May 13, 2007

Anti-Discrimination Bill…

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause at 1:56 am by egalitaria

  Last year, Indonesian lawmakers scurried together, working on revising citizenship laws through an “Anti-Discrimination Bill“. Their original law on citizenship was deemed as highly discriminatory, not respecting human rights and gender-biased.

Amongst its revisions, most important was one scrapping discriminatory articles in the bill,  including those that distinguished “indigenous Indonesians” from people from other countries who had become Indonesian citizens.

Slamet said the “indigenous Indonesian” clauses could cause discrimination in society because they treated people differently.

“Therefore, we have now defined ‘indigenous Indonesians’ as those people who are Indonesian citizens without going through a naturalization process,” he said.

Read that last sentence again.

We have now defined ‘indigenous Indonesians’ as those people who are Indonesian citizens without going through a naturalization process.

Now do a quick comparison with Malaysia.  We know the following:

  1. The term “indigenous” is not clearly defined in the constitution.
  2. The term “Malay” is identified in the constitution as one who speaks the Malay language, adopts Malay culture and is a practising Muslim.
  3. The term “bumiputera” is not clearly defined and does not appear in the Constitution. In fact, there is debate as to the origins of this term. Based on Tun Dr Ismail’s book, the term was first introduced in year 1972. (He also says the term was a curse.) Other sources state that it was first used in Parliament in 1965, while debating the act that would create the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), a government agency to preserve Bumiputera interests.

But interesting that the term Bumiputera is defined officially as follows. Based on a blurb in Wikipedia which in turn quotes from “Buku Panduan Kemasukan ke Institut Pengajian Tinggi Awam, Program Pengajian Lepasan SPM/Setaraf Sesi Akademik 2007/2008, by Student Entry Management under Management Department of Higher Education Institution, Malaysia Higher Education Ministry.

The definition of Bumiputra:

  1. Peninsular Malaysia
    • “If one of the parent are Muslim Malay or Orang Asli as stated in Article 160 (2) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus the child is considered as a Bumiputra”
  2. Sabah
    • “If a father is a Muslim Malay or indigenous native of Sabah as stated in Article 160A (6)(a) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus his child is considered as a Bumiputra”
  3. Sarawak
    • “If both of the parent are indigenous native of Sarawak as stated in Article 160A (6)(b) Federal Constitution of Malaysia; thus their child is considered as a Bumiputra”

The question is this. Malaysian policies initially were crafted to help “Malays and other indigenous communities”. This presumably included the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia, but because indigenous itself was not clearly defined, it is uncertain. In later development plans, the term was replaced with “Bumiputera”. Again based on policy was OA included therein?

Colin Nicholas from the Center for Orang Asli Concerns states that:

the authors of the Malaysian Constitution did not expressly accord the Orang Asli the special status enjoyed by the other Bumiputera communities viz. the Malays and the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

Indonesians have attempted to classify all citizens of Indonesia as indigenous, mainly because indigenous peoples were being accorded privileges not enjoyed by all other citizens. This is a concept revolutionary to Malaysians who I’m sure will take a million years to debate on the issue. If ever Malaysia wants to rise to the occasion of instituting a just and fair nation, it should be prepared to consider drafting an Anti-Discrimination Bill, which will admittedly take a long time as it will have to cover a whole lot! But crucial is that anti-race discrimination is focused upon.

Good thoughts to chew upon… (In the meantime, as an aside, Raja Nazrin who espouses much of the same things on ensuring recognition of ALL Malaysians, is getting hitched to apparently really intelligent Zara, chemical engineer! I say they should be model couple for Malaysia and I hope their union will bring upon greater emphasis to walk the talk in creating a better Malaysia…)

May 12, 2007

Global Interfaith Seminar Cancelled

Posted in Religion at 4:28 am by egalitaria

Inter-religious tolerance and understanding reversed,

Promoted, widely talked about in speeches songs and all galore,

But poorly practised, poorly preached,

Members from all sides still beseech

But the thundering noise continues the more.

Above us.

 

We seek refuge in each other pretending to identify

Because of our skin but do we really know the colours

Do we know who we are really our race religion daily questioned,

And now unable to speak to each other

Can we speak at all?

Our lips stitched shut, we

Smile pretending we are the best of friends on tv they showed it to us

And we believe it,

Or do we?

 

 

The Council of Churches of Malaysia is as much confused as the organisers of the London office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as to the sudden withdrawal of the endorsement and support by the Malaysian authorities for holding the Building Bridges seminar in Kuala Lumpur, from 7-11 May 2007.

Read the rest of this entry »

May 11, 2007

1969: That was the year

Posted in Malaysia at 10:10 pm by egalitaria

  I ventured to KL Performing Arts Centre last evening, a long time not having indulged in arts and theatre for the soul. The stage musical, based on a text by Beth Yahp, was an artistic enaction and story of a woman’s life in yes, that year – 1969.

It tells the story of “my mother”, as referred to by all actors on stage, in a clever reference to the lady prostitute who gives birth in a lonely, quiet ditch amidst racial riots. In a stunning show of artistic (sometimes a bit too artsy for me, but served well to flood my arts-deprived veins anyways) acrobatic jumps, dances, singing and clapping, the 7-strong cast connected the audience to two things: the poetic experience of her in labour, and the larger political landscape of ’69.

The sporadic movements and shouting monosyllables right from the beginning foretold a sense of chaos about to unfold. Angry, steel-like faces punctuated with forceful motions reminded one of the fury about to burst forth. Expressions of pain, frustration, that push and pull tide coming from the child within – all seemed to me symbolic of where the country was to be headed towards soon after.

Phrases were cleverly woven and spun as to be highly sarcastic and politically correct. Quoting from the famous Dr. Mahathir book “The Malay Dilemma” and Tun Dr. Ismail’s sayings of why he thought the NEP was originally implemented, the script was explicit in referring to racial tensions. It was a blatant mockery of some facts that the Government has always been referring to when speaking of that taboo-never-before-mentioned incident.

Some scenes were particularly hilarious. One with Tun Dr. M speaking in the most serious of tones and fierce intent, but hanging upside down instead, got me cracking. A subtle mockery (or not so subtle) of him speaking off the top of his head (pun intended) unbeknownst to his audience. All the singing scenes would make you laugh crazily, them taking on national songs sung for the sake of Malaysia and unity, and churning them into plastic-smiled propaganda material reminiscent of Russia’s Stalin days, 1984, China’s Communist agenda and Hitler’s TV documentaries preserving the blonde blue-eyed gene, all into one. Those sickly-sweet perfect songs raving about the importance of harmony, their distinct oblivion to reality on the ground – that was the impression the songs gave. Spot on.

All in all a pretty good way to spend a night, and a must-see for those who are borderline interested in politics. A good precursor to the launching of Kua Kia Soong’s book May 13th (to be launched this Sunday), which apparently (according to Malaysiakini anyway) draws on official records found only in London libraries to document the actual events of 1969. This presumes the official versions have not been entirely accurate, but I have yet to read for myself.

The musical itself although educational for some, seemed to me lacking in a climax. Individual acting was great, and they harmonised well in voice and physical action, but some voices on their own were not strong enough to carry beyond the first few rows, and the many breaks in between various “mini-climaxes” left the audience wanting more. It felt a little syncopated to me, although I understand the nature of theatre is not always to entertain Hollywood style, which I also appreciate. Warwick Arts Centre productions taught me that variety in stage play was a good thing, something to relish.

My criticism would be that it portrayed a very Chinese-skewed way of looking at 1969, which may be misinterpreted as being antagonistic. But I have to qualify that by acknowledging that it was based on a text – therefore no choice but to stick to it.

Left me wondering yet again where we are headed towards in this upcoming elections. But that’s a different story. Go watch it! RM40 at KL PAC.

Thinking Blogger?

Posted in Personal at 12:57 am by egalitaria

I guess I should blog more often. I have lots of thoughts to pen down but seem to have little time. As a blogger one has a responsibility to upkeep one’s blog or it becomes overgrown with weeds. I have to constantly clear the air and do some springcleaning around here.

Anyway I’ve had the honour of being tagged for the “Thinking Blogger Award” by two people. I hardly call myself that (a thinking blogger) since I am such a temperamental blogger. But here it is, and thanks to the two of you who linked me 😉

Here and here.

THANK YOU!! *bows*