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High Hopes To Shattered Dreams? A Year After Malaysia’s Regime Change – OpEd


I am preparing the introduction to my new book, being a collection of 40 essays on a year of the new ruling party Pakatan Harapan’s rule. It will be my eighth book on Malaysia and the Global comtext. It will be a “Freirean-Freudian” musing, after the work of two thinkers, the Brazilian thinker Paulo Freire and the Austrian psychologist and father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud. The former wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed in the 1980s, the later wrote Civilization and Its Discontents in the 1930s.  Both wrote about how we think in an age of mental derangement.  So, how do we educate people to think critically on religion, the state, and a hybrid of totalitarianism these days. Especially in Malaysia?

The recent horrible massacre of hundreds of Christians in Sri Lanka, by Islamic absurdist-fundamentalists, hurt me emotionally as a peace educator, especially after reading about the 50 Muslim worshippers gunned down in Christchurch,  New Zealand and the attack and killing of Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – all three of these diabolic and despicable acts of terror committed this year, by terrorists by any name or religion.

Today these are my thoughts by way of a summary of my observations of the performance of the Pakatan government for the year. Since I had high hopes that turned into something different than what I expected. Religion, race, and royalty dominated my commentaries on my “Freirean-Freudian Observations and Documentations” as they relate to Critical Consciousness and Education of this nation.

Inching towards the Islamic State




That Terrorist attack against the Christians in Sri Lanka!!!

Every news of suicide bombing should make each country think of de-radicalizing schools of extremism and deporting mad preachers who derive power of persuasion, fame and fortune, by planting hatred towards people of other religions.

I’d say to this to any government, including the Malaysian government: Please don’t take lightly the power of radical preachers and preaching to turn followers into suicide bombers! In Christchurch my condolences the Muslims, in Sri Lanka to the Christians especially. Such a horrific scene!

Every country must prepare to deal with urban terrorism and to curb religious fundamentalism. Every religious teaching must be sprinkled with a heavy dose of liberal ideas, to soften and eliminate violent strands. I cannot understand how people can feel enlightened sitting in a mass preaching session of some radical Mumbai preacher! This is where education comes into play. If we are not doing the necessary to address this issue, we may regret what we will be leaving behind for our children.

After ISIS “defeat” in Syria, the business did not end there. The new theatres are wider: South and Southeast Asia. Preachers trying to prove each other’s religion wrong, “People of the Book” attacking each other. What is wrong here?

Internal politics of a country will invite external powers and supra-national movements to intervene, through mass violence too. Since young, I have always been suspicious what Islamic preachers from India/Pakistan are bringing to us in Malaysia. Their understanding of jihad and to die for one’s religion simply do not make sense, let alone be let to poison the minds of peace-loving Malaysians living in a multicultural society.

Those who claimed to have carried out the recent Sri Lanka bombings was a group that had an Arabic name: Jemaat Tawhid.  I asked these questions: “Jemaat Tawhid” as suicide bomber? What in the world is that concept? I’d say we deport all those preaching strange Islamic teachings! “Jemaat Tawhid” loosely means “Congregation of Unity of Oneness”. To do what? To promote the one-dimensionalism of jihad – to kill others in the name of religion and expect to go straight to heaven?

My weekend started with dinner with my Jewish friends, greeting Easter to my Christian friends, ended with reading about the horrible Sri Lanka massacre! That Monday morning, in my class on Global Issues,  I Iectured on nationalism, trans-nationalism, supra-nationalism, and millenniarist movements in our world today re: Sri Lanka. The images of the bombings, the raw footage of the mass murderers entering the church during Easter mass, haunted me and kept playing even while I was walking around the classroom lecturing. More than 300 people died with about 500 injured. These are not mere statistics. They are human souls engaging in an occasion of celebrating the life of a prophet and messenger of peace, a spiritual figure named “Isa son of Mariam” (Peace be Upon Him).

Consider this: Islam without Sharia law, Hudud, Jihad for the Islamic State. That will be the best! Philosophical, purely cognitive-spiritual. One day, Islam controlled with hypocrisy by the powerful and wealthy with be like The Monarch Butterflies. Extinct. Islamic Thinking of Al Ghazali, Muhammad Abdul Wahab, Syed Qutb, Muhammmad Abdul A’la al Maududi has done a lot of damage to the thinking of Muslims. Deconstruct!  To control their wealth, today’s world’s “Muslim Monarchs” still use Islam, nervously, as a means of total mind control.

How then must we educate? How must our policies to ensure peace and security be put in place?

Bring home Islamic State soldiers?

Children in Malaysia’s  Islamic Tahfiz schools need a new compulsory subject: Philosophy for Children. Malaysia is allowing home formers ISIS followers and soldiers, gives refuge to most despised hate preacher. Horrible policy! This is the malaise of the new Malay-Muslim government.

In the name of racial survival, the government is inching towards the Islamic State endangering future generations. With the blessings of the Ministry of Education, more universities may host that hate speech monger. Absurd! We are weak in our critical thinking capacity. Malay-Muslim university especially are easily fed with nonsense vomited by Wahabi-Salafist televangelist preachers.

I’d say this now: Malaysians, deport any radical Islamist preacher that do not belong in our country. Before it is too late. Pakatan Harapan Government: have the guts to maintain peace! ISIS is not dead. Their soldiers are merely returning home to carry out / orchestrate a localized-global war. In Asia. In Southeast Asia. Including in the Nusantara. It’s a business of terror and spiritualism gone totally wrong.

What would you die for?”  I asked this question in a lecture to American students in discussing Global Issues re: Terrorism. One must not die for anything. Not even for religion. Not even for God. One must live to know oneself. To know God.

We must re-conceptualize the idea that Religion is all there is to life. No. Spirituality reigns supreme. Even over the “self”. The lack of and ignorance towards the meaning of “Liberal Education” paved the way to the surrender of oneself to Jihadists.

Matriculating into Educational Malaise

“High Hopes, Broken Promises” That’s probably the theme of this government’s one-year performance –

With regard to the Matriculation Quota Issue, what major change has been done? Or merely a stubborn continuation of the same old racial policy? Re: harboring radical Islamist-fugitive, what has been done? Government is too weak in face of a nonsense that planted itself.

The Ministry of Education is seeing no value in meritocracy and the fairness for children in a multicultural polity. Addicted to apartheid. The non-Malays cannot hope for change it voted for, because the real agenda is being exposed. Ketuanan Melayu 2.0.

Maybe this government is an ideological transitionary regime, a mask of the old, the next wave of change is coming? Changing educational policy re: equality and equity should be made as fast as prosecuting Ajib and the 40 thieves. Why so slow?

People love to use the word “deep state” these days. Trendy. Classy. But it’s merely a case of greed, ignorance and incompetency.

Continuing Privatization policies and the strengthening of the GLCs are mere recipes of disasters of previous corrupt entities. Today’s top CEOs of American companies making 1000 times more than the average worker. Disease of global free enterprise spreading.

In the 21st. century nobody wants Absolute Monarchy. Unless you desire submitting yourself to mental slavery. Absolute monarchs are those rulers who think they could swallow tons of gold daily and make themselves powerful and holy.

Can we expect a just society to evolve if those in the government are too busy fighting to install family-dynasties? But it’s not about quota in education that’s only of essence, it’s the quality of thinking too that is of concern.

Sustainable Mentality needed

Maybe the government does not understand holistically the word “sustainability”, running across the entities? 

Maybe the elections promises are merely silk curtains to a room full of horrible dreams?

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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.

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