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Governance 101: Democracy Bites The Dust By Datuk Zaid Ibrahim


(Let’s leave issue of democracy, minority rights, race, politics and religion out of school – are we providing the best education method for our kids to survive in the ever changing environment? Image source:

If you have not been having your head in the ground, you will know that the issue of teaching of khat in school especially with the Chinese schools has been the biggest issue in the country lately. Ever since the matter was raised, it simply refuse to die down.

If you ask me, the very idea of having 3 pages of Jawi in the Standard 4 textbooks have been blown out of proportion. At the most, it is public relationship failure to engage the various stakeholders effectively.

It started with the questions like why now, why mandatory & not optional, why it is under Bahasa and not Arts, why the focus on Jawi and not Science & Maths in English, what is the benefit to the students in the end, is it going to replace BM as we know it, is it another way to enforce religion in schools, etc.

It is blown out of proportion because one end, for the non-Muslims and Chinese education groups like the Dong Jiao Zong, there is a fear that this represent another step of Islamisation into the education system. After all, if you look around lately, moral policing has be on the rise – the latest one to hit the wall is when PDRM banned Astro’s pageant contestants from wearing swimsuits (the police later clarified that they only “advised” the organiser Astro to do so, and that the advice was “non-binding”)

On the other hand, for the Muslims, any objection to the teaching of khat is a direct challenge to the position of the Malays and Islam as the official religion of the country. There were even threats if Dong Jiao Zong had proceeded with their congress on the matter – the congress was eventually called off after the police obtained an injunction from the courts.

This is just one of the race & religion related incidents that is ploughing the country so much so the Inspector-General of Police described the racial and religious issues raised by certain quarters lately as burdening the police.

At this point, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim wrote a very interesting post over his Facebook:-

Democracy Bites The Dust
By Datuk Zaid Ibrahim:

I was about to complete my speech to be delivered at the Dong Zong meeting on 28th December when I received a message from the organiser: Meeting cancelled. Police had obtained an injunction to stop the gathering; on the ground that there will be a breach of peace; that public order may be affected by allowing such a peaceful meeting to take place.

I was not surprised although disappointed that under a PH government, those who threatened violence and sought to instigate riots had won the day. I expect the Police to be partial during the BN days, but not now, I expect them to tell the “would-be rioters they will be punished if they proceed with their threats.

Nothing it seems has changed. The Chinese, it seems, are not able to get the same kind of protection as the Malays who famously organised the Malay Congress. Dong Zong was merely trying to organise a peaceful gathering, but the security forces felt they were unable to protect them.

I had a similar experience 8 years ago when I was invited to speak at a forum in Penang on Article 11 of the Federal Constitution; to explain the meaning of religious freedom in the country. I was heckled and abused by a group of Malay NGOs; calling me, amongst others a lapdog of the Chinese.

I was halfway delivering my speech when the Police advised me to stop. The Police had a permit for the meeting cancelled on the ground that they would be trouble if I had continued — a victory for the hecklers and those who had no respect for the rights of others.

The cancellation of the gathering organised by Dong Zong means that in our country; rights can be trampled by threats of violence; that those who use force and promise a riot like a repeat of May 13 always win the day. The Police do not think they can maintain public order and peace if the Malays threaten to use force and violence on the non-Malays. Democracy is now dead.

This is where we are now. The Malays/ Muslims group will be encouraged to continue their harassment of the non-Malays because of the weakness of our security apparatus to maintain public order.

As a Malay, I feel ashamed that these small group of Malays / Muslims would go at such length to deny others of their basic rights. Despite that, they are still taken seriously by the Police. What has caused them to have such an attitude and behave like thugs? It must be their education and the values they were taught. Our Minister of Education probably disagree with me, but how else can we explain such behaviour?

Its all have to do with the failure of Islamisation policy enunciated in 1988. Islamisation policy, we were told, means the assimilation of Islamic values in our education and administration of the country. We were told that with Islamisation, we would be a liberal democracy ready to achieve developed status in 2020.

The policy was so cleverly presented that a prominent Chinese leader supported it, telling me that ‘a rose by any other name is still a rose.” It turned out to be not a rose, but a sharp thorn that has destroyed our unity, segregate our people and trampled on the country’s democracy

Then we were told that Islamic values mean humanistic values, which are universal in nature. It did not turn out that way. The product of our Islamisation policy is seen in the conduct and behaviour of our leaders and younger members of various NGOs when faced with issues they dislike or disapprove.
They are vile, uncouth and fascinated with fascist ideas and exhort violence on those they do not like. They have a complete distaste for human rights and democracy and the rights of minorities.

Where are all the Islamic values of tolerance, compassion and respect for the rights of others? None to be seen.

After 30 years of abject failure, our leaders still want to persist with another wave of Islamization policy. The grand design to use YADIM to promote Dakwah is schools colleges and universities is a sign that their appetite for more indoctrination of failed ideas and values has not been satisfied.

What new things will they teach the Malay/ Muslims youth that will change the character of the Malays? I hope not more fascination with violence and the denial of basic rights of others who do not belong to their group.

Fascism has taken deep roots in our country; and they can appear in many forms, including the use of religion to spread their ideas. I don’t know if we can overcome them now.

The only small hope we have is the presence of multiracial parties in the country. I hope more Malays will join them. They appear to have less fascination with ideology, and more committed to defending human rights and economic justice for all Malaysians.

The Malays will learn to be less righteous and less virtuous, and more respectful of the rights of others. They will be humble and appreciate the contributions of others. The association with the Chinese will make them more focused on business and the economy. They will see the world differently and appreciate the beauty of the multicultural diversity of the country.

I believe they will learn to be more tolerant and moderate in their thinking. Being isolated from indoctrination, they will have more time on improving their education, livelihood and seeking a fairer share of the nation’s wealth.

In short, they will be better off.


Well said on the notion of democracy and on the rights to be heard and it is something for all Malaysians to seriously ponder.

After all, if things had gone well, in 3 days we should have been a developed country. And yet we are still at each others’ throats on race & religion over petty matters. And PH Government seems to be making it worse by indecision, flip-flop actions and not voicing out if things are not done right.

In New Malaysia, we need more unity, NOT more disunity.

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