State of Malaysia Today

This is the excerpt which I have taken from Dr Farish Noor’s latest posting. The highlighting is mine. The article is very long, and for the full article go here.

A Colder Look at the State of Malaysia Today

The rise and expansion of a communitarian public domain in Malaysia that is sectarian and exclusive is therefore something that ought to concern all Malaysian technocrats and social planners, for it would indicate that significant sections of the Malaysian population no longer think in terms of a national goal and national interest, but rather communal interests that are short-sighted, narrow, parochial and essentialist. These communitarian interests foreground primordial sentiments based on a narrow sense of group-feeling and are grounded on selective and sometimes erroneous interpretations of history, leading to historically biased communitarian demands being articulated in the public domain.

For technocrats who have to consider the survivability of the nation-state in the long run, such emotion-driven politics is not only irrational and subjective, but dangerously so for they threaten to undermine the objective basis of any nation-building project. Politicians who pander to these demands, concede to them on the basis of short-term political interests, or worse of all help to fan these emotional sentiments are therefore directly implicated in centrifugal tendencies that may eventually weaken if not sever the fragile bonds of nation-building and nationhood.

Thus in Malaysia what we are witnessing today – with the rise of ethnic and religious based NGOs and social movements calling for more exclusive communitarian politics – are symptoms of a society that is undergoing the traumatic process of change without a social safety net. Calls for ethnic and religious solidarity are not unique to Malaysia, for they have appeared even in the developed parts of the world when structural-economic changes have led to economic slowdown and massive unemployment, etc. (It is not a coincidence that the rise of neo-Fascism in Europe today is happening in parts of Europe where unemployment has passed twenty per cent.)

But the role and responsibility of governments is not to cater to these sectarian demands but rather to moderate them by reminding them of the national interest and long-term national goals instead. This however can be done only when political elites stop playing the game of communitarian politics themselves and stop toying with issues like ethnicity, language or religion to serve their short-term electoral goals. Should such measures not be taken, and should the trend towards sectarian communitarian politics continue in any country, the net result is clear for all to see. In the postcolonial era scores of young nation-states have completely fallen apart thanks to the rise of ethno-nationalist communitarian or religiously exclusive politics.

The fate of Malaysia in the short to medium term may or may not differ from these other failed states if the politicians, political parties and NGOs of the country are not careful; for there are no historical or essential guarantees to the nation-building project here or anywhere else. And in the final analysis, those who are currently involved in the heightening of tensions in the country ought to realise the cost of their actions on the nation’s image and long-term prospects; and the consequences should the nation-building project fail in Malaysia. Malaysia – like every other country in the globalised world today – is not going to be given a second chance; and the world does not owe Malaysia a living, and nor will the march of development slow down for Malaysians to catch up. Malaysians will therefore have to unite or perish, together.

Children, actors and drama queens can be emotional, but not technocrats and politicians; so leave emotions outside politics and govern coldly and rationally.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. klm
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 13:29:12

    I can only conclude that Malaysia is a failing state.


  2. CYC
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 15:10:44

    No amount of persuasions whether in writing or speech could change the chaotic scenario now. As a failing state, the urgent need is to resurrect the 4 pillars of nation building i.e. judiciary, executive, legislative,and finally a free press. Let these 4 pillars of strength guide us and not the so called politicians’ slogan with ulterior motive.. With blatant disrespect to the due process of law or worst still manipulating the law enforcement agencies to selfish gain, our country is definitely heading towards the same rank as Zimbabwe or Myanmar.

    Walk the middle path and adopt the spirit of unity in diversity. But can we do it ? The answer shall be answered by all of us, not the political leaders of the day.


  3. mccann105
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 15:40:22

    what are we going to do about it? blogging? wait ? we may not have that luxury of inner fear, these religious protest and attacks is just a tip of the ice berg..given that scenario as a minister or any position in the federal or state level.the ground source tell me the next election we are very likley to lose..while this is happening these cow herds n protest..are wriitng in the walls.these are distractiin,,as they say make hay while sun shine,,the recent transfer of 10mil by a menteri besar is an example run while u can,,,n last 2 yrs robert kuok sold off his perlis plantation n sugar refinery n rights..dont we think so,,,there are market intelliegnce of the worse to come?
    like in 1974 when hanoi was seized by bthe communist the us army knew it..n privy to that information ..many rich n powerful were 1st to run’ one one is to read asia sentinel new,,what was the flux of money went out?
    ytl with cash rich was quick to move their funds to do property dev in sin is mere excuse?
    these are writing on the walls..and those middle class , lower end n aged have where to go?
    one bothering thought is the military will so many high profile corruption s cases i wont be surprised these higher power are proteced in a trade off when their guns are required..
    cut the crap of noble writing being guys smart guys ..the reality is sooner or later we be all cornered into submission..history has shown us the nature of beast in us..would u have believe pak la would have nailed tun m? he wa splaying harmless until he had that power? nice guys good guys are only shown cos they are weak at current time.

    what shall we do now?


  4. ahoo
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 15:49:17

    Still one last chance before being labelled as a failed state. If nothing changes by the next GE13, we can expect many professional people will leave with their families. By then those left behind will be mainly non professional and the retirees. As for the majority here, life goes on as usual as we have aroung 5 million foreign workers and many millions “missing people” in Malaysia now. these missing people may one day be our legitimate voters, who knows ?


  5. disgusted
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 20:16:10

    Even the longest darkest night, the dawn will come. The turning point and nothing worse goes on forever as life is governed by cycles.

    Even between tears there will moments of smiles.

    Don’t lose hope.

    Yes, the big quake/??


  6. klm
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 23:56:59

    People. Look at it this way. We, ie the homo sapiens will never be here if there were no destructive processes to remove the dominant creatures that came before us. Dinosaurs will still be roaming the earth and we will be food to them.

    Dont be upset and lose hope. We are just going through the process of removing dinosaurs. The new earth belong to us.


  7. tonyboneka
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 08:15:22

    My optimism comes from 308. I see the signs of awakening. These years will be called the enlightenment of Malaysia. Dr Hsu, you can reap what you sow.

    Persistent point out the facts is the only way to change the mindset of a person.


  8. cilipadi
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 12:38:08

    When I say “morality” is important, in this case politics, it invites “luke-warm” response. Hahaha

    When “emotional” comes into play “irrationality” seeps in. This write-up of Dr. Farish Noor is in time for Malaysia.

    Alah-mak, what would happen next? Allah is laughing up there at Malaysia, for His name sake which He does not claims copy rights or exclusivity.

    For me, not my problem. I can’t see Him.

    Morality and rationality are what important.

    Being emotional to stay put at a place can become irrational as well. You believe?

    emotional makan cili, irrational rasa pedas


  9. klm
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 15:56:14

    cilipadi. We may have to put morality one side and behave like Genghis Khan on rampage. We may not be able to afford morality.


  10. CYC
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 15:56:55

    Now, we have East God and West God according to Nazri and KTK. East God can be referred to as Allah while the West God do not enjoy this treatment. Is this another new school of feng shui where direction or location play an ever important part in determining what name to be adopted ? Malaysia Apa Pun Boleh !

    Dr Hsu, perhaps u need to clarify with your friend if intend to migrate to countries in the east direction, he is encouraged to do so. Otherwise, if he intends to go west, please forbid him to do so. The law may not allow him to do so. This is clearly spelled out under Malaysia constitution , inter nation migration act , feng shui chapter part 1(n) & (ktk) 2010. This act should be read together with inter faith act 2010, under chapter of 1Malaysia 2 systems.


  11. cilipadi
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 16:29:47

    Gerakan stays in BN, emotional?

    Gerakan stays in BH, rational?

    Gerakan members not resigning after all these happenings, emotional or rational?

    Gerakan leaders stay, rational, they get their perks, they enjoy, the rest suffer. Got moral?

    Like that, Gerakan members still loyal to their leaders, emotional or irrational?

    It is right, Gerakan is more of Gelakan.

    Now I understand, what is Gelakan. Thanks to my Malay friend. He is not emotional, but rational, and got moral.

    Malaysian people, draw a line between emotional and rational, and decide your direction. Forget about Gelakan and goons.

    Gerakan makan cili, Gelakan rasa pedas


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