Say no to holier-than-thou politics

By uppercaise

Logic and politics make for strange bedfellows especially when it involves race relations, religion and politics in Malaysia. DAP leader Lim Guan Eng certainly sounded like he’d lost his bearings, going by yesterday’s Malaysian Insider report on his » reaction to MCA president Chua Soi Lek’s description of the state of affairs in Muslim countries.

Defender of the faith is a strange new role for a party viewed as secular and left-leaning.

Even more so when Guan Eng’s response sounded very much like what Mahathir Mohamad would often do, which was to hijack the argument by deliberately choosing a warped interpretation of what the other guy said. And with Anwar Ibrahim by his side, he also sounded like he’d been taking tuition in political marketing by harking on ancient history and the vaunted glories of Islamic civilisation.

Excuse me, but wasn’t Soi Lek talking about the state of Muslim countries today, under current circumstances — like, you know, in the late 20th and early 21st Century? According to the Malaysiakini report, he was quoting from the book Malaysia and the Club of Doom by banker Syed Akbar Ali.

in which the author listed down several common characteristics of the 57 Muslim countries in the world. The characteristics include: less democracy because of the emphasis on religion; they have elections but also have councils of Muslim elders enjoying absolute power; practise of absolute monarchy; and formulating policies not on par with global development. » Political Islam: MCA chief raps Umno, PAS – Malaysiakini

» Walski of MyAsylum gives a thoughtful read and there’s an » extract from the book at ‘Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin’

Soi Lek makes a pertinent point, in the context of today’s world, on the effects of religion and politics on the state of human development, the state of political and civil rights, and all the other indicators that show how little progress that one-quarter of humanity has made with their God-given right to the pursuit of happiness

Guan Eng and Anwar have their own reasons for blasting back at Soi Lek, given that the MCA leader has made a rare foray into being forthright. Such plain talk is bound to stir the interest of Chinese voters, and Pakatan Rakyat cannot afford to have this solid bloc of support begin to waver.

Besides, the DAP needs to gain market share, and especially gain ground among Malay-Muslim voters: the party cannot depend solely on Chinese-majority support for the future.

Anwar Ibrahim, the Islamic firebrand of younger days, also needs to restate and burnish his Islamic credentials and bolster his support base among Middle Eastern patrons after his recent ding-dong with the Dreaded Juice who secretly rule the world.

But must they twist the argument into polemics about the worth of Islam in world civilisation?

Malaysian Insider quotes Guan Eng as saying: “Dr Chua should educate himself in history that the civilisation of Islam was filled not just with global empires, but also with glory in art, learning, algebra and astronomy.”

Excuse me, what does the glory of the Alhambra, to take one poor example on account of the bloody history, have to do with the pathetic conditions that hundreds of millions of Muslims alive today must endure under the brutality of their political systems?

It’s a warped sense of history that uses India and China as examples as when Guan Eng says “Only when India and China were free, independent and not dominated by imperialistic powers, were they able to realise their potential and take their place in the world stage”.

Yet history shows that India was only nominally free and China never was, even when independent. And in both cases, hundreds of millions suffered enormously under the yoke of their founding political dynasties for much of the second-half of the 20th century. Does no one remember how the monster of the Forbidden Palace made the Han Chinese eat their young?

Modernisation came long after independence, and only when reformers took control, casting aside the Stalinist steel-mill orthodoxy that bound both countries in an iron grip.

Does no one wish to remember that China today remains a one-party state with few freedoms except the freedom to get rich? That it’s still a communist dictatorship? Is that what political marketing gets you?

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