Issues that UMNO, BN & Tun and Najib don’t see eye to eye

“With a general election still four years away, the prime minister faces a threat from within his own party, notably from conservative factions close to Dr Mahathir, who still pulls strings from the wings. Whispers abound that an effort to unseat Mr Najib is imminent. As always, the prime minister touts policies intended to get Malaysia’s economy motoring. He has never looked less capable of carrying them out.” (‘A lousy sequel‘, 30 Oct 2014)
Cartoonkini from ZunarRahman

Umno objects to repeal of Sedition Act

Umno and its party president do not see eye to eye on Najib Razak’s nod for the Sedition Act to be replaced by a National Harmony Act.
“Harmony” is an unrealistic expectation in Malaysia. And it is even more unrealistic to expect that harmony can be legislated into existence among the fractious ethnic communities simply through an Act of Parliament.
Racial harmony has never really taken root in our country, the short honeymoon period enjoyed by Umno and MCA during the Alliance era notwithstanding.

Fake, hypocritical & manipulative Hannah Yeoh

Sultan sudah titah masjid itu tempat ibadah untuk orang Islam sahaja
Hannah Tudung Repot Polis

Tun Razak’s nation-building exercise

For the sake of bringing the country together post-May 13, our second prime minister painted the archetypal picture of Ali, Ah Chong and Arumugam for public consumption. A modern contemporary to Tun Razak’s method would be the Yasmin Ahmad Petronas ads.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on the other hand, believes that the rose-tinted and nostalgic memory of harmony in the Tunku years was not something real at all.
“What was taken for harmony was absence of open inter-racial strife. And absence of strife is not necessarily due to lack of desire or reason for strife. It is more frequently due to a  lack of capacity to bring about open conflict.” (page 14, The Malay Dilemma)
On the same page of his book, Dr M also writes that the values held by Malays and Chinese are “not merely different but often conflicting”.

Dr M still holding same ‘Dilemma’ opinion

Dr Mahathir also believes that “whenever the Chinese are in a minority, they always avoid provoking the Malays” (p.15, Dilemma). However when the Chinese begin to feel that they have the upper hand, they become less than circumspect in their behaviour.
The Tun’s views appear not to have changed through the passage of 44 years.
On 12 June 2014, he commented on the National Harmony bills drafted by the National Unity Consultative Council. Dr M wrote in his Che Det blog:
“Di Malaysia kita kekalkan bangsa asal kita, bahasa dan budaya kita, sekolah kita, bahkan universiti kita. Susulan dari itu kita tinggal di tempat-tempat berasingan, amalan cara hidup dan kegiatan kita juga berbeza dan berasingan. Dalam bidang perniagaan masing-masing mempunyai network sendiri berasas kepada kaum/bangsa, bahasa dan budaya.”
We live apart each in our own separate world.
1Malaysia DAP
DAP Yang Berhormats give 1Malaysia the thumbs down
We belong to different races, we speak different languages, we practise different cultures, we attend different schools, we live in different neighbourhoods, we adopt different lifestyles, we carry out different activities and we conduct different businesses to earn our separate livelihoods.
So what commonalities are the Firsters yammering about when they accuse the pro-establishment camp of being “divisive”?
This kind of In-Denial is the same syndrome of insisting that Bak Kut Teh is not pork.
Hannah Yeoh: “True love narrows the differences. Racists must be taught how to love”

Does the Tun see pitchforks too?

In his blog posting ‘Harmoni dan Kesamarataan‘, Dr M wrote:
“Apabila National Harmony Bill dilulus maka DEB tidak boleh dilaksanakan lagi. Ini bermakna negara akan amal meritokrasi – iaitu mereka yang mempunyai merit atau kebolehan tertinggi akan dapat segala-galanya.”
pitchforksThe Jews in Europe thrived on meritocracy and became the continent’s leading capitalists and financiers. Although a minority, they were the moneyed class.
“Di Eropah di zaman industri, yang kaya memiliki semua perusahaan dan yang miskin bekerja sebagai kuli. Tidak ada peluang sama sekali bagi kuli yang miskin menjadi kaya, kerana tidak ada pelajaran dan tidak ada modal, tidak memiliki merit.
“Ini bukan kerana diskriminasi. Kuli sebenarnya tidak ada merit, justeru itu mereka tetap tinggal sebagai kuli. Yang kaya memperolehi merit maka mereka tetap kaya dan menjadi lebih kaya,” Che Det had blogged.

Nothing can appease the Yahudi Yeohs!

Dr Mahathir fears that equality will not produce fairness:
“Memusnahkan diskriminasi berasas kaum atau bangsa akan menjadikan kita semua sama-sama sebagai warganegara. Tetapi ia akan kekalkan ketidaksamaan dan ketidakadilan yang sedia ada”.
Talking about the Harmony laws slated to replace the Sedition Act “which will have the effect of ending the affirmation action of the NEP”, Dr M chided the Najib administration for acceding to the opposition demands for meritocracy.
He blogged on 18 June 2014 that it is a mistake for the government to meet the demands of the opposition and in the process displeasing, upsetting and angering Umno supporters.
Zeus__thunderbolt“The Opposition simply opposes … [for the sake of opposing and] acceding to their demand will not result in their supporting the Government,” Tun advised.

Zeus not happy … thunderbolts coming!

His advice went in one ear and out the other because Najib only listens to his highly paid consultants and does not value free counsel.
Nonetheless, Dr M further reminded [Najib] that the opposition is “not really interested in issues” but rather will exploit any legitimate public concerns for their purpose of “blackening the governing party”.
Even when the government manages to resolve issues, says Tun, the opposition “will either belittle the Government’s decision or they will come up with new issues”. After all, Pakatan’s objective is only to bring down the government and to take over, warned the ex-premier.


Dr M: Oppo keep on attacking gomen

Citing Najib’s decision to abolish the ISA, Dr Mahathir said the Opposition never said Thank You nor praised the liberalism of the BN government.
He noted:
“Certainly they would not support the Government because it had met their demand. The attack against the Government continued. And the result was the performance of the Government party becoming worse than when the ISA was in the statute books.
“On the Government side compliance with the Opposition stand angers its supporters. They would regard the Government as weak and withdraw their support.”
najiblgekrismaslollipopAnd after doing away with the ISA, Najib promises to drop the Sedition Act too.
On top of Tun’s unhappiness with Najib over the ISA and Sedition Act, there is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Writing in the NST, he worries that agreement will allow the big economies to plunder smaller ones.
“We will be colonised again. President Sukarno was right about neo-colonialism,” Dr M cautioned. See, ‘TPP will be another bad pact‘ (NST, 12 July 2013). Tun is against the lopsided terms but fears that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry looks set on signing the TPPA.
Tun has queried the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) operations, which channelled RM7.18 billion worth of investment to the Cayman Islands.
He also likened Najib’s advisors to the courtiers in King Canute’s court who told the Danish sovereign that he could stop the waves, and to the conmen who sold invisible new clothes to the Emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable.
It is quite clear that the Tun has a number of issues with Najib.
I don’t know about you but the current prime minister is beginning to make me panic for the future of our country

We’re on verge of civilizational clash

See minute 2:53 of the video where Dr M says “this country is a very basically unstable country”.
Dr M warns:
“If you want to quarrel, you want to fight, then you can follow the way of some of these other countries where they are killing each other. Do you want that or do you at least restrain yourself? Have some discipline, try not to annoy people, then this country will be peaceful.” – from minute 1:46 onwards

Tun also said, “For 50 years we had no problem, now it comes out.”
Well, for the last 50 years, we’ve had the ISA and the Sedition Act to keep the Dapsters in check.
It’s really a tough call to make on whether PM#5 or PM#6 should bear the greater responsibility for letting the genie out of the bottle. I’m inclined however to plump for No.6 and in agreement with the Tun that Najib has been more damaging than Sleepy Dollah.
ABOVE: Najib all ears for J-Star CEO Wong Chun Wai
“Sesungguhnya banyaklah dasar, pendekatan dan perbuatan Kerajaan pimpinan Dato Seri Najib yang merosakkan hubungan antara kaum, merosakkan ekonomi dan kewangan negara.” – Che Det menegur pada 18 Ogos 2014
Pakatan has been making capital of the Najib administration shortcomings and cluelessness.
Worse still, Ah Jib Gor has not only allowed the Dapsters and Scissorati to get away with spinning and bullying, he is inadvertently and indirectly funding their propaganda campaign too.

Yahudi Yeohs lie all the time

Tun Daim Zainuddin had observed that “Chinese votes for the Pakatan reached 90% because they believed in Pakatan’s propaganda”.
Daim told China Press in a May 2013 interview when analyzing the GE13 results:
DAIM china press pg1“Pakatan preached hatred for BN particularly Umno.
“DAP have always told the Chinese that they are victims, marginalised; that the cup they have is always half empty; that this is the time to teach MCA and Gerakan a lesson for being under Umno’s control, that  Umno (and by extension the Malays) were dominant, and this was a Malay-led government, and the Chinese by voting out all the Chinese parties in BN is saying that they have had enough of being bullied by Umno/Malays.
“If this is not racist, I don’t know what is.
“Their cybertroopers were at work, 24 hours a day, sending misinformation, spins, rumours, lies, untruths etc. Where were the Banglas? Where was the blackout? How many people whose ink washed off, voted twice? Tun M flew away in a private jet? Lies and lies and the Chinese believe in ‘ubah’ and ‘Ini kali lah’.”
(English translation here)

No hope, no cure

Yup, the Chinese will swallow all the opposition lies. MCA must take the blame for losing 90 percent of the Chinese community to the scheming and conniving Yahudi Yeohs.
StarOnlineBattleAfter all, 96 percent of Chinese children today are in vernacular school. Does MCA expect the Umno media to be able to reach the Chinese electorate through Bahasa Melayu?
According to Dr Mahathir, freedom is almost total where “just about anyone can put anything they like to say on the internet directly”.
An outcome of this freedom is that abusive language and racist remarks have caused increased tension within society, he feels, adding: “Allegations of all kinds are made without any bases.” See ‘The alternative media‘ (Che Det, 17 Feb 2013).
Najib Razak has allowed the online and social media to become cowboy towns. This Wild Wild West environment favours the cucu-cicit kominis because they are brutal and ruthless.

Our police chiefs are worried

Former IGP Tun Hanif Omar had expressed his consternation over how the alternative media is used to “spread slander and lies without shame or the fear of Allah” – see ‘Ex-IGP: Malays hurt by challenges on taboo topics‘ (Malaysiakini, 11 Dec 2013)
“Provokasi yang melampau oleh pihak tertentu boleh mengakibatkan perkara yang buruk. Sesal dahulu pendapatan sesal kemudian tidak berguna.” – former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan (tweet on 2 Sept 2014).
Current IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar wants the ISA reinstated.
Yet ISA repeat offender Lim Kit Siang is audacious enough to turn the tables and accuse his opponents of being the “hate merchants” instead.
Kit Siang Hate Merchants


The DAP’s posturing is the height of hypocrisy, ranging from Papa to Mama to Grandpapa Dapster.

Lim Kit Siang’s signature shill about “good governance, public integrity, accountability, respect for democracy, human rights, moderation and tolerance” – slickly rolled out in one breath – merely debases those very words that he bandies about.
3GdonutThen you have Hannah Yeoh’s “We [Christians] believe in loving even those who hate us. That is the way of the cross”. She is hand in glove with the J-Star editorials accusing the other side as hate-spewing, divisive, race-obsessed ignoramuses”.
Completing the Mama-Papa and Grandpapa troika is Lim Guan Eng’s proclamation of the Malaysian Dream. He proclaims that “national unity should be based not on race or religion but on a common identity centered on democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and human dignity”. He is laughable.
Race is a concrete identity marker. Religion too is a concrete identifier.
Banner King Guan Eng
Since when do people ever group themselves in the community of “Freedom Fighters” or “Upholders of Justice”? Do we fill official forms classifying ourselves under the category of “Promoters of integrity and human dignity”?
Guan Eng’s idea of “common identity centered on democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and human dignity” is about as tangible as Rumpelstiltskin’s spun gold. Our common identity is race, religion, language and culture.
Most ironically, the DAP does not even struggle for or protect Chinese interests. They are an evangelical party.
“The DAP is really not pro-Chinese, but rather it is anti-Malay and Malay Rights.” – Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi (pix below, seated on Dr M’s left)
KJ's challenger Akhramsyah Sanusi seated beside the Tun

Tun warns against politicizing religion

Dr Mahathir reminded the 3G politicians that those who live by the sword will die by the sword – “yang memperalatkan agama akan dimakan oleh agama”.
Writing in Utusan, the Tun said:
“Apabila agama dijadikan isu politik, tak dapat tidak ia akan tercemar. Politik kerap kotor. Apabila yang bersih dicampur dengan yang kotor, yang bersih akan jadi kotor, bukan sebaliknya.
“Kita sedang menyaksikan pencemaran ini berlaku kepada agama Islam bukan sahaja oleh musuh Islam tetapi oleh orang Islam sendiri. Kehormatan terhadap agama, Nabi bahkan Allah sudah berkurangan.” – ‘Bahana agama dipolitikkan‘ (Utusan, 3 Feb 2012)
In other words, religion will not help make politics cleaner. On the contrary, bringing religion into politics will only serve to sully the religious faith.
Politicians like the DAP evangelistas who exploit religion are very dangerous. They’re dragging the church into a fiery confrontation with the Muslims.

People drunk on J-Juice

Understand the kind of people we’re dealing with. Dr Mahathir does; Najib Razak does not.
Tun has warned about the possibility of religious riots happening in Malaysia. He is not voicing this warning lightly. The Christians and Muslims are on a collision course.
First and foremost, we need to face up to reality. The perpetually hysterical opposition supporters are so delusional. The opposition leaders and their mouthpieces blame the Tun for everything.
r i z α i n α ℓ satu dekad Dr Mahathir bersara
Malaysia Chronicle ARCH-RACIST DR M
Ponder on three Malaysiakini reader comments below, from the article ‘Mahathir: Little chance for non-racial Malaysia‘ (16 Aug 2014), which illustrate their warped way of thinking.

Malaysian First

One commenter msian1st said: “Malaysia will be non racial if racial party and racial policy is banned”.
Mahathir- Little chance msian1st
If msian1st demands the banning of the United MALAY National Organisation (Umno), the Malaysian CHINESE Association (MCA) and the Malaysian INDIAN Congress (MIC), then we should demand the banning of Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan CINA and Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan TAMIL in tandem to make Malaysia “non racial”.
This is the way to respond to the Yahudi Yeohs but Najib is incapable of doing it. Instead he goes to the MCA assembly and gives them the impression that SRJK(C)s are guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, which they are not.

Anak Bangsa Malaysia

Mahathir- Little chance SABM

A Christian calling himself anak,bangsa,malaysia alleges that the Tun’s 22-year rule is the cause that “all these are happening in M’sia”.
Evidently the Christian Firsters possess no capacity for self-examination.
Another fella Kilgore has the theory that “the country must remain racially divided for Mahathir to hold on to his ill-gotten fortunes”.
Mahathir- Little chance Kilgore
Hullo. The Tun is a hundred years old. What do you think he plans to spend a fortune on?
The constant putar-belit and fitnah of Yahudi Yeohs has become intolerable. And Najib is incapable of doing anything about it.
We, BN voters, did not put Najib in power for him to continually appease the bullies. Umno has 88 seats in Parliament but behaves like a church mouse.

‘Allah’ issue will escalate and rupture in Malaysia

A survey of public perception on the kalimah ‘Allah’ controversy was conducted by the Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy & Elections last December (a year ago) among 1,676 respondents in the peninsula.

The pie chart below shows the ethnic breakdown of those who participated in the Umcedel poll.
  • Malays – 65 percent
  • Chinese – 24 percent
  • Indians – 11 percent
Umcedel responden

Below are the Umcedel results

77 percent of the Malays surveyed do not agree for kalimah ‘Allah’ to be used by non-Muslims.
Umcedel Kalimah Allah
73 percent of the respondents (all races) living in the rural areas do not agree for kalimah ‘Allah’ to be used by non-Muslims.
Umcedel tempat tinggal
It is the younger age cohorts who object more strongly to non-Muslims using kalimah ‘Allah’.
65 percent of those between 21-30 years old (all races) and 59 percent of those between 31-40 years old (all races) object to non-Muslims using kalimah ‘Allah’.
The middle-aged (41-50 and 51-60) are slightly less vehement in their objections, registering 54 and 56 percent naysayers respectively. This is an interesting finding, i.e. the Merdeka babies have got a more relaxed attitude on this matter compared to Gen Y.
Umcedel peringkat umur
The lower the education level, the more strenuously the respondents (all races) object to non-Muslims using kalimah ‘Allah’ (see small graph below).
Taking just the Malays alone, however, the percentage of those saying “No, cannot” rises much higher to reach between 76% and 81%, and spread almost evenly across all education levels (see big graph below).
Umcedel pendidikan
Among the Malays who do not agree for non-Muslims to use kalimah ‘Allah':
  • No education – 81 percent
  • Form Three – 76 percent
  • Form Five – 77 percent
  • Form Six/Diploma – 78 percent
  • Degree/Post-grad – 79 percent
The trend albeit not pronounced is that the lowest (81%) and highest (79%) educated Malays at both ends of the spectrum are the ones who object most strongly to non-Muslims using kalimah ‘Allah’.
Those falling in between, i.e. with secondary school qualifications and non-degree holders are slightly more relaxed (76% – 78%) in their attitude.
Umcedel Melayu tahap pendidikan
Overall, the majority of Malays – or almost four out of every five Malay – are adamant that non-Muslims should not use kalimah ‘Allah’.
Data source: Umcedel

Churches are still using kalimah ‘Allah’

Given this hardline attitude of the Malays, the decision of the Christians to dig in their heels can only spell trouble.
A couple of days ago, the Christian Federation of Malaysia issued a press statement on the return of ‘Allah’ Bibles earlier confiscated from the Bible Society of Malaysia.
The bibles were recently released by Mais with a restriction stamp (below).
CFM said in response: “This blanket ban on the use of the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles in the State of Selangor is unrealistic, given that there are thousands of Sabahans and Sarawakians who reside and work in the state of Selangor besides the thousands of West Malaysian Christians who are conversant only in our national language.”
(Refer HERE on why Rev. Eu is a shameless spindoctor.)
Worshippers attend a church service at the City Harvest Church in Singapore
The churches are insistent that they will continue using the ‘Allah’ Bibles.
Claiming “a gross injustice” against Malay-speaking Christians, CFM chairman Rev. Eu Hong Seng said that such a prohibition is ultra vires Article 11 of the Federal Constitution in which Clause (3) (a) states that “every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs”.
This stand-off between the Christians and Muslims will drag on endlessly and becoming more acrimonious with each passing day.

NUCC Saifuddin

90 percent watershed is passing point of no return

As it is, the various communities are huddling like birds of a feather flocking together but still staying apart from other species of birds.
An online poll that I ran in my blog found that 91 percent of the 902 respondents wanted the National Unity Consultative Council to be dissolved.
Granted that my survey on NUCC naturally contains an inbuilt bias due to the pro-establishment slant of the readership but nonetheless, the figure of 91 percent is lopsided. It is as partisan as 90 percent of the Chinese supporting the opposition.
My poll ran for a week and the roughly 90:10 Agree-Disagree ratio was maintained consistently throughout the whole period as the votes came in.
Tinjauan pendapat- Adakah BN perlu pada undi Cina dalam PRU14- - Helen Ang 2013-12-20 20-10-02

Living up to the Christians’ expectation

At this time last year (Dec 2013), I conducted a survey on whether the BN needed Chinese votes in GE14. A total of 69.5 percent of the respondents said ‘No’.
Making a cross comparison of both poll results, 69.5 percent – see above – is certainly less of an imbalance than the anti-NUCC 91 percent. We might reasonably interpret this development to say that attitudes are hardening on both sides.

The Christians should be careful what they wish for. The charges of extremism, religious bigotry and hate that the evangelistas keep hurling could become self-fulfilling prophecies.

BAN ISMA in Malaysia

After Perkasa got it the last time, it is now Isma’s turn to be targetted.

Twitter - hannahyeoh Utusan Perkasa

Ibrahim Ali: The Star is DAP’s tool

A fortnight ago (Dec 14), Ibrahim Ali accused The J-Star of encouraging articles that challenge the sanctity of Islam, saying “MCA’s newspaper is being used as a tool by DAP”.
He added that whereas liberal writers are provided ample opportunities by The J-Star to belittle Islam, statements by Perkasa, on the other hand, are not given any airing by the EvangeliSTAR editors.
Addressing his organization’s annual general assembly, the Perkasa president also complained that J-Star CEO Wong Chun Wai (pix below) was bent on making personal attacks against him.
WCW button

Wanita Isma: DAP making Muslims angry

Previously Wong Chun Wai had written in his May 18 column about how “instant NGOs, with a membership of five persons, including the wives and children of the presidents claim that they represent a particular race or religion”.
A week before that in his May 11 column, Chun Wai had written “Ignorant fools and bigots like him should not be allowed to get away with their remarks”, referring to Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman.
Yesterday the J-Star carried a report headlined ‘DAP man calls for banning of Isma‘. Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik, who is Lim Guan Eng’s former pol-sec, alleged that the politicizing of religion by Isma is a form of extremism.norsaleha isma
Calling for a ban on the Muslim NGO, Malaysian Firster Ng said Isma should not be allowed to exist and must be de-registered immediately.
In response, Ustazah Norsaleha Mohd Salleh (pix right) who heads the Isma women’s wing retorted that the statement by Ng was hate speech which only reflected the hostility of DAP against Islam.
She said it is DAP that’s continuously harping on sensitive issues and invoking the anger of Muslims in Malaysia.
According to the ustazah, this tactic to demonize Isma adopted by the DAP is to curtail the voices of Islam.
Ng Wei Aik (in batik shirt) has a samseng reputation

“Racist! Racist! Racist!”

It is not only the J-Star alone which is running a moderation campaign to paint a segment of Malaysians as “racists”, “extremists” and “bigots”.
Top-selling Chinese newspaper Sin Chew recently launched its ‘I am Malaysian, I am Moderate’ campaign to say ‘No’ to extremism too. The Sin Chew ‘Moderation campaign was conceived in the wake of popular public reception to the open letter by 25 “eminent” Malays, which among other things, had slammed both Perkasa and Isma.
Prompted by recent developments in PAS’s push for hudud, the top editors of Sin Chew are now promoting “moderation” with great vigour while at the same time condemning religious “extremism”.
Hua Zong (Federation of Chinese Associations) has pledged its support for the “moderation” initiative.
Muslims must start treating DAP’s mouthpiece The J-Star with the same contempt that Yahudi Yeohs treat Umno’s mouthpiece Utusan
Twitter - hannahyeoh UMNO old cheap

What the Sin Chew senior editors say

Lim Sue Goan in a Dec 24 op-ed headlined ‘Farewell, 2014‘ wrote:
  • “Politically, groups and individuals … are now busy in supporting the moderation movement, showing that everyone is in anxiety, hoping to unite forces and prevent the country from falling into the abyss of extremism.”
  • “If religious moderation, communication and tolerance are not promoted, we will embark on a road of no return.”

A Sin Chew Dec 23 editorial headlined ‘Show support for moderation‘ said:
  • “due to the recent extremism atmosphere in the country … it is believed that the mood of [Christmas] celebration has been affected.”
  • “Somewhat reassuring, the moderation movement initiated by 25 prominent Malays (G25) has caused a great resonance in the Chinese community. […] the Chinese community is making great efforts in promoting the moderation movement”

Lim Mun Fah in a Dec 22 op-ed headlined ‘More need to come forward‘ wrote:
  • “We are calling so hard for moderation today as regardless of inside or outside the country, we are facing unprecedented threat of extremism.”
  • “… Perkasa is still making threatening gestures, extreme politicians are still clamouring, the 1Malaysia concept is drifting away, while racial polarisation has grown obvious. A kind of fear is covering the whole society.”
  • “As long as the country is split into two, as long as such confrontations are intensified, the more irreconcilable it is, the more those racial and religious extremists will be benefited, and the more arrogant they become.”
  • “To be honest, whether the “anti-extremism and support moderation” movement currently in full swing can succeed in the end and evolve into an influential social movement, to a great extent, depends on how Umno and PAS respond to it. It depends on whether moderate members of the two parties can take the courage and come forward to join the moderation group, saying no to racial and religious extremism, and halt the parties’ internal and external strengthening racial and religious extremism, stopping the growing racial and religious extreme words and deeds, and preventing the polarisation phenomenon in the society from deteriorating.”

Another Sin Chew Dec 22 editorial headlined ‘Abandon retrograding thinking‘ said:
  • “The remarks [by Tun Mahathir] carried heavy taste of racism. It is not in line with Mahathir’s status, while going the opposition direction of the ‘anti-extremism and support moderation’ atmosphere being actively promoted by various races in recent days.”
  • “Meanwhile, Mahathir, who had led the country for 22 years, did not read the letter but instead made Malay domination racists remarks when criticising Najib.”
  • “Moderation is the only path that Malaysia should take. Mahathir’s racist remarks are a retrograding advocacy that should be abandoned.”

Lim Sue Goan in a Dec 20 op-ed headlined ‘A tough fight‘ wrote:
  • “There is no way to contain extremism unless the ruling coalition takes a tough stance and instructs the enforcers to tackle elements of extremism.”
  • “Dr Mahathir amended the Constitution in 1988 to elevate the status of syariah courts in a bid to diffuse the religious competition between Umno and PAS. Such maneuvers have intensified religious sentiments to an extent that many have failed to see what is right or wrong.”
  • “… the rise of extremism will only expedite the withdrawal of foreign investors. Extremism will also hamper the country’s advances towards the developed country status.”

Tay Tian Yan in a Dec 19 op-ed headlined ‘We are moderate Malaysians, we are not alone‘ wrote:
  • “Regardless of race and religion, there is only one common identity for us – moderate Malaysian.”
  • “Prior to this, we had neither Perkasa nor Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma). There was no religious and racial extremist organisation, and there was no extreme remark and idea tearing the country apart.”
  • “Firstly, they differentiated Malays and non-Malays, Muslims and non-Muslims. Then, they created split in the Malay Muslim community, stressing on racial and religious purification, excluding moderate and enlightened Malay Muslims and suppressed them with racial doctrine and conservative religious teachings.”
  • Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, and controversial figure Ridhuan Tee Abdullah have risen and become protagonists of racial and religious struggle, grabbing headlines and triggering public concern.”
  • “Watching Perkasa, Isma and extreme politicians distort their race and religion and harm the society and country, they [G25] eventually came forward and made a voice for moderation.”
It’s more than obvious the adherents of which religion the J-Star and Sin Chew have in mind when they exalt the “moderates”, and the adherents of which religion the two influential media are thinking of when they bash the “extremists”.

Malaysian government should Save Malaysia from bigots and religious extremists

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) in its Merdeka Day message said that the country is “witnessing an escalation in ethnic and religious extremism, where unchecked sectarian forces of hatred and bigotry, often fuelled by misinformation and misinterpretation, lies and inflammatory speeches, are ripping apart the social fabric of our nation that had been built on the principles of moderation and multi-culturalism”.
“If we are to survive as a united nation, if we are to keep hope alive for our common future, we must all resist and oppose these destructive forces,” said the churches.
The pastors are telling their flock and Christians and all Malaysians to summon up the courage and moral will to actively resist “the forces of destruction, hate and violence”.
CFM believes that “all Malaysians truly have cause for concern” in view of the current developments and calls on all peace lovers to recommit themselves to working together “to save Malaysia from the forces of bigotry, religious extremism and racial polarisation”.
Is CFM saying that Malaysia needs to be saved from being ‘destroyed’ by, as one example, their arch enemy Perkasa?
BELOW: From the news archives – 27 Dec 2011
Perkasa wants Rev Eu probed for sedition - Malaysiakini 2012-11-09 09-45-39

Rising Up To The Challenges Of Islamic Extremism And Militancy In Malaysia

Malaysia is a secular democracy. Even so, Islam occupies a significant position in its politics and has been able to influence political discourses and practices. For the Malay-Muslim majority, Islam is more than just a system of beliefs and an ethnic identity marker in a multi-ethnic society. It is also a cultural resource from which concepts, principles, rules, norms and laws are drawn to provide basis for government and to argue for political and social reforms. This being the case, it is not surprising to find Islam being entrenched in the Malaysian Constitution as the official religion of the Federation and its constituent states. Political parties, non-governmental organisations, loosely structured congregational groups (jemaah) and militant or radical groups also draw on the Islamic idiom appearing on the country’s political landscape in the last four decades and engaging the state in conflict over the latter’s domination and control of Islamic symbols, leadership and institutions. Some of these Islamist groups operate within the national boundary and some develop extensive networks that transcend national borders.

Irrespective of their goals, organisational structure and the extent of networking, the activities of Islamic political party, politically-engaged Islamic NGOs, jemaah and militant groups are of great concern to the Malaysian authority in case they cause political instability, disrupt racial harmony, hamper economic development, endanger regime survival and threaten national security. Furthermore, in the post-conditions 9/11 and especially with the global war on terror, evidence of Islamic militancy in the country can easily cause the international community to regard Malaysia as a ‘hotbed of terrorism’, a label that it can do without if it wants to avoid external political pressures or military intervention and to attract foreign investment into the country. To date and consistent with the current policy of controlling and monitoring religious groups, the Malaysian government has at its disposal two laws which can be invoked to weaken or suppress those Islamist groups whose activities are deemed to disrupt civil order.  They are the provision in the Administration of Islamic law concerning ‘deviationist teachings’ in Islam (ajaran sesat) and the Internal Security Act (ISA). While it is normal to expect the Malaysian government to use these mechanisms to suppress undesirable Islamist groups, however, the action, if and when taken, could also be construed as a violation of civil liberties. Not only that, it can also invite criticisms from the Malay-Muslim populace as being anti-Islamic. Such criticisms can easily reduce the state’s credibility as the key transmitter of Islamic doctrines, policies and programmes in the country. Worse, it would put the government in a bad light vis-à-vis PAS, its main rival in politics.

Since the 1970s, Malaysia has identified Islamic extremism and militancy as one of the threats to its national security. Although relatively small in number and strength, groups operating under this tendency caused serious security concern to the state, which in turn adopted the twin strategies of suppression and engagement to respond to these challenges. The state has openly declared that it will not tolerate any group or activity that can create disunity and disturb racial harmony in a country whose survival is highly dependent on internal peace and stability. While the state considers it important to eliminate threats and challenges from Islamic extremism and militancy, it is also mindful of the fact that antagonistic policies towards Islamic groups might result in a backlash that will endanger regime security and national unity. It must be said that in reality, in Malaysia, the influence of Islamic extremists and their activities is limited due to certain factors, of which some are unique to Malaysia, as well as the effectiveness of measures taken to eliminate this influence.

The Development of Islamic Groups in Malaysia
Islamic organisations and movements in Malaysia have been in existence even before the rise of the phenomenon of Islamic revivalism of the 1970s. The oldest and the most established of these groups is the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), a political party that has become the main rival of the current ruling component party in the Malaysian government, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). PAS has been in existence since 1951 and advocated an Islamic state goal, an objective that it has not renounced until today. Although currently it is able to lead the government in only two states (Kelantan and Kedah), following the general election of 2008, as a form of political Islam, the party is a force to reckon with having gained strong support from rural-based Malays in the states of Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu in several general elections. The support for PAS has also broadened to include many urbanbased followers in other states such as Perak, Selangor and in Kuala Lumpur.

Aside from PAS, there are now a number of Islam-oriented nongovernmental organisations and institutions occupying the civil society space in Malaysia. These organisations grew out of the need and desire to provide social and economic facilities to Muslims while some are devoted to raising the level of Islamic consciousness in the community. Among them are the Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah (Islamic Dakwah Foundation), Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation, or PERKIM), the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement, (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia or ABIM), Malaysian Muslim Students Association, Sisters in Islam and others. Institutions set up by the government or supported by it include the Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM), the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC) and the Department of Islamic Advancement (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam or JAKIM). The establishment of these organisations were not politically-motivated, but to support social and religious activities of its members and target groups. PERKIM for example, is an organisation which was set up to look into the welfare of new converts to Islam, while others emerged out of practical considerations and the need to promote greater consciousness about Islam. These groups and many others continue to exist and have not developed into militant groups.

A growing challenge for the authorities since the 1970s had been the activities of dakwah songsang (deviant dakwah) groups with some propagating activities that were considered as extremist in nature and thus posed a serious threat to public order and racial harmony. Two violent incidents in 1978 and 1980 served to highlight the seriousness of potential extremism and militancy in Malaysia if they were not contained. In 1978, a group of Muslim fundamentalists, caught desecrating all statues in a Hindu temple except one, were beaten to death by a vigilante group of Indian temple guardians. In October 1980, another incident occurred, that confirmed the fears of the authorities about the violent potential of certain deviant groups, when a group of Muslims attacked a police station in Batu Pahat in Johore. Although both incidents appeared to be ‘minor’ by international standards, in Malaysia, they were looked upon as worrying trend and therefore needed to be ‘nipped in the bud’. It served to discourage other potential extremist groups from developing and propagating terrorist acts.

This early period also witnessed the surfacing of groups associated with dakwah songsang and Islamic radicalism. In 1977, a Penang-based Crypto cult emerged to claim that the Malaysian government was not giving Islam its proper due and aimed to set up a theocratic order by means of violent jihad. The government took action to clamp down the movement only in 1992 as it did not think that the group’s activities then were serious enough to threaten public order and national security. Another group, whose interpretation of Islam was in opposition to the government, was the Koperasi Angkatan Revolusi Islam Malaysia (KARIM, or Malaysian Islamic Revolutionary Front). Formed in 1974 in Kuala Lumpur, KARIM preached the overthrow of government through violence. It was later banned and its leaders detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). In 1980, riots by farmers in Kedah demonstrating against the government’s move to introduce a forced-savings scheme were traced to a militant organisation Pertubuhan Angkatan Sabilullah, which according to the government had numbered among its associates, members of the opposition party, PAS. These groups were relatively unknown to the public and their influence did not spread beyond the confinement of their groups. One of the reasons for their inability to expand their influence was the small membership and effective action by the government through the use of strong measures to control and suppress their activities, often in the name of national security.

State Response: Rationale and Mechanisms
Realising that religious extremism, if not checked may endanger domestic harmony, public security and in the worst scenario, regime survival, the Malaysian government formulated and implemented two approaches to counter and contain the danger. These can be summed up as suppression and engagement which have proven to be effective in combating religious extremism. In the words of former Minister of Home Affairs, Tun Musa Hitam, Malaysia’s comprehensive strategy for combating extremism consists of a “complex process of accommodation (when this is fully justified), co-optation (when this is required) and confrontation (when it is necessary)”. Since the 1970s, contestations emerged from Islamic groups whose aim was the eventual replacement of the regime in power with a ‘more’ Islamic one, if not with one that is completely Islamic. Such groups include Arqam, an organisation which became radicalised and manifested its violent opposition to the authority since 1988. It is said to have an extensive network in Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia and even in Central Asia.5 The government feared that the group might subvert established Islam, create disunity among Muslims and eventually take over power. In responding to this challenge, the government used both repressive and dissuasive methods. Throughout the 1990s, the Malaysian public witnessed a systematic campaign against Arqam, launched through the mass media and the distribution of pamphlets, Friday sermons and public lectures in mosques and offices. Investigations were conducted to ascertain whether or not the activities of Arqam were dangerous and threatening to the national security and racial harmony. In 1994, Arqam was accused of harbouring extreme political ambitions and that its leaders had plans “to capture political power through magic and violence”. In August 1994, the National Fatwa Council issued a ruling which declared the teachings of Arqam as “deviationists” (ajaran sesat), resulting in the banning of the organisation by the government. Arqam’s leader, Ashaari Muhammad fled to Thailand, but was later arrested in September the same year and brought back to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). He was subsequently released in 2004. Deprived of its leadership and subjected to constant surveillance from the Malaysian authorities, Arqam never got back to its former ‘glory’.

Not all government’s policy of using force in tackling challenges to regime security from Islamist groups have been successful. The Memali incident of November 1985 illustrates the limits to the use of force to suppress what was perceived as extremism. The police raid on the villagers, ordered by the then acting Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Musa Hitam, resulted in the death of 17 people (14 civilians and 4 policemen). The government White Paper, published after the incident blamed the confrontation on the extremists who were trying to spread deviationist teachings and disrupt public order. As for the Minister, the affair dented his political credibility and wisdom in his ability to handle sensitive issues such as responding to challenges coming from Islamic groups. Although the affair happened more than two decades ago, it is neither forgotten nor forgiven, for its memory is still being kept alive by relatives of survivors. The Islamic Party of Malaysia, PAS, commemorates this incident, a source of embarrassment for the government, as proof of the government’s injustice in dealing with opposing Islamic groups.

The beginning of the new millennium witnessed a growing threat to the government from Islamic extremist and militant groups in Malaysia. An incident related to militant Islamic activities surfaced in June 2000 when a group which called itself as ‘Al Maunah’ managed to successfully pull off an arms heist at a Malaysian Army Reserve Camp in Perak, stealing weapons from the armoury. It proved to be a huge embarrassment for the government given the manner in which the group managed to penetrate the camp’s security structure by dressing up in military uniforms and driving jeeps painted in camouflaged green. Their leader, Mohamad Amin Razali, confessed that they were on a mission to overthrow the Malaysian government by force. The siege by the Malaysian security forces resulted in the surrender of the group’s members. Its leader was tried for waging war against the King, convicted, and was hanged in August 2004. Other members received various degrees of sentences, including life sentence and detention under the ISA. The government did not take any action against the group prior to this as there was no proof that their activities were disrupting public security or detrimental to national security.

The dismantling of the Al Maunah group was followed by other operations to suppress several other militant Islamic organisations and groups whose activities were considered threatening to public security. They include a militant Islamic group, the ‘Jihad Gang’, a group that was connected to a range of crimes over a period of two years, including the bombing of a church, an Indian temple, the murder of a politician and several other criminal activities.12 Their criminal activities made it easier for the government to justify their elimination. Another militant group, the KMM — Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (the Malaysian Militant Group) founded in 1995 by a Malaysian, Zainon Ismail, also advocated the overthrow of the Malaysian government and subsequently, the establishment of an Islamic regime. Like the Al Maunah group, KMM’s operational strategy was a combination of criminal activities and political militancy. It was believed to have a wide networking with external militant groups in the region, including Majlis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI), Jemaah Islamiah Singapura (JIS) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). KMM also dispatched its members to take part in the conflict in Ambon, Indonesia between Christians and Muslims. The Malaysian government launched a nationwide operation to capture KMM members between December 2001 and January 2002, resulting in the arrest of more than 70 members, including one of its leaders, Nik Adli Nik Aziz, and detained them under the ISA.

In many of these security operations (police and military) against Islamic extremist groups, the Malaysian government resorted to the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain those arrested in the operations. While the general public in Malaysia on the whole seemed not to mind the use of the ISA on militants and extremist elements, there were segments of society which viewed this with concern. In August 2001, the Malaysian Bar Council released a statement viewing “with concern the alleged threat to national peace and security posed by members of the KMM”. At the same time, it noted “with equal concern the use of the ISA in the arrest of such persons”. The Council suggested that these arrests can be affected through other available statutory provisions such as the Penal Code, Arms Act or Firearms Act. It also urged the government to allow detainees access to their constitutional rights and to trial in a court of law. However, such dissenting opinion did not affect the efficacy or the continued usage of ISA as a mechanism to control extremism and militancy in the country. 

Putting Them Back on the Right Track: De-Radicalisation Programme
As indicated above, suppression is only one of the means available to the state in its campaign against Islamic militancy. A more subtle method is engaging groups or individuals into renouncing their activities regarded as prejudicial to national security. Engagement constitutes policies and programmes designed to win the hearts and minds of the target groups with the aim to neutralise or to win them over. In Malaysia, this has been successfully employed earlier during the war against communist insurgents. Later use of the ‘soft’ method is based on the refinement, adaptation and elaboration of the methods used during this period.

Malaysia’s engagement policy of Islamic extremists includes a programme designed at “de-radicalisation”, targeting those detained under the ISA. The government has formulated a structured programme designed to rehabilitate those individuals or groups who have been involved in activities considered as jeopardising national security. The Malaysian deradicalisation programme is a concerted effort between the police (Special Branch) and various government agencies. The role of the police/Special Branch in this programme is focussed on the issue of national security, although in principle the Special Branch remains as the main architect of the rehabilitation programme. The Malaysian de-radicalisation programme is different from that of many other countries in that it separates those detained under the ISA from the common criminals because they need a different type of rehabilitation. De-radicalisation programme for religious extremists for example, requires the role of religious institutions such as JAKIM to take care of the spiritual aspect of the treatment.

The programme consists of three stages, namely the early detainment period, the detainment period and the post-detainment period. In the first stage, the individual who commits an offence prejudicial to national security can be detained for a maximum period of 60 days for investigation purposes. The main aim at this stage of detention is to “win over” the detainee through various methods. If the authorities are satisfied that the detainee no longer poses a threat, then he may be released. If not, he will be sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre for two years, and may be further extended if an extension is necessary.

The second stage of de-radicalisation process begins once the detainee is placed at the Kamunting Detention Centre, which is under the purview of the Prisons Department of Malaysia. While undergoing the rehabilitation programme, a detainee has access to the rights of reassessment and opportunity to appeal to the Advisory Board which meets to review the case every six month. The rehabilitation programme, known as “Human Development Programme” (HDP) covers three areas of discipline development, personality enhancement and social skills and training programme. The main objective of the HDP is to enable a detainee to return to the fold of society without much disjuncture since the modules in the programme are designed to gradually ‘mould’ them to the values and practices of the society that they have deviated from. At the Detention Centre, a detainee will undergo rehabilitation programme to ‘disengage’ himself from his past activities. Relevant agencies and individuals are asked to collaborate in this programme in teaching and facilitating modules tailored to the purpose of rehabilitation of detainees. There are three main issues of contention among Muslim detainees that the deradicalisation programme aims to correct. The first is the association of jihad among detainees with violent means and act of martyrdom. The second is the contention that Malaysia is not an Islamic country since it does not implement the Hudud law, and that its political system is Western oriented. The third is the detainees’ hatred against the West, especially the United States and its policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The modules taught during the detention period seek to provide detainees with a correct understanding of Islam, expose them to various issues in the Muslim world through open intellectual discussions with experts. The third stage in the rehabilitation programme is the post-detainment period which begins immediately after the release of the detainee. Even after his release, an ISA detainee will need to keep in ‘close contact’ with the police by way of regular reporting to the police station nearest to his domicile.

Although there is no survey available to determine the success of this programme, it is believed that the Malaysian de-radicalisation programme has been successful in rehabilitating extremists and eliminating their activities. Despite its unpopularity, the ISA has been effective as a mechanism to contain the spread of extremism and militancy in Malaysia. It has unwittingly created and instilled fear into the minds of the public of the consequences of jeopardising the nation’s political stability and national security. While there are those who opposed the ISA even if employed with good intention, there are others who view it as a ‘necessary evil’ to prevent the nation from descending into chaos. Some argued that this is preferable to inviting external powers to safeguard the nation’s security and handle delicate issues of religious extremism. 

Future Challenges and Conclusion
The success of countering extremism and militancy in Malaysia is due to a host of factors. Malaysia is a moderate Muslim country, a situation born out of several circumstances and factors. The majority population of the country, the Malays, have a peace-loving culture, a culture of tolerance and willingness to help. While the Malays are known to be religious, they are not fanatics. Their understanding of ‘jihad’ is not translated as armed struggle, but that of a moral struggle. The idea of ‘jihad’ as an armed struggle is an alien culture being introduced from outside. Until today, the idea of ‘violent jihad’ has not caught up with Muslims in Malaysia. There is no group important enough to propagate such jihad. In addition, there is no concrete issue that can be turned into a common cause that can be exploited to galvanize the population’s support for a violent jihad. This is in contrast to other Muslim societies such as in the Middle East or Pakistan where a culture of political violence seem to be continually perpetuated.

A recent survey indicated that among the Malay-Muslims in Malaysia, there is preference for a gradual change in society, as opposed to violent change. This attitude is in tandem with the culture and character of the Malays who would normally consider every aspect of a subject before making changes in society, even when these changes are to be made in the name of Islam. Another contributing factor in facilitating the efforts at combating religious extremism in Malaysia is the streamlining of religious education through the Ministry of Education and religious authorities. The Ministry provides guidelines on ‘standardised’ religious education made available to students. The monitoring of religious schools and pondok schools reduced the potential of these institutions into becoming a ‘hotbed’ of extremism and militancy or a ‘factory’ for producing jihadis as in the case of Pakistan. Contrary to some foreign media reports of the support for Osama bin Laden among Malaysian youths because they were found to be selling and wearing Osama T-shirts, in reality, there is no real excitement for Osama or Taleban among youths in the country. Malaysian youths have become savvy about generating income from an unlikely source and a phenomenon, for these same guys would be selling and wearing Michael Jackson or Che Guevara T-shirts. Such action would indicate an entrepreneurial prowess rather than a commitment to an ideology or a political cause.

In general, Malaysia enjoys political and social stability, peace and economic development that most citizens do not want to relinquish because they have a stake and interest to keep it going. The monarchy, an important pillar of Malay society has always acted as a ‘pacifier’, provider of moral guidance and a symbol of mediation in an adverse situation. As the head of Islam, the monarchy in Malaysia has the authority, both at the formal and informal levels, to guide religious activities and orientations. Radicalisation to the Malays would be contrary to the culture of peace and harmony of their society and its ‘adab’ (civility). The monarchy, as a respected institution, and one that is seen as above politics, serves as a moderating influence that restrains radical attitude and activities among Malay-Muslims in the country. The multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multireligious character that Malaysia is, are factors that act as a deterrent to religious extremism in the country. The state is fully aware that it has to develop and cultivate a policy of moderation so as not to antagonise the various groups and to stop them from falling into extremist groups of different religions and cultures. Malaysia’s uniqueness lies in its ability to balance and accommodate different demands specific to different ethnic and religious groups with the necessity of oneness of the nation. With a small population and a fairly controlled and disciplined society, the prospect of an over-excited militant galvanizing the population towards the path of violence has a much smaller chance of success in comparison to a country easily consumed by mob passion such as Pakistan or Indonesia. The success of Malaysia’s containment of religious extremism and deradicalisation policy must be seen in the light of these factors that are unique to Malaysia.

By any standard, especially in the Muslim world, violence resulting from religious extremism and militancy in Malaysia is an exception rather than the rule. Unlike Pakistan, which is going through a period of intense terrorist activities, Malaysia does not have the dynamics of militancy, poverty and political instability that can precipitate upheavals to the country. Malaysia’s Islamic radicals do not have the strength or the grounds to galvanise the support of the masses. Despite being politically divided between two major political parties, the majority Malay-Muslim population of Malaysia share a common aim and an equal opportunity to promote the interest of their group. Such situation is not found some Muslim countries with a politico-sectarian divide. In retrospective, it can be said that the Malaysian authorities’ denial of the growth of Shiism in the country is a form of pre-emptive measure to stem out potential sectarian violence. In addition, Muslims in Malaysia do not feel aggrieved by any denial of fundamental rights unlike the case of Malay-Muslims in Thailand, or that of the Muslim minority in the Philippines. But it remains vulnerable because of the country’s proximity to troubled areas and the exposure to transnational linkages of terrorist network in an age of globalisation. Malaysia also has open borders and fairly liberal immigration rules that could lead to intrusion by persons who may be prejudicial to the nation’s security.

There is a growing consciousness in Malaysia about democratic space and the role of civil society among citizens and rulers alike, although at the moment it is still restrained. Media in Malaysian is not entirely free, unlike that in Pakistan or Indonesia where it can fuel passion and violence through reporting and description of sensitive events and issues. The Malaysian media accept this limitation of its role through a kind of selfcensorship to avoid instigating pandemonium or creating violence. The state takes a pre-emptive measure to ensure the delicate balance and vulnerable peaceful co-existence between groups of different and opposing intentions through control of the media, a measure that can be described at best, as out of necessity, but hopefully a temporary one.

It is common to make a correlation between the level and condition of socio-economic development with the rise of religious extremism and militancy. In Malaysia, the socio-economic development can be seen as a two-edged sword. It reduced the situation of poverty and deprivation that pushed many, out of frustration, into seeking solace in violent jihad, a fact occurring in many Muslim societies. Malaysia has been able to remove this root of discontent and grievances in society. However, on the other hand, it is also noted that many cases of violence and forms of religious extremism and the push for change among Muslim groups come from the middle class, who after having achieved some measure of economic and social comfort; they now claim political rights due to them. Some do this out of dissatisfaction over the current system and want a change. Their dilemma is that economically they benefit from the system while their ideological inclination is not fulfilled. At this juncture, these groups cannot afford to destroy the foundation of their economic and social well-being, since the future is unpredictable. The challenge for the Malaysian state is how to balance the inevitable demand for democratic rights with that of keeping the situation under control. 

In conclusion, it is observed that confrontations between Islamic extremist groups and the government in Malaysia is an exception rather than the rule. They do not take place on a large scale or nation-wide, but are confined to certain groups with demands ranging from reforms within existing socio-political framework to a regime change by force. The state introduced laws, some of them controversial, to deal with the challenges and threats to its national security. Among these laws, the most prominent is the ISA, which, the criticisms and opposition levelled at it, is still in use. With the event of September 11, 2001, criticisms of ISA became slightly muted, enabling the government to justify its use without causing too much embarrassment. It lends credibility to what the government has been doing all along: that it was necessary to use repressive measures to eliminate the dangers that militancy pose to national security. The success of Malaysia’s de-radicalisation programme can be attributed to several factors, of which the most important are its societal values. The Malaysian political system and societal values allow little room for religious extremism and militancy. The state and society find consensus on the value of moderation, the understanding of Islam as a religion of peace and the appropriate strategies to deal with contestations coming from extremist groups and individuals.

Getting to the root of religious extremism in Malaysia

The article in Sunday Star July 7 by Zainah Anwar of Sisters of Islam, titled Ripe for the plucking, tackles the real issue behind how and why young Malaysian men become indoctrinated into extremist ideology, establishes a clear link between the appeasement of bigots by the domestic Political Elites and how it influences young men who are willing to lay down their lives for a cause such as the Syrian conflict. While there is concern among political authorities of certain Malay Muslim young men turning into sectarian militants, there is lack of action to stop the anti-Shite and anti-Christian propaganda in the country. Is it not true that there is similar anti-Shite and anti-Christian sentiment among militants in Syria that has resulted in the displacement and pogrom of minority communities in that country? The author has pulled the bull by its horns by addressing the state of religious bigotry in Malaysia.

Malaysia today is going through a very delicate situation where fellow citizens who are Christians and Shite Muslims are portrayed as enemies who are bent in usurping the supremacy of Islam in this country. One of the major characteristics of religious type bigots is that they see the world in a black and white fashion. For example, they like to make a black and white distinction between religion and secularism without understanding that there are elements of similarity between both, especially on values of equality, social justice and compassion. There are secularists who are religious but do not support the dominance of any religion in the public domain. This shows that goodness can be seen in complexity which does not harm religion. For religious bigots, anyone who does not share their religious ideology and identity is regarded as an enemy. They hide behind emotional slogans of protecting religion when the actual fact is that they have placed religion in an ideolegalistic cocoon where liberating religion has become a great necessity.

It is vital for politicians, Muslim intellectuals and religious authorities to get to the root cause of why such thinking is emerging in moderate Malaysia. Is it due to close ideological ties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabian religious and political elites who have strong influence on religious leaders in this country? International commentators of global politics have pointed out the role that Saudi Arabia has played in supporting rebels in Syria besides the role of reinforcing the divide between Sunni and Shite communities. Are the current religious bodies influenced by the religious and ideological orientation of this particular state? Is religion deliberately distorted and manipulated to create scenarios where there could be rallying cries to support a particular political party whose support among unban electorate has been reduced since the 2008 general election? Is religious education and indoctrination in schools and universities based on the link between faith and reason or is it based on ideological construct which aims for religious supremacy where there is no room for reasoned discourse?

Blaming fellow citizens of different ethnic and religious orientation, secularism or the West for the ills plaguing a community will not solve problems because it is based on a reactive emotional behaviour rather than on a proactive behaviour that is rooted in values and willing to understand and to be understood in a reasoned manner. It is time that Political Leadership and intellectuals who support a progressive Malaysia start to take action and play a critical role to bring back Malaysia to a middle path before the country is destroyed by ethno-religious bigots. This could be done by dialogue and reasoning on the complexity of identity based on Islam and how it is affecting inter-ethnic and religious ties in the country. Such discourse should be held in the public domain, universities and in the media. The clock is ticking and it is time for the Political Leadership to be proactive, to prevent a distorted understanding of religion that could cause a situation where there is no turning back. The involvement of young Malaysian men in the sectarian conflict on Syrian soil portrays this reality.