Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Balancing Act?

I continue to be more than a little perplexed and upset at the difficulties in breaking the shackles of racialism. I’m not saying that race is 'obsolete’ or ‘irrelevant’ or that utopia is pigment free. After all pluralism and diversity are inherent to humanity.

I am merely against racial discrimination and the idea that any one race should be accorded more rights than another. Or that social order must remain ransomed to racial quotas. Post-8 March, I sense the newly elected MPs from the BR circling that big elephant in the corner, carefully modulating their previously shrill cry for Bangsa Malaysia. They seem to be vacillating between non-racial sloganeering and ye olde handy racial schtick. Perhaps our politicians are finding out that Mount Improbable is too difficult to climb so early in the day?

In Penang we have a safe formula of a Chinese CM and 2 Deputies, one a Malay and the other Indian. Is that shrewd or expedient, or what? And in the new Selangor State Exco lineup, Malaysiakini politely reports there is “an equal number of Malay to non-Malay members.”

I can understand why RPK is so exasperated:

Who the hell cares whether six are non-Malays and four are women? Are these people being chosen to run the state because of their race and gender? Should they not be chosen because of their qualifications and capabilities? Who are these six non-Malays and four women anyway? Are they the best of the lot? Will they outperform and outshine the previous Khir Toyo administration? Are we going to see Selangor grow and prosper by leaps and bounds? Is Selangor going to be paradise on earth?

Who cares? What matters is that six are going to be non-Malays and four are going to be women. That is what matters and that is what is going to guarantee a great future ahead of us. The calibre of the ten EXCO members was buried in the consideration of race and gender. That is the main focus and that is what appears to be the deciding factor. Woe to this country when race and gender override all other factors.

So is Bob:

Seeing gripes about not having a Hindu Tamil represented in the Selangor EXCO is dumbfounding. What would happen if I started griping that there's no Protestant Christian Teochew Chinese represented (we did; after all; embark on a public education campaign to get our fellow Christians [about 7 million of us of the Protestant expression] to vote wisely) or if someone else were to remark on the lack of representation of Taoist Hainanese, Theravadist Ceylonese, Mahayanist Foochows, Pure Land Hokkiens, Bahai Eurasians, Ahmaddiya Bengalis, Sikh Punjabis.

On the other hand, there’s Anwar’s proposed Malaysian Economic Agenda: it openly speaks about protecting the "interest of the Malays" while ensuring that "no one is left behind irrespective of race or religion." That’s going to be a heck of a balancing job whichever way you look at it.

Here's a letter from Feroz Qureshi to Anwar that's been circulating among blogs for awhile now. He says:

You are right in saying that the NEP is obsolete, not so much because it has been socially unjust but because Malaysia is finally ready to move on. Inevitably, two or three decades from now, reference to this acronym would be politically incorrect. But for now, you face tremendous challenges in making this work.

And I am certain that you’ll be able to convince the Malays that ‘a people cannot become special by getting special rights’.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Death has lost its sting

We live and die.
Christ died and lived!
John Stott

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday: the King must die

The King must die before he reigns. Otherwise the justice of his reign would only bring judgment and not salvation. So all the kingdom blessings demonstrated in the Gospels had to be purchased by the blood of Christ. This is why the cross must ever be the center and foundation of the gospel and why the blessings of the gospel should only be called gospel in relation to the cross.

John Piper, God is the Gospel

Zaid - in good faith?

PM Abdullah has appointed Zaid Ibrahim as one of 5 ministers in the PM’s Dept. That was a genuine surprise seeing how lawyer and former MP Zaid consistently goes against the grain in UMNO (which is one reason why he was dropped from contesting in Kota Baru). Here’s an excerpt from his recent book of collected essays and articles, In Good Faith. Titled 'Attributes of An Independent Judiciary,' it was first delivered at a dinner with law students at University of Malaya on 29 Jan 2007.

Our judiciary is in dire straits. The assault on the judiciary of 1988 still rankles in our minds and psyche. The present government is still reluctant to acknowledge the problems the judiciary is facing. The government remains unwilling to seek forgiveness for the wrongs it committed against Tun Salleh Abbas and the other judges. It is still in denial mode by not addressing the need for a dynamic and independent judiciary, and resisting an overhaul of the existing system.

Any government would likely say that its judiciary is independent. But we know such an assertion may not always be true. We also understand that, if we want to live in a democracy and continue to have some freedom, then we must have a courageous and independent judiciary. If we want protection from abuse of power, then we must preserve the rule of law, and only an independent judiciary can assure us of this.

Dare we hope to see real change soon? Post-March 8, anything is possible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

People Power to continue!

A friend sent this to me to help assure people who are jittery about changes brought about by the recent elections. I’ve edited it a little but the message remains: pro-change activists (that’s what they call themselves) want people power to continue.

Power of 10:
Speak to 10 people. Ask them whom they voted for. If Opposition, tell them it's a good choice, and to give the new leaders a chance to get to work. If they voted for BN, tell them why we need the Opposition in Parliament. At the very least, the results of the 12th GE are shaking BN to its akar rambut.

3 types of Parliamentary majority:
Lawyer and human rights activist, Malik Imtiaz says a strong opposition presence in parliament is necessary in view of the following majority needed to effect change.

Type 1 - To repeal laws. Only a simple majority of MPs present to vote is needed. As Malik pointed out, by disciplined attendance Opposition MPs could easily do away with undemocratic laws, given the poor attendance record of BN MPs.

Type 2 - To redraw constituencies. 50% of votes in favour (total of 222 MPs in the house) .

Type 3 - To amend the Constitution or make new laws. 75% of votes in favour.

Consultative Government:

Lawyer and political activist Haris Ibrahim, wants people to join “Representative Watch Committees (RWC)” to work closely with newly elected leaders to effect changes.
Look out for further announcements in his blog People's Parliament, or notices at BLOGHOUSE (No 66, Lrg Setiabistari 2, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur).

Stay Cool. Give the Pluralists (we are urged to stop calling them Opposition; haha, it was suggested we call BN the Racialists) a chance to settle down! This is just their second week in office!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Peace Be Upon Us

Here's something different for a change.

Got this new CD by Sheryl Crow and I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s classic Sheryl Crow, if you know what I mean, all infectious and hummable, ala Tuesday Night Music Club, her 1993 debut album.

Starting with the stripped down acoustic “God Bless This Mess” (so raw and demo-like in tone I thought something was wrong with the car player), you get the message that Detours signals her shift to more politically charged lyrics, and not a turn in her music (which still remains as radio-friendly as ever).

Among my favourites is "Peace Be Upon Us" which has a melodic mid-eastern inflected tempo and a catchy chorus. Crow is accompanied on this track by Ahmed al Hirmi who sings in Arabic.

Here’s a song that I want to dedicate to all Malaysians who voted, candidates who won, and everyone who’s committed towards a Malaysian Malaysia.

Walking down the street of dreams
Eating from the fruits of life
Tripping out on the smallest things
Trying to reach the light, trying to reach the light

Pick the key up off the floor
Put the key into the lock
Turn the lock, open up the door
Look at all you've got, look at all you've got

All the sinners and saints
All you creatures of faith
Don't need to be afraid
If you know what I mean
Let me hear you say

Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all
Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all

If we speak in tongues of love
But we kill in the name of God
How can we profess to own his name
And still be so lost and still be so lost

The world will turn even when we're gone
The earth will host many souls to come
Who will write the history, tales of
Wisemen, villains and innocent ones

All you shepherds and sheep
When you wake from your sleep
It will be a new day
If you know what I mean
Let me hear you say

Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all
Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all

As-salaamu alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam
Assalaam alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam

(The meek shall inherit the earth)

Peace be upon us, Peace be upon us, Be upon us all
As-salaamu alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam
Assalaam alykum
Wa-alaykum assalaam

[Lyrics from metrolyrics]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NEP: Badge or crutch?

This bit of news jolted my memory. Yes, there was a review of the NEP as this report clarifies. According to Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, the New Economic Policy expired in 1990 and was superseded by the National Development Policy (NDP).

He questioned why politicians on both sides of the political divide, in Penang particularly, were still harping in the issue of the NEP that had expired in the 1990s and replaced with the NDP.

He said back in 1989-90 the National Economic Consultative Committee (MAPEN) was formed to formulate a post-NEP policy in which he was among the representatives from Sabah for the committee chaired by Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie.

“The successor to the NEP was the NDP,” he said, adding that overtime Vision 2020, 10-year Outline Perspective Plan (OPP), five-year Malaysia Plans and other policies overshadowed the NDP.

But it seems to me that however the alphabet soup is stirred, it still tastes the same. The NDP might as well be called NEP - either because of a similar and overriding ideological thrust or its underlying intention .

Again, back to Dr Mavis Puthucheary’s essay. The notion of NEP and Malay dominance was first touted as a social contract by Ahmad Abdullah (quoted in The Star 31 Aug 1986). The former MP of Kok Lanas and one time group editor-in chief of NST wrote:

The political system of Malay dominance was born out of the sacrosanct social contract which preceded national independence. Let us never forget that in the Malaysian political system the Malay position must be preserved and that Malay expectations must be met. There have been moves to question, to set aside and to violate this contract that have threatened the stability of the system.

The NEP must continue to sustain Malay dominance in the political system in line with the contract of 1957. Even after 1990 there must be mechanisms of preservation,protection and expansion in an evolving system.

So, the NEP is a kind of badge of distinction to perpetuate racial dominance.

But here's what happened. Former PM Dr Mahathir came up with another policy that apparently subsumed that erstwhile NDP and fired the imagination of all Malaysians. He called it Vision 2020. (Actually it was the brainchild of Dr M's key advisor, the late ISIS chairman Noordin Sopiee). 9 challenges were listed as crucial to the development of a united Malaysian nation and the attainment of developed nation status. Its ambition was,

...establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation [More].

I personally find this document very progressive and attractive, genuinely visionary in its scope. If only it was properly pursued and implemented. To think that in recent years, some UMNO big guns have been pooh-poohing the term 'Bangsa Malaysia' as a mere indefinable 'state of mind' not even worthy as a unifying ideal. And no, I also did not mind that Dr M did not forget the needs of the Bumiputra majority.

In the development of human resources we cannot afford to neglect half the population i.e. the Bumiputeras. If they are not brought into the mainstream, if their potentials are not fully developed, if they are allowed to be a millstone around the national neck, then our progress is going to be retarded by that much. No nation can achieve full progress with only half its human resources harnessed. What may be considered a burden now can, with the correct attitude and management be the force that lightens our burden and hasten our progress. The Bumiputeras must play their part fully in the achievement of the national goal.[More]

Fair enough. Yet after 50 years of 'affirmative action' (positive discrimination?) why are Malays still wearing that metaphorical millstone? We know why, don't we? On the other hand let's not forget that no less a personage than present PM Abdullah who issued this warning against over-dependence on the NEP:

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, in his maiden speech as United Malays National Organization (UMNO) president to the UMNO general assembly in 2004 stated “Let’s not use the crutches for support all the time, the knee will become weak”. Badawi went on to state that continued usage of crutches would eventually result in needing a wheelchair instead.

Now, why would any community want to hazard such an eventuality? As an Anak Bangsa Malaysia, my vote is against NEP - for the sake of the community it was designed to help, and for the good of ALL communities who make up this nation .

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Unsocial contract

Oops. Who’s a racist now?

Looks like a lawyer has lodged a police report against the new Penang CM for making seditious and racist statements when LGE said that Penang would not be sticking to the NEP. “I believe that the statement is seditious, racist, irresponsible, and may endanger public peace and national security,” he said.

I’m really confused. Can someone help me understand this?

In the book Sharing the Nation: Faith, Difference, Power and the State 50 Years After Merdeka Dr Mavis Putchucheary in her essay titled, Malaysia’s Social Contract: The Invention and Historical Evolution of an Idea questions the so-called ‘social contract’ and wonders if there was an open negotiation, or was it simply imposed. Looking at the title of the essay, there is no doubt what the well-known Malaysian political scientist’s position is.

I have just bought the book from Kinokuniya (after reading excerpts in the last issue of OFF THE EDGE) so I can’t really say more, but this little book (91 pgs) is tantalizing in its thesis. Some sneak peeks:

Inclusion of Article 153 in the Constitution in no way implied that Malay dominance was recognized by the UMNO’s non-Malay Alliance partners, as some who have more recently invoked the idea of a “Malaysian social contract” have at times claimed. Although recognizing that the nucleus of national political leadership would continue to be Malay for years to come, this did not mean that the Constitution guaranteed Malay political dominance in perpetuity…

The author noted the drift or rather ‘metamorphoses’ as Article 153 was reinterpreted by the dominant Malay elite first as a form of necessary affirmative action in favour of the historically disadvantaged Malays. By the 1980s, the term more commonly bandied about to bludgeon dissent was “Ketuanan Melayu” (or Malay dominance).

[… the connotation that Malaysia is the Malay homeland, the Malays are the “masters” of the “national house”] came to be used increasingly to describe the UMNO’s dominance in the multi-ethnic coalition government. By this time UMNO seemed to have taken ownership of the Malay agenda, and to be possessed by it. The dichotomy of Malay and non-Malay had shifted from denoting simply the distinction between Malaysians of “indigenous” and “non-indigenous” local origins. It was now taken to another level, to suggest difference, and an unequal relationship, between people of the homeland and immigrants.

And, finally, what will this persistent and adamant claim to Malay dominance do to nation-building? Dr Mavis warns:

A constitution built on ideas of a competitive bargain among ethnic blocs, our Malaysian experience indicates, is fraught with difficulties…. No nation can be securely grounded if the founding charter of its existence is confused or contested. A frail or fractured foundation is no basis for “sharing the nation.”
Do you see how much is invested in our votes AGAINST BN? So Barisan Rakyat, can we please move on and move forward now? And people, can we also live out intentionally the change we want to see in our nation?

Related reading:

Dr Mavis Puthucheary on her previous book Elections and Democracy in Malaysia (2003)

Enough of racial politics!

Tak akan Melayu hilang (Susan Loone)

I hear the last rattles of a dying rattlesnake are the fiercest. If this is true then the coming days will see a serious backlash from sore losers - as is evident from recent events in Penang. Malaysians will have to be on the lookout because the only argument these people have is the useful but dog-eared race card.

I not only think the exercise reprehensible, it is a shameless and vile attack on the democratic process. Worse, it elevates the basest of human instincts and makes racism a kind of twisted human right. Why should any one race be superior to another? Why should we continue to talk about Malays rights when it’s patently wrong for unity? What logic is there in perpetuating racial paranoia? Is there something remotely unacceptable about need-based affirmative action instead of a race-based one? Can these people not see that the longer they cling to their crutches, the greater the threat of their very extinction?

UMNO protest for NEP at KOMTAR (Anil Netto)

If anything, the reason voters fled BN for Barisan Rakyat is because they got tired of an ethnocentric government. No enlightened civilization promotes racial politics. The ones that do it are neither enlightened or civil. Any party that resorts to bullying other communities to protect their own will never gain their respect or earn their allegiance. How long more must this bullying tactic be tolerated? If PM Abdullah takes no action against such misguided attempts to win the affection of those who spurned BN, he proves yet again that he has eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Purging Malaysia's race-based DNA

If there is anything to learn from the momentous victory of Barisan Rakyat on March 8, it is that in the political arena, the sum is usually better than any one of its parts.

At least, that was one reason why I voted for PKR, and why I did all I could to persuade others to deny BN its toxic influence on Malaysia’s future. I use the term ‘toxic’ advisedly because we’ve all been breathing in this poison all our lives to appreciate that clean air is infinitely healthier.

Interestingly, disgraced Dr Chua Soi Lek blames MCA’s debacle on overemphasis of Chinese issues: "In multicultural Malaysia, not everyone is interested in how many scholarships or schools have been built for the Chinese. The problem is the party is still singing an old tune ..."

Will we be able to purge our ugly disposition before the next general election?

Anyway, here’s a post-election sampling of our DNA showing across the political divide:

Penang Chief Minister was warned by PM Abdullah not to stoke racial tensions: “Do not marginalise the Malays. I want to ask Lim Guan Eng what his plans are for the Malays in Penang What are his plans for the Indians in Penang? What are his plans for other minority groups in Penang?” [Incredibly this is by the same PM who said in the Wall Street Journal that he's going to heal wounds, and that he hears "the voice of our citizens."]

Malays in Penang: Kami ORANG MELAYU PULALU PINANG adalah orang yang paling malang di TANAH MELAYU, Malaysia.

On suspension of NEP in Penang: Kamilah orang Melayu yang pertama tidak lagi merasa kek ekonomi DEB bilamana HULUBALANG DAP dah umumkan pemansuhan polisi DEB oleh KETUA MENTERI PULAU PINANG. Akan ramai kontraktor2 dan peniaga MELAYU PULAU PINANG akan gulung tikar.

Khir Toyo on new Selangor Exco: “There are only a few Malay exco members (being mentioned). We don’t want to see the new opposition-led state government to practice discrimination and hope that they heed the racial sensitivity of the Selangor people.”

HINDRAF demands: The opposition parties should appreciate the "Makkal Sakthi" wave created by HINDRAF as it is the root cause for change in mindset and political
maturity of all races. HINDRAF demands that DAP and Keadilan appoint a deputy Menteri Besar/Chief Minister in the state of Selangor, Penang and Perak to show their sincerity towards the Indian community.

On Perak in DAP hands:Cuba fikirkanlah apa yang mungkin terjadi kepada orang Melayu Islam di Perak. Mungkin orang Melayu Islam yang menjadi MB hanya mampu berkuasa dari segi bidang hal ehwal agama Islam, tidak ubah seperti yang berlaku ketika zaman penjajah British.

Letter to Malaysiakini defending appointment of non-Malay from DAP as MB: It is absurd to still hold on to a system of governance that will only allow leaders from one race to have the chance to be the MB, to the exclusion of the other races. Even Manmohan Singh can be the Prime Minister of India, why can't a Chinese or Indian Malaysian be the Menteri Besar of Perak? The new generation of Perakians who are born in Malaysia after Merdeka no longer accept this unjust, unfair and unacceptable system.

MCA chief Datuk Ong Ka Chuan on appointment of PAS Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as MB of Perak: He said Mohammad's appointment went against the wishes of voters, especially non-Muslims. “Having a mentri besar from PAS creates fear among non-Muslims. This also creates political instability.”

The Malaysian Insider: 2 Indian parties in Barisan National and the rival Indian political party outside the ruling coalition are all to merge today as one (to speak for the Indian community). The MIC, PPP and the IPF political parties are expected to make this announcement soon.

MCA President Ong Ka Ting on loss: He assured party members and supporters that the party would continue to fight to protect and uphold the rights of the Chinese community.

Victorious Independent candidate for Bukit Selambau state seat in Perlis, V.Arumugam said he would join PKR if the newly formed Kedah state government agrees to appoint him a state executive councillor. "I will do that in the interest of the Indian community and the people who voted for me," he said.

Zainuddin Maidin (Zam) after losing Sungei Petani: "The people may have to pay the price..."

We’re up to our noses in this race rubbish, and the old as well as new guards have to navigate and rise above our collective prejudices. So I’ll give our newly elected MPs and assemblymen time - although they must know that in politics, if there is a learning curve, it is short and unforgiving.

So. Should we be optimistic?

There is no other choice. We have to rid its stink, forge a new era together, and reclaim Malaysia for Malaysians, for ourselves, for our children and their children.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


WOW! Wow!The Rakyat have spoken!

Unbelievable! As at 4.36 a.m, the Opposition has won 80 to BN's 135 seats, with 7 more to go.

We’ve crossed the threshold. We have denied BN its two-third majority with a stunning and convincing show of people’s power. I must admit my little faith, for never did I think it was possible that BN could receive its comeuppance in such a dramatic fashion.

It was impossible to go to bed when the tally came in and the numbers added up – Penang! Selangor! Perak! Kedah! Kelantan! What a blow for the dacing. What a drubbing for the PM. Although he presided over BN’s worse electoral performance in decades, the truth hasn’t quite sunk in apparently. When asked by a reporter if BN’s losses was a vote of no confidence in his government, he glibly replied , "I don't see it that way." So how else do you see it, dear Prime Minister?

But of course this is just the beginning of a new chapter; the road ahead to a Malaysian Malaysia starts here, and then it may not. We have ways to go yet. BN still rules the roost, though this time we will hear less of its crowing I’m sure. Its chest beating will sound a little hollow this time round.

I like what Anwar said: “The people have voted decisively for a new era where the government must be truly inclusive and recognises that all Malaysians, regardless of race, culture or religion are a nation of one.”

Yes, we want no more of ketuanan melayu, the contempt of other non-Malay Malaysians, and the denial of their rightful place in the land of their birth. Is this too much to hope of the newly elected from DAP, PKR, and PAS? Can we look forward to a more democratic process, more equitable representation, respectful of all Malaysians?

We are tired of all this racial one-upmanship. Please stuff the kris. We are fed-up with religion shoved down our throats. We’ve had enough of cronies robbing tax-payers blind. And get on with the IPCMC already. My prayer is that we will not come this far to squander our gains for a united Malaysia, a stronger nation, and a hopeful future.

Don’t let us down, Barisan Rakyat. This one chance may not come again if you drop the ball.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Malaysia votes

Today is D-Day, the day of reckoning. The sky is grey and overcast with promise of showers later in the day. The last 2 weeks leading up to this day have been wild: The streets all decked with banners and posters like dirty laundry, our roads and sidewalks littered with mugshots of YBs and wannabes. (Do we actually believe that more flaglines equals greater show of support?)

Unsolicited articles and videos (many of which anyone with an online account would have seen or read anyway) pile up in mailboxes while text messages clutter mobiles with gossips and ceramah updates. I admit I have forwarded a few myself. If the mammoth turnout at opposition rallies across the country is to be believed, the winds of change appear to be blowing.

We had friends who stayed overnight. After a late breakfast, I send one of them to the LRT and then head to my Wangsa Maju polling station. It’s almost noon. After 2 weeks of electioneering, all keyed up from following discourses online and ceramahs offline, how anti-climactic to be greeted by police personnel and very officious types manning the polling station, who probably wished they were somewhere else.

The air is curiously still, betraying the electrified 2-week run-up to this moment where X marks the fate of a nation. I wonder at the sluggish handful who are gathering about the 3 booths, whose votes I hope will translate into unclogged drains, but more importantly, in unfettered defense of a Malaysian Malaysia.

My number is called, the officer haltingly announces my name to muffled giggles by his assistant who avert her eyes. I am handed my ballot slip. No indelible ink. Here you go, straight fight: PKR vs BN. There’s the transparent ballot box, a farcical concession to independent election watchers (in an Alice-In-Wonderland kind of way) and sop to the cynics.

My duty done, over in 5 minutes, I walk out to my car. The policeman smiles lazily in my direction. A mother and her chattering son stroll in. The sky is still grey, while BN flaglines stir ominously in the breeze.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Make your vote count!

Remember this picture?

The reason I am saying NO to BN is simple: checks and balance. My conscience will not let me do otherwise. No agency or institution on earth deserves unmitigated authority and complete power to rule. Common sense and a cursory survey of history is enough to tell you why: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton said. Malaysia has witnessed the effects of a virtual one-party rule for far too long and we the rakyat is to be blamed.

BN's 50 years of rule is increasingly authoritarian in character - if not entirely in law - and its arrogance has led it to ride roughshod over everyone else. There are too many things wrong with the country and too much of denial by the present government; almost nothing has been done to address widespread corruption, racial schisms, judicial misdeeds, and above all, the virtual hijacking of the national constitution evident in the declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state.

How else can you defend the razing of temples and churches, the burning of Bibles, the confiscation of Al-Kitab and Christian publications, the banning of the use of 'Allah' ? What would God have the church to do in the face of such relentless drive to marginalise other races and cultures in a plural society that is uniquely Malaysia?

Why must a people born and raised in Malaysia constantly have to endure threats by UMNO parliamentarians who unashamedly unsheathe krises, threaten bloodbath, and dare non-Malays to ‘get out’ every time their arrogance is challenged?

After having tasted the debilitating dominance of BN for 50 yrs ('material' progress notwithstanding) it is simply naive to imagine that the road ahead will be better. It is not going to be better, because every indication points to a deliberate hijack of the country's secular constitution by BN to advance UMNO's notion of an Islamic state and the vested interests of party zealots. Whatever one may say about demographics ("non-Malays already outnumbered"), it is irresponsible to uphold a supposed 'coalition' that does not even stand up boldly to such an outright conspiracy. All this makes the coalition a sham - MCA, MIC completely toothlessly subordinate to UMNO’s oppressive racial policies.

How long must the wool be pulled over our eyes, or do we have eyes that do not see?

In a day and age when ethnocentric governments are shunned as outdated, discriminatory and unequivocally racist, it cannot be right to say we have to 'accept' it.

What basis do Christians have for accepting and promoting a racist government?

When do we begin to take into consideration the greater interest of a Malaysian Malaysia? Or are we to admit as our politicians would want that there is no such thing as ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ – and this by elected parliamentarians whose job is to advance a united nation?

How do you tell your children that the government does not consider them worthy to be numbered as Malaysians because of the colour of their skin? Do we tell them to ‘accept’ it? If I may say, it would be analogous to admitting that because sin in all its expression is inherent in human nature, we too have to 'accept' it, instead of resisting it or even better, to overcome its hold on us.

No, we accept a racially fractured society reluctantly in the meantime, but we are beholden to work towards dismantling its shameful grip on society. We may all disagree on how to work towards it, but we certainly have to unite against it.

There is a tendency to say that BN is the only party that is able to deliver and that all its present failures are merely glitches, or small flaws in an otherwise benevolent government. The truth is these are not just flaws; they are structural evils that have been perpetuated because good people have decided not to do anything, believing naively that the system we have knows how to correct itself. But how, when we have surrendered the basic system of checks and balance in the first place?

So I say NO to BN to stop the bullying tactics of a ruling party that has lost sight of its obligations to society. Not for anything, but to reclaim the ideals that any good healthy society is built on.

If we are to practise Micah 6:8, 'doing' justice would require us to do all we can to prevent injustice from multiplying and prevailing. Our vote is the least we can do to love our neighbour, display solidarity with all people, and seek their well-being in the land we call our own.

There is a need to vote against BN to rein in their dominance in Malaysian politics and to ensure that checks and balance are maintained for the sake of transparency and good governance. Remember that in 2010, Malaysia will hold another delineation exercise. A vote against BN is a vote against more gerrymandering and the redrawing of electoral boundaries to favour the ruling powers.

Let me say it again: Say NO to BN to protect the plural and secular character of Malaysia, so that racism is resisted, other voices are heard, corruption is checked, and the good of all is assured.

I'm saying YES to Barisan Rakyat, because it would be unconscionable not to vote against BN.

Say NO to BN!

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Here's why we're voting to knock the dacing off its perch...

Courtesy of Y4C

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Politics comes to church

There can be no redemption unless
the truth about the world is told
and justice is done.
Miroslav Volf

This year’s election must be a sort of watershed for the church in Malaysia. Going by the number of reports online (such as this one , this and this one) Malaysia’s 2.8 million Christians have suddenly become an important voting bloc. But this Malaysiakini report characterizing the church as ‘normally sanguine’ doesn’t quite fit as Sook Ching rightly pointed out.

The truth is - if I may be permitted to generalize - the church in Malaysia has been either indifferent or phlegmatic with regard to politics for the longest time, at least in Protestant circles. Historically, the Roman Catholic Church, thankfully, has always been perceived to be aware and involved, although its socio-political inclinations have sometimes been unfairly dismissed as theologically misinformed, or worse, an expression of ‘salvation by works.’

Ironically, the tables have been turned as evidenced by outrage at a protestant church leader’s statement that the church should be apolitical as its primary concern is spiritual. Suddenly, taking the middle ground was seen as a cop-out and a lesson in missing the point of Jesus’ politically charged earthly ministry. Protestant or Catholic, church leaders, pastors, priests, and academics, have by and large led the way (and rightly so), and by taking the path that angels fear to tread they have galvanized less-assured saints to follow. Whether the response was out of love for their neighbour, or in response to Islamist encroachments on religious liberty, or both, is moot. Well, at least something is stirring.

I think it is not far wrong to say that traditionally the church has been casting its vote in the direction of stability and security, meaning BN, with scant regards for the bigger picture. Now this is what upsets me. I know it’s not a peculiarly Christian shortcoming, since in the main, bread-and-butter issues rank pretty high for most ordinary Malaysians too. But how tragic if all a Christian got out of his Bible is therapeutic tripe and not the radical implications of discipleship. This world is not my home and I’m just a-passing through, so goes an old gospel favourite. The point is made, though I have no excuse to close my eyes and ears nor shut my mouth when along the way cries for peace and justice are raised. (On another note, see NT Wright’s counter argument about God’s kingdom coming on earth as in heaven).

Anyways. If politicians are beginning to take notice of the church, then it’s high time Christians return the favour by paying attention to politicians.

Say NO to BN!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Yang Berkhidmat

Wee Choo Keong who was practically in a political wilderness, finds a lifeline with the Lingam video expose. Here he is now making a comeback and standing in Wangsa Maju as a PKR candidate. The crowd certainly came to hear Anwar Ibrahim - the superior orator - but Wee is saying all the right things nevertheless. Wee is, in his own words, a YB in waiting - not Yang Berhormat, but Yang Berkhidmat. The man has not been bashful with his private quarrels (DAP, in particular) and this part of his past is not lost on those of us who lived through the Mahathir era, through the tumultuous years of Operation Lalang, and the excesses of the early 90s. Back in 1995 Wee lost his Bukit Bintang seat to the MCA runner-up on a technicality. Following revelations in the Lingam video, Wee is filing for a judicial review - which if it should happen would be sweet vindication.

For the sake of Barisan Rakyat and in the greater service of our nation, I hope Wee will put his fall-out with DAP behind him.

Say NO to BN!