Syed Hamid does the dance


This must the conversational version of St Vitus’ Dance. Or is it a politician’s? Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was char-grilled by BBC’s Sarah Montague on Hardtalk. I’m kinda late in tuning in, since I didn’t watch the programme, but I managed to catch this online

You wanna listen, go here . Thanks to Wahlau, I get part of the transcript. Thank you…man. Having heard it all, I do have some questions.

 “The economic growth of the non-malays is faster after the New Economy Policy than before. The share of the economy cake is bigger deeper wider than before. …. Even the Indians have got better household income than the Malays.”

Really, Mr Syed Hamid? The growth of all racial groups were better after the NEP because there was more economic activity, not because of the prescriptions of the NEP. Same goes with the cake. And btw, where did he get the statistics to boldly say that the Indians have got better household income than the Malays. I really would be interested in that information.

“We need to overcome the problem of sensitivities. We wanted to establish the integrated school, where everyone study the language, study the medium of instruction under one school. But here in the particular case, the Chinese does not want. They want a separate school of their own. So now what we have done, in the national school, we have brought in, you can study Chinese, you can study Tamil, you can study other ethnic (languages), you can’t get that in other places. I think we recognize their problems and it is not a problem that we cannot overcome.”

Yes. There is a certain degree of freedom when it comes to learning the major ethnic group’s own languages, in Malaysia. I have to concede that. Malaysia allows that freedom to embrace one’s own culture to an extent that is not enjoyed by some other countries. America tried to “Americanise” all its migrant communities to have a single national identity. Malaysia never tried to homogenise its people, thank God.

Sarah: “Lina Joy, she tried to convert to Christianity but was not allowed to”)

Syed Hamid: “no no no… I think you have made the whole thing turn into something that is negative. Lina Joy wanted to change her name. She was never not allowed to convert to Christianity, or what ever religion she has chosen. But, the person is born with the identity card. That is a system that we have in Malaysia, the ID. And that ID she wants to change, that creates the problem. It has nothing to do with the fact, that no body has arrested her, and forced her to become a Muslim. To come back to convert back to as Muslim. But the court decided on the basis that you cannot change your name in the ID. But she has got her own choice, she has made her own choice, in wanting to be what she has chosen. I don’t think we stop that. ”

Syed Hamid does St Vitus Dance on this again…rather more jerkily. What do you mean she just wants to change her name? That is just the legal reminder that she is Muslim on paper. You know Mr Syed Hamid that what you answered was rhetoric, and you are lucky to get away with someone rather unfamiliar with most of her questions’ context in Sarah Montague.

If Lina Joy/Azlina Jailani had gone the smae way as Revathi, then think I guess she would have gone through the same “rehabilitation” process. Of course she soesn’t want that.

Now I wonder, what if each time some person professing a certain religion in Malaysia, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or a philosophical way of life a la Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism Bahai teachings etc…want to convert out of it, they are to be given a chance at “rehabilitation” by the religious authorities of his/her existing faith. That would be fair? No. I don’t think so either. Because that kind of a ruling undermines a very fundamental right; an individual’s right to profess and practice his/her religion is between him/her and God.

Now I have always admired the structure and beauty of Islam as a religion. But the way it is politicised and used as a tool for division by short-sighted and bigoted people is not only alarming, but hateful.

We in Malaysia could have (still could if ask me) served as a model nation for racial and religious harmony. I’m not talking tolerance, but harmony. More than a week ago, Bloghouse in Damansara hosted a group of religious figures from different faiths (Taoist monk, Buddhist monks, A Muslim cleric, Christian priest, Hindu priest, a Bahai preacher)to a session of prayers for the health of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was also there.

It was beautiful being part of that occasion where mutual respect and love was so evident. There is no talk of TOLERANCE…only respect and undertanding.

Tolerance, in the words of Nuraina Samad, smacks of tolerating, like…ok laa I wil let you do this or that…cos I can take it. She doesn’t tolerate, she EMBRACES her fellow Malaysians, whatever faith, race, colour…

That kind of coming together can happen on a national scale, if there is no fear-mongering among us the Malaysian public and if there are more people like Nuraina out there.

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10 thoughts on “Syed Hamid does the dance

  1. That was beautifully said. I agree with your principles, but I must respectfully correct some erros of fact about the Bahai Faith. There is no such thing as a Bahai preacher—we all teach the faith to those who want to learn about it, but do not make a hard sell attempt to convert people. If one does join the Bahai community and then thinks better of it, he can request ti withdraw, and there is no compulsion to prevent one from doing so. A central Bahai principle is respect for all religions and that we interact with peoples of all faiths in fragrance and harmony. Now you see why I enjoyed your article so much!

  2. I can’t help but make some comment on the interview of Syed Hamid. I have seen a short version of the interview and what
    disturbed me was the answer given by him on the Lina Joy case, where he lied.Equally bad was Sarah Montague who didn’t do her homework.

    He told her that Lina Joy wanted to change her name on the I/C and in Malaysia the law prohibits such thing , when infact she wanted her religion ‘Islam’ to be dropped from her I/C. He lied becuase in Malaysia you can change your name on the I/C if you convert to Islam or if you did a deed poll to change your name. She accepted his reply because she didn’t do her homework.

    Anyway, she is not hot.

    Overall, the interview is bland.

  3. There was a whole lot of lying going on and I wonder if the bloody minister did not expect the interview to be viewed back home. Then again, no one did anything except forward a bunch of emails and smses.

    But in spite of a few slip-ups on the part of Sarah Montague, he was rather roughed-up. Such a pleasure to see that. 🙂

  4. All the indians wealth is in Ananda Krishnan hands. This keling own rm20billion! See top ten riches malaysians. So that ‘s why you are dirt poor!!! hehehe.

    I agree with you that economic growth is due to activity. The NEP has failed to address the wealth inbalance between Chinese and Malays. The Chinese have 80% of the wealth. Robert Kuok has 20 billions, Lim Goh Tong 10 billions…

    What kind of policy is NEP that gives sugar monopoly to the Chinese? Malay right my foot!! Cellular, Astro monopoly to Keling?..Stupid UMNO leaders…they are satisfied with 19% for the Malays…what the fuck!

  5. Malaysian,

    I beg to differ. Ananda made his big bucks elsewhere. If he chose to come back and invest back in Malaysia, gud for him. His telco is still the leading one. That guy made money his own way. Bravo I say.

    Btw what cellular monopoloy to keling? what do you call Digi and Celcom then?

    And there are Indians in this country who made it despite all the setbacks. The indians’ political representation is fucked up, and that screwed things big time for indian interests in Malaysia.

    The Chinese are hard workers. You throw them everywhere they survive, cos they’re used to hardship.

    NEP made it it easy for a handful of Malays to get rich without doping anything much. There is no incentive to work hard. And the rest of Malays were too contented to compete. Suap la lagi..

  6. “Btw what cellular monopoloy to keling? what do you call Digi and Celcom then?”

    You have not been following the news. Ananda has taken maxis private. He is the major shareholder. Digi belong to Vincent Tan (chinese interest) Celcom is a GLC ie owned by government.

    ASTRO is a monopoly. just arbitrarily raised bill by 10 ringgit per month. With subscribers of 4 million that is 480 million additional revenue to the keling!

    Tell me where outside the country Ananda makes more than by just rising astro fees by 10 ringgit!!!! Tell me where if he is that good a business man. He exploit his astro monopoly by squeezing the population thats how!!

    And lets remember the Malays were forced to accept the chinese and keling by the british. They were immigrants labour just like myanmar, indon, bangla now. Do the malays accord citizenship to these labourers because currently they work the hardest?

  7. Heheh…Malaysian…if u have to be crude about things…well what can I say? AK made his pile BEFORE he came back here. If he has brains enuff to make more of a pile, i don’t begrudge him that.

    Of course I know he took Maxis private. So? Astro indeed is a monopoly. So what happened to MiTV that wud have put paid to a monopoly?

    Btw, with the raising of cable rates, didn’t also come a variety of new channels?

    Btw, why did u even need immigrant labour back then if the Malays were hard working and enterprising enuff? Those times were different, don’t go there. Lots of countries accord residency and citizenships to foreign labour.

    Can u imagine the country’s economy then without immigrant labour? And can u imagine the retail, catering and services sectors today without immigrant labour? Stop deluding urself man. This country would still be in the boondocks if not for the non-Malays.

    If you have a bone to pick, pick it with the multitude of short-sighted leaders who have been molly-coddling the bumiputeras. Malays can make it on their own if only the system didn’t spoon-feed them to begin with.

  8. galadriel u seem so protective of ananda.. he doesnt need your kind words.. he made his pile elsewhere indeed.. he made his pile when mahathir bought the land for klcc.. dont create myth.. ananda suffer losses in indon astro venture.. so much for clever businessman., he made his pile selling maxis to arabs! what lah want to comment also dont have the facts..iptv is a stupid idea by a chinaman. has not reach the technological stage..

    You have to admire myanmar..vietnam..where u indians and chinese are not there to so called enterprising.

    then was then now malays are in power. we have chased the british out..and get back our country..

    saudi arabia, qatar all has very high labour immigrant…so do they give citizenship to all the indons, indians who work in saudia arabia?

  9. Malaysian,

    Ol’ AK doesn’t need any protecting…least of all from me. And I’m not protecting him. And what I know of the guys is not myth.

    as to the rest of your rants, well, its a waste of time to address them, cos you are generalising all the way.

    But saudi and qatar? what indons and indians wanna leave there for gud?

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