Malaysia without Malays - S.H.Alattas
As you please, LU FIKIRLAH
on Wednesday 16 December 2009 - 13:15:26
I have intended this 59th book of my 50 years as a writer, to be different from the rest of my books. Although initially I wasn’t sure how, whether it is going to be a mere translation of my previous Malay book or shall it be a truly Malaysian book which includes Namewee, an entertainer who suddenly becomes a very controversial figure because of his song Negarakuku.
When I began my career as a political commentator in 1972, I have been an ardent observer of my surroundings when Tunku Abdul Rahman was then Prime Minister and now Najib, the son of Tun Razak became the 6th Prime Minister. Year after year I began to see the forming of a signature form of writing, my personal style. But as time passes, environments change, the younger generation has lost interest. I am not the same me when I was a young turk, full of passion and anger.
Age is catching up, yes! So they say the sun is about to set on the old writer like Hemingway with his novel ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Suddenly I remembered a poem by Henry Woodsworth. "I shot an arrow in the air, it fell to earth, I know not where" or is it like the Malay proverb Pelanduk ku tembak, rusa yang kena, bila ku lihat gajah yang mati. "A mouse- deer I shot, it hit the deer, when I noticed that the elephant is dead."
Freedom to me lives within the mind and the heart. A writer maybe old but he must not be under the thumb. Since Najib Tun Razak took office, I have stopped contributing to Agendadaily.com, my own sh.alattas.com and Buletin Rakyat a Malay political tabloid but it doesn’t mean that I cannot say a spade is a spade? Those critics of my writings in the past had given me all kinds of labels, from a busy-body, a writer who only sensationalizes issues, to other forms of criticisms, character assassin, the killer writer to a king maker.
I accept all of these criticisms and praise as part of life, as you please. As a proverb goes, a writer is like a candle, he burns himself to give light to others. But I believe truth is the light that shows the path to god.What has become my cup of tea throughout the years is contemporary politics if one can take politics according to Imam Al-Ghazali the highest art. But it wasn’t always the case to some who see politics dirty. My first book Firasat - 1969 (on physiognomy) which hit Malaysian best seller, first published in Singapore has been printed many times since followed by interpretation of Dreams, a manual for success Melangkah Dan Berjaya.
In the early sixties as a columnist in the entertainment magazine I was known as Pak Belalang Modern the Royal astrologer; my subjects include numerology, astrology and palmistry. Most of my reader’s believed in my prophecy.
I had given up the entertainment world, in which I have explored almost all aspects from entertainment writing, to acting, modeling and script writing. That being said though, one of the most valuable lessons that show business has taught me is that Politicians are not very different from actors, some are terrible and some are good, but all have to put up an act some way or another. Namewee seems to agree with me about politician. All life is a stage they say, and I knew this, because I’ve lived it.
Another aspect of life that has always intrigued me are mysticism and the spirituality. I have frequented quite a few of these matters in my life, so now I am working on producing a book on a personal journey of mysticism and religious experience which will be part of this trilogy. If you are a soul seeker and like to enjoy some food for thought, this book is going to take you off the ground. It is a list of a long spiritual journey besides serving as a form of social critique. In commenting about politics, I do not have the patterned style of the academic or the political scientist who analyses data and dissect policies. As such, what I write is merely a reflection on current happenings.
Dr. Dinsman labeled my book as rojak. That being said, though there are elements of investigative journalism in my works by which I herald ‘inside stories’, in most if not all of my writings. I do not write for a specialist audience, therefore my language is more intoned with those of the streets and the alleyways like songs by Namewee truly Malaysian. I never hoped or dreamt to be a Sasterawan Negara, National Laureate; A Samad Said regret being one. So, if you find spelling or grammar mistakes, please accept my apology.
I sometimes wonder if there are places for street writers like me in this century; a globalizing and information technology era. Species like me are rare and diminishing. Who knows, my collection of writing in English will turn you on if you love truth and looking for a subject to do a thesis on Malay Islam and Malaysian politics. The thrill is yours, the risk is mine. Good luck. May God bless you.
When I began writing, the society I live in was not yet bombarded with information communication technology as the one we live in today. Try asking the new generation what is a telegram? You’ll find newspaper cuttings, photographs with captions in my book. There were no blogs, internet, papers or even cable and satellite TV. There was only one TV channel in black and white. The role and influence of political writer was not as powerful as the bloggers of today and general stress levels weren’t as high but later hundreds have followed my footsteps even Tan Sri Mohd Rahmat the former Minister of Information with his book Akhirnya Sebuah Impian, End of a Dream.
Tok Mat has possibly forgotten the role played by the back room boy in his book and for the success of the UMNO leadership and BN Government while Mahathir was the Prime Minister. Congratulation, welcome to the club. When is Tan Sri Sanusi Junid going to write the truth on Mahathir like Tok Mat?The main stream media, the sole provider of news and information was just one of the tools. Beside these main stream media, political tabloids branded as ‘mosquito newspapers’ and political books are also available to balance the political game. People those days were more tolerant of the government. They had no concern for free speech or civil liberties.
There were no trouble makers to the level of Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir, not until UMNO was broken into two. Media plays an important role for the survival of the Malays while UMNO was dead. Thanks to MCA leader who bring it back to life.These are the questions that loom when you read my writing on most of the political leaders in Malaysia.
If you follow my traveler’s chronicle, you will be there with me in the making of history of Malaysian politics. Perhaps one may ask, "will the Malays be like what they are today, if Mahathir doesn’t sack Anwar Ibrahim and put him to shame with the story of sodomy?" What would happen if Anwar won the sodomy case with Saiful and become the first Malaysian President? What will happen to the Sultanate? A responsible person performs the tasks with a sense of purpose and that’s what leaders should do.
Maybe Mahathir has his reasons behind his actions. But is Mahathir not trying to play God treating dissenters like what happened to Lucifer who disobeyed God? Allah said in the Quran Iblis ‘Lucifer’, Lucifer should sujud, kow tou to Adam. Being arrogant, ego, stubborn, he was punished. Is Anwar like Lucifer to Mahathir? Is Anwar alone the Lucifer? What about the kukus in the mosque?
The incredible destiny that takes place to humans in this world is the power of Allah the Creator who knows all. Man proposes God disposes. Malaysia needs a hero to fight the big battle to make 1 Malaysia a success. Najib cannot do it alone. We need a writer who is trusted and loved by rakyat. There are, but a few sincere and brave writers and politicians around. UMNO had thrown them away; "many Malay leaders are without the spirit of Islam who loves the materialistic world and fear death."
Why more and more Malays are attracted to PAS? Is PAS Islam or is it like Bank Islam and Halal hub? Have you been to Singapore to see Islam? Are you proud to see big crowds of Malaysian Muslims performing congregational prayer at Masjid Negara and other mosque on Fridays only?I believe in the incredible destiny. At the same time I also believe in doa, prayer as long as kukus in the mosque don’t use loud speakers, seeking God the Almighty’s help.
Man is the master of his or her own destiny. Do you believe you are what you think you are? If you think you are Malay is there Islam in you? Or do you have your sense of identity? Or are you always dependent on the perceptions and expectations of others? Just because others label you as kuffar should you become one?What is destiny? Takdir. What leads us down the path that our lives follow? Is our greatness or our obscurity predetermined? What are you doing with the intellectual mind God trusted upon you? Can we break free from takdir and avoid the disappointments, mishaps and tragedies that lie in store?
Can the Malays be saved as a race? What is our mind for? These are subjects which are the contents of this book, if you are happy, read on as you please.Great minds have built and destroyed civilizations. Great minds can move mountains. How come UMNO failed to move the 3A? Malays will vanish from their own land because they fear great minds and the cultivation of independent minds and afraid to speak the truth. Leaders select boot licker yesmen around. Rasulullah SAW said; pick one who is not a master in the fields, await destruction.
History repeats itself. Anwar forgets that arwah Dato Harun Idris the Malay ultra was with a great character with high moral value, was put to jail because he doesn’t listen to Tun Razak. He thought he was able to win the support of everyone who earlier pledged their support to him but later betrayed him.
If history is capable of teaching any lesson, then let one of the lessons of the tragedy of karbala where Imam Hussien bin Ali and his family was genocide except Imam Ali Zainal Abidin As Sajjad. That is why Saidina Ali reminded us that forgiveness may only be given by the stronger power. Leaders must learn to forgive and not keep vengeance or bear grudge against one another where rakyat seriously be the victim. Don’t you think people like Namewee and Kartika should be forgiven?
Why don’t we learn from Prophet Muhammad SAW who is forgiving? Forgive and forget is Godly. Why play God?This book you are holding is my attempt in introducing to the English readers some of my thoughts and writings, from my trilogy Dunia Belum Kiamat 3 (It is not the end of the world) and others. You may not agree the way it is written, that is not important, did you know how the Quran was compiled?Of course as a writer known for being controversial, I know the venomous nature of my writings, and the amount of people who have suffered under the influence of my pen.
I believe leaders deserve to be criticized at times when they depart from their duties, and I suppose it is much easier praising rather than doing clean up duties. But the tasks of social critics are to maintain the political stability, if you agree with me.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." - Lord Acton.
How many leaders changed from good to bad and later worse? And how many are forced to change to adapt to their environments? Lately I noticed the trends for anti-establishment becoming more and more prevalent especially among the Malay youths. The hatred for leaders begin when Mahathir was the PM and took place uncontrollably at the time of Abdullah.
Is it because they have lost their identity from Malays to Malaysian? Or is the Melayu has forgotten that Islam is at one’s heart not at one’s Godly attire.In the making of this book, the chapters originally written were brought into English by Muhiyuddin Al-Attas.
There are however chapters I have written myself. This chapters in which he missed to edit due to his need to presume his bachelor’s degree in P.P.E philosophies politics and economics in New Zealand. So that readers can get a sense of my heart in English with a few words in Malay and the reminder in Malaysian English, different from his translation.
At the same time you will notice articles from as early as 1972 on Anwar Ibrahim and what Tun Sakaran Dandai thinks about him in chapter 21. Why is Malaysia different from Singapore, is it politics or attitude? Read on as you please.As I invite you to revisit my alleyway, I hope I’m successful at showing the failure of the man who forgets his principles and ethics when he is surrounded by unchecked power while he is elected as a leader.
The old generations of Malays have always believed in being obedient to the sultans or the rulers. They are afraid of the word derhaka, treacherous. The rakyat used to identify themselves with Tuah who must be loyal to the king even more than he was obedient towards truth, friendship or justice or even God. How can you be Malay when you are not God fearing; when Islam is a complete way of life? That’s why the Malays were erased from history from 1511 until 1957.I suppose obedience was the main virtue, across the Arab world too. The Caliphs and the Sultans kept on emphasizing on the need to obey rulers based on their readings of the Quranic verses
"….. and obey your lord, obey the Prophet, and those endowed with power amongst you".
And hadiths supporting such nature turns them into blind followers. A king can do no wrong, when they are not shadows of God.In Malaysia, I need to credit Kassim Ahmad for introducing his new thesis that it was Jebat who was the real hero, even though identified as a villain, a traitor against the Sultan. Tuah was merely looking after the affairs of the powerful.
Jebat the hero was the beginning of the Malay thinking out of the box. Is Anwar trying to do the same thing so that one day he will become the President of Malaysia? Do you think the Malays in Pakatan Rakyat, consisting of PAS and DAP think of Karpal Singh as derhaka treacherous? With Kassim’s introduction, which identified with the spirits of the times, with the rise of the leftist movements around the world, the revolutionaries became the new heroes. Mahathir became a hero because he fought Tunku Abdul Rahman who then was the Prime Minister.
Is it not possible that Mahathir and Anwar are silent partners? Who took away the immunity from the Malay Sultanate if not Tun Mahathir? Do you think they will make a monument of Anwar or Mahathir like Tunku’s, the one at the Parliment House? Lu fikirlah, think as you please. I myself however believe differently. "I do not agree with Tuah’s unquestioned obedience towards the rulers for mere blind loyalty." I belive in people’s rights, but on the other hand, I must remind you that the Jebat mentality is not always good for Melayu, especially when they are breaking apart. If you follow Jebat blindly like those who identify Anwar as a hero, what will happen to the Melayu without Islam? The stability that we do have is hard-earned.
One need not always revolt to reform. The street reformation during which Anwar was sacked from UMNO as Deputy Prime Minister is a history to be learned. We need leaders with moral to enter politics. Anwar is without one. Muhyiddin, according to Mahathir is a liar. Will a liar makes a good leader?
A leader with a strong mind, charismatic and an orator is not enough. What about clear of corruption? Can Anwar clear himself from the case of sodomy? A liar in Islam (munafiqun) is worse than a kafir. Muslims must possess the akhlak of Prophet Muhammad if we want peace, happiness and a better tomorrow. If Anwar is not guilty why should he be afraid to go to court? And if Muhyiddin is not a liar why not he take Mahathir to court? Do we want a short sporadic just government just to save Muhyiddin’s or Anwar’s neck? We need to be rational, not allowing ourselves half-truth stories.
My trilogy Dunia Belum Kiamat one, two and three is a testimony. If I have not written a hearsay story, why don’t Anwar take me to court? Or Ezam if what Ezam’s story on him is not true? This reprimand is also an honest effort to show that a man or a group of people may not always be on the side of truth.
Truth is independent. Today one may be a critic of the powerful, aligning oneself with the poor and the distraught, with socialistic leanings. But the next day, he might turn into a hedonistic, power crazed individual who is trying to hold on to the wealth and power. His craziness and greed will result to any means necessary, even when death approaches him, he refuse to make a taubat (repentance). Or when he is asked to go to court for civil like Raja Petra he run away to Australia. As an author, I respect the pen, not merely for writing purposes, but more importantly its ability to convey thoughts from God the Almighty. Mind is a powerful weapon, to make a change we need great minds, not leaders who talk, talk, and talk. That’s why my book Memo to the Prime Minister was banned in 1992. I asked Mahathir to focus on mind industry rather than the heavy industry.
He failed to change the Malays after 22 years given the power. Why after retirement he still talk, talk, talk. Why was he afraid to change the mindset to a holistic point of view? Instead of looking in to Islam he brought the Malaysian to look East not West. Maybe he does not know Islam is the best.Talking about the power of expression, Anwar has it.
And his thought has always marveled me, and I see it as the agent for progress and change. He had changed the Malay youth to become the Muslim youth through ABIM. Everything in the universe begins with an idea the mind, just like 1 Malaysia introduced by Najib. Where is he taking the Melayu now if there is no great mind to help him? One can conjecture that this universe was a blue print in the mind of God and man is the master of the universe, if he knows that he is the khalifah of Allah. Can Najib put the 3A under his thumb like Lee Kuan Yew did to Jaya Ratnam who ends up his life as a Bankruptcy in Johor Bahru? Mind is made to be intelligible.
And once humans have acquired the language of the universe and spiritual hope collectively, they will find the workings of this higher mind. There is where we need philosophers and thinkers who possess the knowledge of tasauf. The problem lies when world leaders today are not in line with the spirit and force of nature. They don’t embody and fulfill their roles as vicegerents, instead exploit nature for their private insatiable desires.
ILMU UMNO camp is in Janda Baik. Why not the Prime Minister visit the University Of Life in Janda Baik? Malay proverb said that the cobra will not lose its venom by creeping at the root of a tree. Writing is important in the documenting of history, for in doing so, it serves as a direction and also a warning for future generations. High time we bury the hatched since Najib have acceped the Makkal Sakti as a Deepavali gift to Barisan Nasional. The Quran reminds the human to constantly examine his surroundings, to listen to opinions of others and to follow the best of them. Allah invites us to examine our inherited traditions of our forefathers, and to ponder the fate of mankind and this fleeting life not just 1 Malaysia.
Islam is universal, one world.After thousands of years of our collective inquiry, we know the earth as a small planet rotating around the sun, in a galaxy among many others. This discovery, one step at a time requires hard work and also strong critical acumen. Hence that is why a life not used for pondering and thinking is not worth living.
Better if we were created as blade grass or a tweeting bird. Better be unborn then untaught. Iqra! Read! Isn’t that one of the requirements for us as thinking beings? Isn’t knowledge also the cause for humans to become successful in creating civilizations, complete with customs and traditions? This literate technology is amazing, for it allows us to engage with some of the finest minds history has produced rather than limiting ourselves to the talks; ceramah from gundus and dungus. Isn’t it also the force behind the enactment of laws and other institutions for safety and security, that this relatively short life may be lived full of meaning?
Our era today is the era of meta-ethics and a yearning for meaning in metaphysics and aesthetical aspects of our universe. How about us Malaysians then? Shall we not continue and march with mankind in progress? Or shall we remain stuck in history with world class facilities but remaining in our third class mentality; half past six citizens influenced by political bull shitters? The human project and condition were also inspired to have a standard of life becoming of a human being. We have struggles for basic human rights, respecting the sanctity of the individual.
When this becomes the case, is it any wonder that the people become angered at the politicians who enact laws that challenge their basic rights like freedom? These were among the things I philosophized about in the break of dawn, as I walked up the hill, 1000 feet above sea level to a small gazebo overlooking one of the oldest rainforests of the world, in my garden at Wadi Hussein, Janda Baik. Behind me is a wide area which has functioned before as a heli-pad. I looked and tried to pry into god’s creation of peace and nature. The river still running, who knows when it will be dry caused by the destructions on the mountain by greedy hands? Suddenly I think of Micheal Jackson who wants us to save the planet. May God bless Micheal who loves nature and children.
I realized how small we are as human beings. Possibly insignificant compared to this grand universe, what we all face is a struggle for relevance and purpose. What are the authorities doing if they cannot look after the fate of the water catchment area? UMNO has its ILMU in Janda Baik. Ask Najib does he knows there is not much water left in the river? How is he going to answer to God?
Somehow I picture myself as Gulliver visiting the land of the Brobdingnag giants, when he was captured to serve as a public attraction. Previously he felt beyond himself when he visited the Lilliputians when he found himself to be a giant. That book, Gulliver’s Travel written by Jonathan Swift generates important insights into society rather than merely being a form of creative fiction. Especially in the movie remake, as Gulliver talks about the Yahoo race, being consumed with greed and struggle for might makes right, outstripping any form of Godliness in a human.
Swift calls humans homo rationalist-capax, which means a human capable of being rational, but always falling short. May be like once Mahathir used to label as Melayu Mudah Lupa, short memory? It struck my head, when he talked about how the institutions created to serve justice are a misappropriated, alienating-justice and further used to justify discriminations. I wonder how a human can resolve to conquer other lands, to steal and subject its people as slaves for mere material benefits.
I wonder also about failed projects such as the United Nations in awarding justice to victims of aggressive agents, or how they fail to reprimand the wealthy and powerful nation, creating stratification in the world, such that the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer is almost a cliché today. Perhaps also, it is because of this oppressive nature of societies that revolutionaries will always be born to challenge the status quo. There will always be defendants of the poor, the oppressed class. Be it under the guise of a leftist/humanist movement, or a religious reformation as a reactive measure.
Jonathan Swift’s ability to master his language also has attracted me as a social critic. In my younger days, I read his work as a form of escapism, into a world of adventure and fantasy. Perhaps many today think Gulliver’s travel is best treated as a bedtime story for children. Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, carries within its messages. I feel it is quite a loss that children today no longer read works of such caliber. They spend more of their time on watching TV programs and playing virtual games.
As I re-read the book, I found that Swift and Orwell were really describing the ugliness of the human mask. Works of this kind serves as a manner of idealistic reading. Alfred Nobel stated in his will, that there should be a literature prize to be included as a Nobel award. The criteria that this award to be given is to a book written in an ideal nature. I hope Malaysia one day will produce creative writers and thinkers able to write books of an ideal kind, perhaps worthy of a Nobel Prize or the Templeton Prize.
If you have read my book until this ‘very word’ then you ought to know and understand that each and every one of us have a responsibility and task to shoulder upon. We can’t go on fighting this way. We can’t move on by having the notion that one of us is more superior to the other, or that we should be accorded more privileges than we have already enjoyed but have failed to capitalize them.
The Malays have no reason to be afraid of losing their so-called ketuanan Melayu "Malay supremacy". After all since the term was coined, it is difficult how to see Melayu have lived up to this supremacy except for the sultans. They are the constitution of National Rulers. They have the last say on who the Menteri Besar they want.Someone has said that "The Malays shall not vanish from this Earth", is just a figment of an imagination. It is not just that it isn’t clear that Hang Tuah have uttered such line but even it remains doubtful if Hang Tuah was really a Malay, either directly or indirectly the definition of an official Malay.
If Hang Tuah was at all Melayu, how come he did not have the "bin" attached to his name like the rest of the Melayu and Mamak the Indian Muslim "son of"? At least we know Abdullah Munshi is of Arabi and Indian Muslim.Hang Tuah supposedly to have lived during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah, a Malay and Islamic Sultan and that the entire history of the Malay Sultanate is only 500 years old. Thus, it is hard to believe that the Malay historians are unable to trace who Hang Tuah’s father was. And that goes for the rest of the Hangs. May be that is why Hikayat Hang Tuah is without an author unlike The Malay Anal written by Tun Sri Lanang.
Suddenly I thought of the late Tan Sri Hamid Jumat the Deputy Chief Minister of Singapore. Then he was among the first 3 Vice President of UMNO when Singapore was still with Malaysia. He was like Hang Tuah, he left Lee Kuan Yew too, to be with Tunku Abdul Rahman. More of his story can be found in the Singapore Story by Lee Kuan Yew.The Portuguese later became Malaccan and then Malaysian. There is no way of going back to Portugal. They have lived in Melaka ever since.
We are the world, we are the people, from dust to dust, under one sun and above one soil. Being Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabis or even Hadhramauties are just part of our history. And historical ancestry must not be allowed to serve as a barrier to our nationhood 1 Malaysia. If we still wish to play this sort of thing, then Malaysia would not go far, until we know who we really are and what is the purpose of God brought us here as his ‘Khalifah’, Master of the Universe.