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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why, why, why?

By KJ John | Malaysiakini

Why would the ‘naughty boy of Malaysian journalism’ Utusan Malaysia carry such a headline as Kristian agama rasmi? (Christianity as the official religion?), when it is probably not the truth, not reality either, and not possible, and never in the minds or hearts of any Christian.

Christians are generally rational and not merely emotional but we also seek to love every neighbour at the end of the day. And yet the recalcitrant publication accused all Christians with one sweep of their ink-spill. And, most terribly, even the government of Malaysia’s initial reactions were also ‘idiocratic’ to say the least.

I am really upset, hurt, and therefore insist and ask Utusan for an apology for hurting our feelings and sense of dignity; of every Christian in Malaysia.

Bureaucracy is obvious when public servants use laws to hide their inertia. But the more serious issue of ‘Idiocracy’ is when public officials (having a publishing permit makes UM public here) abuse the laws for their private or political agenda.

Based on the above definition, the first ‘idiocrats’ are those who created this new public lie in the first place. Utusan Malaysia based their report on unverified blogger stories. Therefore, in my heart and mind, they are “already guilty unless they can prove their innocence”. A mere slap on their wrist is not good enough. I want to see their apology, in writing. Yes, we need to adopt the French system of justice because the damage has already been done.

I, too, have been maligned by their headline because I, too, am a Christian. They say I am part and parcel of what I think of as an impossible mission agenda; at least as it depends on earthy powers within limited democratic means.

Professor Aziz Bari has since categorically clarified that that agenda is almost improbable, if not impossible. It can never be done without the general concurrence of the Council of Malay Rulers, for they are the protectors of Islam in this country. All of them are Muslim, as far as I know.

Some other hidden agenda?

Why then did UM publish so maliciously? Did they do it only to increase their readership by sensationalising untruths and such stories? Or did they have some other hidden motive or agenda? And neither is their brand of publishing responsible journalism, as defined by Professor Hamdan Adnan. His group in support of the human rights of journalists has also already issued a credible statement on the matter decrying such irresponsible sensational journalism.

Lying like this is totally illegitimate but why is the so-called Home Affairs Minister, also a lawyer by training, “colluding” by making a statement as if he fully and totally believes the Utusan headline. Now they are given only a slap on the wrist. Why not cut off their hand in true Muslim spirit?

Why did he not question the logic of the statement or veracity of its possible truth? I mean, he should know his constitutional law? Maybe he really believes that the British democratic system is so apparent in Malaysia that we too can change the monarchy as we choose and whenever we do not like their cultural expression? What an idiocratic mindset!

The third and, to me, the most disgusting ‘idiocrat’ is none other than our minister who wrote his doctoral thesis only for “academic purposes” and does not even believe in his findings or his own analysis. He argued “successfully” and made the case that Malaysia was an executive state (more like a republic) and even got his PhD awarded for it. But soon after, and when he became a minister, he disassociated himself from his thesis.

In my lexicon and ideals of academic collegiality, he should really surrender his PhD thesis. To put it simply, he lied since he did not believe in what he wrote. Maybe his ethics are only limited to the ‘katak dibawah tempurung’ variety.

Having now defined the context of this column, allow me to ask why, why, why would a mainstream newspaper owned by the party which sells the 1Malaysia idea and ideal put such lies on its front page? Secondly, why would they do it in the week before May 13?

My questions are therefore directed to all Umno card carrying members. Why do three million of you allow lies to be propagated in your name? Is such lying kosher within thr Islamic faith? I am sincere and I have only the greatest of respect for my very many dear Muslim friends who speak and live by the truth of their beliefs.

But, I also hate politicians who lie about their beliefs. Moreover, I have zero tolerance for Umnoputeras who lie through their front teeth, steal public assets in the name of the bumiputera agenda, and rationalise it all under the ketuanan Melayu agenda. Although they are a very small minority, they make the most noise.

UM seems to live, breathe and have her being under such a worldview or mindset; and as far as I know it has nothing to do with the Islam that I know, have studied and observed.

Personal priorities above all else

All such functionaries instead use and abuse religion of any faith system in the fashion of all modernists. They put their personal priorities, their thoughts and feelings, and their interests above all else. The whole world revolves around them. They belong to, in my language and theology, the unholy trinity of “I, Me, and Myself!” Extreme self interests drive their very existence.

How else can we see results of such modern but ugly capitalism as we see today? Whether in the US of A, or Europe, or the Middle East, or Confucian China, or Hindu India, such capitalism and the promotion of ugly self-interest seems kosher and the very mainstream thing. So long as you are “not caught” or “found out” it is okay to carry on doing what you do. The public space has therefore lost all its morality under the falsely secular model of separation between the sacred and the secular.

Unfortunately too, within our Malaysia Boleh culture, what the late MGG Pillai labelled as Bolehland, there is another yet newer morality in public space: while we preach religion until our throats turn coarse we become spiritual simply by definition. Really? Humbug!

There are now more temples, mosques, churches and shrines and we even claim to be a developed nation, but we cannot understand why our public space morality is so bad, so poor or so crude. Why is bribery and corruption so cultural and endemic today? Why is incest on the rise? Why are new born babies dumped? Why are our elderly care homes so pathetic? Why are local restaurants so filthy and unhygienic and why are our toilets so smelly? Developed country?

Why, Malaysians, why do we tolerate such lying and stealing in public space? Why, moderate majority Malaysians, why do we allow such rape to continue unabated? Cannot we say NO as did the Tunisians? Cannot we say NO as did the Egyptians or Libyans? Cannot we join the Syrians and say NO to regimes that have outlived their human purpose? Or, do we really believe in saviours like Osama and Obama?

Can we not join those who already said NO on March 8, and again in Sibu, and now in Sarawak, and also Singapore? We can say NO and seek change. Let us!

Are not all these truth matters? Are they not an issue about truths versus lies? Did we not lose billions to corruption and cronyism? Cannot we say NO to that? Did we not see public assets stolen in the PKFZ? Do we need another two more deaths in the MACC to know that we are sick to the core?

Well, dear Malaysians, these issues are not about race or religion. That is what the powers want us to believe. They are really about truth, righteousness, and justice in the public spaces of our lived life. We need ALL to stand up for truth and righteousness, and not just leave it to the Teoh Beng Hocks of the world. May God bless Malaysia.

KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. He is now dean of the Faculty of Economics and Policy Science at UCSI University, Malaysia. The views expressed above are truths that matter to him as an individual citizen wearing private and civil society hats and therefore are not opinions of the university or faculty. Do send feedback to him at

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