March 18th, 2015

Ikatan Melayu 'tiga penjuru'

Kita sering mendengar ucapan yang disampaikan oleh pemimpin Melayu, baik raja yang memerintah, pemimpin politik, pemimpin tentera, mahupun pemimpin masyarakat. Lazimnya, ucapan lebih khusus kepada penyampaian mesej berkaitan sesuatu upacara yang dihadiri oleh pemerintah atau pemimpin berkenaan.

Sewaktu Perhimpunan Gerakan Renaisans dan Perpaduan Bangsa Melayu pada 28 Februari lalu, Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak mewakili semua golongan pemimpin Melayu menyampaikan amanat pemimpin Melayu untuk menjadi azimat dan bekalan oleh semua bangsa Melayu dalam mengharungi abad ke-21 kelak.

Amat menarik kerana amanat yang dikenali sebagai Tujuh Amanat Pemimpin Melayu itu merangkumi semua bidang kehidupan, menjadi pelengkap kepada Maqasid Syariah yang disyariatkan oleh Allah SWT.

Sekalipun tertib atau turutan ketujuh-tujuh amanat itu boleh disusun atur mengikut selera atau pilihan masing-masing yang pentingnya Perdana Menteri telah menggariskan tujuh amanat yang amat berharga itu untuk rujukan semua bangsa Melayu.

i) Ketinggian Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan

Sebagai umat Islam, bangsa Melayu mesti memperjuangkan ketinggian Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan yang berpandukan kepada al-Quran dan sunnah Rasulullah SAW.

Malah, dalam titah Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong semasa merasmikan Mesyuarat Pertama Penggal Ketiga Parlimen Ke-13, pada 9 Mac lalu, baginda turut memberi peringatan agar jangan ada mana-mana pihak mempersoalkan kedudukan Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan. Peringatan ini bertepatan dengan masanya kerana sejak kebelakangan ini semakin banyak tindakan pelbagai pihak yang mempersoalkan dan mempertikaikan perkara ini. Maka, amanat pertama ini hendaklah juga dijadikan peringatan oleh semua umat Islam bangsa Melayu untuk bersatu mempertahankan dan memperjuangkan kedudukan agama Islam di negara ini.

ii) Hak dan Keistimewaan Institusi Raja-raja Melayu dan bangsa Melayu

Institusi raja-raja Melayu dan hak serta keistimewaan bangsa Melayu seperti yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan perlu dipertahankan.

Seperti juga amanat pertama, kedua-dua perkara tersebut iaitu institusi raja-raja Melayu dan hak istimewa bangsa Melayu, sejak kebelakangan ini saban hari perkara ini dicabar dan dipertikaikan secara terbuka oleh banyak pihak. Sekali lagi, amanat kedua ini menuntut kesepakatan dalam kalangan bangsa Melayu mempertahankan hak mereka yang telah diperuntukkan di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

iii) Menegakkan Maqasid Syariah

Ini demi memelihara kepentingan agama, nyawa, akal, zuriat dan harta yang berlandaskan pendekatan wasatiyyah iaitu kesederhanaan yang seimbang, tidak ekstrem dan tidak terlalu liberal.

Inilah rujukan utama yang digunakan dalam penganjuran Perhimpunan Gerakan Renaisans dan Perpaduan Bangsa Melayu itu, iaitu bagaimana unsur-unsur Maqasid Syariah digunakan dalam membina kerangka agenda pembangunan bangsa Melayu yang bermatlamatkan perpaduan mutlak sesama mereka.

iv) Mengukuhkan ekonomi bangsa Melayu

Hasrat utama amanat keempat ini adalah supaya bangsa Melayu mampu bersaing dengan bangsa-bangsa lain baik di dalam negara mahupun di pentas global. Dalam senario politik semasa, selain penguasaan arena politik, arena pendidikan dan ekonomi juga sama pentingnya untuk dikuasai. Untuk bangsa Melayu benar-benar diperakui sebagai bangsa yang hebat, bermaruah dan berkat.

v) Pendidikan, kemahiran dan kebijaksanaan diimbangi adat resam serta budaya Melayu

Amanat kelima ini menekankan kepada pentingnya bangsa Melayu terus dilatih dan dididik menjadi bangsa peneraju dan bangsa berilmu pengetahuan, berkemahiran tinggi, bijaksana, berdaya saing, kreatif, inovatif, berwawasan serta berfikiran global tetapi tetap berpaksikan kepada adat resam dan budaya Melayu.

Amat luas skop amanat ini yang wajar dihayati oleh semua bangsa Melayu untuk maju, pada masa yang sama mengekalkan ciri-ciri kemelayuannya.

vi) Memperteguhkan Institusi Keluarga & Masyarakat Melayu

Amanat keenam ini mengulangi pentingnya maqasid zuriat dalam pembangunan sesuatu bangsa. Bangsa Melayu juga tidak terkecuali, maka inisiatif pembangunan institusi keluarga dan masyarakat Melayu hendaklah dibangunkan seiring dengan inisiatif-inisiatif lain yang utama. Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) bersama Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) di bawah naungan Kementerian Pendidikan sewajarnya mengformalkan inisiatif yang sudah mereka mulakan menerusi Program Melayu 2050 sebagai usaha melahirkan generasi Melayu yang rabbani yang akan menerajui usaha membentuk masyarakat majmuk yang madani.

vii) Menyuburkan nilai mahmudah dalam semangat dan jiwa Melayu

Amanat ketujuh ini tidak kurang pentingnya dari perspektif membina semangat dan jiwa bangsa Melayu yang wajar dipupuk dan disemadikan dalam pemikiran setiap anak bangsa Melayu. Perincian amanat ini menekankan kepada usaha menyuburkan nilai-nilai mahmudah yang mulia seperti berjiwa besar, semangat juang yang tinggi, berani, bijaksana, tekun serta patriotik.

Amanat ini turut mengajak bangsa Melayu menjauhi sifat mazmumah yang keji seperti hasad dengki dan bermusuhan.

Dengan termaktubnya Tujuh Amanat Pemimpin Melayu pada perhimpunan itu, maka ia menjadi satu amanat yang wajar dijadikan peringatan yang kekal malar dalam ingatan orang Melayu, selagi ada bulan dan bintang serta selagi darah Melayu mengalir dalam badan mereka. Selagi itulah juga wadah dan maslahah umat ini akan terus diperjuangkan oleh bangsa Melayu sampai bila-bila.

Dengan mukadimah penutup yang sebegitu rupa, maka Tujuh Amanat Pemimpin Melayu ini wajib dijadikan rujukan utama dan pelengkap kepada Maqasid Syariah bila mana agenda pembangunan dan perpaduan bangsa Melayu hendak direncanakan oleh mana-mana pihak sekalipun.

3. Waad Melayu abad ke-21

Jika diamati dengan tertib dan cermat, memang kukuh justifikasi mengapa orang Melayu wajar diikat dengan waad (janji luhur) untuk mereka akur dan sepakat dalam melaksanakan Amanat itu berpaksikan tiga teras utama waad ini, iaitu:

i) Menyakini akidah Islam yang bersendikan al-Quran, hadis, Ijma’ dan Qias;

ii) Memahami peradaban Islam berlandaskan tauhid dan syariah; dan

iii) Mendepani cabaran era globalisasi

Dengan merujuk kepada tiga teras itu maka diwaadkan bahawa:

a) Peradaban bangsa Melayu hendaklah berteraskan intisari akhlak serta nilai mulia;

b) Peradaban Islam dan peradaban bangsa Melayu adalah sebatian yang sempurna;

c) Waad ini wajib difahami dan hidup subur dalam jiwa dan sanubari orang Melayu turun temurun;

d) Menjadi misi Waad ini untuk terus membina & memantapkan peradaban bangsa Melayu serta negara Malaysia demi menjamin kelangsungan warisan peradaban (civilizational legacy) bangsa Melayu; dan

e) Waad ini menjadi peringatan kepada semua orang Melayu untuk berani merentasi sempadan dan berdepan arus globalisasi, pada masa yang sama terus memimpin negara Malaysia ini ke arah kesejahteraan dan kemakmuran dengan adil dan saksama.

Begitulah komitmen yang diwaadkan oleh semua orang Melayu yang menghadiri perhimpunan itu. Dengan ikatan tiga penjuru di antara Maqasid Syariah yang disya­riatkan oleh Allah SWT, Tujuh Amanat Pemimpin Melayu dan Waad Melayu Abad Ke-21, orang Melayu mampu menjadi bangsa yang hebat, bermaruah dan diberkati Allah.

Apa sekalipun hujahnya, matlamat mutlak kepada ikatan tiga penjuru ini adalah sejauh mana bangsa Melayu bersedia mengukuhkan perpaduan dalam kalangan mereka.

Tiada bangsa di dunia ini betapa maju sekalipun mereka, boleh menjadi hebat dan terus menerajui kemajuan negara masing-masing tanpa kesepakatan atau perpaduan sesama mereka.

Jika bangsa Jepun misalnya, menjadi begitu maju menerusi kesepakatannya berpegang kepada ‘Bushido Spirit’nya, bangsa Melayu juga mampu maju jika kesepakatan dapat dibina menerusi ikatan tiga penjuru itu; Maqasid Syariah,Tujuh Amanat Pemimpin Melayu dan Waad Melayu Abad ke-21.

Hasan Mad ialah Setiausaha Agung Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM)  Utusan Malaysia Rencana 18 Mac 2015

‘Pendatang’ — so what?

The word “immigrant” is gradually becoming a dirty word to us here, but in Australia a freer movement of people in and out of the country is seen as an enriching phenomenon.

TWO weeks ago I was hosted by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for a one-week trip to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. I have been to Sydney before but that was my first time in Melbourne and Canberra.

I find it interesting that Australia has just one Ministry covering foreign affairs and international trade when we in Malaysia have two - Wisma Putra and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). I guess if you think about it carefully, it makes sense to have just one because the overlaps between the two are pretty significant. And Australian taxpayers’ money could be saved this way.

Nevertheless, I do understand that our politicians need to distribute jobs among themselves. If Wisma Putra and MITI were to be merged, there would be less posts and perks to dish out. As long as we treat ministerial jobs as political rewards to buy political loyalty, the desire to reduce overlaps will remain weak. So let’s not talk about a merger of government Ministries just yet.

My trip started in Sydney where I met with representatives from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Australian Federal Police, and academics at the University of Sydney’s Southeast Asia Centre.

We then departed Sydney for Melbourne, where I toured the Islamic Museum of Australia, met with Professor Stephen Martin who is Chief Executive of the Committee for Economic Development Australia, and met with academics at the University of Melbourne.

In Melbourne, I also gave a talk at the Australian Institute of International Affairs where, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most colourful discussion about Malaysia’s political and economic challenges took place outside of the formal talk.

The third stop was Canberra. Here I had the honour of meeting with DFAT’s team that covers Southeast Asia, officials from the Treasury Department, as well as Australian National University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young.

I was also given the opportunity to tour the old and new Parliament House, as well as to watch their Question Time where Tony Abbott and members of his Cabinet were questioned by those in the opposition. I will not attempt a serious comparison of the quality of that debate with what I see in our own parliament over here. Suffice to say that they sound cleverer there.

Luckily, in between the very packed formal programme, I managed to squeeze in some time to talk to Malaysians in Melbourne and Canberra. They may be living abroad but they clearly do keep abreast with developments at home.

After Canberra, we drove back to Sydney, where I had the chance to watch a play at the Sydney Opera House and climb up the Sydney Harbour Bridge just before flying back to Kuala Lumpur.

The trip was too short to make me fully understand Australia as a whole. It was, on average, just one and a half days at each of the three cities, plus travel time. But it was good exposure and it certainly helped me gain a bit more understanding about the country.

One thing that struck me was the diversity of the Australian population. In terms of area, Australia is the sixth biggest in the world. But it’s population is only about 23 million. That is less than the population of Malaysia.

Other than the Aborigines, every single Australian traces their origin to migration and they come from all parts of the world. If I remember correctly, during my week there, I met with people who told me that their ancestors were originally from the Philippines, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, South Africa, England, Ireland, Lebanon, Pakistan, Vietnam, China, Scotland, Indonesia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Sudan.

They are proud to acknowledge that immigration and a freer movement of people in and out of the country is an enriching phenomenon. In fact, immigration into Australia continues until today and I personally have several friends who have moved there within the last couple of years. And there is even an Immigration Museum in Melbourne to remind people of the fact.

What is it that makes Australian more accepting of immigration? Why is the word “immigrant” gradually becoming a dirty word to us here in Malaysia? If I were to trace my own history, I still have relatives in Songkhla. My ancestors on my late father’s side moved to Perlis from the Southern Thai town.

And my kampung on my mother’s side is in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan, indicating that the other half of my ancestry is from Indonesia’s Sumatra.

Clearly, at some stage, my ancestors were pendatang too. Today, my family and I are considered bumiputra Malays and I enjoy various privileges because of that. I can’t help but ask how we came to a stage where some pendatang like me enjoy various privileges while other pendatang do not.

But let’s be clear. I am not at all suggesting that everything is fine and dandy in Australia.

They, too, have seen cases of inter-ethnic tension. In 2005, in Cronulla, a suburb not too far from Sydney, a sectarian riot broke out resulting in many injuries and more than a hundred people being charged in court. I was told that while Cronulla may be the biggest incident in recent years, there were other smaller cases of ethnic tensions too.

Nevertheless, I still saw in Australia a country made up of immigrants who rarely doubt the loyalty and commitment of their own fellow citizens. I guess there is nothing wrong with being a pendatang and we should be proud of it.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.  The STAR Home News Opinion Thinking Liberally 18 Mar 2015

Balancing quality and universality

THE topic of university excellence has risen again in res­ponse to the initiative of the Govern­ment, particularly the Education Ministry, to propose a new higher education blueprint following the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (covering pre-school to secondary school).

In principle, the blueprint aims to produce holistic and integrated values-driven talent in line with the National Education Policy.

Enhancing the quality of universities is definitely a more challenging task compared to schools. It is the most crucial level of education where ideas and theories are seriously put forth, with most of them translated into policies to be implemented in various fields.

University students are the main participants at this level and active recipients of these ideas and theories. Most of them go on to play a role in implementing such policies once they graduate.

Thus, any discrepancy at this level of education would surely implicate the future of the country and the world as a whole.

The question at hand is, with hundreds of higher learning institutions mushrooming in the country and producing thousands of graduates annually, are we satisfied with the quality of our higher education?

The increasing number of institutions is not necessarily an indication of better higher education. Unless its quality is strengthened, the negative impression of the university’s role will prevail.

For example, Harry Lewis, a professor at Harvard University, criticised his own university’s administration in his book Excellence Without Soul (2006).

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US president, represented a more sceptical view on the quality of university when he said: “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car (wagon) but if he has a university education, he may steal the railroad.”

It all goes back to the meaning of the university and its role. Simply put, how do we develop a good university? What are the criteria of a good university?

Cardinal John Henry Newman, an important figure in the religious history of England, began his monumental book The Idea of a University with the important assertion that university is “a place of teaching universal knowledge”.

In his book Islam and Secularism, contemporary Muslim scholar and thinker Prof Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas pointed out that a university must reflect the nature of man since the word “university”, which is derived from the Latin universitatem, reflects the original Islamic Arabic term kulliyyah, meaning faculty or a power inherent in a person’s body.

The views of these Muslim and Christian thinkers can shed light on the nature of a good university.

The first view implies the intellectuality and universality of a university, while the second emphasises its organic and integrated nature.

The first view is important as it reflects the unique character of higher learning, which is being intellectual. Since the target group of higher learning is educated youths with a greater ability to think and contemplate, they need to be inculcated with universal knowledge or wisdom that enables them to look at things from a wider perspective or from an eagle’s eye point of view.

Universal knowledge approaches reality from a more philosophical level so as to position reality in its proper place. It is against knowledge that is too specific and technical, with the effect that students are neither able to look at reality from a wider perspective. Worse still, they place things in the wrong places and cannot connect one discipline of knowledge to another.

Ethics and religion, if understood in a proper manner, play the role of universal knowledge. They project a worldview that is universal in nature, encompassing the complete way of life in this world and the hereafter.

Currently, some universities lose the nature of teaching universal knowledge when all sorts of specialised knowledge are taught and not balanced by universal knowledge. The perspective becomes too narrow, rendering students unable to look at things in a proper and comprehensive manner.

The second idea put forward by Prof al-Attas is important since a good university must reflect human nature. Just as people have many faculties which are guided by their intellect or rational soul, a university must also have a faculty or group of knowledge that leads other disciplines of knowledge in order to ensure a systematic and integrated approach in all its faculties.

In Islam, this integration is represented by the dynamic relation between the fard ‘ayn(prerequisite) and fard kifayah (collective responsibility) knowledge.

A university should not only be driven by its general vision and mission, it should also specify details to be integrated into the curriculum and translated through all courses in the university irrespective of field and specialisation.

Just as man has intellect, each university should have a centre that serves as a point of reference concerning all the principles and values that will be shared by all other “organs” of the university.

This is so that the university can move and “think” in an organic way, as reflected in its role as a man with a “universal mind”. Similar to man’s faculties, a university’s faculties will move in a unified, consistent and systematic way.

The Quran mentions a group of people who are given a heart and other faculties but do not use them properly: “They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not and ears wherewith they hear not.” (Al-A’raf, 7:179)

Just as a universal man should have harmonious relations between his heart, reason and other faculties, a good university – which is a macrocosmic representation of man – should also take the same reminder from the Quran to develop a more universal and organic nature of its curriculum and administration.

Dr Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran is Senior Fellow/Director of Ikim’s Centre for the Study of Syariah, Law and Politics. The views expressed here are entirely his own. The STAR Home News Opinion IKIM Views 18 Mar 2015

Deputy Education Minister herself desperately needs an education

OUTSPOKEN: Normal Malaysians have to put up with bog-standard schools but the children of ministers, senior Umno-Baru politicians, well-to-do people and cronies go to elite and international schools. In extreme cases, very young children are sent to live in England or Australia, with their nannies, so that they can attend school.

Some children in an elite school in Damansara allege that during exams the ministers’ children are told to initial their papers, despite a ruling that all answer papers are to be free of identification marks. Others allege that one minister’s child would occasionally have an outrider to accompany his car, to impress his schoolmates. The Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) would have a field day if they were to visit a prom, held at a five-star hotel, where there is always more breast on display than at Ayamas.

Mary Yap, the Deputy Education Minister, told parliament that students who paid for their tertiary education would value it more than the people who received it for free.



Mary Yap

She said, “Receiving free tertiary education would foster an attitude of lack of appreciation for education...When students pay for their own education… or when parents pay for their children, they tend to be more involved in the well-being and education of their children.”

Many Malaysians criticised Yap, who made the remarks when she was asked about the measures undertaken to reduce the outstanding debt of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).

Some parents and students are furious and claim that Yap is a cheap opportunist who is playing politics to pander to her bosses. They fear that her input to the education policies will do untold damage to successive generations and harm the development of the country.

Anxious parents cite countries which offer free tertiary education, like Brazil and many European countries. These nations reap the benefits when graduates repay their gratitude to society by contributing to the economy and nation building.

The following issues have caused most angst.

First. The Education Ministry is saddled with its own ineptitude at recovering the PTPTN loans. Parents cite the lack of a proper mechanism to collect the money owed by the students. If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, the attitude of the people who are supposed to recover the money is most lackadaisical.

A Malay friend alleges that two decades after graduating, she read in the papers about a drive to recover the student loans and made enquires about repayment, so that she would not be fined or punished. To her surprise she was told that she need not repay her debt. She alleges that she was not the only student who was not obliged to repay the student loan.

Second. Education in Malaysia is mostly run as a business and is done primarily to make a profit. Many students allege that they are receiving a low quality education. Some colleges are good, but the majority are abysmal.


Mariam Mokhtar is "a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth."

Many colleges are alleged fronts for the children of rich people to pretend they are being educated. Some places have poor quality lecturers with a haphazard lecture structure. Fees keep rising, with little to show for the expenditure.

One student of a well-known college in Kuala Lumpur alleges that polarisation is endemic, that team work is non-existent, and the different races make no attempt to interact. Where there is a preponderance of foreign students, the local students are fearful of drug and sex rackets which allegedly thrive on campus. Students are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals, and many parents are at their wits’ end.

Third. When teachers lower the pass mark, required by Malay students, to enable more Malays to pass, it is both demeaning and insulting. Consequently, the non-Malays treat Malays as objects of derision and this does not contribute towards nation building.

It is time the government began to practise meritocracy, to cultivate a keen competitive spirit. No particular race is incompetent or lazy. Each person should be given an equal opportunity to thrive and be stimulated by the challenges of education.

Fourth. Yap said that free education would not be appreciated and was tacitly implying that people only appreciate the true value of things they pay for themselves.

If this is the case, the largess of the taxpayer bestowed upon the self-styled “First Lady of Malaysia” (FLOM), to fund her jet-set lifestyle and her massive entourage of sponging freeloaders, must be stopped. The ministerial spouses and their hangers-on must be made to pay for their own flights, meals, hotels and extra baggage allowances.

Many families have taken second mortgages, pawned the family jewels and sold off ancestral land to fund their children’s education because they want to free their children from poverty.

If free education is denied to Malaysians, then the unnecessary expenses of FLOM and the Umno-putras must cease. Malaysians are not ungrateful. Yap should tell Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stop giving away money and sacks of rice just before an election. She should tell him that freebies are never appreciated!