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Deeper Than The Deep State This Thing In Malaysia Is – OpEd


I read a very interesting and important article from the Asia Sentinel (based in Hong Kong) concerning what the former minister of education, Maszlee Malik purportedly tried to do before he was dismissed from his job.


It was reported that he tried to position “Islamists”, or “Salafis” or “Wahhabis”, some of them from the organisation called Ikram (a Muslim professionals group), into key leadership positions in our public universities so that the influence of radical Islam – contrary to Malaysia’s pluralist national philosophy – can continue to take root.

The article by respectable correspondent Murray Hunter is very interesting, and I believe all of us should take note, try to understand and do a critical reading of what our former minister was up to. More than that it is a frightening revelation especially for Malaysians who have been angry at the way the government have not been able to curb: something deeper than the deep state.

Our nation is at risk I’d say. Here are my thoughts on what’s deeper than what others are seeing regarding what radical Muslims – the Salafis, or Wahhabi-influenced Malays – are doing to destroy our multicultural fabric that we should take pride in and harness through the most progressive approaches to education.

A few days ago, I gave a lecture on Martin Luther King Jr where I spoke of the danger of militarism, capitalism, and racism. I thought of my beloved country. Too bad Malaysia is gradually embracing apartheid and gross intolerance.

Look at Mara’s Junior Science Colleges’s (MRSM) system now, for example. Compare it to the mid and late ’70s. Do you see any Salafi difference? Is it endangering the country? The Education Ministry wanted to maintain an Islamist curriculum to prepare for total Salafi control two decades later. Read the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony.


Look at what the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) has been doing now. I believe Jakim can be disbanded and the money to fund it can instead be utilised for cross-cultural training of teachers. This is better for the country.

What if the combined budget for Jakim and MRSM is instead used to radically improve government schools to give it brand-new life? We will have great schools and the best one-school system we have always wanted that is free from racism as long as it is not run by racist politicians or education ministers.

I’ve thought of another related issue – maybe the decision to build an “Islamic university” in Malaysia then was a huge mistake? I don’t know.

I worry about the Salafis, Wahhabis or whatever radical Islamic ideologues you want to call them, and how they are destroying our children’s future.

In the US and the UK in the early 80s, Iranian-Ikhwanul Salafis infiltrated Malay students through the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) and PAS. Are we seeing the impact now?

From ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) to ketuanan Wahhabi (Wahhabi supremacy), this is the story of Malaysia’s revolutionary ideology. Schools such as MRSM are looking like training grounds for Wahhabi leadership. Mara must investigate who has infiltrated the minds and turn the bodies into something else other than true blue globalised Malaysians.

When the Education Ministry makes its curriculum ultra-religious, society will be reproduced to be more ridiculous. More Wahhabis will be made. Unresolved is the historical issue of Malays versus the non-Malays which is now exacerbated by the rise of Salafism. This is a big issue.

There is a heightened hatred and manufactured animosity towards non-Muslims/Malays these days. Is this a Salafi strategy? The goal of Malaysia’s Salafis is to push non-Muslims/Malays out of society. We are seeing this now in rhetoric.

Salafis too will play the Machiavellian game. Lies, deceit, that haram-becomes-halal strategy for a power grab. Observe these as we become ethnographers of society. Positioning “Islamists/Salafis” in all sectors, especially in the Education Ministry, is a takeover strategy. It will happen especially in the post-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad era. Wahhabism will flourish when universities continue to be mono-cultural and reject “Western liberal ideas”. An obvious danger to Malaysia.

Malaysia’s 1980s Islamisation Project during the first Mahathir rule was a sign of Wahhabi institutionalised infiltration. Neo-Ikhwanul Muslims and pro-Iranian revolutionaries in Malaysia, trying to take over? Be afraid. Even the MRSM system looks like it has been infiltrated by the Wahhabi-Salafis. See for yourself. Greater danger rooted?

What is deeper than the deep state? Wahhabi/Salafi infiltration of our universities and even schools. Uncover this. Since the ’80s. Malaysian education hijacked-prone. Driven by self-centeredness. Either by those promoting bad ideology or family dynasty.

Rather than dream of uniting the Muslim world, Malaysia must unite itself with the diversity it uses as conflicts. How can a society live under the moral policing of the Iranian ayatollahs? And Malaysia wants to follow that culture?

Malaysian NGOs need to study global issues, Middle Eastern politics, and the basic idea of Islam and world peace before taking sides. Will NGOs protest against Saudi Arabia who is in alliance with the US and Israel? Wasn’t the general masterminding the export of the ideas of the Iranian Revolution?

Malay-Muslims must learn to stop and think first before rallying for “jihad”, which is a basic psychological skill of wisdom. Malaysian-Islamists of today are descendants of followers of Iranian Revolution ideologues and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Nobody knows anymore who’s fighting who and for what reason in the Middle East for the “ummah” to be united. Be wise analysing. The ayatollahs are a legacy of the Karbala – with Iran as the modern martyr state. Iran could have developed democratically better with the ayatollahs.

Malaysia’s alliance with Iran and Turkey in the recent KL Summit could be a big global public relations mistake. Easy for Malay-Muslim politicians to score points supporting Iran. But is that all there is to one’s simple-mindedness? Think. Malaysians don’t need to rally for Iran before understanding what this is all about. It is not about Islam but black gold (oil). Saudi, Israel, the US will be in alliance against Iran-Iraq-Russia. Understandably. Will Malaysians understand this “ummah” thing?

Easy for the “Islamists” in Malaysia to rally behind Iran. But unwise. Middle East politics are too complex for Malays to understand. Difficult for “the Muslim world” to take side with Iran or the US. There is no “unity of the ummah”. Never was there an “ummah”. The US-Iran War” is not about “jihad versus crusade”. It is more complex than this – of political -economy, geopolitics, and genealogy of ideas.

The pride of the Malay is not only in Jawi and in songkok. But in brainpower, cultural finesse, and mastery of philosophy.

While thinking of writing this piece on the “deep state”, Uriah Heep – a band of the 60s – was playing in the background, on vinyl, on a Sunday evening. Brings me back to the groovy Sixties – without the Salafis – I grew up in as a child. That was when secret schemes of the Education Ministry were unheard of. It was plain hard work to try to make the new multicultural Malaysia work.

That Sunday too I watched a YouTube video of Astro Awani’s interview on what the Ministry of Education did or failed to do under the short-lived Maszlee-reign, before the outfit was dismantled, perhaps because of the suspected Salafi infiltration. I think I know what the problem partly was. It was one systemic, structural ideological. 

Herein lie the misinterpretation of Freirian pedagogy. Or better, a misreading yet trumpeting of the idea of a “cognitive revolution of the oppressed”. Can the oppressed be conscientised by a ministry led by a leader from a race-based party who will continue to avoid the much-needed radical reform on diversity and total restructuring of society? Reading one book – Freire’s – is not enough to understand the broad changes needed to get the country out of neo-colonialism. We need rock music as well. Classic rock preferably. Like Uriah Heep.

We must dig deeper into this something deeper than the deep state. We must demolish this thing that has been rearing its ugly head. Since the days of Abim. To today. Of Jakim.

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an academician, educator, international columnist, and author of nine books He holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in international education development and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies, communication, fiction, and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here. His latest book, a memoir, is published by Penguin Books is available here.

3 thoughts on “Deeper Than The Deep State This Thing In Malaysia Is – OpEd

  • January 23, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    That’s nothing.Trump has positioned them as indispensable allies in Syria and Iraq.Also teaching them to fly jets in Florida.

  • January 24, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    The article you based yours above have been discredited due to gross inaccuracies and slanderous accusations e.g Alleging non-IKRAM members as Members. Given your academic credentials should you not pay attention to these things. Fake news, surely you don’t want to be seen responsible for spreading that?

  • January 25, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Salam: My article merely alluded to the Asia Sentinel piece. The core of it is on the evolution of Salafi-ism/Wahabi-ism since the 80s, since ABIM days, my area of study back in the day. You seem upset reading the piece. Why don’t you write a critique of the article? I’d be glad and be looking forward to it as well as a possible dialogue on what has produced many of the professional organizations bent on Salafi-ism and worse, have become silent sympathizers of ISIS, in Malaysia too. I look forward to your written piece. –ar


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