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18 March 2014

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I cannot express enough my disgust to those who are so ready, in the absence of any proof whatsoever, to pin the blame on Captain Zaharie. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his wife and children and his family too and to tell them to remain strong in these most trying times. The same goes for all the passengers and crew of flight MH370.

Casting aspersions on his character and making unfounded insinuations about Captain Zaharie’s support for my political cause being a probable reason for the disappearance of flight MH370 is not only reckless and insensitive but in the absence of any proof, is highly defamatory. In relation to me, these insinuations and innuendoes are of course part of the routine character assassination campaign carried out against me by government and UMNO-controlled media.

Meantime, many questions have been raised regarding not just the competency of the authorities in the investigations but also the sheer lack of transparency. What is it that the authorities are hiding that is making them so paranoid about letting others help in the investigation? It should be noted too that the Opposition’s attempt to move a motion in Parliament to discuss MH370 was flatly rejected.

Anwar Ibrahim

26 January 2014

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SPECIAL ADDRESS TO MALAYSIANS
26 JANUARY 2014

Let’s work towards a national consensus

1. It has been just over four months since we last celebrated Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day. Just celebrating them as a festivity doesn’t mean much if we miss the bigger picture.

2. I cannot overemphasise the importance of this bigger picture.

3. That is why I am taking this opportunity to address not just all of you present here this afternoon but to all Malaysians at home and abroad today.

4. By all Malaysians I mean exactly that – regardless of race, religion, cultural group or mother tongue; regardless of whether you are from the Peninsula or from Sabah and Sarawak; and regardless of your political affiliation.

5. It does not matter whether you are with Pakatan Rakyat or with Barisan Nasional, or that you are with neither party, nor that you are independent or even totally apolitical, I want to reach out to all with this message.

6. It is a message conceived in love for the nation and not in hate against anyone. It is a message raised on the altar of hope, not on the ruins of despair. And it is a message for all of us including myself to take home and share with our family, our neighbours and our friends so that we may move forward.

7. At the outset, I mentioned celebrating Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day and what it entails for it to be truly meaningful. First and foremost, it is a celebration of the fundamental liberties enshrined in our Federal Constitution, a document of statehood agreed to by our founding fathers attendant upon our gaining independence.

8. This constitution is not just a piece of paper. It is a sovereign document brought into existence as a result of the social compact of our leaders representing the diverse communities in this blessed country of ours.

9. It guarantees our right to life and liberty, to freedom of speech, assembly and association. It prescribes equality of all citizens before the law and guarantees freedom of religion.

10. These provisions form the sub-stratum of our Malaysian identity, an identity made up of a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. These principles must be respected by all communities, whether they comprise the majority or they constitute minorities. They must be honoured by the politicians in word and deed whether they are in power or whether they are in the opposition. Similarly, all civil society groups, NGOs, and all the organs of state must abide by these constitutional safeguards.

11. The Malaysian identity as a nation of peoples can only be as good as the cohesiveness of this very plural society of ours. Take this unity and sense of togetherness away and we will take away our identity as Malaysians.

12. So, indeed, after 56 years of independence one would expect that this cohesiveness is not only in existence but should be growing stronger by the day. Unfortunately though, there has been particularly in the last few months, a series of circumstances and developments that collectively are fast eroding the cohesiveness that is so crucial to our identity.

13. In fact, these developments appear to be reaching a crescendo that threatens to tear the very fabric of our unity apart. Of course, we have not reached the tipping point yet but as they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

14. And we cannot be vigilant enough here. That is because what we are seeing today are all kinds of attempts by certain quarters to take this nation to the brink.

15. In fact, we have not seen this building up of tension since the events leading up to our national tragedy of May 13th 1969. The voices of hate and animosity, the voices of prejudice and suspicion, and the voices of wreck and ruin are attempting to drown out the harmony, cooperation and understanding that we have managed to build on the ruins of this tragedy.

16. I call on you, my fellow Malaysians to rise up and let your voices be heard. Let your voice of mutual respect and goodwill, your voice of understanding and trust, and your voice of unity and integration prevail over these voices of hatred, rancour, hostility and destruction.

17. We must turn the corner from the path of increasing polarization to the path of greater integration. We must stop the race-baiting, put an end to this disease of incitement to religious intolerance and hatred and join our hands in unity and togetherness.

18. Leaders from both sides of the political divide must put aside all partisan concerns and show real leadership in easing the tension and work towards ameliorating the situation.

19. Indeed, the time has come for all of us to reach a national consensus on these crucial issues that impact the sub-stratum of our identity as a nation.

20. In line with the spirit of the constitution, all parties must cease questioning the paramount position of Islam as the religion of the Federation.

21. In reaffirming the position of Islam and recognizing that Muslims make up the majority of the population, we must reject the notion that Islam is under threat. We must reject the notion that there is some sinister conspiracy to replace Islam as the religion of the Federation with some other religion.

22. We must at the same time give due recognition to the same constitutional safeguards on all the other religions in the land. We are a nation of communities comprising a plurality of faiths. In this regard, Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and practitioners of ethnic religions must be accorded their constitutional freedom to practise their religion in the manner of their choosing.

23. In working towards this consensus, let us remain focussed on the other things that really matter to us as a nation going forward.

24. Let us work together to tackle the issues of governance, transparency and accountability. Whether it is at the Federal or state levels, let us resolve to stamp out the cancer of corruption which still plagues us.

25. The problem of rising prices recognises no partisan boundaries. So, let us channel our energies to enhancing the welfare of the rakyat and formulating practical solutions to lighten their burden.

26. Instead of fighting figments of our imagination, let us help our police fight crime and make our homes, our schools, our shopping complexes safer.

27. It is morally incumbent on us, particularly those of us who have been elected by the people to represent them, to go beyond partisan lines and come to a national consensus on how to move the nation forward.

28. Duty towards the nation, even greater than duty to party, impels us to take up the challenge. We must strengthen our resolve and summon all our moral courage to see this through.

Thank you.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

31 December 2013

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The results for the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that were presented in early December showed that of the 10 countries that topped the performance, not one of them is a Muslim country. As a matter of fact, of the final results tabled, not one Muslim country was placed in the top 40.

Half a million pupils in 65 countries and local administrations were tested in the three core areas of mathematics, science and reading. Shanghai scored the best result with 613, followed by Singapore and Japan.

With the exception of Turkey which took the 43rd spot scoring the highest among the Muslim countries followed by UAE, of the rest of the Muslim countries that took part such as Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar, Jordan, Tunisia and Indonesia, suffice to say that they were placed within the bottom 50 and 60 jostling with Columbia, Peru and Albania for the award of worst performer!

Before anyone jumps the gun by blaming this OECD study as essentially biased and Eurocentric, let us be reminded the top three performers are Asian. It is indeed noteworthy that the results for 2012, 2010, and the 2009 Assessment showed that Shanghai students scored the highest in all categories.

According to the OECD, this study considers Shanghai a pioneer of educational reform, having transformed their approach to education. Instead of focusing merely on the elite, it appears they have adopted a more inclusive system. In other words, the democratization of access to quality education is a key factor.

Below is the table for the 2012 results:

Programme for International Student Assessment (2012)
Maths Sciences Reading
1 Shanghai, China 613 1 Shanghai, China 580 1 Shanghai, China 570
2 Singapore 573 2 Hong Kong, China 555 2 Hong Kong, China 545
3 Hong Kong, China 561 3 Singapore 551 3 Singapore 542
4 Taiwan 560 4 Japan 547 4 Japan 538
5 South Korea 554 5 Finland 545 5 South Korea 536
6 Macau, China 538 6 Estonia 541 6 Finland 524
7 Japan 536 7 South Korea 538 7 Taiwan 523
8 Liechtenstein 535 8 Vietnam 528 8 Canada 523
9 Switzerland 531 9 Poland 526 9 Ireland 523
10 Netherlands 523 10 Liechtenstein 525 10 Poland 518
11 Estonia 521 11 Canada 525 11 Liechtenstein 516
12 Finland 519 12 Germany 524 12 Estonia 516
13 Canada 518 13 Taiwan 523 13 Australia 512
14 Poland 518 14 Netherlands 522 14 New Zealand 512
15 Belgium 515 15 Ireland 522 15 Netherlands 511
16 Germany 514 16 Macau, China 521 16 Macau, China 509
17 Vietnam 511 17 Australia 521 17 Switzerland 509
18 Austria 506 18 New Zealand 516 18 Belgium 509
19 Australia 504 19 Switzerland 515 19 Germany 508
20 Ireland 501 20 Slovenia 514 20 Vietnam 508
21 Slovenia 501 21 United Kingdom 514 21 France 505
22 Denmark 500 22 Czech Republic 508 22 Norway 504
23 New Zealand 500 23 Austria 506 23 United Kingdom 499
24 Czech Republic 499 24 Belgium 505 24 United States 498
25 France 495 25 Latvia 502 25 Denmark 496
26 United Kingdom 494 26 France 499 26 Czech Republic 493
27 Iceland 493 27 Denmark 498 27 Austria 490
28 Latvia 491 28 United States 497 28 Italy 490
29 Luxembourg 490 29 Spain 496 29 Latvia 489
30 Norway 489 30 Lithuania 496 30 Luxembourg 488
31 Portugal 487 31 Norway 495 31 Portugal 488
32 Italy 485 32 Italy 494 32 Spain 488
33 Spain 484 33 Hungary 494 33 Hungary 488
34 Russia 482 34 Luxembourg 491 34 Israel 486
35 Slovakia 482 35 Croatia 491 35 Croatia 485
36 United States 481 36 Portugal 489 36 Iceland 483
37 Lithuania 479 37 Russia 486 37 Sweden 483
38 Sweden 478 38 Sweden 485 38 Slovenia 481
39 Hungary 477 39 Iceland 478 39 Lithuania 477
40 Croatia 471 40 Slovakia 471 40 Greece 477
41 Israel 466 41 Israel 470 41 Russia 475
42 Greece 453 42 Greece 467 42 Turkey 475
43 Serbia 449 43 Turkey 463 43 Slovakia 463
44 Turkey 448 44 UAE 448 44 Cyprus 449
45 Romania 445 45 Bulgaria 446 45 Serbia 446
46 Cyprus 440 46 Serbia 445 46 UAE 442
47 Bulgaria 439 47 Chile 445 47 Thailand 441
48 UAE 434 48 Thailand 444 48 Chile 441
49 Kazakhstan 432 49 Romania 439 49 Costa Rica 441
50 Thailand 427 50 Cyprus 438 50 Romania 438
51 Chile 423 51 Costa Rica 429 51 Bulgaria 436
52 Malaysia 421 52 Kazakhstan 425 52 Mexico 424
53 Mexico 413 53 Malaysia 420 53 Montenegro 422
54 Montenegro 410 54 Uruguay 416 54 Uruguay 411
55 Uruguay 409 55 Mexico 415 55 Brazil 410
56 Costa Rica 407 56 Montenegro 410 56 Tunisia 404
57 Albania 394 57 Jordan 409 57 Colombia 403
58 Brazil 391 58 Argentina 406 58 Jordan 399
59 Argentina 388 59 Brazil 405 59 Malaysia 398
60 Tunisia 388 60 Colombia 399 60 Argentina 396
61 Jordan 386 61 Tunisia 398 61 Indonesia 396
62 Colombia 376 62 Albania 397 62 Albania 394
63 Qatar 376 63 Qatar 384 63 Kazakhstan 393
64 Indonesia 375 64 Indonesia 382 64 Qatar 388
65 Peru 368 65 Peru 373 65 Peru 384
                 

 

Take-home lessons

If we take ourselves off the intellectual pedestal, let us ask what lessons we can take home from this study, apart from other indicators in different studies.

Firstly, there is no basis for the conventional argument that because Muslim students have to attend extra classes for religious studies over and above the routine academic lessons in the schools, they have less time to study and prepare for exams and hence perform not as well as non-Muslim students. In Malaysia, for example, Chinese students who also attend extra classes for Chinese-based subjects over and above the national-type syllabus do just as well in both.

Pedagogy and quality of teaching

Finland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland were among the best of the European nations. Studies have shown that students from Finland produced very good results in various subjects when compared to students from the United States and other countries. This was attributed mainly to the fact that in Finland, the very best graduates were recruited to become teachers.

Also important is the question of content and curriculum, including pedagogy. The quality of teachers is a matter of concern. The teaching profession needs to be given greater priority by the state.  A proper incentive scheme must be introduced and to restore the profession to its earlier recognition. As it stands, apart from infrastructure constraints, Muslim countries suffer from a shortage of good teachers. But the issues should be more than that just a question of material resources.

Spending on education

The conventional belief that greater spending on education would yield better performance was also shown to be not always true. Thus, the analysis of the 2003 results showed that Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan and South Korea, which had spent less on education than the United States actually did better. While this should not be taken as an excuse to spend less on education, allocation of such funds for Muslim countries must be beefed up with the rider that the resources are to be spent effectively.

Governance

The issue of governance remains a serious problem in Muslim countries. For example, cases of misappropriation of funds allocated for poorer students continue to be a source of embarrassment. Poor governance also breeds corruption which then leads to wastages and leakages. Where financial resources get mis-channelled or misused, schools suffer and students become victims.

Bad governance in the running of schools also impacts on the quality of teaching when for example school authorities haphazardly transfer teachers to other areas without considering the effect on both the teaching and the teachers themselves.

Confucian ethic

Yet another lesson is probably the obvious one considering that the top three performances are connected one way or the other to the Confucian model of learning. Surely, Muslim countries should be able to draw some lessons from this phenomenon. Muslim intellectuals worth their salt must get off their high horse and study the Confucian model, adapt it according to Muslim requirements, if need be, and start preaching a culture of diligence in the pursuit of knowledge. The defensive response about reminding people of Islam’s glorious history of learning and advancements in science serves no purpose if all it does is encourage us to rest on past laurels.

Conclusion

While it is known that Muslim countries are facing a crisis in higher education, this study is significant in showing that even in the formative mid-secondary school stage, we are seeing a crisis of alarming proportions. The fact of the matter is that Muslim countries are occupying the bottom rungs in higher education and advancement in science and technology. The PISA results are therefore a precursor to worse things to come.

Failure to take immediate remedial action may lead to a deeper crisis. In this regard, we call on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take the lead in addressing this problem.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

27th December, 2013

12 December 2013

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Keynote address by Anwar Ibrahim at the Symposium on “Reform of Higher Education in Muslim Societies,” organized by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) on December 9-10, 2013 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.

Introduction

The crisis in higher education in Muslim societies is manifested in myriad ways not the least of which are impacting socioeconomic development. Among the root causes of the crisis are those related to choice, content, quality and financial resources and issues of governance.

It is said that Islamic education has not progressed much from its traditional form with its emphasis on Qur’anic and Hadith studies and while other societies have transformed their systems, Muslim countries are still grappling with the challenges of integrating within modern education.

Another major concern is the accessibility of education to the people. The need to democratize access to education has been canvassed for some time but this has remained a long-standing problem in Muslim countries.

It is obvious that the traditional system, without more, is unable to meet the needs of contemporary Muslim societies what with the additional pressures of globalization and the increasing need for education to produce problem-solving capacities. I believe all these issues are being discoursed in our two-day symposium and as such I shall confine my address today to the conceptual issues pertaining to the ummah and the intellectual crisis.

The economics of education

To begin with, there is a general perception in the discourse among many Muslim scholars that Western education and philosophy is secular and bereft of an ethical and moral dimension. To my mind, this is unfounded.

In John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, it is clear that the driving concern is morality which for him, “is the one area apart from mathematics wherein human reasoning can attain a level of rational certitude.”[1]

In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which debunks the notion of him being the free market fundamentalist, Adam Smith asserts:

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.

Expounding his moral philosophy, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen is of the view that Adam Smith has two fundamental propositions on the functioning of the economic system in general, and of the market in particular. The first principle, being epistemological, is that human beings are not guided only by self-gain or even prudence. The second is one of practical reason: That there are good ethical and practical grounds for encouraging motives other than self-interest.

According to Professor Sen, Smith argues that while “prudence” was “of all virtues that which is most helpful to the individual”, “humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit, are the qualities most useful to others”.

The point is that these are principles about which “unfortunately, a big part of modern economics gets both of them wrong in interpreting Smith.” Making him out as an advocate of pure capitalism, with complete reliance on the market mechanism guided by pure profit motive, is altogether misconceived.[2]

So, it appears that the misperceptions are not only pervasive among Muslim scholars but even among Western scholars in this regard, Smith – the icon of ‘capitalism’ – has been seriously misread.

Coming back to our original concern, I believe these ‘moral sentiments’ are not at loggerheads with Islamic precepts. After all, the guiding principle in political economy as summed up by al-Marhum Ismail al-F?r?q? is that economic action is the expression of Islam’s spirituality: The economy of the ummah and its good health are of the essence of Islam just as Islam’s spirituality is inexistent without just economic action.[3]

According to al-F?r?q?, if charity is to serve as a tool of religion whose purpose is the well-being of mankind, then it must have for its object goods of economic value. Religion, therefore, seeks to subject Man’s economic behaviour to the norms of morality. Islam, the religion of world-affirmation par excellence, seeks to order human life so as to make it actualize the pattern intended for it by its Creator. Hence the Islamic dictum: Inna al din al mu’amalah (Religion is indeed man’s treatment of his fellows).[4]

In looking at the economics of education, while the profit motive may be a legitimate factor, it cannot be driven purely by self-gain. On the contrary in line with the Islamic dictum on charity as expounded by al-F?r?q?, where the purpose of religion is the well-being of mankind, the promotion of education must be conducted as a virtue at par with such other virtues as “humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit.”

Going back to first principles

It is important to remind ourselves that Muslim societies will not be able to progress by merely resting on the laurels of its time honoured labels. It is doubtful indeed that anything productive can emerge from the exercise of finding fault with the Western systems. The crisis in higher education – and for that matter, crisis in education at all levels – is most acute in Muslim countries, not in the West.

In fact, in the West, much less is said about the need for moral rectitude and ethical behaviour in education, yet the universities are at the forefront in producing the most sought after graduates, and in research and development. In saying this, I am not suggesting that moral rectitude and ethical behaviour in education are irrelevant but that this has to be seen in deed and action, not in proclamation of intentions.

In analysing the causes of the decline of the ummah be it in the field of education or any other field of significance, we should do away with the defensive mind-set that seems to have exemplified Muslim writers. Though Islamophobia is indeed a real problem, it is nevertheless not a cause or a factor that may be legitimately linked to the decline.

In this regard, going back to first principles is a better recourse. The Qur’an reminds us:

“Similar situations [as yours] have passed on before you, so proceed throughout the earth and observe how was the end of those who denied.” (Ali Imran: 137)

It is clear that much can be learned from the lessons of history. Malik Bennabi’s central thesis is indeed relevant concerning the need for original ideas and that a vibrant progressive society may emerge only if it can break free from the tradition of intellectual retardation.[5]

Bennabi tells us that a society’s wealth is not measured by material possessions but by ideas and that it is only from creative ideas alone that great strides in civilization were made.[6]

In the area of scientific and technological advancement, it bears recalling that Bennabi was already advocating the importance of the inculcation of skills and competencies in all fields as well as vocational and technical training for the ummah. And this is absolutely essential for the ummah to move ahead with the times.[7]

Education, rationality and ijtihad

Education must proceed on the basis of rationality and with that ijtihad. I am using this term in the sense as explained by Al-F?r?q?, where he has said:

As a methodical principle, rationalism is constitutive of the essence of Islamic civilization. … Rationalism does not mean the priority of reason over revelation but the rejection of any ultimate contradiction between them.[8]

Al-F?r?q? presented Islam as the religion par excellence of reason, science, and progress with a strong emphasis on action and the work ethic. Any suggestion that the advocacy of rationality in the articulation of educational policies and principles is grounded in secular thinking is therefore without foundation.[9]

For the advancement of the ummah, Al-F?r?q? advocates the fundamental processes of tajdid and islah in order to renew and reform the educational system.

To move ahead with the changing times is not tantamount to abandoning first principles or a rejection of tradition. Professor Naquib al-Attas, always mindful of the need to reassert the primacy of Islam as an intellectual tradition, persuasively argues that real modern education cannot be separated from the categories of knowledge fundamental to the Islamic tradition whereas contemporary modern knowledge should be freed from its secular-bound interpretations.[10]

To al-Attas, the major cause of not just of the crisis of Muslim education but the general retrogression of the ummah is the failure to inculcate ta?dib, which is the cultivation of the inner dimensions of the self, centering on the spirit of knowledge and education.

To my mind, and in this regard, it might constitute a contrarian view, rather than viewing it as a clash of views, I see a convergence of approaches between al-F?r?q? and al-Attas. If I may use the analogy of the Baytu l-?ar?m, there are various entrances to the holiest of holy sites in Islam but by which ever entrance used, the ultimate destination remains the Ka’aba. In both their approaches, we can discern a unified concern for the revivification of Islamic knowledge and thought.

That concern was not entirely new. From the time of Muhammad ‘Abduh, the call for change was couched in the language of modernity. Even back then there was the suspicion of ‘Abduh attempting to introduce secularism through the back door of ijtih?d but we know that such allegations are misconceived. On the contrary, what ‘Abduh did was to subject the moral and epistemological premises of secular modernity to scrutiny and he came to the conclusion that Islam’s modernity was both non-Western and non-secular.[11]

Allama Iqbal reminded us of the inadequacy of fiqh for the requirements of his time and called for ijtih?d. In doing so, he rightly cautioned that in the area of legislation for the State, ijtih?d should be undertaken as a collective enterprise and not individuals going on their own ways.[12]

Nevertheless, it would be timely to reconsider the constraints on the adoption of the ijtihad, including those advocated by Iqbal, removing them and allowing the doctrine to apply beyond legal matters into the realm of everyday life.

In this regard, we are in complete agreement with Sheikh Taha’s call for the revival of knowledge based on divine revelation against blind imitation of supposedly modern curricula in all areas of education where the dissemination of knowledge appears to be deliberately divorced from Islam’s core values.[13]

One must not forget that taqlid can also refer to blind imitation of the West and falling prey, even subconsciously, to the influence of the biases latent in the language of discourse. Hence, the need to propound alternative views and articulate a greater degree of independent thinking.[14]

The caveat against blind adoption of liberal views was sounded by Fazlur Rahman: “Universal values are the crux of the being of a society: the debate about the relativity of moral values in a society is born of a liberalism that in the process of liberalisation has become so perverted as to destroy those very moral values that it set out to liberate from the constraints of dogma.”[15]

A tentative prescription in the tradition of IIIT

In formulating a new prescription for Muslims one can do no better than to echo the calls made in the tradition of the International Institute of Islamic Thought on the Islamization of knowledge as pioneered by al-Marhum Ismail al-F?r?q?. I use the word ‘echo’ deliberately with the rider that a fresh interpretation is called for in order to do justice to the purport of this approach. This fresh interpretation is in tandem with the commitment to the core values of Islam.

In my humble view, this is necessary because in failing to do justice to these fundamental principles, certain scholars and ulema have confounded the plain message of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. They call for the adoption of the Shari’ah without a deeper understanding of the maqasid, giving preference to scholastic views and speculative opinions, many of which rely on unauthentic hadith and a skewered understanding of hudud law.[16] Indeed, this is clearly contrary to the clear message of the Qur’an:

“This [Qur'an] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allah.” (Ali Imran: 138)

Though we would expect it to be taken for granted, yet it is imperative to remind ourselves that the Qur??n is more than just a moral code. Indeed it is a universal guide for the community. If we take the definition of education as a social extension of culture and culture as a definitive or core ingredient of civilization, then this approach of the Islamization of knowledge will lead to a truly holistic adoption of Islam’s core values. This indeed will be the best answer to the question what is the Islamic weltanschauung:

“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (Ali Imran: 110)

Secondly, to my mind, there is some substance in the observation that in the current approach to the Islamization of knowledge endeavour, there is a preponderance of focus on the social sciences while the crisis of the ummah in practical terms can be traced to it being technologically and scientifically lagging behind the non-Muslim communities.[17]

The project should therefore be broadened to attract more scholars and participants from the physical sciences and in time this will add a more balanced critical mass to the intellectual force. After all, the Bayt al-Hikmah of the Golden Age of Islam gave birth to not just philosophers but eminent scientists. In fact, the bifurcation between the two was not the norm as the holistic pursuit of knowledge saw the genesis of “philosopher-scientists” competent in a wide spectrum of intellectual disciplines.[18] At the core of this focus, I believe, is the divine injunction on the use of the intellectual faculty.

Thus, the Qur’an enjoins the use of reason to ascertain the truth as provided by the senses, and truth grounded on revelation:

“And He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth – all from Him. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (al-Jathiyah:13)

Finally, we must consider it a jihad to free ourselves from a new shroud of ignorance that has been cast upon the ummah. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali reminds us that “ignorance combined with bigotry and caprice are a great misfortune.” The antidote to this is the pursuit of knowledge which will widen our horizons and strengthen our resolve and will-power for individuals as well as communities.[19]

Thank you.


[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy –  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-moral/ An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, in P.H. Nidditch (ed.), An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, based on the fourth edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.

[2] http://www.newstatesman.com/ideas/2010/04/smith-market-essay-sentiments

[3] Ismail Raji al Faruqi, Al Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life, 2nd ed., Herndon: IIIT, 1992, p. 157

[4] Ibid. at p.170

[5] Badrane Benlahcene, The Socio-Intellectual Foundations of Malek Bennabi’s Approach To Civilisation, IIIT, 2011

[6] Malik Bennabi, Mushkilat al Afkar fil Alam al Islami, trans. M Ali, Cairo: Maktabat Amar, 1971, 56

[7] Abdulaziz Berghout, The Concept of Culture and Cultural Transformation: Views of Malik Bennabi, Intellectual Discourse, 2001 Vol. 9, No 1, pp. 78-79

[8] Ismail R. al Faruqi and Lois Lamya al Faruqi, Cultural Atlas of Islam, Macmillan Publishing Company: New York, 1986, pp.78-79

[9] Islam and Knowledge: Al Faruqi’s Concept Of Religion In Islamic Thought, ed. Imtiyaz Yusuf, I.B. Tauris in association with IIIT and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington 2012

[10] Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam: An Exposition of the Fundamental Elements of the Worldview of Islam, Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, 1995

[11] Tradition and Modernity – Christian and Muslim Perspectives, ed. David Marshall, Georgetown University Press, 2013, Chapter on “Muhammad ‘Abduh – A Sufi-inspired Modernist?” by Vincent J. Cornell p.108

[12] Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Kitab Bhavan, 2000

[13] Taha J. al-Alwani, Islamic Thought: An Approach To Reform

[14] Epistemological Bias in the Physical & Social Sciences, Edited by A. M. Elmessiri, IIIT

[15] Liberal Islam – A Sourcebook, ed. Charles Kruzman, Oxford University Press, 1998, Ch. 31 on Fazlur Rahman’s Islam and Modernity p.317

[16] Mohammad Omar Farooq, Toward Our Reformation: From Legalism to Value-Oriented Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, IIIT, 2011

[17] Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, “Islamization of Knowledge: A Critical Overview”, Islamic Studies Vol. 30, No. 3 (Autumn 1991), pp. 387-400

[18] Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “The Teaching of Philosophy.” In Philosophy, Literature, and Fine Arts, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, pp. 3–21. Islamic Education Series. Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, 1982

[19] Shaykh  Muhammad al-Ghazali, A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an, trans. Ashur A. Shamis, rev. Zaynab Alawiye, IIIT, 2000, pp. 516-517

1 December 2013

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Saya telah menerima pandangan semua pihak mengenai kenaikan gaji yang melibatkan wakil rakyat Selangor. Saya juga telah mendapat penjelasan dari YAB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim mengenai rasional kenaikan gaji tersebut.

Pun begitu, KEADILAN sebagai parti yang membawa semangat reformasi perlu terus sensitif dengan kesempitan hidup yang dihadapi rakyat terbanyak.

Oleh itu, setelah berbincang dengan YAB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, saya bersetuju bahawa satu Tabung Pendidikan KEADILAN Anak Selangor akan ditubuhkan bertujuan mengagihkan biasiswa pendidikan kecil dan mengendalikan program pendidikan terutamanya di peringkat sekolah menengah dan pra-universiti.

Setiap wakil rakyat KEADILAN akan menyumbang RM1,000 sebulan atau 20% dari jumlah kenaikan gaji bulanan yang diumumkan untuk membiayai pemberian biasiswa kecil dan program pendidikan di bawah Tabung Pendidikan KEADILAN Anak Selangor.

Jumlah sumbangan wakil-wakil rakyat KEADILAN dari Selangor kelak dijangka mencecah setengah juta setahun dari kenaikan gaji mereka yang dapat membantu keluarga berpendapatan rendah dalam bidang pendidikan.

Anwar Ibrahim
Ketua Umum KEADILAN

24 November 2013

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Yahoo.com

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) (AFP) – A notorious Malaysian wildlife trafficker dubbed the “Lizard King” for his smuggling of endangered reptiles is back in business, according to an Al Jazeera report that prompted outraged wildlife activists on Friday to demand action.

Anson Wong was arrested in August 2010 at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport while attempting to smuggle 95 endangered boa constrictors to Indonesia.

He was sentenced to five years in jail, but a Malaysian appeals court freed him in 2012, sparking an outcry.

Malaysian authorities had said in the wake of Wong’s arrest that his licences for legitimate wildlife trading were revoked.

But, in an investigative report, Al Jazeera said Wong and his wife Cheah Bing Shee were believed to be trading albino pythons and other wildlife from their base in the northern Malaysian state of Penang.

Trade in the pythons requires a permit, said the report by the Qatar-based network, which saw journalist Steve Chao go undercover to talk with wildlife dealers and associates of Wong’s.

The report, called “Return of the Lizard King” and aired late Thursday, said documents also revealed shell companies used by Wong to hide his activities.

Illegal trade in wildlife is thought to be worth at least $19 billion a year worldwide, according to conservation groups.

Outraged conservationists demanded action from the government and expressed shock over the lax attitude by the authorities for failing to monitor Wong.

“The ‘Return of the Lizard King’ raises so many doubts and questions about Malaysia’s commitment to that fight. It is time we had some solid answers from government,” Shenaaz Khan, an official with wildlife-trade monitoring network Traffic, said in a statement.

Traffic views the revelations about Wong’s post-prison activities with deep concern, and seeks a credible explanation on his apparent ability to continue trading wildlife despite government promises to the contrary, she said.

In Penang, Al Jazeera’s Chao confronted Wong on camera, but he declined to comment.

Several of Wong’s former associates also claimed that corrupt customs officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Madagascar were helping to facilitate Wong’s activities, the report said.

In a press release, Al Jazeera said Chao and his team worked with anti-trafficking groups to track Wong’s Malaysian-based operation.

Kadir Hashim, enforcement director of Malaysia’s wildlife department, confirmed Wong’s permits remained revoked.

“The department is investigating both” Wong and Cheah, he said in an e-mail response to an AFP inquiry, without elaborating further.

Wong is described by wildlife groups as one of the world’s most active smugglers of wild animals.

He was sentenced to 71 months in jail in the United States in 2001 after pleading guilty to trafficking in endangered reptiles.

Despite efforts by Southeast Asian authorities to crack down on animal smuggling, the practice persists and poses a threat to a number of threatened species, conservationists say.

18 October 2013

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Herald Sun

Malaysian students in Adelaide have been warned off going to hear Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim during the Adelaide Festival of Ideas on Saturday.

An email sent on Monday to 90 Malaysian students in Adelaide warns “stern action” would be taken against them if they attended.

Anwar Ibrahim, who is due to fly in to Adelaide on Friday morning is world famous as a reforming politician in Malaysia, where he has been harassed and jailed on successive charges of homosexuality and sodomy, which he denies.

He is Leader of the Opposition in Malaysia and was invited to the Festival of Ideas to speak on Dissent and Democracy.

The email is addressed to JPA scholars, those who have received scholarships to study here funded by Malaysia’s Public Service Department.

The email is signed by Shahrezan MD Sheriff, student adviser at the Public Service Department, and advises students not to attend the meeting.

It reads: “You are smarter to think and focus on what matters rather than joining this activity that could make your hardship in maintaining good grades and earning the scholarship goes down the drain (sic).”

While the email’s authorship has not been confirmed and Shahrezan MD Sheriff did not return calls to the JPA office at the Malaysian Consulate, based in Sydney, it has caused consternation both in Australia and Malaysia.

The visit of Anwar Ibrahim was organised by the Festival of Ideas, together with the State Government, Flinders University and Senator Nick Xenophon.

Mr Xenophon said he had no doubt the email was real.

“When I first saw it I thought it was a hoax, but there’s no denial of it,” he said.

“This is not unusual. This is the story of intimidation that Malaysian students face all the time and now they are extending their harassment to Australia.

“That’s unacceptable, and that’s why I am about to send a letter to the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about this because this is clearly intimidatory.”

Professor Clinton Fernandez, a Canberra-based expert on Malaysia, said ASIO should also be called in to investigate.

“This is clearly an intrusion in Australia’s domestic affairs and if he is employed by the Malaysian Government (Shahrezan) should be deported,” he said.

Mr Xenophon, who described Ibrahim as a beacon of hope for democracy in Malaysia and the entire South East Asian region, was himself deported and banned from Malaysia earlier this year.

The threatening email was greeted with derision on chat sites of the Anwar Ibrahim Club, both for its poor English and for its threatening tone. “We aren’t stupid anymore. Go to hell, government!” says one.

Mr Anwar’s official engagement is to appear in conversation with ABC broadcaster Waleed Aly at Elder Hall on Saturday, October 19 at 11.30am, hosted by Senator Nick Xenophon. Entry is free.

However, separate meetings have been organised in the city tomorrow and at Bradford Lodge, an international student hostel in Rose Park by the Anwar Ibrahim Club and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia Adelaide on Saturday night.

It was not clear whether the threatening email was referring specifically to one or all of those events.

The 9th Adelaide Festival of Ideas continues until Sunday.

14 September 2013

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Press Advisory:

13 September 2013 (Bangkok, Thailand) -­- Justice Elizabeth Evatt AC, the first female judge to be appointed to an Australian Federal Court, a former member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and a commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), will be observing the hearing of the appeal of Anwar Ibrahim’s case from 17 to 18 September 2013 at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya. The ICJ, a global organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, is composed of judges and lawyers who aim to promote and protect human rights through the rule of law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.

Anwar Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician and is currently the leader of the opposition party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, and the opposition alliance known as Pakatan Rakyat. The appeal hearing that Justice Elizabeth Evatt will be observing emerged from the 2008 charges filed against Anwar Ibrahim immediately after the general elections held that year. He was charged for allegedly committing sodomy, which is a crime under Section 377B of the Penal Code and carries the penalty of up to 20 years of imprisonment and whipping. The High Court acquitted Anwar Ibrahim on 9 January 2012.

This is the second time that Anwar Ibrahim is facing sodomy charges after his dismissal from the Malaysian Cabinet in 1998. In 2004, The ICJ also sent a representative to observe the sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim, where the Federal Court overturned the High Court decision to convict him. The ICJ called the Federal Court’s ruling “a step in the right direction in upholding the rule of law”.

Justice Evatt’s mandate as ICJ’s high-­level observer to the appeal hearing includes monitoring the fairness of the proceedings against Anwar Ibrahim in the light of relevant international standards. These standards include, among others the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of Judges, which set out standards on the independence and impartiality of judges, and the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, which set out standards on the independence of prosecutors. Justice Evatt will also be evaluating whether the prosecution under Section 377B of the Malaysian Penal Code is being used in this case to suppress political dissent, contrary to the right to freedom of expression.

“The right to observe trials stems from the general right to promote and secure the protection and realization of human rights. Trial observation is a key tool in monitoring the respect for human rights and the rule of law. It is an effective method to examine the level of independence and impartiality of a country’s criminal justice system,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s International Legal Adviser on Southeast Asia. “Trial monitoring also serves to promote better compliance with both domestic law and international standards that aim to ensure protection of human rights, including the rights to fair trial and due process.”

For more information, please contact Ms. Emerlynne Gil, International Legal Advisor, tel. no. +662 6198477 ext. 206 or email: [email protected]

[Download original document : Press Advisory_Justice Evatt_Trial Observation_Anwar Ibrahim appeal hearing_13 September 2013.pdf]

30 August 2013

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Sekali lagi menjelang 31 Ogos, kita akan meraikan Hari Merdeka, hari yang cukup gemilang dan bermakna untuk seluruh rakyat Malaysia. Kini adalah masanya untuk kita menghimbau kembali pencapaian dan kegagalan kita dan memandang ke depan untuk hari-hari dan bulan-bulan yang mendatang. Kini adalah masanya untuk bermuhasabah dan bertanya apakah sebenarnya erti Merdeka dan apa yang boleh kita pelajari dari masa silam dan harapan di masa depan.

‘Merdeka’ memiliki makna yang lebih dalam berbanding perkataan ‘Kebebasan’. Ia bukan sekadar persoalan dibebaskan dari cengkaman penjajahan atau penindasan asing jika ianya kemudian digantikan dengan penindas di tanah air sendiri yang barangkali lebih rakus dan tamak. Merdeka bermaksud bebas dari sebarang bentuk kezaliman dan penindasan dalam apa jua bentuk dan negara dipacu ke arah baru menuju keadilan, kebebasan, demokrasi dan kemuliaan insan.

Di atas cabaran ini, ramai yang bersetuju bahawa kita masih jauh untuk mencapainya. Setelah lebih dari setengah abad, kita masih lagi bertanya samada prinsip-prinsip asas di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan masih dijunjung dan samada kebebasan dan hak-hak yang termaktub di dalamnya masih utuh dan dihormati. Justeru, apa kebaikan Merdeka seandainya asas perlembagaan dicabuli dengan sewenang-wenangnya?

Tatkala kita seharusnya meraikan perpaduan sebagai sebuah negara pelbagai kaum dan pelbagai agama yang telah menjangkau 56 tahun usia kemerdekaan, kita sebaliknya kini melihat polarisasi masyarakat yang dahsyat dan perpecahan dalam hal-hal berkaitan agama. Tanggungjawab dan peranan pemimpin politik sewajarnya menjernihkan keadaan ini namun apa yang berlaku adalah sebaliknya. Terdapat segelintir daripada mereka yang mengeruhkan lagi keadaan dengan mengeksploitasi hal-hal agama dan isu-isu sensitif untuk kepentingan mereka sendiri. Kini wujud perkembangan yang membimbangkan bila mana terdapat parti-parti politik yang mengupah kumpulan-kumpulan ‘hak istimewa’ dan media untuk meneruskan agenda mereka memecahbelah dan menyemai perbezaan di kalangan rakyat.

Kesannya, setelah 56 tahun mencapai Merdeka, berlaku lebih banyak provokasi perkauman, hasutan yang menjurus kepada kebencian terhadap agama dan secara umumnya semakin banyak ucapan dan penulisan berbaur hasutan yang disiarkan oleh media cetak. Apa yang malang adalah ia bukan sekadar kelemahan kepimpinan dalam menjernihkan keadaan, tetapi tampak seolah-olah kerajaan sedang menggalakkan fenomena ini supaya menjadi lebih parah.

Sebagai contoh, ketika pelbagai tuntutan dan bantahan dinyatakan dari kalangan rakyat prihatin dan pertubuhan-pertubuhan bukan kerajaan, kerajaan sebaliknya membenarkan juga penayangan di seluruh negara sebuah filem yang hanya akan menyajikan mesej berbaur perkauman walaupun nilai keseniannya masih boleh dipersoalkan. Di sebalik kebanggaan tentang negara, terdapat sensitiviti yang lebih besar yakni perkauman dan perasaan khalayak. Suara-suara melampau berbaur kebencian dan yang bersifat tidak toleran sedang menenggelamkan suara-suara kesederhanaan dan keterbukaan.

Peningkatan mendadak kes tembakan dan jenayah berat, rompakan dan jenayah ragut adalah hal yang membimbangkan. Manakala kita mendukung usaha pihak polis dalam memerangi dan mencegah jenayah, adalah penting juga untuk mereka melakukannya dengan menuruti proses yang sewajarnya. Semua pihak perlu bekerjasama mencari jalan penyelesaian namun demikian penggunaan undang-undang yang lebih berat bukanlah jawapannya. Perkara tersebut perlu diteliti dengan lebih menyeluruh.

Menyentuh isu tatakelola, ketelusan dan kebertanggungjawaban, rasuah kekal menjadi barah yang merisaukan kita. Merujuk kepada perkara ini, Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) mesti melaksanakan tugas mereka tanpa rasa takut dan memihak namun kita mendesak Peguam Negara supaya tidak menghalang pendakwaan yang melibatkan amalan rasuah di kalangan pimpinan atasan.

Negara kita tidak kebal daripada ribut ekononi yang melanda di sekeliling kita. Kita lebih perlu berhati-hati daripada berada di dalam keadaan tidak bersiap sedia. Kita boleh menerapkan tata kelola, hemah dan kebertanggungjawaban dalam pengurusan kewangan awam dan ekonomi kita. Kerajaan bersalah terhadap kecurangan ekonomi – menyatakan fakta yang separa benar dan memberikan statistik tidak sempurna untuk mengaburi perbelanjaan melampau yang tidak mampu lagi ditanggung oleh negara.

Penilaian Agensi Penarafan Kewangan Antarabangsa (FITCH) yang mendedahkan kemerosotan prospek ekonomi negara sewajarnya mempercepatkan kerajaan untuk bertindak lebih terbuka dalam mendepani cabaran sebenar ekonomi. Sebaliknya, kerajaan memperlekeh penilaian tersebut dan menyifatkannya sebagai kerja “penganalisa muda yang tidak mendengar pandangan kerajaan”. FITCH bukanlah satu-satunya firma penganalisa yang menyatakan kebimbangan terhadap prospek pertumbuhan ekonomi dan kesannya kepada kejutan luaran.

Terdahulu, Institut Penyelidikan Ekonomi Malaysia (MIER) telah menolak unjuran pertumbuhan 2013 daripada 5.6% sebelumnya kepada 4.8%. Bank Negara pula baru-baru ini telah mengurangkan ramalan pertumbuhan 2013 daripada 5-6% sebelumnya kepada 4.5-5%. Ini selari dengan ramalan terkini Bank Dunia untuk tahun 2013 iaitu daripada 5.6% sebelumnya kepada 5.1%. Selain daripada ancaman berganda defisit fiskal yang tinggi secara berterusan dan peningkatan hutang kerajaan secara langsung dan tidak langsung, lebihan akaun semasa kita berada pada tahap paling rendah sejak 1997. Oleh kerana kita terlalu bergantung pada nilai dan komoditi eksport yang rendah di pasaran global, kejatuhan berterusan dalam ekonomi global mewujudkan ketidaktentuan terhadap pertumbuhan kita.

Pengurangan defisit fiskal memerlukan komitmen sepenuhnya dalam membasmi rasuah daripada perolehan dan projek-projek kerajaan. Penjimatan 10% dalam perolehan dan projek-projek dengan mudah dapat diterjemahkan kepada perolehan RM20 bilion setahun (berdasarkan perolehan dan perbelanjaan tahunan projek RM200 bilion di bawah kawalan kerajaan Persekutuan).

Pengurangan hutang kerajaan dan pemotongan defisit fiskal hanya boleh dimulakan menerusi perolehan hasil kerajaan yang lebih tinggi yang diraih melalui pertumbuhan yang lebih tinggi. Malangnya pertumbuhan Malaysia akan terencat di skala 4-5% untuk seketika melainkan reformasi struktur secara menyeluruh terhadap ekonomi dilaksanakan sebaiknya dengan segera.

Di ambang ulangtahun kemerdekaan yang ke-56 ini, reformasi ekonomi bukan lagi berkisar kepada pertandingan dasar dan retorik politik. Ianya berkait dengan kepentingan negara yang seharusnya menembusi politik kepartian dan ideologi kerana kita tidak mampu untuk mundur ke belakang sedangkan negara-negara jiran kita maju ke depan.

Persoalan kepimpinan adalah amat penting dalam memacu negara ke hadapan dengan memperkukuhkan asas ekonomi dan menjadikan kita lebih berdaya saing. Malah lebih penting lagi, pemimpin-pemimpin kita mesti dilihat serius menjaga kesejahteraan negara dan memacu hala tuju yang betul. Untuk memastikan perkembangan tidak sihat tidak berlaku di bawah kepimpinannya, seseorang pemimpin itu mesti menunjukkan ketegasan dan iltizam moral yang tinggi.

Meski pun kami membantah sekeras-kerasnya tentang kesahihan keputusan pilihanraya yang lepas, kami bersedia untuk mengetepikan perbezaan kami demi negara kesejahteraan dan masa depan. Dalam hal ini, kami percaya bahawa adalah penting bagi Perdana Menteri untuk segera mengadakan rundingan meja bulat antara kerajaan BN dan Pakatan Rakyat bagi membincangkan isu-isu yang dibangkitkan dan merumuskan satu penyelesaian yang menyeluruh.

Meraikan Merdeka semestinya dengan mengiktiraf kebaikan yang telah dilakukan dan tidak mengulangi kesilapan masa lalu. Iltizam untuk melakukan apa yang baik untuk negara perlu menjadi agenda utama kita semua.

Semangat Merdeka bukan sahaja toleransi atau kompromi. Ianya adalah mengenai pemahaman yang lebih besar, menerima perbezaan kita dan meningkatkan persamaan kita serta menggerakkan negara ke hadapan untuk menghadapi cabaran yang mendatang.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

30 August 2013

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Once again as 31st August beckons, we will celebrate Merdeka Day, an auspicious and memorable occasion for all Malaysians. It is time to take stock of our achievements and shortcomings and look forward to the days and months ahead. It is a time for soul-searching where we look into ourselves and ask what Merdeka really means and what we can learn from the past and hope the future holds.

‘Merdeka’ means much more than what the word ‘Independence’ may convey. It is not just a matter of being liberated from the yoke of colonial rule or foreign oppression if it is only to be replaced by the rule of home grown oppressors who may be even more ruthless and self-serving. Merdeka is about being freed from tyranny and oppression in all its guises and setting the nation on a new path to justice, freedom, democracy and human dignity.

Set against this test, many would agree we are still far from there. After more than half a century, we are still left asking whether the fundamental principles in our Federal Constitution are still in place and whether the liberties and rights enshrined therein remain intact and are still honoured. Indeed, what good is Merdeka if these fundamental constitutional safeguards are violated with impunity?

At a time when we should be celebrating our cohesiveness as a multiracial multi-religious nation that has attained 56 years of independence, we are instead witnessing greater polarisation of the communities and increasing divisiveness on religious matters. Rather than alleviating the situation, certain politicians are making it worse by exploiting religious and sensitive issues for their own interests. There is a disconcerting trend of political parties hiring supposed ‘special interest’ groups and the media to further their agenda of causing division and dissention among the people.

Consequently, after 56 years of Merdeka, there is more race baiting, incitement to religious intolerance and hatred and generally an increase in seditious speeches and articles published by the print media. The tragedy in this is that not only is there a lack of leadership in ameliorating the situation but it appears that the government is encouraging this phenomenon to worsen.

For example, in spite of appeals and protests from concerned citizens and NGOs, the government has sanctioned the nation-wide screening of a movie that will only serve to incite communal animosity even as its artistic value remains questionable. Instead of greater sense of nation-consciousness, there is greater sense of race and communal consciousness. The voices of extremism, of hate and of intolerance are drowning the voices of moderation and inclusiveness.

The sharp increase in shooting cases and other violent crimes, robberies and snatch thefts is a matter of grave concern. While we must support the police in the efforts to curb and prevent crime, it is also incumbent on them to follow due process. All parties must collectively work out a solution to the problem but merely getting more punitive laws is not the answer. The matter must be looked at comprehensively.

On the issues of governance, transparency and accountability corruption remains a matter which still plagues us. In this regard, the MACC must perform its tasks without fear or favour but we would urge the Attorney General not to obstruct the prosecution of those involved in corruption in high office.

We are not insulated from the economic storms brewing around us. We should rather err on the side of caution than to be caught off guard. We can institute good governance, prudence and accountability in the management of our public finances and economy. The government is guilty of economic dishonesty – telling half-truths and giving incomplete statistics to camouflage the excessive spending that the country can no longer afford.

Fitch’s downgrading of the country’s economic prospect should have prompted the government to come clean on the real economic challenges. Instead it has dismissed it as the work of “young analysts who don’t listen to government’s opinion”. Fitch is not the only reputable firm of analysts which had expressed concerns over the growth prospect of our economy and its vulnerability to external shocks.

Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) had earlier cut 2013’s growth projection to 4.8% from 5.6% previously. Bank Negara recently cut its 2013 growth forecast to 4.5-5% from 5-6% previously. This is in line with World Bank’s latest forecast for 2013 at 5.1% from 5.6% previously. Apart from the double menace of persistently high fiscal deficit and mounting direct and indirect government debts, our current account surplus is at the lowest level since 1997. Because we rely heavily on low value and commodity exports to the global markets, a continuing drag in the global economy casts uncertainties over our growth.

Cutting fiscal deficit requires a total commitment to eradicate corruption from government procurements and projects. A 10% saving in procurement and projects easily translates to RM20 billion a year (based on a procurement and project annual expenditure of RM200 billion within the control of the federal government).

The reduction of government debt and cutting of fiscal deficit can only begin earnestly with higher government revenue that comes with higher growth. Unfortunately Malaysia’s growth will be stuck around the 4-5% region for a while unless all structural reforms to the economy are rolled out honestly and immediately.

On the eve of our 56th Merdeka, economic reforms are no longer a matter of policy contestation or political rhetoric. It is a national imperative that should transcend partisan and ideological boundaries because we cannot afford to slide back while our neighbours progress unabatedly.

The question of leadership is of paramount importance in steering the nation forward by strengthening our economic fundamentals and making us more competitive. Even more importantly, our leaders must be seen to be in control of the well-being of the nation and the direction it is going. To check the unhealthy trends developing under his watch, he must display firm resolve and moral courage.

Notwithstanding our strong protests about the validity of the outcome of the last elections, we are prepared to put aside our differences for the sake of the nation’s well-being and future. In this regard, we believe that it is imperative for the Prime Minister to convene without the slightest delay a round-table meeting between the BN government and Pakatan Rakyat in order to deliberate on the issues raised and formulate a comprehensive solution.

Celebrating Merdeka must be about recognising the good that has been done and not repeating the mistakes of the past. The resolve to do what is good for the nation must be our main concern. The Merdeka spirit is not just about tolerance or compromise. It is about greater understanding, embracing our differences and enhancing our similarities as well as propelling the nation forward to face the challenges ahead.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

11 June 2013

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Malaysia-Chronicle

Malaysia’s smallest and northern-most state Perlis saw its largest-ever political rally on Monday night, with some 10,000 people packing the Pakatan Rakyat’s Black 505 gathering in downtown Kangar to greet Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, PAS deputy chief Mohamad Sabu and a host of other leaders who had trekked up the country to rally public support for their fight against electoral cheating in the recently concluded May 5 ballot.

“We continue with our fight. As I have said, the general election is not over. We are now exposing one electoral fraud after another,” the 64-year-old Anwar told the roaring crowd.

“We have to make a stand. Enough is enough.”

‘Penipuan’ (Cheating)

Monday’s rally was the first-ever Black 505 gathering held by the Pakatan in Perlis and the folk here were not disappointed. Many had come to see for themselves what has been variously described as being “a social wave”, “a phenomenon”, “a political awakening” overtaking the country.

The Black 505 rallies – the brainchild of Anwar himself – has drawn mammoth crowds all over the country. Malaysians of all races have taken part in these assemblies with gusto, abandoning their customary shyness to call out voraciously for the resignations of Prime Minister Najib Razak and the top officials of the Election Commission for allegedly cheating in the country’s 13th general election.

In Kangar, where the 11th Black 505 rally was held, it was no different. The crowd’s enthusiasm was obvious despite it being a Monday night. ”Penipuan” was the the most common response when Malaysia Chronicle asked several members of the audience why they had come to the rally.

“Inilah satu petanda orang Malaysia sudah sampai satu tahap politik yang matang (It is a sign Malaysians have become politically more matured),” was another common response.

Sustaining power, not ego trip but a fight for the very foundation of democracy

As usual, Anwar was mobbed by the crowd who rushed to greet him when he arrived, reaching out to touch him as he was made his way to the stage. Like it or not, his popularity and ability to mobilize public support is undeniable and unprecedented in Malaysian politics.

The success of the Black 505 in Kangar flies in the face of Pakatan’s critics, namely Umno, its newspapers and related news portals. The latter, in particular, have been vocal in their criticism that it was a waste of time, that the rallies were a mere puff for Anwar’s ego but a drag on public resources and time as well as being a red light for foreign investors.

Whether or not, they are speaking at the behest of their political bosses, the Umno-linked media and online portals have claimed that the Black 505 rallies were ‘not what the Malaysian people want from their Opposition’.

What do Malaysians want of their Opposition then, if not to fight for the most basic fundamental – a cleaned-up polls system that would ensure who got the greatest votes became the government as desired by the most number of people? Otherwise, how could the Opposition ever become the government and translate into action the policies they envisioned and promised the people?

Pakatan leaders, in rebutting the claims against them, point to the massive crowds that keep coming back for more. They point to the 51% of the Malaysian people who voted for them but were denied of a Pakatan federal government due to the electoral fraud, which includes widespread gerrymandering.

In their speeches, Anwar, Mat Sabu, PKR vice president Tian Chua and MP for Sungai Petani Johari Abdul all made it clear that Black 505 will continue until the Election Commission chairman and deputy chairman stood down and re-elections held in the seats where evidence of fraud had been found and were the strongest.

Those would be the first essential steps for the people to reclaim their ownership of the electoral system, which unless is reformed, would ensure that Umno-BN remained in power in perpetuity, the Pakatan leaders said.

“Today Kangar, tomorrow Sungei Petani and the day after Kota Bahru and on the 16th Batu Pahat,” Anwar announced.

“And on the 22nd June, a major rally in Kuala Lumpur. Exactly like this, a peaceful assembly, but larger scale – a national event – to show Malaysians and the world we will not condone cheating.”

Ada orang nak ‘bunuh’ Zahid: Dr M out to destroy Zahid?

Mat Sabu, who is in the process of completing a post-mortem of his own party’s performance in the general election, promised transparency and offered re-elections to Umno-BN in Pakatan-won seats so long as they showed proof.

“Yes, we hear what Umno is saying about our reps who have been sworn-in in Penang and Kelantan. Sure, if you (Umno-BN) have proof, show and you can also request for re-elections,” said Mat Sabu, who together with Tian received loud applause for their oratorical skills.

Youth activist Badrul Hisham Shaharin aka Chegubard, who heads the Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia, was another popular speaker.

The 35-year-old had the crowd clearly on his side as he rattled through the list of reasons why Malaysians must stand up to the polls fraud he claimed had been perpetuated by the Umno -BN..

Chegubard also had the crowd in stitches with his witty remarks and the way he regained his poise after flubbing a line meant to attack former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

“Ini bukan kubu Umno, ini kubur Umno (this is not Umno’s fortress but Umno’s grave),” said Chegubard.

He repeated his warning to Home Minister Zahid Hamidi to be careful of Najib and Mahathir, whom he claimed were out for Zahid’s ‘blood’.

“Zahid, you are actually a leader with charisma but you are being trapped by Najib and Mahathir,” said Chegubard, referring to the intensifying infighting in Umno ahead of its internal polls due to be held later this year.

“Mahathir wants to ‘bunuh’ (destroy) Zahid so that his son can take over,” he added.

10 June 2013

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Malaysiakini

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi violated the Election Offences Act 1954 by spending more than the ceiling sum of RM200,000 in his campaigning during the 13th general election, PKR has alleged.

“There is a video circulating (on the Internet) that shows Zahid saying that he gave RM100 and a 5kg bag of rice to 24,000 people in Bagan Datoh,” PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli said today.

At a press conference at party headquarters in Petaling Jaya, Rafizi said according to his calculation, the expenses for that one act of largess alone would be more than RM200,000.

This, he claimed, was a violation of the rules for candidates in the Election Offences Act.

Based on this, PKR will file an election petition this week.

Rafizi said he would reveal the related evidence linked to this petition – and others – at a press conference on Wednesday.

PKR has signalled its intention to file 18 more petitions, while Pakatan will file 35 in all.

Malaysiakini has not been able to locate the video or to contact the minister or his aides for comment on this PKR allegation.

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