I read this letter with interest highlighted a blog post by Egalitaria (please go to her link to read the full letter). It represents one response to efforts like Reaffirming the supremacy of the Federal Constitution. so with my morning coffee I send her a comment to contribute some questions to what is raised in the letter. Here’s my humble breakfast offering:
April 24, 2006 at 7:52 am
like it or not this is the kind of response we will need to grapple with. Sounds like a more “layman” view where technical nuances of law, history and language are unclear or even confused. To this person, I think approaching the subject via the route of Malaysia is a secular state and we need to restore a constitutional Malaysia seems to backfire even though I’ve heard speakers linked with Article 11 clearly stating they are not against Islam the religion but against it being used in a way that may be abused – and would affect the over all well being of the country.
I see the process of engaging views like this response to be a challenge and requires something more than a “constitutional” approach – which to me appeals very much to “the clear mind and cold head” this author is talking about while I “feel” his concerns are more “warm” hearted. so, again we have a situation where there’s no one size fit all approach. I think the Art 11 and Bar council efforts are appealing (and targetting) a segment that is not represented by this author. Perhaps, a “conversational” approach which touches on his/her concern as following might be helpful:
1. historical perception and interpretation (e.g. “Malaysia is an Islamic country not just from 1957 but dated from Malacca Sultanate. “) – Can one see Malaysia as an “Islamic state” metaphorically like people perceive the USA as a “Christian Nation” even though technically or consitutionally it’s more nuanced and complicated? Is there space for that for the common Malaysian Muslim.?
2. Political education and clarification (e.g. “The model of secularism such freedom to profess any religion, freedom of speech and human right already delivered by Malaysia. I see the secularism is carries by the people with hidden agenda.”) – what is the political or governing model of Malaysia? a hybrid or has it evolved? there’s appeal to the past for continuity but how can we talk about the future considering current realities?
3. Confusion and misinformation (e.g. “… requesting the abolishment of Article 121 (1A). This is totally absurd and unjust to Malaysian Muslim. The amendment introduce because the Muslim had treated unjustly by court before the amendment took place. And now we heard that this small group wants to reintroduce this unjustly article under banner of justice.”) – What was the context of the amendment of Article 121 (1A) – the history, the process and outcome? Then list down the examples of how perhaps because of this Article or the interpretation of the artilce that has caused injustice either way.
4. A “Better” Malaysia (e.g. “For sake of this country lets focus on more important issue such as the merger of different school system that creates and nurture division among us. And I do believe we should move forwards for better Malaysia.”) – What is a “better” Malaysia? How can we move towards a better Malaysia internally between people who are similar as well as different? How can we collectively work towards our agreements and work through our disagreements that sets us apart in this globalized conflicted world? Education is one important place to start … but what are we educating?
I thought I’d try to let some of my questions emerge hopefully graciously as “inspired” by this response.