Changing values (UPDATED with Chinese translation)

Have the Chinese forgotten how to be Chinese? Have the old Chinese ‘values’ changed so much over the last 40 years? What happened to the Chinese ‘word’ that is supposed to be stronger than 100 pages of a written and signed contract? At least my involvement in the Chinese triads during my school days taught me some values that the Chinese today seem to have forgotten.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

If you were to ask the Malay-on-the-street the meaning of the word ‘akidah’, he or she would most likely reply that that word means ‘faith’. That would not be entirely incorrect although the accurate Malay word for ‘faith’ would be ‘yakin’. Hence if you have faith in something or someone you are said to have keyakinan.

However, those Muslims with a ‘higher’ understanding of Islam — for example the Sufis — would define akidah as something else. Akidah is the ‘rope’ that binds us to God (Allah), they would say.

The Jews and Christians too believe in this and they call it the covenant. The definition of covenant would be a binding agreement or contract. Hence Christians enter into a covenant with God, which means an agreement or contract with God, just like Muslims do with their akidah.

And that is why Muslims are advised to ‘protect’ their akidah because if their akidah is tainted then they cease to be a Muslim. And, according to Islamic teachings, there are many things that can destroy a person’s akidah. For example: believing in and wearing a tangkal (talisman or ‘lucky charm’) would be one of them.

And the reason your akidah would be destroyed if you believe in and wear a talisman is because you agreed (contracted) to believe in the one-God (Allah) but then you go and believe in another ‘power’ other than Allah. Hence you believe that the talisman has the same power as God and that it can protect you or change your fate/luck whereas such power belongs only to Allah.

Nevertheless, many Malays still believe in ‘other powers’ and in the supernatural in spite of the fact that this would taint or destroy their akidah. This is mainly because of their very superficial understanding of Islam, which has been reduced to merely a set of rituals. If these Malays really understood Islam then they would know that their actions have made them a non-Muslim a long time ago.

Anyway, that is not the point of my article today. What I want to discuss today is what some readers have said to be ‘the law of contracts’. To them, a contract is only valid under two circumstances.

1) That the contract is in written form (meaning on a piece of paper) and is signed by all parties to the agreement.

2) That the contract is enforceable by the court in the event you take the case to court if there was a breach of contract.

Furthermore, they say that a contract and an agreement are two different things entirely.

That may be the ‘modern’ interpretation of ‘contract’ (basically English law) and that if these two conditions are not met then a contract or agreement does not exist. But then the concept of covenant (with God) or akidah existed long before England or English law existed. In that case, if contracts are only called contracts if they are signed and on a piece of paper and enforceable by the court, what would you call a covenant or akidah (your ‘contract’ with God)?

I remember 40 years ago when I first started business — mainly with the Chinese — our ‘contracts’ were never on a piece of paper or signed. Hence they would not be enforceable by the court, so to speak. Our ‘contracts’ were all by word of mouth and ‘sealed’ with a handshake over a pot of Chinese tea. When that Chinese businessman pours you a cup of tea and hands it to you with both his hands, and you accept that cup of tea and sip it, that is your ‘signed contract’.

Today, the supporters of Pakatan Rakyat say that unless the contract is on a piece of paper and is signed by all parties and is enforceable by the court, then no contract exists. They, of course, quote the English law or tort law as the reference here.

No doubt Malaysia follows English law. But there are certain things that can be done outside English law and would still be valid. Did PKR, DAP and PAS sign a document to form Pakatan Rakyat? If they did not then is the ‘agreement’ to form Pakatan Rakyat valid? For example, can PKR and PAS or PKR and DAP engage in three-corner contests in the general election? Since there is no written and signed agreement (contract) then there is nothing wrong if PKR, DAP and PAS all engage in four-corner fights with Barisan Nasional.

What about those 222 Members of Parliament and 505 State Assemblypersons from Pakatan Rakyat who contested the recent general election on 5th May 2013? Did they sign any written contract with their respective parties? If not then there is nothing wrong if they cross over and join Barisan Nasional.

What about the Pakatan Rakyat people — such as Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim — who were appointed Senators on a Pakatan Rakyat ‘ticket’? Did they sign any written contract? If not then what is wrong if they decide to cross over and support Barisan Nasional?

After the 2008 general election many Pakatan Rakyat people crossed over. Hee and the two PKR State Assemblymen from Perak crossed over and brought down the Pakatan Rakyat State Government of Perak. They never signed any written contract and you cannot take them to court and sue them. Hence no contract exists so why are you all so angry with them? They did not breach any agreement.

Ibrahim Ali and many more who contested the 2008 general election on a Pakatan Rakyat ‘ticket’ and then declared themselves as ‘independent’ wakil rakyat also did not breach any agreement because they did not sign any piece of paper. So why vilify and disparage them and call them names?

So be careful before arguing that Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Tun Razak did not sign any paper contract and therefore no valid agreement exists. That argument can apply in so many other instances as well.

And back in the 1970s, when I first started business, the Chinese taught me that your word and handshake and the cup of tea is stronger than 100 pages of a written and signed contract.

Have the Chinese forgotten how to be Chinese? Have the old Chinese ‘values’ changed so much over the last 40 years? What happened to the Chinese ‘word’ that is supposed to be stronger than 100 pages of a written and signed contract? At least my involvement in the Chinese triads during my school days taught me some values that the Chinese today seem to have forgotten.





然而,对于那些对伊斯兰教的理解“高出一般人的人–例如Sufi–来讲,他们会把akidah定义别的东西。 他们会说Akidah是一条用来把我们上帝(阿拉绑在一起的‘绳子’