Friday, June 01, 2007

Dissenting Muslim views

Of course not all Muslims are happy as Islam is hardly monolithic. Some, especially constitutional lawyers, doubt the legality of the decision. Others, who know that faith cannot be forced, also disagree with this draconian decision.

Here's what members of the Institute of Islamic Understanding have to say.

What it takes to be Muslim

Using the mechanism of the judiciary to ‘Islamise’ people, or to prevent them from leaving the religion is unreasonable.

CAN a child really ‘convert’ to Islam? This is the real question which needs to be addressed, not the question of whether or not the syariah court has jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

Let us settle the issue of what it takes to be a Muslim, rather than occupy ourselves with the business of converting others to what appears to be an issue a great number of us do not understand.

First and foremost, the call to Islam is a willing and conscious submission to Allah. It is what one chooses for oneself. It cannot be forced upon anybody. The fundamental elements of Islam are premised on revelation, reason and language.

Islamisation refers to a conscious effort towards creating a good and proper Muslim through the process of education. This education reflects the two essential aspects of man, namely, reason and language.

This fact will become evident when we examine the first pillar of Islam, upon which all other religious obligations depend.

The first pillar is the testimony couched in what is referred to as the kalimah shahadah, namely, to profess the act of bearing witness. It reads: “I bear witness that there is no God that deserves to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger.”

Even though every convert is required to utter these words as a declaration of his or her conversion to Islam, in reality one does not become a Muslim merely by uttering it. What matters is the act of witnessing itself, because the person who bears witness may be sincere, lying, or is ignorant.

Only the testimony of a truthful witness is accepted. The testimony of a liar, who in his heart denies what is being uttered, and of the ignorant, who does not know the implications of his own utterance, are invalid.

The ones deemed ignorant in- clude minors and the mentally retarded, by virtue of their immature faculties of comprehension and recognition.

The words ilah, Allah, and Rasulullah convey a significant meaning. When uttered in the form of a testimony, a recognition of truth and commitment to a certain way of life is being made. It is thus imperative that the one testifying understands the meanings and implications of his utterance.

It means there must be a certain degree of consciousness, that the person recognises and submits to God, consciously and willingly, in accordance with the religion of Islam.

The Quran clearly mentions that God does not accept one who desires other than Islam as his religion. It means that whosoever ‘converts’ to Islam not for the sake of submitting to the will of God according to the religion of Islam is not truly a Muslim.

Yet, this is apparently what is happening in our country of late; ‘to convert’ to Islam in order to marry a Muslim, and ‘to leave’ Islam when the marriage fails. The truth is the person has never been a Muslim consciously and willingly.

As such, he or she has been coerced to convert in order to legalise a marriage. To be blunt, the real intention is not concerned with religion but with marriage.

The emphasis on will and consciousness, when talking about Islam, assumes knowledge to be of paramount prerequisite. Knowledge is the property of reason (‘aql).

Without reason there can be no true knowledge, and without true knowledge it is not possible to convert to Islam willingly and consciously. We are reminded of the saying of the Prophet: “no religion (din) to one who has no reason (‘aql)”.

Furthermore, we may argue that all religious obligations like prayer and fasting necessitates reason as the required condition of the obligation.

Now if we take ‘to be a Muslim’ as an obligation, then reason should also be an essential condition. As such, because a child’s faculties of reason are still immature, it cannot be burdened with the responsibility.

Hence, what is the point of using the courts ‘to convert’ a child, and separate it from his or her non-Muslim mother? It should be clear by now that one does not become a Muslim by changing one’s name to Muhammad or Abdullah, nor by changing the status of religion in the registration office, what more if it is done by someone else.

Perhaps the converted parent is worried that his or her child may be raised in an ‘un-Islamic’ environment resulting in him or her being a non-Muslim adult. That fear is actually baseless, and it contradicts the parent’s own experience.

A child is a child, and naturally has a strong emotional bond with its mother. As the child matures, it may make a conscious, willing decision concerning which religion to adopt. To separate a child from its mother is indeed a cruel act, and is unjust from the point of view of Islam, let alone to claim that one is doing so in the name of Islam.

To leave the child in the care of its non-Muslim parent does not make the child an infidel. If Islam is defined as a willing and conscious act of submission, its antithesis, unbelief (kufr) points to a denial of consciousness, a refusal to submit, or to submit grudgingly.

The cause of unbelief, as exemplified by the devil, according to the Quran, is arrogance. One’s refusal to open one’s eyes, ears, and heart to the message of Islam without knowing what is being rejected is unbelief.

The refusal to accept Islam after knowing its truth is an even greater form of unbelief because it assumes arrogance, and a refusal to submit to truth consciously.

Are we now saying that children who have yet to mature are arrogant and devilish?

Islam is not to be made the desperate handmaiden of any political party in dire need of support and membership at all costs. Islam is God’s gift of mercy to mankind. Accepting and recognising this gift does not make God greater for He is not in need of anything.

Similarly, by refusing, it does not make Him a lesser God. Islam is not a religion for fools. Using the mechanism of the judiciary to ‘Islamise’ people, or to prevent them from leaving Islam is totally absurd.

All it achieves is to unjustly portray all Muslims as ignorant fools, and as a result of association, Islam becomes the victim.

Imagine what the non-Muslim community in general will understand of Islam. They will conclude that Islam is a cruel religion that seeks to separate a parent from his or her children.

As a result, Islam will be put on trial. And this is already happening.

Here's another view from a prominent law professor and a constitutional lawyer who disagrees that the power of the state should be used to enforce religion.

Respecting the Constitution

Freedom of religion is not absolute, but subject to general laws relating to public order, public health or morality. Part 2 of a two-part article.

THE right to convert out of one’s faith and to adopt another is an implicit part of freedom of conscience in all developed constitutional states.

But in the special context of Malaysia, where there is a unique, fascinating link between Islam and Malay identity, apostasy arouses deep emotions. Any attempt by a Muslim to renounce his faith is seen as a threat to the whole community.

How many murtad (apostates) there are in the country is not known. Some religious leaders have made wild allegations of hundreds of thousands.

But data gathered by UiTM scholar Dr Azam Adil gives some indication. He found that from1994 to 2003, Syariah Courts in Negri Sembilan granted renunciation certificates to 16 applicants, most of whom were former converts to Islam.

Till the 1980s Muslim Law Enactments in several states recognised apostasy by imposing a simple registration requirement on all who enter the faith and all who exit from it. But in the 80s with Islamisation catching on, the unilateral right to register a renunciation was repealed.

In some states, legislation was enacted to require anyone seeking to convert out of Islam to be subjected to compulsory counselling and rehabilitation procedures for prescribed durations.

In other states, a Muslim’s membership of the ummah was regarded as irrevocable. Any attempt at apostasy was an insult to Islam and punished criminally.

The second approach does not harmonise with other rules of the legal system.

First, in all states, the syariah authorities possess a power to excommunicate Muslims from the fold. From time to time, state religious authorities have brought down the axe on the Qadiyani, the Ismaili, the Ahmadiya and the Ithna Ashari.

Obviously, one’s status as a Muslim is not eternal. It can be lost or forfeited.

Second, the criminalisation approach violates the freedom of conscience clause in the Constitution. The civil courts are near unanimous that under our basic charter, a Muslim does have a right to convert. But he cannot do it unilaterally. He must first obtain a Syariah Court certificate of renunciation.

The problem is that most syariah courts fail to act on such applications and would-be converts spend years in legal limbo.

A wide gap has developed between constitutional theory and the realities on the ground. Nevertheless, one must not lose sight of constitutional fundamentals.

When our document of destiny was being drafted, no consideration was given to the idea of a theocracy (supremacy of God’s law). Instead, a supreme Constitution was adopted by Article 4(1).

Islam is the religion of the Federation, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony (Article 3(1)).

The implication of Article 3 is that unlike in secular states, Federal and State governments in Malaysia may promote Islamic education, set up Islamic institutions and incorporate Islamic policies in the administration.

However, though Islam is the religion of the Federation, Malaysia is not an Islamic state. The syariah is not the basic law of the land. The Constitution is supreme. The syariah applies only to Muslims and that, too, in areas demarcated by the Constitution in Schedule 9, List II, Item 1.

Further, Article 3 (on Islam) does not extinguish any thing else in the Constitution. Article 3(4) provides that “Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution”. This means that Article 3 cannot be employed to challenge the validity of a drug trafficking law on the ground that some of its provisions were un-Islamic (Che Omar Che Soh (1988)).

Nor can Article 3 be relied on to trump any other constitutional provision – whether on fundamental rights or the system of parliamentary government or Malay privileges or the position of the Sultans or the special rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

The Constitution is its own justification for being and does not need validation from any other source.

According to Article 11(1) “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to clause (4), to propagate it.” The guarantee of Article 11(1) applies to all persons including Muslims.

In Minister vs Jamaluddin Othman (1989), a preventive detention order on the ground that a convert out of Islam was involved in propagating Christianity among Muslims was held to be illegal.

Freedom of religion is, of course, not absolute. All religious freedom is subject to general laws relating to “public order, public health or morality” (Article 11(5)).

Who may enact these laws? Laws on public order and public health must be enacted by the Federal Parliament because these topics are in the Federal List. But laws on morality may be enacted by State Assemblies as well.

What about State laws criminalising apostasy? They are not protected by Article 11(5) because apostasy per se is not condemned anywhere in the Constitution.

Perhaps Schedule 9 List II Item 1 could envelope these aqida (articles of faith) laws? This Schedule permits State Assemblies to create and punish “offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List ?”

In relation to State powers under Schedule 9 the following factors must be taken note of:

·The Legislative Lists in Schedule 9 are subject to the chapter on fundamental rights and cannot violate Article 11;

·State powers to legislate on Islam are limited and derived and cannot violate the supreme Constitution. One must remember that Article 3(4) clearly indicates that the provision on Islam does not derogate from any other provision of the Constitution;

·The criminal law power of the states applies against persons professing the religion of Islam. If a person of sane mind and legal capacity formally declares that he no longer professes a faith, it is constitutionally difficult to subject him to the religion he has renounced. All that can be required is a formal procedural requirement of renunciation; and

·The power of the states to enact criminal laws cannot apply to matters included in the Federal List. Public order is in the Federal List and acts of belligerency by murtad must be punished under the Federal Penal Code and not under State aqida laws.

In sum, it can be stated that, looking at the Constitution as a whole, it is clear that Article 3(1) on Islam does not displace constitutional supremacy. Article 3(4) itself declares that nothing in this Article derogates from anything in this Constitution.

The power of the States to legislate on Islam in Schedule 9 cannot be exercised in disregard of fundamental rights or in transgression of Federal legislative power on public order.

It is a flagrant violation of the Constitution as drafted in 1957 to imprison someone for his religious belief. Any argument to the contrary is a radical, revisionist and medieval re-interpretation of our cherished basic charter.

Anyone who stands in the shade of the Constitution has to concede that under the present constitutional order apostasy per se cannot be criminalised. But prosecution of belligerent apostates who disturb the peace or cause offence under section 298 of the Penal Code is perfectly constitutional.

In the special circumstances of Malaysia, apostasy has significant legal, political, social and economic consequences. A Muslim apostate will lose his Malay status. His marriage will be dissolved. Painful questions of custody and guardianship and of Malay privileges will arise.

It is reasonable, therefore, that a unilateral act of renunciation is not enough. A formal application for change of status must be made followed by a mandatory procedure for investigation, counselling and consultation (but not adjudication).

There should be no detention for purpose of counselling. This is similar to the procedure for seeking dissolution of marriage.

But the syariah authorities must be required to complete the investigation and counselling within statutory time frames so that the applicant can get on with his life and not remain suspended in a legal limbo. If the intending apostate cannot be won over through love, then the apostate should be ex-communicated and this should be recorded and registered.

In matters of religion, the naked, criminal power of the state should not be employed. This is also the exquisite message of the Quran.

  • Dr Shad Faruqi is Professor of Law at UiTM.

    kok said...

    The issue of the NEP has been hotly debated for several years now and nothing has changed. NEP will continue to thrive till the end of time unless the malays themselves see in the ineffectiveness of the policy.

    Frankly, the NEP has not really benefited the majority of the malays because it has opened only a big doorway for those who wield political power to getting rich quick.

    NEP is a biased policy and has no aim to thrive to the economy. In basis, NEP is not an economy policy. If prime minister is serious to develop a competitive economy, NEP should be dropped.

    People who are used to getting easy money like this will fight to the end to ensure the continuous steady stream of easy money flowing into their pockets.

    The trouble with our Malaysia government is that they do not have the foresight to know the consequences of their policies and it is only when the horse have bolted that they close the barn door. By then it is too late and beyond repair.

    It is a common notion that there is no equality and meritocracy in the government department, civil service and armed forces. Nevertheless, the reality remain that the government is not prepared to embrace this fact. There is simply too much at stake to risk.

    I believe the problem of non-malays not joining the army, civil service, navy, police force, and the likes will not go away but instead further deteoriate in time to come.

    How true, promotions are denied to the non-malays. They say that non-malays are not interested in joining the civil service, yet those in the civil service know that applications from the non-malays mostly end up in the waste paper basket. Perhaps one or two are employed as the eyewash.

    Even with better education, more malays are joining the government services instead of private sector for various reasons. Their education and personal potentials are not fully realised and utilised.

    Of course the non-malays have not abandoned the nursing profession. Instead the non-malays seek qualification from private hospitals or oversea institutions and many of them are serving in private hospitals and oversea hospitals.

    I don't want my son to be a government servant in Malaysia. In the age of globalization, he should look forward to being a world citizen. His experience in Malaysia should stand in good stead when he is ready to spread his wings.

    I am not trying to be racial in this post. I am just trying to provide facts for everyone to ponder upon. Could you blame the non-malays not to enter the civil service when such unfairness is openly practised?

    How can Malaysia remains a competitive country when we have layers and layers of rent seekers permeating almost at every facets of our society? Please keep watch - the national budget will be used to shore up the performance of GLCs soon.

    Now, the dominance of malays goes beyond the civil service. They now control and manage most privatised entities, GLCs and increasingly the private sector especially the banking industry. At one time it was the civil service that was inefficient. Now it is everywhere.

    A civil service dominated by only one race is just a manifestation of individuals taking liberty to carry the policy of affirmative action, further than what it is intended to be. Discrimination in the civil service against the non-malays and the failure of the government administration to check it, resulted in the present imbalance.

    As Malaysians become better and better educated and hence become more and more aware of what is actually going on, I think eventually the people will soon see the ugly side of communal politics and we will surely see a paradigm shift in the thinking of Malaysians

    Wake up, Malaysians, unite and be strong and happy together!

    ruyom said...

    The Malaysia society information is very tight-grabbed by the malay government. The privileged educated malays stuck to their racial pride and hardest defends their causes (entitlements).

    The society mentality is influenced by the politically minds (say, Umno), and those have seen the world and read widely dare not say the truth. All these contributed to a trouble society sentiment and seem calm at the surface.

    Yes, a lot of people wanted to reply to this and challenge what I said but Malaysia is suppose to be a free country right? Free to say what I want, right? I am telling the truth that everyone knows but dare not say it out loud in the open.

    My colleague who is white Caucasian and is 65 years old, wanted to stay in this country under "Malaysia, my second home". He earned 20 times the salary of the same job other Malaysian held. He said Malaysia is heaven.

    I said to him that if he get the same salary as Malaysian and get the discrimination as second or third class citizen, he would change his mind eventually.

    Anyway, since I am an outsider I see this as unfair but what am I going to do, nothing - I am going to earn as much as I can from the fat cheque this Malaysia government give to me. When my time is up - I will say goodbye and thank you.

    This comment implies that the freedom of speech is limited here in Malaysia.

    jodie said...

    If Malaysia has to push forward, they have to rebuild their political system to ensure that discrimination can never ferment in Malaysia.

    I personally think that Malaysia is heading to a dead end, where it will meet Indonesia. Both of them might have taken separate ways, but the navigator (government) shares the exact same blood, teaching and thinking.

    This Malaysia country is along the way of 50 years of independence has sideline the basic foundation of our government. Won't be surprise that many of our ministers do not even understand our constitution yet even knowing the Rukun Negara.

    The purpose of Article 153 of the constitution and the National Economic Policy was to protect the interests of the bumis, in the fields of civil service, public education and public scholarship, as well as empower them economically.

    Has this policy translated into tangible benefits for the non-malay bumi communities in Sabah and Sarawak? Not yet, if the economic disparity and the income figures, between the rich Chinese timber tycoons and their malay sidekicks are anything to go by.

    We have double standards everywhere. One for the Umno and one for the non-Umno, I weep for the fools who think that their minister is fighting for their right. With every RM1 they give to you, they are taking RM100 away from your kids. Your son will grow up to become suicide bombers, trust me. Because they will think that the West robbed them.

    Long-name Isa got kick off of the club for corruption, he was never prosecuted in court. Long-name Osu gambled millions away, in debt and nothing happens. The Rafidah-APs scandal? Last I heard she is still a minister.

    Conclusion? We have a bunch of criminals in the parliament, and guess who is the head?

    Well, you know what they say. Power corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely - given the chance, should he not watch himself, any politician (or most) would abandon his mission for money and status.

    In summary - Malaysians enjoy the being multi-racial, love the country and not hung up on mixing with other races. The politicians (Chinese, Indians, Malays, and others) screw us all up, play up the racial card to protect themselves so that they can plunder the nation and put the blame on the people.

    But anyways, it is sad to see the state of the modern Malaysia. I for one believe that Malaysians are very talented, and we can literally take the world by storm. If only we were given the chance and the support to do so!

    Being an undergraduate, I have been advised time and time again by my elders, that if it were possible, attain a job oversea (currently in Australia). And don't come back. Except for the food and holiday.

    But I still would really like to see its betterment. Fine, perhaps not in my lifetime.

    My honest advise to my fellow countryman, no matter what race you are, save enough money and emigrate. You are doing yourself and your future generation a big favour.

    Goodbye Malaysia. I guess there is no longer hope for a better country as long as it is a Muslim country and is governed by the ever corrupted bumi system. They suck big time.

    reek said...

    We are a country of great contrasts. We have thousands of unemployed in the country, including over 80000 graduates and over 300000 non-graduates, yet some sectors of the economy are clamouring for workers.

    These sectors include agriculture, construction, manufacturing and the services industry. After the recent repatriation of illegal Indonesian migrant workers, the labour crunch become worse and the government had to arrange for 100000 Pakistan workers.

    What is wrong with the local unemployed? Is it because those jobs that are being filled by foreigners are 3D jobs - meaning 'dirty, demeaning and dangerous'? And shall I add another 'd' for difficult?

    My experience living in a free-market society has taught me this - given enough of a monetary reward, people will do almost anything, 3D jobs included. In western countries, highly paid jobs are in fishing industry, long-haul transportation, and the police and fire departments.

    When the wage rate is high enough, more people would enter the workforce and our labour problem would be solved. Those 80000 graduates and 300000 non-graduates would be more than happy to work for reasonable wages.

    In my opinion, our labour shortage is just transitional unemployment because with low wages, the unemployed keep on looking for better jobs.

    It is about time that low earning Malaysians get a better deal in terms of an increase in real wages and better living standards. If wages are high enough, employers might invest more money in labour-replacing machinery hence, reducing labour demand and increasing labour productivity.

    And let us just admit it, we are not a cheap-labour economy any longer. It is about time that the ordinary Malaysians get their fair share of our economic progress. In this regard, we should call on employers to invest in more capital-intensive and labour-saving production.

    Importing cheap labour from Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh or anywhere else would only slow the country elevation to a higher productivity economy.

    tim said...

    Our BN government doesn't seem to understand the underlying problem why the non-malays are reluctant to send their children to the national schools. If they think that introducing formal language classes for Mandarin and Tamil will attract them back to the national schools, then they are in for a surprise.

    But the fundamental question is whether our government is really serious about forging racial integration amongst its plural society. I don't think so. What about the malay students that are creamed from national schools at standard six and sent to the fully residential Mara schools - an exclusive malay institution catering exclusively for one community.

    From the moment these students are taken from standard six, they have no contact whatsoever with non-malay students. They students will not have any opportunity for interaction with other races.

    And when these students continue their tertiary education, they again go through a phase in their adult lives when they virtually have no contact with the other races. From the cream of these students, one day will emerge a leader to lead this nation.

    The frightening thought is that this leader will be someone who has no contact with, no knowledge of and no understanding of the other races in our country.

    vesewe said...

    Malaysia is suddenly realizing that its competitiveness has slipped. This is the final expression of a failed education system. Unless steps are taken to broaden its access, improve the quality, increase its relevance, and reduce the inequities, Malaysia will remain poorly served.

    Here is a paradoxical example I wish to share. In my years of higher education at a private college, I have always thought that we should do more than just what is presented on our plates. Unfortunately, the lecturers themselves are the ones that aren't inspiring us to think critically.

    I had problems securing jobs with MNCs in Malaysia but got accepted to work for Singapore based-US banking firm after sitting for the IQ test. None of my ex-coursemates are jobless and a handful is working for MNCs in Singapore. Go figure.

    Crony capitalism and nepotism also filtering down the Malaysia corporate culture. Senior managers have no pride in work. More interested in keeping position and power. To hell with initiative.

    Senile Mahathir is still acting as if he is in control of Bolehland. Please, will someone tell him to shut up! The Malaysia media seem happy to humour a senile old man. He blames everybody. When he started off he appeared genuinely working for the country. Along the way he changed. That is the reason why the country is in such a mess.

    Just look at Proton, he is continuingly trying to make sure the poor company get protected and ask Malaysians to pay high prices and received a poor quality car! Fortunately his time is up!

    And majority Malaysians believe him because they are ignorant. Malaysians are not stupid, but ignorant because of the controlled press. They are not allowed to seek knowledge from the press, only useless information.

    More RTM programmes out of touch with reality, pea-brained, featuring badly dressed, bush jacket wearing goons sitting in a row discussing topics nobody is interested in all set against a backdrop that is reminiscent of induced color hallucination?

    Thank you for the Internet so that we know what is happening and not be ignorant like we used to be.

    The only time a country does not seek the best deal for itself is when the country is corrupt and the leaders want to make money at the expense of the people.

    It is ridiculous. No right thinking person would accept that except the malays. Even Singapore island also they can give away. Who knows the next move they might as well give Penang away. Just imagine how weak and stupid the malays are.

    I did the same thing too. Being friends with other races is a funny way of seeing how narrow-minded we are sometimes. There are moments when I catch myself from saying certain things to my malay friends but have no problems saying them to my non-malay friends.

    I am not having a go at the Chinese, I am just saying that it is only corrupt leaders who do friendly deals. In straight commercial terms, Singapore is miles ahead and good for it. The Singaporeans are smart, intelligent and not ignorant.

    One thing is for sure; we speak because I believe we want to make this country work. If not, then as some of you say here, there are plenty of other places willing to take us.

    But you got to give some credit to those guys, they were able to speak up which many of us lack.

    fargoman said...

    Wow, that is quite an inspirational story……..

    But can I ask, what is meaning of nation? What is meaning of freedom? And what is meaning of citizenship? What is meaning of slavery? Etc.

    I hope will read story with more care to get these answers!

    Our sport sucks, our legal system sucks, our government sucks, the people sucks too……….

    Is there anything about Malaysia that doesn't suck?

    That is why I sent my son to study oversea. I want him to learn the culture of other people not just the standard of study in this country.

    Any welcome to Malaysia - the only country in the world (another world record) where majority needs the protection from minority.

    Actually we have a very good country.

    We have a very good people, multiracial, multicultural, we live very happily long long time ago even before independence.

    But after Umno taking over the country, many things, everything change!

    The protectionism and malay special rights are the roots to our today problems.

    I myself feel very sad to see what is happening in Malaysia. The country is getting sick, very sick!

    I was in the same situation way back in 1980s. My only choice was to go to Australia. I am happy I did. Now I can retire in any country I want including Malaysia. If I had been accepted into the Malaysia university, I would have less than a fifth of what I have now.

    Hoping some miracles will happen in future……….Anyway enjoy your staying in Malaysia!

    San said...

    Academic qualification is usually an indicator of achievements. However, over the last three decades, qualifications from Malaysia are suspects. Further, appointment to teaching posts in universities might not reflect ability.

    So when a malay is appointed, the tendency is to think that he is a product of the NEP, in the sense that he could not be there based on meritocracy. People perception take time to change. The change might take place long after the NEP has been banished.

    You cannot appoint a non-malay to the position and expect him to perform when he is expected not to rock the boat. He or she had to accept the Umno standard of meritocracy which is merito-crazy.

    As has been said elsewhere, meritocracy is an anathema to the NEP and although world-class university is aspired, the NEP is not only more desired but a non negotiable imperative and cornerstone in every other aspect of national life.

    The politics of race has already started in the 1960s when Ungku Aziz was arguably appointed as the vice chancellor (VC) or of University Malaya over the better qualified professor Wang Gung Wu. From 1960s until now, one just has to ask, has politics defined by ethnicity be more or less? The answer is obvious.

    The criteria are still not world-class criteria of getting the most qualified person based on merits to be the VC of whatever race, nationality, gender and creed.

    The nation premier university need antidote to relieve back the glory day of the university.

    What is of concern now is that the government is limiting itself on the choice because of political expediencies. It has been proven that many VCs or CEOs are not capable yet the government cannot seem to accept it. When opportunities arise, the government time again is blinded by its selfish agenda and thus depriving us of having the best talent appointed.

    Since when has our 'Malaysia Boleh' spirit being influenced by other or international standard and assessment when the latter is inexpedient or inconvenient?

    We just don't care. For examples: we did not run to IMF when the hedge funds attacked our currency; we did not care about international opinion when we prosecuted our deputy premier for sodomy and gave him a black eye;

    we certainly do not care for international opinion questioning the oddity of why affirmative policies are institutionalised here to favour the majority when world over there - they are institutionalised to favour the minorities.

    In the absence of alternatives - since pride, politics, NEP and hubris, will always be the imperatives, it is really the only way to go!