Even Najib is not safe from Islamic enemies

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“Terrorism works better as a tactic for dictatorships, or for would-be dictators, than for revolutionaries.”

- Christopher Hitchens

In a series of articles describing the US-Malaysian efforts to combat IS terrorism in the region, online magazine The Diplomat highlighted the Najib Abdul Razak regime’s (so far) observer status in the US-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

As detailed in the article, “Malaysia has determined that it would do best within the counter-messaging group - currently co-led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Put simply, counter-messaging seeks to erode ISIL’s appeal by exposing the group’s message of hate and violence while presenting an alternative and inclusive vision of hope for a better future. The idea, the then-special presidential envoy for the coalition General John R Allen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month, is to ‘defeat ISIL as an idea’.”

What we have to keep in mind is that cooperation of these sorts (especially with so-called ‘friendly’ Muslim nations) involves complicated inducements like the visa waiver programme for information gathering and sharing processes.

Malaysian intelligence operatives (current and former) and foreign observers (who most likely owe allegiance to Langley) tell me that all this is part of the larger scheme to combat Islamic terrorism in the region.

The former reminding me of the tightrope walking nature of moderate Islamic regimes who have to balance their precarious hold on power with commitments from the so-called enemies of Islam like the US, according to the narratives of Islamic groups like IS. The latter cognisant of the reality that Islamic regimes of this sort are riddled with corruption and excess that make it easy for groups like IS to recruit the disenfranchised into their ranks.

The Diplomat quoting US president Barack Obama, said, “Malaysia is part of the coalition to fight (Islamic State) and can be extraordinarily helpful on issues like countering the destructive and perverse narrative that’s developed.”

Unifying gambit

Controlling narratives has served Umno well long before the calamity that is our current prime minister, Najib. Umno prime ministers have always attempted to use Islam as a unifying gambit in an attempt to homogenise the Malay community.

The destruction of the Malay left, the decimation of the civil service, the erosion of secular values in public education, the propaganda of government agencies like Biro Tatanegara (BTN) and mainstream Umno propaganda media outlets, have created classes within the Malay/Muslim community, with elites having free reign and the average Malay subjected to the harsh glare of Arab-influenced Islam.

Three years ago, I continued the narrative of class tensions within the Malay community. I wrote of the then-recently-concluded elections: “However, it all goes back to the simmering class tensions within the Malay community that Umno has managed to keep a lid on by its use of gerrymandering, creation of instant citizens, racial/religious fear-mongering and of course the handout culture. Ironically, these are the very measures that would break the camel's back in the eventual class struggle that would spill onto the streets in the near future.”

Just recently, instead of sanctioning the genocidal rhetoric of the Pahang mufti, Najib, who portrays himself as a PM for the people, said, “we cannot compromise on the Islamic struggle in this blessed land. We reject those who dislike Islam and know who they are and their collaborators.”

Of course, DAP was in Najib’s crosshairs but the underlying subtext were “other” Muslims who were collaborating with the “enemy”. These other Muslims, a disparate group made up of Najib refuseniks, splinter PAS groups and a host of anti-Najib cadres, reflect a threat not to Malay hegemony but to the Najib regime.

Najib in an attempt to shore up Malay support will do what his nemesis former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad would never do - make an alliance with PAS by sharing power with this Muslim sect...

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