Archive for the ‘Multicultural Education’ Category

We need to encourage truly multi-racial politics

Thursday, October 31st, 2019
So who is that Adenan-like national leader to calmly carry us forward? FILE PIC

“WE must sink or swim together. When I’m in trouble, you help me, when you are in trouble, we help you.

“This is what the federation is all about.”

So said the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, Sarawak’s fifth chief minister.

In three short years before he died in early 2017, he inspired awe, admiration and respect across the communal divides with his often-witty one-liners.

Ordinary Sarawakians of all ethnicities wept at his funeral.

It is fair to say that his powerful message of social inclusiveness backed up with decisive action resonated beyond Sarawak and across the entire federation.

It is worth being reminded of Adenan’s unrivalled statesmanship at moments such as now with a certain mood of melancholy currently enveloping the nation.

Recall that Adenan won a fresh landslide mandate in May 2016 and breathed new life into the previously almost moribund Sarawak United People’s Party against a highly energised Sarawak DAP precisely because of his highly authentic message of inclusiveness.

His political victory despite over three uninterrupted decades under his immediate predecessor was the precursor to the New Malaysia we ushered in two years later.

How sadly short-lived the very idea of a New Malaysia appears to be now, with the return of overt racially-tinged discourse in our national life.

What is tragic is not the unsurprising fact that racial sentiments reaffirming such a discourse (from all racially extremist sides, it must be stressed) still exist but how easily they ignite or rather reignite deep passions of mutual loathing and perhaps even hatred of fellow Ma-laysians.

It strikes me as particularly sad how Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s typical and valiant call for those harbouring racial sentiments (and let’s face it, such sentiments are almost second nature to all but perhaps a too-tiny segment of truly enlightened, non-racial Malay-sians) to look inward within our own respective groups rather than to blame “outsiders” is all but drowned out in the very predictable and angry recriminations-following-accusations routine of our racialised political debate.

Reactionary political forces may be as inevitable as night follows day over such early days under New Malaysia but, for the sake of our collective future, there is little choice but for fair-minded, non-political or apolitical Malaysians to firmly resist and deny the reactionaries their admittedly still powerful capacity to suck all the oxygen out of any nascent alternative political narratives emerging.

And exactly what could such narratives possibly be?

The most obvious answer is encouraging truly multi-racial politics and political parties.

However, our record thus far on this score is anything but inspiring or encouraging.

The reason why multi-racial politics is having such a hard time making headway is, perhaps ironically, precisely why racially-based politics still holds such widespread appeal: multi-racialism is viewed by a good cross-section of Malaysians as merely a ruse or even a plot by those representing economically powerful minorities to gain a monopoly on power (political and economic) in the country.

If not true multi-racialism in politics, what then?

A national leader in the mould of Adenan Satem may be a pre-requisite stepping stone in a possibly slow, evolutionary process towards the eventual ideal of non-racial Malaysian politics.

As with Adenan, such a national leader must, almost out of the political necessity of the moment, emerge from a political party currently representing the majority racial group in the country.

Without political buy-in from the majority group, any national political leader espousing all-encompassing inclusiveness, as Adenan did, may not realistically prosper.

The nation, to be sure, faces grave perils, particularly in the economic sphere.

A global trade war rages as nations turn increasingly and worryingly insular and protectionist.

Our high national debt, despite being pared down, is a deadweight which we must do our utmost to break free.

Meanwhile, we may be staring the dreaded “middle-income trap” in the eye unless we can fairly quickly find new
economic drivers that afford us the leap to high-income-nation status.

We can thus ill-afford being stuck in the rut of endless political navel-gazing, held hostage to a narrative which cries out for some serious updating, at minimum.

The world will otherwise likely just pass us by. We either sink or swim together, as Adenan reminded us.

So, who is that Adenan-like national leader to calmly carry us forward?

Irony of ironies, it may be the one who acted as the midwife to New Malaysia. Yes, Dr Mahathir. But, of course, we all know that he is 94 years old. A Malaysian Dilemma indeed!

By John Teo.

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Understanding right-wing extremism

Sunday, March 17th, 2019
Women embrace near Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. REUTERS

OF all places on earth, peaceful Christchurch in New Zealand has just become the scene of a cold blooded massacre of innocent people in two mosques there. With 49 dead so far and dozens wounded, it is one of the worst terror attacks in the world, this time carried out by white right-wing extremists. Three male and one female suspects are in custody.

In an immediate reaction, the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, said: “The brutal crime had shocked and hurt the feelings of all Muslims around the world, and served as a further warning on the obvious dangers of hate, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called on the governments of the world to understand why such terror attacks took place and their modus operandi, which is different from a conventional warfare.

Many people may not understand what right-wing extremism or the far right is all about and its recent resurgence in the West. In simplistic terms, right-wing politics is about preserving certain often oppressive social orders and hierarchies as inevitable and even desirable. Right-wing people tend to react to progress and change, hence they are also called “reactionaries”.

Extreme right-wing politics is associated with ultra-nationalism, fascism and racism or race supremacy, which is often used as justification to oppress and repress others. The most classic example of right-wing extremism is Nazism (oppressing Jews and others) and more recently, Zionism (oppressing Palestinian people) and the extreme right-wing politics used by President Donald Trump in many instances to secure and stay in power.

The far right has also been sweeping Europe, mostly singling out innocent Muslim refugees there, who are merely escaping from the horrors of wars in Syria and the region. These vulnerable refugees become easy targets for xenophobia, hate and outright racism.

Donald Trump used right-wing politics to get himself elected in 2016 and he is also playing the same right-wing politics to stay in power. Many of the Far Right in the West today are inspired by and see President Trump as their poster child. He has certainly done a lot to instill Islamophobia and hatred against the Muslims by his various actions such as his anti-Muslim statements, very pro-Zionist stance and the ban on Muslims from at least seven countries to visit the USA.

President Trump may have sent his “condolences and warmest sympathy” to the people of New Zealand on the terror incident. But he is seen by many to be culpable or at least partially responsible for creating an atmosphere of hatred and racism against

Muslims and promoting xenophobia with his Border Wall idea with Mexico.

The purpose of Trump’s Islamophobia or racism is to distract, confuse and divide & rule in order to stave off serious challenges to his presidency including allegations on his abuse of power, obstruction to justice and on the possible outcome of Russia investigation which may include impeachment.

I have written many press articles on why we should not take peace for granted, the importance of mutual-racial respect and the need to recognise the cultural diversity of Asia, with Malaysia as a mini-Asia, as a strength for our survival and progress and never as a weakness or liability. We must never allow our cultural diversity to be exploited by extremists of any shades to create conflict, wars and terror like what has happened in New Zealand.

Most people take peace for granted. We were shaken and shocked when our own MH17 was cruelly shot down in 2014 in a war fought more than 8,000 kilometres away.

There have also been numerous terror attacks in our neighbouring countries recently. Recent police arrests of suspected terrorists in Malaysia should send alarm bells ringing to the authorities concerned. We must never sit back and assume our multi-racial country is immune from such acts of terror.

There is hardly any populated place on earth that is safe from the extremists of all

shades who are motivated to be mass-murderers based on their extreme right-wing political or religious ideologies which would include the misinterpretations of religious teachings.

More needs to be done to analyse and understand the real causes of extremism and to promote sustainable peace and multi-cultural understanding.

By K.K.Tan .

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Open house by TYT, state leaders stayed to celebrate Raya with crowd

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Head of State, Tun Juhar bin Mahiruddin (centre) and Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Hj Mohd Shafie bin Hj Apdal greeting the crowd that turned up at the annual Hari Raya open house hosted by the Head of State and his wife, Toh Puan Norlidah binti Tan Sri R.M. Jasni at the Istana today.

KOTA KINABALU: It was a gesture that touched the hearts of the people and Head of State when Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal and several of his cabinet ministers stayed to celebrate Hari Raya mingling with the crowd at the Istana today.

Earlier, the Chief Minister and his cabinet attended the annual Hari Raya open house hosted by Head of State, Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his wife, Toh Puan Norlidah Tan Sri R.M. Jasni.

The event was held in two sessions starting from 10am to 11am for VVIPs and 11am to 1pm for the public.

Appearing relaxed and in fine mood, Tun Juhar extended his best wishes to the new government.

“This is the first time the Chief Minister and some of his cabinet ministers have joined me for the second part of the open house to celebrate this happy occasion with the people. It proves they are with the people and for the people. I am very glad they’re with me,” he said when addressing the crowd.

Cabinet ministers who remained for the second session of the open house were Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Christina Liew, Minister of Health and People’s Well-being, Stephen Wong and Minister of Youth and Sports, Frankie Poon.

After his brief address, Tun Juhar rendered two songs – One Night by Elvis Presley and Angin Malam that was made popular by Indonesian singer Broery Marantika.

He dedicated One Night to his wife and everyone present at the event.

Accompanying the Head of State on drums was his son, Al Hambra and the Sabah Cultural Board Combo.

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Building leadership and cross-cultural understanding

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
The 21 Asean youth delegates wearing their traditional clothes at the programme’s closing dinner.

TEN Malaysian students were chosen to join the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) academic fellowship programme in the United States recenty.

A fully-sponsored event initiated by the 44th US president Barack Obama in 2013 for youths aged 18 to 25, the programme seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youths in the region, strengthen ties between the US and Southeast Asia, and nurture an Asean community.

The students joined their peers from the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to form the programme’s Fall Cohort, which had activities in the states of Hawaii, Nebraska, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts.

Each student had the opportunity to study in an American university for a period of five weeks to learn about three chosen topics, which are Civic Engagement, Social Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development and Environmental Issues.

With close collaboration between the selected universities and the US government, the programme was well spread out to cater to three main objectives: to cultivate leadership skills, immerse participants in American cultural history and, most importantly, to practice and gain knowledge about the selected theme.

This diversified the programme into an array of lectures, incubator workshops, travelling, team-building and also volunteering activities each week.

“As one of the participants, I find this an interesting combination of learning the values and visions of Asean and its future potential with our different languages and contrasting cultures, while at the same time adapting to the fish-out-of-water experience of living in America for five weeks,” said Malaysian participant Marissa Asfirah Saiful Lizan.

She highlighted that the valuable merit of the programme lies in its diversity and common denominator of not only learning together, but also learning from one another.

“There are two cohorts each year, the Spring Intake in March and the Fall Intake in September. The latest cohort had 10 Malaysians, divided into five different states in America.

“I was in the Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development theme in the University of Connecticut,” she said.

The accounting student from Yayasan Pendidikan Cheras (YPC) International College and her group spent the majority of their time on campus with road trips to Boston and Hartford over the weekend amidst classes and volunteering squeezed in with visits to Ivy League universities, such as Harvard and Yale University.

“Programme participants were also granted access to an online course by the University of Peace, a university endorsed by the United Nations. Our time at the University of Connecticut concluded with a pitch presentation of our individual projects,” said Marissa.

Apart from studies and related activities, the students also travelled to New Haven, New York, Philadelphia and to Washington D.C. to visit cultural and educational sites to further their understanding of the US.

“We were given the opportunity to meet and have insightful discussions with entrepreneurs, politicians, State Department officials, meet the Malaysian ambassador, along with the other Malaysian delegates under the programme. The closing session comprised feedbacks, reflective speeches and an opportunity to meet and network with other YSEALI fellows.

“There were many pinch-me moments throughout this programme, which will forever be home to so many beautiful memories,” said Marissa.

For her, it was a priceless opportunity to not only be recognised and be a part of the YSEALI alumni, but also an opportunity to represent Malaysia.

“I urge university students to take a shot and apply for the programme. It is an opportunity to fail, learn and grow within a safe space in a new country, and travelling and volunteering with people from different countries. This experience will always serve as a constant reminder that there is still so much out there to learn and experience,” she said.

By NST Education.

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Winning the elusive peace

Saturday, June 24th, 2017
Residents of Marawi spending Ramadan in evacuation centres as the city is under siege. AFP Photo

MALAYSIANS will celebrate Hari Raya this year the usual way: in relative peace and prosperity.

Sure, there are concerns about rising cost of living and decision day looms as a fresh general election approaches.

The most immediate concern is commuting safely to and back from hometowns and kampung; the roads and highways being such predictable and tragic scenes of carnage nowadays from our own carelessness.

Amidst such relatively mundane concerns, let us all spare some thought for the less fortunate, not just within our borders, but even beyond.

As Malaysian Muslims celebrate overcoming personal trials and tribulations over Ramadan, think of all the residents of Marawi in the Philippines, all 250,000 of them, spending the entire month in evacuation centres or with friends and relations across the country.

Marawi matters not just for Muslims everywhere, but also for those who wish that peace is not so elusive for anyone anywhere.

The city prided itself as the Muslim City of Marawi and that is no small claim. It is the only reasonably-sized city in the Philippines that is majority Muslim. Many non-Filipinos mistakenly assume the entire island of Mindanao as majority Muslim. Nothing is further from the truth.

Progressive waves of settlement by Filipinos (invariably Christians) from elsewhere in the country over centuries have altered the demographic complexion of Mindanao. That only feeds into the deep sense of grievance and alienation felt by many Muslim Filipinos who, along with other local indigenes, were once the majority on the island.

Independence, however, is no longer an option, even if some still harbour such hopes. Muslim-majority bits of Mindanao are now like disjointed Bantustans and will never make a viable, contiguous independent entity on their own.

It is interesting to note that the unofficial “capital” of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or ARMM (created by the Philippine government with the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF) is Cotabato City, further south of the island from Marawi. That is because Cotabato is within the ARMM region but separate from it since, being Christian-majority, it opted not to be a part of ARMM.

ARMM — a two-decade political experiment — had been deemed by ex-Philippine president Benigno Aquino III (whose mother Corazon Aquino initiated the rapprochement with the MNLF when she was herself president) as a failure.

The fault lies at least as much with MNLF and in particular, its erstwhile leader, Nur Misuari. One cannot claim autonomy and yet blame all on Manila.

Disgruntled MNLF leaders left to form the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF and, after a decade and a half of negotiations with the Philippine government (under Malaysian facilitation), forged a separate agreement to create the Bangsamoro entity, politically stillborn as at the end of the second Aquino administration.

Such a heady mix of political baggage and frustrated political aspirations understandably is now hugely fertile ground for extremists from within and without the Philippines claiming to fight in solidarity with the so-called Islamic State.

And, how more devious can these extremist fighters get than holing themselves up within Marawi, ensuring that any fight with government forces will result in protracted urban warfare and just possibly the complete destruction of the city and ultimately, reaping a perverse, diabolical propaganda victory that will prolong the sense of political grievance by Muslim Filipinos for several more generations perhaps?

Which is why, if nothing else, a speedy revival of the Bangsamoro peace track is absolutely vital, perhaps more so than ever before.

Under Rodrigo Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, great hopes still reside for Mindanao peace despite a full year now of seemingly always forlorn hopes.

by  John Teo .

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Reflections on Ramadan

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Explaining the purpose and the method of fasting to friends of other faiths brought us closer together.

DURING my undergraduate days, my non-Muslim friends approached a few of us to ask what it was like to fast during the month of Ramadan.

It was hard to articulate the experience to them, so we thought it would be simpler to ask them to join us.

A number of them decided to fast for a day. Late in the afternoon, we accompanied them to the nearest Ramadan bazaar to purchase what ended up being a buka puasa feast and sat together to break fast.

The conversation that flowed during the breaking of fast session was one that I remember to this very day.

As we explained the do’s and don’ts during fast that include, for some Muslims, how nose-picking can cause one’s fast to be nullified, we received some cheeky responses in return.

Some of them also admitted that they cheated by taking sips of water throughout the day as they were only doing it for experience.

Others asked more pertinent questions like why do Muslims fast and go for terawih prayers only during Ramadan. The Muslims among us tried to answer their questions to the best of our ability.

We even shared our own experience of learning how to fast when we were children.

Most of us began to observe Ramadan when we reached the age of seven.

Many recounted stories of being given leeway by our parents to break fast when we got too tired during the day or of being promised more duit raya if we fasted for the whole month.

Following their experience of fasting for a day, most of my non-Muslim friends mentioned that they now better understand fasting and respect Muslims for observing our fast. To all of us, it was a day where we simply shared an experience.

It was also an eye-opener for us Muslims to learn how our friends from different religious beliefs observe fast.

Christians observe a period of Lent and we heard about the speci-fics of fast for our Hindu and Buddhist friends, too. Funny how eating together, or in this case breaking fast together, is the best and most organic way for us all to get to know each other better.

Personally, I love the month of Ramadan. For me, it allows me the time to reflect, to be more mindful about my own behaviour, and to better control my temper.

Yet, every Ramadan, I am challenged emotionally. Two friends passed away this Ramadan, one a veteran journalist whose writings I adore, and another an acquaintance who is known to many as a community organiser in Penang, and who is only a year older than me.

As a young girl, I personally believed that humans would act in a good manner and became more spiritual during this holy month as all the devils were chained up.

As an adult, I am now left to wonder at the very human nature of having prejudice, acting harshly and irrationally, even to the extent of causing hurt and violence unto others, regardless of whether it is the month of Ramadan.

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Research on effects of Ramadan

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
Ramadan is the best time for family and social gathering

RAMADAN is the greatest month and the best time for self-regulation and self-training. There are numerous benefits to those who are fasting, either from spiritual or physical perspectives.

At the same time, the positive effects have not only been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah but also by many scientific research. In fact, there are a few institutions that have been established to promote fasting as a way to prevent and heal diseases, such as the Fasting Center International Incorporation in the United States of America.

In understanding the wisdom of Ramadan and fasting from several interesting findings, the effects can be looked upon from four different perspectives, namely economic, health and sciences, psychological and social point of views.

According to a study entitled Piety and Profits: Stock Market Anomaly during the Muslim Holy Month undertaken by the University of New Hampshire led by Iranian-born finance Professor Ahmad Etebari, stock returns in largely Muslim nations outperform during Ramadan.

It is found that on average, stock returns are nine times higher than other times of year. The phenomenon is called the “Ramadan Effect”.

Between the stock markets of Bahrain, Oman, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, the report identified a trend of considerably higher returns during the holy month as compared to other months.

The study found that the average returns for the 15 countries — from the database gathered from 1989 to 2007 — were 38 per cent during Ramadan as compared to an average of 4.3 per cent during ordinary months. It reveals that the social cohesion and institutional feelings attained during Ramadan helped influence investment behaviour.

In 1994, during the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan” held in Casablanca, Morocco 50 research papers were presented from all over the world by Muslim and non-Muslim researchers who have done extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting.

The congress made recommendations that Ramadan fasting is an ideal method for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin dependent diabetes, obesity and essential hypertension.

Allan Cott, in his famous book Why Fast, states that fasting has the effect of cleaning out the body; lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and letting the body heal itself. Another interesting finding refers to the fasting habit to slow the aging process based on a research conducted by Dr Yuri Nikolayev, a Moscow-based scientist and dietitian/nutritionist.

From a psychological point of view, it is empirically proven that fasting can bring positive effects to mental health. Dr Sabah al-Baqir from the Medical Faculty of University of King Saud reveals that fasting will generate a specific hormone which may relieve tension and make a person feel better physically and mentally.

Crime rate is also significantly decreased during Ramadan. I believe that this is a phenomenon in many jurisdictions all over the world. According to the statistic produced by the Iranian Police Department in 2008, Iran’s overall crime rate and murder rate declined during the holy month. There has been a 32 per cent decline in homicides and the overall crime rate has dropped significantly. It is worth noting that the homicide rate in Iran is six murder cases per day and Iran stands 50th in the world in the homicide rate.

Ramadan is the best time for family and social gathering. The Maktoob Research in UAE conducted a survey on the opinions of 6,128 adult Muslims from across the Arab world about Ramadan. The survey reveals that 86 out of 96 per cent of Arab Muslims observing the fasting month tend to observe iftar (the break of fast) as a good opportunity for family gatherings.

This finding indirectly indicates that fasting during Ramadan can strengthen the family institution and community as well as provide the best practices for the unity of the ummah.


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Iftar event draws in the crowd.

Monday, June 12th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The second week of Iftar@KL2017 has attracted foreign tourists to take part in the sixth edition of the en masse breaking of fast in the city centre.

The programme, jointly organised by the National Culture and Arts Department, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, is held every weekend during Ramadan at Jalan Raja and Dataran Merdeka.

Despite the rain before the programme which started at 6.30pm, members of the public arrived in throngs to reserve spots in the area provided.

University of Hamburg biology student Laura Schmidt, who is on a two-week visit to Malaysia, could not hide her excitement at having the chance to take part in such a large-scale programme.

“It is my first time joining this kind of programme. I was informed about the event by my friends back at my (backpackers) hostel.

“I really love Malaysian food, and the iftar food just now, like bubur lambuk, was delicious,” said the 27-year-old lass who donned a shawl when met by Bernama on Saturday evening.

A tourist from Mexico City, Roberto Gomez, 20, and his elder sister Maria had travelled a long way from Latin America to see for themselves the practices during the month of Ramadan in Malaysia.

“Even though we are both Catholics, we want to experience how Malaysian Muslims observe the month of Ramadan. We do not want to miss out on the amazing and delicious iftar food,” said Gomez.

Earlier, the programme was enlivened with Ramadan religious lectures and the recital of the Quran by hafiz (quran memorising) students.

Among the other highlights at the Iftar@KL programme this year were the distribution of lambuk porridge, an Islamic tourism exhibition, zakat counters and Ramadan discussions.

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Wisdom of the masses: Navigating multi-culturalism

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

IN a nation that is bisected by differing cultures and faiths, it is natural to expect that most Malaysians tend to favour and trust their co-religionists more compared to their other countrymen. It is normal human tendency to favour those who are like them due to shared values and expected norms. A survey, which was carried out by Merdeka Center on behalf of the University of Oxford and funded by CIMB Foundation, found that Malaysians tended to consider their co-religionists more favourably compared to those of other faiths. Unsurprisingly, they also reported knowing less about other religions compared to their own and tended to see people of other religions to be less like them. All the above attitudes were found to be prevalent among all Malaysians, but were more accentuated and much stronger among the Muslims surveyed. (See chart)

On the surface, these findings could serve the cause for further probing, to understand why the Malay Muslims see themselves apart from others and perhaps regard themselves as exceptional. While these attitudes exist and are held, the same respondents express agreement that Malaysians should strive to live in multicultural and multi-faith neighbourhoods so as to foster greater understanding and tolerance. This attitude can be construed in a number of different ways, but the most hopeful is one that sees it as an expression of a maturing society that appreciates each other’s need for spiritual and cultural space, but at the same time, wants it to be moderated by the need for mutual peace and cooperation.

Through surveys done in the past by Merdeka Center, we know that the major communities that make up the Malaysian citizenry see the world through different lenses: they read and learn about news in different languages, hold affinity to different regions of the world and dream about different vacation destinations. The Malay Muslims feel affinity for news and developments in other Muslim countries, particularly the troubled Middle East, dream about vacations in Turkey or Central Asia and imagine furthering their careers in the Gulf states.

On the other hand, the Chinese follow news and entertainment from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, they also consume more news from Western media outlets than their Muslim counterparts, and many imagine seeking employment in Singapore or further afield in places such as Australia or the rest of the West. As such, it is inevitable that their worldviews are different. Thus, while one part of society is transfixed on the violence perpetrated in places like Manchester or Paris, the other is affected by the daily atrocities in places like Syria, Palestine, Pakistan or Afghanistan.

These different worldviews would undoubtedly play a role in orientating communal behaviour, potentially pushing communities further apart. Closer to home, there are those who seek to stoke sensitivities over race and religious issues, such as the prolonged polemic over non-Islamic religious scripture in the Malay language, protests over religious symbols on buildings, and, more recently, over a little-known book written by a local politician about her faith. It is interesting that all of these issues came into the public arena when we are about to have the most competitive electoral contest in our political history.

Despite what appears to be manufactured polemics aimed at mobilising communities towards a particular option, most Malaysians have chosen restraint over reaction. We have some empirical examples from recent political history: in our analysis of the 2013 general election results, we noted that despite incessant media and political treatment of the use of some Arabic terms in non-Muslim scriptures in the five months leading up to polling day, the issue hardly budged the Malay Muslims. Instead, the Malay voter swings were more correlated with regional or local issues, such as the perceived performance of leaders, resolution of local issues or the quality of candidates fielded by parties. This and many other examples in past years show that the Malaysian public, the Malay Muslims in particular, are more mature and considerate than some of their purported leaders give them credit for. Through their restraint, the vast majority are not easily perturbed by manufactured slights and sensitivities.

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Kerinah Mah, crowned the new Unduk Ngadau queen

Thursday, June 1st, 2017
Kerinah Mah (middle), the 22-year-old Sino Tombonuo lass, representing Kota Kinabalu, beat 43 participants and took over the role of legendary figure Huminodun from former Unduk Ngadau queen Sherry Anne Laujang. Pix by MALAI ROSMAH TUAH.

PENAMPANG: This year’s Kaamatan festival ends with the crowning of Kerinah Mah as the new Unduk Ngadau.

The 22-year-old Sino Tombonuo lass, representing Kota Kinabalu, beat 43 participants and took over the role of legendary figure Huminodun from former Unduk Ngadau queen Sherry Anne Laujang.

She won herself RM45,000 in scholarships sponsored by the Asian Tourism International College and the Almacrest International College, return ticket to Bangkok, RM8,000 in cash, a Samsung Galaxy A5, and a trophy, among others.

During the question and answer session, she said participating the Unduk Ngadau has always been her dream.

“Through Unduk Ngadau, I am able to enhance my knowledge (on the Kadazandusun culture and traditions) and also the language,” she said.

Kerinah was crowned by Puan Sri Genevieve Kitingan, the wife of Deputy Chief Minister and Huguan Siou (Kadazandusun paramount leader) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan at the event held at Hongkod Koisaan here.

Shareene Francis Loudin, who represents Penampang, bagged the first runner-up position, while Arveyna Pamella Januin of Papar came in as the second runner-up.

The Unduk Ngadau pageant is one of the most important highlights of Kaamatan, which depicts Huminodun, a maiden who was sacrificed by her father, Kinoingan, to save the people from famine and grant humans a bountiful harvest.

A newly crowned Unduk Ngadau is expected to carry out social and charity works as well as promote Sabah tourism for a year.


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