MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, September 29, 2023

Anwar's UN speech mirrors problems at home


There were three local responses to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s maiden speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept 22.

First, many people will be indifferent. They know that like many world leaders, Anwar would push all the right buttons and give the delegates what they want to hear.

Hence, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change, wealth inequality, discrimination of women, islamophobia and the perennial international problem - Palestine.

Second, the fan-club response is usually one of awe and euphoria, where they gazed on in amazement as he gave his speech, and thought that he said everything exactly right.

His admirers said that he made Malaysia proud, and world leaders listened to him. They said that his delivery was the best ever from a Malaysian PM.

They would have compared him with Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s cringeworthy performance at the UN during his first stint as deputy prime minister, or former premier Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s lacklustre speech in Malay last year, or the awkward delivery in English by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin in 2020.

Third, not everyone in this grouping dislikes him or his politics but many will have scrutinised his speech for its content and found it controversial.

Anwar’s UN General Assembly address was littered with the right ingredients to please an international crowd, especially the Muslim and third-world nations.

If there was one word that best describes his speech, then it is “hypocrisy” because what Anwar said there mirrored some of the things that were happening back in Malaysia.

He talked about a polarised world. Was he subconsciously thinking of a divided Malaysia?

It’s all very well chastising world leaders for not doing enough to prevent crimes against humanity, but shouldn’t Anwar try and clean up his own backyard first? Charity begins at home.

Within minutes of starting his speech, he talked about how his vision had been “utterly shattered to pieces” with the repetition of the strong over the weak, the rich and powerful over the poor and the marginalised, and the big powers over the rest.

Doesn’t this conjure an image of the Malay elite and the political glitterati lording it over the rest of us?

In the same breath, he had mentioned how “the major powers had cast aside the UN”. This could easily be a description of the political elite and religious untouchables in Malaysia, casting aside our precious Federal Constitution, for their own personal gain.

Women and marginalised groups

Anwar described the gross violation of international law and the “politics of dispossession which has continued with a vengeance, with the illegal settlements casting aside Palestinian lands which rightly belongs to them”.

Isn’t this what is happening to our own home-grown Orang Asli? They suffer a similar fate with their ancestral lands being occupied by the VVIPS and super elite.

Bringing up the subject of the Palestinians is guaranteed to garner support; but has Anwar forgotten about our own version of apartheid?

Numerous injustices against the Orang Asli and the minorities have occurred, but successive PMs have failed to overcome these. Shouldn’t Anwar get his house in order first?

He called upon the Afghan rulers to reverse their discriminatory policies against women and girls, and said that denying them the right to an education goes against the teachings of Islam.

In Malaysia, Anwar must know that misogyny and other acts against women are some of the things that violate Islamic teaching.

Poorly educated mullahs wrongly interpret Islamic teachings and make lives a misery for Malay women. Women are subject to the dress codeChild marriages destroy their futures. Polygamy reduces them to a number in her husband’s affections. Syariah law has failed to protect women’s rights.

Anwar criticised Myanmar as Asean’s biggest, humanitarian challenge because of barbaric acts against its people.

If only the delegates at the UN realise how barbaric we have been towards the Rohingya boat people. Our navy towed cramped boats back to sea. Refugees are housed in deplorable conditions and their children are denied an education. We are equally indefensible in our treatment of the boat people.

Having touched on climate change, Anwar wasn’t too forthcoming about his government’s lack of action against illegal deforestation, or the government-sanctioned denudation of our jungles, and hill slopes.

Crony timber barons have stripped the forest of valuable trees which stood for centuries. We destroy our precious ecosystems when hectares of virgin jungle are converted to plantations, and mangrove swamps become golf courses or artificial islands for skyscraper jungles. The environment dies while politicians talk as if they care.

Anwar mentioned the widening inequality setting apart nations and peoples, but he could easily have been talking about our own unequal wealth distributions.

He warned about the negative profiling of Muslims. He urged tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect for peace and harmony among nations.

So, why are non-Muslims insulted and ridiculed by Muslims? including by menteris besar, who provoke hatred but are seldom punished?

Anwar urged the UN countries to work together and show solidarity for the world to enjoy peace and harmony.

Although ordinary Malaysians are committed to making Malaysia a better place for everyone, it is our leaders who have failed us.

As our leaders only give lip service, we have lost trust in politicians, and in our bitter experience, each new administration has been one failure after another.

The Harapan unity government, like the others, lacks the political will to change. - Mkini

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army, and the president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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