A Citizen’s advice for the new Government

http://www.malaysiakini.com/opinions/102474

Dear Respected Government Leaders and Elders,

Assalamualaikum wr. Wb & Salam Sejahtera

Malaysia has been amply blessed during the past fifty years with a governmental system and leadership that has raised the country to the first rank of newly developing nations.

It would appear that of late Malaysia has also become an educational “Mecca” for many young Muslims from their own troubled countries. This alone, as a part of the mission of the International Islamic University (IIUM), is a glowing proof of the rising capacity of the Muslim Ummah to protect and help its own people.

These young Muslims are brought to Malaysia to prepare themselves to repair the damages and shortcoming of their own nations worldwide. Initially, IIUM also intended that her alumni go to their respective homes and establish Islamic Universities there, based on the model they had experienced here in Malaysia.

Sadly, very few other Muslim countries have progressed sufficiently to receive their IIUM graduates with adequate opportunity to carry out this mission. It has even occurred a number of times that IIUM graduates have simply refused to return home, preferring instead to migrate to Malaysia and continue to teach at their “alma mater” here in Gombak. What a pity for the home countries, although Malaysia herself may have been the beneficiary of these migrations.

For example, one net effect of this educational prowess in Malaysia is that the citizenry and emigrant intellectual leaders as well, have lately become much more sophisticated politically. Indeed, this progress, even among the working class such as taxi drivers, has begun to express itself in the emergence since the 2008 elections in the formation of a viable opposition movement.

Since this opposition is an essential element in democratic societies, we urge the leadership to pay them close attention and resist the urge to fight against them or use tactics less than transparent in responding to their emerging articulation.

In short, we sincerely advise the government-in-power to remember that, without such a viable opposition element, all political entities tend to become dictatorial and corrupt. Whether or not the opposition ever takes majority power, they are essential in provoking the needed responses from any government that purports to be truly democratic.

And one of these “needed responses” is an increase in the transparency of ruling tactics and maneuvers, which, although they may be seen by the perpetrators to be for the benefit of the citizenry, may in fact NOT BE.

It may be for this reason, among others, that Rasulullah (s.a.w.) advises us to avoid seeking too much power in leading our people, since we may be judged on our Day of Judgment for the hardships we cause them, irrespective of our good intentions.

Perhaps we cannot, in view of the huge increase in world population, find any system of enfranchising our leaders that is any “less bad” (as Winston Churchill described it) than the majority vote. So our leaders “run” for office, and we try to choose the best.

However, we cannot help but advise these leaders to accept their human failings with “good grace”, and, in fact, not to mind at all if they are removed from power by the electorate. When they behave and maneuver in ways that are becoming more transparent to an educated electorate, just in order to hold on to their power, we hold them in violation of the Prophet’s advice as above.

One of the symptoms of an unhealthy increase in “hidden agendas”, whether in the executive, the legislative assemblies, the judiciary, or even the enforcement personnel (police), is a sincere confusion among the people, such as has appeared recently here in Malaysia.

And so we also advise our present leaders to keep abreast of “grass roots” sentiments (other than media-based) which they are pledged to honor and respect, if for no other reason than to address this “demon of confusion” before it becomes endemic and leads to popular mistrust of all ruling institutions.

Alvin Toffler, best-selling author of the “Future Shock” trilogy, was invited to advise the Chinese government in its future policy direction, and he spent some time there. It is possible that their recent emergence as a viable world power owes something to their respect for this famous sociologist’s advice.

Meanwhile, here in Malaysia, social science studies (or even religious studies for that matter) are decreasing in allure for lack of employment opportunities and lack of funding. The Vice-chancellor of a leading university has recently abolished their PhD program in anthropology, in a curriculum that hardly offers anything of substance in the allied social sciences such as psychology and sociology.

How can this be? Government puts forth so much propaganda on the importance of “multi-cultural pluralism”, on which anthropologists are the specialists. And what about youthful motivation to pursue truly rewarding studies, when counseling services hardly exist in Malaysian universities? Where is this motivation going to come from, considering the considerable deterioration of the family unit in all cultures of the modern world?

Fifty years ago, Stanford University in California already provided specialized psychiatric (which means much more than psychological) advice and guidance free and without “stigma” to all its students? It was difficult to avoid dropping out from the extremely demanding American educational institutions before the full onset of modern “future shock”, so how much more difficult to succeed in college educations nowadays?

There are not nearly enough jobs. How can our Muslim youth grow up to “love learning” when they cannot even find money for food and family? These are only a few “tip-of-the-iceberg” issues of which the central government appears to be utterly oblivious. We therefore appeal once again for our new government to discover some of these issues for themselves, as if (at least) they have some interest in correcting them?

Sometimes we feel that the opposition need only watch and wait, while the government-in-power gradually continues to lose the respect of their people through being so oblivious to so many matters, not the least of which is this impression they so often give of “hidden agendas”.

And we appeal to them to let us know why they are REALLY doing certain things, or at least that they are aware of the impression their citizenry have of some of their actions. Government must stop being OBLIVIOUS to many issues that are of deep concern to their people, or else they really will be out of power, having self-destructed due to treating their electorate more as SUBJECTS than as CITIZENS. And Allah help us all.

Azril Mohd Amin is the vice-president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) and a lawyer.

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