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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One People, One Destiny

One people, one destiny

I was reading the Proclamation of Independence again recently. It struck me how the proclamation starts with not only with the utterance “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful” but also, in the next sentence, “Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe (Rabb Al-‘alamin) and may the blessings and peace of God be upon His Messengers.”

The expression Rabb Al-‘alamin resonates. It is my favourite description of the Creator, saying to me that Allah’s embrace is so all encompassing, like a mother’s, that no one, not a single one of us, will ever be allowed to fall from His cradle. ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali conveys the nuances of this phrase richly in translating it as the “Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds”. “Worlds”, not “world”. Worlds. ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali says, “There are many worlds, astronomical and physical worlds, worlds of thought, spiritual world and so on. In every one of them, God is all-in-all.” I agree. The world I live in is in many ways different from the world in which my neighbour lives. My family, friends, experiences, history and spirituality are so different from his, as are his from mine.

As I read the opening words to the Proclamation again, I was reminded of how in invoking Rabb Al-‘alamin and His Messengers, our founders had not only proclaimed this nation as one in which Islam was the religion of the Federation, they had also recognized that the Malaysian universe was one made of up of so many different worlds. The Proclamation goes on to declare: “AND WHEREAS by the Federal Constitution aforesaid provision is made to safeguard the rights and prerogatives of Their Highnesses the Rulers and the fundamental rights and liberties of the people and to provide for the peaceful and orderly advancement of the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu as a constitutional monarchy based on Parliamentary democracy.”

We are one people, all of whom have a common destiny. We come from different worlds and we will continue to have our own peculiarities even as we forge a common identity. Islam is embedded in the Constitution and that will not change. Leave aside the practical impossibility of ever denuding the Constitution of Islam, our shared history and our present are so interleaved with the faith that its absence would leave a void for many of us, even non-Muslims. A friend of mine of another faith used to complain about the azan until she spent a long time away and realized how it had given her comfort, signaling the end of night and the start of another day. In the same way, the funds that are used for the advancement of Islam in this country come, in part, from taxes collected from all of us and we do not hear complaint about it.

An appreciation of this, and the equally protected status of the Malays, must necessarily bring with it an equal understanding of our need for mutual respect. This is not just about the guarantee of equality in the Constitution, this is about what common good requires of all of us. I do not profess to be an expert but I recognize at my core that God made us equals even as He made us different so that we could understand acceptance within His full embrace. I understand that our diversity mirrors the worlds that are His domain, as much as I understand that our diversity is a reflection of His Oneness. For this reason, when we cleave any one of us away from the rest of this society, it is a cause of great pain and anguish. There are sensitivities that have to be handled very delicately even where we feel that there are issues that need to be confronted. Perhaps too belatedly, I understand now that so focused on law and constitutional rights have I been that I have at times overlooked the need to be less robust in the way I explained myself; though things needed to be said, and still do, they could have at time been said that much better.

When Dr Rais Yatim opened the conference at which the proposed Interfaith Commission Bill was to be discussed, he said something that has remained with me since, “We must know the sharp edges protruding in a multi-religious and multi-racial society.” Rightly so, for how else are we to understand how to live with each other more harmoniously unless we know the sharp edges. We must confront, understand and resolve. And while sensitivity is necessary, it must not be permitted to keep us away from what we have to do as a community of worlds or to shut us out.

We must also not blind ourselves to the fact that sensitivity is a two-way street. No one person or community has a monopoly over the right to feel pain. We all bleed the deep, red blood of Malaysia. Tanah tumpahnya darahku.

(Malay Mail; 9th Sept 2008)



mei1 said...

Check out the abstract taken from Malaysiakini that titled "Umno chieftain meets PM in Putrajaya":

"Certain people like my statement. The Chinese may have called me racist but the Malays called me a nationalist, (and) that I was merely defending my own race.

"What I see is that (out of this controversy we see) the rise of the Malays and I think we should capitalise on this strength and the support from the Malays - the professionals and civil servants - they are with me," said a smiling Ahmad.

He also argued that the BN component parties themselves are racially-based party to begin with.

"Umno itself is a racist, MCA is racist, MIC is also racist. The parties represent their own races but of course, in a nationalist context," he said.

Ahmad, who said he has garnered support from the Malays from all over the country, claimed the grassroots were unhappy with BN top leadership who had apologised on his behalf.

Although he did not name names, it was clear that he was referring to Najib who made an apology over the issue. Abdullah has also told Ahmad to apologise but to no avail.

"I am not angry but the people on the ground are angry over the apology. They told me not to apologise because this is (about) the dignity of our race, not (just) me," he said before leaving in his black Mercedes.

One People, One Destiny? I fail to see a glimpse of light under the current government.

Let's wait for "920" to pave us the way to "One People, One Destiny".

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

What we need more urgently on this earth
Are enlightened people with world view
Who unfortunately are in such a dearth
Belonging to a rather rare breed numbering few

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 090908
Tue. 9th Sept. 2008.

Anonymous said...

Reading this post made me shed a tear, for we are one people forced apart by unscrupulous politicians, to be devided and conquered.

I'm a Chinese, and I used to live next to a Malay family for many years (in a Chinese area), and not once did we ever had any problem with each other, nor did the Malay family ever had any problem with anyone else. In fact I had more friction with my Chinese neighbour on the other side of my house.

I used to get annoyed by the azan as well, until I ha a particularly bad nightmare one night; but the fear and uneasiness disappeared as soon as the azan started. From that day on I never got annoyed by the azan anymore.

We are one people. Let it remain so.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

This is great as Malaysia could deserve & achieve better quality destiny

916 stands for the Gold Purity and a Golden New Dawn of Malaysia-On the pure & righteousness of the Spirits of All Malaysians come the New Dawn of a cohesive, resillent & united Malaysia for All Malaysians. As the united Malaysian people we must succeed in achieving our full development status come 2020 but 916 is the Dawn of Change we welcome PKR for making this Transformation possible with DSAI at the helm. As loyal Malaysians we must give full support to the New Dawn of Malaysia come this 916

BCTan266 said...

Beautifully said, Malek. Your spirit shines true. Your compassionate nature too is a lead to follow. Are there many like you?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. But why the deep, dark red bled of Malaysia alone? Why not the whole world and all of God's creations? Again to be compassionate to Malaysians alone, to identify with Malaysians alone, to fight for the cause of this land alone is doing disservice to God's creation which is filled with diversity. He made us all different and unique, although in our heart of hearts He has lit the same flame of divine love. Our aim should be transcend all boundaries, all manmade divisions. God didnt make Malaysia and Singapore. He made the heavens and the earth, mountains and seas and we draw lines here and there and say this is mine and yours; ours and theirs. Let us love like Him, without borders, without divisions.

A fellow human-being

Anonymous said...

MIS, I have a high respect for you for being impartial & keeping your head above the ground( no, am not trying to kiss you a**).

It takes hardship and pressure to see the true mettle of a man. I just read Raja Petra Kamaruddin racially-biased article titled " Mad Cow Disease in Penang" which I find unbelievably shocking. Fame does go to some people's head, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

My parent fought against the Japanese during the occupation. Many of their chinese friends died at the hands of the Japanese. Yes they were protecting their own interests in this country. They could have run away but instead they fought because they have made this country their interest. Can you tell them that they only tumpang in this country? Can't they get some respect? Also there is no such thing as economic hegemony. As long as you learn hard and work hard, you can survive and may achieve success in the real world. For those who have been assisted by the government for the last 30 years, if you are still facing economic problems, then some thing is very wrong in this country.

ketam said...

Saya merujuk kepada kes Ahmad Ismail dimana beliau mengatakan bahawa Kaum Cina di Malaysia dahulu adalah PENUMPANG.Lebih jelas lagi adalah PENDATANG. Ahmad Ismail memang betul tetapi tidak semua Kaum CIna adalah PENDATANG kerana lihat daripada sejarah KESULTANAN MELAYU ramai kaum CINA di terima oleh SULTAN-SULTAN sebagai rakyat mereka. Tetapi kemasukan Kaum Cina dan India ke Tanah Melayu adalah kerana mereka datang untuk berkerja sama ada datang sendiri atau dibawa oleh pihak BRITISH dan JEPUN.
Bagi saya secara rasionalnya apa yang dikatakan oleh AHMAD ISMAIL adalah benar belaka tetapi ia adalah didalam konteks SEJARAH.
Jika dia memainkan isu perkauman maka memang di patut dihukum tetapi apa yang ditekankan semasa ceramah dia di PErmatang PAuh adalah untuk mengingatkan Kaum CIna supaya bersyukur kerana mereka diberi STATUS KERAKYATAN yang sebenarnya ditentang oleh kebanyakan orang-orang melayu yang dibawah naungan SULTAN-SULTAN,itulah sebab utama ORANG MELAYU menolak MALAYAN UNION,namun begitu atas semangat timbangrasa ORANG MELAYU maka mereka dapat menerima ORANG-ORANG BUKAN MELAYU diberi HAK KERAKYATAN DI TANAH MELAYU.

HAK KERAKYATAN ITU ADALAH SUCI DIDALAM PERLEMBAGAAN, maka tiada sesiapa pun yang layak dan berhak menafikan HAK KERAKYATAN seseorang itu sama ada dia itu MELAYU,CINA atau INDIA atau apa-apa BANGSA pun.





Jika AHMAD ISMAIL dikatakan bersifat perkauman,bagaimana pula KARPAL SINGH dan LIM KIT SIANG yang hendakkan Artikel 153 dihapuskan,bukankah itu satu sikap PERKAUMAN?? Dan tidak menghormati PERLEMBAGAAN..

Bagaimana pula dengan Teresa Kok yang ingin supaya Tulisan Jawi di buang di semua PapanTanda Jalan di Lembah Kelang? Bukankah itu satu sikap PERKAUMAN (buat pengetahuan orang bukan melayu bahawa bahasa melayu dahulu adalah ditulis dalam bahasa JAWI (arab) bukan rumi).

Maka pada pendapat saya sesipa pun yang mengungkit perkara yang mempertikaikan HAK-HAK YANG TELAH TERMAKTUB DIDALAM PERLEMBAGAAN dia harus di tahan menggunakan ISA sama ada orang itu orang politik atau tidak.

Jika kenyataan orang politik itu boleh menjurus kepada rusuhan maka tahan dia baik UMNO,MCA,DAP,MIC,PKR,PAS,SAPP,PBS,LDP,PPP dan semua NGO's.

If we dont like the government just vote againt them in next election,dont stir up problem that can cause chaos.
I dont hate my chinese and indian neighbour,in fact we are very good to each other plus other children go to school together.

Sometimes if you all POLITICIAN ask too much,question too much,complaining too much,arguing too much,thats what actually divide US.

I think and this is i think the most appropicate way for us,all malaysian,to be together is to abolish all other school except the NATIONAL SCHOOL so that our children can life and learn together.Is that what all of us want,isnt it!! Stop training to fight for your right to practice MANDARIN or TAMIL because you can also learned it in the NATIONAL SCHOOL.Make it a MUST to have the SUBJECT in MANDARIN and TAMIL.Then all of our children can speaks 4 languages.

Oelh itu kawan-kawan semua HORMATI lah HAK-HAK yang ada pada kita.JAngan cuba mempertikaikan HAK orang lain kerana HAK anda juga akan dipertikaikan.

Sayangi diri anda,keluarga anda,jiran anda,bangsa anda,bahasa anda,agama anda dan paling utama sekali kesejahteran,keharmonian,keamanan dan kedamaian NEGARA KITA MALAYSIA..

Old Fart said...

When anyone tries to suggest that he speaks on behalf of the race or that he wants to protect the race, he obviously is also suggesting that he is such a bigot that he is bigger than the race itself. Can anyone refer me to anyone in History to whom the race owes its existence to?

Anonymous said...

Old Fart

Agak pelik saudara membentangkan topik itu, website Malik yang lagi satu, project malaysia, ada sebuah artikel yang menceritakan isu kaum dengan sepenuhnya. Sepatutnya Encik baca artikel itu dan komen.Artikelnya agak panjang tetapi dapat merumuskan isu kaum dengan selebihnnya, dan saya rasa semua orang malaysia wajib membacanya.

pihak british memang cerdik dan celaka!!!!!!!1

Anonymous said...

Imtiaz, i got goosebump just reading this article. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Know the Difference: Transition, not Handover.
For the moment, the UMNO leadership crisis appears to have been averted with the announcement of the cabinet portfolio swap between Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his Deputy Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak. As recently as last week, analysts and commentators were anticipating Najib to make a move on the Presidency before the year’s end. And why would they not? After UMNO Vice President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin rekindled the debate about Abdullah’s position, Najib appeared to position himself for an assault on the post when he remarked that the divisions should decide for themselves when the transition should occur – essentially informing that he was more than ready to receive nominations for the post of Party President.

But with the portfolio swap, Najib may not see a need to gun for the Presidency – and by implication Premiership of the country – so soon. Notwithstanding the fact that a transition of power is, as Abdullah quipped, a process and not something carried out overnight, Abdullah must be credited for such a bold move. Skeptics have characterised it as a calculated political decision to neutralise any potential threat from Najib. Political considerations there definitely were, but by paving the way for Najib to take helm of the Ministry of Finance, Abdullah has also demonstrated magnanimity and sincerity to groom his successor for the top job in 2010.

Being Prime Minister with little experience in managing the country’s economy will likely prove a mammoth task for anyone. And as it turns out, Najib is no ordinary figure with an ordinary past. With ample ammunition for the Opposition to take aim at his credibility – the SAS (Sukoi, Altantunya, Submarine) scandals spring to mind as illustrations – a Najib administration could use a head-start in spearheading economic recovery at a time when global financial uncertainty is affecting countries in this region, too.. It is further also to Najib’s convenience that the Budget for the year 2009 has just been announced with much of the implementation left for him to oversee. As such, Najib does not have the baggage of others’ inefficiency to contend with – a prevalent concern whenever an economic plan is carried out.

As things, at least for the time being, cool down with regards to any contest for the Presidency of UMNO, it would be interesting to see Tun Dr.. Mahathir’s next move. Commanding a yet formidable following, his end-game for quite a while now is to unseat Abdullah as Prime Minister. His peculiar friendships with Tengku Razaleigh, Muhyiddin and Najib are telling – those individuals are all nothing more than instruments to his ultimate goal: the downfall of Abdullah.

Ultimately, Abdullah’s supporters will hope that the PM’s move will be repaid with loyalty by Najib. Even to many who may not be Abdullah’s biggest fans are wary of the damage that an open contest will cause the party. Even they would gladly take two more years of Abdullah over the prospect of an internal split that will likely occur should we witness a repeat of the embarrassment suffered by the late Tun Ghafar Baba at the hands of a ruthless Machiavellian by the name of Anwar Ibrahim.