The Real Enemy is Ignorance

I have learnt to see the issue of extremism in Islam from a different perspective.

By Educationist

So said a village elder in Pakistan to Greg Mortenson in the inspiring book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin when they were discussing the causes of extremism in Islam. The book is an inspiring account of how Greg, in 1993, having made a promise to an impoverished Pakistan village, not only made good that promise but then, over the next decade built 55 schools in remote villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The book is a damning first hand account of why the Americans’ policy of ‘shock and awe’ is doomed for failure if the aim of drying up supply of extremists is factored in. No one can dispute the superior military might of the Americans in disposing Saddam Hussein and the Talibans. But as a Pakistani army general told Greg, it is a failed military strategy against an enemy who can disappear and strike at you anytime your guard is down. Witness the number of terror alerts and attacks since 911, and the situation on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Part of the reason for writing this letter is that I want to share this inspiring book with readers of Malaysia Today. I have learnt to see the issue of extremism in Islam from a different perspective. Greg is a Christian, an ordinary American with no great wealth but by the power of his sincerity, perseverance and the support of his wife, he managed to convince millions of Americans to support his initiative. His is altruism at its best. He made no pretense nor effort to promote his religious faith.

I will not do justice to Greg’s efforts by trying to condense it into a few words so I hope those who are interested will get a copy of the book. No, I’m not a bookshop owner either. The other reason for writing this is that the heading above, adapted, makes me reflective of the current political scenario in our country.

Despite the litany of woes ANAK has exposed of the FELDA mismanagement, by and large the settlers at Tenang have voted for the UMNOputras. I know of educated rakyat who still says they will still vote for the UMNOputras come GE13 despite all the input available about their corrupt practices, cronyism, nepotism and abuse of power. 

Why? They feel by and large the UMNOputras have ruled the country well, all those weaknesses not withstanding. They do not see the squabbling and problem laden PR as ready as an alternative government. No, I’m not calling them ignoramous but the point of the matter is that they do not realise what voting for the UMNOputras imply.

We who have been pro change, change towards a more civil, just, fair and democractic society are in no way denying that by and large the UMNOputras have performed their minimal social responsibilities. Even if facilities are minimal in the rural and orang asli areas, primary schools are available to all our rakyat. Yet, look objectively at the state of our nation now. Scratch below the surface and see the tensions within the social fabric of our nation. If there have not been so much leakages by way of corrupt practices, nepotism and cronyism, development in our country should have been at a higher level. Just look at South Korea who was behind us in the 196o’s. How many of us now truly look up to the police and the judiciary now due to the way the UMNOputras have abused these institutions of state.

I wish there’s a magic pill that can be given so that more of the rakyat will see this aspect of continuing to vote the UMNOputras.