The Monsoons Book Club invited Noor Farida Ariffin, the former Ambassador to The Netherlands and the spokesman for the G25 group of eminent Malaysians to give her views on the latest developments in Malaysia.
In the video below, Noor Farida offers her frank assessment on a wide range of topical subjects. Her discussion starts with the Amendment to Act 355, in which she urges Malaysians to oppose PAS president, Hadi Awang’s Hudud Bill, in particular the residents of both Sabah and Sarawak
Other topics range from the Opposition struggles to the offensive remarks made by the Tasek Gelugor MP, Shabudin Yahya about rape, and her views about the Malay psyche are particularly revealing, as are her views on the Malay woman.
She says, “I am appalled by the low level of understanding of Islam by Malays. They are treated to a diet of conservative interpretation by the ustaz and government TV. Emphasis is on tudung, haram and halal food… Nothing about justice, compassion, mercy and kindness…
“…Our religious authorities are so judgemental, so holier then thou. Who are they to condemn people for not praying. They are so shallow, self-satisfied and smug…”
A boy’s death exposed many failings in the different ministries. Noor Farida’s message for her colleagues in the civil service was for the head and ministers “to strengthen public institutions”.
TIME-STAMP of TALK
The breakdown of this talk is below. For her response to a question, click the time, in brackets, along the time stamp in the video-clip.
1 Amendments to Act 355 (0.44 min)
PAS president, Hadi Awang, has been pushing to table his private member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) (‘Bill 355’).
Why is it important for Malaysians to make a stand against what is now commonly known as Hadi.s Hudud Bill? Is it true non-Muslims will not be affected? How are Malaysians to make a stand, when Muslims are called apostate, and non-Muslims who voice objections, are warned “not to interfere”?
Noor Farida was also asked if Tourism Minister, Nazri Aziz, who said he disagreed with Umno-Baru’s support of the Bill, is a lone voice.
2. Voting and registering to Vote (20:20 min)
The Opposition appear to be in disarray. Umno-Baru is in bad shape with infighting nad power struggles. TDM is giving Najib Abdul Razak a massive headache. The small fish in corruption are caught, whilst the big fish swim away. The cost of living is going up, Crime appears to be on the rise. The rakyat is fed up and feeling despondent.
Do you think people should still register and go out to vote, especially as many think their votes will NOT make a difference
3. Should vernacular schools be abolished? (25.55 min)
Many Non-Malays, esp the Chinese, send their children to vernacular schools. Malays are also abandoning National schools and sending the children to Chinese schools. The Chinese do not gamble with their children’s education, whilst many people believe that vernacular schools do not promote national unity.
The moral dilemma faced by Malaysian parents is either to strive for national unity or to think of one’s children’s future? How can this dilemma be resolved?
4. Should religious schools be abolished? (27:55 min)
Bad publicity about tahfiz schools has caused national outrage especially with the death of 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi.
Should these schools be banned?
5. Malays and their fatalistic tendencies (37:20 min)
In the Johore cycling tragedy, some parents said that the deaths of their kids, was “takdir tuhan”. Nothing was mentioned about discipline or breaking the highway code or the fact that teenagers were roaming the streets at 3 am.
How can we break this Malay fatalistic streak? Isn’t it just lazy parenting or Malay apathy and unwillingness to take responsibility for their lives?
6. MP who urged rape victims to marry their rapists…..(40:15 min)
The Umno-Baru MP for Tasek Gelugor, Shabudin Yahya, said that rapists who marry their victims will help to cure social ills. He also said other offensive remarks that girls as young as 9 can be married off, especially as they have bodies of 18 years old.
Instead of criticising him and making him retract his statement and apologise, the Minister for Women and Family Development, did not censure him but played the “obedient political wife”. The Penang Umno-Baru Wanita chief, Jahara Hamid, told a furious Malaysian public to “understand our religion” and “not to misinterpret us”.
Who do girls turn to, when people in leadership roles don’t treat rape seriously?
7. The comatose Malay (41:37 min)
When the young boy died, we heard nothing form the muftis throughout the land, nothing from JAKIM and nothing from Malay leaders, apart from the few, who absolved themselves of any blame.
We hear plenty about Malays girls not wearing the tudung right, wearing leotards, drinking, celebrating Valentine’s day, doing gymnastics, entering beauty contests.. We hear nothing from our Muslim leaders, condemning corrupt Malay leaders.
People accused others of proselytising the Malays, but the forced conversions of Orang Asli, or parents who convert to Islam, and of indigenous people in East Malaysia going home from boarding school, as Muslims.
When will the Malays wake up from their slumber?
8. Will the Malay woman stand up for her rights instead of being bullied? (45:20 min)
Her words are worth less than a man. She is told that she must stay at home and be a homemaker, and make babies and look after them and her husband.
9. Worrying disappearance of activists and pastors (49:30 min)
What is happening with so many people disappearing in Malaysia?
10. Governance in Malaysia (52:18 min)
Mohd Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi’s death exposed many irregularities within government departments. If this can happen to the Ministry of Education, is it something that is also prevalent in other government departments.
What is your advice to your former civil servant colleagues about governance and good practice?
I salute her for her insight and her courage and her love for the Malays and the nation. I hope what she said would be heard by many in the country, whether we agree with her not.
Secular or Islamist? Who can really answer it once and for all ?