2009 August 31 Monday
The Myth Of A Moderate Malaysia

Read Sadanand Dhume's article The Myth Of A Moderate Malaysia.

Over the past 30 years, encouraged by the government and influenced by the Middle East, Malaysia's growing prosperity has gone hand-in-hand with a heightened piety. But instead of making the country more humane, this has had the opposite effect. Friday's protest was part of a larger pattern. A 32-year-old Malaysian Muslim model, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, faces a sharia-prescribed caning, suspended at the moment on account of Ramadan, for the crime of drinking a beer. Muslims have been barred from a Black Eyed Peas concert next month sponsored by Guinness. Two years ago, a Muslim-born woman, Lina Joy, failed in her famous eight-year quest to convert to Christianity to marry the man that she loved. (Interfaith marriages are forbidden.) In another high-profile case, Revathi Masoosai, a practicing Hindu, was forcibly separated from her husband and infant daughter and sent to a religious re-education camp after it was discovered that technically she had been born a Muslim.

Modest proposal: The Philippines ought to let Lina Joy and her boyfriend immigrate.

Islam isn't compatible with other religions.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 August 31 09:07 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

kurt9 said at August 31, 2009 10:19 PM:

I lived in Malaysia around 1999-2000. At the time, I sometimes referred to it as the Bosnia of 2010. The three races (Chinese, Indian, Malay) do not mix socially. They go to separate night clubs when they go out. Of course, the Malays are not allowed to go out and party (Islamic law), but they do anyways. There was this bar near where I lived that catered to Malays. I knew the guy who owned it. He told me they just bribe the local Mutawa guys (religious police) and they were OK. Of course they had many fights in the bar, so they had to hire a bouncer to break them up so that it would not attract attention from the neighborhood or passerbys. You see, if people complain about the fights and noise, then they think the police are not doing their work and there is a problem. I was in another club on Batu Ferengi when it was raided by the Mutawa. All of the Malays had to leave and some of them had to pay fines. This was all in Penang, which is more Chinese and more liberal than the rest of the country. Kedah, the nearby state, is much more conservative.

Malaysia does indeed have parallel legal systems for muslims and non-muslims. This, along with the differential capabilities of the Chinese vs. the Malays is creating tensions in Malaysia. The Chinese are increasingly concentrating in Penang when they do not leave the country. Penang is at least 50% Chinese, along with a substantial Indian population. It is second to Singapore in terms of percentage of Chinese population.

The east coast, particularly Kelantan state, is very Malay and very Islamic. Once I stayed in a hotel in Kota Bharu, which was right next door to a mosque. The morning prayers were really quite loud and went on for 20 minutes (they are usually 3 minutes or so in Penang). There are very few Chinese or Indians in Kelantan.

Malaysian politics is becoming more Islamic because UMNO, the majority party, is co-opting some of the positions of PAS, the Islamic opposition party. DAP, the democratic party is the other opposition party that is favored by the Chinese and Indians. It has recently won elections in some of the Western states, including Penang.

As you may guess, the Malays have more kids than the Chinese or Indians. So, their percentage of the population is growing relative to the others, who seem to be slowly retreating to Penang and Ipoh. Lots of Chinese investment is flowing into Malaysia, mostly Penang, because the government made a special deal with China during the last recession (around 2003).

Malaysia may still be the Bosnia of 2020.

miles said at September 1, 2009 6:16 PM:

"Islam isn't compatible with other religions."

I dont think Islam is compatible with atheism either. I cannot -believe- Europe is doing what its doing.

not anon or anonymous said at September 2, 2009 7:06 AM:

I dont think Islam is compatible with atheism either.

I think Randall covered that with the "other religions" part.

Mohan Nair said at September 3, 2009 2:09 PM:

I have not lived in Malaysia but travelled their for a month. I am an American of Indian descent and I could feel exactly what you said the moment I landed at KL airport. The immigration officer was looking at me carefully when I pulled out my American passport wondering how this Indian looking guy has an American passport. That was just the beginning. Each and everyday talking to Indians and Chinese, I heard the same thing over and over again discrimination in every possible way. They just wanted to get out of Malaysia. Most of the educated and wealthy Chinese and Indians have already left. These were the folks responsible for much of the economic development of Malaysia, now that they have left Malaysia is having a stagnant economy with no skilled folks to pull it up to the next level.

One of the older Indian person told me the headscarf culture was never prevalent in Malaysia, it was during the recent wahabi influence the more extreme form of Islam is being propgated with Saudi funding.

Neighbouring Indonesia with more muslim population is more tolerant compared to Malaysia. The next few years are very critical for Malaysia, its do or die time for them. If they keep following the path, they are following now, I have no doubt we will have the first fundamentalist muslim country in Southeast Asia.

kurt9 said at September 3, 2009 4:05 PM:


You bring up the other problem with Malaysia, which are the Madrassas. Many Malays send their kids to the Madrassa (these are funded by the Saudis) where the kids learn nothing but the Koran. No academic skills, no vocational skills. The kids then come out into the world at age 18 not knowing how to do anything at all and cannot get decent jobs. The kids coming out of the Madrassas really are not prepared at all for the "real world".

Dr. M used to complain about this problem all of the time and he used to talk about it in the UNMO party meetings. He used to say that Malays have to get their act together and compete in the real world with regards to jobs and careers. I remember reading about this session in an UNMO meeting while I was in Malaysia in '01. Since Dr. M is gone, there is no one left that is respected by the Malays who is complaining about this problem.

Yes, I know many Chinese and Indians want to leave Malaysia. The Chinese either go to Singapore or to Mainland China. However, neither of these are perfect options for them. This is where the ocean city-state (seasteading) comes in, but that is a discussion for another time.

Indonesia is not as tolerant as you think. Yes, Indonesians like to party and screw a lot. However, they did have anti-Chinese pogroms in Java in 1998, when Suharto left office (I was in Malaysia when this happened). In any case, if you're going to live in Malaysia, Penang is the place to be. It is the most "Chinese" part of Malaysia. I call it Singapore II.

Daniel said at September 4, 2009 7:45 AM:

There is a simple and obvious solution to the "problem" of Malaysia: partition. Why are geopolitical borders sacrosanct? To appease the European/American sense that the only way international/intranational conflict can be mediated is through transnational institutions such as the U.N., that's why.

Malaysia as a nation state is an historical fiction. As a "nation" it is less than 50 years old. Singapore was once part of Malaysia and all now agree that it was a smart move for Singapore to break away and become and independent state. It is more natural for like to be with like and to be governed by like within like's borders. It is really simple, just partition.

The point will be made that the Malays will never agree to partition. But maybe they won't have a choice. Chinese are 25% of the population and they have the affiliation of the only superpower in the neighborhood. If they were motivated, with the assistance of China, Chinese Malays's could create a defacto separation that over time would be recognized as a reality. And why would Malays want to live with Chinese anyway? The point will be made that Chinese drive the economic growth of the nation, and without them the Malays will be poorer. This is true, but I do believe that Malay's would be happier, albeit poorer, if they didn't have to share living and political space with aggressive and competitive Chinese. Money isn't everything. God dispersed the nations and confused their tongues for a reason. Heed it.

kurt9 said at September 4, 2009 9:25 AM:

Penang as Singapore II. Penang is at least 50% Chinese. It is the island and a strip of land bordering Kedah. If the problem gets out of hand, more of Malaysia's Chinese and Indians, those that cannot leave the country completely, will move to Penang. Unlike the other 8 states, Penang is an artificial state created by the Brits 200 years ago. It is unlikely that Kedah (the neighboring state) wants Penang back with all of its Chinese influences (Kedah is rather conservative, although not as much as the East Coast). Perhaps Penang could work out a deal with Malaysia, much like Singapore in 1965.

Almost all of the foreign investment into Malaysia during this decade has gone into Penang. Most of this is Chinese and Taiwanese money. Lots of new residential high rises in Penang, full of Chinese residents.

anon said at February 8, 2014 7:51 AM:

Saudara-saudara dan Saudari-saudari Yang Di Hormati

Bahawa MCA Gombak pegurusi YIP KUM FOOK dan anaknya Yip Jiun Hann (Permuda MCA Gombak) bukan sahaja menggunakan kuasanya menghisap wang KUIL BUDDHA SAMNAK SAMBODHI(Thai) No: 19 Jalan 38 Taman Desa Jaya, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tetapi lebih dahsyat, ialah menipu wanita-wanita dan merosakan keluarga orang lain. Mereka sebenar-benarnya orang yang jahat dan tak bermoral

Saya mengemukakan kesal yang benar ini, tujuan ialah harap orang ramai, khasnya wanita dapat mengambil perhatian supaya jangan terjerat oleh manis-manis mulutnya akhir akan meninpa kerugian dan kesakitan yang besar

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