Displaying items by tag: merdeka

Friday, 18 September 2020 09:32

Loving this nation we call home

MALAYSIA Day, celebrated on Sept 16 every year, marks a significant chapter in our nation's historical page. If National Day on Aug 31 is about appreciating the struggles of our forefathers in securing freedom for the country, Malaysia Day is a celebration of nationhood that calls upon every Malaysian to hold firmly to the fundamentals that keep the country together.

There must be great sense of pride and also belonging within us that despite the odds that Malaysia faces, the nation has remained peaceful, harmonious and stable.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a clear example of how one's love for the country is able to beat such anomalous circumstances. The slogan "Malaysia Prihatin", or Malaysia Cares, points to a strong sense of solidarity among Malaysians from all walks of life in facing such an unprecedented crisis.

In Islam, the feeling of love for one's country is highly encouraged. It was written by Abu al-Walid al-Azraqi in   Akhbar Makkah wa ma ja'fiha min aathaarin that Prophet Muhammad also shared his feeling of love for his birthplace, the Holy City of Makkah.

Also in a hadith from Ibn Abbas, the Prophet said of Makkah: "How sweet of a land you are and how dear you are to me, and if it were not that my people expelled me from you, I would not have lived in other than you." (Narrated by al-Tirmizi.)

In showing his love for the place where he lived, led a nation and breathed his last, Madinah, Prophet Muhammad said: "O Allah! Make us love Madinah as You made us love Makkah, or more." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari.)

Loving the country requires us to put its interests above our own. Each and every one of us must always be ready to contribute in safeguarding these interests within our capabilities and capacities.

For example, leaders need to realise that they are not the only ones who work hard for the development of the nation nor are they the only people who know what is best for the country.

A dynamic and symbiotic relationship between the leaders and people is much needed in this endeavour, coupled with the understanding that each has a role to play in achieving the country's development goals, stability and security.

Like any other nation, Malaysia is tested from time to time, but just like any success story, it is how we bounce back from all these setbacks which matters.

In this sense, we should regard the nation as a big family, made up of different individuals with their own unique personalities and personal interests, however diverse it may be. Love for the family is the bond that helps to strengthen and preserve the setup.

We need to put aside our egos and personal interests, especially if those interests threaten the peace and the sovereignty of the people and country.

Malaysia is indeed blessed, and for it to be able to preserve the peace, harmony, stability and achieve the intended success, all of us need to come together as one.

It is insufficient to merely utter the word 'love' for the country. It must also be accompanied by the right actions, sincere dedication and great sense of responsibility as Malaysians.

The writer is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Shariah, Law and Politics, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia

Published in: New Straits Times, Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/624532/loving-nation-we-call-home

PADA 16 September 2020 genap 57 tahun pembentukan Malaysia dengan kemasukan Sabah, Sarawak dan Singapura. Meskipun begitu, Singapura keluar dari Malaysia pada tahun 1965 dengan alasan tertentu. Peruntukan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan menambah 20 perkara khusus yang diberikan kepada Sabah dan Sarawak, antaranya mengenai bidang kuasa undang-undang adat termasuk hal ehwal yang terkandung dalam undang-undang keluarga termasuk Mahkamah Adat; hal ehwal berkaitan imigresen; perkapalan, pelabuhan dan keretapi; pembayaran 10% royalti hasil mineral; air dan letrik; pertanian dan perhutanan; panggung, filem sinematografi dan tempat hiburan awam; pengecualian penyeragaman undang-undang mengenai tanah dan kerajaan tempatan; Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa rasmi; kuasa meminjam di bawah kuasa undang-undang negeri dengan persetujuan Bank Negara; dan lain-lain (Jadual Kesembilan, Senarai IIA,IIIA; Jadual Kesepuluh, Bahagian IV dan V, Perlembagaan Persekutuan). Walau bagaimanapun Kerajaan Persekutuan dan mana-nama dari dua Kerajaan Negeri Sabah/Sarawak boleh menyemak semula pemberian khas ini (Perkara 112D).

Sebenarnya bukan mudah untuk membentuk Malaysia yang kita lihat pada hari ini. Rancangan pembentukan Malaysia mendapat tentangan hebat daripada negara-negara jiran. Filipina menuntut Sabah yang menganggap ia sebahagian dari wilayahnya. Rancangan untuk membawa masuk Sabah menjadi sebahagian wilayah Malaysia mengakibatkan Filipina memutus hubungan diplomatik dengan Malaysia.

Indonesia juga tidak kurang hebatnya dalam menentang pembentukan Malaysia. Konfrontasi antara Indonesia dan Malaysia terjadi dengan adanya slogan Ganyang Malaysia oleh Indonesia pada 20 Januari 1963.Ini kerana Indonesia menganggap bahawa Malaysia membelakangkannya dalam perbincangan penubuhan Malaysia. Keadaan yang begitu getir sehingga Indonesia meletakkan tenteranya di sempadan Sabah dan Sarawak. Bahkan Indonesia membuat intipan dii Johor bagi mengikuti perkembangan perbincangan kemasukan Singapura ke Malaysia.

Melihat kepada sejarah pembentukan Malaysia pada 16 September 1963, terdapat sekurang-kurangnya lima faktor yang menyumbang ke arah tersebut:

Pertama: Mengelak ancaman dan pengaruh komunis kerana pada masa itu Singapura merupakan sarang kegiatan parti komunis. British khuatir Singapura akan jatuh kepada komunis yang didalangi oleh Cina komunis dari tanah besar Cina. Kemasukan Singapura bersama Sabah dan Sarawak dalam membentuk negara Malaysia akan mematikan usaha komunis dalam menguasai Singapura.

Kedua: Memberi kemerdekaan kepada Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei dan Singapura. Keempat-empat negeri ini masih di bawah naungan British walaupun Persekutuan Tanah Melayu merdeka pada 31 Ogos 1957. Beberapa rundingan dibuat dengan Sultan Brunei untuk Brunei menjadi sebahagian wilayah Malaysia dengan pembentukan Malaysia. Tetapi Brunei menarik diri dari pembentukan tersebut. Akhirnya, hanya tinggal Sabah, Sarawak dan Singapura yang bersetuju dengan pembentukan negara Malaysia.

Ketiga: Perkongsian ekonomi. Kemasukan Sabah, Sarawak dan Singapura dapat merancakkan kerjasama ekonomi dan perdagangan antara tiga wilayah baru dengan semenanjung.Tambahan pula negeri-negeri yang kaya dapat membantu negeri-negeri yang kurang sumber ekonomi terutama dari dua negeri Borneo. Tanah Melayu yang kaya dengan sumber bahan mentah dan Singapura yang kaya dari segi perdagangan import dan eksport bahan mentah dapat membantu dua negeri Borneo.

Keempat: Membela masyarakat bumiputra di Sabah dan Sarawak. Sebelum kemasukan Sabah dan Sarawak menjadi sebahagian Malaysia, kebanyakan jawatan dan kegiatan ekonomi di dua negeri Borneo ini dikuasai oleh orang asing terutama dari bangsa Inggeris. Melihat kepada sebahagian besar penduduk yang terlibat dalam sector pertanian dengan kadar 3% sahaja, penggabungan dua negeri Borneo ini akan meningkatkan penglibatan penduduk tempatan dalam aktiviti pertanian.

Kelima: Menjaga kepentingan dan hak bumiputera. Kemasukan Sabah dan Sarawak menjadi sebahagian Malaysia mensyaratkan bahawa peribumi dari dua negeri Borneo ini terpelihara dari segi hak keistimewaan mereka seperti orang Melayu di semenanjung yang termaktub dalam Perkara 153 Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Ini kerana golongan ini masih ketinggalan dari segi pencapaian ekonomi walaupun mereka adalah penduduk asal.

Catatan sejarah menyatakan bahawa idea untuk menggabungakan negeri-negeri Tanah Melayu, Singapura dan wilayah-wilayah Borneo pernah diutarakan oleh Lord Brassy, Ahli Lembaga Pengarah Syarikat Berpiagam Borneo Utara pada tahun 1887 tetapi tidak mendapat perhatian. Setelah Perang Dunid Kedua tamat, cadangan ini dikemukakan sekali lagi oleh Malcom MacDonald, Pesuruhjaya Tinggi British di Asia Tenggara, namun ia sekali lagi tidak menjadi kenyataan kerana ketiga-tiga wilayah di Borneo tidak berminat menyokong hasrat tersebut.

Hanya setelah dizahirkan oleh Al-Marhum Tunku Abdul Rahman pada 27 Mei 1961 untuk memasukkan dua wilayah Borneo ini disambut baik oleh Lee Kuan Yew, Perdana Menteri Singapura dan Harold MacMillan, Perdan Menteri British. Terdapat beberapa persidangan dan jawatankuasa yang dibentuk dalam membincangkan cadangan kemasukan Sabah, Sarawak dan Singapura bagi membentuk Persekutuan Malaysia. Persidangan Persatuan Parlimen Komanwel (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association – CPA) merupakan satu platform terawal membincangkan penggabungan tiga wilayah tersebut. Ia diikuti dengan Jawatankuasa Perundingan Perpaduan Malaysia (Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee -MSCC). Donald Stephens telah dipilih mempengerusi jawatankuasa ini. Cadangannya ialah menggabungkan kelima-lima wilayah, Tanah Melayu, Singapura, Sarawak, Sabah dan Brunei di bawah nama The Malaysia Plan. Hasil dari perbincangan, MSCC telah merumuskan empat keputusan penting: Pertama, peribumi di dua negeri Borneo diberi kedudukan istimewa seperti orang Melayu di semenanjung. Kedua, satu suruhanjaya siasatan hendaklah dibentuk bagi mengumpul pandangan penduduk dua negeri Borneo. Ketiga, Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia adalah berdasarkan Perlembagaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Keempat, Agama Islam dijadikan agama rasmi persekutuan serta hak kebebasan beragama dijamin di seluruh persekutuan.

Bagi mengambil pendapat rakyat di kedua negeri ini, satu Suruhanjaya yang dikenali sebagai Suruhanjaya Cobbold dibentuk pada bulan November 1961. Dalam bulan Februari 1962 Suruhanjaya ini telah melawat Borneo Utara dan Sarawak bertemu orang ramai, ketua-ketua kaum dan parti-parti politik. Tugas Suruhanjaya Cobbold selesai pada April 1962. Hasilnya Penyata Suruhanjaya Cobbold diterbitkan pada Jun 1962 dengan satu ketetapan bahawa pembentukan Malaysia amat penting bagi negeri Sabah dan Sarawak. Ini kerana, Suruhanjaya ini telah menerima 2,200 surat dan memorandum. Malah seramai empat ribu orang telah berjumpa Suruhanjaya Cobbold bagi memberi pandangan mereka mengenai penyatuan Sabah dan Sarawk dalam membentuk Malaysia dengan 29 item untuk diterima pakai.

Satu jawatankuasa yang dikenali sebagai Jawatankuasa Antara Kerajaan (Inter-Governmental Committee –IGC) telah diwujudkan pada bulan Ogos 1962 setelah dapatan diperolehi dari Suruhanjaya Cobbold. Lord Landsdowne, Setiausaha Negara bagi Hal Ehwal Tanah Jajahan British telah dipilih menjadi pengerusi IGC. Mesyuarat IGC telah berlangsung sebanyak 12 kali dan akhirnya satu kompromi telah tercapai. Hasilnya 20 Perkara telah dipinda tetapi prinsipnya kekal. Laporan IGC mencadangkan 53 item penting. Antara perkara utama ialah: Pertama, Islam adalah agama rasmi bagi Perseketuan kecuali bagi Sabah dan Sarawak. Kedua, Bahasa Melayu sebagai Bahasa kebangsaan persekutuan tetapi Bahasa Inggeris kekal sebagai bahasa rasmi bagi Sabah dan Sarawak. Ketiga, sistem pendidikan terletak di bawah Kerajaan Persekutuan kecuali bagi Sabah dan Sarawak sehinggalah dibuat pindaan. Keempat, bagi pengisian Dewan Rakyat, 16 kerusi hendaklah diberi kepada Sabah, 24 kerusi kepada Sarawak dan 15 kerusi kepada Singapura. Kelima, bidang kuasa imigresen terletak ke atas Kerajaan Persekutuan namun kuasa autonomi ini hendaklah diberikan kepada Sabah dan Sarawak.

Di samping 20 Perkara, Perjanjian Malaysia 1963 (MA63) adalah hasil kontrak sosial yang menggagaskan penetapan bentuk kerajaan dan penggubalan undang-undang. Dua aspek ini telah merealisasikan pembentukan Persekutuan Malaysia mengikut asas  dan kerangka yang telah dipersetujui bersama oleh British, Tanah Melayu, Singapura, Sabah dan Sarawak.

Sejak kebelakangan ini timbul perbahasan hebat mengenai MA63 yang didokong oleh ahli-ahli politik tanpa menjelaskan kedudukan sebenar. Ini membawa kepada kekeliruan dan menyimpang dari tujuan asal perjanjian tersebut. Maka penerangan yang tepat harus diusahakan demi kepentingan masyarakat di Sabah, Sarawak dan semenanjung. MA 63 telah dimetrai pada 9 Julai 1962 di London. Mengikut undang-undang antrabangsa, ia dianggap sebagai sebuah triti.

MA63 mengandungi 11 perkara dan 11 lampiran tidak termasuk lampiran baharu berkait dengan kuatkuasa perjanjian dari 31 Ogos 2020 kepada 16 September 1963. Perjanjian tambahan telah dimetrai oleh lima wakil dalam MA63 pada 28 Ogos 1963 di Singapura.

Terdapat 5 perkara asas dalam MA63 yang meliputi Perkara I: tiga wilayah akan bergabung bersama negeri-negeri lain membentuk Persekutuan Malaysia; Perkara II: merealisasikan pembentukan Malaysia secara rasmi; Perkara III: kerajaan United Kingdom menyerahkan kepada Ratu British perintah-perintah dalam Majlis yang memberi kuatkuasa undang-undang kepada perlembagaan Sabah, Sarawak dan Singapura  sebagai negeri-negeri dalam Malaysia; Perkara IV: pihak British dikehendaki menggubal Malaysian Act 1963 Chapter 35 di Parlimen United Kingdom bagi memberi kuat kuasa undang-undang untuk melepaskan  kedaulatan dan bidang kuasa Ratu British terhadap Borneo Utara, Sarawak dan Singapura; dan Perkara VIII: tanggungjawab Kerajaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Sabah dan Sarawak untuk mengambil tindakan berbentuk perundangan, eksekutif dan tindakan lain yang diperlukan untuk melaksanakan jaminan-jaminan, perakuan-perakuan dan syor-syor yang terkandung dalam Bab 3 Lampiran A dan B oleh IGC yang dimetrai pada 27 Februari 1963.

Sesungguhnya pembentukan Malaysia pada 16 September 1963 banyak membawa kebaikan kepada negara terutama bagi Sabah dan Sarawak. Walaupun tidak semua tuntutan dalam MA63 dapat ditunaikan oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan, hakikatnya, MA63 merupakan dokumen yang memuktamadkan proses pembentukan Malaysia. Dalam hal ini, Kerajaan Persekutuan digesa untuk melihat kembali tuntutan dalam MA63 bagi merealisasikan hak warga Sabah dan Sarawak sebagai balasan menyertai pembentukan negara Malaysia.


PROFESOR Madya Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil dilantik sebagai Timbalan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif di International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia pada 1 April 2013. Bidang kepakaran beliau ialah Undang-undang Perlembagaan, Konflik Undang-undang Syariah-Sivil, Hak-Asasi Manusia, Undang-undang Jenayah Islam dan Undang-undang Transaksi Islam (Muamalah).

Memiliki Ijazah Sarjana Muda Syariah (Kepujian) dari Universiti Malaya pada tahun 1990, Sarjana Undang-undang (LLM) pada tahun 1992-1993 di School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London dan PhD dalam undang-undang di universiti yang sama pada tahun 2001-2005.

Bebas News : 15.09.2020

Source: https://bebasnews.my/?p=43334

 

27 August 2020 (Thursday)

10:00am - 1:00pm

Venue: Marriott Hotel Putrajaya and ZOOM online

Published in Past Events
Monday, 24 August 2020 09:30

The 2 crucial Malaysian documents

On Aug 31, Malaysia celebrates its 63th independence day. The multicultural character of Malaysia (then Malaya) precedes her independence.

The traditionally predominantly Malay demography saw drastic changes during the British colonial period when hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Indian migrant workers were brought in.

The then migrant workers shared very little similarities with the indigenous Malays and were often isolated from one another.

The Chinese concentrated in the tin mining sector, while the Indians primarily worked in rubber estates. The Chinese were generally Buddhists and practitioners of Taoism, while a majority of Indians were Hindus.

Across time, interactions between ethnic groups increased, and Chinese and Hindu temples, as well as other places of worship, flourished next to mosques and surau throughout the country. Today, Malaysia's population is 60 per cent Muslim and 40 per cent of other beliefs.

Inter-ethnic relations in Malaysia continue to be underscored by a high spirit of tolerance and acceptance despite brief periods of strain. The Federal Constitution plays an essential role in cultivating such levels of unity and harmony.

On the surface, the Federal Constitution may seem to be favouring the Malays, with special provisions given to the position of Islam (Article 3); the special position of the Malays, and later in 1963, the natives of Sabah and Sarawak (Article 153); Bahasa Melayu as the national language (Article 152); and the position of the Malay Rulers (Article 38).

These, however, were critical to the social contract historically agreed between the three largest political parties representing the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

In return for these provisions, non-Malays were foremost accorded citizenship, along with other essential rights such as religious freedom, cultural rights, educational rights and economic rights. Politically, ruling governments have always been composed of a coalition between the three largest ethnic groups (now including other smaller ethnic groups).

In brief, the Malaysian plural society can be described as a rainbow. In other words, unity is achieved without sacrificing people's unique ethnic, religious, cultural and regional identities. However, the widening economic gap between the Malays and non-Malays has become a significant concern.

On May 13, 1969, inter-ethnic tension escalated into riots, assaults, arson, protests and bloodshed. This brief but dark episode witnessed the suspension of the Constitution and the formation of the National Operations Council as a caretaker government to restore order and peace.

As a consequence, the Rukun Negara was introduced as the Malaysian national philosophy on Aug 31, 1970. Among the primary goals of Rukun Negara are to realise Malaysia's ambition to enhance the unity of its people; safeguard the spirit of democracy; establish a just society; maintain a liberal approach in addressing diversity; and create a progressive and technologically advanced society.

Since then, the Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara have become the two most essential frameworks of multiculturalism for the nation.

There are also voices arguing that the social contract established in 1957 is now obsolete. Such demands go against the spirit of unity and mutual respect, which has been the bedrock of the nation for generations.

The Constitution is a document born out of the spirit of moderation, balance and "give and take" between the Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras. It is a bulwark against extreme ideologies and a remedy for inter-ethnic tensions.

Additionally, the principles espoused by the Rukun Negara are essential. It is a visionary document that strives to reduce economic inequalities between Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras and to unite all Malaysians.

 

Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil is deputy chief executive officer of International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Published in: New Straits Times on Thursday, 20 August 2020

Source NST: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/08/617904/2-crucial-malaysian-documents

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds while undergoing several spectacular episodes of ‘hijrah’ (evolution) since the country gained its independence 62 years ago.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah said apart from rapid development and stronger economic growth, the nation’s political landscape has matured.

“From my observation, there is still room for us to continue embracing hijrah together,” said Sultan Abdullah in his speech at the national-level Maal Hijrah celebration here today.

Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, was present.

Also present were Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

“The strengthening of ethics and nurturing noble values are important in the management and administration of the country.

“Building a developed nation without the highest culture of integrity will deviate the country from the true form of hijrah.

“I fully support efforts to implement the administration of the country based on the discipline outlined in Maqasid Syariah (primary goals of the Islamic law).

“The highest form of hijrah can be achieved by upholding good and rejecting all forms of prejudices among people in the country,” the King said.

Islam, he said, encourages and promotes peace and good relationships within society, which should be emphasised among the people to strengthen unity.

“The is to ensure that the country achieves a higher form of hijrah through the spirit of tolerance and cooperation among people from various races, which is the strength of the country’s unity.

“This concept, however, should not be interpreted in a general manner to the extent of violating the teachings of the religion.

“Matters and efforts that are against the teachings of Islam, if tolerated, will lead to the collapse of the religion’s ‘wall’.

“In our efforts to embrace hijrah and tolerance among society, we should not neglect the demands of the religion.”

Published in: The New Straits Times, 02 September 2019

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/09/517793/king-urges-people-uphold-good-values-reject-prejudice

Saturday, 31 August 2019 09:40

A Merdeka wish for peace

I remember reading a research done in Indonesia some years back that science st‎udents are more readily radicalised to commit violence and extremism compared with their non-science counterparts.

One of the reasons cited was because science is a more rigid — black or white — discipline with few grey areas in between. As a result, science students are more inclined to decide on one or the other.

Whereas the humanities students are more used to choosing the “in-betweens” and feel comfortable with it. Although they may later gravitate towards violence but there is also a chance they may do otherwise.

In other words, religion may not be the main cause for violence per se.

That said, many were relieved to learn from the International Seminar on Religious Values in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism held last week at International Islamic University Malaysia that religions are indeed innocent bystanders‎ being (mis)assigned the malicious blame.

There are many factors that drive someone towards extremism. According to an expert on religion-state-society studies,‎ geopolitical or economic influences are more likely to be the cause, although religious labelling are more often used which then makes the issues more complex. At times politicians are the culprits by using religions for their vested interest.

Professor Mark Woodward said religious leaders instead have a crucial role and responsibility to play in stopping violent extremism. Together with politicians, religious leaders should refrain from using religious hatred as political tools to advance their own interests.

Policy makers are, therefore, ill-advised to use theological orientation as a factor in assessing the violent potential of Muslim movements and organisations, he writes. Instead more attention should be paid to variables that measure political attitudes and behaviour.

In line with this, the United Nations Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) urged states “to consider ‎ways to have a more inclusive representation of youth in decision-making at all levels in local, national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict, including institutions and mechanisms to counter violent extremism”.

The seminar thus recommends the formation of a coordinating body, i.e. a secretariat, to facilitate the National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) under the purview of the Home Ministry.

This is to consolidate government resources towards actionable response on PCVE issues and to also involve other stakeholders and acquire expertise from educational, civil society organisations and the private sector.

As it is, a survey of existing PCVE programmes across various ministries and agencies, such as the Department of National Unity and Integration under the Prime Minister’s Department, indicates that there are significant efforts at engagement and capacity building for PCVE.

However, there are also overlapping and duplication of efforts and responsibilities of these different government agencies which may prevent effective and cost-efficient enforcement of policies. By having a national secretariat, better optimisation of resources and best practices can be achieved‎. ‎In addition, it also recommends the development of a PCVE programme package for Malaysian youths for national implementation.

This will be ascertained through a pilot study and identification of existing best practices across government ministries and agencies.

The principles of public health provide a useful framework for PCVE using capacity building especially in terms of research, collaboration, advocacy and engagement as part of more general nation-building efforts and also target segmentation of those considered to be at risk of radicalisation and violence.

By rigorously understanding the causes and consequences of violent extremism and terrorism via research and instrumentation, a more general but relevant primary prevention programme, policy interventions, advocacy; and a more focused countering of violent extremism programmes can be created.

Before all those, it also recommends that outmoded aspects of PCVE be reformed and expanded in the so-called post-ISIS period, by giving focus on the threat of far-right extremism and other religious and ideological radicalism, and the dynamics of their exchanges intra and between communities that threaten local and global peace.

It is our fervent Merdeka wish that through better understanding of PCVE, the level‎ of violence and aggression could be better handled and reduced.

Sayangi Malaysiaku.

The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector.

Published in: The New Straits Times, 31 August 2019

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/08/517427/merdeka-wish-peace

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 12:08

Preserve essential foundations

As our beloved Malaysia just celebrated its 61st independence on Aug 31, let us remember the journey we have travelled so far.

Before the British left this country 61 years ago, the journey towards independence had gone through different patches and challenges. The Malays, who were deeply loyal to the sultans, rose against the British. Datuk Maharaja Lela, Datuk Bahaman, Dol Said and Mat Kilau were among the Malay warriors who were willing to bear arms against the British.

Many of these acts of resistance ended in bloodshed. For instance, Maharaja Lela was hanged to death for killing J.W.W. Birch, a British Resident in Perak, in protest over the intervention by the British in the affairs of the state.

In an armed offensive launched by the British, together with the then Pahang authorities against Bahaman and his followers, renewed hatred against the British hindered their hostile operation and eventually caused it to fail.

Fast forward to about a decade before independence, the Malays rose against the British intervention which sought to reduce the power of the sultans by introducing the Malayan Union on April 1, 1946. Consequently, the brazen British intervention in the local political framework raised the spirit of Malay unity against the British. The Malays succeeded in convincing the Malay rulers to boycott the proclamation of Malayan Union. Eventually, the British’s plan failed, and it was replaced by the Federation of Malaya in 1948.

The struggle against the British did not end there. Looking at the success of Indonesians, who managed to “expel” the Dutch from their homeland, the Malays were inspired to end the British influence for good and free Malaya.

The quest for independence culminated when the Alliance Party (later Barisan Nasional) which consisted of Umno, MCA, and MIC— with full support from the nation — managed to negotiate with the British in London to pave the way for independence. The negotiations ended in favour of the Malayans, which saw Malaya gain her independence on Aug 31, 1957.

A commission — the Reid Commission — was set up by the British to draft a written constitution for the Merdeka Malaya. The Malay rulers were accorded a major role in assisting the commission to prepare their task.

In total, the commission held 118 meetings and received 131 memoranda from all parties, including from the Malay rulers.

On the surface, the Constitution seemed to be biased with special provisions given to the:

POSITION of Islam in (Article 3);

MALAY privileges, (and later in 1963, the natives of Sabah and Sarawak) in Article 153; and,

POSITION of the Malay rulers in Article 38.

However, many have forgotten that the Constitution we inherited today is a product achieved by stakeholders and parties from different ethnicities and religious groups, and is famous for its balanced provisions.

This agreement to give and take for the sake of unity and achieving a common goal is commonly known as the “social contract” — a contract that the three major political parties of the Alliance, representing the three major ethnicities, understood and ultimately acknowledged throughout their coalition.

In return for the special Malay provisions, non-Malay minorities were given citizenship, freedom of religion, cultural rights, educational and economic rights.

Throughout the decades, the three major ethnic groups have worked side by side in political coalitions and in government. In fact, this inter-ethnic cooperation can also be observed in the new Pakatan Harapan government.

Despite the diversity of culture, language, the way of life, political ideologies, economic status, and even marriage laws, Malaysians have proven that they can live peacefully and harmoniously, side by side.

Indeed, the pluralistic society of Malaysia is a huge asset to the country, and what makes it a beautiful and unique nation. Instead of a melting pot, Malaysia is a rich cultural mosaic. The various races, religions, cultures, and regions are like a rainbow which of consists of different colours, but stay together under the same arc.

However, some parties, often among the younger generation, due to a lack of understanding of the history behind the Constitution, have arbitrarily denied the existence of the “social contract”. One of their arguments is that it does not exist in the Constitution.

As a retort, the Constitution also does not contain terms such as “democracy”, “the rules of laws”, “separation of powers” and “independence of the judiciary”.

Even if the Constitution does not expressly contain a certain term or concept, it does not necessarily render them false or unacceptable. It turns out that the Constitution has many implied provisions, including, non-textualised ideas.

The denial of the existence of a social contract, in fact, has denied the historic ethnic cooperation and consultation which were encapsulated in the memorandum by the Alliance, articulated and conveyed to the Reid Commission.

There are also some who argue that the social contract is a legacy that is no longer in line with the demands of the present society. Thus, they demand amendments to the existing Constitution to suit current needs. While it is true that amendments should be made to fulfil contemporary needs, many have been integrated in the numerous amendments made to the Constitution from time to time.

Yet, the essential foundations of the Constitution must be preserved to safeguard the current social balance and avoid any racial conflict. The wisdom behind the social contract and the compromises that have been practised by all parties since independence must also be understood and respected.

A call to amend provisions such as the position of Islam, the privilege of the Malays, the Malay language and the position of the Malay rulers is against the spirit of unity prescribed by the Constitution.

The Constitution is a document that balances between the demands of the various groups of society. Remedies include the practice of “give and take” between ethnic groups, and to be free from extremities in action and ideology.

For that matter, it was the intention of our forefathers and the Reid Commission in drafting the Merdeka Constitution for all Malaysians to enjoy a good and peaceful life.

The document is an embodiment of the unity within diversity among the multicultural society of Malaysia.

The high spirit of tolerance and acceptance propagated in the social contract by both the majorities and minorities are the fruits of a balanced approach framed in the Constitution.

Any readings on the Constitution must be done in a holistic manner. Thus, demanding equality in reference to Article 8 of the Constitution must not ignore other provisions in the Constitution which were included as part of the social contract.

Since the Constitution is the supreme law in Malaysia as per Article 4 (1), this living document is a prime source of unity for Malaysians.

As such, it is our obligation to uphold the constitutional objectives for all Malaysians to live in peace and harmony, despite their different backgrounds, ethnicity and religions.

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The writer is associate professor and deputy chief executive officer of International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Published in: New Straits Times, Wednesday 5 September 2018

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/09/408408/preserve-essential-foundations