July 28th, 2015

Institutionalised racism is scary

THE mob violence at Plaza Low Yat, Kuala Lumpur, and worse, blog statements by groups trying to instigate a wider racial conflict as well as the pathetic attempts by some to justify the thuggish behaviour of the rioters as a legitimate expression of frustration on the part of Malays, indicate that racism is a big challenge to peace and racial unity.

It is time, as CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said recently, to outlaw and criminalise hate speeches and racism. The first step towards banning racism is to recognise its existence and this must come from the political leadership, which we saw in the United States when President Barack Obama told the nation in a televised address that it was difficult for America to hold its head high as a world leader in democracy and to lecture other nations on human rights when there were frequent incidents of hate shootings by whites against blacks and when there is racial discrimination in workplaces or university campuses.

He had used the derogatory word “nigger” to refer to blacks (a word no longer polite to use because of its insulting meaning), saying they were regarded as inferior people because they were descendants of slaves.

His strong words pricked the conscience of the nation and led to the momentous decision by the South Carolina state legislature, following the hate shooting by a young white male who killed nine black worshippers in a church, to pull down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State Capitol.

A rally against school integration in the US in 1959.

The flag had flown in public for over a century to commemorate the state’s leading role in the civil war, which the Confederate south fought against the north to demand the right of whites to use slaves.

When the flag was pulled down in a ceremony a few days ago, the event was viewed as a historic break from the past, a symbolic admission of guilt over the unfair treatment of the black population. It also gave closure to the families whose loved ones died for no other reason than being black.

In Malaysia, we have to emulate the US to ban words used as racial slurs. For example, the word pendatang is as insulting to Chinese and Indians as the word “nigger” is to African-Americans.

Then we have Biro Tata Negara (BTN), which has been criticised because its training programme, ostensibly aimed at instilling love and loyalty in people for the nation, is tainted with racial bigotry to remind civil service trainees and government scholarship holders that this country owes its progress and existence to Malays.

BTN is like the Confederate flag mentioned above, a reminder of racial supremacy of the majority over the minority. Further, we have textbooks on history and civics whose contents sound racial to the discerning ear. I am sure others will have better ideas on what other symbols we should pull down to eliminate racial as well as religious supremacy.

Let us not hide the fact that racism exists in our schools and universities, in the civil service and other institutions of government, with overzealous bureaucrats and little Napoleons imposing their social and religious values on Malaysians.

Often the excuse given for their racist actions is that based on their interpretation of the constitution, “social contract”, New Economic Policy, and special position of Malays and Islam, what they are doing is right. It’s just too bad that non-Malays have shunned national schools, government service, police or the military because they cannot accept the system.

This ambivalent attitude towards the segregation of races cannot go on if we want the races to study, work and live together. We should look at the US Bill of Rights to study how they did it to end segregation and unite whites and blacks in schools and in workplaces.

Today, although racism exists in America, it’s no longer institutionalised. An employer in America and Britain can get sued if he discriminates against an employee on grounds of race, colour or religion.

Nowadays, you see many black faces at the White House and many Asians at the British Parliament. That shows how far the Americans and the British have come in their struggle to improve race relations.

The lesson for us in Malaysia is that although it’s human nature for one race to find fault with other races and there is nothing the government can do about personal prejudices, but what the government can do at an official level is to not condone racism in the law and in the system of justice as well as in the functioning of the government.

In fact, it is incumbent upon the government to condemn hate speeches, racial and religious bigotry among school heads and teachers and discriminatory practices in the civil service to demonstrate that such behaviour will not be tolerated under the law.

Racism is bad but institutionalised racism is scary in a multiracial country like Malaysia. Investors and businesses and our managers and professionals will lose hope for the future and abandon this country, putting us back to where we were at the time of independence.

If Malaysia becomes a failed state, those who suffer most are Malays. If Plaza Low Yat is closed for ever, tourism will be affected by the bad publicity across the world and many Malays will lose their jobs. In this regard, the public is most grateful to the inspector-general of police for his firm action in arresting the culprits responsible for the Low Yat violence, without fear or favour.

The police action has restored confidence in the area for business to resume. This is a change that we hope will lead to other improvements in dealing with those who issue hate speeches to incite racial clashes.

Our leaders must start with educating the civil service, government ministries and religious authorities that they have to accept change as a part of national development.

Those who walk the corridors of power have to discard racial and religious ideologies and, instead, think of the larger interest of the nation.

As the experience of Greece is showing us, it’s better that we make the change ourselves before it is forced on us by external forces. My heart would bleed if a prime minister of this country were to face the same situation as the Greek prime minister, who had to plead with Parliament to pass the law to accept the austerity measures imposed on Greece by foreign creditors and their demand for immediate reforms.

We in Malaysia should undertake economic, education and religious reforms while the going is good. We must not let race and religion be the cause of our Greek tragedy.

Emphasise communality, Need to build on strength to reach greater heights

SOME say that the Plaza Low Yat incident should not have happened in our multicultural setting after almost 60 years of independence, which has fostered a bond among our ethnic groups.

But when one examines the underlying factors, it was an incident waiting to happen. Contrary to some considered opinion, which attributes the incident to the plight of the urban poor, it reflects fundamental ingrained issues.

Basically, there is a lack of effort at integrating the ethnic groups in our plural society. Our Unity Department has a proclivity for ceremonial expressions of unity rather than addressing the core issues that would foster a harmonious existence among our ethnic groups.

As usual, we tend to treat the symptom rather than the cause. There is a lack of pre-emptive vigilance, not only to anticipate but also to address the causes that could provoke such unwarranted incidents.

Our problem is that we are too complacent and in denial. There is a dire need to create an atmosphere of trust and harmony, understanding, caring and sharing among our multiethnic people. There is also the need to emphasise communality rather than differences.

To foster these values, it is imperative that we set up avenues for the ethnic groups to engage and interact not just during official celebrations but also in their daily lives. However, this is not possible considering our educational and political systems, as well as occupational racial dispositions.

The existing educational system of parallel national and vernacular streams segregates the young from day one. Malays send their children to national schools while the Chinese and Indians choose the vernacular streams. Such a system prevents young minds from mingling and interacting with one another.

Harmony Day is dedicated to celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity.

It is at this age of innocence not shackled by prejudices and schism that could easily foster an engaging multiracial community.

When the children grow up within their cultural milieu, they would invariably form a biased attitude towards their own kind.

But they are not to be blamed because the system calcifies their world view into a myopic perspective.

We, therefore, need an educational system with a medium of instruction that appeals to all, but without sacrificing the sanctity of the national language.

Further, political parties need to be sensitive when promoting their agenda so that they do not impinge on the rights of other communities.

Political parties should cease their adversarial stance and work with one another for the good of the nation and the people.

This divisiveness is also reflected in the occupational dispositions. Malays work in government ministries and agencies, the Chinese gravitate towards corporate sectors, while the Indians are spread thin all over, but with a sizeable number who are successful professionals.

Such a situation does not present opportunities for racial integration and engagement. Despite this compartmentalisation, the ground-level efforts by individuals, social and recreational groups, as well as certain non-governmental organisations developed camaraderie through their activities that transcend racial schism.

For example, the first charitable organisation to send food and supplies to tsunami-stricken Pulau Betong in Penang in 2005 was the Tzu Chi Buddhist Organisation.

Likewise, the same organisation rendered help in the recent Kelantan floods. These individuals and organisations are stellar examples of harmonious coexistence, caring and understanding.

The authorities can learn from them. We must treat each other as human beings, God’s creatures having hopes and aspirations, and the right to exist in God’s acres. We need to exorcise our inhibitions, prejudices and bigotry, and replace them with respect, understanding, caring and sharing so that the nation will prosper and provide a haven for all our children. Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin,Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang NST Letters 22 July 2015

Need to build on strength to reach greater heights

THERE have been recent proposals to make racism illegal in the interest of unity in our country.

We have to contemplate use of the law to prohibit exploiting what defines and makes us unique! Malaysia and its people have repeatedly been referred to, by Malaysians and foreigners, as “multiracial, multicultural and multireligious, living in peace and harmony”.

On the occasion of our independence 58 years ago, our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, declared: “... from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility... At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves... to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty — a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world. High confidence has been reposed in us; let us unitedly face the challenge of the years. And so with remembrance for the past, and with confidence in the future, under the providence of God, we shall succeed”.

Powerful words indeed, which have propelled us along, with the dedication of our people to these high and noble ideals, to where we are today.

Despite encountering some bumps en route, we have, and must endeavour to avoid using identity, in any form, as a “default” to tolerate inequality and discrimination or how we relate to each other.

Home, school, playground, workplace and the community were where we had in the past so amiably lived, played, studied and worked together.

Our differences were never a barrier; rather they strengthened our bonds of togetherness.

Any misdemeanour or irresponsible utterance that can provoke breaking our unity cannot be tolerated and must be dealt with swiftly in accordance with established norms.

Let us not allow such incidents to so destroy all that we have achieved over the years; these must be built on to greater heights, together as one nation and people. Rueben Dudley,Petaling Jaya, Selangor NST Letters 22 July 2015

Why castigate the Malays?

I REFER to Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff’s article “Institutionalised racism is scary” (NST, July 21). Native Malays are a much maligned race in Malaysia. They are routinely accused of racism, and worse, institutionalised racism in all matters, political, economic, cultural, recreational, just anything.

I lay the blame on people with shallow liberalism and those who unknowingly or deliberately belittle and demonise natives, an attitude that did not disappear with the end of colonialism.

These people would not spend a moment to try to understand the natives. Every community in the world, whether states, ethnic groups, football clubs, etc. all have their inherent and natural interests and concerns which we have to understand. And, more so if the community is in its ancient homeland.

The Malays or Rumpun Melayu, including the Orang Asli who share the same ancestry, according to DNA studies, have been in the Malay peninsula for more than 60,000 years, since man first set foot in Southeast Asia, having migrated from Africa. Just 500 and 150 years ago respectively came the Europeans, and Chinese and Indians.

The Europeans brought colonialism and Chinese and Indians dominated the economy, professions and administration. A similar situation developed elsewhere in the world where the native populations became dominated politically, administratively and economically by colonialists and immigrant populations.

For the vast majority of these countries, when independence came the natives failed to free themselves from the political, economic and administrative domination of those who came from other lands. This was the case even in countries where the natives still formed the majority of the population, such as in South America.

Ask the liberals, whether it is fair that these natives should remain subjugated in their homelands even after independence? Are they being just to the natives when they call for meritocracy and equality?

Just because the liberal elites dominate institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank and international media, does not mean that the natives have no justifiable interests that should be protected by special provisions in the constitution.

In the case of Malaysia, the Malays rightly sought to reclaim their position in their own homeland. They did so, not because they were racists, but because it was their just and inherent right. Natives in a similar position anywhere in the world would have done the same.

Even the Han natives of China reclaimed all their positions when the Manchu Empire ended.

Hence, provisions were placed in the Constitution of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu and later Malaysia to ensure that the Malay/Pribumi natives regained their positions.

These provisions are not a case of institutional racism. Racism is a case of crude discrimination with no justifications whatsoever, except skin colour, as was the case in apartheid South Africa.

The constitutional provisions recognise the special position of the Malays and other natives that even the British recognised as the basis of their administration in Malaya.

There is nothing racist about this. Additionally, those who care to truly know the Malays should understand that, even during the British colonial era, the Malays were not a racist people.

I find it odd that Tan Sri is suggesting that we recognise racism. Why straightaway castigate the Malays, but nothing is mentioned about the others!

Historically, the Malays have always had a very open culture and were hospitable to other people.

. Delegates showing support for party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Umno general assembly last year. File pic

The Malays have a saying — Dagang lalu ditanakkan, anak sendiri kelaparan (To put the interest of others above oneself or one’s family).

In the 150-year history of Chinese and Indian migrations to Malaya, there was not a single incident of Malays attacking the immigrants.

On the other hand, the Malays were attacked, as in the case of the Lukut massacre in 1834. At independence, the Malays agreed to share political power but no provisions were made to share economic power. It is precisely because the Malays were not culturally racist that there was a need to insert constitutional provisions (the so-called institutional racism) to protect them.

If they were culturally and inherently racist, why did they feel the need to show it openly in the form of provisions in the Constitution?

They could have practised racial discrimination quietly, like many culturally racist ethnic groups in the world. It is easy to deny that one practises racism when it is done quietly.

Just be sure to accuse the other party of being racist first and do so regularly. To accuse the Malays of supremacism is to spread falsehood. Ketuanan Melayu is not Malay supremacism.

Malays have never made this claim. It is their detractors who say so. And critics, including liberal Malays and foreign commentators, choose to listen to them rather than allow the Malays to explain the meaning of the term.

If Malays are racists, Malay supremacist organisations would have appeared as soon as Merdeka was proclaimed in 1957. Only in the past few years have some Malay rights groups — not supremacists — appeared and these have to do with the serious provocations and insults against the Malays.

And, it is precisely these provocations and insults that we have to pay attention to if we are to safeguard the future of the country.

The Malays recognise non-Malays as citizens with rights and legitimate interests, as provided for in the Constitution.

But, equal rights should not cause the Malays to lose their homeland as has happened in many South American countries.

The rights of the natives of the world have to be recognised. Without constitutional provisions to ensure that their interests are protected, natives everywhere will be helpless against meritocracy, equality, etc. because the descendants of the colonial and immigrant communities have a vast advantage over them.

As Socrates, the Greek philosopher said, don’t be duped into thinking that you are courageous when you go into a contest where the other side has clear advantages. That is foolishness!

Thus, we do not need liberals to urge the Malays to be dignified, stop being racist and instead go headlong into a meritocratic contest, and end up like Socratic fools.

Pure meritocracy where the stronger has advantages, and in the Malaysian context this is associated with race, would just be a legitimised and institutionalised form of racism, but a subtle and respectable one.

Understand the past, present and future

Understand the past, present and future

IN his response to Tan Sri’s Mohd Sheriff's article, “Institutionalised racism is scary”, (NST, July 21) M. Arof (“Why castigate the Malays” — NST, July 23) argued that the Malay’s rights should not be construed as promoting racism.

His arguments are valid and indeed the status of all native people all over the world is similar in their natural instinct to ensure survival in the land of their ancestor's birthplace. Having said that, in the current context, how we view and handle the idea of racism, regardless of our ethnic origins, require delicate care and consideration.

Idealism described in textbooks or by a select group of people who label themselves as liberals, intelligentsia or whatever, is not the sole determinant of the path a nation or its people will pursue.

I am a Malay and Muslim. I am very proud of my race and at the same time, I am a Malaysian. I am proud of my country and of all of its citizens, too, Malays or otherwise. What is wrong with such notion?

If any Malaysian were to stand up and be proud of their race, religion or culture, is it really scary and dangerous as some of us would like to portray it?

There is nothing complicated about having your own ethnic identity and, at the same time, building a great nation which provides fair opportunities for all its citizens, if we do not try to be bigger than ourselves by following ideals or principles that are short-sighted.

Instead our individual common sense should prevail. Any nation that has endured centuries of nation building and the challenges associated with the process has one key trait: they don’t forget their history, always acknowledge the present and have clarity on their bearings of the future.

Therefore, for this nation of ours to become great and endure centuries of challenges, we must, on an individual level, understand the need to balance between these three factors, which will determine whether we are victorious or otherwise.

If all of us truly seek to understand our past, agree on our vision of the future and accept the conditions of the present, why would we castigate any race, religion or culture?

Do we even need to position supremacy and racism as a goal or worthy ideals respectively?

Great nations are built by leaders who can successfully balance the three factors of past, present and future to shape citizens, who will inculcate the same strong and virtuous characters necessary to build a society that can succeed, without relying on narrow and oppressive ideals such as supremacy.

Therefore, we must resist backtracking as a nation. Sugiman Sabri, Kulim Kedah. NST Letters 23 July 2015

Labels should not be applied generally

IFIND the opinion expressed by Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim “Institutionalised racism is scary” (NST, July 21) fascinating, if perplexing. There is no reason to doubt what was written.

Not least from a respected former civil servant with vast and eminent experience in public service, which is now alleged to be part of the “institutionalised racism”.

This is certainly a “new” label with “loaded” ramifications, going beyond the usual lamentations of “overzealous bureaucrats and little Napoleons imposing their social and religious values on Malaysians”.

The dubious choice of words: “institutionalised racism” has catapulted the issue to a new high, rightly or wrongly. While nit-picking on the public sector, practically nothing is said about the private sector.

Are we to deduce that the latter is racism-free, let alone with no “institutionalised” form to talk about? Or is the omission deliberate due to the acute lack of information or experience in dealing with them.

Whatever the reason(s), the article has given a rather distorted view of the so-called “institutionalised racism”. This is further worsened by generalising it with reference to the “New Economic Policy, special position of Malays and Islam” as an “excuse” for the racist actions. Implying those who are not beneficiaries of the above, in one way or another, can be safely regarded as non-racists!

The article seems to be oblivious to the entire partisan politics that is racially based. How this escapes the storyline is quite puzzling, especially when politics in Malaysia almost always cuts across all ethnic lines and religious beliefs.

In fact, there are those who even claim that racial politics are the root to chauvinist policies not only in Malaysia but the world over. While it is apt to urge “those who walk the corridors of power to discard racial and religious ideologies” — the question is how to do this effectively unless the offending political undertones are dealt with just as effectively?

Many are anxiously awaiting to be enlightened on ways to dismantle the political overbearance, which in turn will do away with many of the concerns of “institutional racism” as claimed. For instance, how do “our leaders (must) start with educating the civil servant, government ministries” and what have you, given the dominant political realities?

Yes, the police are doing their level best admirably, but is this not the same force that is allegedly being “shunned” by the “non-Malays” for fear of racism.

 The low numbers of non-Malays/Bumiputra in uniformed service has more to do with cultural perceptions.
In other words, admittedly, the police force (as represented by the IGP) does not exhibit the said “institutionalised racism” after all!

Now, let me take just three particular issues raised based on my university experience.

FIRST, Biro Tata Negara (BTN). Whatever has been said, it is important to point out there are other clandestine BTNs.

While in the university, without fail, students of different ethnic and religious groups were taken out by different proxies of political entities for “retreat” or “camp-out” programmes periodically.

Those who were uncomfortable with such programmes related what they went through, and it was not unlike what the BTN has been accused of. The observations and arguments put up in the article, though having its merits, are at best myopic!;

SECOND, the police and military force being shunned. Based on the experiences for the recruitment of reserved officers (Palapes) or police cadets (Suksis) as part of co-curriculum in the universities, the low number of non-Malays/Bumiputeras has more to do with cultural perceptions.

For the Chinese and Indians, Palapes and Suksis do not list high on their priority. They would rather opt for other uniformed groups such as the Red Crescent, St John’s Ambulance and the like. Not the military-type.

These groups are considered more representative because they are not biased by issues of salary scale, or safety and security (as in real life situations) even though Palapes and Suksis do conduct military-type training as part of the course. So the implied racist factor is indeed very minimal, if at all; and,

THIRD, the word “pendatang” which has been raised yet again. No doubt, it is insulting for any citizen of a country to be called as such.

As cited, a black “African-American” being called “nigger” (which somehow is equated to “pendatang” in the article) is unwarranted.

However, the point not to be missed is that they are all “Americans”. It is equally important to highlight that they are not American-Africans or American-Chinese which conveys all together a very different connotation of who they are.

Unfortunately, the latter is the Malaysian case, a very fundamental issue which can be traced back to racial-based realpolitik! This is the Malaysian tragedy that must be urgently addressed.

However, this should be by selectively applying jaundiced labels resulting in the entire public/government sector being irresponsibly tarred by the broad brush of “institutional racism” for some sinister reasons. Indeed, it is this act that is exactly scary!

Kongsi budaya bukan makna tunduk kepada kekufuran

Dunia sudah semakin mengecil menjadi apa yang disebutkan Marshall McLuhan sebagai 'global village' atau perkampungan global disebabkan kewujudan internet.

Budaya dan adat sesuatu masyarakat atau kaum akan mudah dikesan, diketahui bahkan turut ditiru serta diserap oleh bangsa lain kemudiannya.

Ketika umat Islam menyambut hari raya baru-baru ini, berlegar beberapa persoalan berhubung apakah hukum 'menyerupai orang bukan Islam' atau dalam bahasa Arabnya disebut 'al-tasyabbuh bil kuffar' membabitkan beberapa perbuatan yang asalnya adalah amalan bangsa lain.

Contohnya, pemberian sampul duit raya yang asalnya ditiru dari sampul ang pow bangsa Cina ketika merayakan Tahun Baharu Cina.

Hadis sahih daripada Baginda SAW melalui pelbagai jalur periwayatan antaranya daripada Abdullah ibn Umar yang menegah menyerupai kaum kafir:

"Sesiapa yang menyerupai sesuatu kaum, maka dia sebahagian daripada mereka." (Riwayat Abu Dawud) Hadis ini jika difahami secara umum seolah membawa maksud apa sahaja amalan yang kita tiru menyerupai kaum lain khususnya bukan Islam, maka kita juga menjadi sebahagian daripada mereka dan kafir.

Fahaman sebegini salah dan tidak merujuk kepada syarah atau tafsiran ulama muktabar berhubung mafhum sebenar hadis itu. Tokoh hadis dan imam Mazhab Shafie, Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Makki (wafat 974 hijrah) dalam kitabnya al-Fatawa al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra dalam bab al-Riddah (Murtad) menyebut, menyerupai kaum kafir terbahagi kepada tiga hukum


Pertama, apabila ada unsur reda dengan kekafiran mereka maka hukumnya haram dan jatuh kafir.

Kedua, apabila ada unsur meninggikan syiar agama bukan Islam, tetapi tiada niat reda dengan kekufuran mereka, hukumnya haram dan berdosa.

Ketiga, apabila tiada niat menyerupai sama sekali, maka hukumnya harus

. Daripada syarah Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami itu dapat difahami menyerupai kaum kafir itu ada yang diharamkan dan ada diharuskan.

Diharamkan dalam Islam apabila kita meniru, menyerupai amalan atau perbuatan membabitkan amalan khusus ajaran agama bukan Islam dan meninggikan syiar agama mereka.

Jika kita meniru amalan agama bukan Islam dan reda dengannya, maka ia boleh membawa kepada kafir, manakala jika kita tidak meredainya tetapi masih meniru amalan itu, ia tetap berdosa dan haram.

Adapun dalam hal bukan khusus membabitkan amalan agama orang bukan Islam, maka ia diharuskan.

Hakikatnya, hari ini banyak meniru, mengambil dan menggunakan perkara berasal daripada bukan Islam.

Guna teknologi ciptaan Barat

Segala kemudahan dan penciptaan teknologi hari ini hampir semuanya berasal daripada bukan Islam khususnya Barat tetapi umat Islam seluruh dunia menggunakannya hatta di Makkah dan Madinah pun.

Pernah suatu ketika heboh dibincangkan apakah hukum menggunakan Facebook kerana ia diasaskan oleh seorang Yahudi bernama Mark Zuckerberg?

Jika mengambil kira ia berasal daripada penciptaan orang bukan Islam dan menggunakannya maka bermakna menyerupai mereka, maka haramlah menggunakan Facebook.

Bukan sahaja Facebook, termasuk elektrik, lampu, kereta, kapal terbang, telefon dan sekalian yang lain kerana tiada satu pun daripada penciptaan umat Islam.

Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Amin ibn Abidin al-Shami atau lebih dikenali sebagai Ibn Abidin dalam kitabnya Radd al-Mukhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar menyebut, Baginda SAW sendiri pernah memakai alas kaki diperbuat oleh bukan Islam.

Peristiwa itu menjadi dalil tidak semua oleh bukan Islam itu haram digunakan secara mutlak. Berpakaian seperti mana kita pakai hari ini, berkemeja, berseluar panjang, bertali leher atau makan menggunakan sudu serta garpu adalah antara perkara asing dan luar daripada adab umat Melayu Islam.

Dahulu, umat Melayu memakai kain sarung atau pelikat dan Barat memperkenalkan fesyen berseluar. Adakah haram hukumnya berseluar dan menggunakan sudu garpu ketika makan?

Tidak, kerana ia tiada kena mengena dengan ajaran agama Kristian atau agama lain sekalipun bukan berasal daripada amalan umat Islam.

Namun tidak dinafikan memakai pakaian melambangkan identiti Islam itulah lebih baik. Begitu juga setiap kali tiba sambutan Hari Ibu, Hari Bapa atau Hari Peringatan akan muncul suara yang memilih berpegang kepada pandangan segelintir ulama Timur Tengah mengharamkannya kerana tidak berasal daripada ajaran Islam.

Perbezaan amalan agama, adat

Benar ia bukan ajaran Islam seperti sambutan hari lahir, kemerdekaan, Hari Guru, Hari Polis, Hari Pahlawan, namun sambutan itu juga tiada kena mengena dengan amalan agama bukan Islam.

Ia lebih kepada adat dan hari peringatan bagi menghargai sumbangan golongan walaupun. Ia bukan budaya Islam asalnya, namun ia tidak salah.

Sambutan hari itu sudah pasti bukan menyamai atau menyaingi perayaan yang disyariatkan Islam kerana yang disyariatkan hanyalah Aidilfitri dan Aidiladha sahaja seperti tegas Baginda SAW melalui hadisnya.

Umat Islam digalakkan untuk berbeza daripada bukan Islam dan mempunyai identiti tersendiri. Malah, digalakkan mengikut amalan anbia serta salihin yang sentiasa ingin menyerupai golongan mulia walaupun kita bukan sebahagian daripada mereka.

Bagaimanapun, ketika di sana ada keperluan dan maslahah yang lebih besar untuk umat Islam turut mengambil apa yang baik daripada amalan masyarakat bukan Islam, maka ia dibenarkan apabila menepati syarat iaitu ia bukan syiar agama orang kafir dan amalan khusus amalan.

Seimbangkan prestasi pelajar lelaki, perempuan

Permasalahan membabitkan pendidikan amat dititikberatkan oleh ahli masyarakat di negara ini, termasuk ibu bapa. Dalam hal ini, suatu isu yang sering menghantui mereka ialah mengenai kegagalan anak dalam pembelajaran di sekolah.

Kegagalan dalam pelajaran ini dirasakan secara mendalam kerana dikhuatiri masa depan anak mereka turut terjejas. Bagaimanapun, suatu fenomena yang amat merisaukan sekarang ialah wujudnya kecenderungan berjaya dalam pelajaran yang didominasikan oleh kalangan pelajar perempuan berbanding lelaki.

Di sekolah, pelajar perempuan sering diletakkan dalam kelas terbaik. Pelajar perempuan juga menunjukkan pencapaian cemerlang yang lebih menyeluruh dan konsisten dalam kebanyakan peperiksaan awam di negara kita.

Malah, amat membimbangkan apabila bilangan pelajar lelaki yang cemerlang dalam pelajaran agak kurang menyerlah, menyebabkan kurangnya calon lelaki layak ke sekolah berasrama penuh dan juga universiti.

Mengapa fenomena ini berlaku? Apakah benar pelajar perempuan lebih berkeupayaan dari segi kognitif berbanding pelajar lelaki? Dalam hal ini banyak andaian sering kedengaran.

Antaranya pelajar perempuan lebih rajin berbanding pelajar lelaki; pelajar perempuan lebih mengikut disiplin berbanding lelaki; pelajar perempuan lebih pandai berbanding pelajar lelaki dan bermacam-macam lagi.

Demi masa depan negara, isu kemerosotan pelajar lelaki dalam pelajaran pada semua peringkat ini bukanlah sesuatu yang boleh dipandang mudah.

Kesan kepada masyarakat, negara

Kesannya amat mendalam kepada masyarakat dan negara.

Antaranya adalah pengangguran yang lebih tinggi dalam kalangan pemuda, yang mendorong kepada masalah sosial dan bermacam-macam penyakit masyarakat.

Malah, dewasa ini banyak lelaki yang tidak mempunyai pekerjaan tetap dan stabil. Ini bukanlah bermakna kekuatan yang ada pada perempuan tidak dihormati. Sebaliknya, permasalahan ini perlu dilihat dari sudut sosial dan pembaziran tenaga kerja yang amat berguna kepada negara.

Apakah tindakan masyarakat, khususnya ibu bapa dan pendidik dalam menangani permasalahan ini? Suatu perkara yang perlu diberi pertimbangan oleh ibu bapa dan guru ialah perbezaan perlakuan dan gaya belajar antara pelajar lelaki dan perempuan.

Pelajar lelaki dan perempuan cenderung memiliki gaya pembelajaran tersendiri. Pelajar lelaki dilihat lebih agresif yang mungkin membawa kepada suatu generalisasi sebagai tidak berdisiplin.

Andaian masyarakat dan guru yang mungkin salah mengenai mereka boleh membawa masalah dalam bilik darjah. Sebagai contoh wujud situasi di mana seorang guru pelatih melakukan kesilapan apabila berkata kepada pelajar menengah rendah: "Anda semua mesti diam, kalau tidak saya tidak akan meneruskan pelajaran hari ini".

Kata-kata guru itu menimbulkan reaksi berbeza apabila pelajar perempuan menganggapnya sebagai positif dengan mendiamkan diri, manakala pelajar lelaki pula menganggapnya sebagai peluang untuk bebas yang membawa kepada situasi bilik darjah bertambah buruk.

Suatu panduan kepada guru, elakkan daripada terlalu terkongkong kepada sesuatu pendekatan pengajaran, khususnya pendekatan secara formal.

Yang dimaksudkan pengajaran dengan pendekatan secara formal ialah apabila guru dengan secara aktif menyampaikan isi pelajaran, manakala pelajar pula dianggap sebagai menerima ilmu pengetahuan yang pasif.

Pengajaran dengan pendekatan secara formal ini kurang berupaya menggalakkan pelajar membuat penerokaan (discovery) ketika pengajaran, membuat aktiviti bagi menggalakkan proses inkuiri dan melaksanakan aktiviti secara berkumpulan (koperatif), sedangkan aktiviti seperti ini amat selari dengan sifat pelajar lelaki yang lebih tertarik kepada aktiviti yang agak mencabar, di samping memberi peluang kepada mereka menunjukkan kebolehan dan kemahiran masing-masing.

Malah, pelajar lelaki lebih mudah berasa bosan apabila pengajaran secara penerangan oleh guru dilaksanakan sepanjang tempoh keseluruhan pengajaran kelas.

Perasaan bosan terhadap pelajaran kelas ini boleh membawa kepada terjejas tumpuan mereka terhadap pelajaran dan seterusnya mungkin membawa kepada kegagalan menguasai pelajaran yang diajar pada keseluruhannya.

Permasalahan mengenai pengajaran dan pembelajaran di sekolah perlu ditangani dengan berkesan oleh semua pihak yang berkait dengan pendidikan, khususnya guru. Kemampuan guru menangani permasalahan ini amat diharapkan.

Satu perkara yang penting ialah, guru mestilah membina keyakinan diri bahawa setiap pelajar memiliki kebolehan kognitif semula jadi (yang dikurniakan oleh Allah) untuk berjaya.

Manipulasi kebolehan kognitif

Apa yang perlu dilakukan oleh guru ialah memupuk dan memastikan bahawa kurniaan Allah ini dimanipulasikan secara sepenuhnya.

Bagaimanapun suatu kesedaran perlu ada dalam diri guru bahawa setiap pelajar adalah berbeza. Oleh itu, cara menangani permasalahan pelajar juga seharusnya berbeza.

Dalam hal ini, mungkin ramai guru yang mengeluh kerana agak sukar mengawasi pelajar yang dikatakan agak ramai dalam sesebuah kelas.

Dalam hal ini, disarankan agar guru sentiasa berpegang kepada prinsip dan teori membabitkan pendidikan yang tentu membatu dalam menangani masalah pembelajaran pelajar seperti ini.

Berdasarkan teori dalam pendidikan, perbezaan yang ada pada pelajar itulah sebenarnya yang menjadi kekuatan kepada sesuatu pengajaran yang berkesan.

Dengan wujudnya perbezaan dalam kalangan pelajar ini sebenarnya membolehkan pengajaran berlaku dalam suasana lebih harmoni melalui aktiviti perbincangan, perkongsian, penerokaan dan seterusnya membina pengetahuan dan kemahiran dalam pelajaran mereka.

Kegagalan dan keciciran dalam kalangan sebilangan pelajar lelaki perlu dihindari. Apatah lagi apabila keciciran berlaku bukan disebabkan oleh kemampuan kognitif yang rendah, tetapi mungkin berpunca daripada keberkesanan proses pengajaran dan pembelajaran yang kurang menyeluruh.

Dalam menangani masalah ini, satu pegangan yang boleh diambil ialah memastikan pendekatan pengajaran dan pembelajaran sesuai untuk semua pelajar, sama ada pelajar lelaki mahupun perempuan.

Mungkin banyak langkah yang boleh diambil dalam memenuhi hasrat ini, tetapi di sini digariskan beberapa langkah umum yang boleh diambil oleh guru.

Pertama, bina keyakinan bahawa semua pelajar mempunyai kebolehan semula jadi, yang Allah berikan, untuk maju dalam pelajaran mereka.

Kedua, tingkah laku dan personaliti berbeza antara pelajar lelaki dan perempuan boleh mempengaruhi sikap dan pendekatan mereka semasa pembelajaran kelas.

Ketiga, pendekatan pengajaran perlu dipelbagaikan supaya sesuai untuk semua pelajar sama ada lelaki atau perempuan.

Keempat, sumber ilmu adalah pelbagai dan pelajar harus dibimbing untuk membina sendiri pengetahuan mereka melalui pengalaman bermakna.

Trusting the power of leadership

Man should measure his own capacity and his own knowledge when taking on the tremendous task of being a leader.

THERE are people who are able to lead while there are others who are meant to be led.

Leaders are necessary for the smooth running of societies and to move nations and civilisations forward. They are the ones, in the words of American author John Max­well, who “know the way, go the way and show the way” to others.

In Islam, leaders are expected not only to administer the world but also to take care of the religion. Al­-Ghazali, the great thinker of Islam, said the good ordering of religion is very much depen­dent on the world that is well administered. Hence, good leaders are indispensable.

Leadership is the most basic mechanics that guarantees the well-being of a group or society. It can exist even with the minimum number of people, as reflected in the Prophetic saying that “if any people embark on a journey, one of them must be appointed as a leader”.

Leadership will have a great impact, either good or bad, on a great number of people. Good lea­dership will surely bring benefit to many people, just as bad leadership will destroy the whole nation.

We read in history of leaders who have built great civilisations due to their good leadership, just as we have also read of those leaders who have ruined the lives of the masses due to their bad leadership.

Leadership deals with power. At whichever level a person is entrusted with leadership, there must be some element of power to enable him to command the followers in order for him to get things done.

It is only with the help of power that leaders can ensure stability and harmony in a society. With power, undesirable things can be avoided and negative ones can be put under control.

With power, too, leaders can be held accountable for their actions and decisions since it is the power that they possess which enables them to make decisions with free choice.

But the problem with power is that it also offers great temptations towards abuse and corruption, if left unchecked. Without proper sense of responsibility and correct knowledge, leaders will easily fall prey to this thunderous sway of power.

Hence, as the saying of British politician Lord Acton goes, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And American poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich adds, “The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man.”

It is not in the nature of human beings to become corrupt. On the contrary, it is the nature of power that it is so enormous that human beings are not able to bear it without due preparation.

The Quran talks about the great task for human beings. God has offered the responsibility to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but men accepted it with ignorance and injustice: “We did indeed offer the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains. But they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof. But man undertook it. He was indeed unjust and foolish.” (al-Ah­zab 33:712)

In commenting on this verse, British-Indian Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali says man is called unjust and foolish by the Quran because he failed to measure his own capacity or his own knowledge when he undertook the tremendous task of being the Vicegerent (khalifah) of Allah on earth.

Due to this factor, leadership should be approached with a great sense of trust and humility. It is a trust not only from people, as enshrined in the democratic mantra, but more importantly, it is a trust from God.

Man must be reminded of the origin of power and its evanescent nature. The Quran reminds man about this reality, “Say; ‘O Allah, Lord of Power. You give power to whom You please and You take away power from whom You will. And You exalted whom You will and bring low whom You please. In Your hand is all Good. Verily You have power over all things.” (Ali ‘Imran 3:133)

Al-Ghazali reminded the ruler of his time, Sultan Mustazhiri, of the importance of being humble about power since the real owner of power is God the almighty. He asserted that power is a divine attribute.

In this world, man is endowed with only a tiny speck of this attri­bute as a trust, yet many are overwhelmed by its influence and fall prey to its deception. Pharaoh, according to al-Ghazali, had fallen under the deceitful influence of power which led him to declare that “I am your Lord, the most high.” (al-Nazi’at 79:24)

The importance of leadership as a trust will be more understandable considering the fact that it deals with the responsibility of taking care of the well-being of a great number of people. Any form of irres­ponsibility will have an implication for a great number of people.

Furthermore, leadership works within the pyramid system, in which the higher the leadership position, the bigger the implication will be. Any single policy decided by a leader will surely greatly affect the followers and masses as a whole.

That is why corruption at the higher level of leadership is more detrimental to the public, compared to the lower level of leadership.

That is the reason the Prophet says the position of a leader or ruler is very great if he performs well in his leadership. The Prophet says the just leader is the first among seven groups who will be under the shade of Allah on the Day when there is no shade except His shade.

On the other hand, another hadith says, “Any superior who misrules his followers shall go to Hell.”

Dr Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran The STAR Home News Opinion IKIM Views 28 July 2015