Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monarchs at the batting crease

If there was any doubt about the value of the monarchy in Malaysia, recent events should put paid to such doubts.

The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin, has been a consistent voice of rational reason in recent years. His Harvard-trained intellect and his commentary on the modern role of the monarchy and Malaysian constitutional matters have been received by all sections of Malaysia's polyglot community.

More recently, the Sultan of Selangor has exhibited a sensible mind in relation to the fatwa on yoga.

It would appear that in this new era that is engendering a two-party system in Malaysia, politicians, especially from Barisan Nasional are responding to the loss of dominance by resorting to ethnic issues and other nonsensical matters. Pakatan Rakyat politicians are also of the same ilk.

This vacuum of increasingly uncommon common sense is being filled by the monarchs of Malaysia.

We have to give thanks that the modern monarchy of Malaysia is truly rising to the occasion or, to use cricket terminology, stepping up to the batting crease, to give voice to the sensibilities of a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation. Politicians and Malaysians who keep harping on race, religion and culture should end up in the hottest places that Hell can offer, whatever their religion.

Daulat Tuanku.


walla said...

Just passing by, and shooting breeze with off-the-cuff rejoinders...that will also explain off why this one's not going to be 'tight' (cough) ;P

Raja Nazrin had spoken on tribalism. A lot of conflicts around the world seem to have sprung from the re-emergence of tribalism.

Usually this happens when a group of people start vociferating about the need to fight external influences. While sometimes they may really be trying to protect some old virtues, it could also sometimes be because they think their own ways of life will be affected if they don't.

Were it only their own lifestyles, it would probably be a curiosity befitting the philosophy of each his own but when what they're preachy about gets into the asserted lifestyles of others - as individuals - which in turn concatenates into society with other things down the line, then that seems to be an invitation to say something (hopefully not ill-perceived).

Because of that disturbing development, rational thinking is important in order to winnow one reason from the other, otherwise how will anyone know when does one end and the other doesn't start?

One can understand the importance of sticking to the dictates of a tribe if the surrounding is physically life-threatening. But the world has passed that danger. Now it is all about being able and willing to adapt to changes brought about by external forces. Some of these forces one can thwart. Others one should assimilate, even imitate, with view to customizing them to create a new hybrid in one's own setting.

It's like buying a new computer. It comes with the screen setting all defaulted to a set of international parameters. Therefore, if the eyes hurt, go to control panel\display\color\brightness. What shouldn't be done is to throw the whole machine out the window or pull the plug. If one does that, all connectivity is gone and one will the poorer for holding on to things untested in the very virtues they are supposed to deliver.

If the features of a tribe are such that they reinforce the ability of the tribe to thrive and succeed in the changing world, then by all means those features are the ones one should retain and augment. But if they only impede progress of both mind and matter, then to hold onto them would only diminish oneself until the stage is reached where one becomes just an unquestioning automaton which seeks some better world tomorrow by the sheer expedient of signing today on the dotted line some 'forever life' insurance policy whose annual premium payable is blind explicit obedience.

Such defensiveness in the face of new challenges is not favorable to the development of those qualities of inner strengths which can better stand the test of time. While one can outsource the solution to others, they cannot be one's life-support system forever. After all, there's no NEP for afterliving.

Which comes to what capchai had asked before in an earlier thread. Fear, or is it really lack of confidence, he had asked. The council, in the case of making the announcement ahead of the step to submit to the Council of Rulers for ratification or rejection, was certainly not showing any lack of confidence.

What was more troubling was the defensiveness that came. While the ruling may be directed solely onto one 'tribe', it came about only because it was ascribed not as an exercise per se but as featuring something of another 'tribe'. In other words, it was about tribalism. That would explain the immediate rush of lamentations that those not of that tribe should not comment on it. Indeed, tribalism may also rear itself in such things like language and rights if it hasn't already established its credentials in religion.

So the feature of tribalism in this case is not about lack of confidence. In which case one cannot discount its essence is fear.

It remains to ask this question:

'Is it wrong to ask why or suggest contrary views in order to understand better or elicit reasoned responses that would help all to understand why something has to be done in the way it has to be done?'

And that is the basis to collapse 'tribalism' in the context of this post into 'true to faith' in the context of any religion.

We all know the biggest concern of mobile operators around the world is not the effectiveness of their products and services. It's their fear of churn. And they fear churn because it will cost at least three times more to get a new customer than to maintain an old one. Thus the basis of their marketing campaigns is to lure more new subscribers to compensate for the loss by churn of their existing clientele. Each subscriber migrating to a competitor increases their cost to fight back for the same market share, either by spending more on marketing or by luring their ex-subscribers back with more freebies. It's a jungle out there.

To fight churn in anything - not just your mobile customer but perhaps also those who believe in anything - from political parties to faiths - one must exercise inner virtues, not brute force exalted on the emotion of fear because nimbleness to fight churn cannot take form if fear intrudes to lock the mind from working out the permutations of life's many challenges, and rationalizing the best way forward.

In a diverse, complex situation such as found in our country, that ability to think through rationally everything and take the right path is a key inner virtue. Indeed, it is an individual responsibility of every citizen, not by racial origin or income disposition.

We cannot continue to operate on a tit-for-tat basis using closed minds fueled by fear that responds in knee-jerk fashion to every imagined threat to our perceptions cooked in the cauldron of tribalism. The modus operandi has to be based on common sense, as the blogger has intimated.

And the common sense to be practiced has itself to be based on a deeper appreciation that while we may differ one tribe from another, we still have to coexist with one another and it would be wiser and more productive to draw from each other's strength in open manner than to close oneself into a defensive cocoon. If this happens, tribalism ends and tribes can better interact to co-support one another because that's when they start to share across artificial boundaries made by man the inner virtues of their faiths, features and fiats.

Thereby bringing us all closer to the One.

ps: this post puzzles even me ;P

de minimis said...


2 observations:

a. Any discussion on religion, especially Islam, is sooooooo... sensitive that we imagine fatwas flying everywhere. None of us want to have Salman Rushide's terrible experience. No questions are allowed. Only "highly-trained" and "highly-qualified" have the skills of fiqh, ithjihad and ijma.

Purportedly contrarian ideas cost Mahmoud Taha his life and sent Abdullahi An-naim on an exile from Sudan until today.

b. Therefore, your mental ballerina act is intellectually damn "sexy". I believe the phrase "skirting around" is apposite.

But, point well taken.

mekyam said...

de minimis said... This vacuum of increasingly uncommon common sense is being filled by the monarchs of Malaysia.

i wouldn't go so far as to make it the monarchs of Malaysia, ct. :D

some, or rather a couple of, monarchs of malaysia, is more like it. so far, with some regularity, it has only been those of perak and selangor who exhibit any conduct that make me want to go "daulat tuanku!" like you.

the others (including the current agong who in my opinion have been given a number of opportunities to throw his weight behind groups of despairing subjects and redefine the position of the agong as the king of all malaysians), have been their usual mute selves.

in fact, we have yet to see any of the other sultans come forward and at least appropriately echo the perak or selangor royals whenever they say something sensible.

then, take the case the sultan of johor, the former agong, who could throw light and settle all arguments one way or the other about the salleh abas case. he chose to keep his royak mumness. how impressive is that?

so it looks like the presence of both common sense and common touch boils down to the calibre of the individual monarch. the majority of them, sad to say, are still the same soft self-centred elites we have always known, who are unable to see their sultanship as more than just cushy inherited entitlements.

p.s. the word verification, whom i've always suspected as manned by alien bots, said "excons". i dare say it was being sardonic. ;D

mekyam said...

hello ct and walla!

walla, i absolutely agree with ct that your mental ballerina act is intellectually damn "sexy". :D

ah for a bit of that genius and agility to "skirt around"! [sigh]

anyway, i see that i did right to quickly hop here in search of the usual noetic touches on current issues.

walla, i wanted to applaud your profound parable of 'the old man who opened the door' at sakmongkol's. i didn't because i was so put-off by comments that constricted the discussion there to a supposed defence of attacks on islam or the din [which as far as i know is threatened only in the closed minds of those commenters!] and the minding of the aqidah of others [like it's any of their business!], not to mention a couple of presumptuous and sanctimonius responses, replete with quotes from the Al-Qur'an, to you personally.

guess i also didn't see any need to help prolong a thread that would escalate into more of the same bloody-mindedness i saw in other blogs and forums about this whole fatwa issue.

this is probably pessimistic of me, but i don't see the prevalent close-minded attitude among most muslims in malaysia changing one bit anytime soon. if anything, it will worsen. with being muslim hopelessly entangled with being malay and the ketuanan melayu creed and its corollary apartheid-like sentiments, i cannot see how any light of reason can penetrate that murkiness.

we don't even have to begin on the insidious role played by self-serving politicians in worsening this state of affairs. even with this instigating factor removed, i feel that the collective psyche of malaysian muslims have come to a state of close-mindedness which cannot be easily dislodged anymore by reason and commonsense, both gifts from God.

for example, in the current fatwa debate i have even read normally intelligent posters accusing those who would reason against precipitating a fatwa on something as inconsequential as yoga without more solid basis and fact-finding as having the temerity to pit mere intellect against faith, i.e. against God!

how does rationality counter that? if this is from people who are supposed to have more sense, what hope does reason have against those getting more and more taliban-like by the day?

intellectually, we can label this syndrome as tribalism giving in to fear of external forces. but we know that when this tribalistic fear is steeped in something like religion, there is not going to be any quick countermeasure saved for hoping and praying that time will do its wont.

as for a deeper appreciation of the interconnectivity of all God's creations and how we are all united in our desire to be close to Him, it will not be possible as long as the ridiculous notion that an All-Loving, All-Forgiving, All-Caring and All-Merciful Allah makes distictions between his multitude of creations.

p.s. dang ct, the word verification is saying "consq". it sounds as if the darn bot is trying to warn me against posting this... but what the heck!

de minimis said...

hi mekyam

Now all we have to do is to get walla to perform an actual ballerina and skirting around pirouette for us (that means me, you, sak, mamasita and patricia) at some poorly lit kopi tiam of ill-repute. That will surely be a spectacle for us to regurgitate our kopi-O kau-kau :D

walla said...

Thank you very much, mekyam!

You have redeemed my faith in humanity. You've said all there is to say, and very clearly too!

I am glad it is both you and de menimis who are the ones who have seen through my posts to reach the heart of what i had tried to say by not saying out explicitly (;P).

I composed that parable as i went along, not really sure how it would end. I wanted to ask about the essence of Him so that all will stop and ask themselves how their understanding of His essence will sync (or not sync) with what they're actually holding as truths for all.

On an equally serious note, i just hope that the last bloodbath on rights won't this time end with one on religion. And the only way to avoid that happening is to progress minds to see wider, and expose those who push for all sorts of extremism; they know who they are.

As for pirouetting a' ballerina, i would do a SNF (saturday nite fever) for both of you but for two important facts - this isn't saturday and my bones knock. ;)

Thank you again. ;)