ALSO BY

Nurul's watershed idea for the nation

The Malaysiakini report on Nurul Izzah Anwar's statement that there should be no compulsion in religion even for Malays is a watershed idea for the nation.

This poignant truth surpasses even the remarkable observation made by former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the country's "first rate infrastructure and third world mentality."

It shows that Malaysian leaders know what's wrong with their country but do they have the moral courage and political capability to right the wrongs?

I am sure Nurul Izzah and her political coalition will win many votes if she makes her suggestion a key policy in their political manifesto.

It will bring Malaysia in line with contemporary values of human rights because the Malays are still a bonded people, controlled by all sorts of rules and regulations that exempt other Malaysians.

This one-nation two-system method of governance is retrograde and reason why despite all the high-sounding political slogans about 1Malaysia, real unity remains elusive.

Control is a double-edged sword and the government has done harm to the image of Islam because to non-Muslims the double standards it practises in propagating Islam while restricting other religions, shows Muslims as weak in their beliefs and need cocooning from the world.

The Malay mind thus becomes like a licensed mind because the government and its religious authorities decide what they can and cannot believe and do.

For example, they cannot marry a non-Muslim without having their intended spouse convert to Islam. Such a practice is not seen in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country.

We have also seen Lina Joy, a Malay who had converted to Christianity, unable to have her conversion recognised. I know of others in similar circumstances who have faced persecution and Operation Lallang in 1987 saw several Malays unfairly jailed and beaten while in custody.

The politicians are not concerned about the welfare of the Malays or Islam but their political control over the Malays so that they can keep them as a fixed deposit.

With political control, the corrupt politicians are then able to plunder the nation and prove they are the real enemies of Islam, and fortunately more Malays are seeing the truth.

You only need to meet a Singaporean Malay to observe how myopic Malaysian Malays appear in comparison.

It seems pointless to send Malays on government scholarships to obtain PhDs in various fields when the Malay mind is still like the proverbial frog's under a tempurung (coconut shell).

Thus such a Malay mind is a closeted mind and this is often reflected in the sorts of ridiculous ideas we often hear or read about in the media when those sorts of leaders open their mouths and give us a peek into their minds.

Did not one even ludicrously suggest to vote for the DAP is a sin?

Sometime in the early 80s, I wrote a letter with a similar view as Nurul Izzah's that was published in the New Straits Times.

I opined that the Malays have a right to be exposed to various ideas including different religions and I still believe that when the Malay mind is liberated from government control, then the country may soon see the enlightenment that Anwar Ibrahim wrote about in his book 'The Asian Renaissance'.

Malays are not inferior to the Chinese or anyone but after 55 years of feudalistic control by their political overlords, the system of political largesse has resulted in a government-sanctioned policy of treating Malays as inferior and needing special treatment and the government continues to labour this perception.

States that practise religious or ideological control over citizens are like the communists that dictated what the people should believe. They failed miserably and their capitalism today can only succeed when the human spirit is free to soar.

We are told Malay graduates fare poorly in the queue for jobs in the private sector and the finger can be pointed at the government's failed policy of racial segregation and producing what the employers consider an inferior product.

Until meritocracy is practised the Malays will continue to suffer a bad image.

When we were in school the Malays in our class were always among the top students and ours was a top school in the country. But because of the government's subsequent policy of racial discrimination, sadly our alma mater has lost its former glory.

Today religion and ideology-repressed states are failed states and even China, the remaining major bastion of communism, no longer practises thought control and freedom of faith is upheld albeit religious persecution still happens within certain places.

Malaysians have seen that rapid Islamisation and religious zeal by the authorities have not produced a society that reflects the high moral values that Islam and all religions advocate.

Instead in Malaysia we see Muslims act against the teachings of their religion and even so-called religious leaders have allowed themselves to be used as political tools in a political agenda at the expense of Islam.

Is that not why corruption is rife and many Muslims are culpable of all sorts of crimes even the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, linked to the incumbent political leadership?

The religion of force has not produced true believers and no matter what the religion, it becomes diluted and delusional when its adherents become nominal and have to play hypocrite to avoid persecution.

Even the enigmatic Dr Mahathir Mohamad had to concede that his Muslim brothers and sisters conform more to form than substance but his half-truths overlook that it was due to his Islamisation and failure to right the wrongs after 22 long years in the driver's seat, that is largely to blame.

If anything is deficient in the Malay mind blame it on a government that has fed the disease, not cure it.

Not long ago a Malay friend of mine died and was buried a Muslim though I know he had since stopped being a Muslim and was a strong follower of a strange foreign cult and he had not been tacit about his real beliefs and even tried to convert me.

Is it so difficult for those who claim they believe in the true religion to accept the hard truth? Is form more important than substance and face-saving more important than honouring the truth?

Pseudo-believers can be found in any religion and that is why no religion that takes its own teachings seriously advocates coercion though all religions have spread through proselytisation.

When religionists confuse submission with subscription they lose the plot. Forcing someone to submit to something is different from seeing someone subscribe to something out of willingness and conviction.

It results in the sort of silly actions by teachers who whip students for not obeying their enforced Islamic zeal in schools.

The forcing of non-Muslims to convert to Islam when they marry Muslims only creates a class of nominal Muslims.

The same can be said of forcing those who are born into Muslim families to be Muslims. Malays therefore are like 'religious slaves' if I may use the analogy.

They are born into religious and ideological bondage. They are often fed lies about other religions. Reading what some of their books describe of subjects that I know intimately is like reading horror fiction.

So when I hear enlightened Muslims like Nurul Izzah talk sense, I feel there is hope for the truth to be vindicated.

Anyone who is not free to think for himself or herself and has the freedom to adopt the religion of personal conscience and conviction is still a slave in reality. For this reason, religion becomes a farce.

Can anyone afford to entrust his or her eternal future to any political party?

It is reason why those Muslims who go to mosque every Friday and pray five times a day and fast at Ramadan still think it is okay to accept bribes in their jobs because it has been the practice for so long.

They are no different from the prostitute who has a shrine of Kuan Yin in her room while engaged in a sinful business.

The same hypocrisy can also be found among the practitioners of other religions because nominalism and hypocrisy go hand in hand and produce spiritual blindness and intellectual darkness.

Is that not why we find so many Muslims in high office guilty of corruption and sexual misconduct, not unlike those who do not believe in God or consider themselves religious?

At least the latter unlike the former are acting out their beliefs and can't be called hypocrites. Sometimes I respect the atheist more than the religious hypocrite. Nevertheless, God tells us the fool believes there is no God.

The liberation of the Malay mind will not only enhance the quality of Muslim faith but also enrich the Malay race as a people and community.

The government has been hypocritical in preaching about diversity but practising a system of racial and religious discrimination.

Add to it a policy of keeping the Malays in religious bondage and you have the ingredients for an incendiary society that can be ignited by the political conspirators as we saw in May 13, 1969.

Only this time we have bright and enlightened Malays who prevent history repeating itself.

I don't see the Chinese hung up about their religious and political diversity. The fact a Malay is defined as a follower of Islam defies logic, natural justice, and the fact race is not synonymous with religion. So were the pre-Muslim Hindu Malays not real Malays?

The doctrine of Ketuanan Melayu is really a misguided idea of nationalism, a subversion against nationhood, a political ploy and an idea bound to fail because it has no moral authority in contemporary society.

You cannot believe that European colonialism is morally repugnant when you replace it with your own local variety.

Fifty-five years of political feudalism as we have seen in Malaysia is enough for Malaysians to realise until they discard the status quo, they will never see radical change and remarkable progress as we see in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Even Indonesia is outpacing Malaysia in its democratisation and economic progress.

The sooner the political cocoon is discarded the quicker we will see the Malay emerge as a beautiful butterfly instead of remaining in the suspended stranglehold of political ugliness.

There are many emancipated Malay minds and the hope of the Malays lies in their intellectual leadership, not those who exploit race and religion to advance their own perverted, selfish and greedy interests and still speak the language of deceit.

It is time Malaysians reject the idea that the government is the licensing board for intellectual freedom.

The Malays have to emancipate themselves and it is young leaders like Nurul Izzah who offer hope for them.

The archaic ideas and ways of the old political guard that has controlled the country for so long, is out of sync with the times and aspirations of contemporary Malaysians.

It is the corrupting ways of the old guard that is why Malaysia is unable to make real progress and falling further behind Singapore, because while Malaysia protects its corrupt police and politicians, Singapore prosecutes them, and they don't even have to factor in religion to act righteously.

We only need to look across the Causeway to realise that an honest and sincere respect for others is the way to build a successful nation.

It gave me great joy to listen to the public announcement in Tamil as I alighted from a train in Singapore's MRT station.

Singapore has no hang-ups about its colonial past or that promoting Malay, Tamil, English and even Japanese is less nationalistic among its majority Chinese leaders.

What is wrong with Malaysia begins in the Malay mindset because they control the government and its machinery.

It has affected even non-Malay minds of certain MCA and MIC leaders who have sold out their own people for the same reasons the Malay leaders have sold out theirs.

Watching them shadow box with their Umno comrades while their constituencies continue to suffer serious injustices gives credence to the notion of the Ugly Chinaman and the Ugly Indiaman.

They need to prove to the majority race that they can be relied on to put their own people in their place as long as they are recipients of political largesse.

Nurul Izzah offers hope for the nation because she thinks like a Malaysian and a Muslim coming to terms with the reality that God is not just the God of the Malays but everyone and that faith is not about clobbering others and cocooning oneself in ignorance and bigotry but engaging those who differ from us.

I have just spent more than two weeks in Taiwan and though this country has been colonised by various nations, it has no chip on its shoulder and is not xenophobic.

Its tourism slogan is ‘Taiwan the Heart of Asia' and I soon found out why, because its people are generous.

Malaysia claims it is Truly Asia but is it really?

How is it truly Asia? Or is it just another slick slogan? How Asian are you when you compel others to speak like you, dress like you and believe like you?

Fortunately it is the people themselves, the ordinary Malaysians who reflect the virtues of the country and its appeal to foreigners as a friendly and hospitable place.

The victims of this ugly political bigotry are the Malays themselves who in my purview are among the nicest people anywhere.

The same can't be said of some of their lying and conniving political leaders and that is why Nurul Izzah is a leader of the times and the future despite her youth.

Pak Lah hit the nail on the head with his 'first world infrastructure, third world mentality' comment and it is my hope that younger politicians like Nurul Izzah will be able to liberate the Malay mindset from its bondage to the political and religious status quo.

What Pak Lah could only diagnose, perhaps Nurul Izzah, her mom and dad in politics, and others who love their country will be able to cure.

The hope of Malaysians is in the hope that a new government will cure the sickness that sees the country bedevilled by the devils they know and want no more of.

There is a brave new world waiting for Malaysians but it is not in hanging on to the past and the present political leaders whose performance despite the fresh slogans, are banal at best, and who have yet to learn that slogans, spin and lies do not make a nation, least of all a great one.

If Malaysians want change they have to work hard for change and if a report that more than 20 percent of Malaysians are still not registered to vote, it is yet another challenge the opposition face to rouse them to act because every vote counts when the system is against you.