Friday, August 31, 2012

Malaysia Merdeka Thoughts 2012 - fear, democratic tyranny, education, neo-colonialism and NGOs

We should always remember. We should respect history and our elders.
And we should learn how old problems can return in a new form.

It is not only... (Merdeka Poem III for 2012)
It is not only independence
That can make a country great,
But the stock of men and women
And their firm sense of rightness,

It is not only liberty
That can make a country good,
But the choice through which
The people enjoy such liberty,

It is not only material wealth
That can make a country rich,
But the respect people hold
To their own tradition and history,

It is not mere tolerance
That can make a country
Of multi-ethnicity live in peace,
But the magnanimity
That people show towards one another
On a day to day basis.
………………………..

Fear in Malaysia 2012. There is a lot of fear out there. In the newspapers, in the blogs and on TV, the mongers of fear repeat the speeches of politicians and preachers and perpetuate a climate of fear. The problem with fear is that if that is the primary thing that motivates your political agenda, it is an easy step to hate, then bigotry and hubris. This is not essentially a Malaysian problem. We are merely symptoms of a greater chronic disease suffered by the international mainstream and alternative news media. A pandemic of fear.

They wore uniforms (they are Germans, after all), but
a lot of common voting folk also thought them swell.
Democratic Tyranny. I am not a fan of either the incumbent government nor opposition parties here. I find both their posturing and vote-chasing distasteful, but then again I do not believe in democracy. I simply see too many people blinded by their own agenda, for that is what democracy is about – fighting for your rights. If it gels with other people’s interest that’s fine, but if it doesn’t, well… tough luck. People often forget that Hitler’s Nazi party came to power in Germany on the backs of a democratic election. Of course they were not actually vanilla in their electoral campaigns, but they won because they were simply more brutal and single-minded than their socialist and communist opponents. And people also forget that when the French King's Bastille was broken into, that so-called symbol of royal oppression, Parisian revolutionaries found only a couple of petty criminals. But the Great Terror that followed the French revolution helped to fill Bastille up with those fortunate few who were lucky enough to escape the bloody Guillotine. Yeah. Democracy. Great.

Education. But what sort? And although I often said before that it is education that firms an enlightened world view, even that is not enough, for education in the modern democratic context often focuses too much on worldly knowledge and material gain. Good education must be based on progressive and scientific ideas but built upon foundations of family, history and Adab (courtly manners and courtesies). In this respect, I believe that the federal government will soon be unveiling its review of the National Education Policy (or has it? I have been missing the news lately). Well, I suspect the single biggest issue which I wish addressed will not be there – the prohibition of any government ministers to send their children to private / international schools. You see, they do not even have the good manners to regard us as people with intelligence. Give the ministers's children 2 weeks in a public national school, and I assure you, sunshine, that the standards and facilities and funding for public education would improve almost immediately. All other options are secondary to this.

World Bank. Their mission is
to eradicate world poverty.
Yeah. Right.
Neo-Colonialism and the NGOs. Non-Governmental Organizations are a necessary check and balance to the executive powers of government. But when we do not have a transparent record of their funding, and when the NGOs patently parrot the Western ideas of human rights, progress and democracy, we have to be a little more concerned. For the progress of the West from colonial overseers to a bastion of equality and freedom is a false story. The West may tolerate a couple of brown, yellow or black leaders as its pin-up poster boy (or girl) for their tolerance and equality ads, but the overwhelming tide of events under the globalization of the economy, corporatist (read none-existent) ethics and the oppressive system of currency and international banking will continue to stoke East and West divide. This is naturally so, because a large segment of people believe that the West is superior to the East. And in a way, they are not wrong, so I don’t blame them for taking measures to protect their overwhelming material and military dominance of the world. But to have our own local NGOs leading the vanguard of this neo-colonialism is unfortunate. The NGOs may think themselves a world away from the corporatist powers of the Halliburtons, Shells and ExxonMobiles, the Morgan Stanleys and the Citibanks, the IMFs and the World Banks, but things are not so black and white in reality. There is a lot of money in CSR (corporate social responsibility), you see. CSR makes behemoth non-human profit-making monsters appear as cuddly as teddy bears, and NGOs needs money, after all. It’s a question of supply and demand, and the graph never lies. And before any politician claims otherwise, they are probably even worse - just see the amount of financial industry and corporatist money pouring into the present American presidential campaign.

These are some of my thoughts about Malaysia today, on it’s 55th birthday (well, for West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak joined in 16 September 1963 – we really should consider combining both celebrations. It makes sense). There are a lot of challenges out there.

Am I worried? Not really, because my mum and dad taught us not to despair and to always persevere. In the cosmic scale, no human (or djinn) conspiracy can overcome the Plan of God and His Beloved Prophet. So Happy Merdeka Day and do not be discouraged! Have faith!

If you have a little faith (and a good camera) like Shamel, even you can defy gravity.
Happy Merdeka Day!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

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