ICERD FEVER IN MALAYSIA

ICERD is the acronym of International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This convention came from UN, the United Nations.

To simplify the definition, this convention is a stipulated implementation and enforcement for faìr and equal treatment to all races without discrimination. All UN member countries are expected to ratify and sign the said convention as a symbol of commitment and compliance.

It's not surprising that many of us are not so sure how to pronounce ICERD and what this acronym is all about.

Without full understanding and lack of
analytical mind of what ICERD is about, we are just followers.

Demonstration? Yes we go. Riot? Here we are always ready. Kill all the non Malays? My parang please. Guns? Yes we have but not enough. The flying parang with red cloth? That was nostalgical tale on May 13, 1969 unwanted tragedy. We are now in 2018. 49 years away.

And it's all about Malays! Are only Malays emotional? Are only Malays stupid? Are only Malays lazy? Are only Malays easily influenced? Are only Malays threatened? Are only Malays killing? One answer for all questions is no!

About 61 percent of Malaysian 32-million population with citizenship are Malays (automatically Muslims in Malaysia). 28 percent Chinese and 7 percent Indian. The rest are other races including Orang Asal, bumiputras (native) in Sabah and Sarawak and other races. Based on unofficial calculation from independent political observers, the number of foreign workers in the country, with and without work permits, but with other documents such as valid international passports; and without documents at all (also known as 'kosong' among them and the authorities) is exceeding 6.5 million! If this calculation is accurate or close to it, there are about 38.5 million people who stay in Malaysia.

It is not only Malays. It is about all Malaysians. The prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is right when he says (in his latest statement) Malaysians are lazy and depending very much on handouts from the government, instead of working hard. He did not say Malays. He said Malaysians.

This is the real attitude of the new and not very new generation of Malaysia. Malaysia Boleh! (In Malaysia we can do it). Anything illegal can be legalized. Anything you are not allowed to do "can be done". Please tell me, when are you coming to Malaysia? "I, a foreigner will help you... don't worry. My money and your money will do the talking".

This is another example of every possibility. If you owe money from a conventional bank, the repayment would be the amount of loan plus interest. Should you fail to repay according to the repayment schedule, it will cost you late payment charges. In Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) interest is translated to 'faedah' or 'bunga'. Islam interprets 'faedah' or 'bunga' as riba. Riba is strictly forbidden and haram (committing sins). As an alternative, the government introduced Islamic banking.

Islamic banking is an option to all Muslims and also open to non Muslim customers. It has been well accepted by the society. This banking does not have riba but it has different system to make profit. Among the concepts are Al bai bithamin ajil, al-mudharabah, al-wadiah and so on. All in Arabic words, probably to make it more islamic.

Since about 5 years ago, Bank Negara (central bank) approved another regulation by the name of al Ta'widh (also in Arabic language) the meaning of which is late payment penalty.  You have to repay extra when you pay late. Clearly it is riba. Riba is seriously haram. But when you put in Arabic language, it becomes halal! Forgive me if I have made wrong interpretation. Perhaps, this al Ta'widh was implemented after in-depth studies.

I am afraid in future we will also have islamic casino, islamic night club, islamic human trafficking and islamic alcoholic drinks when islamic prostitution is about to be possible. It is nikah muta-ah or contractual marriage. A man can nikah (marry) a woman for one hour and divorce her after that. It can be 2 hours or one night. Or 3 days. Fortunately, it is understood that the  religious authorities (under respective state jurisdiction) do not recognize al muta-ah as at to-date. Malaysia Muslim religious authorities practice al Sunnah wal Jamaah (Sunni) complying Imam Shafie. Apart from Shafie, Hambali, Maliki and Hanafi are also references of guidance under Sunni. Who knows in future?

These are examples of possible impossibilities. The concept of  "can be done".

Why work hard? "Work smartlah." Everyone would prefer easy way when there is an opportunity to do so. That is why almost all 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs have been monopolized by foreigners from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar (including Rohingya), India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and others.

Even Indonesians are not interested to do 3D jobs now. Morally, many of them feel Malaysia is already part of their country. Why not? Malaysia former deputy prime minister self-claimed he was from Indonesia, a Javanese. And to make things more "delicious", our former prime minister claimed himself a Bugis warrior. Bugis is an ethnicity from Indonesia. Indonesians do not mind to work in the construction sites but only as highly paid supervisors and above. 3D jobs? No, thanks.

To prove my "allegation" on easy way attitude, I have done my general survey in 3 spots in the city of Kuala Lumpur. My survey may not be so accurate but at least it can be everyone's useful reference.

My first spot was Petaling Street, popularly known as China Town. This place is a very special tourist attraction. Initially, almost 100 percent of the shop and hawkers' lot owners were Malaysian Chinese. As they had difficulty to find local workers to work, they hired foreigners, especially from Bangladesh and Nepal. They were obliging and worked hard in front of you.

Slowly, owners' newer generation felt tired, a more polite word for "lazy" and rent out their shops and hawker stall lots to their workers. On paper, owners are still owners and workers are still workers with or without work permits. In the actual fact owners only collect rental fees and the workers run the business. Some owners have even sold their premises for fast lump sum cash. And now more than 50 percent of the shops and lots in China Town are actually owned by Bangladeshis and Nepalese. Some new owners from Myanmar too.

The second spot was Little India at Brickfields, Jalan Tun Sambanthan. Same scenario happens between Malaysian Indians and Indian Indians.

We have already had China Town and Little India. Why not we add another one? DBKL should name this third spot as Little Indonesia. Same scenario between Malaysian Malays and Indonesians. Where is it? Jalan Raja Alang, Kampung Bharu.

If you pass by Jalan Tan Cheng Lock, the Kota Raya shopping complex and the area behind it, you can see this place as haven for foreign workers. You can buy many things you like there including a package of sireh leaves, kapur, gambir and other additional items, the addictive favourite of many of them. Illegal prostitution business to cater their "needs" is as active and encouraging as other businesses as well.

Jalan Bukit Bintang was another active business area for Chinese at one time. Now, it is popularly known as Arab Street among tourists. There are a number of international class hotels located on Jalan Bukit Bintang, including Westin Hotel, JW Marriot, Grand Millennium, Ritz Carlton, Federal Hotel and Royale Bintang.

Ironically, most of the signboards of shops here were also written in tulisan jawi, Arabic jawi character. There is no need of any enforcement from the authority to regulate compulsory Arabic jawi character on signboards. It all comes out naturally as most of the businesses or shop owners there are those from middle east. Their customers are mainly tourists from middle east too.

This is not a joke. Some tourists commented that they like to visit our country because they can buy a variety of fake branded items freely at reasonable prices in Malaysia.

What have they got to do with ICERD? The readers will understand later.

Whether the government is ratifying and signing ICERD or not, it doesn't make any difference. What is more important is the real situation. Therefore, there is no issue to feel worried about ICERD. Fifty-five Muslim majority countries have ratified ICERD. So what? The government should decide on its own in the interest of the country and the people.

Malays may feel ICERD will destroy all the privileges and protections they have been "enjoying" since independence 61 years ago in accordance with the Constitution of the country. Malays may also feel Malaysia will become a republic after ratifying ICERD. No more monarchy.

On the other hand, non Malays feel more secured with ICERD. Without ICERD they will be victimized by the Malay-led government. They may also think ICERD may also ensure the Malay Rulers and their family members will not easily do whatever they like.

It appears that we are so suspicious and prejudice to each other. We have forgotten that while we are not in good term to each other, the 6.5 million and more foreign people will take full advantage and grab as much opportunity as possible without "enjoying" Malay privileges and citizenship. We have ignored the reality that we are so fortunate to be Malaysians. Malaysia is a world of wealth and opportunities. Malaysians are courteous and the country is peaceful. We are not thankful and choose to live unhappily for the whole life. Well, if that is your choice, keep on fighting. I am not telling this to only Malays but to all Malaysians.

With or without ICERD, please remember:

1) Malay Reserve land in Peninsular Malaysia, to be exact Malaya, has decreased from 50 percent in 1957 to 12 percent in 2017.

2) More and more unemployed Malay graduates eventhough they dominate government varsities and colleges.

3) About 30,000 Muslim mosques for 61 percent population compared with 300,000 Hindu temples for only 7 percent population. This does not include more than 10,000 Hindu temples demolished as claimed by Malaysian Unity superstar Waytha Moorthy.

4) 30 percent of 28 percent Chinese are rich people compared with 4 percent of 61 percent Malays.

5) During former premier Najib Razak's tenure as education minister, he introduced openness in opportunity to all to further study in higher educational institutions. Many local and international private universities and colleges were open since then. We have PTPTN to assist students to finance their studies. MCA's request for Merdeka University for Chinese students became irrelevant.

6) Non Malays in Malaysia were not treated by the government like Rohingya in Myanmar.

7) Malaysia does not practice apartheid.

8) Vernacular schools (Chinese and Tamil) are widely available in Malaysia and reasonably supported by government. Parents decide themselves whether to send their children to enroll in national schools, vernacular schools or private schools. In Malaysia, parents commit an offence if they do not enroll their children to school. Enrollment in primary and secondary schools is compulsory.

9) Government hospitals are open to all Malaysian citizens. Outpatient treatment fee with consultation and medication is only RM1 (USD0.24). Specialist consultation and medication fee is only RM5 (USD1.18)

10) Everybody can practice his or her religion freely. Worship houses are everywhere.

11) No non Muslim is to convert Islam to qualify him or her to be a government servant.

12) Shariah laws only applies to Muslim.

Malaysia urgently needs good governance with high integrity. The government that is capable to restore the rule of law. The government with dynamic thinking which brings prosperity to the people and the country. The government that makes all to live in peace and harmony.

Whether we ratify ICERD or not, it doesn't matter. It only matters to certain individuals and parties for the reason best known to themselves.


By Fauzi Kadir/Permadu Harmony
All Rights Reserved
Copyright Fauzi Kadir 2018


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