Monday, May 26, 2008

169] All Malaysians have special rights

All Malaysians have special rights
Azly Rahman | May 26, 08 12:11pm

"Therefore, the rakyat must unite and never raise issues regarding Malay rights and special privileges because it is a

quid pro quo in gratitude for the giving in of citizenship (beri-paksa kerakyatan) to 2.7 million non-Malays into the Tanah Melayu federation....Thus, it is not appropriate for these other ethnic groups to have citizenship, only (later) to seek equality and privileges," said Tengku Faris, who read from a 11-page prepared text.

As a Malaysian who believes in a social contract based on the notion that ‘all Malaysians are created equal’, I do not understand the ‘royal statement’.

If it comes from the Biro Tatanegara (BTN), I can understand the confusion. But this is from a royal house.

merdeka 2005This statement was valid 50 years ago, before Independence. This is an outdated statement that is not appreciated by the children of those who have laboured for this nation.

I believe we should look forward to institutionalising ‘special rights for all Malaysians’. The word ‘special’ is in itself special. Culturally it can either denote an enabling condition or a disabling one.

In the study of religion, one is bestowed a special place for living life well or for doing good deeds. In educational studies, ‘special education’ caters for the needs of those with a disabling physical, emotional or cognitive condition.

In all these, ‘special rights’ are accorded based on merit. One works hard to get special offers and into special places.

In the doctrine of the ‘divine rights of kings’, one's special right is the birthright. Louis XVI of revolutionary France, Shah Jehan of Taj Mahal fame, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Revolutionary Iran, King Bumiphol Adulyadev, and the sultans of Melaka were ‘special people’ who designed institutions that installed individuals based on rights sanctioned through a ‘mandate of heaven’.

Such people use specialised language to differentiate who is special and who is not. Court language is archaic, terse, meant to instill fear and to institutionalise special-ness.

malaysians 050905The language of the street or market is fluid, accommodating, meant to instill open-ness and institutionalise creativity at its best and further development of the ‘underclass’ at its worst.

This continuum of language, power, and ideology is characteristic of histories of nations. In Malay history, istana language is enshrined in the hikayat and in Tun Seri Lanang's Sejarah Melayu. Street language used in Malay folklore and in bawdy poems, pantun and stories of Sang Kancil.

Class consciousness, many a sociologist would say, dictates the special-ness of people across time and space. Historical-materialism necessitates the development of the specialised use and abuse of language. One can do a lot of things with words. Words can be deployed to create a sustainable and profitable master-slave relationship.

A better argument

Let us elevate the argument so that we will have a better view of what race, ethnicity, nationalism and cosmopolitanism means.

I propose we review what “special rights of the Malays" mean in light of 50 years of Independence and post-March 8, 2008.

I agree we must give credit to those working hard to "improve the psychological well-being of the Malays" and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness. This is important. This is a noble act.

The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust - or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education.

umno 2007 pemuda keris 061107These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.

In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. Its work should not be allowed any more in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared counter-educational activities, especially when they yearn to be free of the shackles of domination.

Over decades, many millions of Malays and non-Malays have not been getting the right information on our nation's history, political-economy, and race relations. History that is being shoved into us or filter-funnelled down the labyrinth of our consciousness is one that is already packaged, biased, and propagandised by historians who became text-books writers.

History need not be Malay-centric. Special rights for all Malaysians should be the goal of distributive and regulative justice of this nation, not the "special rights of a few Malays". History must be presented as the history of the marginalisd, the oppressed and the dispossessed of all races.

We toil for this nation, as the humanist Paramoedya Ananta Toer would say, by virtue of our existence as anak semua bangsa ... di bumi manusia. Malaysia is a land of immigrants.

democrat american election obama 070108 02In this regard we can learn from the former British colony called America. Whatever its shortcomings, it is a land of immigrants and is still evolving. A black man or a woman can become president. This is what America conceives itself to be and this is what Malaysian can learn from. Can a non-Malay become prime minster if he/she is the most ethical of all politicians in the country?

No one particular race should stake a claim to Malaysia. That is an idea from the old school of thought, fast being abandoned. Each citizen is born, bred, and brought to school to become a good law-abiding and productive Malaysian citizen, is accorded the fullest rights and privileges and will carry his/her responsibility as a good citizen.

That is what ‘surrendering one's natural rights to the state’ means. One must read Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Jefferson to understand this philosophy. A bad government will not honour this - and will fall, or will sink like the bahtera merdeka.

The history of civilisations provides enough examples of devastation and genocide as a consequence of violent claims to the right of this or that land based upon some idea of ‘imagined communities’. We must teach our children to make a history of peace among nations. This must be made into a new school of thought: of ‘new bumiputeraism’ that encompasses all and does not alienate any. Life is too short for each generation to fight over greed.

The eleventh hour of human existence and our emergence in this world has brought about destruction as a consequence of our inability to mediate differences based on race, colour, creed, class and national origin. Each ethnic group thinks that it is more socially-dominant than the other. Each does not know the basis of its ‘self’. Each fails to realise its DNA-make up or gene map.

Life is an existential state of beingness, so must history be conceived as such. Nationalism can evolve into a dangerous concept - that was what happened to Europe at the brink of the two World Wars. It happened in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and in Indonesia when Suharto fell.

I argue that we must evolve in the historical presence of historical constructions. The past and the future is in the present. Let us no argue any more over this or those rights. Let us instead treat each other right.


pipitart said...

I couldn't agree more with you Azly. We indeed are the true leaders of our destinies. It doesnt matter what race you are, do not expect to be helped or be under a comfortable umbrella called "rights". That is what the young generation is beginning to realize. Those born in the 80s or before, has been taught using the :quote "filter funneled packaged history" all our school lives. But times have changed indeed, with technology and with more curious minds, we are on the quest for constantly searching for information and knowledge from all sorts of sources. This will ultimately give more open minds to the new generation, and with that a CHOICE to differentiate and to choose between what is right and wrong.

So let's be more aware what we plant in the minds of our young generation. They are the future of malaysia. Not all the politicians sitiing up there right now.

sinnersaint:saintsinner said...

Hi Doc,

love yr non stereotype thoughts, keep dishing em even if some needs to dictionary lol

Inner & Outer Wars

The snakes are scattering venom
and though the sour-faced folks distress us,
yet up in the mountains in hives among the trees
communities of bees still create their stores of honey.

As much as the poisoners spread their poisons,
these antidotes will neutralize them.
When you reflect, this world is all in conflict,
particle with particle, just as spirituality is in conflict with denial.

One particle flies to the left, and another to the right.
One particle flies up and another down:
Witness the conflict in every movement.
All of this visible strife is the result of hidden strife:
This outer discord springs from that inner discord. . .

By means of truly unto him we are returning.

We have come back from ourselves to Your Ocean,
and we have begun to nurse at the source that suckled us.

Phantoms have distracted you from the path,
so don’t boast of principles,
if you have lost the Principle.

Our war and our peace are in the light of essence:
It does not depend on us alone,
everything is between the two fingers of God.

The wars of nature, action, language—these terrible conflicts
exist in all the parts of this universe.

This world is maintained by means of these wars:
consider the elements in order to solve these difficulties.

The four elements are four strong pillars
by which the roof of this present world is supported.
One pillar is a destroyer of another:
the pillar of water is a destroyer of the pillar of fire.
And so this whole edifice of creation
is founded upon conflicts;
and for better or worse we are at war.

My own states oppose each other:
each is in conflict with the other.

If I am constantly warring against myself,
how can I be in harmony with another?

Behold the surging armies of my states,
each at war and in conflict with another.
Contemplate this same poignant war in yourself:
why then be so busy warring with others?

Unless God spares you from this war and
brings you into the single-colored world of peace?

Mathnawi, Book VI: 33-39, 41-55

These words are a reminder of the conditions of life on earth and the conditions within ourselves. These words point toward the spiritual work and inner transformation that are necessary. They are not meant to lull us into a state of spiritual complacency or inaction. Each must decide what action is necessary and effective in establishing just peace and true harmony. Yet, the polarized and precarious world situation calls for renewed remembrance and reliance on God.
If we look to the ninety-nine names of God for some insight, we will surely find something to help us remember what is real and true. Consider these two divine attributes

samanyan said...

Dear Dr. Azly,

I am a retired non-bumi, non-muslim citizen of this country I have some thoughts to share here.

I do not think the non-bumis in malaysia are questioning the special rights of the malays. What is being questioned is, "is the implementation fair and in the interest of the country?". For example:-

i). Why have matriculation exams which are widely considered sub-standard, used for the malay students? The modus operanti of this system has a thousand loopholes and leaks, and is blatantly incompatible with globally accepted per-university examination standards. What is the problem? Is it because bumi students can not study as well as the non-bumis? If that is the case would it not be better to prod and punish them into performing better, rather than to shout "melayu boleh" and gloriously lead them in the path of mediocrity with sub-standard exams and bonus marks?

ii). How many licences must be given to a malay entreprenuer before he learns his lesson and come on par with the others? The country does not have the money to mollycoddle incompetence, inefficiency and blatant laziness. In less than 10 years it is stated that the country will run out of petrol. And in this 10 years our population would have gone up by another 5.5 to 6.5 million. Shouldn't our emphasis be on providing jobs for all the additional people who come on stream in the employment scene. Why are we then wasting our time with individuals who do not have what it takes to "cut it" in business, by giving out licences and opportunities again and again to the same people?

iii). India is a poor country, but it manages to export 80,000 engineers a year for the lucarative employment markets of US and Europe. Malaysia is a much more well to do country, but can our educational institutions produce a fraction of the quality personell that India can produce? Why not? For how long do you think the world order is going to be the same as it is today? Education wise china too is moving at a tremendous speed. The one big hinderance the chinese have had all these while was their lack of English. But, with the introduction of English in standard one about 8 years ago, it is only a matter of time before the chinese join the indians and others in a global challenge for jobs. In such an environment can we, malaysians stand any where near the competition?

If the answer is a resounding NO, then what is meaning of 'KETUANAN THIS or KETUANAN THAT' ???? Isn't it a case of being a frog under a coconut shell ??

Whatever we may like to believe about ourselves, it is the reality of what happens on the ground that counts to the world. One day some time back we thought Singapore was just a backwater of an island with no water, no resources, too small a size for any meaningfull development and pushed them out of our fold. And see what the bloody immigrants have made out of that place!

Talk and sloganeering about 'KETUANAN THIS and THAT' is cheap. You want true respect, you have to earn it. Win your place in the world on a "man to man" basis.

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)