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The anti-Icerd rally should be called 'the absurd rally'

Steve Oh  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | It achieved no constructive purpose. It flogged a dead horse. The idea that non-Malays should have joined in the rally, as suggested by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, was appallingly absurd. 

Saying that the Malays are not ready for the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) because “our people have not reached a level where we can compete” is another absurd idea.

When will the Malays be ready? How will we know when they are ready? How long do we have to play the waiting game?

The truth is the Malays have been ready since Malaya became independent in 1957. They were ready then and continue to this day to govern the country, run the defence forces and police, take charge of the government bureaucracy, and control many major companies and the media, including the country’s infrastructures.

So what are they not ready for?

The 'Malay dilemma' is a leaking pail. It will never be full because it is full of holes created by successive corrupt leaders. The story of the leaking pail is an indictment of the political scoundrels – criminals in politics – who have robbed the country broke. 

The litany of former leaders, mostly Malays, facing corruption charges should alarm the religious community.

They squandered the opportunities that have seen Singapore become what Malaysia should have been. Even the Malays there enjoy the standard of living Razaleigh laments the Malays have not achieved here. 

You only need a good leader, not necessarily of your own race, to govern you to a better life. That is the hard lesson for those who follow the ketuanan cult.

The ‘absurd rally’ saw a former prime minister and an opposition leader ensconced among the honoured guests on stage. A leader of an Islamic party in close proximity with these Malays charged with stealing makes strange bedfellows. Talk about absurd.

What has the defence of Islam got to do with such dark characters? What good will come out of such an unholy alliance?

A rally to denounce corruption and leaders who have outraged and betrayed race and religion and country might have not been absurd. Then the non-Malays might have joined in, as they did during the Bersih rallies. For want of a rally with a cause and clear purpose, one cannot overlook the Bersih rallies.

At Bersih 5, I interviewed several of the Malays who were present and their unequivocal answers carried the same theme: “Enough is enough. We don’t want the corrupt leaders to destroy our children’s future.” That the corrupt leaders have been deposed and face multiple charges has vindicated their concern.

Every non-Malay in his right mind knows the Malays can’t be left behind.

Fighting an imaginary war

If they are disadvantaged, it is because their corrupt leaders have robbed them blind and the Felda and 1MDB fiascos are a stern reminder. After 61 years of Malay political, religious and cultural hegemony, Malaysia ought by now to have the Malays enjoying a broad range of higher standard of living.

Why are they still fighting an imaginary war against imaginary foes and playing the blame game against the bogeyman?

The Pakatan Harapan government governs by rule of law.

And what law is more sacrosanct, more supreme and more honoured than the Federal Constitution that the government upholds? 

And I don't see the government doing anything to threaten the entrenched articles on Malay rights and Islam, so why hold a rally with no cause?

Lim Kit Siang recently drew our attention to several pertinent points. 

“UKM research fellow, Denison Jayasooria, wrote a good article examining Icerd ratification among OIC members, where he reviewed the ratification by OIC member states, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Palestine, and he concluded: 'As far as I note, none of them has objections or placed reservations in the name of Islam.'

“Icerd also does not undermine the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, resulting in the abolition of the system of Malay sultans.

“There are 38 countries with the monarchical system, out of which 36 countries have ratified the Icerd, including the United Kingdom in 1969, Norway (1970), Sweden (1971), Denmark (1971), Netherlands (1971), Jordan (1974), Belgium (1975), Japan (1995) and Saudi Arabia (1997).

“There are absolutely no indications that the ratification of Icerd by these 36 countries have undermined the monarchical system as to lead to their abolition.”

Malaysia ought to join the UN family in accepting a convention that is fair and removes inequalities in the treatment of all human beings on account of race. It is a convention of justice in protecting the human dignity of all peoples. Is that not what Islam preaches – the respect for all humanity?

So how can the anti-Icerd crowd claim to uphold Islam but deny its teaching on a basic human right?

Don't they realise they are unwittingly doing the opposite? It is the misrepresentation of Islam that threatens Islam and brings the religion into disrepute. Islam has not been tarnished by non-Muslims but by Muslims who are corrupt and the self-vested religious leaders that mislead them.

There are no Islamic grounds for Icerd’s rejection.

Here, below, let people read the teachings of the Quran on human diversity and why a self-vested ‘ketuanan Melayu’ and anti-Icerd agenda is anti-Islam and incongruous with the Quran. The misled should repent and return to the proper teaching of Islam, which advocates for Muslims to respect others.

How can any Muslim be pro-Islam and be a racist when the Quran says:

“And among His wonders is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colours. For in this, behold, there are messages indeed for all who are possessed of innate knowledge!” (30:22)

“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky? With it we then bring out produce of various colours. And in the mountains are tracts white and red, of various shades of colour, and black intense in hue. And so amongst men, and crawling creatures, and cattle – they are of various colours. Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge. For Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (35:27-28)

“Oh men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (49:13)

“And He it is who has brought you all into being out of one living entity, and has appointed for each of you a time-limit on earth, and a resting-place after death. Clearly, indeed, We have spelled out these messages unto people who can grasp the truth!” (6:98)

“And among His wonders is this: He creates you out of dust, and then, behold! You become human beings ranging far and wide!” (30:20)

“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise – for them, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35)

Let there be no untruth, hypocrisy or deception

Let it be clear: if one wants to make a point on the grounds of religion, let there be no untruth, hypocrisy or deception. Honour its teaching. 

Let not self-vested interests be pushed in the name of race or religion. Events such as the anti-Icerd political rally are the last thing Malaysia needs and does Islam no favour.

There is no future for racism and ignorance and the way forward for Malaysia is to abide by the nation’s motto: Unity is Strength. 

Businessperson Vincent Tan set a good example by giving RM50,000 to the firefighter injured in the Seafield temple riots. We must learn to reach out to those outside our ethnic community. Do not be misled by error but do good for others.

In the early 1980s, I left a lucrative assignment with a friend whose father was the richest man in Penang to help rehabilitate ‘samsu addicts’ among the poorest of the poor in Kampung Kayu Ara, Damansara. It was the richest time of my life helping the poor Tamils who became like my family until today, though most of them have passed on. We are richer when we love others outside our own race.

I empathise with any effort to help the poor and the only way to do this in multiracial Malaysia is to have an anti-poverty plan across all races. Is that not why Pakatan Harapan was voted in?

Until the poor are helped, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad must not think of having another toy car. The poor can’t wait. He is right in instructing his finance minister to help them. So banish the thought of self-indulgence with the illusory Malaysian car.

The government needs to initiate more activities to see more Chinese helping Malays and vice-versa, and also the Indians and others so that race discrimination dies a natural death. Actions speak louder than words. 

With or without Icerd, racism can still be dealt a fatal blow. Denounce the corrupt and speak out for righteousness. Enact good policies without fear or favour.

Islam has no greater enemy than the corrupt leader.

The government must dismantle the separatist ideas that have cropped up like weeds in its backyard. It will want to encourage Malaysians to live and work together and help one another.

The poison of racism can only be removed from the political bloodstream of the nation by leaders who are not racist and will walk the talk. There are many willing Malaysians who can effect change and civil society has to initiate constructive moves with the government to realise pervasive change.

Holding an absurd rally to flog a dead horse is to further the unholy cause of the corrupt.


STEVE OH is the author of the novel Tiger King of the Golden Jungle and a musical based on it. Its theme is coming to one’s senses and to love God, love people and love nature.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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