Wednesday, September 3, 2008


After last night at the Wharf, I thought I would spend today sitting back and just wait for the jumpers to emerge. First thing first, moderate the blog and clear the mailbox. I got an email from my spiritual advisor cum side-kick Musa Scully alerting me to an article and apending a note: I know you do not buy the MSM, but this is a good read. I always take advice from this former illustrious hack. Sure thing. It sure is a good read and I thought that I should share it with my readers.

People, for a change something good instead of my rants: It is a long read but I assure you that it will be time well-spent. Enjoy.

Making of our own Malaysia


Change can't always be smooth and seamless. The more openly the people discuss the nation's progress, the stronger our national consensus will be, going forward. There is a need for more, not less debate, especially over “sensitive” issues.

MALAYSIA, my Malaysia... I know this is going to sound faintly ludicrous, but the Malaysia that has emerged after the March 8 elections is still better than the one that existed before.

It’s more open, more diverse and infinitely more lively; in short it’s less “Barisan” and more Malaysian – because (surprise, surprise) the two are not one and the same.

The coalition and its leading party Umno are no longer the dominant voices they once were. Instead, they have been reduced and sidelined by other infinitely more energetic, impassioned and exciting voices.

Of course the liveliness also has its costs. Businessmen and women are concerned at the disruption caused by the incessant political chatter and melodrama, most notably the storm surrounding Anwar Ibrahim.

The allegations against him have cast an extremely dark shadow over the nation as people try to figure out the difference between prosecution and persecution.

Perhaps we despair too quickly, however. We can’t, after all expect change to be smooth and seamless. This is not the time to roll back on the openness of the days after the last general election.

The more we as a people discuss – and openly – the “what”, “where” and “how” of the nation’s progress the stronger our national consensus will be, going forward. We need more, not less debate, especially over “sensitive” issues.

Malaysians are definitely ready for this – it’s just a shame that the politicians are not.

We now have the makings of a Malaysia that is of our own making – however imperfect, and not the one carved out for us by our masters.

However, all these changes are merely the beginnings of a process to really open up the system. And as the post-Merdeka social contract slowly unravels we will have to create a new, deeper and more dynamic understanding both across the racial chasm and also increasingly across the “class” divide.

We cannot afford to let our political masters control this process. We must not be passive on-lookers. We can’t fall back on our old cynicism.

A Malaysia that refuses to vote, think and speak out simply because politics is “dirty” or because “no one can really make a difference” is the sort of country that the reactionaries want. Apathy will roll back the changes that have been taking place in our country.

Malaysians must be committed, bold and determined. The age of strongman leaders has to give way to that of an engaged and virtuous citizenry holding up the nation. But this doesn’t mean a rejection of politics.

We need it more than ever, in fact. Why? Well, both sides of the political spectrum have their own agendas and we need the different contending voices to balance one another out.

On the one hand, the Barisan will try to curb the reform agenda whilst on the other hand; PAS from the Pakatan side will wish to impose their at times harsh and narrow view of the world on the rest of us.

Barisan will certainly resist reform in certain critical areas – most notably the ISA, the judiciary (look at how the Judicial Appointments Committee has been stalled), press freedoms and other civil liberties.

They’ll be wrong to do so and those who advocate the old-ways – I’ve termed them the “conservatives” – will be punished by the voters in the next election.

Some would have us believe that the people in the kampungs and your average Malaysian salaried man don’t care about such things. It is they who are mistaken. Time and our evolving demographics are on the side of change.

Another word of warning, this time to the members of our esteemed Cabinet. Remember, just as you’re watching us, the nervous “scribblers” in the newspapers and Internet – rest assured that we’re watching you and more importantly, judging you.

You have been weighed, measured and found wanting, as a matter of fact. You can silence individual bloggers or columnists, for example but the media is like a multi-headed hydra – chop off one head and 10 new ones will sprout.

The desire to write and comment on our own world is now firmly lodged within the public experience. Freedom of expression is something we demand. It cannot be extinguished and people no longer fear the long arm of the law as they once did.

But as we move forward one of the most important challenges will be for the Malays, in particular to learn to accept and live with the diversity within the community. There’s going to be enormous pressure from PAS for example to assert a particular spectrum of morality and behaviour.

In this respect, the ulama-led PAS possesses the same will to dominate that Umno currently exhibits.

Whilst many PAS leaders are genuinely incorruptible and deserve credit for this, their self-righteous moralising is unacceptable and we need to defend our public space from them. We will regret the day that one set of tyranny has been exchanged for another.

Part of the subtext of what’s been happening over the past few months has been the way Malaysians has asserting their individual identities – declaring their independence from the widely disseminated “truths” of nation building.

I’d like to end by recounting a personal anecdote. Back in 2002, I published my third book. It was a second collection of articles and essays called Ceritalah Two: Journeys Through Southeast Asia. Rereading the preface now, is a slightly disturbing experience.

Back then I was just coming to terms with what I called “the ugliness and injustice of Anwar Ibrahim’s case”. Despite being a confirmed Anwar sceptic, the events of 1998 – the selectiveness of it all has haunted me. I never quite got over the idea that Malaysia – my Malaysia – could be such an unjust and evil place.

We can’t avoid viewing political events through the prism of our own personal experiences and the last Anwar debacle was to shake me very soundly.

I resolved not to be dependent on Malaysia for my livelihood. As it happened, Indonesia was to become my second home and workplace. Indeed, Indonesia has been very good to me and I am forever indebted to this magnificent country for its welcome.

However, home is still Malaysia for me. I cannot deny my childhood years. I cannot reject my emotional, familial DNA. For all its infuriating flaws and foibles, it is home.

We often hear how Malaysians denigrate their country compared to other places like Australia and (God knows why) Singapore. Listen closely and you will hear frustrated love rather than disdain.

We only hurt the things we love. We complain because we care.

The “turmoil” that our country is undergoing is a sign of how deeply invested all sides are in its future, which makes the anxiety we feel perfectly natural. If it feels like we need to battle, then it is because this country is definitely worth fighting for.

Still as the dark cloud extends further and further across the nation and as the “conservatives” secure their power many of us may well chose to move away once again. We cannot let that happen, as it would mean letting them win.

I hear too many stories and I see too many things. Gross abuses of justice, leaders who are little better than street thugs, men and women who delight in devising ways of ripping off the exchequer.

We are surrounded by those who feel no shame in abusing the system to their own ends.

We have to take back Malaysia for the people. We have to set the agenda. We must speak for ourselves, as one nation. The Bar Council demonstrations. The teacher who racially abused her students. Those are not the faces of the real Malaysia. We are.

Malaysia will not become a “failed state” despite the prophets of doom. But only if we stand up and say, enough is enough; it is time we move forward.

The people of Malaysia will get the country they deserve. Many people groan at this, but I think of the long way we have come, the opportunities that lie ahead – and think otherwise. I believe in the rakyat. I believe in Malaysia.


Karim Raslan is a forty-year-old Cambridge University-educated lawyer, columnist and author.

He is a founding partner of
Raslan Loong, one of Malaysia's leading corporate law firms, which has six partners and twenty-five associates. Raslan Loong specializes in banking, corporate finance, capital markets, insolvency, restructuring and information technology work. The firm has acted for countless leading multinational clients including Credit Suisse First Boston, Citicorp, ABN Amro and AIG.

For the past five years, Karim has spent most of his time in Indonesia, keenly observing the complex mix of culture, politics, religion and society in the world’s most populous Muslim country. He has established himself as a respected commentator and his views on Indonesian politics are often sought by the media as well as key political and business figures in the region.

after reading this refreshing piece I asked myself: Dang, why are all these great guys, Karim,
Farish Noor, Dr Bakri Musa, and Azly Rahman, all OFF-SHORE?


tomorrow morning at 10:00am Raja Petra will be questioned by the police at the Commercial Crime Department on the Statutory Declaration made by the Mynmar Doctor who declared that Saiful was not poked by any plastic dildo.

come join us in solidarity with Pete and Marina.


Anonymous said...

Great piece of writing from Raslan. May be a little heavy for your average reader. The words are actually plain and simple but connected to drive the messages home. Yes, the Malaysian rakyat shall be the determining factor to charter the direction - not the corrupt or zealous leaders of the times. So we have to play our own individual role to shape the collective voice that represents the rakyat. This voice has to be dynamic, surpassing race, religion and personal attributes, for the overall goodness of this country and her people. You can say it started with Bersih late last year. The lawyers' walk and Hindraf both add to the momentum. Permatang Pauh is not the anti-climax. The best is yet to come. As long as we hold on to believe we have this dream, we can all do it and make it happen together.

Anonymous said...

Buat semua rakyat Malaysia,
Mulai hari ini sehingga menjelang 16 September, sempena Hari Kemerdekaan Malaysia ke-45 marilah beramai-ramai kibarkan bendera Malaysia.

Jika sepanjang sambutan 51 tahun Malaya Merdeka yang lalu anda terlupa mengibarkan bendera, apa salahnya kita mulakan sekarang gerakan kempen kibarkan bendera menjelang Hari Kemerdekaan Malaysia ke-45 ini.

p/s: kalau ada yang kibar bendera terbalik tu, dah boleh terbalikkan semula kut... wakakaka

Terima kasih

Anonymous said...

To me, I look forward to 916 as a new beginning where the people of Malaysia has finally found the courage to say "Enough is Enough" and put an end to all that is wrong and destructive to our beloved Malaysia.

It is not about Anwar and it should never be about ONE man.

8 March 2008 has awakened us to the possibility of what could be amidst all the regrets over what might have been over the lost opportunities of 50 years and counting.

It is people like Karim, Dr Bakri, Azly, Farish, MIS, Haris and many others who we most need to push forward the agenda for a New Malaysia for All Malaysians.

916 will be about the collective efforts of the previously unheard voices of Malaysians bent on not keeping silent anymore.

Because keeping silent is no longer an option.


sinnersaint:saintsinner said...

the only way forward,

BREAK BARISAN, how, the chinese and indian must leave MCA,MIC, next the East M'sian parties must follow suit.... LEAVE UMNOP TO ROT! THEY are the rotten apples, plays race cards and doesnt adhere to the Rakyat.

Its not difficult nor is it hard, if these politicians have the ppl interest at heart and not their pockets than "the move forward" will happen, as one Malaysian.

The future looks good and get all the Gen Y to be politically savy.... court them, teach em,share with them and make em, the WARRIORS OF THE WAY FORWARD, without bloodshed.


Pak Idrus said...

Thanks brother for this posting. Like you I stop reading the MSM. A truly great writeup by Karim.

Have a nice day.

johnny cheah said...

It's high time the Malaysian public wakes up. Been sleeping for the last 51 years. We need to have a change for the better of everyone in this country irrespective of race or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if the good doctor could make a video & put it on youtube & then we shall see how will the police continue to deny & discredit all the facts ......... no one can then say the commissioner of oaths was a fake!

Anonymous said...


I wish I could be there with you guys in support of RPK and Puan Marina but I am unable to do so due to work commitments in Penang.

Please extend my wishes to them and my prayers are for their safety and well being.


Anonymous said...

"I never quite got over the idea that Malaysia – my Malaysia – could be such an unjust and evil place."

How right he is. Sometimes I cannot blame Pak Lah , he is but one man and trying to make the the "ungood" of the previous PM is one hellof a struggle. The previous regime head was the dvil himself,

zorro said...

Viveg, we understand. I will personally relay your message to them. Keep in touch.

Saya... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Karim's article has pointed to us, the future of Malaysia is at the juncture...whether the fresh young thinking force can remove the old conservatives that have betrayed this nation. We definitely have come a long way, we are more matured now. ready to debate on issues that will contribute to the development of the country...even on sensitive issues. Discussion should not be taken as confrontation, that was what our old political masters want us to believe. Through dialogue, one become wiser and more responsible...not like a monologue Umno led administration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Otherwise I would not have the opportunity to read as I don't read MSM.
It's honest-to-goodness reflections of our thoughts too.
I hope the political leaders both BN and BR read this too.

Anonymous said...

I find the statement by Raslan to be very true that Malaysia is my home. I've never see America as my home though I've been in America for 10 years. I misses my home a lot. This is the place I learned to respect different religions and races.


Anonymous said...


Before the Permatang Pauh by-election, someone commented in your blog about PKR's view and action on that Kulim MP Zulkifli Nordin's arrogance and racist behaviour at the forum organised by Bar Council.

You have replied to the commentator that, "lets focus on the bigger picture" at that time, ie the Permatang Pauh by-election.

Now that Anwar has won, and won big, I am now trying to follow up on this Zulkifli Nordin issue.

How now?

One blogger has put a reminder as well here.

flyer168 said...

Dear Bernard,

A good posting on Karim Raslan's article.

"Let us begin. ... And so, my fellow "Anak Bangsa Malaysia" ask not what Malaysia can do for you - instead, ask what you can do for this great nation Malaysia for All Anak Bangsa Malaysia.".

I would like to quote the famous John F Kennedy's speech to every "Anak Bangsa Malaysia".

"Every literate American recalls the essence of the words John Kennedy spoke on the steps of the U.S. Capitol that cold morning of Jan. 20, 1961.

Acknowledging that man now held "in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life," Kennedy insisted that the message must "go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace. ... Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

After raising the stick of Cold War resolve, JFK took care to also dangle a carrot of cooperation.

"[L]et us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

Kennedy went on to note that the work at hand would not be finished in the first 100 days of his administration, nor the first 1,000 days, nor "perhaps in our lifetime on this planet." Nevertheless, he announced,

"Let us begin. ... And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."unquote.

My best wishes to All you "Anak Bangsa Malaysia" on this noble mission , may God bless & guide you with the answers we all seek

lanaibeach said...

The way we want
It is in our hands
The truth ringing true
We make our destiny
Our country Malaysia

We can’t let tyranny rules
Brewing racism one sided policies
Laws and amendments to sustain power
It is in our hands
Democracy will work

The majority mustn’t be quiet
Playing “I don’t care” never works
The future of our country
It is in our hands

Since March 8
The marching never stops
August 26 cemented its marching
Now we wait for September 16

The way we want
It is in our hands
Only those sinking into 3Ps
Greedy for power, projects and prosperity
They don’t give up easily
They can’t stand lining up on the streets

O the sign of good over evil!
The day will come sooner than we think
It is in our hands
The future of our country lies

Anonymous said...

Psssstttt, Zorro, I know we don't buy the MSM and stuff, but I buy every single piece that Raslan man ever written in his life. The fact that he is good looking adds a nice touch to the purchase. Heh!

See you after Raya.

Lots of Love,
Elviza & Luqman

Nostradamus said...

To Be Or Not To Be, That is the Question. (Nak jadi ke tak jadi, Itu Soalannya)
Phrase from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

To be, or not to be, that is the Question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the minde to suffer
The Slings and Arrowes of outragious Fortune,
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to dye, to sleepe
No more; and by a sleepe, to say we end
The Heart-ake, and the thousand Naturall shockes
That Flesh is heyre too? 'Tis a consummation
Deuoutly to be wish'd. To dye to sleepe,
To sleepe, perchance to Dreame; I, there's the rub,
For in that sleepe of death, what dreames may come,
When we haue shuffel'd off this mortall coile,
Must giue vs pawse. There's the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would beare the Whips and Scornes of time,
The Oppressors wrong, the poore mans Contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd Loue, the Lawes delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurnes
That patient merit of the vnworthy takes,
When he himselfe might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardles beare
To grunt and sweat vnder a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The vndiscouered Countrey, from whose Borne
No Traueller returnes, Puzels the will,
And makes vs rather beare those illes we haue,
Then flye to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of vs all,
And thus the Natiue hew of Resolution
Is sicklied o're, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprizes of great pith and moment,
With this regard their Currants turne away,
And loose the name of Action.

Anonymous said...


read on

What's the Meaning of 'Freedom'? .... But don't ask a politician!

by Rep. Ron Paul

"Man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts".

- Ronald Reagan

We've all heard the words democracy and freedom used countless times, especially in the context of our invasion of Iraq. They are used interchangeably in modern political discourse, yet their true meanings are very different. George Orwell (picture above right) wrote about "meaningless words" that are endlessly repeated in the political arena. Words like "freedom," "democracy," and "justice," Orwell explained, have been abused so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell's view, political words are "often used in a consciously dishonest way." Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language.

As a result, Americans have been conditioned to accept the word "democracy" as a synonym for freedom, and thus to believe that democracy is unquestionably good. The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with real freedom. Our founding fathers clearly understood this, as evidenced not only by our republican constitutional system, but also by their writings in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere. James Madison cautioned that under a democratic government, "There is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." John Adams argued that democracies merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect preexisting rights.

Yet how many Americans know that the word "democracy" is found neither in the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence, our very founding documents? A truly democratic election in Iraq, without U.S. interference and U.S. puppet candidates, almost certainly would result in the creation of a Shi'ite theocracy. Shi'ite majority rule in Iraq might well mean the complete political, economic, and social subjugation of the minority Kurd and Sunni Arab populations. Such an outcome would be democratic, but would it be free? Would the Kurds and Sunnis consider themselves free? The administration talks about democracy in Iraq, but is it prepared to accept a democratically elected Iraqi government no matter what its attitude toward the U.S. occupation? Hardly. For all our talk about freedom and democracy, the truth is we have no idea whether Iraqis will be free in the future.

They're certainly not free while a foreign army occupies their country. The real test is not whether Iraq adopts a democratic, pro-Western government, but rather whether ordinary Iraqis can lead their personal, religious, social, and business lives without interference from government. Simply put, freedom is the absence of government coercion. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and created the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else. States, not the federal government, were charged with protecting individuals against criminal force and fraud. For the first time, a government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens.

Any government coercion beyond that necessary to secure those rights was forbidden, both through the Bill of Rights and the doctrine of strictly enumerated powers. This reflected the founders' belief that democratic government could be as tyrannical as any King. Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn't be called taxes, they'd be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less. The political left equates freedom with liberation from material wants, always via a large and benevolent government that exists to create equality on earth.

To modern liberals, men are free only when the laws of economics and scarcity are suspended, the landlord is rebuffed, the doctor presents no bill, and groceries are given away. But philosopher Ayn Rand (and many others before her) demolished this argument by explaining how such "freedom" for some is possible only when government takes freedoms away from others. In other words, government claims on the lives and property of those who are expected to provide housing, medical care, food, etc. for others are coercive?and thus incompatible with freedom. "Liberalism," which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government. The political right equates freedom with national greatness brought about through military strength.

Like the left, modern conservatives favor an all-powerful central state? but for militarism, corporatism, and faith-based welfarism. Unlike the Taft-Goldwater conservatives of yesteryear, today's Republicans are eager to expand government spending, increase the federal police apparatus, and intervene militarily around the world. The last tenuous links between conservatives and support for smaller government have been severed. "Conservatism," which once meant respect for tradition and distrust of active government, has transformed into big-government utopian grandiosity. Orwell certainly was right about the use of meaningless words in politics. If we hope to remain free, we must cut through the fog and attach concrete meanings to the words politicians use to deceive us.

We must reassert that America is a republic, not a democracy, and remind ourselves that the Constitution places limits on government that no majority can overrule. We must resist any use of the word "freedom" to describe state action. We must reject the current meaningless designations of "liberals" and "conservatives," in favor of an accurate term for both: statists. Every politician on earth claims to support freedom. The problem is so few of them understand the simple meaning of the word.


Anonymous said...

Malaysian leaders must learn from Abdul Kalam.

The report in The Sun ('Abdul Kalam's trail of lessons', Thursday, September 4, 2008), is indeed a monumental and timely lesson for all of us Malaysians.

Malaysia, which our leaders ceaselessly proclaim is unique and multiracial and multireligious, deserves more than mere rhetoric.

And the former President of India Abdul Kalam has come all the way to this tiny nation to remind us, especially our leaders, about humanity and worship.

The world renowned scientist in his pain staking visits to all the different places of worship in Penang has loudly driven home the message of going beyond the realm of religious tolerance.

Our leaders must re-visit what the 77-year old Muslim President emulated during his trip down Penang's 'Street of Harmony'.

His humble acts of respect and reverence within the holy temples, mosques, and church clearly echoes the glaring shortcomings within our own citizenry and leaders who have been instead making clarion calls along divisive religious and racial lines.

The ability of this wise Muslim to even pray in the 'tongues' of each different religion and in their respective places of worship send a loud message of how we Malaysians can bring our individual faiths and communities to rise as a beacon of hope for a world much divided along the barriers of religion and color.

In line with that singular dream that Dr Abdul Kalam expressed, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling must be not only protected but even more duplicated throughout the nation's spread of its various places of worship and in the hearts of its people.

And our leaders must quickly learn and emulate what Abdul Kalam has come from so far to remind us of our God-given gift of 'unity' and 'harmony'.

And as rightly pointed out by Himanshu Bhatt the Penang Bureau Chief at The Sun, this Street of Harmony in Penang is just the perfect school for our leaders to start with.

Anonymous said...

How true when karim said "We only hurt the things we love. We complain because we care"!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Zorro,

I am sorry but I can't say the same thing about Karim Raslan's piece on the latest political development in Msia.

I have read Karim's books and his coloums in the newspapers before and yes, his English and writing sytle are flawless but I think he should just stick to write short stories or novels. And I don't think we can put him at par also with Farish Noor or Bakri Musa either.

I really have A BIG problem to accept Karim's statement '...the malays in particular to learn to accept and live with the diversity within the community' ....and then Karim went on to include PAS in the same sentence as well.

Hey ape ni....what kind of nonsense ni?????

Karim, did you really think when you wrote this? Were you drunk or something?

Common la bro..if you call yourself as an intellectual, that is the most stupid thing to say and you just left it hanging like that without any supporting facts!

Grow up la sikit and let's all of us, Malays, Indians and Chinese, be honest to ourselves...let's not simply say only one group to be blamed for all of our problems.

I, as a pround Malay, could say the same also...that the Chinese or the Indians are should learn to accept....bla bla...but I think to say like that is unfair and wrong!

And Abang Karim, I don't have to tell you this but you should know that PAS doesn't speak for all the Malays and the party certainly is not their moral guardian.