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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Deal with rising Muslim extremism in Malaysia before boasting about your reforms to Obama - Zaid tells Najib

Deal with rising Muslim extremism in M'sia before boasting about your reforms to Obama - Zaid tells Najib
I am glad our Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak has taken a ride in the US President’s special car “The Beast”. It’s something special to tell his grandchildren one day.
During the US President’s fruitful visit to Malaysia, we were also told that Obama and Najib had a great fondness for and natural chemistry with each other. I am also glad that my Prime Minister has reached a new level of sophistication and now possesses the aura that world leaders are normally associated with.
Perhaps it is time for the Prime Minister to make a few Obama-like speeches for the people of this country—speeches that move the people and the nation together. Najib needs to show the people that his “similarity” to Obama extends beyond the smart suits they both wear and includes a new style and substance of leadership as well.
Obama is known for being “connected” to the people and for making inspiring speeches. He is not afraid of touching on subjects that are considered taboo by the American public. He was courageous in revamping the seriously dysfunctional healthcare system in the United States. He has championed the rights of gays and lesbians. He has spoken of a New America he has envisioned for the future. He is the first black president and that’s possible only because he is special.
Our Prime Minister can be special too if he wants. For a start, Najib needs to address the radical and misguided Muslims in our country—those hell-bent on destroying the basic framework of the country. He needs to defend the present democratic way of life and our freedoms, which are surely going to be threatened by the “Taliban” coming to power. Is the PM not worried that the onslaught against the fundamentals of democracy and harmonious living are gaining ground?
As a Muslim leader, he must feel responsible that so many Muslims in modern Malaysia have become extremists. As a Muslim leader, he must be concerned that some Muslims in Malaysia are on the same level as the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Is he not embarrassed or concerned that all these people talk about is whether we should amputate limbs using anaesthesia or should the people suffer and feel the real pain. Is he aware that that national dialogue is all about punishment?
Look at the various public statements made by these so-called “religious leaders”: when we have religious celebrations like Christmas or Deepavali, there will be Muslim leaders who forbid other Muslims from even wishing fellow-Malaysians well. Then Muslims are told they are not supposed to say “rest in peace” when someone dies.
When Karpal Singh died in a tragic accident recently, there were Muslims such as the leader of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) who proudly declared that “the place for those who die an infidel is hell”.
Such statements should not have been made and published as they showed a total lack of respect for fellow human beings; and in particularly, in this case, to the family and friends of the late Karpal. Such statements also present a bad image of Muslims generally. When will the Prime Minister say anything about these “hate speeches”? What kind of society does he want to pass down as his legacy?
When some Muslims said they wanted hudud (Islamic criminal law) to be implemented regardless of the nation’s basic law and the Federal Constitution, what did our Prime Minister say? He was not against it. Would Obama have responded in similar fashion? Obama would probably have said that the criminal law of Malaysia must not depart too far from the norms and practices of civilised countries.
Obama would have said that Malaysia was a Federation of States in which penal laws must be acceptable to all the states. When will our Prime Minister, who has the aura of Obama, start talking about these issues Obama-style? I believe President Obama would have tackled these matters decisively.
Will he use and adopt Obama’s statements on this matter? After all, the President did tell us: “There shouldn’t be reason to discriminate, and you have to make sure that you are speaking out against this in daily life” and that we must “treat people the way you want to be treated. And if you are not doing that, then we are going backwards instead of going forward and this is true all over the world.”
Najib must rise to be the “Malaysian Obama”. He must seize this opportunity to become a special Malaysian/UMNO politician. Obama is obviously special in becoming the first black President of the United States. He has championed the rights of minorities in his country, putting Hispanic- and African-Americans in prominent positions in Government and the Supreme Court. President Obama has also appointed many women of substance to important positions in society.
Will Najib match his new hero in terms of being the same special politician? Will he too champion the rights of minorities and defend the rights of Malays and Muslims from the rampaging might of those holding power in the name of God? Will Najib be democratic and allow the simplest and most basic rights, such as the freedom to watch TV or read newspapers that do not belong to the Barisan Nasional?
Like Obama, Najib needs to spearhead a new politics, with new ideas, for a new future for our country. He needs to set free Muslim girls in schools to let them participate in sports and school choirs. These girls have to be taught musical instruments and be allowed to sing. Or will Najib see the decapitation of his own race just to be a political survivor?
There have just been too many instances of religious bigots extolling dangerous ideologies in the public sphere that it is time our Prime Minister started dealing with them. I am sure Obama would have done so.
-zaid.my

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