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.