Thursday, April 14, 2011

Column in The Malay Mail, today: Averting a clash of religions

read also: WHO'S BLOCKING SOLAR POWER TO LONGHOUSES?


The piece I have written for my column in The Malay Mail. Will publish the link to the edited version as soon as it's up on www.mmail.com.my this afternoon


Schooling politicians about priorities (or Lighting up Sarawak after the Elections)

By Ahirudin Attan


At a modest office in Kuala Lumpur last Monday three parties signed an agreement that could pave way for the provision of 24-hour electricity to over 400 schools in the deepest jungles of Sarawak.

There were no Ministers involved, which surprised the handful of business journalists covering the event. Given that these were the final few days before the hotly-contested Sarawak election, you'd think the office would have been swarmed by BN politicians.

In fact, you'd imagine that this MoU would have been signed in Kuching, or Miri, or Sibu where the contests are red hot between BN and the pretenders.

Instead, the signing ceremony was confined to just the signatories representing two companies and Unimas, which had just completed a pilot project to replace diesel-powered generators with made-in-Malaysia green batteries.

As I write this, and as far I know, the implications of this good news have yet to reach Sarawak.

For me, it speaks of one thing: the focus of campaigning in the Sarawak election has been hijacked and is being dictated by other priorities.

From the day Chief Minister Taib Mahmud announced the dissolution of the state assembly to pave way for this Saturday's polls, the main issue has revolved around his 30-year tenure as Sarawak's chief executive.

The Opposition's sole aim is to blame every pot hole on the road on Taib. His "ill-gotten" wealth became the focus of Radio Free Sarawak, which is openly backed by the Pakatan Rakyat, since last year. Despite the state's compliance with international standards, the Chief Minister is being accused of destroying forests and minting money for himself and his family from excessive logging and land grab.

None of these allegations have ever been substantiated but that's besides the point; Taib's enemies were out to discredit him, and were not ashamed to equte him with the likes of Kol Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak. Never mind if Pakatan Rakyat's own leaders - Nik Aziz, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh and even Anwar Ibrahim - have been around before Taib became Chief Minister.

Tit-for-tat, the government supporters built up BN's campaign around the goal of tarnishing the image of the enemy. Pakatan Rakyat's de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has become an easy target after a sex video involving him or his lookalike surfaced last month.

If you read Utusan this morning, news about Anwar Ibrahim easily fills up two broadsheet pages. Those days when Anwar was the Deputy Prime Minister, news worshipped him.  Now, the newspaper that Anwar once controlled as if it was his own has become his worst enemy.

Also, for the first time in decades of our peaceful multi-religion co-existence as a nation, Christians have become a major election tool. A dangerous precedence has been set.

When PAS started cashing in on Islam for political mileage during the 70s, religion quickly became a divisive factor for the Malays. A bit like a mini Shia vs Sunni, minus the bloodshed, the Malay-Muslims started to pray with two imams in the same mosques.

The political game being played in Sarawak is potentially more dangerous, as the Church is being used by certain quarters not to divide among the Christians but to create an affront with the Government and the Muslims.

It is a strategy that is employed stealthily by certain quarters. The Hindu Rights Action Force or Hindraf  was used blatantly in the run-up to the 2008 general elections to produce tension with the Malay-Muslims. Now Hindraf is making a comeback for PRU13 despite having been outlawed after the last general election, where it played a major role in helping BN lose five states.

If the authorities are not careful, we could witness the clash of religions in political rallies for PRU13!

After the polls this weekend, PM Najib Razak must make it his priority to resolve the issues facing the religions. He must be fair and he must be tough to ensure that Malaysia remains moderate.

And Sarawak must go back to work immediately. There is more to this state than churches, mosques and temples. Under the National Key Result Areas, for example, the government is committed to provide 24-hr electricity to more than 140,000 households by 2012, and most of these are in Sarawak.
There's a lot of light at the end of this tunnel, yet.

11 comments:

KY said...

The FINAL DECISION is of course in the hands of SARAWAKIANS themselves.

Whether they want a BETTER FUTURE by voting for BN (due to many plans had been laid out for the betterment of Sarawak & Sarawakians).....

or

Whether they are so NAIVE & IGNORANT to fall for the LIES & TRAPS of PAKATAN RAKYAT.

Personally, I would rather choose BN as BN is more CONSTRUCTIVE in ACTIONS compared to PAKATAN RAKYAT.

All Pakatan Rakyat had been doing in the campaigns are just bashing, bashing, insulting, insulting their rivals WITHOUT providing CONSTRUCTIVE plans should they come into power.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rocky

Even Sarawakians are tired of Billionarie Taib. Even Umno is.

The common Sarawakian is finally waking up. Suprised you are not with them!

Haramba

Anonymous said...

Clap, Clap, Clap!!!

Well said commentator KY.

I agree with you. All we hear from the the ceramahs conducted by Pakatan Rakyat (especially DAP) are just "Kutuk, Caci, Degrade & Name Callings" at Barisan Nasional.

Pakatan Rakyat didn't even bother clarifying what they plan to do for the State & Sarawakians should they be voted in.

Hmm....I wonder are Sarawakians interested to have a 'wakil rakyat' who can implement constructive developments? Or is that Sarawakians are interested to have a 'wakil rakyat' of whom merely only knows how to kutuk, kutuk & kutuk but "Tak Boleh Kerja punya"?

Anonymous said...

For over 30 years ,they now talk of green batteries ...
Tell us Roc on what buggered those poor natives?
How long will development come to Sarawak interiors?A bit late isnt?
Sarawak should have been untouched!Let the natives be...It's the fcuking chinese that wants development and money...The natives were awaken by a corrupt few from mainland called Malaya ...and it now shows that the natives with modern progress are still lingering without a soul.

Anonymous said...

I see you've been spinning on overdrive now. Must be something going on. Oh wait, your masters are about to lose their FD. Good man. Keep it up. Very obedient and predicable. Just like a ......

Seolferwulf said...

A simple question, Rocky - do you believe in freedom of religion for ALL Malaysians, with no buts or maybes?

Should be a simple enough question to answer, yes?

EngHui said...

'Christians have become a major election tool'

talking about MAJOR election tool.. you have live long enough to know that the real tools are the Media, Police, Race, Religion (not only the christian), schools, gangster and $$.

TEMULJIN said...

IN MY PRAYERS TODAY ,I PRAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF SARAWAK TO VOTE WISELY FOR THEIR FUTURE GENERATION TO INHERIT.THE PEOPLE WHO CAME TO CONVINCE YOU TO CHANGE CAN ONLY PROMISE WITHOUT ANY SOULFUL INTENTION TO EXECUTE THE PROMISED CHANGE WHICH IN ITSELF MAY NOT BE RIGHT.
VOTE FOR BARISAN AND WHEN THE TIME COMES. BY WAY OF A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE.REMOVE THE LEADER WITHIN THAT YOU WISH TO REMOVE.IF YOU VOTE OTHERWISE, THE PARTIES WHICH CONSTITUTES THE OPPOSITION WILL SQUABBLE ENDLESSLY AMONGST THEM ON WHO SHOULD BE WHAT. SARAWAK WILL BE IN LIMBO WITH A FESTIVAL OF BY ELECTIONS AND CROSSOVERS UNPRECEDENTED.
IT WILL BE AN EVENT IN THE DIARY OF VISIT SARAWAK YEAR FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS OR SO BECAUSE THE GENERAL ELECTIONS IS AROUND THE CORNER.
DS NAJIB HAS IN PLACE..LED BY YOUR OWN IDRIS JALA (IJ)PROCESSES AND MEASURES WITH SPEEDOMETERS TO GAUGE THE PERFORMANCE AND DELIVERABLES OF THEIR PLANNED PROMISES FOR ALL OF US.THE TRANSFORMATION HAS BEGUN. I BEG YOU ALL TO PLEASE LET IT HAPPEN AND CONTRIBUTE.SAY THANK YOU TO THE PREDATORS WHO HAVE COME TO VISIT YOU TO ROUSE YOUR EMOTIONS JUST SO YOU KNOW HOW IRRESPONSIBLE THEY ARE. TALK IS VERY VERY CHEAP..AND SO ARE PROMISES.CELEBRATE THE MOMENT BUT PLEASE DO NOT GAMBLE YOUR FUTURE WAY. GOOD LUCK.

Mohd said...

The Chinese importers of foodstuffs and middlemen are playing their role of inciting hatred of the Indians for the BN led govt of Malaysia.
You can see the rising price of Ullundu (an incredient to make thosei) from RM2.40 per kg to RM7 per kg. The Kementerian Pengguna should look into this matter. Is the price up due to shortage of supply from India or are these unscrupulous people out to make mischief?

Praxis said...

Agree dangerous precedent set and similar strategy used in 2008.

But the issue is not clash of religions but the use of religion or rather abuse of religion and race by PR.

The postive aspects of BN are it's practical and performance focus, and win-win focus using the best of the races and religions. Najibs' war aganist corruption also helps.

But Najib's payouts to vernacular schools hasn't borne any fruit and lacks integrity. Will he ever win the Chinese vote? He will win it only if he shows that continuation of the politics of hatred will lead to instabilty.

Those sections of the church which have bought into PR's logic have not shown a capacity to independently evaluate candidates, parties or leaders and choose wisely.. The performance orientation has to be more thoroughgoing than just NKRA - it has to be the foundation of Najib's war against abuse of religion and race and has to be a mult-pronged attack on PR' demogoguery.

Those who support the politics of demogoguery have no excuse, if we look it from the view of ethics of any religion -isn't religion a tool for peaceful engagement? What is the performance of the church leaders or DAP when judged against performance? We have to prove the hyposcrisy.

Praxis said...

Let's go further.

The deeper threat to Christian evangelism local and international is rot within their own ranks and the successful Islamic statemanship model of Dr Mahathatir. Instead of returning to fasting, prayer and service to community, they have displaced their problem by using the rubric of church to demonise Islam and the Malay state, and what better forum than the opportunist PKR, fascist DAP and fundamentalist PAS?