A bleak house divided against itself

buzzIntroduction by CPI

Far from being a prolific writer, A. Ghani Ismail is instead more akin to a mystic in the mountains, and thus one who blogs only very rarely.

Nonetheless whenever the veteran journalist’s provocative writings do appear in his blog ‘Liberty’, they are worth paying close attention to. His most recent piece published some days ago takes us into the current troubled state of Malay politics.

Ghani is both an idealist and a realist who dismally sees an “ideological hopelessness the way things are in this beautiful country”.

Yet at the same time, he harbours the hope that “a Malaysian people” could somehow arise to mitigate the bleakness of the anticipated outcome on our country’s future or if the aspiration of one united bangsa seems a tad too utopian, then at least “something else that is accommodative”, presumably so that the various races can continue living side by side peacefully.

He concedes, quite realistically, that with Malaysia mired in “a state of dysfunction as decadent as this, seeking to refurbish the nation with integrity cannot be enough”. At the very least, the transformation that must take place and most urgently is one that lends “ideological coherence and political cohesion”.

Ghani avers that our critical conflict “is not about a choice between Transformation or Reformation. It is about what the Transformation is finally about”. And his critique of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s various stabs at ‘transforming’ the socio-political and economic landscape – as to be expected – is devastatingly severe.

According to Ghani’s assessment of the ruling party and the warlordism that plagues it, “Umno, having openly traded votes for money in the purchases of positions from bottom right to the level of party president, cannot and will never again be accepted as representing nationalism as it had been once before”.

What is not altogether startling is his depiction of the ethical and moral decay that has seeped into all levels of Malay society.

He adds, “In the mix of widespread corruption and the abuses arising from the ‘private domains’ in government, some 85 percent of projects that were drawn for the benefit of Malays and Bumiputras in the New Economic Policy (NEP) had been ‘leaked’.

“It tells us policy and project slipways can be constructed with the right payments to the right people in the Administration and the Executive. In fact, a distortion of 85 percent suggests these slipways are normal practice, i.e. integrity had been a bad word in the government and the Malays/Bumiputras had been taken for a ride by their own kinds.”

In short, as Ghani puts it, “The NEP was bastardized”.

Segueing from his contemplative discourse on race, the second part of Ghani’s piece touches on religion. In this aspect, he beholds “a strange emergence of Islamic fundamentalism” manifest in the holding together of the opposition electoral pact.

Although he acknowledges that from 1988 until now the shariah law could not as yet replace common law so as to enable the country to opt for the shariah as the sole legal and judicial system, nonetheless there is a steady drift to the social dichotomy of Muslims and dhimmis or ‘protected subjects’.

The threat of sliding into a full-fledged Islamic state is not as remote or as faraway as certain sections of the complacent non-Muslim electorate (read: hardcore opposition supporters) would lull us into believing.

Only very recently on Friday (March 9), five men accused of gambling were publicly caned in full view of hundreds in neighbouring Aceh – the Indonesian island that implements hudud law.

Tracing the ever increasing radicalization of religion that has ensued, Ghani contends that “[t]he powder-keg had exploded in Egypt, in Iraq and in Nigeria. In Pakistan the evil is a terror-ride involving Muslims versus Muslims first and Muslims versus the two percent Christian minority second, killing a Governor [Punjab governor Salman Taseer] and a Minister [the cabinet’s only Christian Shahbaz Bhatti] so far”.

The scenario of religious extremism is not one to be taken lightly even in Malaysia and Ghani is quite right to sound the alarm on our simmering stew pot that is partly fanned and fuelled by the ferocious political contestation engulfing us today.

In his dire words, “Even if it is true not more than 30 percent of the Malays can be drawn into the making of a Holocaust, it has to be remembered only five percent of the Malays in amok should be enough to run the country 30 years back in a few days and making recovery impossible in 15 years. A neater equation may bring recolonization as a necessity for recovery should we blood-let again in Malaysia”.

Is Ghani merely fear-mongering or overstating the case? We don’t think so.

In this regard, he posits a most pertinent question: “Can the majority of the Malays resolve their ideological froth? Or will the majority finally join the rising religious fundamentalism and engage the kafirs in war?”

Ghani’s posting ‘View from the Sick Bay: Malays More Bewildered’ can be read in full at his blog, which we recommend that you do.