Malaysia’s way forward is not the way back

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its students."

- Hector Berlioz, letter, November 1856.

More on the lessons the opposition can learn from the fall of Saddam Hussein. Part one, which appeared yesterday, contains lesson one to three. They are based on Stephen M Walt’s contentious article ‘Top 10 Lessons of the Iraq war’.

Lesson #4: The secularism and middle-class character of Iraqi society was overrated.

The same applies here. We lost the battle for secularism a long time ago. Former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad may have been dead set against the Islamists, but it was under his watch that the process of Arabisation flourished under the watchful eye of the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim. The Malay middle-class may be split, especially in the urban area, but this too does not mean they are for a secular state.

The inclusion of PAS into mainstream politics and the ‘PAS for all’ propaganda ensured that this Islamic sect gained credibility, but more importantly further entrenched ideas that were anathema to a secular state.

The opposition’s propaganda is that Malaysia is a secular state or that the opposition professes secular ideas, but the reality is that the opposition has done nothing beyond aping similar BN tactics in its political war with Umno.

This is extremely important because Umno’s use of Islam as a political tool has resulted in the malice of Islamic State (IS) and other Islamic groups at our doorstep, aided by Malaysian citizens sympathetic to their cause.

The opposition does not encourage a progressive Malay middle-class or secularism when it...

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