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11:18pm 21/11/2022
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Will Sarawak pave a moderate or an extremist Malaysia?
By:Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

I am writing this article specifically to the people of Sarawak on the decision of GPS to be part of the PN alliance.

In my small opinion, I think this would be a huge setback for Malaysia to reset itself as a moderate and harmonious nation.

PN, with respect, is a coalition that encourages religious extremism narratives and weaponizes religion to gain votes from one race in particular.

PN uses the populist race and religious tactic like what Donald Trump did in the US. Both were successful in putting personalities in power but have cost the dignity of the people in the long run.

Three years ago, when I was invited by the Borneo Post to be a columnist, I hesitated for a day before giving an answer.

My embarrassing hesitation was because simply…I did not know enough about Sarawak or Sabah. What then was I supposed to write about? I can’t even name three cities in both nations or name more than four ethnic groups there.

I have only been to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu three or four times to lecture on architecture to architects and twice to lecture to religious leaders of mosques under the government’s Institute for Rural Advancement or INFRA.

Then, it dawns on me that Sabah and Sarawak are both part of Malaysia and that they have no ‘Melayu problem’ as much nor an ‘extremist Islam narrative’.

Well…not yet anyway, but 10 years down the road, both will be a huge issue that is almost destroying the peninsular election by election.

The young Malay graduates educated and indoctrinated by the extremist version of Islamic reform will be exported to both nations in due time.

Zakir Naik may be forbidden in the two nations but his YouTube videos are free flowing.

So perhaps it would be an opportunity for me to be more honest and direct in my writings to propagate a more progressive Islam without being branded as a deviant scholar or a Christian agent, as in Malaya.

I have great respect for others who are not Malays and not Muslims. My spiritual journey in Islam have reached a stage of awakening that accepts with humility all faiths as sincere efforts to be at one with the world so as to open the doors to the invisible power of peace.

The one thing that universities do not teach is how to be at peace with oneself, with one’s loved ones, with others and with the trials and tribulations of life.

Education in Malaysia is just a tool of industry and that is why we have never even come close to solving our racial and religious conflicts and misuse.

In that same note of respect, Sarawak and her leader Abang Jo command my greatest respect. Malaysians can browse my articles on how I asked peninsular Malaysians to allow Sabah and Sarawak to reset this country as the two nations exemplify the meaning of acceptance in their mixed communities, mixed marriages and mixed politics.

I do not know how to apologize for the oil money taken unfairly by Mahathir and BN to finance their Malay narrative ideas for Malaysia, but Sarawakians must also take responsibilities for their own corrupt leaders and the ignorance on nation-building by their own people.

I learn that blaming your own self first before blaming others is one of the important keys to change and spiritual awakening. Muslims call this muhasabah diri or self-reflection of faults and weaknesses. I do that every night before sleeping.

I respect and honor that Sarawakians place English at the same importance as Bahasa Malaysia in their legislative seating as well as other official functions.

I respect and support fully that Abang Jo saw it fit to finance the building of many schools with international curricula to complement the needs of education while being criticized by Semenanjung Malays as unpatriotic and somewhat ‘derhaka’.

I respectfully do not support that Sarawak denied entry to some Malay politicians that are not of the same wavelength as their own politics.

I think even Hadi Awang should be allowed to spew his extremist religious rhetoric, but make sure that there are other learned Malaysians to question him and not allow him to speak in one-way ceramah.

I have heard of a video that PH under Tun M had turned down a coalition request by Abang Jo and that is indeed sad but I had not heard it then

If I had, then I would have opposed Tun M and even Harapan.

I have advocated the policy of embracing all into a shared politics and not an antagonistic one based on race, religion, political strategies or just plain malice.

I respect the decision of GPS to be part of the PN entourage to usher in a PM candidate that we all know during the false emergency and who uttered a religious narrative of hate.

I am sure all the GPS candidates will be rewarded well personally. I am also sure that Sarawakians may also benefit much as a people from what they may have been deprived of.

That is your decision entirely and even God will not be able to change it.

I do, however, appeal to my Sarawakian brethren citizens to advise these leaders as to what may be good for Sarawak alone may not be good for Malaysia as a whole.

I am absolutely sure that what may not be good for Malaysia as a whole will eventually not be good for Sarawak sooner than many may think.

Yes, religious extremism and a toxic racial narrative are Malaya’s problem and the two are two like tumors of cancer ebbing the life of the peninsular.

Malaya requires a total blood transfusion to rid itself of these toxic narratives and the life-giving blood can only be available across the South China sea.

Peninsular Malaysia has brought this deadly disease to its own shores by its own ignorance, arrogance and selfishness. It is now paying the price.

But the disease may not stay just in the peninsular and may cross the sea and in time infect the two nations above the winds and lay waste to their own communities…in time.

The quarantine time is tomorrow, when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong decides on who will take Malaysia to a single-race autonomy or to a multi-faith society.

We are, as they say, in the same boat.

Thank you for taking time to read my small request and opinion.

(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)

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Sarawak
Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
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