Liberating the Malay mindset, the right way to speak out


 

 

The right way to speak out

I REFER to the article “The real Malay Dilemma” ((The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics, Siti Thoughts, Sunday Star, Aug 26). Siti Kassim made her details as clear as they can be but not without error in her bewildering opinion on the subject.

Siti’s observation is near faultless and I wonder if she is sincere enough to defend the cause of changing the so-called Malay mindset. Firstly, why publish such a strong, emotional and provocative article in an English newspaper if she insists that she has studied her “targeted audience” well enough?

Learn and appreciate the views of a different mindset before telling everyone to change. According to Bakri Musa, a mindset refers to the outlook in or philosophy of life. It is a set of ideas, attitudes and opinions that we – as individuals or members of a group – share of reality, or of what we recognise to be reality.

Neurologically speaking, a mindset is the pre-existing neural pattern in our brain; conceptually, it is our mental hypothesis of reality. Having said this, the mindset is not really a result of the religion’s influence but rather of their past experiences.

It is common to see differing mindsets among people in other countries too, but why exactly wouldn’t anyone in those countries make a big fuss about it?

Malaysia is a progressing population and some of its characters do not wish to portray their advancement as a double-edged weapon. We need to be thoughtful and informed about it.

Not only is it the wrong thing to say but it is also the wrong way to do it. We understand that Islam is a way to help ourselves to improve. There is no flaw in Islam when we talk about civilisation; Islam is civilisation. It was a tried-and-true Islamic value that brought the ancient world to its golden age during its peak.

Some individuals who have a lazy understanding of Islam will describe its teachings as backward, prohibitive and jumud; and they repeatedly use Islam as an excuse for many problems. This unceasing stream of vitriol towards Islam is nothing new.

A change in government will not change the people’s mindset. The May general election did not bring about a change in mindset but rather a choice of two governments, one less benign than the other.

It is not surprising that the so-called liberal Malays are accused of being blasphemous because the accusers are not able to answer or defend a particular issue brought up by repugnant personas. With this in mind, if we let it continue, Malays will be further divided as liberals and conservatives.

Majlis ilmu, seminars and tahfiz schools are not harmful; on the contrary, they are as good as TED Talks if we want them to be. Let’s see them in a different light. Being obsessed with such things is not harmful. We are in dire need of getting the right contents and ideas to share – and we have many of them.

Why would we want to waste such golden opportunities for getting the right message across? If we need to tweak the content to make it more conducive, multicultural or suggestive, we will do better as multicultural societies.

If we can encourage the Malays to ask the right questions about development and their contribution as a Malaysian community, and ultimately shape the demand for knowledge, then every ustaz, ustazah and religious teacher will have to provide the right answers.

But why wouldn’t the Malays ask the right questions? Maybe that is when the fixed mindset comes into play. Rather than putting these forums in a poor light and defining them as the reasons for the nation’s problems, there are more effective ways to bring the change via the same existing ground.

We do not want to compare Malaysia with Iran, Saudi Arabia, or even Switzerland for that matter. There are different dynamics in Malaysia, and even Aceh has its own uniqueness. Malaysia will never be like those countries and those countries will never be like Malaysia.

On the same note, we do not need to model Malaysia on other Muslim-majority countries, good or bad. We should stand on our own and set a new precedent for other Muslim countries to follow.

We are not going to focus on religion solely for the afterlife but as an equally important design to survive and compete globally together as a nation.

Any issues found in other Muslim countries are coherently found in non-Muslim countries: bad governance and corruption are universal. We can uphold syariah law and be 100% Islamic, yet there will still be people who circumvent the law to line their pockets.

We are moving towards changing the paradigm of Malays being supplicants. Most Malays are ready to lead the change. The only thing is they are not singing loudly enough. So who or what is holding them back?

Malays can’t dispel the stereotypical perception others have of them. And we always make efforts to maintain our self-affirmation, not surprisingly buttressing the stereotype in the process.

Some Malays fear more the threat of being seen as a stereotype rather than actually being the stereotype, and this could be one of the reasons why we see gaps in streamlining the grand purpose of understanding Islam among the progressive Malays.

Being apologetic for the bumiputra policy is not considered appropriate as it was properly studied and the implication was well understood.

Our forefathers would have known the long-term divisive consequences, and this is particularly poignant given the non-bumiputra’s outstanding contributions in developing the country.

However, all Malaysians must accept that such a policy is the right way to help the nation. Malays have already become aware of the reasons for such policies and of how the opinions of some of them are being manipulated by politicians to stay in power. We just need to know when and where to make a healthy distinction.

I celebrate Siti’s righteousness and her gifts but she has to be careful that she uses them wisely and avert some scenarios that will hamper everyone’s efforts.

If maybe one day Siti could share the good things she likes about Muslim and Malays, and share these as an agent of change, there would definitely be more who would listen to her and be inspired, I guarantee it.

Being an activist without having an action plan to change the people’s mindset is not going to work.

IKMAL BAHARUDIN Kuala Lumpur, The Staronline
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The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics messed up!

Old politics: If the leadership keeps to the racialist, feudalist and religious-centric tactics and policies of the past, thinking this is what they need to do to keep the votes, it will just be the repeat of  past mistakes of the Umno era.

Malays are powering the nation

WE refer to “The real Malay Dilemma” (The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics./Sunday Star, Aug 26) by Siti Kassim. Siti’s rambling diatribe against Malay Muslims can be reduced to two baseless, provocative, insulting and defamatory allegations, namely:

1. Assimilation of Islamic values in governance is responsible for Malay backwardness and inability to compete with other races; and

2. Malays, constituting 60% of the population, are unproductive and parasitical, depending on the industry and labour of the remaining 40%, Chinese and Indians.

On the assimilation of Islamic values in governance, Siti questions whether “a Malay society, more insular and superstitious in thought… can compete on a fair footing with the rest of the Malaysian non-Muslim population.” She writes that Malays have been given preferred places in universities, GLCs and the civil service for over 40 years, resulting in “uncompetitive universities, a significant pool of unemployable Malay graduates and with most being employed by the civil service… failed GLCs and …corrupt administration…” She asks if more religion would help and continues, “This has been the unintended consequence of the assimilation of Islamic values in governance.”

What evidence has Siti got to link the above allegations of Malay backwardness to the so-called Islami­sation? Has she conducted any studies or consulted reports and research findings to come to that conclusion? Her claim is just hot air driven by prejudice towards Islam.

There has been no assimilation of Islamic values in governance as provided by the syariah. Having prayer rooms in government offices, teaching Islam to Muslim students in schools, broadcasting azan on TV or having an Islamic TV channel do not make governance Islamic. The Malaysian state is based on a constitution drafted by secular jurists and not on syariah. Most government leaders and top bureaucrats, products of Western education, are very much influenced by secular ideas and ignorant about Islam and its contributions to civilisations.

It is the separation of the moral from governance under a secular system that has facilitated the corruption, abuse of power, nepotism and cronyism of our government leaders and administrators. So, why blame Islam?

Siti condemns Malays as parasites. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a parasite as a person who is lazy and lives by other people working and giving them money.

Siti writes that the majority of Malays are satisfied with their lives and carry on being religiously obsessed because they have been “able to live off the teats of the government in one way or another”.

She continues: “Thirty per cent to 40% of the population cannot sustain 100% of us. You need the remaining, at least majority, of that 60% (Malays) to be able to truly contribute economically and not be consumers of tax from the minorities. And religion is not an economic contributor. It is an unproductive consumer of epic proportions with no returns.”

Obviously, she has not heard of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. To Siti, Malay businessmen, professionals, workers, farmers, fishermen, civil servants, police and soldiers do not contribute sales tax, income tax, road tax and other taxes payable under our laws. They are only “consumers of tax from minorities (Chinese and Indians)”. In other words, they are parasites. This is an insulting and provocative lie!

She claims that the transformation of Malaysia from an agricultural to an industrial nation with liberal economic policies was “powered by an industrious non-Malay population and the liberal segment of the Malay society”. She must have been blinded by prejudice not to see the role played by millions of Malay workers, engineers, surveyors, architects, policymakers and administrators in the industrial development of Malaysia.

Good public education and healthcare services are essential to becoming a developed industrial society. In 2016, Irina Bokova, then the Unesco director-general, praised Malaysia for “leading the way in South-East Asia in fostering inclusive and equitable education as the basis of sustainable green growth”.

And in his message on 2018 World Health Day, WHO regional representative Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline stated that Malaysia has been acknowledged globally for its high-performing health system based on a well-trained workforce, excellent infrastructure and quality service delivery.

Since independence, infant death has fallen by more than 90% to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016. Maternal mortality has also decreased by 89% between 1963 and 2013.

Who are these “well-trained workforce”? Mostly “unemployable Malay graduates” from “uncompetitive universities” and other institutions.

Who are the members of “the liberal segment of the Malay society” who powered the industrial transformation of Malaysia?

Are they those who are blond and advocating “separation of religion and government; religion must be a private matter and kept private; take out religious education from the public arena”?

Or those who call for recognition of homosexual, gay and lesbian rights; criminalisation of polygamy and decriminalisation of adultery; and free sex?

Sorry Siti, if there was any contribution from this deviant group, it was very minimal as many of them look to green pastures outside Malaysia and migrate. The rapid transformation of the Malaysian economy has been powered by patriotic devout Malay Muslims and the minorities, Chinese and Indians.

It is not the Malays who face a dilemma in engaging the modern world because their religion teaches them to seek success in this world and in the hereafter (Quran 2:201). It is Siti who faces a serious dilemma on whether to decolonise her thinking and become a true Malay Muslim or remain a Western secular clone.

By MOHD AZMI ABDUL HAMID President
Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization

Endorsed by:

Syekh Ahmad Awang, chairman, International Union of Muslim Scholars Malaysia

Syekh Abdul Ghani Samsudin, chairman, Secretariat for the Assembly of Ulama of Asia

Assoc Prof Dr Roslan Mohd Nor, secretary-general, Ulama Association of Malaysia

Datin Ustazah Aminah Zakaria, chairperson, Persatuan Persaudaraan Muslimah Malaysia

Hj Baharudin Masrom, secretary, Kongres Ummah

Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan, committee member of SHURA

Prof Dr Rahmatullah Khan, committee of MaSSa

Dr Abdul Rahman Ahmad, committee of SUARA

Datuk Abdullah Mad Din, former director of Islamic Division, Ministry of Education

Datuk Hadzir Md Zain, former deputy director-general, Implementation Coordination Unit, JPM


Elaborating the dilemma in today’s terms

I REFER to the comments from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization in response to my latest column “The real Malay Dilemma” (The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics/Sunday Star, Aug 26).

Mine was an opinion piece. It seems the writer of the letter from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization and the characters endorsing it cannot differentiate between journalism and opinion. Having said that, whatever I say speak for itself.

Our former prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn were all secularists. Our present Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Malay Dilemma” and what he continues to say today about how we Malays practise Islam still stands. I just elaborated the dilemma in today’s terms.

Is our Malay society not more insular or more superstitious than in the 80s? Ask yourselves. I won’t go into the nonsense and tahyul being preached on Malay sites that are popular today; let’s just look at the public universities that are managed and led by Malays. Did we use to have faculties in universities producing anti-hysteria kits or paranormal detection equipment or holding seminars on hell or how to interact with non-Muslims?

There’s a chief syariah judge proposing to have standard operating procedures for cases with “mystical elements”.

What is going on? Even in the 70s or 80s, such nonsense was unheard of among Malays leading our institutions.

Just reading the rants equating liberalism with perverts and everything to do with sex practically tells one of their mindset. They cannot escape from their dogmatic conservative religious notion of what makes a person a liberal.

They are intent on demonising liberalism so they can impose devoutness as they see it unto society.

Where were all these defenders of Islam and the Malays when our leaders were robbing the nation blind? Did we hear a peep from them?

I speak of leadership to change our society. I am so glad, in spite of the recalcitrant conservatives, that the Sultan of Selangor took the mantle of leadership and pronounced that the legal age of marriage be raised to 18 for Muslims. That is liberalism.

Only liberals have been calling for this to protect the childhood of our girls and to ensure they have the opportunity for education and a full life.

I am a Malay and a Muslim. I will speak up for the good of our society without fear or favour or intimidation. We need to face our demons and change to progress. Someone needs to tell the inconvenient truths.

By SITI KASSIM

National unity – an inconvenient truth?

Dear new government, if you continue to divide us, you will rue the day.

 

TWO events in recent days reminded me what is truly important to this nation.

The first was the National Day celebration on Friday in Putrajaya.

Although the euphoria over GE14 has waned, there was still enough to make me want to be part of the National Day celebration even if via my telly. So I did something I hadn’t done in years: got up early just to watch the parade.

The cameras at Dataran Putrajaya showed thousands of Malaysians who were more excited than me and had taken the trouble to line the thoroughfare to enjoy the spectacle and catch glimpses of members of the new Cabinet.

Indeed, it was deja vu to see Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali sitting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V on the VIP grandstand.

It was also a touch surreal to see several faces we once thought impossible to see in such a setting – Cabinet members such as Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Gobind Singh Deo, Lim Guan Eng, Mohamed Sabu, M. Kulasegaran and Teresa Kok.

On the pavement, the opening and closing acts by flag-waving young Malaysians dancing in unison warmed the cockles of my heart.

I appreciated the effort to ensure all races were brought together to perform in a show of unity, emphasising the slogan: Sayangi Malaysiaku.

Yes, I do love my Malaysia, as do millions of others who were born and bred in this gracious, blessed land. That birthright is what unites us all.

And that is the key lesson to the well-being of our nation – unity.

Which leads me to the second event: the GE14-inspired movie, Rise: Ini Kalilah.

I caught it on Monday night and relived somewhat that incredible time when Malaysian history was made.

While not perfectly told and it is a story that only Malaysians can fully understand and appreciate, the movie has enough to keep its audience interested and it ultimately delivers the feel-good factor as it too reinforces the power of unity; that is, what can be achieved when enough citizens unite for a common cause.

Yet that power was never properly developed because it was politically inexpedient.

For its own political survival, especially after the 2008 GE, the Barisan Nasional government preferred to use race and religion to divide and rule the nation. That ultimately wreaked havoc on our interracial ties, as stated in local human rights group Pusat KOMAS’ Malaysia Racial Discrimination Report released in March this year.

National unity, as far can I can remember, was trotted out as important only after something bad had happened.

It took the terrible May 13, 1969, racial riots for the government to set up the National Unity Council.

The council was disbanded in 1971 and replaced by the National Unity Advisory Council, whose secretariats were the Department of National Unity and the National Muhibbah Office.

The two agencies were merged to form the National Unity Ministry in 1972. But it only lasted till 1974, when it was replaced by the National Unity Board.

The next time national unity took the spotlight was after GE13. The results showed the need to do something to reduce racial polarisation and to build a “united Malaysian nation”. That led to the formation of the National Unity Consultative Council in September 2013.

The NUCC held a series of meetings with agencies and NGOs to formulate a National Unity Blueprint. In 2014, it proposed three so-called Harmony Bills to replace the Sedition Act.

But the Act remained and the Bills became mired in controversy since they would make it mandatory for the government and all persons to promote equality and prohibit discrimination based on religion, race, birthplace, gender and disability. That was somehow anathema to the Malay agenda and the Bills went on the backburner.

It would appear the previous government saw the need for better national unity as an inconvenient truth and continued to use it for “display purposes only.”

So whither national unity in New Malaysia?

Political scientist Chandra Muzaffar, in criticising Pakatan for leaving it out in its election manifesto, wants the new government to make its stand known and emphasise the Rukunegara to show “it is serious and sincere about one of Malaysia’s foremost challenges but would have also demonstrated that it is crystal-clear about the direction we should take as a people.”

But others take a different view. Prolific online commentator T.K. Chua says: “What is the point of declaring unity as our goal when our policies, programmes and actions are doing just the opposite?”

He adds: “It is time to stop the endless declarations and slogans typical of a third world country. We can’t talk ourselves to national unity. National unity is the product of years of inclusive policies, programmes and actions.”

And that is what he wants to see in the Pakatan government – action, or in today’s jargon, walk the walk.

I take both views to be important: talk the talk and walk the walk. In our fractured nation, we sorely need to hear Pakatan leaders openly and loudly embrace national unity as a must-do KPI and then see them implement it in all their policies and actions for the long haul. Only then can we hold them to their words and judge them by their actions.

For now, Pakatan still seems dazed by its own victory and further stunned to find government machinery that Dr Mahathir says is broken.

If that is the case, Pakatan has the chance to rebuild the machinery that was abused by its predecessors and set it right. No more “divide and rule” but “one for all and all for one”!

By June H L Wong
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The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics messed up!

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The real Malay dilemma: race, religion & politics messed up!


Old politics: If the leadership keeps to the racialist, feudalist and religious-centric tactics and policies of the past, thinking this is what they need to do to keep the votes, it will just be the repeat of past mistakes of the Umno era.

The issue is whether any of the Malay leadership  would be willing
to change its society from a religious-centric one to one that is
progressive and modern in character

A HIGH-level panel has been announced to review the administration of Islamic Institutions at the Federal level. Commendably, all views from the general public is welcomed. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal is also quoted as saying, in the announcement of this Panel, that it was appropriate that the related institutions undergo improvement so as to protect the religion of Islam, as well as promote its universal values in the country.

So here is a short opinion – Islam does not need protection, nor does it need to be institutionalised.

As a Muslim, I believe in God Almighty. His religion does not need anyone’s help, least of all from fallible human beings. Islam and God has no need for anything, but human beings do. No one represents Islam. Everyone represents their version of Islam that suits their wants and needs. These include those in political parties that say it represents Islam but simply do not. They merely represent their personal human interest for power and authority.

We need our Government to protect us from people who want to wield powers upon others by using religion as their weapon. That is what we Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims need. I want to ask the political leaders of Malaysia, elected and unelected: What do you intend to do to protect us from those in power whose interest is to wield their religion over others?

In Malaysia today, we are obsessed with religion. Politicians and Ministers talk about religion and upholding religion. We have dedicated channels and programmes on religion on mainstream TV. Teachers force their religion and religious interpretations on children. Even the technical department, JKR (Public Works Department) for example, has set up sign boards espousing religious thoughts. Ever go to civil service offices? Observe just how many religious seminar banners and thoughts are plastered all over these places. Sometimes I wonder whether these are public services departments or religious propaganda functionaries.

Why this parade of religion in the public sphere? Is it because our people obsess on religion, as they personally have got nothing else of substance to promote that would enhance their work and the lives of the people they serve? Or that they have to cling to religion as that is their one and only part of their lives that provide them any sense of self-worth?

Today, our Malay society has become a society so religiously judgemental that the sight of a woman without head-cover is practically blasphemous.

Think about this, after all the hue and cry of the 41 year old with 2 wives, from Kelantan who groomed his third, 11 year old child bride from the poor family in Thailand, the state religious authority penalised him for an unregistered marriage and then, instead of voiding it, basically approves the marriage. A significant portion of our Malay- Muslim society rejoiced!

Can a Malay society, more insular and superstitious in thought, that is now funding thousands of religious schools and Tahfiz centres/boarding houses than ever before in its history, create a population that is competitive to succeed in the 21st century?

Can it even compete on a fair footing with the rest of the Malaysian non-Muslim population? Malays have been given preferential places in universities, GLCs and the civil service for more than 40 years now, what have we got to show for it? Uncompetitive universities, a significant pool of unemployable Malay graduates and with most being employed by the civil service and the failed GLCs, and such corrupt administrations that a 93- year-old man has to come back to be the Prime Minister, that’s what. Would more religion help? Or would it make the population less competitive? Let us all be honest.

This has been the unintended consequence of the assimilation of Islamic values in governance (“penerapan nilai-nilai Islam”) instituted in 1985. The road to hell, they say, is always paved with good intentions. If nothing is done this nightmare is just beginning for the Malay society and Malaysian in general will suffer for it.

If we want to see where our nation is headed with this type of ideology and cultural religious mind-set besetting 60% of our population, we don’t have to look far to Saudi Arabia or Iran or even Aceh, we just need to see the state of governance and life in Kelantan. Democracy is only as good as an informed and intellectually challenging population. The Nazis in Germany and the Mullahs in Iran were all elected by the majority. Today, the Iranians are rebelling against their repressive theocratic Government but the Mullahs are not going to let go of power that easily. Thousands are in jail. But our Malays don’t seem to see or learn the lesson. Erdogan is taking Turkey on that road to already disastrous consequences and many of our Malays applaud.

The only reason the majority of the Malays today are satisfied with their lives to carry on being religiously obsessed, thinking non-stop of the afterlife and judging others, while the non-Malays are focused on bettering themselves in this life, is that the Malays, by and large, has been able to live off the teats of the Government in one way or another. It has been a fulfilled entitlement that will end sooner rather than later.

This gravy train has stopped. Mahathir and Robert Kuok, two 90-year-old plus statesmen, had to go to China almost in tribute with offerings, to extricate us from the mess our Malay leaders have created.

Unfortunately, Malays are oblivious to this fact. In fact, even most non-Malays are oblivious to the fact that if we do nothing, 30 to 40% of the population cannot sustain 100% of us. You need the remaining, at least, majority of that 60% to be able to truly contribute economically and not be consumers of tax from the minorities. And religion is not an economic contributor. It is an unproductive consumer of epic proportions with no returns.

Mahathir came to lead the Government in 1981 and transform an agricultural hamlet into an industrial one with liberal economic policies powered by an industrious non-Malay population and the liberal segment of the Malay society.

This was the population that made the country progress. Mahathir was not popular as a result of Islamisation. Mahathir was and is popular because he brought progress, prosperity and in-turn unity and pride in the country to everyone as Malaysians. He brought revolutionary change to real life. For all intents and purposes, he was a liberal progressive leader.

A progressive leadership will only be elected by a progressive society. The only reason the Pakatan Harapan government was elected was because the progressive societies of the non-Malays and the liberal Malay voted for it. We saved the nation, again. Unfortunately, that liberal segment is now forgotten and vilified. Malay liberals who are capable and focused on a productive life are labelled blasphemous and extremists, and shunned by the leadership in power, no matter who are in power.

The religious conservatives, on the other hand, are courted and coddled as if they will be the ever-lasting vote bank that must be assuaged. Think again on this paradigm. Malay swing votes are persuadable but only if the leadership shows the way.

If the leadership keeps to the racialist, feudalist, and religious-centric policies of the past, thinking this is what they need to do to keep the votes, they will just be repeating past mistakes of the Umno era. More of the Malay population will move to the right of centre towards the Mullahs. It is an inevitable outcome of such a policy. Islamisation was a counter to PAS, it only made Umno the old PAS, and PAS the new Taliban and a stronger party every year from that time onwards.

Religion by its very nature will always veer towards conservatism and fundamentalism, no matter how one wants to spin those words. Because institutionalised religion is about following. The attractiveness of institutionalised religion is the abdication of thinking to religious leaders with easy answers one shall not question. More so, when the population is uncompetitive against the outside world. In Malaysia, we have one of the most sophisticated array of institutionalised Islam in the world today.

So, without a change from the religious-centric environment the Malay society is currently in, and an education system that indoctrinates rather than enhance critical thinking, Malay society will continually drift towards the insularity of religious conservatism and away from progressive capabilities to succeed in the modern world. And population demographic will ensure that a progressive Government will eventually lose out.

Therein lies the real Malay dilemma.

Would any of the Malay leadership be willing to change its society from a religious centric one to one that is progressive and modern in character?

Do you want our Malay society to continue to regress and be uncompetitive? Do you want it to drag the rest of us down the road of conservatism and economic ruin?

As Malay leaders, do you placate or do you lead for change?

How do you lead that change?

Credit to Siti Kasim –

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Star.

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Warning to civil servants: stop bodek-bodeking, Serve people and govt of the day or else ..


 

‘Enough with being yes men’ – MACC chiefs warns top civil servants against brown-nosing

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has warned civil servants to stop the culture of bodek-bodeking (brown-nosing) in the public service.

Directors-general and heads of department must stop being “yes men” to ministers and deputy ministers, Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull (pic) said.

“Do your own work and don’t interfere in the tasks of others. In fact, civil servants should consider this a warning – from now on, stop with the bodek-bodeking culture.

“By right, ministers have no authority on projects, they can only create policies. That is why the directors-general and heads of department must be brave enough to say no.

“Do not be ministers’ crutches or their yes men. It does not matter if we get kicked around as long as we are doing the right thing,” he told Sinar Harian.

He said that the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judiciary should be abided by, and boundaries of autho­rity should be clear at each level.

“Do not ever breach the boundaries of another person’s job scope.

“That can cause chaos,” Mohd Shukri said.

He also said heads of department, especially those in enforcement divisions, must give clear and accurate advice to ministers, deputy ministers and other policymakers.

“Only say yes if you know it’s true, don’t just say yes, yes, yes although the matter may be untrue. You must be brave,” he said, adding that they should refer to the MACC if they were unclear about instructions.

Mohd Shukri also called on directors-general and heads of department to be bold enough to give the right advice as demanded by their rank.

“If you are not brave enough to say no to something that is not right, then it’s better to not hold that position in the first place,” he said.

He suggested the Government appreciate those who have served with integrity and not the kaki bodek (apple polishers), saying the latter group was ruining the country’s system.

“Get angry at me if you want, I am speaking the truth and the truth hurts but it’s worth it.

“Look at the situation now. When misdeeds are exposed, who wants to help? No one. Only we can help ourselves,” he said.- The Star

Wan Azizah to civil servants: Serve govt of the day or else …

 

Concerned Ministers: (from left) Rina, Dr Wan
Azizah and Dr Maszlee speaking to the media during a press conference
after chairing the national Children’s Well-being Roadmap meeting in
Putrajaya. — Bernama

Civil servants must serve the government of the day and not obstruct the workings of the new administration, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

“It has come to my attention that a small number of civil servants are not supporting, but obstructing, the Pakatan Harapan government.

“This is a warning to those doing so that we expect professionalism from our civil service and for them to serve the government of the day,” she said in a press statement after chairing a meeting for a national Children’s Well-being Roadmap in Putrajaya yesterday.

Her warning follows concerns raised by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad earlier this month over the loyalty of civil servants who campaigned for Barisan Nasional during GE14.

On the Children’s Well-being Roadmap, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said that more input was needed from stakeholders to develop strategies and programmes to address pressing issues affecting children.

She highlighted the need to develop a more integrated and coherent approach when dealing with children with growth deficiencies.

“We do not want a piecemeal approach to this,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said the roadmap would also cover marginalised, stateless and refugee children along with children who are victims of sexual abuse.

“This inter-ministerial meeting was called to create coordination as well as an expression of political will and our determination to get to the bottom of these problems.

“We can’t claim to be a caring society if we ignore and neglect those who are most in need of care,” she added.

Present at the meeting were Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Rural Development Minister Rina Mohd Harun, representatives from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim.The Star



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Malaysian policy changes and new initiatives soon


Video:

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/06/07/policy-changes-and-new-initiatives-soon-dr-m-shift-includes-ensuring-top-civil-servants-know-and-spe/

PUTRAJAYA: Signalling a major policy change over defence and administrative issues, the Prime Minister has outlined several initiatives that the Government will undertake from now on.

For starters, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad does not want warships on either the Straits of Malacca or the South China Sea.

In doing so, Dr Mahathir has sent a strong message to superpo­wers, such as the United States and China, that Malaysia wish to remain neutral over their desire to control the region.

To ensure better spending of public funds, he has enlisted the help of former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang to head a high-level committee to look into the procurement of government supplies, starting with the Defence Ministry.

In a move to improve the running of the public sector, Dr Mahathir said top civil servants would have to sit for an English competency test, signalling a major initiative in pushing for the language to be part of the civil administration.

“We consider English a very important language and it must be mastered by all high-ranking civil servants. These top officers must have a strong command of English because they always have to deal with foreigners,” Dr Mahathir said at a press conference after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Instantly, former civil servants lauded the move, as many felt that government officers today were less proficient in English and as such, could not work as well as the seniors before them.

Tan Sri Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, for instance, said that it was important for civil servants at all levels to master the English language.

“It’s a good idea and it’s about time that this was introduced. Thailand and Vietnam are catching up very fast and we don’t want to be left behind,” said Dr Rebecca.

The former International Trade and Industry Ministry secretary-general said Miti staff in particular had to undergo English language training as the ministry was involved in a lot of international work, drafting agreements and statements that required a high level of proficiency in the language.

Former Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to United Nations Tan Sri Hasmy Agam concurred.

“It’s a fantastic idea. In this globalised age, we have to be proficient in English at all levels.

“If you are a civil servant and you are not proficient in English, you can’t participate much at the international level,” he said.

Hasmy said apart from top civil servants, proficiency in English should also be emphasised in schools and universities as well.

“If Malaysia is aspiring to join the ranks of developed countries, we have to start now.

“A Malaysian would be more patriotic if he or she can communicate in international languages, in this case English, when representing the country’s interests abroad.

“Negotiations in diplomacy, trade, labour – you have to negotiate in English,” he added.

Both Dr Rebecca and Hasmy said that the younger generation of civil servants were less proficient in English due to different mediums used in schools.

“We have to do it (English language training) for the younger ones coming into the service because they went through a Malay-medium education,” said Dr Rebecca.

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Mind your words, please!


The colour orange: Oren refers to the orange colour of the T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear when they are brought to court.

 

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been in the news almost daily with its arrests of politicians and businessmen, many carrying the Tan Sri and Datuk Seri titles.

This has become the subject of conversation among Malaysians.

To help foreigners, especially those doing business here in Malaysia, below is a compilation of terms that are often used to denote corrupt practices. To the clueless, these words could easily be misunderstood.

Worse, it could land unsuspecting expatriates in serious trouble with the law, especially with the MACC, if they use these seemingly innocent terms without realising their implications.

Here’s a list of everyday words and how they are used.

Jalan – this is a Bahasa Malaysia word for “road”. On the surface, it sounds simple and straightforward. Every road sign begins, mostly, with this word to denote, well, road. If only it was that simple. In reality, it could be the beginning of a corrupt offer.

If someone asks you: “You got jalan ah?” It doesn’t mean seeking assistance for a road direction. In the Malaysian context, it probably means “is there a way to resolve a complicated situation?” Some may argue the word need not necessarily be “illegal” as it could also mean finding a clever way out of a problem.

Kabel – the Malay word for “cable”. Cables are strong, thick wires, which are usually twisted or braided together. Well, in Malaysia, it also means someone in position – a very powerful person, often a politician in high office, or a senior government officer, who is able to help secure a big contract or deal. So, if someone asks whether “you have kabel?” you shouldn’t look puzzled or confused.

It simply means you need to have the support of an influential figure who is as strong as a cable. It’s no longer good enough to “pull strings” but you must be able to “pull cable” for your plans to get off.

Lubang – it literally means a hole. Most Malaysians grumble about lubang or the numerous pot holes along our badly maintained roads. The vulgar ones uses this word with a sexual connotation.

But in the more sleazy world of bribery, lubang means an opportunity, usually an illegal way, to make money. It has nothing to do with holes, as the word suggests.

Kau tim – this is a Cantonese word, which has actually become a Malaysian word, used by all races. It means finished, done or resolved. As simple as that.

But it is also a way of expressing agreement, or to settle a problem with bribery. For example, if you are stopped by a traffic cop for a traffic offence, you may say “boleh kau tim ah?” or the policeman may suggest “macam mana mau selesai, mau kau tim kah?

Lu tak mau kau tim, mesti susah punya. Nanti kena pi balai, pi court.” (If you do not wish to settle, it can be difficult. You may have to go to the police station or even the court.)

Ta pau – I always thought that this Chinese word means to pack food or a take-away, but it has come to mean a greedy corrupt person who wants to take away the entire loot all for himself without sharing with anyone, as in “he wants to ta pau everything, how can? So greedy one.”

So, no expatriate who has just arrived in town should go around telling everyone that he wants to “ta pau” everything he can lay his hands on. He can be sure of getting strange, hostile stares.

Selesai – it means to end or the end. It could be the end of a movie, the end of a meal or the end of a relationship. It’s a really simple word but in the Malaysian context of corruption, it means “how to resolve this?” or “it has been settled.”

Usually, the act of corruption will begin with a simple question – “So, macam mana mau selesai?” or “how do we settle this?”. For sure, it won’t be a challenge to a fight or a gentlemanly end to a problem with a handshake. Don’t be stupid. It’s an invitation to begin negotiation for, errr, a bribe.

The English version is also often used, as in “can settle ah?”

Lesen kopi – This has to be the Corruption 101 lesson for our young drivers. It is the first step into the world of corruption in Malaysia. Nobody wants to admit it but going by hearsay and unsubstantiated remarks, many Malaysians taking their driving test believe that they need to bribe the examiner in order to pass the very first time. Lesen kopi means bribing to get a driving licence.

So, they earn what is known as “lesen kopi” or licences obtained via corrupt ways, or duit kopi. Small gratification for “coffee” for the testers. Coffee, not tea. Strangely, there is no such term despite our fondness for teh tarik.

It may sound terribly confusing to tea drinking foreigners but please don’t think that this is the reason why so many Malaysians kill themselves or each other on our roads.

Ikan bilis – it refers to anchovies, those tiny fish, usually fried, found in our national food, the nasi lemak. But it also means small fry. So when low-ranking government officers are arrested for corruption, the MACC is often criticised for just going after the ikan bilis and not the bigwigs, known as sharks in the Malaysian context.

Makan duitMakan essentially means to eat. There’s no way, literally, that a person can eat a ringgit note. But it is synonymous with taking a bribe. It may be confusing to a foreigner as it may seem impossible to eat stacks of ringgit notes but this is Malaysia. We are versatile as well as adaptive. Many people will tell foreigners that they are able to, well, makan duit. Can one, who say cannot?

Oren – It’s not orange juice. It refers to the colour of the round-collared T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear.

This is the dreaded colour for all suspects, in handcuffs, being led to court in full view of the press.

You can be in red or yellow but orange is a no-no. The new term now is “jangan oren” or “don’t be in orange.”

On The Beat by Wong Chun Wai, The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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Sheriff: ‘Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy

KUALA LUMPUR: One of Malaysia’s former top civil servants has called on the Government to consider downsizing the country’s bloated civil service, while it still can.

Malaysia has the highest civil servants to population ratio in the Asia-Pacific, employing 1.6 million people or 11% of the country’s labour force.

And that could be a problem Malaysia may not be able to sustain if it runs into a financial crisis, said Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, the former Finance Ministry secretary-general and Economic Planning Unit director-general.

He said if the Government was really set on keeping the national deficit at 3%, it needed to look at retrenching employees, particularly in the lower levels of the civil service, to cut spending.

“Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy. There are just too many rules and regulations that the public and private sector have to live with,” he told a delegation of economists, politicians and government officials at the Malaysian Economic Association’s forum on public sector governance.

He advised Malaysia to begin downsizing the civil service, “better sooner than later” if it wanted to avoid running the risk of falling into a Greece-like crisis, where the European country had to cut salaries and was unable to pay pensions for its civil service.

Drawing examples from the recent Malaysia Airlines restructuring, where 6,000 people were retrenched, Mohd Sheriff said it was better to let staff go now and compensate them with retrenchment packages while the Government can still afford it.

“It may cost the Government a heavy expenditure now but it is worthwhile to do it now while we can still afford it and not until we are forced into a financial crisis like Greece.

“We don’t want to be in that situation. I think we should do it gradually. It is kinder to do it now with incentives than to suddenly cut their salaries and pensions at a time when they can least afford it,” he said.

Malaysia is expected to spend RM76bil in salaries and allowances for the civil service this year, on top of another RM21bil for pensions. Efficiency and corruption dominated talks on the civil service at the forum, held at Bank Negara’s Sasana Kijang.

Mohd Sheriff, who is also former president of the Malaysian Economic Association, said these issues have been around since his time in the civil service decades ago though not much has changed due to a lack of political will.

In jest, he suggested Malaysia emulate United States President Donald Trump’s idea on downsizing the US civil service by closing down two departments of the Government if it wanted to open another one.

He also suggested that Parliament create a committee to monitor the performance of top civil servants and give them the ability to retrench these officers if they fail to meet their marks.

“In many countries, even Indonesia, they have committees to hold Government leaders to any shortcomings on policy implementations and projects.

“These are the kinds of checks and balance we need to make our civil servants aware that they are being monitored for their work and they can be pulled out at any time,” he said.

Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani had said Malaysia’s ratio of civil servants is one to 19.37 civilians and that the high number of Government staff had caused expenditures to balloon yearly.

As a comparison, the ratio in Indonesia is 1:110, in China it is 1:108, in Singapore it’s 1:71.4 and in South Korea the ratio is 1:50.

Despite this, Johari said there were no plans to reduce the number of civil servants.

By Nicholas Ccheng The Star

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