There have been many references to the ‘deep state’ in recent weeks since it was first brought up by Saifuddin Abdullah (foreign minister).
Previous to that, while the term was not used, there were references by prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to an entrenched civil service which resisted changes the new government wanted to make.
So what is a ‘deep state’?
Tony Blair said of the civil service that one cannot underestimate how much they believe it’s their job to actually run the country and to resist the changes put forward by politicians elected by the people. He went on to say they “simply wear you down and wait you out”.
He may as well be talking about Malaysia, except it is more dangerous here as it is both racial and religious. Our mandarins are not working for the good of the country as a whole, but for their race and religion.
Deep State as a concept goes back to ancient Greece.
In the 17th and 18th centuries political debate surrounding the separation of the church and state often revolved around the perception that if left unchecked the church might turn into a state within a state (a Deep State).
I believe we are facing such a situation today. But this time it is not the Church but the Islamists.
But because religion and race are so intertwined it is easy for the Islamists to claim that what is good for Islam is also good for the Malays. We know this is not true.
The signs have been there for years – decades even; but those in power did nothing. Instead of nipping radical Islam in the bud, the politicians decided to exploit Islam for their own ends. So they fed the ‘Green Tiger’and now they don’t know how to get off without being eaten.
Fifty years ago you could not imagine how our multi-racial, multi-cultural country would turn out to be today.
The Malays I knew were a happy uncomplicated lot. They were religious and were staunch Muslims but never in your face (like they are now).Their Islam was not about outward show and rituals but is inoffensive and comes from the heart. The Malays then must be smarter because they were not confused by crosses or the use of Arabic words, like this generation. Must be the the better education they got.
The other religions are non-political; only Islam is. Islamists want to run the country (if they are not already). The ulamas are getting more and more into the daily lives of Malaysians – Muslims and non-Muslims. Conservative Islam dictates the lives not just of the Malays but of everyone else.
This is possible only because there is an Islamist Deep State.
Their influence in government is reflected in our government policies and also in the daily lives of the Malays.
Deep State is at play in deciding our education policies. Our tertiary students must do “Islamic Civilisation” as part of their foundation course. In schools the doa is recited at school assemblies and even before classes. Crosses have been removed from Christian Mission Schools. During Ramadan non-Muslim students have to eat out of sight of Muslim students so as not to tempt them (in one case, next to the toilet).
Our present education minister wants more religious schools in East Malaysia in order to spread Islam. This when some places have no schools at all – instates where Muslims are in the minority. Mazlee Malik’s evangelical zeal has clouded his judgement. There have been a proliferation of religious schools in the country – this will further strengthen the deep state when these students join the government services.
Conservative Islam has worked its way into every facet of the Malay’s daily existence – from tudung to demanding special trolleys for Muslims and special lifts and not using the crockery of their non-Muslim hosts. I was shocked when an old friend refused to shake hands with me because I am a man. And she would not allow her young son to shake hands with my wife.
This is how insidious radical Islam has become.
When UMNO found that it was losing ground to PMIP (the old PAS) it decided to out-Islam the Islamic party.
And now UMNO has gone to bed with PAS in order to wrest back control of government – having beaten Mahathir to the sheets.
Relationship with the civil service
The government is so afraid of the civil servants that they (the civil servants) are given fat bonuses to keep them happy. And if it is an election year the bonuses are fatter.
The civil service is a state within a state – they can hinder or even block changes intended by the government. These civil servants are very largely Muslims. I wonder how many are embedded Muslim ultras.
It will take a long time to weed out this cancer. One way is to restore a proper racial representation of the population in both our civil service and armed services. And apply meritocracy in selection and promotion. Non-Malays and non-Muslims are less likely to be influenced by religious sentiments in carrying out their work.
Starve the Green Tiger by reducing their source of recruiment. Many countries have started putting government workers on contract. This is a good way to ensure efficiency (dead wood can be removed) and integrity. Unsuitable employees cannot be guaranteed life time employment whatever they do.
In a country where race is not a factor this is easily done. When race and religion are so intertwined as it is here; any attempt at controlling one can be deemed an attack on the whole Malay community. It is for the moderate Muslims to convince the others that it is not.
Battle for the hearts and minds of the Malays
This is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Malay Rakyat.
It’s no more about the Malays against the others.
It’s about radical Islam against the moderates and everyone else.
It’s about whether we become a caliphate where sharia applies to all – non-Muslims included. It’s about whether we become another Brunei.
It’s about whether we regress into another Kelantan.
It’s about whether our secular constitution will hold.
Will the Green Tiger eat us all?
(The views expressed are those of the contributor)
Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan