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Saturday, August 01, 2009

The meaning of "One Malaysia"




One Malaysia, divisible

by Azly Rahman


I grew up hearing slogans, as each regime passed power to its successor.

In the 1960s it was Bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh. In the 1970s it was Bersekutu bertambah mutu. In the 1980s we were serenaded for 22 years with Bersih, Cekap, Amanah.

There was a song Demi Negara that went along as soundtrack. Next came a new leader with Kepimpinan Melalui Teladan and Islam Hadhari. Now we have One (1) Malaysia.

Malaysians saw the chronology of sloganising as 'unity increases quality', 'clean, efficient, trustworthy', 'leadership via good example' and finally 'Malaysia as one'.

Nice slogans. We have created branding in governance. But if we are to lift the veil and look at what is behind these words, we will discover the complex interplay between political-economy and hidden agendas, between political bribery and hegemony, and between ethnocentrism and hedonistic capitalism.

Malaysians are not as excited as Americans when Barack Obama took control to create a 'One America, indivisible with liberty and justice for all'. Malaysians have a long way to go in terms of translating slogans into data-driven system of governing.

For Muslims, Malaysia in this age is like Mekkah circa the emergence of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) - hedonistic, tribalistic, with multiple demigods of materialism, contradictory and hypocritical.

Like Mekkah during the reign of Abu Sufyan, when power rested on the display of signs and symbols of wealth and little concern for the plight of the poor, Malaysia has evolved into a country in which the disparity between the rich and the poor has become too wide and that those in power use any means to ensure that divisions in society are maintained. Thus we have a country in which homes of the poor are bulldozed to build for yet another shopping mall.

While we hear the 'One Malaysia' slogan being trumpeted, we have also seen the evolution of structural violence in our economic, educational, cultural, and legal systems.

We have Acts that imprison the body, mind, and spirit of our citizens. Using the state ideological apparatuses, the powerful among us have used power not to liberate, but to cage the powerless.

Structural problems

But as in many a renewal processes, we must continue to work towards dismantling the very foundation of race-based politics; from the psychological to the ideological. The problem is not necessarily in the leadership that moves from one hegemonic phase to another; the problem is deeply structural.

The structure can no longer hold the weight of the masses that are demanding for justice to serve all and not to enrich the few. The violence that need to be eradicated is inherent in the system; a system that is build upon slogans and feel-good messages trumpeted across ages through the media controlled by those who own the means of intellectual, economic, and perhaps moral production.

I propose that the beginning of a successful goal of a 'One Malaysia' nation should begin with the dismantling of all race-based political parties. As long as we are organised along racial lines, we will continue to protect each others' interest using the idea of might is right.

Our institutions will continue to be built along these lines and our culture will continue to evolve in ways that will enable and disable each other. Our children will continue to learn about better ways not to tolerate each other and how to build walls and cages around us. We will, as citizens, continue to see race and ethnicity - rather than class or caste - as obstacles to progress.

I propose we pry through the slogans and make the government of the day accountable. If the regime says that is one of 'clean, efficient, trustworthy', we must demand proof that it is so.

If the regime of Najib Abdul Razak (left) wants to see a One Malaysia, we must demand that the One-ness of Malaysia be rebuilt on the foundation of politics, economics, culture, and education that will ensure that a humane system of regulative and distributive justice is installed, made transparent and always evolves to deal with the challenges of globalisation and multi-culturalism.

In One Malaysia we are seeing merely systemic change; a fine-tuning of a system that is breaking down. Those who created and run the machine are also breaking down and plagued with a political pathological condition that exacerbates the problem.

In One Malaysia, what we need is a truly revolutionary process of transformation that will bring back the dignity of the poor and the dispossessed of all ethnic groups, punish the robber barons, bring back freedom of inquiry in all our educational and cultural institutions, create a God-fearing law enforcement system.

Most importantly, it must create a cadre of leaders that will explore humane capitalism means rather than sloganise on human capitalism that create a newer form of indentured servitude.

In short we need to explore the primacy of 'spiritual capitalism' rather than continue to become capitalists evolving into merely spirits in a material world. Let us make our slogans meaningful.

Like a living holy scripture.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is 1Malaysia achieval? Impossible. Not with politicians from both sides playing up the racial issues to score points every chance they get. Is the PM strong enough to enforce his 1Malaysia slogan upon his own party first. Hardly. Is UMNO willing to be rebranded UNITED MALAYSIAN National Organisation with MEMBERSHIP open to ALL RACES and its constitution changed to see each member as a MALAYSIAN, not as Malay, Chinese, Indian or Others? That will be the day 1Malaysia can become a probable reality.

Anonymous said...

Be honest & ask yourself: Did they think of 1Malaysia when Koon Swan/Unker2 Lim, Kuok & Lee develop Malay areas like Puchong & Kulai/Senai?

The Constituencies/local economy there have become too lop sided in a short 15 years have they not? WHY?

AISEH, FORGET THE SLOGANS/THEORIES & SHOW US THE REAL WORLD!

Barisan Semangat said...

NATO, these BN people!

francis ngu said...

Any number of nice-sounding slogans as a camouflage political tool will not bring about any national progress.

The hallmark of the BN regime is more of form rather than of substance, but time has caught up with them. Quasi-nationalist ideology has be promoted to such a level of absurdity for such a long time so perversely and pervasively that the nation is being brought to its knees.

Malaysia may have highways, electronic factories and such paraphernalia of material progress, but the over-riding political and social paradigm is best described as PRE-MODERN (society), that is if one dislikes "Neo-Feudalistic" as description. Following its Ketuanan mono-ethnic ideology, Malaysia will not move into the league of "Modern" states, not to mention "Post Modern" states.

You have given creditable pointers where we should be heading.

FN from Sarawak.

Anonymous said...

good frenzs,
don't say anything lah......enough is enough.BN is now too powerful. PM become too powerful too. they take everything from us. PDRM, SPRM, SPR, ISA.....wow! frenzs court alsolah belong to them.

wake up MCA, MIC, Gerakan.....stay away from UMNO-BN as they are all BIGgest culprits

NOW RAKYAT IS THE BEST & POWERFULL JUDGE!

Go for two-party system. give other people a power to change everything. Understood too hard to change but still not too late.....

Anonymous said...

ONE SAY! ONE MALAYSIA! ONE STUPID GOVERMENT! DEDICATED TO BNUMNO !!!!

Tamerlane said...

And we are supposed to abandon Abu sufyans arabia and replace it with todays Saud arabia?

Anonymous said...

Dear Azly Rahman...you are indeed the true Malaysian and hope for the rakyat...

Admired your many articles and hopefully Najib and his crooks within the BN repent...

Hidup Rakyat!!!

Mangkuk@kwmark
Anak Kg Melayu,PG

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog when I google for the meaning of One Malaysia as I am still trying to figure out what it is. Good write on this issue. Hopefully one day, we will achieve One Malaysia but as of now, I don’t think we are ready yet!

Anonymous said...

in this earth there is ONLY ONE race .."THE HUMAN RACE" we are all humans to live in peace and harmony that The Mighty Creator created for us to live peacefully in harmony and apperciate with thankfulness ..why never learn from history, the killings the bombings the murders and wars!!! for what all these? we are created inteligent beings not animals without brains and blinded, are we? ... no wonder the earth is going to be in destruction.. if we call ourselves humans please wake up! why created hell for yourself ... are we so called any better than the stone ages barbarians .. I beg , please think cause we humans have otaks not otak udangs ... when are we all going to stop all these nonsense fooling with this precious life given to us by The Mighty Creator ... one world for one race for peace and harmony on earth .. the true meaning of love ... love the world love the living be grateful and be thankful

Anonymous said...

It is about time we take racial out of politics in Malaysia - we are all Malaysians, and equal before God and Allah.

There can be no justification to racism, no matter how cleverly it is worded.

Whether we transform or change towards 1 Malaysia depends on the rakyat.

Until and unless we truly unite as one Malaysia, we will never progress as well as we could.

The journey calls for unwavering leadership of exceptional integrity, principle and courage.

The choice as to how fast and how ultimately we get there as well as its consequences, belongs entirely to the rakyat. No one should hijack this right from the people.

Siva Prasanna Krishnan said...

I grew up in a Malaya that was one and later a Malaysia that was one. Who was responsible for cutting it up into parts and placing the parts into different reservations to be given different brand names?

What did all of us, including me, do when this mutilation was taking place? Remained silent, spoke in coffee shops and then went about the business of living.

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