Be cool in God's country by Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN, formerly of the Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, July 07, 2012
All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring. - Chuck Palahniuk (Invisible Monsters)
has been a ratcheting up of racist rhetoric against the Chinese
community of late by Umno, culminating in the rather odious challenge to
PAS by Umno's Kemelah state assemblyperson Ayub Rahmat that ‘hudud law'
be implemented in Johor for everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim. Notice
Ayub's unfortunate choice of words, "The Syariah Criminal Code (II)
1993 State of Kelantan does not reflect the true requirements of Islam.
It creates discrimination in terms of execution (among Muslims and
In other words, it's "unIslamic" to have a set of
laws that discriminates between Muslim and non-Muslim and because this
is Malaysia, between Malay and non-Malay. Do you see where I'm going
with this? Like most Umno politicians Ayub does not see the
contradiction between the Umno obsession of upholding Malay rights,
which in turn is translated into unofficial and official
institutionalised discrimination, and the so-called egalitarian
perspective of Islam.
Never mind that Ayub has conceded that the
Islamic policy of his own Umno is, well, unIslamic following the strict
criteria of his own definition. Prime Minister Najib Razak may
crow of the "moderate" Islam practiced here in Malaysia but the reality
is that the Arabisation process has taken root and the ruling regime is
ever willing to use it as a weapon of fear against Muslims and
non-Muslims, as I wrote in my fear culture piece.
Ayub's broadside is one of many politically motivated provocations
meant to incite the multiracial/religious Malaysian polity into reliving
their long buried racial or religious nightmares. Nightmares which only
Umno and the power-sharing formula can shield them from. Unfortunately
for Umno, this does not go down well, with a sizeable section of the
voting public which considers anything coming from Umno as anathema. I roll my eyes whenever I hear the common refrain by this regime and
some others who indulge in the most grotesque behaviour in name of Islam
and yet claim that theirs is a religion of "peace".
When we have those paragons of purity at University Putra Malaysia indulging in anorgy of hateagainst
the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community and
'immigrant ethnicities' and our prime minister declaring that there is no place in Malaysiafor
the LGBT community all the while members of his own party disseminating
the "pendatang" narrative, who could honestly make the argument that
the kind of Islam promulgated by Umno is anything but divisive to this
The pink elephant in the room
what is most sickening about this whole sordid mess is that the real
targets of these hate campaigns are Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga
Sreenavesan and the various ‘opposition' personalities. Whatever
collateral damage is accrued as far marginalised communities are
concerned is par for the course as far as Asian values go. Non-Malay/Muslim bigots are quite content to let their Malay/Muslim
counterparts claim the field, all the while basking in their so-called
inclusive rhetoric which seems to only revolve around corruption and the
division of the economic pie instead of any real philosophical
principles which would require sustained commitment.
chairperson Karpal Singh is always accused of rocking the Pakatan Rakyat
boat whenever he keeps PAS on the straight and narrow ‘secular' road as
far as their Islamic preoccupations are concerned but with Umno ever
ready to play the Islamic credentials card, Pakatan partisans should
throw their support behind politicians like Karpal whenever PAS shows
any signs of wavering. And let's face facts, Pakatan loyalists
would like to put this whole ‘Islamic' state issue in the backburner but
with the likes of PAS ulama chief Harun Taib stirring the hudud pot for
whatever reasons, we ignore the pink elephant in the room at our own
Add to this PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat "congratulating"
Umno for attempting to impose hudud in Johor and one can't tell if a
game of religious chicken is being played or is there some darker
sinister agendas at work. I have known for too many true
believers in PAS who believe that the goal of an Islamic state
supercedes that of any multireligous/racial dogma of Pakatan. Even
worse, I know a few influential Umno diehards who are sympathethic to
With former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
declaring Malaysia an Islamic state and the Islamic ‘Hadhari' of his
immediate successor, thoughtful observers would understand that the
battle for Islam is not merely an Umno and PAS issue where it is easy to
choose sides, but rather a ticking time bomb which can only be defused
if and when as a nation we choose to tackle this issue once and for all. All this is very amusing of course coming right after Najib advised his Umno brethren to "cool it" as far as provocative "racial" statements are concerned. Notice Najib's rather unfortunate choice of words.
"We would like to remind our members to not issue any statements that
touch on sentiments of any race or anything that can cause problems
between BN component parties," he said. In other words, Najib is
only concerned of "the problems" as it relates to the workings of his
component parties and not to the larger multiethnic Malaysian community.
Just to belabour the point. Something is only ‘racist' (for
example) if it is defined by BN component parties and sanctified by
Umno. Non-BN supporters are left totally out of the loop. And who
exactly are these ‘members'? Do they include members who belong to
right-wing Malay rights groups? Former prime ministers?
Mahathir's greatest hits
Mahathir is reviving his greatest hits collection when he attacks the
Chinese community with the overused canards of minority subversion and
dominance. ‘Kingmakers' he shrilly proclaims them while in the belly of
the Umno beast - Utusan Malaysia - the editorial warlocks stir the cauldron of communal fears of Machiavellian alliances between the Houses of DAP and PAP. The
narrative is simple. The Malays are splintered at the mercy of the
devilish Chinese ‘pendatangs' who want nothing more than to physically
and psychologically enslave them. The Malays are weak and only Umno can
protect them. So what if Umno gets rich in the process? Doesn't this
‘service' require remuneration?
As has been demonstrated in numerous articles,
Mahathir gets the math wrong as far as the kingmaker demographic goes.
But wonky numbers has never deterred Umno from spinning a horrid lie.
This whole country is built on dodgy numbers. The same narrative
applies to the way how Islam is practiced in this country and the rest
of the world where despotic regimes in all their banal varieties hold
sway. The faithful need to be protected against anything that would
shake their faith. If their faith in Islam is shaken, what then of their
faith in the ruling classes that lord it over them?
‘kingmakers' talk must really piss off the Hindraf lads. If the Chinese
are the kingmakers, what then of the poor Indians? And it does seem
unfair. So-called Chinese advocacy groups are in general timid and
cautious when criticising the regime. And who could blame them,
considering the firepower against them. They may not in reality be the
clear and present danger to the Umno regime but they have been anointed
as such and all the state's propaganda organs are at work portraying
them as placing the destiny of the Malay polity in harm's way.
But if you really want to read the bleeding edge in racial and religious
discourse, you should check out the Human Rights Party websiteand the commentary by the Hindraf faithful. Whatever
my criticisms of Hindraf, only they have had the cojones to rage
against the Umno machine in an open and official manner instead of the
sub rosa rhetoric which perhaps even I am guilty off. If they ever get
the support of a majority of Malaysians, they will truly be the clear
and present danger that Umno so fears.
Even RPK (blogger Raja
Petra Kamarudin) has taken a stab at the Indian and Chinese communities.
At least in this regard the Indians are not left out. And this makes me
happy. His blog post about how the Indians and Chinese are to "blame" for keeping Umno in power was an extremely funny read.
Like Mahathir, he gets the demographic numbers wrong but then again
Pete (as he is fondly known) was never a numbers guy. His forte is
stirring the shit and seeing who complains of the smell.
Why should RPK get all the brickbats? I have more or less made the same argument in most of my Malaysiakini pieces.
I have discussed the complicity of the Chinese and Indians communities
of sustaining Umno hegemony with their obsessions of their communal
preoccupations defined by Umno. I have heaped scorn of those who
complain but don't vote. I have pointed to the uncomfortable
fact that there was always opposition parties (who may have played the
game badly, but then again how well was BN playing?) but not enough
opposition support. Of course, the Malays and the vote banks in
Sabah and Sarawak are part of the numbers game but let's concentrate on
those vocal communities who define (for better or worse) race relations
in Malaysia. Spare me "we voted out of fear" or the countless other BS
rationales for voting BN because the usual justification of former BN
voters was that "we do not have a credible opposition" (sic).
the end of the day, it's all about money anyway. Whenever we see these
political or religious types pontificating about religious or cultural
values, one should consider this Dorothy Parker quote as dictum rather
than bon mot, "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look
at the people he gave it to." Malaysiakini.