a universal philosophy. The Malays begin to intermarry. Interfaith dialogues become a favorite topic of conversation after dinner. There is less mention of the setting up of an Islamic state as people are now well-attuned to the beauty of philosophies across cultures - transcultural philosophies. It is a must to learn philosophy in schools.

There is a programme called Philosophy for Malaysian children. Social status is abolished. People’s desire for conspicuous consumption is curbed and controlled through humanistic and peace education.

"Aug 31, 2069: A Utopia"

A new government came into being today. Classes, caste systems, and vestiges of colonialist thinking have been abolished through decades of mental revolution. People are called ‘citizens’, instead of Datuk, Dato’ Seri, Tun or Cendiakawan.

Each citizen is a vice-regent of God on Earth. The idea of the divine rights of kings has become a big myth. Because the country is oil-rich, the nation’s wealth is equally shared. No more is spent on building more twin towers.

citizens have decent homes. There are no more golf courses. The citizens decided that these were merely playgrounds for those seeking huge contracts to get richer and richer. The golf courses have been replaced with nice homes for the poor - befitting human dignity.

There is a council of multi-ethnic vice-presidents of the nation, headed by a brilliant Orang Asli woman -modeled after the female leadership of the Native American Council of Iroqui League; a peaceful system of governance before the arrival of the conquistador Christopher Columbus to America.

Each leader helpsrule for only five years. It i felt that the longer one is given power, the more corrupt one will become. Corruption might also run in political families. Schools no longer fight over the national-ness of the character of it. The children spend time helping children of new immigrants adjust to the new Malaysia and to help them overcome poverty.

Children of Bangladeshi, Thai, Indonesian, Filipino - of those whose parents served the needs of the more affluent Malaysian - are thoroughly aided to excel and become good, towering Malaysians. University students spend time designing and carrying out research projects that will continue to meet the needs of the poor.

They are well-versed in the inner workings of neo-colonialism and the predatory nature of the Word Bank and IMF agenda. These students are well-versed with the intentions of the supporters of the World Bank policies. They are even smarter than those supporters, having been exposed to the work of progressive social theorists. Such is the notion of a new brand of citizenship.

"A brave new world."

Let us be reminded of the Iranian Ali Shariati's notion of the ideal man one who: " ... holds the sword of Caesar in his hand and has the heart of Jesus in his breast. thinks with the brain of Socrates and loves God with the heart of Hallaj.

He is a man who understands the beauty of science and the beauty of God.

He listens to the words of Pascal and the words of Descartes.
Like Buddha is delivered from the dungeon of pleasure-seeking and egoism;
Like Lao Tze reflects on the profundity of his primordial nature;
Like Confucius, meditates on the fate of society;
Like Spartacus, is a rebel against slave owners;
Like Abu Dharr, scatters the seed for the revolution of the hungry;
Like Jesus, bears a message of love and reconciliation;
Like Moses, is the messenger of jihad and deliverance.”

Such ought to be a definition of a towering Malaysian - who emerged 100 years after May 13, 1969 in new nation called Republic of Cyber-Malaya.

Let us revolt with the end in mind

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