Sunday, September 21, 2008

We're all class-ed multiculturalists now!

We're all class-ed multiculturalists now!

Posted by Super Admin

Sunday, 21 September 2008 10:45

We have deeply racialized human beings that are running neutral machines. We have ethnocentric leaders running humane systems. We have allowed imperfection and evolving fascism to run our system. We have placed capitalists of culture behind our wheels of industrial progress; people who have the dinosaur brain of ketuanan this or that. We have created these monsters and have unleashed them to run our educational, political, economic, and cultural systems. We have Frankenstein-ised our Merdeka.

Azly Rahman

Growing up in a Malay kampong in Johor Bahru, having been born in a British Military hospital in Singapore, schooled in Kuantan, Seremban, Shah Alam and moving from one realm of cultural experience to the next, living in from one enclave to another in the process of being schooled and in the process of being and becoming an educator, ending up in a town a half and hour's drive from New York City where I have lived for several years, I sometimes wonder if all these makes me a "cultural construction" of "multi-ethnicity" or a "Malay" still? Or --- how "Malay" am I still? Or --- what is a
Malay"? as I would ask what is an "American"?

Here in the United States where I teach a course called "Cross-Cultural Perspectives" in which trying to engage my students in the works of Edward Said, Clifford Geertz, Renato Rosaldo, and the like, I find myself again, having to interrogate my "subjectivity and objectivity" as a "culturally-constructed being" in my attempt to play the role of Socrates in dialogue with my students in our exploration of the multiple meaning of culture.

Each semester is a learning experience, teaching me newer ideas of what "culture, race, and ethnicity" means. I look forward to the intensive classroom discussions by the "hybrid and hyphenated human beings" in my class -- those whose family background present a rich tapestry of ethnicity in a sea of creativity called the human race.

I have had pure Afghans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Turks, Greeks, Irish, Australians, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Russian, Israeli, Cuban, Iranian, Taiwanese, mainland Chinese, Australian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Jamaican, Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Saudi Arabian, and a hybrid of all many of these. There were Indonesians too. But no Malaysians yet.

My first question on the first day of class to them is: how multicultural are we? How do we see culture as a "construct" that will enable human progress towards peace, social justice, and liberation? These are indeed big words I have set them to explore.

Is race and ethnicity an illusion and a mental construction? Or is it real as real as body and flesh we fight with using and used by the rhetoric of nationalism in honor of our country right or wrong? How might education help bring about the desired changes in the way we translate concepts to practice?

Malaysians had just celebrated her 51st. Merdeka/Independence celebration and merely a few months after the most decisive and exciting by-election in history; one in which not only many are saying "the political fate of the country lies" but also one in which race and religion has become ever more prominent as a decisive factors.

Against the background of the celebration lies a Malaysia that is engaging in yet another ritual of a "nation perpetually in narration": the Merdeka celebrations.

Consider the proclamation below:

"Our Nation, Malaysia is dedicated to:

Achieving a greater unity for all her people; maintaining a democratic way of life; creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably distributed; ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural tradition, and building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology.

We, the people of Malaysia, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends, guided by these principles:

• Belief in God
• Loyalty to King and Country
• Upholding the Constitution
• Sovereignty of the Law, and
• Good Behaviour and Morality"

--- From the Rukunegara, circa 1970

So... what happened?

The words above constructed and proclaimed in 1970, after the bloody riots of May 13, 1969, contained internal contradictions if we are to analyze it today.

As the country approached 31 August 2008, we read the following stories:

ISA arrests that have confusing and the hypocritical dimensions surrounding these
a national coalition front undergoing implosion and falling apart
an irate Prime Minister mulling action against a blogger flying the Malaysian flag upside down, in cyberspace; an action that finally materialised through the arrest of the blogger
a by-election campaign in Pematang Pauh in Penang, that rears the ugliness of smear campaigns focusing on race, religion, and personal issues instead of presenting solutions to national crises;
an aborted Bar Council forum on conversion to Islam, disrupted by groups claiming to represent the survival and dignity of Malaysian Muslims;
an angry Vice Chancellor of an all-Bumiputra university threatening to file suit Chief Minister of Selangor for the latter's suggestion that Universiti Teknologi MARA be open to non-Bumiputras;
a teacher in Selangor reprimanded and transferred for hurling racial slurs at her Malaysian school-children of Indian origin;
the continuing and intensified work of the Prime Minster of Malaysia's propaganda outfit, Biro Tata Negara in ensuring that the ideology "Ketuanan Melayu" remain funneled into the minds of Malay students, educators, and civil servants;
the continuing refusal of the Ministry of Higher Education to grant freedom to students to gain concepts and skills of political consciousness by its refusal to radically revise the University and University Colleges Act;
an increasingly cacaphonic and toxic relationship between the Executive, Judiciary, and Legislative; as a consequence of the 22-year rule of the previous Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
a hyper-modernized country trapped in the excesses of nationalism and globalization in an age wherein the global food and energy crisis is taking its toll on the economic and political lives of nations.

Those are amongst the snapshot items of Malaysia circa 51 years of Merdeka/Independence. The composite image of a system of divide and conquer left by the British colonials continue to be artistically refined into subdivisions of divide and conquer, aided by the propaganda machine of the ruling class. Malaysia is seeing the image of the little brown brothers that are becoming the new colonizers and transforming into emperors in new clothes.

If the words of the proclamation are to be our benchmarks of Merdeka, we must ask these questions:

how have we fostered unity amongst nation, when our government promotes racism thorough racialized policies and by virtue that our politics survive on the institutionalization of racism?
how have we maintained a democratic way of life, when our educational, political, and economic institutions do not promote democracy in fear that democratic and multicultural voices of conscience are going to dismantle race-based ideologies?
how are we to create a just society in which the wealth of the nation is equitably distributed, when the New Economic Policy itself is designed based on the premise that only one race need to be helped and forever helped whereas at the onset of Independence poverty exists even amongst Malaysians of all races?
how are we to promote a liberal approach to diverse culture and tradition when our education system is run by politicians who are championing Ketuanan Melayu alone and ensure that Malay hegemony rules in all levels and all spheres of education, from pre-school graduate levels?
how are we to build a progressive society based on science and technology when our understanding of the role of science and society do not clearly reflect our fullest understanding of the issues of scientific knowledge, industrialization, and dependency?

Are we seeing a failed Malaysia? Has racial politics brought this nation into chaos?

Across the board the country is in distress; education in shambles, polarized, and politicized, economy is in constant dangerous flux, judiciary is in deep crisis of confidence, public safety is of major concern due the declining public confidence in the police, and politics remain ever divided along racial and religious lines.

This is the Malaysian picture of Dorian Gray, one that shows the image of a "vibrant nation of progress and harmony, and racial tolerance and a robust economy" but behind it is a deformed Malaysia that is merely a continuation of a feudal and colonial entity.

The colonized has become the colonizer. The once oppressed is now oppressing. The ignorant is educating the educated. In a world of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

The State has become a totalitarian entity using the ideological state apparatuses to silent the voices of progressive change. The nationalists have nationalized the wealth of the nation for themselves and perhaps siphoning the nation's wealth internationally.

This is the picture of a broken promise made by those who fought for Independence; the vices of the early radical and truly nationalistic Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, Sikhs, etc. of the early Merdeka movement.

How then must Malaysians celebrate its 52 nd. Merdeka? By flying the Jalur Gemilang upside down? Or to do better than this – to put justice in its own place by engineering a multicultural jihad against all forms of excesses of the abuse of power and to de-toxify the nation entire, and next to begin with Year Zero of our cultural revolution through the gentle enterprise called peace and multicultural education?

Herein lies education as a solution.

I believe we need a radical overhaul of everything, philosophically speaking. We have the structures in place built in some instances to a state-of-the-art but we need to replace the human beings running the system.

We have deeply racialized human beings that are running neutral machines. We have ethnocentric leaders running humane systems. We have allowed imperfection and evolving fascism to run our system. We have placed capitalists of culture behind our wheels of industrial progress; people who have the dinosaur brain of ketuanan this or that. We have created these monsters and have unleashed them to run our educational, political, economic, and cultural systems. We have Frankenstein-ised our Merdeka.

We need to re-educate ourselves by reinventing the human beings we will entrust to run our machines.

We must abolish the present system and create a new one; just as how we created our new cities – Putrajaya and Cyberjaya – our symbols of our Oriental Despotism and Asian capitalistic decadence. We must be aware that class in the broadest and most comprehensive sense of the word is what we are dealing with and through class and cultural analyses we can arrive at a different path to a new Merdeka.

This Merdeka, the rakyat, armed with wisdom of a new era, must now speak softly but carry a big stick.

Our struggle for Merdeka has only just begun.

We hope that the ideas of change discussed in our little Malaysian "salons" -- from the warongs to online hangout joints -- will become impetus to the much needed mega change in consciousness of Malaysians. We hope that radical ideas will be debated in our universities, educational and cultural institutions and consequently affect political changes that would further compel educators to begin redesigning policies through the rejuvenation of thinking.

Malaysians have no choice. We are all class-based multiculturalists now. We must reinvent even the way to think about how we think as Malaysians.

Now -- that's a metacognitive challenge!






Comments (21)
written by ahmadneil, September 21, 2008 11:00:06

I have signed!Now,I also appeal to Deputy IGP to arrest Khir Toyo and Ahmad Ismail for he did swear to uphold the rules of the laws when he was sworn in as the Deputy IGP.
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written by mem, September 21, 2008 11:03:19

before i sign this, i need to confirm; is anyone know that if all the names/ic# of the signaturer will be sent to Bodowi together with the petition?

what if the gov will take action against who sign for this petition via the list of signaturer?

just concern...
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written by ahmadneil, September 21, 2008 11:09:57

mem,just the names only.If the gov't wants to arrest you and me plus all the millions bloggers then they will have to built more Sungei Buloh.No need 2 b scare.The brave shall prevail.
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written by george3, September 21, 2008 11:16:20

I had signed the petition

Could please e-mail me once our PM receive and acknowledge the petition? cos not confident whether this petition will reached him?

Can please e-mail this article to our PM too?

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written by mem, September 21, 2008 11:23:18

thank you ahmadneil for the confirmation.
will sign on it now.
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written by kavidibaku, September 21, 2008 11:30:59

I notice that majority of the signatures belong to nons. I wonder why.
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written by talkingback79, September 21, 2008 11:37:10

This write up is too filled with verbosity. Many of us out here are just common people with standard level of education and , also, we don't hang an oxford dictionary round our neck.
We hope writers will write in English.
Thank you
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written by sjs, September 21, 2008 11:51:57

Syed Hamid Albar,

Release the following 64 ISA detainees immediately!
Charge them in open court!
Release them from the animal cage!

Yazid Sufaat, Suhaimi Mokhtar, Dr Abdullah Daud, Shamsuddin Sulaiman, Mat Shah Mohd Satray, Abdul Murad Sudin, Zaini Zakaria, Zainun Rashid, Wan Amin Wan Hamat, Sulaiman Suramin, Sufian Salih, Mohd Khaider Kadran, Hasim Talib, Zakaria Samad, Ahmad Zakaria, Terhamid Dahalan, Abdul Rahman Ahmad, Mahfudi Saifudin, Mulyadi, Arifin, Mat Tarmizi Zakaria, Artas Burhanudin, Francis Indanan, Mohd Nazri Dollah, Mohd Arsad Patangari, Adzmi Pindatun, Idris Lanama, Aboud Ghafar Shahril, Jeknal Adil, Binsali Omar, Husin Alih, Yussof Mohd Salam, Ahmad Jamal Azahari, Pakana Selama, Kasem Dayama, Shaykinar Guat, Argadi Andoyok, Ng How Chuang, Ng Keat Seng, Mohd Azuan Aniffa, Mohd Faizol Shamsuddin, Zulfikli Abu Bakar, Zulfikli Marzuki, Amir Hussain, Mohd Nasir Ismail, Ahmad Kamil Hanafiah, Muh Amir Hanafiah, Tan Choon Chin, Mavalavan, Lian Kok Heng, Sundaraj Vijay, San Khaing, Shadul Islam, Abdul Sattar Sarjoon, Faycal Mamdouh, Mohamad Nakhrakhel, Muhammad Shuaib Hazral Bilal, Muhammad Zahid Zahir Shah, T Vasanthakumar, P Uthayakumar, R Kenghadharan, V Ganabatirau, M Manoharan


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written by Spear Bing, September 21, 2008 12:02:27

Dear Azly,

You are decades ahead in terms of intellectual competency in the critical analysis of the Malaysian state of affairs - as compared to those UMNO-led government Ministers and political leaders. Their "Malay Supremacy' syndrome is already cast in stone.

As the ex-de facto Law Minister, Zaid Ibrahim confessed, no matter how illustrious the command of brilliancy that you have elicited in this article, all of us including yourself will be facing, and will continue to face a 'brickwall'

For the level of consciousness to evolve, a great transformation will have to be embraced.

UMNO Ministers who read this article will have to come to terms with the realisation that such ugliness that they have created will have to be deleted. Make amends and atone for the misdeeds they have created for the past 51 years.

They should be proud that Malaysia has produced a son of the soil whose mindset and knowledge are so enlightened and evolved.
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written by hckit, September 21, 2008 12:22:22

I guarantee you ALL UMNO bullshit MPs will support abolishment of ISA ,.... BUT.... only when PR takes over Federal Government

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written by sjs, September 21, 2008 12:24:56


Rafidah binti Aziz is a Malaysian politician. She was the former Minister of International Trade and Industry, a position she has held since 1986. She is also the head of United Malays National Organization's Woman Wing (Wanita UMNO in Malay) and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Kuala Kangsar (since 1986). She has also been the chairman of MATRADE since 1991. She was born in Kuala Kangsar, Perak. In 2006, she was accused of corruption related to the issuance of Approved Permits (AP) for importing foreign vehicles, by former prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad in his series of criticisms against the government.

1. Made million of ringgit in kick backs when he was education minister, mostly in purchase of computers and construction.
2. Huge kickback in purchase of defence weapon, submarine etc
3. Kick backs in national service programme.
His best confidant and political analyst Razak Baginda was released on bail at one time (never happened in a sane court) for a well planned murder of a innocent young Mongolian woman by using C4 explosives which shouldn't have been reached to any security or police personnel without the approval of highest body of Defence Ministry (which was headed by Najib).

Taib Mahmud is the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Malaysia, a post he held for 20 years. Also known as the Con Man of Sarawak. Owns a few large Sarawakian corporations like Naim Cendera and Cahya Mata Sarawak. His siblings and relatives are owners of large bumiputra corporations too. Most of them drive luxury cars and own mansions. He is best known for cronyism and refuses to answer questions thrown at him by the opposition party regarding his wealth.


Former Selangor Menteri Besar, Mohd Khir Toyo topped the list of corrupt politicians with more than 25 high-profile corruption cases in the country, with the highest number of reports lodged with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) against him. More than 10 complaints had been filed with the ACA over the past six years against Mohd Khir, who was appointed menteri besar in August 2000.
Among the complainants who had made police and ACA reports against Mohd Khir included media activist Ahmad Lufti Othman, DAP leader Teng Chang Kim, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat Youth wing, an ex-Umno leader and a consumer cooperative. Lufti, who had doggedly pursued cases against Mohd Khir with the relevant authorities, had filed so many reports that he could not remember the exact number.

What is that deep bond that exist between Khir Toyo and the ACA!

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written by shangrilapeace, September 21, 2008 12:31:41

This is the best analysis I have read for quite sometime.
People changed
Time changed
System changed
What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lost his own soul.

Let our great grandchildrens feel proud of this moment that our forefathers scarificed and took this bold steps to create a better world for all Malaysians. Regardless of political parties stand. Sacrifices for the truth.
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written by yy88, September 21, 2008 12:35:29

Dr Azly,

If only those in the line of power put their sweats and tears in doing goods for the country and Bangsa Malaysia, rather than propaganding racial animosities and the "pseudo" ketuanan Melayu mentalitity, we will not be where we are now, but progressed forefront 20 years in many fields.

If only those governing Malaysia now have a minute portion of your brain materials, there would not have been an avalanche of brain drain of our brightest brilliants out of the country, but a progressive community of many2 Dr Azlys.

I dream of a day where all the 'exported' brilliant Bangsa Malaysia will converge and fall inline to return to Malaysia where they call HOME, to render their valued belated 'national service' to build a country each and every of us can be proud of. Hidup dan Maju Bangsa Malaysia.
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written by chanatak, September 21, 2008 12:45:54

Dear Dr Azly,

I never cease to be amazed by the depth of your perceptions and your ability to question issues so profoundly while suggesting possible solutions. I am ashamed to say this of myself .... I never thought ( before I came to read the articles by people like you and Farish Noor or Bakri Musa and all you wonderful guys ) that any Malay can have such thinking clarity and analytical objectivity.

All these years, such capacity is beyond my imagination. Why? Just look at the those professor madyas I have come into contact with and how they articulate themselves! It is sad that great thinkers like you have to be forced to work from outside the country, while a hero like RPK is so badly oppressed here - as if we are a communist country of the olden days.

But change is a long way off .... even if Pakatan does take over. The government infrastructure is stuffed full with narrow minded, selfish employees who thinks the government owes them a living, and they are employed by UMNO to safeguard and project the superiority of Malay race. Sadly at the same time, these idiots do all things that damage the credibility of everything they claim to protect.

I just came to realize another grand self deception.... my 13 year old child who just entered a government secondary school for the first year now tells me that since the Puasa month, the Malay teachers have not been doing any teaching in class at all. All they do is give out a lot of written work for them to do, while they themselves are not in class. Puasa month is an excuse to be lazy while they promote superiority of the religion and race.

Sad .... really sad. How many years will it take to change this ( and many such other abuses of the religion by the professors of the faith )? 5 years? 10 years ? 25 years ? never?
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written by Spear Bing, September 21, 2008 13:00:01

The ' dinosaur brain' of Ketuanan Melayu will continue to surface and wear its ugly head in the political landscape of the country.

For as long as those UMNO leaders in the corridors of power do not have the audacity and courage to transform themselves and embrace multicuturalism, Malaysia's progress will be stifled.

That they continue to wear blinkers on their eyes and become audio-visual imparied to the cries of the rakyat, will be the demeaning setback to the country's evolution.
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written by Spear Bing, September 21, 2008 13:18:26

Conventional wisdom reminds us that we should be forgiving and move forward rather than back-peddling the past despical events like "bathing the keris in chinese blood', 'balik China' 'balik India'. We thought we could just ignore themand move on.

But no sooner than everytime when UMNO leaders have repented and made amends, then comes along another UMNO honcho who seemed to be idenitying himself with his despical ego, and made a slur against Chinese Malaysian being the Jews of America. And his supporter ran 'amok' and tore the former Penang CM.

Truthfully, this only reflects the deeper wound of the UMNO's psyche. It's archetypal unconsciousness of UMNO's political culture.

God knows when will they ever learn?
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written by elaine7an, September 21, 2008 14:57:04

We should emulate the attitudes of our brother's and sister's in Sabah.
To them they are all Sabahans. There is no chinese, malay, indians, ibans or kadazans there. Ask them "What are you" and the automatic proud reply is "I am a Sabahan!" When you quiz them further, all you will get is a look of confusion! Race doesn't even come into their minds!

We are all Malaysians. Screw being chinese indians malays or whatever! First thing we should do is get rid of all the RACE & RELIGION boxes that are in all the forms. We don't need RACE or RELIGION in our psychographics anymore! It is enough to know if you are a Malaysian or not.
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written by Sudahlah tu, September 21, 2008 15:13:11

Kita ..rakyat Malaysia telah lama diKAMIkan oleh sistem pendidikan negara.
Kita diajarkan KAMI dari segi budaya, adat resam, kepercayaan dan segala aspek serta ciri-ciri kaum masing-masing.
Kita dicerminkan sebagai menghormati sesama satu sama lain, akan tetapi disebalik semua ini .. terdpat unsul-unsul pemecahan kaum dan menyuntik perasaan 'tidak sihat' di antara KITA.
Saya tidak begitu setuju dengan penyampaian mata pelajaran secara membahagi dan menawan oleh kerajaan.
Kita selalu diingatkan akan KAMI... dan kalaulah hakikat ini diteruskan oleh kerajaan ..sampai bila-bilapun KITA tidak akan tercapai.
Kini ..terpulanglah kepada kami semua untuk menetukan KITA boleh tercapai demi cinta KAMI kepada negara KITA.
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written by asguard, September 21, 2008 16:16:52

Maybe you should umno what they have been doing all this while since from independence day till now for some answers to all the mis used of power...
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written by Midvalley, September 21, 2008 16:44:32

We can do everythings under the sun this govt. will NEVER CHANGE because this the way they want it DEEEEP DOWN in their heart ( maybe don't have heart)there know but this is thw way to stay in power and enRICH themselves for me I JUST DON'T CARE LET ABOUT THIS COUNTRY BECAUSE i AM A THIRD CLASS CITRIZEN LET MALAYSIA ROT. ROT untils they become become the poorest country in the world in 25 years from now.
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written by hakuna, September 21, 2008 17:07:33

A thought provoking article into the essence of being Malaysian.

The Great Onn Jaafar - a man of great wisdom formed a multiracial party out of his principles for the betterment of Malaysia but the idiots today are so ingrained with race that the politicians use without blinking. Reckon our blood group should be recategorised into Malay blood, Chinese blood and all else instead A, AB,B,O or even Bombay Blood and all transfussion should be carried out according to race. A superior RACE? Ha!Ha!
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