Thursday, February 29, 2024









  • Cairo: Saudi barred imams from collecting donations for Ramadan
  • ban introduced by Ministry of Islamic Affairs
  • Iftar should not take place inside mosques to keep them clean 
  • instead be held at designated place in courtyards
  • ban on use of cameras to film imam leading prayers
  • Transmitting, broadcasting prayers is banned
  • muezzins to adhere to prayer timings 
  • imams to avoid prolonging Taraweeh prayers

My Comments : Pak Arab 


Inilah kaliber wakil rakyat yang dilantik untuk membela nasib orang.  Tidak ada apa-apa pun yang baik atau berguna yang telah dirumuskan.  Hari-hari lebih kurang macam ini juga.



Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The underclass - By Zaid Ibrahim


 The underclass - by Zaid Ibrahim

Lim Teck Ghee is a good man. By that, I mean he genuinely cares about the country. He is a knowledgeable and respected economist, and he should be selected to play a more central role in policy-making. But he was not.

He wrote an article about why the govt (he seems to have much hope for what the Bumiputra Congress can do) should help the underclass. But nothing will come out of Congress that will be relevant and useful to the underclass.

In this country, policies are not meant for the underclass. The Municipal Council / local govt are going all out to cancel licences for many reasons. Earning a living is hard, but they make it harder

Breach of licence condition is usually the one they used. But when you put so many conditions that you know could not be fulfilled when you issue them, it’s easy to revoke them

Let’s say the condition is to operate the business yourself. For the upper class, the licence will not be revoked as the govt knows the upper class never uses the licences to do business themselves.

Have you ever heard of timber licences, mining licences, and sand operating licences issued to the upper class were operated by them? The underclass who got licences to do business in the Selayang market will be punished if they make a few hundred Ringgit by renting their licences

Let’s say the condition stipulates no foreigners will operate the licence. How do foreigners come here in millions if it's not for the manoeuvrings of the upper class? Yet the underclass will be punished if they rent their premises/licences to these foreigners for a few hundred Ringgit a month

So, to my friend Lim Teck Ghee, I am sorry to disappoint you. People experiencing poverty and the underclass have a bleak future because our upper class is well-entrenched. Those attending the Bumiputra Congress tomorrow come from the upper class.

They are not about to slice the cake (according to Finance Minister 2) but prefer to grow it. As we speak, more licences and businesses of the working class will be cancelled or closed due to poor business conditions. 

But I am sure the situation will be different for the upper class. Their cake will grow for sure

Guest Editorial: Madani Bumiputera Economic Congress: Who Will It Benefit


a)     the lowest social stratum in a country or community, consisting of the poor and unemployed.

b)     a group of people with a lower social and economic position than any of the other classes of society

"they are an underclass who lack any stake in popular capitalism and who are caught in the dependency culture"

Participants in the coming Bumiputera Economic Congress are likely to forget about or ignore the plight of the Malaysian poor and underclass class.

Whatever is the national poverty situation - the dispute over poverty definition and numbers will continue indefinitely - the reality is that the country’s underclass (and this includes more than just households living below the official poverty line) is a sizable part of our population, is growing, and has remained intractable despite the billions of ringgit poured into this grouping since the beginning of the New Economic Policy in which poverty eradication was made the very first prong.

Why have so many poverty alleviation projects failed to make a significant dent in the plight of the underclass should be an important part of the discourse in the Congress.

Here are some suggestions the Congress should consider on the fresh start needed in development planning which can make a difference in tackling the obstacles that stand in the way of improving the lives of the underclass.

  1. Establish a Social Inclusion Commission answerable directly to Parliament. This Commission would be mandated to have oversight over all matters of poverty reduction, affirmative action and social inclusiveness by reference to, amongst other considerations, Article 153 of the Federal Constitution

  2. Minimise strategies which reinforce rather than reduce dependency. Malaysia is not yet at the same development stage that it can afford the social safety nets found in developed nations. Subsidy and social welfare programmes of any kind should be targeted at the vulnerable such as the disabled poor, and elderly or female headed households

  3. Review costly agricultural and rural development projects to assess their impact and real benefits. In view of continuing rural to urban migration, it is in urban and semi-rural areas where an increasing number of the underclass is clustered and where public expenditure will have greater impact on the poor and vulnerable. At the same time hard core poverty found in remote rural and isolated areas mainly in Sabah and Sarawak require a mix of infrastructure and social investment to address 

  4. Fragile families are a significant contributor to current poverty numbers as well play a role in the intergenerational reproduction of poverty. It should be a subject of concern. It is also likely to be a contributor to racial and class disparities since the tendency towards family fragility is more pronounced in the Malay community.

  5. Together with a focus on fragile families, there is a need to give greater priority and resources to the national family planning programme. It is clear that given the relationship between very large or even just large families and underclass status, early family planning interventions can help many large-sized poor families improve their socio-economic position immediately and in later life  

  6. A community’s socio-cultural and religious practices can stand in the way or can assist in the stability and upward mobility of its poorer members. There needs to be an openness and readiness for politicians and policy-makers to discuss these issues even if they may appear to touch on sensitive concerns

  7. A top down approach to development has resulted in a stream of opportunities and rewards especially for the elite and support group in the civil service and professional class.  This top down approach needs to be replaced with one where resources and opportunities are directly channelled to and managed by groups at the community and grassroots level

  8. Experience has shown that the technical and human resources brought to bear on anti-poverty work - especially in terms of the administrative apparatus used for implementation – has often turned out to be a liability by diverting resources from the poor and redirecting assistance access to themselves and intermediaries.  This problem is often compounded by leakages through inefficient or corrupt practice

  9. A combination of strong and sustained political will and technical competence is required to produce good results but the command and control approach and massive leakage and corruption in Malaysia have basically yielded poor outcomes and elite capture of returns

  10. In view of the large proportion of the underclass comprising members of the Malay community, successful members of the community should step in to help the less fortunate members. This has to begin with a critical and candid appraisal of the causative factors found within the community which accounts for why the Malay underclass continues to grow despite the government’s best efforts in the last fifty years

  11. The growing importance of Islamic religious organisations means that they can be a positive or negative force for socio-economic change. These organisations are being supported by huge resources from the government and private individuals. The engagement of these organisations in social development and poverty alleviation needs to be encouraged but it also needs to be monitored to ensure positive outcomes

  12. The massive influx of foreign migrant labour has adversely affected employment opportunities and returns for the local underclass as well as enlarged the overall underclass number in the country. The impact of continuing foreign labour inflows on the situation of the underclass in the country needs to be fully appraised in any economic planning exercise so as to minimise its adverse consequences.    

What is proposed here are possible changes - and paradigm shifts - needed to the conventional strategies and current wisdom.

What is important is that the Congress will need to think out of the box to challenge long held orthodoxy which has not been effective in bringing about a resilient society with a diminishing underclass.

There is no such thing as 'Islamisation' of knowledge. There is only knowledge. So dont waste time.

The constant in any discourse about religion (I so avoid trivialising the word 'Islam' by simply applying it everywhere) is anger, dislike (aka hatred) and ultimately violence. Either state sanctioned violence (arrest, prosecution) or mob violence (persecution). This is a constant where religion is involved. I hope a day will come where the people who claim to be religionists can sit and discuss things intellectually and in a civilised manner, especially over things in which they disagree, without feeling hatred and dislike. That would be a triumph of knowledge indeed. A triumph of civilisation. But that will not happen.

There is this rather weird idea known as the "Islamisation of knowledge" - an idea put forward by the Arabist scholar Ismail Faruqi.  This weird idea (I will not repeat the moniker too often) is an Arab construct. They carry a very heavy chip on their shoulders as a result of their losing out to the west and also being colonised by the west.  

In his early years Ismail Faruqi was more enamored with Arabism than 'Islamism'.  

"he continued to highlight his belief in Arabism with persuasive talks and books. This can be seen in how he titled  (click here) his four-volume series on Arabism

  1. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Religion
  2. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Art
  3. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Society
  4. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Man"

So are you really talking about Islamisation of knowledge or the Arabisation of knowledge? Please be honest.

Here is some more verbiage "Intellectuals and scholars have discussed the problematics of colonization, modernity and knowledge production, which led to several initiatives undertaken to disentangle these legacies of the West still prevailing towards Islam, Muslims, and more broadly the whole world. Among the notable initiatives that have emerged; Islamisation of Knowledge .."

"The discussion towards Islamisation of Knowledge took place during the First World Conference on Muslim Education held in Mecca in 1977 that resulted in a list of recommendations, including the need to pursue the Islamisation project in all areas of knowledge perceived to be problematic due to Western influences."

OSTB : 1977? In 1977 there were hardly any modern universities in the Arab Emirates (for example). Even today in 2024 literacy is on the decline in the Arab countries:

ALECSO Observatory : The number of illiterates in the Arab world  could reach 100 million by 2030. Literacy rate in the Arab countries decreased from 76.1% in 2014 to 73.6% in 2020, and the number of those who are unable to read and write is significantly on the rise".

100 million illiterate Arabs by 2030? Can you imagine the literacy levels in the Arab world in 1977? At that time there were only THREE universities in Malaysia.

And yet they had gathered to  "disentangle these legacies of the West still prevailing towards Islam"

Ok fine. 1977 was 47 years ago. Have they achieved what they set out to do over the past 47 years? Or is it still work in progress? Maybe they need another 47 years? 

Despite the passage of 47 years "the dire conditions of the Umma; political weakness, economic insufficiencies, cultural westernization, corruption of self and society; and the core problem lies with the education of Muslims" has actually gotten worse. So what have you been doing?

Or is the moniker just the bait - to entice the zealous to participate in the journey (with their "donations" and maybe taxpayers money) with no end to the journey?  It will be a 'lets journey forever' type of situation with no clear achievable objective. 47 years have gone by. What have you been doing?

Why this preoccupation with the west? Forget about the west. The next 200 years are going to be the east.  There was no Japanisation of knowledge, no China-isation of knowledge. Or Russianisation of knowledge. 

But without a doubt the next 200 years are going to be China, Russia, Japan, even Indonesia and India. And the rise of the east will be exactly because of the same reasons for the rise of the west  - the acquisition of useful knowledge.

Then here is something weird :  A master plan, ‘Islamization of Knowledge: General Principles and Work Plan’, was produced, which led to the establishment of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in 1981 as the leading agency to drive the project ahead. 

The IIIT was established by Ismail Faruqi in 1981 in Virginia in the United States. But isnt the United States the center of western domination and hegemony? If you wish to  "disentangle these legacies of the West still prevailing towards Islam" then why not do it from an Arab country like Egypt or Saudi Arabia? Why set up shop in the United States? 

(Actually this is a trick question. There are Arab politics involved. The Arab countries do not welcome outfits like the IIIT. For example the Muslim Brotherhood is closely identified with the IIIT. Some Arab countries have declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.)

Here is some trivia - in 1986 Ismail Faruqi and his wife were butchered in their home in the United States with a Rambo knife by a black Muslim by the name of Joseph Young. Their pregnant daughter was also attacked but survived.  Joseph Young "had known the Faruqis and had visited their home" (New York Times here).  

You may also wish to read the first few paragraphs of the Court transcripts of the murder appeal of Joseph Young at the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania here.   Malaysian students are mentioned in paragraph 10.  

There is only knowledge. There is no Chinese knowledge or Christian knowledge or Japanese knowledge. So do not waste your time trying to define Japanese knowledge or Indonesian knowledge or Hindu knowledge. 

Of course if you do not have useful knowledge then the alternative is to create slogans. Slogans are useful if you wish to raise funds.  

For example :  Neither east nor the west. Islam is the best. Please donate generously.