Friday, 17 July 2015

Sahabat Rakyat is in Preparation for the 14th Anniversary Commemoration Event   Theme: The New Phase of Democratic Reform in Malaysia

Sahabat Rakyat is in Preparation for the 
14th Anniversary Commemoration Event
Theme: The New Phase of Democratic Reform 
in Malaysia
Date: 6 September 2015 (Sunday)    Program: Forum and luncheon

(Text below is translated from original version in the Chinese language published on 13 July 2015. In the case of any discrepancy between the English rendition and the original Chinese version, the Chinese version shall prevail.)


In mid-1960s, our forerunners of democratic movement in Southeast Asia viewed “Malaysia” as a product of “neo-colonialism”. The historical facts over the past half a century have proven that: Malaysia is essentially a country in which the British colonial ruler arranged its agents to assume the mantle of colonial rule and to continue racial oppression. UMNO all the while represents the Malay ethnic ruling class (mainly consists of Malay feudal aristocracy, bureaucratic capitalists and capitalists) to rule and oppress the petty bourgeoisie and working class of its own ethnic group, as well as all the working class, middle class and petty bourgeoisie of other ethnic communities (in peninsular Malaysia, it mainly refers to the Chinese and Indian communities, while in Sabah Sarawak, it mainly refers to the Iban-Dayak and Dusun-Kadazan communities). Since the Federal Constitution stipulates that all Malays in Malaysia are Muslims and ruler of each state and Yang di-Pertuan Agong are the head of Islamic affairs, after the nation building, the Malay ruling cliques represented by UMNO spare no effort in Malayizing the state (stressing on the status of Malays and Malay supremacy), followed by Islamizing the state, intensifying forced assimilation and oppression of dictatorship on other ethnic communities, in order to prolong and enhance their dominance. Therefore, the Malay hegemonic ruling clique represented by UMNO has unsurprisingly become the main object of the democratic reform struggle of all ethnic communities in Malaysia.

Malaysia, from State Malayization to Islamization

The historical facts of Malaysia also show that: Mahathir is the founder and an important driving force in "Islamizing Malaysia". From early 1980s till 1990s, the UMNO-BN government led by Mahathir actively carried out a series of important Islamization policies which include: (1) From the legislation aspect, which is also the most important aspect, meshed the current state’s legal system with the concept of Syariah law; (2) From the economy aspect, gradually changed the state’s economic system to the Islamic economic system; (3) From the education aspect, established Islamic University, teachers’ training institutes, research institutes, training centers etc, (4) From the socio-cultural aspect, strictly banned non-Islamic religious propaganda in mass media, built a lot of mosques in new and developing community areas, and deployed different ways to hinder the construction of non-Islamic religious buildings. It was Mahathir who announced that Malaysia is an Islamic state on 29 September 2001 in Malaysian People’s Movement Party (Gerakan) National Delegates Conference, and hence negated the stance of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, the founding father of Malaysia and former president of UMNO who had been emphasizing Malaysia is not an Islamic state throughout his life, and further repudiated the consensus of the people from all ethnic communities and leaders from various parties all the time that Malaysia is a secular state instead of an Islamic state.

UMNO hegemonic rule aggravates various contradictions

The comprehensive implementation of “State Islamization” policies from Mahathir to his successor Abdullah Badawi and Najib has resulted in: (1) UMNO becoming a hegemonic ruling clique that is increasingly arrogant and conceited, and unscrupulously implementing hegemonic rule on all the people; (2) UMNO becoming the only domineering and unobstructed party-government linked corporate, tyranny within the Malay community, money politics, corruption and abuse of power become rampant; (3) the formation of new Malay capitalist class, which is interdependent and colluding with UMNO political elites to carry out brutal repression and exploitation on the people of all ethnic groups (including middle class, petty bourgeoisie and working class of its own ethnicity). In a nutshell, the implementation of the state Islamization policy not only aggravates the conflicts between the ruling clique and the people, it has also intensified the conflicts between different factions within UMNO ruling clique. In 2007, the Indian (Tamil) community who has been suffering from severe suppression finally launched a massive demonstration courageously to express their resentment and put forward their demands, aspiring people of all nations to unite and give UMNO hegemonic ruling clique a strong blow in General Election 2008 (BN lost power in Penang, Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Kelantan, and also lost two-third of seats in Parliament for the first time). The unprecedented failure has resulted in the disintegration and scheming and plotting against each other within the ruling clique. The number of participants of “709 rally” in 2011 and “428 rally” in 2012 increased from fifty thousand to unprecedented two hundred thousand people, causing many leaders, cadres of democratic parties and organizations and the masses ingenuously to weave the dream of “changing the government (Ubah)” in the 13th General Election (GE13), but this dream had then vanished ruthlessly.

After the dream for “Ubah” vanished into thin air

After GE13, two distinguishing political features emerged : (1) On the ruling clique aspect: Major factions within UMNO have started intense life-and-death struggle, mainly reflected in: Mahathir, the former Prime Minister relentlessly criticises Najib for his incompetency in governing the country, and does not want to let Najib off on his misconduct on the 40 billion ringgit debts of 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that was established by Najib after being the prime minister; since Wall Street Journal exposed that 1MDB deposited 700 million US dollars (equivalent to 2.6 billion ringgit) into Najib’s personal account on 3 July, Mahathir forced Najib to prove innocence by revealing his bank accounts for investigation purpose. Apparently, Mahathir who has retired but is still active must overthrow Najib in a short period of time, to support his own clique’s followers to once again gain the political control of this country. It is an indisputable fact that the contradictions within UMNO are irreconcilable. (2) In Pakatan Rakyat’s camp (PR): Since the dream of the 3 parties in PR (i.e. PAS, DAP and PKR) and their supporters to change the government and be in power through the GE13 shattered, these 3 parties have gone in separate ways due to significant differences in terms of political position, ideology and serving targets. This can be seen from the “Kajang move”, the change of Chief Minister in Selangor, PAS ignoring the objection of its allies and continued to insist implementation of Syariah law in Kelantan, PAS, in its congress passing the motion of cutting ties with DAP, DAP severing ties with PAS and announced that PR is dead etc. The split of PR camp is also an irrefutable fact. The struggle of contradiction within ruling clique and the split and restructure of PR camp are objective reality that are independent of anyone’s consciousness, which will continue to develop in accordance to the objective law.

Democratic parties, organizations and individuals in Malaysia used to pin high hopes on the "reformation (reformasi)" led by Anwar Ibrahim and PKR and on the emergence of progressive leaders and ideas in PAS, but lacked understanding that both are Malay-community-based parties and both have the characteristics of appealing through Islam. In fact, Anwar and other PKR leaders who were split from UMNO and progressive leaders in PAS have never expressed distinct stand and position on the Mahathir’s declaration by oneself that “Malaysia is an Islamic state” nor on the thorough “state Islamization” implemented by UMNO hegemonic ruling clique. The current political development in the Malay community seems to be regressing. This can be proven by: this time round when Anwar was sentenced to 5 years jail, unlike in 1998, it could hardly set off the waves of "reformasi" but only manage to trigger off a short-term turmoil within Anwar’s fans and a small number of Malay radicals. Further to that, some leaders who were from UMNO are bogged down in jockeying for power and wealth and eliminating dissidents; on the other hand, progressive faction in PAS suffered from a devastating failure in the party’s election in June this year and the central committee is fully taken control by the conservative faction led by Hadi Awang. Given this situation, we can foresee that UMNO will strongly support PAS led by Hadi Awang to implement Syariah law in Kelantan, while PAS will strongly support UMNO to continue state Islamization policies. It might get even worse, which is not impossible, if the PKR leaders split from UMNO and the clerics (“Ulama”) faction in PAS accept the enlistment and incorporation of UMNO ruling clique; or PKR or PAS, under the domination of their conservative leaders, forms an Islamic coalition or Islamic state government or even federal government with UMNO. If this ever happens, the future of non-Muslim communities in Malaysia will become graver and more miserable.

People of all ethnic groups and all strata understand that there are a lot of differences in terms of policies of the 3 parties in Pakatan Rakyat. The major difference is their attitude towards the implementation of state Islamization by UMNO and the implementation of Syariah Law by PAS in Kelantan, as well as the issue of changing Malaysia from a secular state to an Islamic state. DAP is the only party taking a clear-cut and resolute stand that adheres to the interests and aspirations of the oppressed ethnics in the country. Its late president Karpal Singh once said in the 1990 general election, “an Islamic state over my dead body”. Such heroic and pride words might have annoyed some Muslims who uphold Islamic state, but it would also touch those who uphold the freedom of religion. DAP outshined the others in the past 2 general elections and exhibited thriving momentum politically are inseparable from its efforts in opposing Islamic state, opposing state Islamization, opposing corruption and voicing out for the urban middle and petty national bourgeoisie and the broad working class.

How to understand the new phase of democratic reform in Malaysia

News reported by Malaysiakini on 13 July verified the rumour about the progressive faction leaders of PAS who suffered a crushing defeat in the party election will form a new political party. It was reported that:
1) Mohamad Sabu announced the setting up of “Gerakan Harapan Baru” to facilitate the formation of a new Islamic-based political party in the future;
2) Mohamad Sabu further declared that “Gerakan Harapan Baru” is not an NGO, but an outlet for the progressives in PAS to pave their way to a new party;
3) Mohamad Sabu expressed that Islam will be the basis of “Gerakan Harapan Baru” where it will embrace an inclusive and progressive approach and Islam that cares for the people. He also stressed that they will adhere to democratic values and respect the position of all races, religions and cultures.

Some democratic parties, organizations and individuals may put high hopes on these Malay political leaders who rivalled the “Ulama” faction led by Hadi Awang in PAS. However, Zaid Ibrahim, the enlightened Malay politician expressed in his blog on 27 June that: The new party can be a face of an “intellectual Islam” and not the present holier-than-thou version, and it must try to bring into public affairs a different idea of Islam that is kind and forgiving. Therefore, what is the substantive difference between the new political party that will be formed by the progressives and the original PAS? Will the new party wholeheartedly respect and accept the common aspiration and strong demand of people from all ethnic groups (mainly the non-Muslim communities) to “oppose state Islamization”? At the same time, will it work together with other democratic parties, organizations and individuals who advocate and uphold the explicit position of “opposing state Islamization, burying UMNO hegemonic rule”? These will be the questions especially concerned by democratic parties, organizations and individuals in our country. How should we perceive them correctly and further treat them in a proper manner? These are questions which democratic parties, organizations and individuals as well as people from all ethnic groups should pay close attention to and consider thoroughly, in order to make the right decision.

From 1950s till the end of 1990s, the Chinese education movement in our country was the nucleus of the Chinese community in resisting UMNO racist hegemonic rule. “Dong Jiao Zong”, which was jointly formed by “Dong Zong” (United Chinese School Committees' Association) and “Jiao Zong” (United Chinese Schools Teachers' Association) was one of the important leading organizations at that time. But, this force is currently facing the crisis of total disintegration due to Yap Sin Tian and Chow Siew Hon’s (who have been holding office as leaders of Dong Zong since 2005) arrogance and peremptory behaviors, furthermore, they are loath of giving up their posts and purging dissidents. Being the leading organization of Chinese education movement, Dong Zong central committee controlled by Yap Sin Tian and Chow Siew Hon disregarded the severe damage brought by the aggravated racial assimilation and oppression policies with “state Islamization” as core content implemented by UMNO ruling clique towards other non-Chinese ethnic groups. The main leaders in power initiated internal strife one after another for the sake of being in power, more accurately said, for being in senior positions of Chinese education leaders so as to take advantage of the respected positions to gain business opportunities and benefits. These fights have consumed a lot of resources and energy of the Chinese community. It has indeed saddened our friends and gladdened the enemy. Now, the question of whether the Chinese education movement can be reinvigorated and reverted to the general direction guided by Lim Lian Geok to “resolutely resist racial assimilation policy and uphold the rightful status of the Chinese education”, meanwhile merging into the struggle of all ethnic groups to oppose state Islamization and bury UMNO hegemonic rule, should be concerned by those who care for mother-tongue education and culture of all ethnic groups. It should also be concerned by all democratic parties, organizations and individuals in our country.

In 2007, the Indian (Tamil) community in peninsular Malaysia launched a huge demonstration in Kuala Lumpur. It symbolizes the awakening of this poor community who has been hitherto marginalized. Like the other ethnic groups, they too formed an organization named “Hindu Rights Action Force” (Hindraf) and put forward their concrete demands with the essence of “opposing Malay racism” and “opposing state Islamization”. These just demands were however intentionally or unintentionally neglected by the PR leaders. Although PR leaders may have their reasons for doing so, it is still “saddening own friends but gladdening the enemy”. UMNO hegemonic ruling clique will absolutely not let the Indian community to become a united force of the oppressed ethnic community, and will for sure offer enlistment to the opportunists in the Indian community and incorporate them in order to split the unity of the Indian community, just like the sabotage and splitting activities that they have been carrying out in the Chinese education movement force. Therefore, while the democratic reform movement in our country moves towards the new phase of fragmentation and reorganization, all democratic parties, organizations and individuals should pay attention and properly treat the status of Hindraf and the concrete demands put forward by the Indian community represented by Hindraf to ensure Hindraf and the marginalized Indian community can merge into the struggle of all ethnic groups to oppose state Islamization and to bury UMNO hegemonic rule.

Besides that, the people and civil society of Sabah and Sarawak have always regarded UMNO hegemonic ruling clique as their “neo-colonial rulers”. The majority population in both states comprising of Chinese, Iban-Dayak and Kadazan-Dusun are mostly non-Muslim. As religious freedom was amongst the top demands of Sabah and Sarawak for them to be part of Malaysia which was clearly stated in the Inter-Governmental Committee Report and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, further due to 50 years of personal experience of deeper exploitation by UMNO hegemonic ruling clique, the determination and courage of the people of Sabah and Sarawak in resisting UMNO hegemonic rule and state Islamization are not any lesser than the oppressed ethnic groups and oppressed class in peninsula. In April 2015, 33 non-governmental organizations of Sabah and Sarawak issued a joint statement to clearly express their position of “having a thorough renegotiation of the Federal Constitution if Kelantan insists to enforce its Syariah Criminal Code II (1993) 2015”. This shows that both struggles of people of Sabah and Sarawak and people of the peninsula in resisting UMNO hegemonic rule and state Islamization should cooperate with each other in order to bury UMNO hegemonic rule sooner.

Forum and luncheon

In view of this, Sahabat Rakyat has decided to organize a forum entitled “The New Phase of Democratic Reform in Malaysia” on 6 September 2015 in commemoration of its 14th anniversary. We will invite a few individuals who have insightful views on the democratic reform movement in Malaysia to convey their valuable insights in a straightforward manner on the abovementioned title, and hoping that these remarks will solicit others’ wise and mature opinions to welcome the new phase of democratic reform movement in our country. The forum will follow by a luncheon for all to exchange views. Further details will be announced later.

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通告 Notification

人民之友对下届大选意见书
英巫文译稿将在此陆续贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在上个月对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的意见书,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!。

这篇意见书的英文译稿,将在近期内在本部落格贴出。马来文译稿将在下个月内贴出。敬请关注!

我们希望,我们在意见书内所表达的对下届大选的立场和观点,能够准确而又广泛地传播到我国各民族、各阶层的人民群众中接受考验,并接受各党派在这次全国大选斗争和今后实践的检验。


The English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election will be published here consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!”

The English rendition of this statement will be published in our blog in the near future whereas the Malay rendition will be published next month (November). Please stay tuned!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the next General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicities and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the next General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.


Akan datang: Penerbitan penterjemahan pendapat Sahabat Rakyat mengenai pilihan raya ke-14 dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang akan datang yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! "

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut akan diterbitkan dalam blog kita dalam waktu terdekat manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu akan diterbitkan pada bulan hadapan.

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun masa depan.

Malaysia Time (GMT+8)