Malaysia deserves an Obama too but where can we find one?

If we are to have an Obamanised Malaysia, we will have longer campaigns that will make the prime-ministerial race more intelligent, creating more respect for our democratic institutions more respect for the rule of law, more informed citizenry whom will not tolerate civil rights violation and more articulated promise for radical educational reform.


Azly Rahman

Malaysia need a new Barack Obama as prime minister.We are entering into an era of hopelessness; a time when we need a powerful unifier of ideologies and one who can hit the ground running when elected. We need a leader who is free from corruption.

We need someone not necessarily a Columbia and Harvard graduate like Obama but someone with a good education and a good heart and a good set of analytical skills. One with oratorical skills is not enough; we need a no nonsense problem-solver who can explain difficult concepts to the man and woman on the street and next harness the resilience and creativity of the nation to weather rough times and celebrate good harvest. We need a 'whole-brain' thinker and leader, neuroscientists would say. We need someone with virtue and a belief in a new republic as his/her guide.

Most importantly Malaysia needs a prime minister for all Malaysians, not only for this or that race.The triumph of Obama is another phenomena in American history. In Obama there is white, black, brown, yellow, and a green policy. There is Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism in his repertoire of religious experience and willingness to understand. He is America's first truly multicultural president – a perfect symbolism of what America of the 21st. century means.

In Malaysia's Barack will lie a man or woman who can dismantle all race-based policies.

Malaysia do not need a John McCain as prime minister.

In the Malaysia of John McCain, we will have a system of control akin to militarism, in which secret patronage politics, authoritarianism, and regimentation of a synthesis of Oriental Despotism and modern corporate crony capitalism reigns.

In McCain's Malaysia, we have the institutionalisation of the war system, in which the regime is at war with its people and institutions and ideologues have been taken as prisoners of war.

Especially in this difficult times of "transition" of power that is giving Malaysians a cruel choice of a hegemonic flow.

If we are to have an Obamanised Malaysia, we will have longer campaigns that will make the prime-ministerial race more intelligent, creating more respect for our democratic institutions more respect for the rule of law, more informed citizenry whom will not tolerate civil rights violation and more articulated promise for radical educational reform.

Most importantly we need a prime minister committed to dismantling any form of race-based political parties – politics that will always be the root of Malaysia's postmodern/hypermodern ethnic and religious conflicts.

Of course Barack Obama will never become a prime minister of Malaysia. It is a silly proposition.

But may Malaysia be blessed with a leader it deserves at a time when the old regime, with its own "Bush-ism and Reaganomics as twin ideology, is rudely demanding for its rights to continue to rule a restless and radicalised multicultural nation.

Of course Obama would not want to belong in any of Malaysia's race-based party – something that'll painfully remind him of Jim Crow, Montgomery and Selma, Alabama.

Watching the January 21st. inauguration gave me hope that one day Malaysian will vote wisely and that in each and every state the veil of ignorance is lifted so that we may see how an economic system based on greed and the enriching of the few through the pacifying of the many has brought Malaysia to the brink of economic, social, and moral collapse. If and when a new government comes into power, we cannot imagine how daunting a task is for the radical restructuring to be done– to dismantle a system of raced-based politics that started 50 years ago and cemented with technological determinism and hegemony for 22 years.

But Malaysia can learn something from Obama — hope alone is not enough, a peaceful revolution of the masses is needed. As a nation, we cannot be shortchanged by leaders that will only give us loose change.

I leave all of you with an excerpt from Obama's inauguration speech:

"… For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it…."

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Below is a most recent newsreport on an Obama Executive Order:


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

"We intend to win this fight. We're going to win it on our terms," Obama said as he signed three executive orders and a presidential directive in the Oval Office. Obama explained each order before he put his pen to them and occasionally solicited input from White House counsel Greg Craig to make sure he was describing them correctly.

With his action, Obama started changing how the United States prosecutes and questions al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to Americans — and overhauling America's image abroad, battered by accusations of the use of torture and the indefinite detention of suspects at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

"The message that we are sending the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism and we are going to do so vigilantly and we are going to do so effectively and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals," the president said.

The centerpiece order would close the much-maligned Guantanamo facility within a year, a complicated process with many unanswered questions that was nonetheless a key campaign promise of Obama's. The administration already has suspended trials for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo for 120 days pending a review of the military tribunals.

In the other actions, Obama:

_Created a task force that would have 30 days to recommend policies on handling terror suspects who are detained in the future. Specifically, the group would look at where those detainees should be housed since Guantanamo is closing.

_Required all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while interrogating detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics. However, a Capitol Hill aide says that the administration also is planning a study of more aggressive interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual — which would create a significant loophole to Obama's action Thursday.

"We believe that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need," Obama said. He said his action reflects an understanding that "we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

_Directed the Justice Department to review the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri, who is the only enemy combatant currently being held on U.S. soil. The review will look at whether al-Marri has the right to sue the government for his freedom, a right the Supreme Court already has given to Guantanamo detainees. The directive will ask the high court for a stay in al-Marri's appeals case while the review is ongoing. The government says al-Marri is an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

An estimated 245 men are being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, most of whom have been detained for years without being charged with a crime. Among the sticky issues the Obama administration has to resolve are where to put those detainees — whether back in their home countries or at other federal detention centers — and how to prosecute some of them for war crimes.

In his first Oval Office signing ceremony, Obama was surrounded by retired senior military leaders. He described them as outstanding Americans who have defended the country — and its ideals.


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