I am in complete agreement with the 13 August 2019 statement by the Deputy Minister of Defence, YB Senator Liew Chin Tong on the role of Malaysia’s Armed Forces. As I have stressed on many occasions, the one and only job of Malaysia’s serving men and women should be to defend our country and its people. It is also certainly not true, as some have allegedly claimed, The statement by Koon Yew Yin that that our military personnel are “…doing nothing except eating and sleeping,” does not only belittle the role of our soldiers but is entirely untrue. I take note of his statement of apology. Proposals to use our military for political or extraneous purposes should be firmly rejected. The country does not need unsolicited, hare-brained ideas on how to utilise its armed forces. Rather, what is needed is wise policies and public support to maintain and upgrade their professionalism; as well as to ensure the welfare of the men and women who keep our nation safe.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
There have been reports that the Government of Myanmar has summoned the Malaysian Ambassador to that country on 31 July 2019 in relation to remarks made by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the plight of the Rohingya people. For the record, Dr Mahathir had recently called for the Rohingya to either be treated as nationals by Myanmar or given territory to form their own state. This is part of the Malaysian government’s entirely correct, consistent and just stance on the Rakhine crisis, of which I am in complete agreement with. A bloody, genocidal campaign waged by Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, in the state since 2017 has resulted in more than 750,000 Rohingya fleeing the country, as well as credible allegations of mass killings and rape. According to the United Nations, one million Rohingya are now virtually stranded as refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh. It is perhaps unsurprising that the government of Myanmar would object to the Dr Mahathir’s comments. Nevertheless, their actions betray how completely in denial, indeed, delusional they are regarding the catastrophe the Tatmadaw—who are the true rulers of the Union—have deliberately engineered within their own borders. Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that the Prime Minister’s remarks go against ASEAN’s principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. The Ministry however is either wilfully ignorant or blind to the fact that the ASEAN Charter and the principle of non-interference does not give its members carte blanche to commit human rights abuses or engage in acts of gross impunity. Indeed, Article 2 (2) (i) of the of the Charter mandates that ASEAN and its member states shall act according to the principles of “…respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice”. The Yangon regime under its so-called State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi should also realise that the Tatmadaw’s crimes in Rakhine have sparked a humanitarian crisis that has had negative ramifications for the Southeast as well as South Asian regions and beyond. The plight of the Rohingya is no longer an internal issue of Myanmar’s but a regional and indeed global tragedy in the making should urgent action not be taken. Should Myanmar wish to end the international opprobrium that it has so rightly been subject to, then it should rein in the out-of-control Tatmadaw, punish the preparators of the atrocities in the Rakhine and ensure that all the Rohingya are returned to their homes as well as given their rights as citizens of the Union.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT SETIAWANGSA
Chang Lih Kang and I were privileged to meet British Muslim scholar Timothy John Winter @ Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad. He is the Dean of the Cambridge Muslim College where imams are trained with the religious knowledge then exposed to leading scholars from Cambridge University.
Then we were honoured to visit (and pray Maghrib and Isha) at Cambridge Mosque Project the world’s first modern eco mosque and Cambridge’s first purpose-built mosque. It is not open to ths public yet. Ironically they did a test Friday Prayer on the day of the Christchurch attacks and the local non Muslim community came to give flowers to the mosque.
Sheikh Hakim has been the driving force of this project. About 10 years ago he came to Malaysia and I managed to get him to speak at Masjid Tengku Kelana Jaya Petra in my old constituency and we did a fundraising for this mosque project. Interestingly non Muslims too donated in in the building of the mosque.
Alhamdulillah, we were given a preview of the mosque from the man himself.
Last week, I was invited by Syed Kamall MEP, from the Conservatives to be a panellist at the European Muslim World Democracy Forum. My session was on human capital and education looking specifically on women and youths.
I began by talking about how Malaysia’s NEP stabilised its society and helped to create a Bumiputera middle-class.
This middle-class arguably assisted the movement for political change and reform in Malaysia, especially for parties like Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
However, there are certain anomalies that need to be addressed:
The problems that initiatives like the NEP created, such as corruption, but also entitlement.
Also, economic empowerment has not necessarily prevented youths—whatever their faith—from becoming radicalized. There have been countless terrorists, extremists and radicals from middle-class backgrounds.
The first problem can be addressed by continuing to pursue democracy and good governance in Muslim societies. It is wrong to say that these things are in any way inimical to the teachings of Islam.
The challenge is for politicians to win support and buy-in for these principles among Muslim constituents. This is the challenge facing Pakatan right now. But this is not a problem unique to Muslim polities. Look how American voters continuously tolerate corrupt Republican and even Democratic politicians in some states.
This issue hence requires nuance. Progressive politicians must show that good governance will benefit all peoples—both majority and minorities—as well as protect their dignity and status.
But economic justice is just one piece of the puzzle. Radicalisation among educated and middle-class youth often happens not because they feel poor or oppressed, but because they want meaning in their lives.
The key is persuading young people that voting, being in political parties and civil society as well as participating in policy debates can not only improve their economies, but also make their societies more equal, improve their sense of self-worth and genuinely build their nations.
What needs to happen is that the political class has to: a. Reduce the barriers to entry for politics for younger figures. b. Recognize that youth-driven political causes like environmentalism and universal basic income must now be in the mainstream of political discourse. c. Not scoff or trivialise the influence of social media on politics. We must fight against fake news, of course—but also recognize that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook etc. are serious factors in our democracies.
It is certainly not right for European countries to seek to clamp down on immigration or multiculturalism. We live in a world now where every country is being judged via the 24/7 news cycle and social media.
The West needs to live up to its own values—and it must also have confidence in its own civilization. It should not fear what immigrants do to their values: if Western civilization was really that strong, noble, enlightened and tolerant—all peoples who encounter it would embrace it regardless of their background.
I believe this can be the case. Alienation happens—both among Westerners and immigrants—when the West’s leaders engage in hypocrisy, double-standards or fail to live up to their ideals.
This is something that Asia also must live up to—including Muslim societies and also emerging powers like China – look at the situation of the detention of over a million Uyghurs.
We need all societies to remain open and to also be confident of themselves. At the end of the day, this can only happen with both justice at home and justice abroad.