Monday, August 30, 2010

What are you really celebrating on Merdeka?

MONDAY, 30 AUGUST 2010 08:06
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"This coming Merdeka will you be writing something about our country?" the unexpected question came in an e-mail from an old friend I hadn't seen for awhile. "Do e-mail me a copy if you do," he wrote. 

I feel ambivalent writing on Merdeka. Between the mainstream and online news lies the balanced truth, as Malaysians today go through the angst of political change. The one who uses the pen instead of the sword must draw blood without destroying. And like the surgeon who heals, he or she has to make the incisions.   

Malaysia is a young nation. It is still a work in progress. And young nations need the discipline to focus on the vision of the founding fathers and the genesis of their existence even as they adapt to changing times. The danger of not changing is fossilization. And fossilization is the result of being regressive.    

"In many counsellors there is victory," says an old proverb. The late President John F. Kennedy had the knack of tapping into the brains of those in his cabinet and committees. He always listened and weighed carefully what others said. That according to some observers was his forte.   

It is something we all need to do. It is something governments need to do.   

There is conventional wisdom that if you want results employ those who are smarter than you. Sadly fear makes people do the opposite. And it is fear that makes people treat their neighbours shabbily and governments take a hard approach when they should be more understanding. 

A non-muslim goes to a surau with an olive branch and good intentions. But the Pharisees pick on this hapless politician. A Malaysiakini report says she is going to apologize to the Sultan. Why? What has she done wrong? This is an example of a regressive approach and political opportunism: the nit-picking and making a mountain out of a mole hill to score political points. Sadly there's too much of it. 

We reflect on the past that we may be wiser now and in the future. 

And as I reflect on the past I am hopeful there is a silver lining in the cloud. Sometimes people can't learn except from their mistakes. It is a painful way when prevention is better than cure. And sadly, some people never learn from past mistakes. Thus the saying 'those who don't learn from history are wont to repeat the mistakes.' 

There are many lessons we can learn from our history. 

The image of Bapa KeMerdekaan - Tunku Abdul Rahman - raising his first into the air to shouts of 'Merdeka' at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on that auspicious day 53 years ago has become iconic, and Merdeka and its aftermath offer valuable lessons.   

We know the Tunku died a disappointed and disillusioned man - a victim of a nation's history that failed him and its true sons and daughters, and left them with a dashed hope. We can easily forget the sacrifices he and others made to gain for us our independence and freedom because history is often written not in truth but prejudice when politicians hold the historian's hand.       

I still remember the day the Tunku came to his alma mater, the Penang Free School, and delivered an awespiring speech to us, mostly Chinese students, during a school assembly. We were all children of the Merdeka generation, full of hope and promise. 

"You are the future leaders of the country, "the Tunku said, with a hint of a Cambridge accent, "so you must study hard, be law-abiding, and do your best to serve your country."  We did study hard, furthered our studies at home and abroad, and equipped ourselves to serve the nation. 

But when we were ready the Tunku was no longer there. 

It was the ominous start of Merdeka lost.    

What has your country done to you? 

They had asked us what we can do for the nation. But we forgot to ask them what the nation would do for us. And more importantly what it would do to us. Those who demanded equity for themselves did not give equity to others. And it has been that way since. 

Still in good faith we had done our utmost - for ourselves and for our country.  

But they no longer needed someone like the Tunku who was the primeval Malaysian, the original 1Malaysian, the true Prince of Bangsa Malaysia, who was above all -- the leader for all -- and who promised every citizen an equal share in their country's future. He was too Malaysian!      

School didn't teach us to dichotomize the nation into 'they' and 'us'. It taught us the opposite. The politicians divided us. And we didn't like it. We still loved our Malay friends and they loved us. Our lives intermingled. We were after all children of the Independence taught to live in harmony with one another. 

"Call me Bapa," my Malay friend's father insisted. His family had been like my family. He was the progeny of a British education, had become a school principal, a devout Muslim later in life, and the sort of 'Merdeka Man' that epitomized the Tunku's Malaysia. But our world was changing. 

My close Malay schoolfriend would be a bumiputera - a son of the soil - but me - born and bred like he in every way? They would call us non-bumiputra made to feel second-class and outcasts in our beloved country. They are still doing it today - school principals, of all people, bullying innocuous school children under their charge, and belittling them. And 'Bapa' would have been upset. 

The yeast of pride and prejudice would grow like a spreading cancer. 

Topics the British allowed everyone to discuss freely became taboo, unilaterally classified 'sensitive.' The virus of political racism began to spread but many children of the Merdeka generation were unaffected, protected by a sound education and vaccinated against communalism.      

The children of Merdeka were ready to defend their country against Sukarno during 'Konfrontasi.' They were good enough to die but not good enough to get a job. 'For Bumiputra only - non-Bumiputras need not apply' the many job advertisements - I felt cheated and betrayed and bushwhacked.   

It seemed unfair. It was unfair. What if there were advertisements that read, "For non-Bumiputra only - Bumiputra need not apply." The problem with those who cite 'offending the sensitivities' of their group often forget about other people's sensitivities as if they had none.  

Why should any affirmative action deprive others of the same opportunities? After all - the British colonialists treated all citizens fairly. Whither the justice Merdeka wrought? I thought. I coped somehow like all the other children of deprivation.   

Years later the Tunku himself died disappointed and disillusioned as he saw his Merdeka vision disappear and his beloved Malaysia undergo an era of unprecedented racial discrimination, repression and reprehensible double-standards, against his cherished values.   

I felt his pain as I regularly signed the cheques for the company he partially owned and that published his articles. His voice was heard in his weekly column 'As I See It' in The Star, then truly a People's Paper, but the Tunku by then was no match for the man who would mesmerize the nation with his grandiose even if flawed schemes. 

The people fell hook, line and sinker, and readily gravitated to what 'he' promised, what their itching ears wanted to hear. Poor fools! Today they curse the man - too late! 

Tunku had reminded him of the Merdeka principles, of democracy and freedom, of not using the ISA to stifle political comment unfavorable to the government of the day, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.   

The acolytes of the maverick Pied Piper had sold their souls to the God of Mega Materialism and paid the mega price with their freedom. Many saw their birthright being questioned from time to time yet kept voting into power the architects and engineers of their plight. You can't be more self-destructive and idiotic than that. 

But it did not begin with the maverick. 

What has May 13 done to you? 

Years ago, May 13, 1969 saw the country in a bloodbath. Racial violence erupted. Soldiers shot and killed innocent civilians. Mobs ran amok. And democracy went up in smoke. In his book, 'May 13', Dr Kua Kia Soong postulates the credible conspiracy theory.  

It was Merdeka murdered. Merdeka lost.     

In the aftermath, the country was ransomed to a narrow nationalism that sent cracks through the length and breadth of the nation to this day. It was the start of 'that' nonsense. We learned to read, write and count, the three positive 'R's' in school and we learned the negative three 'R's' - of race, religion and repression from the politicians. It was the end of innocence. 

Nationhood would never succeed when a national leader thinks of his race first and the others as an afterthought. If a country leader is not leader of all, he is not leader at all. It was a mistake - to adopt any policy resembling apartheid, and history bears it out.   

In the country, the government scrambled to tackle the increasing racial polarization while feeding the insidious serpent of hate simultaneously. 

Vision school was the answer they said but whose vision? Who murdered the Merdeka vision? Who messed up our school system that had produced successful students of all races who though not having seen one another for decades still shared a bond of genuine friendship and camaraderie? Why did they have to reinvent the wheel? 

Even as I write there is an e-mail from an old Malay school friend asking his old classmates to pray for another former Malay school friend lying in a coma from a stroke. Pray? The racists have not divided us and never will.  

Tun Abdul Razak, the 'ultra Malay leader'  had taken over from the Tunku but he didn't foresee the danger of giving a blank cheque to those who are untrustworthy. Good intentions aren't always sufficient in running a nation. Good people, good policies and good systems work better. 

He gave birth to the New Economic Policy (NEP) - and made radical policy changes that would alter the country's social and political topography. 

After May 13, 1969 the country would see a new type of racism - naked and aggressive and legitimized by emergency powers, political might and tacit militant muscle. Many saw the ominous signs. The country saw its first wave of brain drain. Students went abroad to study and never returned. But I did return and do not regret it. And when I left again, it had nothing to do with the country's politics. If it was politics I would have stayed.    

What have the chauvinists done to you? 

Razak did what he had to do. 

The marriage with Singapore had not worked. 

It was his turn to show what a chauvinist Malay leader could do after Lee Kuan Yew proved too much of a challenge to them.   

The NEP became a misnomer for Malay Economic Policy in practice. In 1971, it cut a swathe through the harmonious nation of over 10 million multi-racial citizens and divided it. When 'Malaysian' would have sufficed before, everyone now had a new label except they did not put armbands on them like the Nazis did.    

In fact 'Malaysian' became synonymous with Malay to the chagrin of the true believers - who felt the country was being re-colonized from within. Economically, Razak wanted the Malays to get 30% of the economy. He said it must be done in 20 years - within a generation. 

But was it necessary to superimpose Malay on everything? After all, there is so much in the Malay culture that non-Malays already liked and even the Chinese will swear they are a nice people to relate with - but the ugly politicians had to spoil it. Not content to rely on osmosis, they had to use coercion. And no one likes to be forced to do something in a freed country. 

Achieving the NEP was a tall but not impossible or unreasonable order. It would have been ridiculous to have a new country where old wealth dictated everything or were in the hands of a minority. In a time of rapid economic expansion it was achievable. 

But that was not to be. How could it be? 

Dishonest people were robbing the gravy train faster than the Bank Negara could print money and derailing the NEP. Corruption and bailouts had taken its toll on the government's development and coupled with incompetence derailed the train that would deliver 30% of the country's wealth to the Malays. 

Of course, the most serious derailments did not occur during Razak's tenure but over time. 

So naturally, the statisticians would cry, "Not yet 30%, only 18%". "Not so," remonstrated think-tank economist Dr Lim Teck Ghee, "already more than 30%" he disclosed, but those in power ignored the facts. 

They had dug their own grave by not letting those who could help the country play more crucial roles.  Instead they elevated the deadwood - they put politics ahead of national interests. They failed to employ people smarter than them. 

So today they are still talking about the prolongation of a flawed national policy that spawns corruption, wastage and racism like a blocked dirty drain breeds mosquitoes. The strengthened opposition Pakatan Rakyat promises to remedy the shortcomings if given the chance and indeed they should. It is kicking against the goad when politicians refuse to accept the reality that Malaysia is best served when the best players are in the team. 

Ketuanan Melayu - the anti-thesis of the Tunku's Merdeka vision and of true nationhood - became a de facto unwritten law, as if part of the country's constitution. The 'Young Turks' were on the ascendancy and 'The Malay Dilemma' written ironically by the half-Indian new country leader became the manifesto of the nation as Mein Kampf was to the Germans.     

Razak died in office five years after the NEP's inception. He wanted to achieve the noble two-fold aim of "eradicating poverty and eradicating economic function with race." He had not intended that the NEP would divide the nation, only its wealth. It is a lesson for all that if a policy is not intrinsically sound and just, it is likely to turn into an uncontrollable beast. 

However many Malays got more than their 30% share in the mayhem of the turbulent times long after Razak was gone. Many Malays also got nothing and struggled together with the non-Malays. Their eyes began to open and their whimper rose to a crescendo when in later years tens of thousands of marginalized Indians took to the streets in peaceful protests. 

The truth is it never was or is a Malay versus non-Malay contest in the country. This is a lie fabricated by the ugly politicians. It was never part of the Merdeka formula. It had always been a problem of human failing and greed, when those given the onerous public trust of administration short-changed the country and their own people.  

The absence of solid good governance stymied Razak's NEP and quenched its spirit as much as any race-based policy would inevitably quench the Merdeka spirit. 

Ketuanan Melayu is a flawed and failed doctrine that used race as a pretext to carry out an own selfish agenda. In years to come when demography will make the nation almost entirely Malay, Ketuanan Melayu would stick out like a sore thumb. Again it is a pretext for the corrupt to keep the Malays on a leash so they can elevate themselves as self-appointed champions of race and religion -- a cruel and costly charade.       

Secret of our neighbour's success 

If you think I am wrong, how then does the well-governed Singapore do it with its own multiracial mix? How does it maintain peace and order and harmony and take care of its minorities? And give every Singaporean a decent chance at life?  

This year they will record the highest GDP growth in the world of at least 13%. And when I talk to Malay Singaporeans they don't have any hangups about the way they are treated. Sadly the same can't be said for the non-Malays in Malaysia and an increasing number of Malays. Behind the veil of anonymity, the Internet offers some revealing insights of the pervasive disgruntlement. 

The Singaporeans just don't talk about zero-tolerance of extremism and divisiveness - they act - they punish the culprits without fear or favour. Racism is the opium of the brain dead, so they banned it. They want to be a clever country and they are. Meanwhile Malaysia exports its talents and now desperately tries to import them back but in futility. 

Today Pakistan a Muslim country appeals to the world to help its citizens in distress. Will the advocates of non-interference still think it is a Muslim problem and only Muslims need bother? Will any government in hardship still think no one should intervene in its internal affairs?   

The Pakistani President does not think so and unashamedly appeals for intervention, and rightly so. We are our brothers' keepers and it takes a disaster to remind us. When we learn from one another and help one another we all benefit. But those who use race or religion to divide the country are the Merdeka-wreckers. 

Despite the recent Allah controversy it was never a Christian versus Muslim problem either. In fact, remove the political instigation and gratuitous un-Islamic policies and one finds muslims and Christians and followers of other religions share many similar concerns and possess a common desire to live in a moral and upright state. Before and after Merdeka there was religious harmony until the politicians and recently the lying mufti began to stir the hornets' nest.      

After Razak corruption had changed the NEP from being the nation's radical economic equalizer into the golden goose that laid the eggs for the dishonest ones. Unchecked power enabled the more ruthless politicians to hold power for decades. They bought mansions overseas while the natives lost their rainforests, homes and way of life. 

Merdeka or the Maverick's vision? 

The political warlords became self-vested and the nation suffered - especially the underprivileged Malays who joined the Chinese in the community of the deprived. The recent compensation of Felda farmers is symptomatic of the rip-offs.    

If Razak were alive today, would he be upset at what happened to his NEP agenda? 

Probably yes judging from his own youngest son's recent remarks since politics is also family business in Malaysia. Nazir Razak, CEO of the CIMB group lamented the 'bastardization of the NEP' in a Malaysiakini report. With the Approved Permits (APs), he said the government might as well give them the money. That's what happened and they got more than the APs.   

And not long ago during a by-election, elder brother PM Najib Razak reminded the nation that he had to stay true to his late father's NEP vision. Such filial piety is rare these days. But politicians are good at talking not showing. And none more so than the Maverick.  

When he was king, the Midas-wannabe wanted what the Chinese had - money, prestige, mansions, posh cars - the lot and more. He wanted them for himself, his family and his cronies - without the sweat and toil and what took a lifetime of sacrifice to achieve. They got it. They lost it. The people paid for it, again and again. 

And Barry Wain in his excellent book 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohammed in Turbulent Times' which every Malaysian should read because it provides a useful history of Malaysia you won't find in school textbooks, mentions the 'lost 100 billion ringgit' - enough to make many Malays, not only the cronies, millionaires overnight. 

Money is not everything. But losing the Merdeka spirit of cohesiveness and unity is more costly than the lost billions. This is the greater loss.  

Traitorous - spelt with a capital Tee 

It is a joke that Malaysians are charged with sedition over their inconsequential acts when the nation was rendered asunder by far more serious acts that have destroyed the independence of all its public institutions and the one responsible is not held to account.   

That anyone can become untouchable or any issue be brushed under the carpet in the name of national security shows the country's immaturity, and that a caveat is placed on the country's rule of law.   

The Tunku was unique, the Merdeka spirit is priceless, and it behooves every Malaysian to defend this intangible and cardinal national heritage that is under siege. The Merdeka ethos - every citizen is equal - is the nation's lifeblood; it is the wellspring of all national policies and if people lose sight of it the nation will lose its direction.  

Even 1Malaysia and Bangsa Malaysia - pale imitations of the real thing cannot remove themselves from the foundational fact. 

If Malaysians are in conflict, it will spell the end for the nation. Yet to an extent conflict is needed to prove who cares for the country and who cares for themselves. But the common thread that binds Malaysians together is their Merdeka legacy. If the lies and brainwashing are stemmed, the truth will set people free. 

Many capable Malays are angry because they are unfairly stigmatized and don't need crutches.  A discriminatory policy can hurt those it is meant to help. Tun Razak did not intend for the NEP to be a Never Ending Pot of gold for the Malays. 

Some anti-Merdeka elements now resort to religion to create disunity and the lying mufti will sell his sullied soul for '30 pieces of silver' like a Judas. But all religionists who believe there is God will not lie because in every religion it is a sin. 

How can anyone serve God but act for the devil -- the Father of Lies? Does God teach us to tell lies and act unjustly? Even atheists think it is wrong. Rid the nation of these hypocrites and troublemakers and there will be peace. The corrupt do not care if they hurt their religion, their race, their nation. 

Politicians with untold wealth should be asked to share their money-making secrets with their poor and struggling citizens. Why pay tens of millions to foreign consultants when the politicians who have a flair for making money are in our backyard? 

Should they not be passing on their knowledge to us all? Their books like "How I Became A Billionaire on a Government Salary" will be instant bestsellers. Even Singapore's million-dollar salaried politicians will be lining up to snap a copy.    

Merdeka suffers when some Chinese carry the Ugly Chinaman bug - the sickness that the late Taiwanese author Bo Yang described in his book of the same name. He said that specimens of the minority Chinese in a community had a tendency to betray their own people to ingratiate themselves among the majority rulers - in short- they can be traitorous - spelt with a capital Tee.     

A dog knows its master but when you forget your own race and speak ill of your own people without justification even my dead dog thinks it is dastardly insane and despicable. Self-criticism is good but not when it is flagrantly destructive and offensive. 

And the political eunuchs don't do better either.   

Fortunately the trail of blood of the Chinese martyrs tells a different story because while the royal colour of their bygone emperors in ancient history is yellow, they are not. Those who mistake their forbearance for cowardice are wont to rue their mistake. 

Today it's turbulent times all over again 

'Woe is the nation,' seems to be the rakyat's cry among the many aggrieved.  

The country is still wilting under the same 'rotten administration' and 'police state' that came with the 'Islamic state' - the legacies of a former leader whose condemnation of his successor was an unwitting display of self-incrimination.  

PM Najib tries his best but how do you repair a boat with so many leaks and you are not sure you can turn your back to those you count on to help you? When you are trying hard to push your 1Malaysia agenda and your right-hand man says, no, "I am Malay first", why worry about the Opposition? Even Brutus wasn't so brutally obvious.    

The real enemy of the Malay race is not the Chinese race and vice versa but the depraved, covetous, corrupt and conniving politicians and their cronies and the culpable 'Gestapo' policemen who abet them. The ruthless and desperate will crush all who stand in their way and we have seen the evidence.   

Anwar 'black eye' Ibrahim - the renaissance Malay - is the prime living proof. And there are more of their victims. The former chief graft buster was 'scolded' for doing his job properly, and another crime investigator was charged but acquitted for exposing criminal activity.    

In many ways it is ironic that the Malays who have so much power also have less freedom compared to their non-Malay neighbours. That was never part of the Tunku's Merdeka plan. It was never his vision to see innocent Malays shot down by the police like dogs, and to add insult to injury, have the police fabricate the stories.  

The state decides their religion. The state decides how they are to live. The state is their nanny from cradle to grave. How do you raise towering Malays when you treat them like babies? And the towering ones are cut down to size because they refuse to join the gang? 

Much is not well in Merdekaland, the land we love -- our birthplace and the land of our ancestors and Merdeka's children. Let's not pretend all is well and wave the flags if we are not free. But indeed we should fly a billion flags when the nation is truly free. With the diagnosis of the sickness must come the bitter medicine but so far the patient refuses to take it. 

The administration is like an old rickety  machine with faulty parts and in desperate need of repair and change. It is not delivering the nation what Merdeka and even what Razak's NEP promised. It is a sick machine. It is time for a new model and the country needs one and can afford it. 

It is a moral crisis that cannot be resolved with more acts of wanton corruption and selective prosecution and more cosmetic surgery and politicking. It is a rainforest tree besieged by termites whose voracious appetite cannot be satiated. It is a nation in the throes of a struggle for its survival and facing the risk of descending into the abyss of moral anarchy. These are not the rantings of a partisan politician but a saddened son of the Merdeka generation.     

But more importantly what are people going to do about it? 

Only fools continue blighting their future 

What will they do with the the corrupt neo-colonialists - those who strangle the country in the pernicious bondage and curtailment of liberty that Merdeka was supposed to have removed. They not only bully 'lain-lain' but their own. It is simplistic to blame just those in power for the people's plight because where does power come from in a constitutional democracy? 

The voters and citizens who prop up the political warlords and pseudo-nationalists must share the blame. They must redeem themselves if they have not done the right thing.  

They must stop empowering those who are hijacking their nation. They are guilty of the same crime because they offer and receive the bribes. The corrupt can be found across the political divide. Let us not just heed what people say but judge what they do. 

There is a painful lesson to learn. The corrupt have already showed their hand and sabotaged the reform. Their dishonesty will be their downfall.  

Our mothers and daughters are already toiling abroad as illegal workers so that they can save for their families and send their kids to finish their studies. Qualified Malays are working abroad because they don't want to be stigmatized or have their freedom curtailed in their homeland. It is not a race problem, never has been, otherwise the mixed-race administration for 53 years has been a fraud.    

Everyone has the right to pick their leaders. One man's leader may be another's rogue. But only fools do not know the difference between a corrupt leader and an honest one. Only fools will continue to vote for the corrupt. And only fools give the power to servants to make them masters over them.  

A middling and politically mangled Malaysia is the price of blind loyalty, ignorance and obvious folly. 

The real relevance of Merdeka today is its reminder to all Malaysians what the Tunku fought for - the right to self-government and individual freedom, the right to a 'clean, efficient and trustworthy' government, and a fair one at that, not hypocrisy and hype, and more corruption that results in hardships for the rakyat.      

I dare say every Malaysian will be better off if the leaking boat is allowed to sink with no passengers on board. It is too risky to place your future in the hands of those who promise but don't deliver and have a poor track record, enough to make everyone skeptical. It is far too dangerous to travel in a leaky boat heading toward inevitable shipwreck.    

This is what Merdeka is about - our freedom. 

Today the advent of an alternative government raises the nation's hopes again. March 2008 proved it can be done but the Perak subversion proves it can be undone. Only the voters can ensure their own decisive future and save themselves. Politicians are impotent without popular support. 

Still there is hope for a Merdeka renaissance, a Merdeka resurrection and Merdeka regained - when people put nation before self and reflect on the road they travel. You can't have political reform without personal reform. Those who want to replace the corrupt, are they incorruptible? 

Politicians may be good at politicking but can they govern? They may be good at gaining power but do they know how to use it? That is why we need checks and balances. We need free and truthful media to keep the executive honest. Every Malaysian who is not involved in shaping his or her nation is a Merdeka dropout. 

Every Malaysian who is not registered to vote is utterly irresponsible and does not deserve to live in a democracy. 

A two-party system as many have suggested may be the first step toward the democracy that Merdeka intended. After all that is how the Westminster system works. And a stint in the political wilderness may benefit those who think political hegemony is their birthright.   

So what are Malaysians really celebrating on Merdeka Day? 

Remembering the late Tunku  

The truth is there is only one God, one king, one constitution, one nation for Malaysia. It was decided in the Merdeka Declaration on 31 August 1957 with a written constitution as proof. 

If you are not celebrating this watershed historic event that is evident in your country today then what are you celebrating? A mirage? A meaningless ritual? 

Without the fruit of Merdeka, all is hypocrisy. In Merdeka is embedded the crucial DNA of the nation. The constitution defining the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of the rulers, politicians and citizens are plain to see. Anything more or less is an abuse of power. What the people have lost they must regain.     

Merdeka lost or Merdeka regained, the people must choose. 

If in practice we do not see the evidence of the Merdeka declaration, what are we celebrating on Merdeka Day? After all there is Malaysia Day but that is a different story. Empire building is vastly distinct from unshackling your country from one. Merdeka is something else, something special. 

A nation riven by race and religion cannot gel as one nation - it is not the Merdeka declaration. Until we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, we may fall prey to those who entice and incite us to hate. It may not be explicit but implicit in the Merdeka declaration is the commitment to 'unity in diversity.' 

Is there a better way? Do we have a choice? 

On Merdeka Day, I will raise a toast to the memory of the one who fought to give us a free nation, a nation of hope and justice, a nation of truth that 'unity is strength' and that diversity is a gift of God and bigotry is the curse.    

I will remember the late Tunku and all those who shared his Merdeka vision, the gallant ones that sacrificed their lives for their nation, the civil servants, the judges, policemen, politicians, ordinary Malaysians who lost their jobs for doing them and who lost their freedom but left us a legacy of hope for a better and brighter tomorrow - they - the children of Merdeka - are the unsung heroes. 

I will say a prayer for the government and the opposition and every Malaysian unfairly jailed under the ISA and all those who still cherish the Merdeka dream for their nation and work toward its eventual success. 

We are after all, together, children of Merdeka and we are everywhere. Soon our sun will rise and we will sing 'Negaraku' with a clear conscience and a combined voice.  

Merdeka! God bless Merdekaland. 

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Apabila susu dibalas tuba — Ku Seman Ku Hussain

August 29, 2010
29 OGOS — “TAHNIAH” diucapkan di atas sikap berlembut kerajaan memaafkan seorang pelajar yang biadab menghasilkan video Negarakuku tiga tahun lalu. Video Negarakuku bukan saja memuatkan lagu Negaraku dalam rentak rap malah menyelitkan cercaan dan maki hamun kepada kerajaan.
Walaupun banyak pihak kecuali MCA meminta kerajaan mengambil tindakan yang tegas kerana perbuatan itu seolah-olah memijak kedaulatan negara, tetapi akhirnya pelajar yang menuntut di Taiwan itu pulang dengan gembira tanpa sebarang tindakan.
Wee Meng Chee atau Namewee melakukan perbuatan itu ketika menuntut dalam jurusan komunikasi massa di Universiti Ming Chuan, Taiwan dan menyiarkan footage video yang menyentuh sensitiviti agama Islam itu dalam YouTube. Seluruh dunia melihat sikap buruk rakyat Malaysia terhadap negaranya. Kerana kita terlalu baik hati dan mahu “mengambil hati” kesalahan sebesar itu kita padamkan hanya sepatah kata “maaf” daripada pelajar berkenaan.
Walaupun tiga tahun berlalu tetapi orang Melayu dan umat Islam masih terasa pedihnya. Kerana toleran yang melampaui kerajaan, Namewee sekali lagi buat hal apabila menyiarkan video terbaru di YouTube memuatkan kenyataan berbaur perkauman, mencerca seorang guru besar yang dituduh perkauman seterusnya Kementerian Pelajaran.
Semalam, Ketua Puteri UMNO Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashin Shirlin mendesak tindakan tegas dikenakan ke atas Namewee kerana mengulangi perbuatan yang dianggap sangat biadab serta boleh mencetuskan sengketa kaum.
Nah, diberi susu, dibalasnya tuba. Adakah kita semua terpaksa menghirup “tuba” sekali lagi kerana mahu “menjaga hati” pihak tertentu? Kita sedang menunggu tindakan yang tegas seperti yang dikenakan ke atas bekas pelajar Aswara yang memberi komen dalam facebook berbaur ugutan mengenai kes membakar gereja tidak lama dulu. Pelajar itu ditangkap dan didakwa. Baguslah tegas begitu.
Kerajaan juga mengambil tindakan tegas kepada sekumpulan remaja Melayu yang membakar bendera Jalur Gemilang di Batu Buruk Terengganu tahun 2008. Itu pun bagus juga. Mempersenda dan menghina negara besar kesalahannya tidak kira Melayu, Cina atau sesiapa. Tetapi gelagat sekumpulan remaja Melayu itu hanya diketahui oleh sekitar kawasan Batu Buruk saja. Mereka tidak menyiarkan peristiwa membakar Jalur Gemilang di YouTube untuk memberitahu seluruh dunia.
Kerana itu Namewee sangat bernasib baik apabila perbuatannya yang mencemarkan nama negara di seluruh dunia boleh pulang ke tanah air dengan senyum gembira. Sekalipun kesalahannya lebih besar daripada bekas pelajar Melayu Aswara dan sekumpulan remaja Melayu di Batu Buruk, dia terlepas daripada sebarang tindakan. Malah pernah memohon bantuan kewangan daripada Finas untuk menerbitkan filem. Bagaimanapun status permohonan itu belum diputuskan lagi setakat ini.
Apabila Namewee mengulangi kecenderungan mengecam negara dan menyentuh sensitiviti perkauman, tindakan yang tegas mesti diambil sebelum orang luar melihat “pihak berkuasa” kita sebagai tidak berkuasa. Siasatan mesti dijalankan dan kali ini tolong jangan ada penglibatan parti politik seperti kesnya yang lalu.
Sebenarnya pihak yang banyak memainkan peranan hingga Namewee boleh senyum gembira pulang ke tanah air selepas mencaci negara adalah MCA. Inilah akibatnya kalau isu-isu yang melibatkan hal-hal yang mencemar kenegaraan diselesaikan menerusi penglibatan politik bukan undang-undang.
Kali ini apa pula agaknya yang akan dilakukan oleh MCA? Kalau dulu Chua Soi Lek yang ketika itu Menteri Kesihatan menganggap Namewee sebagai “budak jahil” yang tidak mempunyai niat mempersendakan lagu Negaraku dan menyentuh sensitiviti umat Islam dan orang Melayu. Kali ini apa pula komen MCA? Parti DAP pun kelihatan sangat bersimpati dengan Namewee ketika perbahasan di Parlimen ketika isu itu hangat diperkatakan.
Tetapi ironinya “budak-budak Batu Buruk” yang dikenakan tindakan tidak ada pula campur tangan parti-parti Melayu seperti UMNO atau Pas. Sebenarnya parti hanya menguruskan hal-hal politik saja, apabila tiba soal yang mencemarkan negara, semua parti mesti melupakan soal kaum masing-masing. Semua kaum dan semua parti di bawah satu bendera dan menghuni tanah air yang sama.
Selepas menghasilkan video Negarakuku, Namewee menghasilkan CD yang antaranya memuatkan lagu Negarakuku dan Kawanku dalam bahasa Mandarin. Lagu Kawanku antara antara liriknya akan menyinggung perasaan orang Melayu.
Dalam kerapuhan hubungan kaum di negara ini, anasir-anasir yang boleh menyumbang kepada ketegangan perlu dibanteras tanpa mengira kaum. Dalam kes terbaru ini ternyata menyalahgunakan kemudahan teknologi apabila mencerca individu dan negara sendiri di Internet. Namewee boleh mengkritik dan orang Melayu sangat terbuka kepada kritikan. Tetapi Namewee juga kena membezakan antara kritikan dengan cercaan yang boleh mengguris hati orang Melayu.
Sebenarnya Namewee bebas untuk mempunyai pendirian apa saja tentang insiden guru besar Melayu yang dituduh perkauman di sebuah sekolah di Johor. Dia boleh mengkritik sekalipun guru besar berkenaan sudah menjelaskan ada berlaku salah faham yang kemudian dijadikan modal politik parti tentu.
Seperti kata Rosnah, perbuatan Namewee kali ini biadab maka pihak yang merasa masih “ada kuasa” perlu menjalankan siasatan dan mengambil tindakan tegas sekiranya didapati benar. Kalau sudah tidak punyai kuasa, sama-samalah kita menyokong kerja “bakti” Namewee ini dan tidak usahlah berulang kali memberi “amaran keras”. Kena lakukan jangan cakap saja.

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Bukan Muslim, Masjid Dan Mainan Politik

Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

Saya amat bimbang apabila isu-isu agama dipolitikkan. Islam cuba ditafsirkan menurut kepentingan politik masing-masing. Hukum-hakam syarak menjadi mangsa. Permainan politik sanggup menggadaikan segalanya. Amat berbeza antara penilaian berteraskan politik kepartian dengan penilaian yang berasaskan metodologi ilmu dalam Islam.

Politik kepartian sering menilai isu atau sesuatu berasaskan kepentingan (political interest), persepsi dan prejudis. Sementara ilmu Islam yang sahih menilai sesuatu berdasarkan dalil dan fakta. Kebenaran dalam Islam itu buta warna parti atau kumpulan. Kebenaran itu kebenaran, tanpa mengira dari mana dan kepada siapa ia berpihak. Firman Allah: (maksudnya):

“Wahai orang-orang yang beriman, hendaklah kamu semua sentiasa menjadi orang-orang yang menegakkan keadilan kerana Allah, lagi menerangkan kebenaran; dan jangan sekali-kali kebencian kamu terhadap sesuatu kaum itu mendorong kamu kepada tidak melakukan keadilan. Hendaklah kamu berlaku adil (kepada sesiapa jua) kerana sikap adil itu lebih hampir kepada taqwa. Dan bertaqwalah kepada Allah, sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui dengan mendalam akan apa yang kamu lakukan.” (Surah al-Maidah, ayat 8).

Orang politik datang dan pergi. Parti politik juga demikian. Namun, Islam kekal abadi. Ia menjadi cahaya yang menyinari kehidupan manusia. Orang politik boleh musnah, parti juga boleh hancur. Manusia tidak semestinya bergantung kepada seseorang tokoh atau sesebuah parti. Namun, manusia sentiasa perlukan hidayah Islam yang membimbing ke jalan yang benar. Islam mesti kekal bersih, membimbing semua manusia. Malanglah jika orang politik sanggup mempertaruhkan Islam untuk survival mereka!
Tambah Keliru
Bukan muslim bertambah keliru dengan hukam-hakam berkaitan mereka yang dikeluarkan kebelakangan ini. Fatwa-fatwa ‘ala-Taliban’ yang menggambarkan sikap keras Islam terhadap pihak lain dicadang dan didendangkan oleh sesetengah media. ‘Juru-juru fatwa’ yang boleh ditekan suisnya oleh pihak politik bersedia menunggu. Islam dikaburkan oleh permainan yang seperti ini. Dalam Islam, hubungan dengan bukan muslim bermula dengan terang dahulu, setelah diperjelaskan dan masih ada permusuhan barulah tindakan ‘peperangan’ boleh diambil jika ada keperluan. Ini dalam masyarakat kita ‘perang dahulu’ tanpa sebarang penerangan awal yang jelas.
Saya telah ulas dalam banyak media tentang isu doa kebaikan kepada bukan muslim. Kini timbul pula isu bukan muslim masuk masjid. Ya, isu ini bermula dengan orang politik. Namun janganlah dalam keghairahan hendak menghentam musuh politik, fakta Islam pula yang dimangsakan. Jika kita enggan menerima mereka masuk, itu persoalan lain. Tetapi menggambarkan kepada mereka bahawa Islam melarang mereka sama sekali memasuki masjid, itu boleh menimbulkan salah faham. Islam ala melayu atau Islam yang ada dalam sejarahnya yang gemilang? Rasulullah menerima perwakilan dalam masjid, bagaimana tiba-tiba hari ini masjid diharamkan untuk mereka?!
Masuk Masjid
Ya, para fuqaha (ahli fekah) berbeza pendapat tentang hukum bukan muslim masuk ke dalam masjid. Namun, majoriti fuqaha termasuk dalam Mazhab al-Syafi’i berpendapat bahawa bukan muslim boleh masuk ke dalam masjid jika ada keperluan untuk itu. Pendapat ini disokong oleh beberapa dalil yang kuat. Di samping, ia juga membantu memahamkan masyarakat bukan Islam mengenai Islam. Dalam negara yang berbilang agama seperti negara kita, pandangan ini bukan sahaja kuat dari segi dalilnya, ia juga memberikan kebaikan kepada dakwah Islam itu sendiri.
Dalam hadis al-Bukhari dan Muslim meriwayatkan bahawa:
Nabi s.a.w telah menghantar pasukan (skuad) tentera berkuda dan menawan Thumamah bin Athal yang merupakan kepimpinan Bani Hanifah dari Yamamah. Beliau dibawa ke Madinah dan diikat di tiang masjid Nabi s.a.w. Apabila Nabi s.a.w datang ke masjid dan melihatnya, baginda bertanya: “Apa yang ada engkau dapati wahai Thumamah?”
Jawabnya: “Bersamaku kebaikan, wahai Muhammad! Jika engkau membunuhku, engkau membunuh orang yang punyai darah (berhak dibunuh atau mungkin beliau meminta simpati), jika engkau memberi kurnia, engkau memberikan kurnia kepada orang yang berterima kasih. Jika engkau mahu harta, engkau boleh minta seberapa banyak yang engkau mahu”.
Lalu Nabi s.a.w meninggalkannya. Keesokannya Nabi s.a.w bertanya lagi: “Apa yang engkau dapati Wahai Thumamah?”.
Jawabnya: “Seperti yang aku katakan, jika engkau memberi kurnia, engkau memberi kurnia kepada orang yang berterima kasih”.
Nabi meninggalkannya. Keesokannya lagi Nabi s.a.w bertanya lagi: “Apa yang engkau dapati wahai Thumamah?”.
Jawabnya: “Seperti yang aku katakan kepadamu”.
Lalu Nabi s.a.w memerintahkan: “Bebaskan Thumamah”.
Lalu Thumamah pun keluar pergi ke mata air berdekatan masjid, beliau mandi, kemudian masuk semula ke masjid dan mengucapkan: “Aku bersaksi bahawa tiada ilah (yang diabdikan diri) melainkan Allah dan Muhammad itu Rasulullah”.
Beliau juga berkata: “Wahai Muhammad! Demi Allah, duhulu tiada atas muka bumi yang lebih aku benci daripada engkau, sekarang berubah engkau telah menjadi orang yang paling aku sayangi. Demi Allah, dahulu tiada agama yang lebih aku benci dari agamamu, sekarang berubah agamamu menjadi agama yang paling aku sayangi. Demi Allah, tiada dahulu negara yang lebih aku benci dari negaramu, sekarang berubah negaramu menjadi negara yang paling aku sayangi..”.
Hadis di atas menunjukkan bagaimana Thumamah bin Athal seorang tawanan perang yang menentang kerajaan Nabi s.a.w dibawa masuk ke dalam masjid. Antara tujuannya, agar dia dapat melihat kehebatan ibadah dalam Islam. Sekalipun dia musuh dan tawanan perang, Nabi s.a.w menggunakan pendekatan yang menarik jiwanya sehingga dia akhirnya menganut Islam. Ini dengan cara menempatkannya dalam masjid dan baginda bertanya soalan selama tiga hari lalu memaafkannya. Kesan berada di masjid dan kemaafan Nabi s.a.w, akhirnya kepimpinan musuh tersebut menganut Islam. Hadis ini menjadi bukti bahawa orang bukan Islam boleh masuk ke dalam masjid. Inilah pegangan kebanyakan ulama termasuk dalam Mazhab al-Syafi’i. Kata al-Imam al-Nawawi (meninggal 676H):
“Hadis ini menunjukkan harus membawa orang kafir masuk ke dalam masjid. Mazhab Syafi’i mengharuskannya dengan izin muslim. Ini merangkumi kafir ahli kitab atau selain mereka”. (al-Nawawi, Syarah Sahih Muslim, 12/435, Beirut: Dar al-Khair).
Majlis Fatwa Tetap Arab Saudi mengeluarkan hukum tentang bukan muslim masuk ke masjid seperti berikut:
“Pendapat yang tepat bukan muslim boleh masuk ke dalam masjid untuk sesuatu kemaslahatan syariah atau sesuatu keperluan tertentu seperti mendengar sesuatu yang membawa masuk ke dalam Islam, atau keperluannya untuk minum air yang berada dalam masjid atau selainnya. Ini kerana Nabi s.a.w mengikat Thumamah bin Athal al-Hanafi dalam masjid sebelum dia menganut Islam, baginda juga menempatkan perwakilan Thaqif dan perwakilan Kristian Najran di masjid sebelum mereka menganut Islam. Ini kerana ada banyak faedah mereka memasuki masjid, antaranya; mendengar ucapan dan nasihat Nabi s.a.w, melihat orang bersolat dan membaca al-Quran dan berbagai faedah besar yang lain bagi sesiapa yang melazimi masjid”. (Fatawa al-Lajnah al-Daimah 6/276. Riyadh: Idarah al-Buhuth)
Luaskan Fungsi Masjid
Kita sepatutnya meluaskan fungsi masjid agar dapat menjadi ‘centre for Islamic Information’ yang mesra pelanggan. Masjid sepatutnya berfungsi menyampaikan Islam kepada setiap pihak; muslim dan bukan muslim. Di negara seperti Malaysia yang berbilang agama dan budaya, kaum muslimin perlulah aktif dan intraktif dalam menyampaikan mesej Islam. Jika masjid dijadikan zon larangan bagi orang bukan muslim sehingga tidak dapat mendekatinya, bilakah Islam akan dapat difahami oleh mereka. Sudahlah dalam negara ini banyak fatwa ala-taliban yang cuba menggambarkan seakan tiada rahmah antara muslim dan non-muslim, ditambah lagi dengan ditutup ruang untuk mereka mendengar ajaran Islam. Masjid digambarkan musuh mereka dan mereka dilarang menghampirinya. Sementara dalam masa yang sama ada pihak bukan Islam yang menjemput muslim dengan hormat ke tempat ibadah mereka serta menghulurkan berbagai bantuan. Akhirnya, kita terus bermusuhan tanpa mencari titik dakwah, atau sekurang-kurang noktah yang mengurangkan sangkaan salah terhadap agama hidayah ini. Ke manakah hala tuju Islam yang hendak kita bawa dalam negara ini?!

* This article is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The blog owner does not endorse the view unless specified. To share the above article, please click the followings:
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