Thursday, December 24, 2020

I can see clearly now the year is gone - by mahani zubedy

I can see clearly now the year is gone

Two months into COVID the retina in my left eye detached. I was jumping from one project to another asking myself what was important. What did I care about? Life was perilous. Bone-chilling scary. Who knows how many times I might have picked up the virus at HEB? Stuck it up my nose, breathed it, ate it even. I imagined I had trouble breathing and died, or worse, got very sick for months.
I called for zoom meetups on how to thrive in the new normal. Made notes on how to flourish. Maybe my eyes were tired. I shut the computer and rested for a day. The next morning everything was blurry. I felt like someone sucker punched the side of my head. I covered one eye, looked right, looked left, looked down, looked up. Then the other eye, when, Whoa! I saw a black curtain. I called my optometrist who sent me to an ophthalmologist, who referred me to a retina doctor, who zapped my eye.
The next three days I sat with my neck out looking down at my toes. I slept hunched over four pillows. Instead of the motion and commotion of before, me “getting stuff done,” I sat still and did one thing – helped my retina stick back to my eyeball.
My vision was at stake. I was grateful it was 2020, not 1620; I would have gone blind in one eye then. And it was the good eye. I willed my retina to stick and dreamed of gooey things; frog eggs, earthworms, snails, slugs.
My sanity was at stake. In the middle of the night, every muscle in my neck and shoulders screamed. I wished to rest my head on a pillow and lie down. Instead, I sat and breathed into forming knots and exhaled.
Four days later my retina healed eighty percent. Time for more laser. Dr. Mason said no injection. No numbing the eye, because, well, he would be able to see better. Incandescent spider webs flashed dzzz red, dzzz green, dzzz gold as the laser seared my retina. Like when Mathew McConaughey went to Saturn in Interstellar. It smelt like smoke and scorched hair. It felt like a burning stick on an open wound.
I gave birth to three children with no meds. In 2001 I had back surgery. The next day I walked a mile with no pain killers. I know how to breathe and send oxygen to muscles in my body. I had no clue how to send them to thin jelly in my eyeball. Stop I said, and Dr. Mason stopped. Then, dzzz, Interstellar. Interstellar. Interstellar.
My eye will heal. I am grateful for the gift of sight and thankful for the days when I was quiet. COVID revealed that thriving is important to me. To be, and to feel alive. The knowledge in itself wasn’t enough to get out of old patterns, long-established memory paths on autopilot that mistook busy work for work. Not enough to change, to carve new paths, create new connections in my head, and new muscle memory in my body. The new overlays I formed were mere tracings against well-trodden ruts. I need to rewire my brain and muscle retention. Slowly, so it sticks. I need to stay still. Be here.
But how does sitting quiet feel? What is unbusy in the body? Here’s a smote in the eye to help. (Thank you)
Will this new-found awareness last? There’s a Malaysian saying; hot, hot, chicken shit. Chicken shit gets cold fast compared to bear shit say, which is substantial and keeps its warmth all winter, like the inside of an igloo. You discover drawing with charcoal. You buy reams of rice paper, all the coal in New Castle in every shape and size. You jump from one drawing to another for two weeks. Six months later you really need to cart them all to the Salvation Army. Hot, hot, chicken shit.
I started StorySistas five years ago, a community of women who connect through stories. Sharing stories connect humans to our inner selves and each other. The connection makes us resilient. Makes us grow. In the first years, I told a story at every gathering. It was how I made sense of my past. How I reached out and warmed up to me. It is not about the story; it is the journey to you for the story. Orpheus descending to Hades for Euridice except you are both Orpheus and Euridice. You go back and bring yourself out. Look forward.
By the third year, I stopped. And … nothing. When you are 64, years can go by like that, with no stories. You try to remember, pull at threads but they are dry and they crumble, fall apart, and you end with nothing. Years of it.
Seeing a black curtain instead of the living room turned my feet cold, my heart hurtling. Did I have a mini-stroke? It was the first thing the ophthalmologist asked. Was “did you have a mini-stroke” a standard question? Was he joking? Did he chuckle? I had been wondering how and why “this” happened. Did he read my mind?
2020 has been a nightmare — I would love a clean slate for 2021. But it’s not going to happen. Not till spring when most of us have been offered the vaccine. I will be first in line. I can see clearly now the year is gone. Almost. I need another surgery, gunk (the doctor’s word) has built up from the last two procedures and needs to be scraped off my retina. I see through a speck of dirt.
No matter. COVID and my eye helped me focus (so help me God). I have twenty to thirty more years, or maybe I have ten or two – I want to live, tell my story. To anchor the present and reimagine the future — stories do that for me. What about you?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020



Most Muslims & Christians do not know that Prophet Muhammad and his companions were rooting for Christian Rome against the Persians because they see Islam and Christianity as one of the same team – Team Monotheism.

The enemies of Islam, the Quraysh was on the side of the Persians. You can read this in the Quran chapter 30, The Romans Verses 1 to 10. *

When it seems that the destruction of Christian Rome was imminent, The Quran promised otherwise, that the Christians will be victorious within a few years, and it is a day that the Muslims too, will celebrate. The Quraysh laughed at the Prophet. But God never fails to fulfill His promises. Within 10 years, Christian Rome totally routed the Persians.

We Christians & Muslims must reflect on this shared history.

As a Christmas gift, please download for free my book, “Can we use Allah in the Bible”. Click here

Have a meaningful Christmas from all of us at zubedy.

Peace, anas

* Quran - The Romans 1-10

Alif Lam Mim

The Roman Empire has been defeated

In a land close by; but they (even) after (this) defeat of theirs will soon be victorious

Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision in the Past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice

With the help of Allah. He helps whom He will and He is Exalted in Might Most Merciful

(It is) the promise of Allah. Never does Allah depart from His promise: but most men understand not

They know but the outer (things) in the life of this world: but of the End of things they are heedless.

Do they not reflect in their own minds? Not but for just ends and for a term appointed did Allah create the heavens and the earth and all between them: yet are there truly many among men who deny the meeting with their Lord (at the Resurrection)! 

Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the End of those before them? They were superior to them in strength: they tilled the soil and populated it in greater numbers than these have done: there came to them their apostles with Clear (Signs) (which they rejected to their own destruction): it was not Allah Who wronged them but they wronged their own souls.

In the long run evil in the extreme will be the End of those who do evil; for that they rejected the Signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule. 

Monday, December 14, 2020


By anas zubedy: Friday 18/12/2020 530 – 730 PM M’sian time.

Are you planning to jump into a business or already started one?

In this webinar, I will share MY experience and ideas on starting, building and maintaining a socially responsible business. I will take you through what is considered the real purpose of business and how a business contributes to society.

I will also share my idea on the 4 crucial business functions an organization must do right before it can achieve success. 

The role of profit in business will be deliberated and how to acceptably map profit to social entrepreneurship.

The talk will provide conceptual frameworks and needs that covers Innovation, Marketing, Duplication and Management as well as what type of skills and talents are needed to achieve them. 

You will find that the ideas presented are universal and are applicable to Large, Medium-sized and Small businesses too.

This is part of Taylor’s University & University of Dhaka’s UNDERSTANDING ASIAN TRANSFORMATIONS: YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS series of webinars.

Peace, anas

Description: BPO CGS is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 818 2606 5571

Passcode: 901796

Saturday, December 12, 2020


It is very hard to teach integrity. It is either they have it or they dont.

Some try hard to change, but their inner devil whispers in their ears cheering them to do otherwise. The pain eats them, but they simply cant shake it out. They create reasons to justify their behavior rather than to correct their soul.
But recently, I have a pleasant surprise. A person who screwed up and cost me an extra 16K 11 years ago, simply wants to come clean. Even when I told him that I have moved on, he insisted on paying back. Perhaps because he was about to lose a leg, it made him to rethink and reflect. But I do not really know.
I told him to just give it away to charity, but he insisted to pay me direct. So, i have decided to give most away to those near me who is in need and perhaps practice a little self love and buy me a little present.
There is hope.

But, integrity is key. Do not do business or form a union, business or otherwise with anyone that is lacking in it.

Coz, until they lose a leg, they will take your arm.

Monday, November 23, 2020




 Chandra Muzaffar

Like many other citizens, I hope the Malaysian parliament will adopt the 2021 Budget with a

comfortable margin. Among the reasons why it should, are the following. One, the 2021

Budget is directly linked to one of the most severe crisis that the nation has had face in its

entire history. By adopting the Budget our Members of Parliament would be responding to

the challenge of the hour. Two, the Budget contains general and specific proposals that deal

with the health crisis and the economic crisis that the former has spawned. Support from the

people’s representatives for these measures is vital to ensure their smooth implementation.

Three, since the budget’s primary preoccupation is with vulnerable groups, they would be

gravely disappointed if the budget fails to garner Parliamentary endorsement. It would

appear that the institution that represents them is not as concerned as it should be with

their well-being. Four, the budget goes beyond the immediate crises and seeks to address

challenges that are critical for the nation’s future such as infrastructure development,

digitalization, industrialisation and food production. It is only through an appreciation of

these challenges that parliament and the people would be able to play a decisive role in

moulding Malaysia’s future. Five, in a period of great uncertainty, a budget provides the

citizenry with a sense of direction. It therefore deserves the support of all and sundry.

Of course, the budget has its limitations which is why the government should remain open

to ideas and proposals from not only members of parliament whatever their political

affiliation but also citizens from all walks of life. In the last few weeks many useful

suggestions have emerged such as ways of reducing public expenditure by jettisoning certain

construction projects, eliminating allocations that are not essential and even trimming down

on roles and positions. One expenditure item which has raised a lot of eyebrows is the 85

million ringgit alloted to JASA, a Special Affairs Department under the Ministry of

Communications and Multimedia. It is perceived as a mechanism for government

propaganda. Perhaps at a time like this, Jasa’s allocation can be better utilised for more

urgent purposes connected with public health.

Some members of Parliament have also asked how the government is going to finance the

biggest budget in our history with an outlay of RM 322.5 billion. While there is some

explanation in the budget itself, there is certainly a need for further clarification, taking into

account various possible scenarios that will impact upon public revenue in the coming year.

People are most conscious of the fact that our economy is in the doldrums.

Two other concerns which have gained a great deal of public attention are linked to the

KWSP (the Employees Provident Fund) on the one hand and a moratorium on loans, on the

other. Both it must be stressed do not come within the ambit of the budget. It is therefore

disingenuous of some MPs to argue that they will only support the budget if their position

on the two issues is accommodated. Nonetheless, because KWSP and the extension on the

moratorium have emerged as the cynosure of budget discourse, the government has chosen

to respond. It is significant that while taking heed of the public’s pleas, government leaders

have been resolute about maintaining professional norms.

Unfortunately, neither the government nor parliament has given adequate attention to the

pathetic situation of two categories of people that has surfaced in the course of the health

crisis. Inmates in many of our prisons have become victims of Covid -19 partly because of the

parlous conditions in which they are detained. This requires urgent attention just as the

housing and living conditions of many foreign workers have increased their susceptibility to

the virus. In both instances we are reminded why humane treatment of all our fellow beings

is a fundamental societal principle.

Finally, a section of civil society and various legislators have also proposed that all legislators

at parliament and state levels, including of course Ministers and Deputy Ministers take a

“pay cut”, of 20% of their salaries and allowances for a period of time, say a year or so.

Though the total quantum would be modest, it would have a huge psychological impact

upon our people as proof of the willingness of our elected leaders to sacrifice a portion of

their income for the larger good of society. It will be recalled that in the eighties and

nineties, in the midst of an economic crisis such a move was made by our Ministers and

Deputy Ministers.

If our political leaders act in this manner, it is quite conceivable that the top brass of our civil

and public services, the Judiciary and other public institutions will follow suit. Our Rulers and

royal households would also want to set the right example. The upper echelons of our GLCs

and GLICs will be persuaded to do their bit. Private sector elites with their huge earnings will

also have to respond to the challenge.

Even if all these proposals are incorporated into the Budget, there are some who argue that

the Budget has to be rejected because the government of the day has no legal standing. Let

it be emphasised that the appointment of Tan Sri Muhyuddin Yassin as Prime Minister on

the 1st of March 2020 by His Majesty the Yang Di Pertuan Agong was in accordance with

provisions of the Malaysian Constitution. When the then Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir

Mohamad resigned, the King exercised his constitutional right to choose a member of

parliament who he had ascertained commanded the support of the majority of MPs and was

therefore qualified to be Prime Minister.

This argument about the legality of Muhyuddin’s position is a camouflage for those who are

hell-bent on usurping the Prime Ministership. Personal ambition, propelled by domestic and

foreign agendas, is what drives these individuals. Whatever their rhetoric, they have no

commitment to the well-being of the people or the nation’s interest.

Such crass selfishness at a time like this will be the ruin of our nation.


Dr Chandra Muzaffar has been writing about Malaysian politics and society since the early


Kuala Lumpur.

23rd November 2020.

Friday, November 13, 2020



Kindly download foc our DEEPAVALI gift - my book MANY COLORS ONE RACE : 10 Ten Nice Things You Can Tell Your Children About Other Races.

Peace 🙏🏼🙂


Thursday, November 12, 2020


I am having a chat ONLINE with Kelab Kiwanis Kota Kemuning tomorrow nite 745 pm. (November 13th 2020)

It is an open talk, so do join us. Register/join with link below.
Meeting ID: 831 9380 4318
Passcode: 724817

Sunday, November 1, 2020



by Chandra Muzaffar


As events unfold in France centring around Islamophobia, there is a feeling of déjà vu. We have witnessed a few times before this sequence of events. There is some provocation or other targeting the Prophet Muhammad initiated by a non-Muslim group or institution. Predictably, Muslims react. In the midst of demonstrations and rallies, an act of violence occurs perpetrated by an offended Muslim and/or his co-religionists.

The violent act leads to further demonization of Muslims in the media which by this time is in a frenzy. Feeling targeted, some Muslim groups escalate their emotional response, sometimes causing more deaths to occur of both Muslims and non-Muslims even in countries far away from the place where the provocation first occurred. One also hears of calls to boycott goods produced in the country where it all started.

On this occasion too it was French president Emmanuel Macron’s vigorous assertion that cartoons of the Prophet produced by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo , in January 2015 and republished since represented freedom of speech that angered a lot of Muslims in France and elsewhere, though some other remarks he had made recently about ‘Islam being in crisis’ and ‘Islamic separatism’ had also annoyed some people.

However, it was the beheading of a French schoolteacher who had shown the cartoons in a class discussion on freedom of speech by a Muslim youth of Chechen origin that provoked not only Macron but also other leaders and a huge segment of French society to react with hostility towards Muslims and even Islam. It should be emphasised that almost all major Muslim leaders and organisations in France also condemned the beheading.

So did many Muslims in other parts of the world. It is not enough just to denounce an ugly, insane murder of this sort. Not many Muslim theologians have argued publicly that resorting to mindless violence to express one’s anger over a caricature of the Prophet is an affront to the blessed memory of God’s Messenger. For even when he was physically abused in both Mecca and Medina, Prophet Muhammad did not retaliate with violence against his adversaries. He continued with his mission of preaching justice and mercy with kindness and dignity. It is such an attitude that should be nurtured and nourished in the Muslim world today especially by those who command religious authority and political influence among the masses. 

If a change in approach is necessary among some Muslims, French society as a whole should also re-appraise its understanding of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech should never ever glorify the freedom to insult, to mock, to humiliate another person or community or civilisation. Respect for the feelings and sentiments of the religious other should be integral to one’s belief system, whether it is secular or not. Just because the French State and much of French society have marginalised religion, it does not follow that it should also show utter contempt for a Muslim’s love and reverence for his/her Prophet especially when 6 million French citizens profess the Islamic faith.

Indeed, respecting and understanding the sentiments and values that constitute faith and belief has become crucial in a globalised world where at least 80 % of its inhabitants are linked in one way or another to some religion or other. We cannot claim to be champions of democracy and yet ignore, or worse, denigrate what is precious to the majority of the human family. This does not mean that we should slavishly accept mass attitudes towards a particular faith. Reforms should continue to be pursued within each religious tradition but it should not undermine respect for the foundations of that faith.

French leaders and elites who regard freedom of speech or expression as the defining attribute of their national identity, should also concede that there have been a lot of inconsistencies in their stances. A French comedian, Dieudenne, has been convicted in Court eight times for allegedly upsetting “Jewish sentiment” and is prohibited from performing in many venues. A cartoonist with Charlie Hebdo was fired for alleged “ anti-Semitism.” There is also the case of a writer, Robert Faurisson in the sixties who was fined in Court and lost his job for questioning the conventional holocaust narrative. Many years later, the French intellectual Roger Garaudy was also convicted for attempting to re-interpret certain aspects of the holocaust. The hypocrisy of the French State goes beyond convictions in Court.

While officials are rightfully aghast at the violence committed by individuals, France has a long history of perpetrating brutal massacres and genocides against Muslims and others. The millions of Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans who died in the course of the French colonisation of these countries bear tragic testimony to this truth. Vietnam and the rest of Indo-China reinforce this cruel and callous record. Even in contemporary times, the French State has had no qualms about embarking upon military operations from Afghanistan and Cote d’ Ivore to Libya and North Mali which serve its own interests of dominance and control rather than the needs of the people in these lands.

Honest reflections upon its own misdeeds past and present are what we expect of the French state and society in 2020. There is no need to pontificate to others. This is what we would like to see all colonial powers of yesteryear do ---- partly because neo-colonialism is very much alive today.  

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. 1 November 2020.

Thursday, October 29, 2020


 While the majority of Muslims celebrate the Prophet’s birthday, at the same time we seem to fail to follow his examples.

Let me explain.
The Quran sets clear guidance on how to handle insults – even when it is directed to the Prophet. Yet, we Muslims seem to do the exact opposite. We seem to have abandoned the Quran as a hidayah (guide). This is rather mind boggling. Do we do this out of ignorance, personal or political benefits, or we simply no longer trust the Quran?
Many times, I wonder if we have entered an era that is described in the Quran chapter 25 Al Furqan verse 30 that reads,
“And the Messenger has said, "O my Lord, indeed my people have taken this Quran as [a thing] abandoned."
The title of the chapter is an important indication, Al-Furqan – The Criterion or The Standard of True and False. I highly suggest you read the entire chapter which outlines among other important messages are the stories of accusations, lies and insults towards the Prophet. That he, the Prophet concocted the Quran, that the Quran is just fables of ancient times he recycled, that the Prophet is a nobody – just like them – going around the market-places, eating food and no real material treasures bestowed towards him.
The Quran inspired and motivated the Prophet at verse 20 by reminding him that the prophets before him were also mortal humans, ate food and indeed went about in the market-place. The verse ended by encouraging the Prophet to be persevering, “Are you able to endure (this test) with patience? For thy Sustainer is truly all seeing!”
As you move along the chapter, at verse 63, The Quran guides us on how to deal with such trials,
“For (true) servants of the Most Gracious are (only) they who walk gently on earth, and who whenever the foolish address them, reply with (words of) peace”
Al-Furqan 25:63
The Quran provides another clear hidayah in the story of Abu Lahab.
Who is Abu Lahab?
Abu Lahab is the only person from the enemies of Islam during the time of the Prophet, who mentioned by name in the Qur’an. Thus, he is the number one reference for all Muslims as far as an individual who had insulted the Prophet. How the Quran and the Prophet dealt with him should form the standard operating procedure on how to deal with those who insult him.
Although he was an uncle of the Prophet, he staunchly opposed Islam from the very beginning till his death. A whole short chapter (Al Masad, Chapter 111) of the Quran is about him and his wife.
“The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish. His wealth and gains will not exempt him. He will be plunged in flaming Fire, And his wife, the wood-carrier, Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.”
Quran, Al-Masad 111: 1-5
The Quran predicted they will die a non-believer. In other words, they will be enemies of Islam till death. They will not change. Their hearts are locked. Yet, there were no prosecution, no shariah call to put them in jail or death. Instead, the Quran said that their punishment will come only during the hereafter – Allah’s promise!
These two enemies of Islam who insulted the Prophet at every chance and yet there was no call for indictment! Just Allah’s promise that their wrongful behaviour would be dealt with, by Him!
According to historians, Abu Lahab and Umm Jameel brought excrements and offensive materials in the middle of the night to leave them in front of the Prophet’s home. All the Prophet did was announcing that it was a bad neighbourly behaviour and he simply threw the rubbish away. Umm Jameel is known to throw thorny bushes in the path of the Prophet to hurt him!!!
Abu Lahab made it his job to follow the Prophet wherever he goes when the Prophet share the message of Islam. He forcefully encourages people to not listen to the Prophet, to ignore him. At times Abu Lahab will chase and throw stones at the Prophet to stop him from spreading the message. Yet again, there was no calls to prosecute him. No shariah law thrown at him, no sedition and no death threats. Just Allah, promising he and his wife will suffer in the afterlife.
So why are we going into conniption whenever somebody insults the Prophet? Why thousands of Muslims go out of control rioting and running amok. Some died during the madness - wasteful unnecessary deaths! Why are our religious leaders and politicians going about with bravado giving warnings and asking for boycott to a nation that took in thousands and thousands of brother and sister Muslim refugees – feed them, housed them, protected them and give them a new lease of life?
Is Allah’s promise not enough for us Muslims?
Personally, I do not want to be one of those who has abandon the Quran. If you are with me, we need to trust the Quran as our guide. And when we differ, we go back to the Quran.
“And upon thee [too] have We bestowed from on' high this divine writ for no other reason than that thou might make clear unto them all [questions of faith] on which they have come to hold divergent views, and [thus offer] guidance and grace unto people who will believe”
Quran, The Bee, Chapter 16:64
Going back to Chapter 25 of the Quran, Al Furqan, I wish not to be one of those who make use of insults towards the Prophet as a platform to further my own interest, their desire as their God. As Al Furqan verse 43 reads, “Hast thou ever considered [the kind of man] who makes his own desires his deity? Couldst thou, then, [O Prophet,] be held responsible for him”.
Nor do I want to be among the ignorant as portrayed by the following verse Al Furqan verse 44, “Or dost thou think that most of them listen [to thy message] and use their reason? Nay, they are but like cattle - nay, they are even less conscious of the right way”.
I want to be among those who trust and use the Quran as my hidayah as explain in Al Furqan verses 72 and 73, “And [know that true servants of God are only] those who never bear witness to what is false, and [who], whenever they pass by [people engaged in] frivolity, pass on with dignity. And who, whenever they are reminded of their Sustainer’s messages, do not throw themselves upon them [as if] deaf and blind”.
I hope you will join me.
“For (true) servants of the Most Gracious are (only) they who walk gently on earth, and who whenever the foolish address them, reply with (words of) peace”
Al Furqan 25:63
Peace and Have a Meaningful Maulud Nabi.
Anas Zubedy
29th October, 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020


I have stayed out of commenting politics since February as I have strong convictions that today more than ever, we need less politics and need to throw our entire weight on the economy and the Covid-19 challenge. But, allow me to indulge a little today.

The problem with Malaysian politics is that our political leaders and their supporters are not HONEST ON BOTH SIDES.

IF THE OTHER SIDE DOES IT, IT IS FROGGING. IF THEY DO IT, IT IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE RAKYAT. But you cannot have the cake and eat it too. It is simply against God’s social law. It would not work – we will still be looping in a vicious KITARAN, recycling the same old same old leaders and problems. The shit will just repeat itself.

Did our Prophets and Greats compromise on their values? Did Gandhi follow what the British did to the Indians? Did Omar Mukhtar, Libya’s leader and freedom fighter repeats what the Italian colonialist did to his people or did he declare, “The enemy is not our teacher”?

Simply, we cannot have the cake and eat it too. Either we do what is right, or we are forever wrong.

If any of you are really serious in changing the country and make things better, do contact me. I do have some concrete ideas. But not now, perhaps in two to three years’ time. My immediate concern as a businessman is making sure I do not have to retrench any of my good team members and colleagues ensuring they have a salary and adequate income to take home to their families.


Anas Zubedy


Tuesday, September 8, 2020


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Friday, July 31, 2020


By Chandra Muzaffar

The jailing of former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is an act of tremendous significance to Malay and Malaysian political culture.

Since Merdeka in 1957, the Prime Minister has been perceived as the principal protector of a large segment of the citizenry. As protector he is not just the most important office-holder in the Malaysian political system. He is the inheritor of political authority in a governance structure rooted in a traditional polity, namely, the centuries old Malay Sultanate. For protecting the interests of his people, specifically the Malays, he is ‘entitled’ to unquestioning loyalty from his ‘subjects.’

Unquestioning loyalty, regardless of whether the Ruler is right or wrong was a much eulogized trait in the relationship between leader and led right through Malay history. Though it has been eroded by education, social mobility, democratic practices, electoral competition and the like, it continues to be perpetuated in contemporary times through the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), as I argue in my 1979 book called Protector? A study of leader-led relationships in Malay society from the Malaccan period to the present. UMNO wore the cherished mantle of protector of the Malays for decades against real and imagined threats to the community---- up to the 9th of May 2018, when it was defeated in the 14th General Election.

Despite its defeat, UMNO is still a formidable political force. It remains to this day, the most powerful political party in the country among the Malays. Its influence within the grassroots of the community is pervasive. In the last two years, it has attempted to present itself as the only genuine protector of the Malays through the articulation of issues, some real, others false, which, on the whole, have resonated with the community. The inability of its main adversary, the ruling Pakatan Harapan(PH) in power from May 2018 to February 2020 to demonstrate that it is more capable than UMNO of protecting the genuine interests of the Malays unwittingly strengthened the hand of the latter. Besides, the two main actors in PH, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim were engaged in all consuming Wayang Kulit ( Shadow Play) battle revolving around the question of when one should succeed the other. As a result of this Wayang Kulit, the PH and its allies could not concentrate their energies on curbing and curtailing UMNO’s perceived role as the protector of the Malays.

Now the present ruling coalition, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) or at least some components of it, perhaps with the PH, have yet another opportunity to try to diminish the impact of the protector—unquestioning loyalty syndrome. The court decision on Najib focuses upon alleged wrongdoings --- abuse of power; criminal breach of trust; and money laundering ----  of someone who was once a principal protector. Should one continue to be unquestioningly loyal to such a leader?  Surely loyalty is only to virtue. How can there be loyalty to vice?  Isn’t such a perverted notion of loyalty a betrayal of the very fundamentals of Islamic ethics?

Shouldn’t the majority of UMNO leaders and its three million odd grassroots members see the Najib verdict and the trials involving other UMNO bigwigs as a wake-up call to the party to get rid of corruption and wrongdoings?  In other words, shouldn’t this unprecedented event, the jailing of a former UMNO president and Prime Minister on charges related to corruption and venality prompt the party to undertake the sort of introspection that will lead to a thorough cleansing of its body and soul?

It is not just UMNO that needs this sort of cleansing. Given the lack of transparency in electoral funding and the opaqueness of political financing in the country, all political parties should be willing to cleanse themselves. This is why the proposed law on political financing and electoral funding which has yet to see the light of day should be of the highest priority for both our legislators and our citizens. 

We should be encouraged to push for this and other similar reforms at this juncture for two reasons. One, Najib’s conviction reminds us that the Malaysian judiciary ---whatever its warts and pimples --- has over the decades found well-known public figures guilty of wrongdoings and punished them accordingly. There are not many judicial systems in the world which have done this without fear or favour. Two, it is equally remarkable that the Executive, specifically Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyuddin Yassin upheld his pledge not to interfere in the judicial process though the man in the dock is still a political leader of considerable weight in UMNO, the main component party of the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN). Indeed, Muhyuddin’s position as Prime Minister in a sense depends upon the continued support of Najib’s party. It was in that sense a bold and brave move to allow the rule of law to prevail and justice to triumph, as Muhyuddin said he would.           
As a result, the cynicism and skepticism displayed by a huge segment of the so-called educated stratum of Malaysian society on the eve of the High Court verdict in Najib’s case turned out to be totally misplaced. It shows that there is a need for us to show some faith in the willingness of certain individuals at the apex of society to exercise restraint in their use of power and to observe the basic norms of governance. Likewise, there are individuals of integrity in our judiciary who cherish their roles as custodians of justice.

It is such individuals wherever they are who will help to transform our political culture into one that values the dignity of the human being.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s Protector will be re-published by Gerak Budaya in the next few months with an Afterword written in the wake of the 2018 General Election.

Kuala Lumpur.

30 July 2020.



Saturday, July 11, 2020


Making the Rukunegara part of this year’s Merdeka celebrations would be endorsed by most Malaysians. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s pledge to project the Rukunegara as the core agenda of the government will further define the future direction of the Malaysian nation.

However, it is regrettable that at the launch yesterday ( 9th July 2020) it was only the 5 principles of the Rukunegara --- and not its five aspirations --- that were mentioned. A number of us have pointed out on various occasions that the principles and aspirations are intimately linked and cannot be separated from one another.  The Rukunegara should be propagated as a single integrated national ideology.

I had written about this in September 2017. The article is re-produced below. One hopes that as we observe the Rukunegara this Merdeka, the government and the people will adopt a holistic approach --- which is the only way to do justice to this crucial document of destiny.       

10 July 2020.

                              THE RUKUNEGARA --- WHY ONLY HALF ?

By Chandra Muzaffar

While it is commendable that the 5 principles of the Rukunegara were recited at the grand parade held at the Dataran Merdeka on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our Merdeka on the 31st of August 2017, it is a pity that once again it was only one half of our national ideology that was given emphasis. 

For the five principles --- Belief in God; Loyalty to King and Country; Supremacy of the Constitution; the Rule of Law; and Good Behaviour and Morality --- are guidelines for achieving the five aspirations or goals of the nation. The Rukunegara states this explicitly. It says that “We, the people of Malaysia, pledge our united effort to attain the ends (goals) guided by these principles.”

What are these goals? Greater unity in society; a democratic way of life; a just society in which the prosperity of the nation is shared in a just and equitable manner; ensuring a liberal approach to the rich and varied cultural traditions of the land;  and creating a progressive society that harnesses modern science and technology.

Why is it that these goals of the nation are seldom mentioned? Why are these national aspirations always set aside? Isn’t it absurd that one should proclaim loudly the 5 principles and yet the 5 goals that these principles are supposed to serve are hidden from the public? This has happened systematically and consistently for more than 30 years. Whether it is in school exercise books or over the media or at public functions, the focus is invariably upon the Rukunegara’s principles while its aspirations are ignored completely.

What explains this wilful, deliberate attempt to conceal the nation’s goals as embodied in the Rukunegara ? After all when the Rukunegara was first announced to the nation by the 4th Yang di Pertuan Agong on the 31st of August 1970, the aspirations and the principles were articulated in that order. And in the seventies, the goals figured prominently in public discourse.

There are perhaps three possible explanations for the neglect of the Rukunegara’s aspirations.  If people are acutely aware of a nation’s goals through constant reminders by those who wield authority and influence it is quite conceivable that they will become more evaluative of government leaders and policies. They will ask if we are really evolving a democratic culture or if the nation’s wealth is more equitably shared today than in the past, or are we becoming more progressive as we embrace the new technologies?  A conscious citizenry with a critical outlook is something that governments are not always comfortable with. To put it simply, a thinking electorate is the bane of both those who want to cling on to power and those who seek to capture power through whatever means.

If fear of critical evaluation by the people is the reason for concealing the nation’s goals, our elites are being unnecessarily apprehensive. In most societies the ideals enshrined in a nation’s ideology or charter are not matched by realities on the ground. There is always a gap between lofty aspirations and actual performance. In fact, if we examined what has been accomplished over the last 47 years in relation to the five goals of the Rukunegara, the pluses and minuses would produce a balance-sheet that is better than what many other societies have achieved. This is why one should encourage our citizenry to reflect upon our national aspirations to see how far we have travelled in our Rukunegara journey.

There is perhaps another reason why there is some reluctance to forefront the goals of the Rukunegara. In the last 10 years or so, some elements in power have developed an aversion to the term ‘liberal’ which is integral to the national ideology’s fourth goal. ‘Liberal’ or ‘liberalism’ for these elements connotes absolute, unrestrained freedom. They may not be aware that some of the greatest proponents of Liberal Thought recognised the limits of freedom. Restraints upon the exercise of liberty they realised were vital for freedom to flourish in society. There are also some Malaysians who equate ‘liberal’ with the advocacy of LGBT. This again is a misconception. There are many liberals whose ideas on gender roles, sexual relations and marriage would dissuade them from embracing the LGBT cause.

In any case, in the Rukunegara, the words “liberal approach” are used exclusively to describe a certain outlook on the nation’s diverse cultural traditions.  “Open”, “inclusive” or “accommodative” would be some of the terms that are synonymous with what the Rukunegara espouses.  It is this liberal approach towards the nation’s cultural diversity expressed in the attitudes of the masses and the elites that is one of our greatest strengths. It explains why we have held together as a nation for so many decades.

There may be another reason why some are opposed to emphasising the nation’s goals through the Rukunegara. For these groups and individuals, the Rukunegara’s aspirations subvert their own agenda of moving the nation in another direction. They view goals such as a democratic way of life or a progressive society as “secular” and therefore antithetical to their agenda of establishing an Islamic state guided by syariah as interpreted by a segment of the ulama. A number of court decisions and other episodes in recent years reveal this push for a state and society which in essence is different from what the Rukunegara and the Malaysian Constitution envisage. Ironically, some of the advocates of this new State hope to achieve their mission through Article 3 of the Constitution which acknowledges Islam as the religion of the Federation. It would be a vivid instance of using the Constitution to undermine the Constitution itself. This is why projecting the goals of the Rukunegara which in a sense embody the spirit of the Constitution is imperative at this stage for it keeps the nation on the path it set out in 1957 --- a path that it re-dedicated itself to in 1970.

This is the most compelling reason for bringing back the Rukunegara in its entirety, both aspirations and principles.  If we do not succeed to empower the Rukunegara, its aspirations and its principles, we would be disappointing the man who pioneered the Rukunegara, who saw it as a platform for re-building the nation, after a tragic riot.  Indeed, it is only by preserving the Rukunegara intact --- by striving to achieve its aspirations while upholding its principles --- that we would be honouring one of Tun Razak’s great legacies.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yayasan 1Malaysia.

Petaling Jaya.

3rd September 2017.                                                                     

Monday, July 6, 2020


By Chandra Muzaffar

Ethnic stereotypes are a bane upon any society.

Most of the time they are based upon simplistic generalisations that do not reflect actual realities. They exacerbate ethnic relations in multi-ethnic societies. Worse, they impede the growth of understanding and empathy among individuals from different communities that have had minimum social interaction over a long period of time.

Recent remarks by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that “ the Chinese are  a wealthy lot” and that they “control all the towns in the country” would be examples of such stereotyping. According to the Department of Statistics, 70% of Chinese Malaysians in 2016 belonged to the working –class. In fact, even at the time of Merdeka, the majority of Chinese, as the well-known economist, the late James Puthucheary pointed out were employees not employers of capital. If some Chinese from working-class backgrounds have become rich over the years it is because of opportunities and mobility afforded by the prevailing socio-economic system, apart from their own hard work, perseverance and frugality.

As for towns, while it is true that many present-day towns were pioneered by Chinese, their current management and control are in the hands of largely Malay bureaucrats. Local government bureaucracy in turn is linked to a mainly Malay political order.

This leads us to yet another stereotype which needs to be scrutinised.  There are many non-Malays who argue that Malays exercise total monopoly over political power. This is not true if one appreciates the nature and evolution of political power in Malaysia. Monarchical power which has been exclusively Malay for centuries was preserved by British colonial rule and shared with the people through democratic procedures and practices embodied in the Merdeka Constitution of 1957. It was the Malay Rulers and the UMNO elite who decided to confer political rights upon the domiciled non-Malay populace through extraordinarily accommodative citizenship provisions in the Constitution which had no precedent or parallel anywhere in the world.  Of course, a number of factors contributed to this momentous decision, including colonial interests. But what is critically important is that the decision transformed the entire political landscape forever: from a people associated with a land, the Malays became a community among communities. If this process of accommodation and acceptance is understood, no thinking Chinese or Indian Malaysian would talk of the monopolisation of political power by the Malays. There would be a more empathetic attitude towards the Malay position.  It would improve inter-ethnic relations in the country and contribute towards national integration.

To explain the question of ‘political power’ in more concrete terms, it is often forgotten that the UMNO led Alliance coalition from the first Federal legislative election itself in 1955 set a trend that has remained through 14 general elections. In that election 17 Chinese and Indian candidates from the MCA and MIC were fielded though there was a Chinese majority in only two out of the 52 constituencies. All the MCA and MIC contestants won, most of them needless to say, with Malay votes. This phenomenon of cross ethnic voting is not confined to the Alliance or its successor, the Barisan Nasional.  Other parties have also demonstrated their capacity to elicit support transcending ethnic boundaries. And yet the myth about Malay monopolisation of political power persists.   
There are other ethnic stereotypes that are equally pernicious even if their political impact is not as serious as the two we have just examined.  Segments of different Malaysian communities believe that greed is a Chinese trait; that Indians are untrustworthy; or that Malays are lazy. These are stereotypes that are easily demolished. That many Chinese have displayed tremendous generosity is an irrefutable fact; that there are trustworthy Indians is so many sectors of society is an unchallengeable truth ; that industrious and diligent Malays are found in all walks of life is obvious to any casual observer of Malaysian society.

The stereotype about Malay laziness is perhaps the only instance of a stereotype subscribed to by certain leaders of the targeted people themselves. It is a stereotype that two-time Prime Minister Dr Mahathir has clung on to stubbornly for decades ---- in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary and in spite of the wide range of persuasive arguments marshalled in Syed Hussein Alatas’ much lauded classic, The Myth of the Lazy Native published in 1977. It is a pity that Mahathir does not seem to understand that this myth is rooted in the ideology of colonial capitalism and has been exploited by both the colonialists and by purveyors of communal politics to denigrate native peoples.

The persistence of stereotypes of this sort underscores the importance of emphasising public education on the impediments that obstruct integration in societies like ours. It is revealing that there has not been a single discussion on The Myth over any Malaysian television channel. It is not just the media that should be harnessed for this purpose. The school and the university should also play their role. The family is even more crucial since so many of our values and attitudes are formed through intimate interaction within the confines of the home.  Religious and cultural organisations are equally decisive in this mammoth task of raising social awareness on how destructive stereotypes are.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar has been writing on Ethnic Relations since the early seventies.

Kuala Lumpur.

6th July 2020.