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Pluralism: The new bogey

THERE is a new threat against Muslims in Malaysia and its name is pluralism. No less than Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself has flagged pluralism as an “enemy of Islam” and grouped it together with the other bad words, “LGBT” and “liberalism”.

My Name is Khan promotional poster (source: Wiki Commons)

My Name is Khan promotional poster (source: Wiki Commons)

Not to be outdone, some Muslims, who have been described as scholars, recently declared the spread of pluralism in Malaysia as “worrying”, as if it were some kind of pandemic that needed to be controlled. Even popular Bollywood star, Datuk Shah Rukh Khan, has been accused of promoting pluralism through his rather inspiring and endearing movie, My Name is Khan.

But just what kind of threat does pluralism pose to Malaysian Muslims? And if it’s such a clear and present danger to the majority of the population, what are other nations, which also experience cultural and religious diversity, doing about pluralism that we may learn from them?

Pluralism 101

Just what is pluralism anyway?

According to Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, there are four components to pluralism. Diana L Eck writes that diversity alone is not pluralism. There needs to be an “energetic engagement with diversity” for pluralism to exist. “Today, religious diversity is a given, but pluralism is not a given; it is an achievement,” she writes, adding: “Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.”

Second, it’s not about tolerance, which is tenuous, but “the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference”. Eck argues that tolerance “does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another” and warns that in today’s world, “our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly”.

Thirdly, pluralism is not relativism. Rather it is the “encounter of commitments”. What does this mean? It means that proponents of pluralism don’t need to leave their identities and commitments behind. It’s about “holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.”

And finally, pluralism’s foundation is dialogue. That means both speaking and listening in a way that involves “give and take, criticism and self-criticism” so that the process can reveal both “common understandings and real differences”.

More sheep than Muslims

Seen in this light, it’s no wonder that institutions such as Harvard University in the US have embarked on initiatives to promote, rather than reject, pluralism. Indeed, the motivation for undertakings such as the university’s Pluralism Project has been the radically changing religious and cultural landscapes that have emerged in the US because of immigration. The project’s mission statement is “to help Americans engage with the realities of religious diversity”.

Helen Clark (source: Wiki Commons)

Helen Clark (source: Wiki Commons)

The US isn’t the only place in the world where a predominantly white, Christian population views diversity as a gift that can be channelled for greater good by promoting pluralism. In a country where there are likely more sheep than Muslims, Helen Clark’s administration lent support to a project by the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme that resulted in the Statement on Religious Diversity. Among others, the statement “encourages education about diverse religious and spiritual traditions, respectful dialogue, and positive relationships between government and faith communities”. And just like in the US, New Zealand was spurred by the increasing religious and cultural diversity arising from migration from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

More Muslims than sheep

In Malaysia meanwhile, there are clearly more Muslims than sheep. In fact, the Malay Muslim population in Malaysia is what the white Christian population is in countries like the US and New Zealand. More importantly, unlike the US and New Zealand, we’ve always lived with religious and cultural diversity. Our society didn’t suddenly see a dramatic shift in demographics that led to citizens feeling befuddled about the appearance of mosques, temples, gurdwaras and churches.

Sheep (Todd Huffman | Flickr)

Sheep (Todd Huffman | Flickr)

And yet, what do we do about our plurality? From prime minister to so-called religious scholars to Muslim youth groups, we hear a clear and resounding rejection of pluralism. Here’s what they’re saying when they cast pluralism as the new bogey in town: “No” to engagement. “No” to dialogue. “No” to active understanding. “No” to equal and respectful relationships with others.

In other words, “No” to what we’ve been historically and culturally since, at the very least, Malacca became a trading port in the 15th century. And “No” also to what we have already achieved which developed countries are only now trying to acquire. In fact, let’s just demolish one of the bedrock of Malaysian life.

Seen in this light, we shouldn’t be at all surprised that there were attempts to denigrate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim through the distribution of leaflets in Slim River this month that condemned the Opposition Leader as a believer of religious pluralism. He’s not the only one. Two years ago, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat was attacked at an Islamic seminar for attending a function at a Buddhist temple.

Superiority over diversity

Opponents of pluralism declare that any attempt to recognise other faiths on a level playing field, even if it’s a Muslim protagonist marrying a Hindu in My Name is Khan, is confusing to Muslims. It’s dangerous, they say, because it will undermine Islam by placing other religions on an equal footing with Islam. In actual fact, what the opponents of pluralism are saying is, it’s offensive and wrong to make all religions equal because Islam, and by extension Muslims, are superior to all others.

What does this do? It sets the stage for the predominantly Malay population in Malaysia, by virtue of the fact that constitutionally they can’t be anything else but Muslims, to be superior to and dominant over all other citizens.

Pluralism isn’t a threat to Islam because Islam, for example in Spain between the eighth to the 15th century, thrived because of pluralism. If pluralism is a threat to anything, it’s a threat to the dominance of one race over all others in Malaysia. If everyone is equal regardless of faith, how then can those who want to see Malay-Muslim pre-eminence justify their dominance over Malaysian political, cultural and economic life?

Najib

Najib: Pluralism is against Islam (file pic)

The tragedy of this lies not in the fact that this is happening in Malaysia, with the explicit support of the prime minister himself. The tragedy is that while other countries grapple and draw on the gift of diversity, in Malaysia, there are those who would denounce and destroy it. In their plot for Malaysia, diversity is an inconvenience, and pluralism an evil against having the upper hand. Indeed, if one doesn’t want to share power and resources fairly and equitably among all citizens, what better way to justify one’s position?


Jacqueline Ann Surin was never once dissuaded from her own culture and faith, or had her identity threatened, just because she listened to the azan, burned joss sticks at temples, dated a Muslim, watched a Hindu rite, attended a service at a gurdwara, or prayed in a Protestant church.

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110 Responses to “Pluralism: The new bogey”

  1. siudi says:

    The one thing for sure, multiculturalism in Malaysia at the end of the day is still only an illusion as everyone here are closet racists and talibans.

  2. Farouq Omaro says:

    Those who reject pluralism should not be in Malaysia, as Malaysia is a culturally and religiously plural nation. They should instead try Saudi Arabia or Somalia.

  3. Kong Kek Kuat says:

    @ Jac

    Next, you´ll be accused of trying to breed confusion among the Muslims in Malaysia, and ýou´ll be asked to prove that you have no such intentions. “Buktikan. Kalau tak boleh, diam.” Haha…

  4. Thana says:

    Najib: ‘Pluralism is against Islam’

    So what message is the PM conveying to Malaysians or rather Malaysian Muslims? That his brand of Islam doesn’t accept Moses and Jesus as prophets?Do your Math, PM! 1Moses+1Jesus+1Mohammed=3 prophets. So, Judaism+Christianity+Islam=plural entities.Is he ‘threatened’ by other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism? Political hypocrisy is getting crazier by the day. Is this lunacy triggered by the impending GE13?There is no single answer, only plural!!

  5. Adam says:

    As humans, we have to embrace humanity with all our differences in race, creed and colour. And we have to help our less fortunate in ensuring they are all well cared for in their very basic needs of food, water and shelter.

  6. ellese says:

    Sorry. I just find your writing simply dumb. If one believes that other religions are of similar basis, and in fact better than his, then why have religion in the first place. If one believes that there are other gods equal to or better than his god, then why follow the religion. In Islam there is no god other than Allah. If you believe in Islam, you believe he is the only god. Please lah. Get out of this siege mentality that you have. Everything you write you skewed it as between Muslims and non-Muslims. Islam has a different epistemology if you didn’t know. You can’t simply argue on a different logic, because it’s stupid and malicious. Stupid because you simply fail to touch the basics of Islamic understanding and expect Muslims to follow. Malicious because you write for the eyes of non-Muslims to belittle the majority of Muslims as if they are ignorant, unthinking followers. So what if you quote Harvard? It means nothing or has zero probative value in the Islamic discussion. Rubbish writing.

    • JW Tan says:

      “If one believes that other religions are of similar basis, and in fact better than his, then why have religion in the first place. If one believes that there are other gods equal to or better than his god, then why follow the religion.”

      My sentiments exactly. Respect atheism, at least it’s intellectually defensible.

      I think you’ve missed the point. Pluralism implies a respect for other creeds and beliefs. Malaysian Muslims should at least have that respect, since they live cheek by jowl, and share a country with people who follow those other creeds and beliefs. As I’ve said many times before, when Najib says this sort of thing, you can either interpret his comments as being bigoted or stupid. Neither is flattering.

    • Kong Kek Kuat says:

      @ Ellese A

      Haha… I miss you so much. Oh, and I miss Syed Alwi too!

    • juun says:

      Jacqueline is a troublemaker, period.

      • Adam says:

        NO, she is not. On the contrary, she wants to unite all Malaysians.

        • Flag of Truth says:

          Unite? To what extent? I am sure that her writing breeds hatred. And if she manages to bring this hatred to the next level, then I would like to congratulate her. Maybe we can be the second Bosnia. Gentlemen, we should cherish the peace that we have now. Don’t you get it? The Malay Muslims will never accept pluralism or even liberalism in religion. You will not like it when things go haywire. Of course maybe Ms Surin or all of you have another place to go when things go upside down. But I do not. I have only this country of mine which I will defend until my last breath.

          • Adam says:

            So, you think promoting Ketuanan Melayu/Islam day in and day out is promoting unity? Please bear in mind that not all Bumiputras are Malays and not all are Muslims. If you were an East Malaysian Christian Non-Malay Bumiputra, which I believe she is, you would understand how she and the rest of them would feel. Perhaps, you do not as you are not at the receiving end.

            I say, stop all this racial/religious issues and go for need-based policies which would help improve the living standards of our poor and disadvantaged. This is the only way to achieve unity among all Malaysians.

            The Nut Graph article of four years ago “Ketuanan Melayu rebutted” at http://www.thenutgraph.com/ketuanan-melayu-rebutted/ by Shanon Shah is now more valid than ever.

          • JW Tan says:

            Well done, that sounds like a threat, bringing in all those martial references and metaphors. So what happened to ‘Lakum Dinukum Waliyadin’?

            It is my country too. I do not want you to turn it into a place even more unpleasant for non-Muslims than it already is. The difference is that I abhor violence in general and the turning of violence to political ends in particular. You, on the other hand, are happy to start fighting whoever you cannot win over by discussion.

      • JW Tan says:

        If by making trouble you mean publishing or saying something that is offensive to some Malaysians, then yes, but before arresting her and throwing her in jail, can we first do that to the Prime Minister and several other UMNO politicians? After all they said it first, and more frequently and loudly. Then we can work our way down the list of people who espouse Ketuanan Melayu publicly, before getting to the journalists who report on and analyse such hateful speech.

        • Addin says:

          #JW Tan

          That is not a threat. I am saying that we must learn from the experience of other nations. This is not about winning or losing. This is about protecting my religious belief, which you guys like to comment on in the negative. Muslima are seen here as antagonist while non-Muslima are seen as the oppressed. Do you understand the roles of the Islamic religious authority? It is only applicable to Muslims and not to non-Muslim. Of course things are different from the 60′s or 70′s because now the majority of Muslims are becoming aware of their religious beliefs.

          • Thana says:

            Happy to hear of the increased awareness in religious beliefs.But how do you explain the increase in that moral disease called corruption?

          • JW Tan says:

            Your religious beliefs are actually better protected in an environment where people are free to say what they wish, and where people actively try to understand religious beliefs and philosophies other than their own in order to bridge gaps. Pluralism, in other words.

            Theoretically Islamic law in Malaysia is applicable to Muslims only. Of course, practically this is not true. Look at the recent threat to prosecute Borders bookstore. Look at all the ‘rampas mayat’ cases. It’s not hard to change the definition of ‘Muslim’.

  7. Flag of Truth says:

    Ms Ellese is right… there is no God other than Allah. I often find that this kind of writing like this article has certain malicious intentions. The concept of pluralism is not suitable to Muslims. It’s like rebranding the concept of DIN ILAHI (relating to Emperor Akbar of the Mughal and his attempt to unify India using pluralism). We have learned from history that Din Ilahi AKA Pluralism failed because we can not accept the idea that all religions are the same. That is why people choose (to be Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu).

    “Lakum Dinukum Waliyadin” – To you, your practice of religion. And to me, mine.

    • JW Tan says:

      Very ironic. So when do you apply ‘Lakum Dinukum Waliyadin’ then? When it suits you? Or do you just roll it out as lip service when someone highlights your prejudices?

      • Flag of Truth says:

        Prejudice? Lol… What is it with you people?. Lakum Dinukum Walyadin is Allah’s word that Islam is tolerant towards other religions. I do not understand, is there anyone who is deprived of his or her right to practice his or her own religion? I have repetitiously stressed my point that Muslims in Malaysia are by far the most tolerant of all people. Mr JW Tan, it’s like Pride and Prejudice. Either I am prejudiced (as what you claim I am) or you are too ignorant to realise that pluralism will not be accepted by Muslims. But hey, you can try to promote the idea :) it’s just that Muslims will not buy it. Believe me :)

        • JW Tan says:

          If you are representative of Muslims in Malaysia, then they are most certainly not tolerant. If you actually espoused what you claim to, you wouldn’t wish to ban alcohol sales.

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ Flag of Truth

          “I have repeatedly stressed my point that Muslims in Malaysia are by far the most tolerant of all people.”

          Nonsense and rubbish lah! I´m beginning to think that you don´t have many friends around. I have even eaten cheese ham sandwiches and swine sausages grilled on oak wood charcoal at the same table as my Egyptian friend. Hey, she insisted I go ahead as long as she didn´t have to eat it. In Malaysia? Sometimes you can´t even invite your Muslim-Malay family-in-law back to your family house for a meal together, let alone invite Muslim-Malay friends for the same. Talk about tolerant and breaking up family bonds. [...]

          • Adam says:

            KKK,

            You do not need to go as far as Egypt to have an example of tolerant Muslims. Our friendly neighbour, the Indonesians, are by far so much more confident of their Islamic faith that they correctly allow complete freedom of religion. They do not have that siege mentality that dictates their every action and reaction like some Muslims in Malaysia. They know how to differentiate between arts and culture, and their religious obligations. They even defend the rights of their minorities.

            I just read about the different faces of Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia in yet another illuminating article at http://www.thenutgraph.com/wajah-islam-di-indonesia-dan-malaysia/

          • Flag of Truth says:

            [...] You don’t know how to react to my comment and you just make an assumption that because of my belief, I don’t have many friends around :) Grow up. Having an Egyptian eating with you doesn’t justify anything, it’s actually your choice to not mix with the Muslims here. Because of halal food? Or you just hate us that it would spoil your appetite? :)

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ Flag of Truth

          I´m sorry, since you say that it IS Allah´s words, would you mind telling us which part of the Qur’an we can find these words? I really am interested.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            # Kong kek Kuat

            Sure.. you can refer to surah al Kafirun (Surah 109). At that time the non believers (Quraisy) offered the prophet Muhammad an alternative to worship their Gods and in return they will worship Allah. To counter the non believer’s request, Allah told Prophet Muhammad in this surah, that muslims will not tolerate anything that will put their faith (akidah) in jeopardy.

            Al Quran has provide muslim with answers to all kind of issues including how to deal with pluralism. We can respect your right to exercise your belief and we expect you to do the same. it is that simple.

  8. stewoolf says:

    Does pluraism mean non-Muslims’ acceptance of Islam’s Allah and vice-versa? Ms Surin’s tone might be bitter and even angry, is the article in any way implying that pluraism means Muslims have to “recognise” the god(s) of other faiths [and] atheism [as well]? How could we settle inter-faith matters if Muslims refuse to even sit down with others?

    What’s the alternative to pluraism? Mono-religion, mono-race, mono-language, mono-culture, mono-track thinking? Najib says: Think out of the box. I say: Think without your “sarung”. Be vulnerable and even semi-naked.

  9. ellese says:

    Jacqueline is under a siege mentality. Thinking that non-Muslims/non-Malays are always under threat. And that most probably most Muslims are stupid: Can’t think and can’t appreciate liberal idealism. This writer typifies her arrogance in thinking that she owns the truth of the matter.

    I also think many are blur on what unity means. Most probably due to the total ignorance of our constitution and the values therein.

    If Jacqueline wants to spin it, at least do it intelligently. Any person believing in religion must believe in its truth. It’s not only in Islam but it extends to all including Christians and even Jews. This is the basic belief system. So of course they believe their religion is better or in fact supreme. An absolute rubbish piece of writing by this lady. The way forward is to recognise the differences and make this world a better place. But not for Jacqueline. Belittling Muslims beliefs pula. And you call her promoting unity? My foot, man.

    • JW Tan says:

      ‘Unity’ doesn’t mean that everyone needs to agree. In fact, if that were actually the case, it wouldn’t be unity, it would be repression, because someone somewhere would be suppressing dissenting opinions.

      ‘Unity’ instead means that all citizens buy into, and are willing to protect, a set of values and a system that ensures our rights and beliefs are protected. The hard bit, as everyone knows, is ensuring that protecting my beliefs doesn’t affect yours, and vice versa. Malaysia deals with this conundrum by protecting Muslim / Malay beliefs and rights at the expense of others. This is, of course, detrimental to unity.

    • Actually, I’m not belittling Muslim beliefs. I’m belittling the Muslims who belittle Muslim beliefs.

      And oh, between your foot and Harvard University + the administration of Helen Clark, I wonder just which one has more credibility and adds more value to the world we live in. (Note to readers: No prizes for guessing right coz this is a no-brainer.)

      • Ms Surin

        Are you qualified enough to comment on Muslim beliefs? Your writings in TNG do not show any understanding on Islam at all. And quoting Harvard doesn’t mean that what you are writing here is credible. It needs more than that.

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ Flag of Truth

          Are YOU qualified to comment on Muslim beliefs? What is your qualification? Because you are a Muslim? All your talk doesn´t even qualify to be a fiqh, let alone any authority on Islamic history. So don´t comment about anything Islamic if you are not qualified.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            # Kong Kek Kuat

            Your answer shows how shallow your arguments are. You are questioning about my qualifications to comment on muslim’s belief. My answer is simple. I am a muslim.. are you? Being a muslim gives me that authority.. as long as I haven’t compromised anything that will affect my akidah (belief). and please understand, Islam is not only about Fiqh. Tauhid is another aspect in islam. Without understanding Allah’s greatness you can never learn to understand how a muslim lives their daily life.

            Now.. may I ask you what is your qualification? :)

    • Flag of Truth says:

      Well said Ms Ellese!!! :)

  10. Chandra says:

    Pluralism equals 1Malaysia but if we cannot have pluralism in Malaysia then we also cannot have so called 1Malaysia. So which is it to be, PM? You cannot preach one without the other.

    • Flag of Truth says:

      Lol… well I doubt that you even understand the 1Malaysia concept. It certainly doesn’t apply to religion or religious belief! It’s about understanding the diverse cultures that we have here. We Muslims respect the right of non-Muslims to practice their religion and we expect you to do the same.

      • JW Tan says:

        Maybe in theory but definitely not in practice. There are plenty of examples documented on The Nut Graph. From personal experience, I know it can take 30 years to obtain a permit to open a new church building. So, either our government is incompetent or Malaysian Muslims do not hew to the Islamic principles you claim they do (see, for example, the cognitive dissonance between your claim that Islam preaches ‘each to his own’ and your desire to ban alcohol sales). I think it’s actually both.

        • # JW Tan

          My desire to ban liquor sales? Lol… What is wrong with that? From your perception, Muslims must be allowed to consume liquor? Keep that to yourself. Muslims should never be allowed to consume liquor and I must agree that it is the duty of the umara’ (government) to do whatever it is within their power to educate and impose rules and regulations [on] Muslims. Hey, we are only banning liquor sales to Muslims only. Why so worried? :)

          • JW Tan says:

            Clearly if you wish to impose a ban on alcohol sales, it affects non-Muslims as well, whether you only impose it in Muslim-majority areas or not. Last I checked, Muslims were already not allowed to consume liquor in Malaysia and can be arrested under syariah law if they do so. So why impose a ban on alcohol sales?

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ Flag of Truth

        [...]

        Tell me, where is the official definition of 1Malaysia? I am really desperate to know what 1Malaysia means. I am sure every reader will want to know the official meaning of 1Malaysia.

        I have been saying all along, and I will say it again: I still don´t know what 1Malaysia means. I have also said it since the beginning: Najib purposely left it open so that you can syiok sendiri and see 1Malaysia as you fancy. Najib just recently admitted it.

        Over to you.

        • Flag of Truth says:

          @ JW Tan

          “Last I checked, Muslims were already not allowed to consume liquor in Malaysia and can be arrested under syariah law if they do so. So why impose a ban on alcohol sales?”

          OK, so here is the logic. But let me give one example. If a drug is dangerous to us and we have a Penal Code to execute drug traffickers and users, does that mean we have to allow the sale of drugs on the street? The same goes for liquor. In Islam, consuming liquor is haram and imposing a ban on liquor sales is a preventive measure to ensure Muslim (not non-Muslim) understand (or at least think) why Allah does not allow us to consume liquor.

          • Adam says:

            Flag of Truth,

            I am trying to understand your logic here. For you, it is ideal to have a blanket ban on alcohol as it is against your religion. But, unlike drugs which is illegal to all, alcohol is not and therefore should be allowed to be sold. It is up to market forces to dictate if it is viable to sell it in an area of low or no consumption.

            What JW is trying to say is that, even if there is only one person in an area consuming alcohol, we should not deprive him of his need. Whether any shop wants to keep stock for that one person is another matter. It is therefore our own responsibility to educate our own adherents or family members against consuming or the abuse of alcohol.

            There is one 7-11 shop in USJ which does not sell alcohol as I have been told it is run by a Muslim. I have no issue with that if Vincent Tan agrees to that store not selling alcohol. But I would really respect the store owner more if he/she also takes cigarettes out as well.

            Even though there is a fatwa on cigarettes being imposed some years back, it is still not enforced. I guess it is only on the advisory list as cigarettes were not available during the time of the Prophet (PBUH) as were drugs, unlike pork and alcohol which are on the compulsory list.

  11. faraabdul says:

    From the article’s explanation of pluralism, I concluded that pluralism is:

    -dialogue between people of different faiths
    -seeking to understand others
    -respecting differences in opinions

    I see nothing wrong with the points. In fact we should seek to understand others for failure to understand results in mistrust, discrimination and killing in the name of God. If God willed, He can make us a single nation of believers (refer Quran 10:99). But still, does being a homogenous nation [prevent] us from making distinctions? Of course not, for humans will continue to distinguish [among themselves]. We have seen this through history and our everyday lives where people of the same race and/or religion are killing each other.

    If the non-Muslims seek peaceful dialogue with the Muslims, we should be inclined to peace and not let our suspicions gets the better of us. Sadly, this has been done by our selfish leaders. Pluralism is being tainted with negative connotations.

    Muslim brothers and sisters, let us reflect on the Quran 5:48 and 22:67-69. Yes, we have been taught that Islam is superior to other religions but please do not impose our standards on those who do not believe. Keep the thought to ourselves and let God judge.

    On the other hand, My Name Is Khan is not the only movie that promotes ‘pluralism’, as some imply. I am waiting to see if anyone will made a [complaint] against the Life of Pi.

    • Kong Kek Kuat says:

      @ faraabdul

      Standard UMNO propaganda la tu. What else is new(s)?

      1. Talk about the Constitution and then bring up the issue about “since Islam is the official religion…”

      2. Talk about the so-called “social contract”.

      3. Talk about Malay rights being “entrenched” in the Constitution.

      4. Talk about Malaysia being the most tolerant Muslim country in the world. Did I mention that it is because we follow Imam Shafii´s interpretation of the Qur’an? Start talking about things such as, “you know, Imam Shafii interpretation is the most liberal when it comes to covering the aurat.” And never talk about how Islamic banking would never be allowed under Imam Shafii´s interpretation. Ok la, we should be “flexible” when choosing which Imam to suit us.

      5. Then talk about how fortunate we are to be living in this peaceful country.

      6. Then talk about how the non-Malays (and by ignorant implication the Bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak) should be grateful that their forefathers were given citizenships to be Malaysians.

      7. Talk about hurting, then being insensitive, and finally, insulting the sensitivities of the Malays, the Sultan-Sultan, and Islam. Did you know that UMNO Malays are of the highest order among the people of the Qur’an, don´t you?

      8. Talk about “ini Tanah Melayu”.

      9. Then talk about the nusantara, dunia Melayu.

      10. If all else fail, start talking about things to imply that we don´t want another May 13 to happen. “Kita sanggup menumpah darah untuk bangsa, agama, dan negara.”

      Note, while talking about all the above points, remember to always repeat the line, “ini adalah bukti bahawa…”, regardless of how shameless it may look to the average intelligent Malaysian — they should be stupid anyway. If possible, pepper every sentence you make with “ini adalah bukti bahawa…” and you can fool yourself into believing that you are very intelligent (“Why else would people look at me funny if it´s not because I sound intelligent?”).

      Also be on the alert and to challenge all and sundry (except the Sultans and UMNO ministers) if there is anything under the sun that your UMNO-designated opponent is talking about — for example: “Sila buktikan apa yang dikata tadi.” Perception to people who are easily fooled into thinking that you are intelligent is more important than what you actually are on merit.

      p.s. If I miss out anything, will continue tomorrow. Good night.

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ faraabdul

        11. Talk about a bogey agenda. “These people have certain agenda.”

        12. Talk about UMNO´s track record since “independence”.

        13. Talk about Malaysia is among the best countries in the world… when compared especially with African and Islamic countries.

        14. If all else fail, jangan mengaku.

        p.s. Please feel free to add to the list. I will, too, as and when my mind bothers.

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ faraabdul

        15. Talk about losing “power”, and how foreigners are just like vultures waiting to colonise Malaysia again.

        16. Talk about how we must unite for, and in, the name of the ummah.

      • neptunian says:

        Hai KKK,

        Reads like a cheap paperback, but full brownie points will be awarded. Good job.

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ neptunian

          “Cheap paperback”??? You´ve got to be kidding me. I would have bought it even if it was bounded in gold-plated hardcovers and filed it together with my other precious books on Adolf Hitler, Fascism, Racism, Bigotry, Hypocrite, The Art Of Manipulating The Stupid Masses, The Art Of Jangan Mengaku, etc.

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            Someone asked, and I shall give.

            What I meant was that I would part with all my wealth just to buy the book to add to my collection of blah blah blah.

  12. ellese says:

    JW and Adam,

    Please read our constitution which we agree to uphold. Our constitution recognizes the different races and puts Islam as the religion of the federation. Whether you like it or not this is the Nash equilibrium or social cohesion of our nation. Thus no matter how racist our education system is in separating our children into different race-based schools, we need to accept it and recognize it. Of course anyone can change it but you are the one who must get others to buy in since you’re moving the equation. If you do that please remember all have equal rights to demand other things as well, including the eradication of our racial segregation education policy.

    Having said that, the way forward must be to recognize our differences. As Shad said, we are like different colors in the the rainbow. We forge on common values. Rather than our differences.

    Now back to religion. Those against pluralism in Islam are against Muslims saying that Islam is similar to other religions as they believe Islam is superior. This is a valid assertion. It’s similar to assertions in other religions. So we should let it be. If the Muslims feel that their religion is better so let it be. If Christians feel better so let it be. So long as they don’t stop each other from saying their religion is better, it’s fine. But there is a limit in our constitution that we must adhere to, ie. you cannot propagate other religions to Muslims. This is the key issue of the equation that we agree to uphold.

    So to condemn like Jacqueline does on those Muslims who are against Muslims advocating pluralism, is way off. We should let it be. Because she must also condemn other followers in other religions who believe their religion is better, which she did not. She portrays and belittles Muslims to show that only Muslims feel this way.

    Jacquline as I said wrote this because of her siege mentality and is unable to reach out and understand due to most probably, hatred. The promotion of hate politics has put people off their senses and morality. It’s either you’re with me or against me.

    Let’s get back to the cherished constitutional value of different colors of the rainbow and principle of compromise. Recognize our history and understand the Nash equilibrium or center point of our social cohesion. As now we’re pulled to the right by BN and left by PR. And on top of that, the bombardment of liberal idealism which is totally devoid of and detached from our surroundings, like this piece on pluralism.

    • JW Tan says:

      Yes, I agree, our social contract and parts of our constitution are racist. Anyone who espouses such ideology, including Ketuanan Melayu, deserves all the contempt due to racists. But it is not a Nash equilibrium. It is unstable, as anyone who voted Opposition or protested in the Bersih rallies can tell you. It is not a desirable equilibrium either, just because it might be a game theoretic state of the world says nothing about its worth.

      I believe you are [inciting] a Pavlovian response – you read a Nut Graph article with the words ‘Najib’ and ‘Muslim’ in it and you believe it is an attack on your religion. But what you posted above about recognising differences is pretty close to pluralism. So maybe you are not as far apart from Jacqueline as you think.

  13. ellese says:

    Dear Jacqueline,

    Thanks. You just reaffirmed what I said that you intended to belittle Muslims who believe Islam is “the religion”. What’s your beef? Why under the siege mentality? I will say out loud that I believe Islam is the one true religion and I have the right to condemn other Muslims for saying Islam is not the true religion. I will use Islamic epistemology to argue that he is committing the greatest sin. I have no issue if Christians want to say their religion is the true religion as far as they believe or for that matter, other religions as well. In Islam we have our own values and as Muslims we must practice and cherish those values. I’m obligated under Islam to call my brethren to enjoin in the right path of Islam. And where necessary I must be entitled to tell them they’re wrong. These are what the verses demand. So why the heck you want to belittle me.

    You don’t even understand the epistemology of Islam. What more gives you the right to say I’m wrong and to belittle me. Quoting Harvard has no valid value in comparison with the verses I have to evaluate. Really dumb writing, thinking you own the whole truth, ke?

    As I said, if you want to argue that I’m wrong, show the verses which say I’m wrong in saying that in Islam, we believe in one god. There’s no other god. And I believe thus it’s the only true religion to follow and call on other Muslims to abide by this belief. You can throw bible scriptures ke, or taurah verses ke or even the Harvard article ke, it’s not going to change my belief. So back off before imposing your values onto my religion. Aren’t you the one who says you belittle the one who criticizes others belief? You just did that – criticise our belief. You’re committing what you’re condemning. And what? You think I don’t see your siege mentality?

    • JW Tan says:

      In other words, “I am right, you are wrong, and whatever you say I shall not change my mind.”

      Not much value added to the discussion.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        # JW Tan

        I must agree with you, indeed you are wrong :) . Wrong in the sense of understanding Islam’s principles. If you claim that Ms Ellesse incites Pavlovian responses then you my friend are doing the same, by seeing Islam in a very negative perspective.

        • JW Tan says:

          Actually, I meant that Ellese was displaying a Pavlovian response. The Nut Graph edited it to say that Ellese was causing Pavlovian responses, which is not what I meant.

          I view all religions with skepticism, not just Islam. But Islam, as practised in Malaysia, is particularly inflexible and institutionalised. Nevertheless, I don’t think there’s any point in harping on religious tenets. It’s a bit like arguing over the plot of a book or a soap opera. I prefer to question how people let religion affect their lives and others. Like how you say you espouse religious tolerance yet contradict yourself by wanting to ban alcohol sales.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            # JW Tan

            Religious tolerance as long as it doesn’t affect my akidah as a Muslim. I dont understand it with you guys. if non Muslims like you want to drink liquor then go ahead. What is stopping you?.. no one will arrest you. Islam prohibits Muslims from consuming liquor and everyone (according to Islam) has the responsibility to enforce this.

    • stewoolf says:

      Dear ellese,

      It seems that you are totally piqued by a perceived anti-Islam sentiment in Ms Surin’s article. I have the exact feeling when someone says: “Demi bangsa (Melayu), agama (Islam), dan negara (Tanah Melayu)…”. Why not say: Demi 1Malaysia, blah, blah, blah…??

      Yes, the article seems to be one-sided. It does not explore the rationale behind objection to (religious) pluralism. But then, Najib didn’t offer any explanation either. Also, it’s brevity probably due to TNG’s limited resources.

      Anyway, kicking and screaming with empty rhetorics is not exactly an effective way to present your point, which I just don’t get. Obviously you are very pro-pluralism. I mean, you read TNG and care enough to comment volumniously. I suspect your concern is that others might proselytise to Muslims in the name of pluralistic engagements.

      When you are driving Proton all your life and don’t know anything about Honda and Toyota, then naturally, Proton is the best car in the world. However, when you are assigned to do R & D for Proton, your limited scope would probably run Proton aground.

      Islam is not a car manufacturer. Retreading the “ummah” into a cave is not exactly making them progress. Sterilising the playground does not make your child healthy, it only weakens his/her immune system. So, engaging with others, even of different religions, would only strenghten the faith of GENUINE Muslims.

      Think about it, calmly. No malice inteded, Stewoolf.

  14. Adam says:

    I fully agree with Faraabdul above that we must establish the definition of pluralism before we can discuss the topic rationally. According to Wikipedia, there are no less than 10 different forms of pluralism and if we are against any, we have to spell it out and not just reject the whole concept of pluralism per se.

    The response from Faraabdul is exactly what the writer is trying to promote. Dialogue is what we need to progress as a nation. We have to listen to the views of all and find common ground to achieve unity and peaceful co-existence.

    I do understand that Muslims and adherents of other religions and even Atheists for that matter, do not agree with the definition of religious pluralism as the “acceptance of all religious paths as equally valid” (quoting Wikipedia). There are other definitions such as religious diversity or plurality which all of us could accept and work on.

    As such, our PM should qualify his statement that “Pluralism is against Islam”. He should do as what Dr Dzul, PAS MP for Kuala Selangor did in his 2009 talk on “Plurality vs Pluralism” as reported in another Nut Graph article at http://www.thenutgraph.com/democracy-defends-apostasy/

  15. ellese says:

    Dear faraabdul,

    This is where smart writers like Jacqueline have been able to deceive. The argument by many Muslims is that Muslims should not have the view [that] their religion is equal to others. This is the main objection. Just read the debates. It’s been repeated so many times over the years. And I tell you Jacqueline knows this very well. She’s a good writer. She thinks it’s a wrong value and purposely writes to belittle this to project and box these Muslims as wrong and against diversity. She uses Najib to discolour the debate as wrong though Najib is merely echoing the views. Though we know Najib is playing politics to garner support for this group (one can hardly say he is a deeply knowledgeable religious person), to say he is against diversity and tolerance is, as we know it, is false. Thus it was never in the context of promoting diversity or tolerance but out of hatred and self-righteousness [that] she wrote this bitter piece belittling Muslims. Just look at her response.

    This is typical low standard journalism in our MSM and AM, thinking everyone is stupid. This includes, for me in particular, TMI editors [...] who censor me time and again for pointing this out. They spin to create hatred. They don’t write objectively. They don’t write fairly. They distort news, pictures, headlines and quote whoever they like notwithstanding persons of no standing so long [as] it can push their agenda. (For example, this Harvard citation has no relevance at all in belittling Muslims.) It’s shameful. Free media to them and in fact to many Malaysians means media that publishes their view and censors contrarian views.

    I hope [The] Nut Graph [will] not be like that as I find [that] it’s been open and tolerant.

    So let’s be circumspect of what we read. We should know the facts and understand the context. Jacqueline as she admitted, wrote to belittle people. Don’t be deceived. Test for contradiction as you know. Is Najib’s context of pluralism the same as she potrays? What actually was the objection and debate? If Jacqueline is promoting tolerance and diversity, doesn’t Najib’s other actions reflect this as well? So where’s the beef? When you analyze this then you can see the intent. Najib is merely a value front to the argument. Her intent, as she admitted, is to belittle Muslims who have been advocating among Muslims not to say Islam is similar to other religion. Shameful really.

  16. ellese says:

    Jw,

    From your writ[ing] you obviously haven’t read what’s in the constitution you swear to uphold. What’s not in the constitution, you say it’s in. What’s in the constitution you deny. There’s no Ketuanan Melayu in our constitution. It was a phrase coined by Umno. What you fail to acknowledge is the pragmatism and compromise of our forefathers to strive for peace tolerance and betterment. If going by your mindset, most of the Chinese and in particular DAP are racist since they believe in segregating [the] young into different race groups due to the belief that their culture is superior. It’s this apartheid education system which has [prevented] us [from] grow[ing,] laugh[ing] and fac[ing] difficult times together.

    So I suggest you just read it. As Malaysians fighting for a cause you must understand it. There are many independent and respectable writ[ings] on this. If you want to appreciate it read other constitutions as well. What I find out of many Malaysians is that they are lazy to read. I trust you are not. In fact if you want we can go through this together. Then you can understand the Nash equilibrium and how to move forward. If not suitable here you can do at my blog hakbersuara.wordpress. Though meant for a different intent, it’ll be fine as I don’t censor views. I’ll respond in kind though.

    Anyway, it’s crucial we understand the consti[tution] of Malaysia. This is the piece of legislation that binds us all. It’s sad to hear people who ha[ven't] read it call it by many derogatory names. To me, Malaysians who do[n't show] respect should not be called Malaysians. So JW, just open your heart a bit to read. Differentiate what’s political and what [are] the constitutional provisions. Don’t be confused.

    Ps. If you have read it, tell me so coz I will approach it not from the point of ignorance. Just justify your stand.

    • JW Tan says:

      I have read it. Why does Islam need to be at the heart of a secular constitution? Why do different races need to be recognised, why be race-blind and call all citizens Malaysians? As for the social contract, why do Malay Malaysians get special privileges? All these things, if you take a step back and look at them, create racist outcomes, even if they weren’t meant in that spirit originally. You say that by saying this I do not show respect. On the contrary, it pains me that the country I love is run in such an awful way. I could ignore it if I chose – posting responses to random people on the internet is a lousy use of my time in general – but if I don’t speak out, who will? Certainly no one who is not Malaysian and does not care.

      On education, I believe that vernacular education in Malaysia exists to serve 3 purposes – (1) learning of vernacular language, (2) to avoid the dumbed-down curriculum that the Kementerian Pelajaran imposes and (3) because teaching standards can be kept higher in vernacular schools. Fix these, make our education system serve Malaysians, and vernacular schools will wither (or become private). Why shouldn’t everyone learn Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil? By the way, the concept of MARA colleges (set up by the BN government) is as racist as the vernacular school concept, so it’s not just the Chinese and Indian communities who are ‘benefiting’ from racially-segregated education.

  17. ellese says:

    So KKK, we meet again.

    You’re trying to use the method of association to deny or make valid an argument. It’s the same as those in UMNO discoloring PR’s position by laying down PR SOP. But then you did one up by also listing out your own confusion and ignorance as part of other people’s problem. You should do better than this.

    For example your comment on Islamic banking. This falls under muamalat as opposed to our “other ibadah” like prayers, fasting etc. For muamalat there are many ways to achieve benefit for society. Thus more open to interpretation. The parameter is also wider. You can do anything save for a very few things like usury (riba). So it matters not whether whether you want to adopt Hanafi, Hambali or other modern jurists, say to impose rebate ke, or transfer beneficial ownership ke, etc etc. Here, what is not prohibited is permissible. This is as opposed to like prayers or doing ablutions. You need to know how it’s done and they have to be based on certain ordainments or practices. This is why it’s more rigorous in following Shafii.

    Now, you argue your ignorance by associating with UMNO. It has nothing to do with UMNO but though I shouldn’t say this, it’s typical PR style. Since I shouldn’t say it I’ll rephrase this. It’s typical partisan style in Malaysia. Everything has to relate to a political party. Right or wrong depends on who you support. Similar action has two values depending on who you’re supporting.

    We need to go beyond this. Understand the issues and what we want. Otherwise we get into a trap of political crap. Our budget is an example. Both BN and PR submitted deficit budgets with huge handouts. What most did was to condemn the other by saying it would add debt and bankrupt our nation. This is most hypocritical. Both BN and PR. At the end no one party commits to a surplus budget. We lose but politics wins. So let’s get out of this mindset. Deal with and understand the issues and know what you want. Argument by association doesn’t work anymore.

  18. GlueBall says:

    Can atheists ever be afforded freedom FROM religion? Enforced gender segregation in salons at Kota Bharu already suggests that non-Muslims will not be excluded from PAS’s rabid pursuit of hudud laws. This retrograde ideology is only a glimpse of what’s to come with the ever growing politicization of religion in Malaysia. Non-Muslims must wonder if Islam is in doubt; why Muslims need the heavy hand of government, the religious police, to protect them from themselves … and to enforce their beliefs. The heavy hand of enforced, organized religion is incompatible with modern civil society, and it is a drag in Malaysia’s pursuit of developed nation status.

  19. The views of the author of this article are as narrow as the object of her thinly veiled criticism of Islam and government. Islam has a greater diversity of culture and thought than White Christianity can ever boast. Tort, contract, social justice have their origins in Islam. Not many white historians are prepared to acknowledge.

    To conveniently divide opinions into black and white spheres in this regard does little justice to the subject.

    When one refers to Muslims or to Islam there is a need to distinguish between the branch, sect or school of Islam one refers to before deciding which cultural model to adopt as the example. Shia, Alawa, Hashemite, Sunni is diversity?

    The Shi’ites of Kerala for instance have a significantly different cultural ethos to their “Bori” Gujarati counterparts and their Iranian, Pakistani or Iraqi cousins.

    “The US isn’t the only place in the world where a predominantly white, Christian population views diversity as a gift that can be channelled for greater good by promoting pluralism”.

    Where is the evidence to support this statement? A nation that was born out of the Salem witch hunts of castaway Pilgrim fathers, slave traders and the Klan all in the name of religious diversity? They had no necessity to protect culture which they wiped out. That of the native Indian. The oppressed were always kicked down.

    If the White Christian US regards diversity as a gift why [did] they continue to burn black churches, lynch blacks at the back of utlity trucks, persecute Jews and more recently Muslims? Why do the Mormons till today practice polygamy [...] and racism whilst condemning Muslims for having four wives. [Some Mormons] claimed Black people to be the devil.

    Generalisation is the bedrock of ignorance and fuels division not diversity. To resist western ideals and ideas of diversity is itself a function of diversity, the celebration of a differnt view.

    Another politically motivated anti-Islam, anti-government piece.

    • Marcus says:

      “Generalisation is the bedrock of ignorance and fuels division not diversity.”

      Well said Gopal. Your post on the other hand, is the very epitome of ignorant generalisation.

  20. Will Smith says:

    Having lived in Apartheid-era South Africa as a kid, in the UK, and in Malaysia, as well as visiting around 40 other countries, I have to say that Malaysia is now probably the most institutionally racist country on earth.

    Your analysis is exactly right. In every other country the aim is to make people respect each other as equals despite different beliefs, and to engage with each other.

    In Malaysia, the races live in almost complete isolation from each other. I’ve been to Malay weddings with around 1000 guests, I was the only white guy, and there were often NO other non-Malays visible.

    Yes, the official policy is that Islam is fundamentally superior to all other religions, therefore implicitly it is ‘correct’ and the adherents of other religions are by implication wrong. They may be tolerated, but their religious choice is still seen as ‘wrong’.

    Here in the UK you don’t ask “Malay or Chinese” every time you hear about a person. You ask what job they do, how old they are, maybe where they live.

    • As a “white guy” (your words) you live in self-imposed isolation identifying yourself by your colour. The truth is based on substantive arguments and not on one’s colour.

      Your gratuitous observations and insults about Malaysia is as coloured as the state of apartheid of which your people were architects and that of the class you belong to. You raised colour to give your statement some “credibility”? It speaks for your argument.

      There are fewer countries on this earth that institutionalise racism than the Anglo Celtic or “white settler” nations of the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand.

      Where their constitutions forbid segregation on the basis of race in these places, they have adopted conventions of the practice in its place. Another convenient British invention. If their discrimination is not on the basis of race or colour, then it is on creed and religion.

      The US and Australia only became truly democratic and ended constitutionally-supported racism and segregation of races in the 1970s. How many aborigines do you see at a white wedding there?

      Gough Whitlam followed what Lyndon Johnson did a few years after civil rights. Dr Martin Luther King, his million man march and countless extra-judicial killings later, the US accepted that black people too have rights.

      Now they have their own Bumiputeras like the Native Indians and other minorities enshrined in their constitution. The same too in Australia. There it is referred to as positive discrimination or affirmative action. It benefits mainly white or part-white women at the higher end and socially accepted pedigrees of other races as a general rule elsewhere.

      [...]

      • neptunian says:

        Good example on the bumiputeras, my friend. In this case, the only bumiputeras in Malaysia should be the aboriginals – Orang Asli. NOT 60+% of the population and a whole bunch of Indian Muslims as well.

        • Addin says:

          @ Neptunian

          You sounds like a frustrated fellow to me :) . The 25% of the population is racist too :) . Having two different pay schemes for two different people who actually have the same qualification, enforcing another language as a condition for employment, to name a few, is an affirmative action to undermine others.

          The 60% of the population is steadily gaining advantage. You should choose whether to stay or go.

      • JW Tan says:

        There’s little point arguing about history here. Malaysia is still institutionally racist, and happy to be so. The ‘white, Anglo-Saxon’ countries have abandoned that, and being racist is at the very least a social faux pas, if not a criminal offence. From personal experience, it’s definitely more pleasant to live in those countries than it is in Malaysia. And I’m not a white guy.

        I summarise your argument, Gopal, as ‘Other people do it, so why can’t we?’ That sounds as weak from you as from a young child who uses it to justify bad behaviour. It’s even weaker when you consider that other people did it, and don’t any longer.

      • RakyatMalaysia says:

        You sir,

        Are blind, or are just ignorant to what is happening in Malaysia.

        You cite countries that practise discrimination, but how is the progress of such countries now?

        You talk of the past, but remember we live in the present!

        You cite from this country and that but refuse to see/acknowledge what is here and now.

        The FACT is that Malaysia’s affirmative action policy (institutionalised racial discrimination) is for the MAJORITY.

        Yet, big fat cats still get a discount even if you decide to buy a RM3 million ringgit bungalow!

        The so-called affirmative policy is helping the top-obese politicians prosper and does not help the majority of the poor Malays, Indians, and even Chinese!

        Look around you, for heaven’s sake!

    • Adam says:

      Thank you Will, for your sincere comments. We Malaysians were not like this 40 years ago. Then, we were a cohesive society, mixing freely and were united on many fronts.

      But the politics of corruption and self-interest have destroyed all that over the years, and politicians playing the racial/religious card to stay in power make it even worse.

      Most conscientious Malaysians want a complete change in the political scene but it would be tough due to too much gerrymandering. Where in the world would you find such huge disparity in the value of a vote. A vote in Putrajaya is worth 20+ times that in an urban constituency in Petaling Jaya. How we could call ours a democracy is beyond me.

      Many Malaysians are however in denial. They are blind or just do not want to acknowledge the dangerous path the nation is heading in.

      Anyway, do come back to visit us again. Malaysia is still a beautiful country without the dirty politics and racial/religious issues. Next time, do visit Sarawak and you will know what we were like in the peninsula 40 years ago. But please do so fast before it disappears like in Sabah.

  21. faraabdul says:

    Dear all,

    We know that this issue is nothing new. It has been played by politicians for ages and we, as the masses, didn’t help to make it any better.

    Whatever issue that has been played by our ‘beloved’ politicians, these are the lessons we should drill into our head:

    - educate yourself with facts before blindly following the politician’s tune
    - do not fall into the perception game. It only proves to the politicians that Malaysians are stupid.
    - if there’s any valuable lessons you found in these circuses, adopt them in your life. Don’t wait for them to make the change. e.g. if we want to create understanding between people of different faiths, then organise a dialogue in your own neighbourhood/office/community. Why should we wait for local politicians?

  22. The statement is meant to read as it was written i.e. ‘extra juridical’ killings and not “extra judicial” killings as you distorted it to read. Very poor case of one-upmanship on your part gone wrong again, editor.

    • Thank you for pointing that out. It is our responsibility as editors to correct spelling mistakes. In the case of “extra-juridical”, major dictionaries don’t list the word at all. For e.g.: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extra%20juridical. The word is only listed in Quizlet here: http://quizlet.com/2050393/1-terrorism-defined-flash-cards/. Between Quizlet and the Merriam Webster dictionary, which is owned by the Encyclopaedia Britannica company, I’ll follow the more credible of the two unless you have another credible source to show me the word is accepted and known in the English Language.

      And for the benefit of readers, you often make grammatical and spelling errors which don’t appear because we play our role as editors, cleaning up after you. And we do that to spare our readers grammatical and spelling errors, as best as we can. Since it was your comment I was clearing and you have been prone to making spelling mistakes, it is only reasonable to expect that I would correct your comment in the interest of ensuring our readers are provided with the most cogent and accurate expression of that comment.

      Editor
      The Nut Graph

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ Jac

        You know what they say about lessons in life? You should have left all the drivel as they are.

      • neptunian says:

        Actually “juridical” is listed in quite a few dictionaries. It is also a word in “Microsoft dictionary” linked to “MSWord”.

        Judicial – Decreed by or proceeding from a court of justice.

        Juridical – Of or relating to the law or jurisprudence.

        In the case of “extra-juridical” killings, then I am on the side of the editors in adjusting it to “extra-judicial” killings – killing outside of a judgement!

        BTW, my keyboard often misses alphabets leading to wrong spellings. Wonder why these don’t seem to have been picked up by you guys!

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ neptunian

          Probably because you don´t drivel diatribe? If I were the editor, I would have just left it as is for the readers here to read. Let him hang himself dry.

      • It is a legal term used universally in the context in which I applied it. I can’t educate you and it is not intended that I educate you in this or in any other instance. But if you are to apply your version or the Merriam Webster dictionary to justify the arrogance of your ignorance, be my guest.

  23. ellese says:

    JW,

    Stupendous argument. On one hand, criticise racism but on the other hand giving one thousand and one excuses to justify [a] racist policy that you seem to agree [with]. First, how can you expect our children, who have been segregated by race since young, [to] suddenly, [as] adults, not carry racial tendencies and prejudices? Our children don’t grow, eat, cry and suffer together and we expect them to suddenly emphatise with one another?

    Why should you deprive my children of having other races as their schoolmates? You’re racist to the core. And worse, the reasons and excuses you gave are totally flawed. The racist segregation policy [that was] promoted, among others by DAP, was from day one of our nation[hood]. At that time, we were under [the] British syllabus in English. The reason why they want[ed] to push for racial vernacular [schools] has nothing to do with the reason you gave. It’s simply because they don’t want to be Malaysian First. Comprende? Don’t condemn others [for] being racist when you practise selective racism.

    Your excuse is no more superior than the reasons given by those supporting ketuanan Melayu. You’re like many Chinese [I've] met. It’s racism if against them but not if it favours them. Please lah. We’re not born yesterday.

    • JW Tan says:

      Yes, I expect Malaysians who have been brought up in a racist environment to not be racist. I agree that it is difficult (I went through this myself) but I don’t excuse Malaysians from morally-repugnant behaviour just because their parents didn’t teach them the right thing to do. We are all capable of bearing responsibility for our own behaviour.

      I don’t particularly like vernacular education myself. However, in my experience, the people who send their children for Chinese vernacular education tend to do so because it is important for their children to learn Chinese, not because of some un-Malaysian chauvinist reason. That might have been true at independence, but now, it’s mainly because mainstream schools do such a poor job of teaching anything. Arguably the Malay Malaysian community and the BN government realise this, otherwise why send people to MARA colleges?

      Why not make everyone learn Chinese and Tamil regardless of race? China and India are going to be global economic powerhouses of the 21st century. If we don’t all learn the languages (and revamp our curriculum to remove dumbing down, and change the way we teach to instil creativity and avoid rote learning, and make exams more difficult to avoid grade inflation etc etc), we will be left behind. Being Malaysian first doesn’t mean being stupid first.

      Personal anecdotes don’t mean much, but I have an interesting one. A friend who works for a Malaysian printing firm recently won contracts to print primary school textbooks for various sub-Saharan African countries. Upon comparison, he found that Malaysian textbooks are less advanced and teach simpler things for a given age group. We are being overtaken and left behind, in some cases by countries that were in a state of civil war in the 1990s. But Chinese Malaysian parents who send their children to vernacular Chinese schools already know this. They just look at textbooks from Singapore to find out.

      • Flag of Truth says:

        # JW Tan

        Funny…I wonder why you do not apply for Singapore citizenship :) I am sure they will always welcome you there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we don’t like you here but you ‘claimed’ that everything in Malaysia is going backward. Maybe you are a perfectionist after all.

        China and India will become economic powerhouses? Well, I must say that it can be achieved if everything goes well and there will not be World War 3 (unless China or India becomes the victor). There is nothing permanent in this world. Everything will eventually decline. Capitalism, too in this sense.

        • JW Tan says:

          I have lived in Singapore, and yes, they are welcoming people if one meets certain criteria. However, I like Malaysia. But I am incredibly frustrated with the direction our country has taken. We have so much natural advantage over Singapore – more natural resources, a more diverse people, a larger population – yet we have squandered so much of it. If Singapore can go from a South East Asian backwater to one of the richest countries in the world in a generation, with little more than vision, good organisation, and honest politicians, why is Malaysia still so backward? But I answer my own question – because we don’t have vision, our politicians aren’t honest, and our government and bureaucracy tend towards incompetence. We also have a social contract focusing on dividing up the pie of economic growth, rather than making the pie bigger so everyone gets more.

          • Flag of Truth says:

            #JW Tan

            Malaysia is progressing. we have just gained our independence since 1957. America did not become a super power, not until 1943 when world war 2 happened. Singapore can progress faster because it is relatively a small country. Yes they have brilliant administrators but that’s just it. to manage a country like malaysia needs more than that. I can see that there are more middle class families now compared to 20 years ago. And this is good because the increase of middle class and upper class will expedite reforms in government through peaceful means. But to do this we need time.

          • JW Tan says:

            Perhaps the best lesson I took from my time in Singapore schools was that one should never settle for mediocrity. If you say that Malaysia has made progress, I say that yes, that is true, but that is not good enough. We know what is possible – there is an example, just south of our border. Why should Malaysians settle for less? I have no time for people who argue that Malaysia is somehow different, or more difficult, to develop than any other named example. These are excuses. We should find solutions instead.

            As for the supposedly thorny problem of making Malaysians bi- or trilingual, I believe most of the obstacles posed in these comments are just that, excuses. Again, what’s the problem with looking at what Singapore has done, and trying to copy the best aspects of their solution?

            Here’s my proposal, based on what Singapore did in the 90s: English is the medium of instruction. Students are actively pushed to learn Bahasa Malaysia. A significant amount of time (but not necessarily equal) should be allocated to learn a choice of Mandarin Chinese or Tamil. Space can be made by ditching less useful subjects – Pendidikan Moral, for example. Some students get an opportunity to learn a fourth language – maybe even a European one – outside the normal school day.

    • neptunian says:

      @Ellese,

      If I understand you correctly, the DAP wanted to have vernacular schools because they do not want to be “Malaysian First”. That is in 1957? (from day one of nationhood)

      However I seem to recall DPM Muhyiddin not wanting to be “Malaysian First” last year (2011). Do I conclude from your logic that our honourable DPM is a racist? If that is the case, I fear the whole “race blind” thingy is a lost cause.

      BTW, have you checked the racial composition of Chinese vernacular schools in Klang Valley lately? Large percentage of Malay and Indian children, whose parents cannot afford to send them to fancy private schools but still want a solid education for them, [are enrolled there].

      Personally, I don’t care much for the CVS system – too intense, but one has to admit, they are effective.

      • idris says:

        I’m sending my kids (should I have any) to Chinese vernacular schools. Not so that they can get a better education, no no no. Rather, just so that they can have a fighting chance when it comes to finding work in Malaysia, in ‘MNCs’ controlled by Chinese school-educated Chinese who prefer hiring Chinese who can speak Chinese (and maybe only that). Maybe I exaggerate. Maybe not.

        I am assuming the worst – that they are not good enough to just leave the country to find work in some company in the developed world where they need not worry about (tit for tat) racism, particularly from one ethnic group which sees itself as superior to the rest (no no no, obviously not ketuanan whatever and all that nonsense: we’re talking about an ethnic group which really thinks everyone else is stupid).

        BTW, the majority of Chinese-educated Chinese I know can barely speak English or Malay. There are some who are truly multilingual, of course but these are few and far between.

        • JW Tan says:

          Interesting. I have asked you before for the names of these MNCs. Can you provide some as examples please? Then I can judge for myself whether or not you are exaggerating.

          Also, out of interest, how do you communicate with the Chinese educated-Chinese that you know, since you do not appear to speak Chinese, and they can barely speak English or Malay?

      • Flag of Truth says:

        @ Neptunian

        Just for your knowledge, I quote this from Wikipedia: “a comprehensive study of genetic diversity and history of Asian populations was carried out by Human Genome Organization (HUGO) involving almost 2000 people across Asia, points to another theory of Asian migration pattern. The HUGO found genetic similarities between populations throughout Asia and an increase in genetic diversity from northern to southern latitudes. These findings indicate the origin of Asia’s population and support the hypothesis that Asia was populated primarily through a single migration event from the south, entering South East Asia first. The South East Asian civilizations including the MALAYS are possibly much older compared to the East Asian civilizations.” – Wikipedia source on ethnic Malays.

        Lots of people claim that the Malays are the ‘pendatang’ and the Orang Asli the original inhabitants of this land. These claims are baseless because historically and genetically (I repeat “GENETICALLY”) the Malays and Orang Asli are related to each other. And it is funny because all these claims that the Malays are ‘pendatang’ came from well, you-know-who :)

        Please “ambil tahu sikitlah pasal sejarah”. As far as I am concerned, according to the recent findings the Malay civilization might be much older than the Chinese (the Qin, Han, Tang, Sui or even Manchu). We have to rewrite history again :)

  24. Flag of Truth says:

    @ Neptunian

    “Just stating the facts and the obvious…seems to elude some people”.. what is obvious to you? What you have failed to realise and accept is the Orang Asli (Proto Malay) and the Malay (Deutro Malay) are actually related. And both groups have been in TANAH MELAYU and NUSANTARA long before other races came here. That is a FACT.

    @ Kong Kek Kuat

    Yes, I am the owner of the two handle names (addin and Flag of Truth) :) It is not my intention to confuse people. It just happened that I posted something in TNG using ‘addin’ as my handle name some time ago, then forgot about that particular name and proceeded using “Flag of Truth” until now.

    Accidentally, when I posted my earlier comment above I failed to realise that the computer (which is my old computer) automatically set “addin” as the handle name for that particular comment :)

  25. ellese says:

    Dear JW,

    There you go again justifying institutional racism. You’re justifying it’s better being racist than being stupid. Just read what you’re saying. Your level of justification is the same level as those Malays who defend ketuanan Melayu. People don’t feel it’s racism because of the perceived individual justification. You are just the same.

    And then your justification based on education is highly flawed. Both national school and vernacular school have the same syllabus. And I can’t see why the rote method is still the way forward. It must be problem-based learning. Children become more creative, resourceful and expressive. Our syllabus are already moving towards that. And then you judge our curriculum based on a printers evaluation? At least if you use TIMMS, it’s more respectable. But you know if you use TIMMS you’ll be caught in that our marks are lower mainly due the medium of instruction being English. [...]

    But most important to me is that many like you fail to realise that our education is too fragmented. Everybody buat sesuka hati. I can’t see our TIMMS improving as more and more will go to private schools which are not going to be assessed. It’s a real pity to justify based on our selfish needs only. We justify raced-based schools. Religious-based schools. And going forward, the rich and poor will be segregated wholly. More urbanites will send [their children] to privileged private schools. US faces this fragmentation problem as well. You know what Warren Buffet said. We should just have public schools. Why? Coz all will have the same stake in it. Very wise. Here we in Malaysia we argue left and right wanting to be Malaysian first lah etc but our action betrays our tongue. So we get situations where my children are left with no non-Malay friends. And we get many of my rich friends sending [their children] to privileged rich schools. What is this, man? We talk proudly of our justification to fragment. We proudly demand more segregation by race, religion and wealth. Hypocrites betul Malaysians ni.

    • JW Tan says:

      I know I’m writing clearly, but let me set this out in simple terms once and for all. I do not like vernacular education. But I understand why Chinese-speaking Malaysians (and even non-Chinese speaking Malaysians) send their children for vernacular Chinese education – very simply, both to learn Mandarin Chinese, and to be taught better. I then offer a solution, revamp our education system to include better teaching and teaching of Mandarin and Tamil languages, and I believe vernacular schools will wither. If you continue to read these statements as supportive of vernacular education, then I’m sorry, you’re wilfully misunderstanding me in bad faith (and there’s nothing I can do about that).

      In response to your specific points on education, yes, vernacular schools and national schools have the same syllabus, but vernacular schools (at least some of the Chinese ones) teach much more than the national syllabus. Rote learning is probably still the best way to learn Mandarin Chinese, but they have also adapted their techniques because their survival depends on doing so.

      I judge our curriculum to be poor based on personal experience, conversations with teachers (my mother is a retired one) and yes, personal research that includes having a look at Rwandan and Ugandan textbooks my friend provided. I also went to school in a few different countries, and the Malaysian curriculum was probably the worst of the lot. Is this scientific? No. Is this sufficient reason for me to conclude that Malaysia does not educate its children properly? Yes, and I will continue to say so.

      I strongly believe that the best universities of the 21st century will be located in places like Beijing, Shanghai and Ahmedabad, in addition to places like Palo Alto and Cambridge. I don’t think Malaysia even prepares its children well enough to get into Singapore’s universities, let alone the institutions in the cities mentioned above.

      • idris says:

        “But I understand why Chinese-speaking Malaysians (and even non-Chinese speaking Malaysians) send their children for vernacular Chinese education – very simply, both to learn Mandarin Chinese, and to be taught better.”

        Interesting.

        I know of Chinese [Malaysians] who actually think that Chinese schools are meant for Chinese [Malaysians], national schools for Malay [Malaysians] and Tamil schools for Indian [malaysians]. How do I know this, if (presumably) these Chinese can barely speak English or Malay, and I (presumably) cannot speak chinese? Ha!

        But I mean what I said, and I do not write out of spite. I do know of Chinese who think such. Whether they are the majority or minority, I don’t know – and maybe that’s a good thing.

        • JW Tan says:

          This is another instance where seemingly harmless perceptions create segregationist and racist outcomes. What’s the harm in learning one’s so-called ‘mother tongue’? It allows people to understand and lay claim to part of their heritage. In the current geopolitical environment, it is even an advantage to learn these languages and understand these mother cultures. Of course, in Malaysia, the best way to do this is to go to vernacular schools. And maybe Malay Malaysians do not believe as strongly as Chinese and Indian Malaysians that learning Mandarin Chinese and Tamil is necessary. So voila – we have a segregated education system that perpetuates itself.

          Let me also address something else brought up in these comments – that somehow international standardised tests for educational achievement are unfair to Malaysians because they are set in English. With respect, this conclusion is stupid. English is the most widely spoken language in the world, and will remain so, even if it is mainly a second language. It is the global lingua franca. The conclusion one should draw from Malaysia’s performance in international standardised tests is that our students are simply less well-prepared and worse educated in an international context compared to those in other countries. The good news is that we know at least one action we can take to fix this – improve our students’ command of English.

          • idris says:

            In theory, you’re absolutely right – there is no harm in learning one’s mother language. In Malaysia, on the other hand – to my mind nothing has done more harm to our nation than the existence of multiple school streams. Of course, I have no proof of this. Just my ‘gut’ feeling, after years of observation and discussion with all sorts of people.

            If I had to choose between a single stream school system with One Core Language that all Malaysians must learn to the point where it becomes their mother tongue, and the complete elimination of corruption (don’t ask how), I would, without a doubt, choose the former.

            Please note that I did not specify what this core language should be.

    • JW Tan says:

      As for your accusations of racism, I have always been clear that I favour integration over segregation in all aspects of Malaysian life. I do not make excuses to justify policies or examples, rather I seek to understand the underlying reasons, because it is by addressing the good reasons that we come to a solution. However, all too often there are no good reasons for certain policies (like Ketuanan Melayu). In such cases we just have to confront the fact that these policies are simply contemptible and have to be junked rather than amended.

  26. ellese says:

    Neptunian, we know that vernacular schools limit the non-Malays to a small minority. Had this debate before. Please don’t argue because there are a few Malays, it justifies racial segregation. It’s like arguing that if my children have one or two non-Malay friends in a class it’s good enough to say our national school is multi-racial. She will have a good feel how the Chinese feel and look at things. Common lah. Please make a more cogent argument. Start with the question: Why should we have an education policy segregating our children according to race? If we resolve this, we will resolve this Malaysian first issue.

  27. JW Tan says:

    Easy question. No.

    What will happen if you simply ban vernacular schools? I think they will just reappear as private schools. The way to integrate our racially segregated system is to revamp its curriculum.

    Let me ask you something challenging – do you think that MARA colleges have a place in a racially integrated educational system?

    • Flag of Truth says:

      # JW Tan

      MARA is a product of DEB (dasar Ekonomi Baru) which was implemented after 13th May 1969 conflict. need I say more about the aims of DEB?.. which one do you prefer? having lots of poor malays which [may] ignite a revolution? or having more middle class and upper class people who are educated enough to think that unity and progress should be preserved through peaceful means? answer this yourself

      • JW Tan says:

        Regardless, the fact that MARA colleges are only open to the Malay community (and not just to the poor members of that community – plenty of middle-class people go to MARA colleges, too) contributes to our racially-segregated education system. If MARA colleges were really about achieving the stated DEB aims, there would be a means test, and they would be open to all ethnic communities.

  28. obviously suspicious says:

    [...] it’s not logical intelligent thinking people who are the problem, it’s a backward suppressive religious philosophy that is holding the people of Malaysia frozen in time and living in a stressed and repressive society. You deserve better.

  29. ellese says:

    JW,

    You’re really defending a segregation education policy separating our youngs based on race. I hate to say this, it’s typical selfish chauvinistic attitude. Why can’t you think Malaysian first? Put it the other way, give one good reason why you believe in a policy where my children don’t have friends of other races in their school? In school I had two best friends from other races. why are you depriving my children of these platforms? Insensical. People justify racism at all cost.

    You live in Singapore. LKY saw this, and that’s why they’re more united. He saw this various types of school as a threat to national integrity. Their education minister pokes fun at us by saying they’re lucky not to follow our vernacular structure. Put your chauvinism aside and think about Malaysian first. We cut down all schools and support only national schools. Then we have a stake to make it better.

    Btw, if you think Chinese are superior, the Malays think Islam is superior too. Malays also want to protect their historical culture. If the latter is racist then shouldn’t you be one as well. Cut to the chase. If we’re concern about being Malaysian first we must ditch fragmented education schools. No two ways. Otherwise our children will live with their own race only and carry racial prejudices against the other.

    • idris says:

      Please understand, ellese. [In my view], it is far, far more important to the chinese [Malaysians] that they be able to visit China and speak with the natives, appreciate the great culture etc than to mix with the likes of your kids, whom I presume are Malay, Muslim [...].

      After all, China is due to become the largest economy in the World, and by extension the greatest nation on earth, so who needs malay/indian friends? Not the Chinese, definitely.

      Ketuanan Melayu is but a silly joke, trumpeted by the Malay [Malaysians] to give themselves some sense of self worth. The sense of Chinese Supremacy on the other hand, held by many, is equally if not more damaging to our nation. People just don’t see it, with all the focus on the ketuanan melayu joke.

    • JW Tan says:

      Obviously, if I’m arguing that we should revamp the education curriculum to integrate our education system, then I’m thinking Malaysian first.

      I think you’re being hypocritical. It’s amusing to watch you perform exactly the same logical contortions you say I have, when you defend the concept of MARA colleges.

  30. zamorin says:

    Jacqueline,

    That’s quite a deep article. Thank you.

  31. To muslima.

    Do you think Allah would be jealous or get hurt if people turned away from Islam and started to pray in a temple, after He had sent His prophets to do their jobs? Surely He would not because Allah is The Almighty. He is not comparable to other human-made gods.

    If the ulama truly believe in Allah, why should they bother about apostates? Unless they themselves are not sure about Allah or they are worried about their positions. Fact of the matter is they are incompetent in their jobs and are not able to promote a ‘favourable’ Islam to non-Muslims.

  32. When we want to do something, we should look back at what happened in the past. Your argument about why the ulama should not bother about apostates because Allah would never be jealous if people turned away from Islam is such an insult to the sacrifice made by all the martyrs in the name of Islam. Why did Caliph Abu Bakar make war against the apostates right after the death of our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? My answer is still the same.

  33. Marcus says:

    I am truly and honestly astounded. I literally read this article with buldging eyeballs and a gaping mouth. Only in a country like Malaysia is a value like “pluralism” being attacked as a social evil, and such attacks actually receive widespread support from the masses.

    The fact that there’s actually a debate about whether pluralism and cultural/religious diversity is a good thing for society or not, is very telling about the level of development of this country. It seems that this country has not progressed past xenophobic tribal mentality.

    To me, this whole debate is akin to having a debate (in our modern day and age) on say, whether slavery should be abolished, with the majoritarians actually defending the merits of slavery and the majority of the population actually supporting that view!


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