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The Malaysian Solution

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    The Malaysian Solution by Israel Shamir Take a country populated by diverse communities, the indigenous and immigrant, of roughly equal size. These communities
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2003
      The Malaysian Solution

      by Israel Shamir

      Take a country populated by diverse communities, the indigenous and
      immigrant, of roughly equal size. These communities profess different
      religions and ply different trades. The immigrants are better at
      business; the natives prefer to till their soil. It could be a
      description of Palestine with its native Palestinians and the
      immigrant Jewish communities. But here the comparison ends. In
      Malaysia, the communities live in peace without UN peacekeepers, they
      pursue their cultural and religious interests without submitting to
      bleaching multiculturalism, their country prospers while rejecting
      the IMF recipes, and it is a native son of soil who stands at the
      helm of good ship Malaysia.

      On a less formal note, Malaysia is warm, wet and exotic. On the
      monsoon-swayed shore of Andaman Sea, a long-tailed, lithe monkey
      throws coconuts from the heights of a palm tree, flying fishes jump
      out of the warm blue sea and splash back, a white triangular sail
      rises on the horizon.Indians serve their sweet and punchy tea, teh
      tarik, pouring it with gusto in pulling motion, and neatly place
      curry on ecologically-sound banana leaves. Malay fishermen unload
      their haul on the shore and sort it under a broad banyan tree. At
      night, hundreds of stalls open at the Night Bazaar, feeding, dressing
      and entertaining locals and tourists.

      In Malacca, the oldest-in-East-Asia Catholic church stands next to
      the Great Mosque next to a Vishnu temple next to a Taoist pagoda. The
      Dutch-built austere Town Hall is surrounded by spacious British
      colonial mansions. Narrow streets preserve the charm of the
      Seventeenth Century, when the Malaccan sultanate was the hub of
      commerce. Many of its denizens bear proud Portuguese names, but in
      appearance they do not differ from other residents.

      In Penang, old Hakka smugglers warm their bones on the wooden jetties
      that form a floating island off Georgetown. Tamils sell junk on
      Armenian street, next to the most advanced chip plant, home to Athlon
      microprocessor. Yuppies have not taken over all of the Old City, and
      it reminds of Jaffa as it was before 1948: a modest, humane Eastern
      city. The glorious Oriental Hotel preserves the days of Somerset
      Maugham and the Straits' Settlements. Delightful and modish Chinese
      girls flock out of the convent school. Native Malays carry on their
      unruffled life in peaceful villages, happily serve in the army and
      provide the backbone of the administration.

      Islam is the state religion, as it had been in the Fourteenth and
      Fifteenth Centuries, when it peacefully seeped in and eventually
      became preferred to the older Hindu beliefs. Brought by the traders,
      Malay Islam is exceedingly tolerant, local, thoroughly adjusted to
      the place, as it is practically everywhere but on the pages of the
      New York Times. The girls do not cover their faces, but often wear a
      scarf, like religious Jewish women. On Fridays, men like to go to a
      mosque for prayer, the great social unifier and integrator. As
      Communism was always frowned-upon in Malaya, Islam is the preferred
      style of social movement.

      Prosperity is ubiquitous: perfect roads, new cars, brushed-up and
      restored relics of the past. There are no beggars, no striking
      poverty. Malaysians live well: they have given up home cooking and
      eat out in countless restaurants and at the stalls, where one dollar
      buys a square meal. Neighbouring Thais and Indonesians flock in and
      to cook their national dishes. The Twin Towers in the centre of
      futuristic Kuala Lumpur are the tallest in the world. 9/11 did not
      happen here, and the hotel security's main worry is Durian, strong-
      smelling fruit the tourists are prone to smuggle in, disregarding
      the "No Durian beyond this point" signs.

      It is a peaceful land: one rarely sees a policeman or a soldier.
      There are no security guards in the shopping centres, no visible
      tension, no American troops or bases, no prostitution, gambling and
      narcotics. Evening open-air parties, much swimming in the warm sea,
      friendly chat, unrushed small trade: in short, a relaxing spot. How
      come . why do they not fight, these people of different backgrounds?

      The secret of the Malaysian success was given away by their Prime
      Minister, Dr Mahathir bin Muhammad, whom local newspapers
      affectionately call 'Dr M': "It is better to share a pie than to have
      all of no pie." In the 1960s, Malaysia was torn by strife, for the
      native rural Malays felt threatened by the economic success of the
      Chinese and Indian immigrants, city dwellers with a long tradition of
      market economy. Numerically, the natives were hardly a majority,
      rather a plurality, of citizens. Economically, they were nowhere.
      Riots were frequent, and destruction appeared imminent. A pie was
      there to share: mineral resources, oil deposits, tin and rubber, an
      educated work force, a relatively small population; but the same is
      true for many countries that nevertheless came to grief.

      Where others failed, the Malaysians succeeded: they pursued a New
      Economic Policy (later called a New Development Policy), aimed to
      correct imbalances in agreement between the communities. That the pie
      of national economy should grow and the respective shares of the
      communities should be increasingly equalised was the idea of NEP and
      NDP. The prospering immigrant communities understood that disparity
      can ruin their good life, and agreed to affirmative action in the
      interest of the indigenous people. The indigenous Malays acquiesced
      to this relatively slow process.

      The affirmative action is not too radical: a Malay student has
      priority if he wants to study medicine or business management, as
      before the NEP there were just a few Malay doctors, businessmen,
      administrators. The native Malay gets a five percent discount when he
      buys an apartment. Malay businesses have some small tax breaks. In
      new developments, the developers have to secure 10 percent of flats
      and houses for the Malays, in order to avoid ghetto formation. Malay
      is the national language, but there are street signs in Chinese and
      English; Islam is the state religion, but there is full freedom to
      practise other religions as well.

      A guest from distant Palestine, I cried: Eureka! If we, Israelis and
      Palestinians, would learn from the Malaysian success, establish
      equality and take affirmative action to ensure a fair share for each
      community, Palestine would be at least as prosperous and happy as
      Malaysia. Even the notorious Jewish settlements would cause little
      irritation if their founders would ensure a fair share of Palestinian
      residents. (Nowadays, a Palestinian is not allowed even to tread on
      their fenced grounds.) Malaysia is an example to emulate. Let us
      follow the Malaysian way, erase partition, restore broken unity,
      return refugees home and live together happily ever after. Wealthy
      and privileged minorities can impose their will for a while, but in
      the long run, only agreement and fair sharing á la Malaysia will work.

      Not only in Palestine: This is a general panacea against the malady of
      inequality and national strife. In the Twentieth Century, the Masters
      of Discourse promoted their own patent medicine: partition and
      transfer. Liberally applied in Greece and Turkey, on the Indian
      subcontinent, in the Middle East, in the Balkans and Eastern Europe,
      in the former Soviet Union, and this has already ruined half a
      planet. Nowhere had it improved things. Subcontinent Muslims I meet
      regret the day Pakistan was torn off India. From Tajikistan to
      Belarus people dream of returning of the Soviet Union. Hungarians and
      Czechs feel nostalgia for Österreich. Ravaged Smyrna, devastated
      Sudetenland and bleeding Palestine confirm that partition wounds
      do not heal for centuries, and that population transfer ensures future
      massacres. It should be undone.

      The Malaysian way of integration had an alternative, the way of
      partition, and it was pursued by Singapore, a splinter Overseas-
      Chinese city-state at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. It has some
      similarities to the Jewish state: authoritarian rule, vast employment
      of foreign guest workers, aggressive stance towards their integrated
      neighbours. A great friend of Israel and the Far East base of Mossad,
      the Israeli intelligence service, Singapore is an important link in
      the global system of currency trading, an integral part of the New
      World Order, a supporter of the US and Australia. Singapore is better
      than Israel: it did not expel its native Malays, did not conquer the
      Peninsula, did not launch aggressive wars. It could be a free
      and peaceful city-state, but the dynamics of partition made it a
      potential source of trouble. By taking a leaf from Israel's book,
      Singapore declared its 'right' to wage war on Malaysia if the country
      hikes the price of the water it sells to the island.

      Singapore poisons the minds of the Malaysian Chinese and encourages
      their immigration to the island. It is a very unnecessary thing, for
      the Malaysian Chinese community is well integrated in their country.
      In Penang, there is a Chinese Prime Minister, and, despite
      affirmative action, the Chinese retain commanding heights in the
      economy. What is worse, Singapore politicians try to influence
      decision-making of in the People's Republic, the economic giant
      with little political will of its own. It is proof that the evils
      caused by choosing the partition model do not stop at partition but
      have lasting, damaging effect on the world.



      How the Malaysians did it

      The ruling block of moderate nationalist Malays and its Chinese and
      Indian counterparts have managed the country since the 1960s, and Dr
      M, actually a medical doctor by profession, has served as the Prime
      Minister for over twenty years. Next year he will retire at the ripe
      age of 78. He came to power as a young radical and Malay nationalist,
      expressing the natives' disappointment over the too-slow progress in
      levelling economic misbalance between the communities. His victory
      scared the immigrant communities and made them more amenable to Malay
      demands. But Dr M carried out reforms gradually and gently. Under his
      rule, Malaysia became a prosperous industrial nation, a leader in
      computers as well as in traditional pursuits. Even more important, it
      is a rather happy land of contented people.

      Malaysia rejected the Western idea of nation-state, as it accepted the
      many-coloured mosaic of its communities. They are not three, but
      rather thirty-three. The Chinese form many communities of various
      languages, cultures and religions. There are Cantonese, Swatow,
      Hakka, Hokkien, as distinct as Sicilians and Swedes. Indians are
      equally diverse: Muslim and Hindu, Punjabis, Tamils, Bengalis. The
      native Malays also form various tribes and ethnic units. The oldest
      inhabitants of the Peninsula, the orang asli or `original men',
      Negroid tribes akin to Australian aborigines and Indian Dravidic
      people, still roam the jungles. Europeans and their descendents (of
      mostly mixed marriages) live in Malacca, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

      Malaysia rejected the idea of the `melting pot' as well. Communities
      are not asked to integrate and assimilate; they are encouraged to
      keep their identity and may attend schools in their native tongues
      while keeping the same curriculum. They do not fall for the trap of
      multiculturalism, either. The uncomfortable part of multiculturalism
      as preached by New York is the removal of the backbone of the nation:
      the rejection of the original religion and culture of the majority.
      As I watched CNN on pre-Christmas days, I noticed their fear of
      actually referring to the Christian holiday without balancing it by
      an example of Hanukkah or Kwanza. Not so in Malaysia: there is a
      state religion and a state language, and tolerance of minorities.

      Most importantly, Malaysia rejected the faith of Neo-Liberalism.
      Together with Castro and the Pope, Dr M is an outspoken critic of the
      Chicago School. He does not want to sell assets to the highest
      bidder, nor thereby to impoverish people and create a new class of
      super-rich. Food and housing are inexpensive and often subsidised. Dr
      M is not a socialist. He prefers a strong middle class, but he was
      taught enough Mencius (Mengzi), the Second Sage of Confucianism, to
      know of the obligation of rulers to provide for the common people.

      The Neo-Liberalists tried to devour Malaysia. The Scourge of Nations,
      the Imperial Wizard[1] George Soros, a mysterious man with unlimited
      resources and strong ties to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad,
      who broke the Bank of England, ruined Taiwan, South Korea and
      Thailand, attacked Malaysia, too. His financial offensive wiped out
      ten years of Malaysian development and ten years of 20 million men's
      labour: a cool $30 billion of damage. The country would have been
      devastated but for Dr M, who slammed currency controls into place.

      After the Soros plague, Malaysia asked for help from the IMF and the
      World Bank, and was told that aid is conditional upon acceptance of
      IMF rules, including lifting of currency controls. Ostensibly, that
      was the purpose of Soros's raid: to break the country, to send it
      running to the IMF and to turn it into a vassal of the New World
      Order. All nations that accepted IMF rules were ruined: from
      Argentina to Bulgaria, from South Africa to Russia.

      Eduardo Galeano, the noted Uruguayan writer, in a recent interview,
      said: "Argentina did everything it was ordered to do by the
      International Monetary Fund and it's destroyed. The lesson is not to
      buy into IMF discourse, which leads not only to the extermination of
      national economies, but to horrific consequences that are not only
      economic. A discourse that not only translates into mass
      impoverishment and an offensive concentration of wealth, but into
      slaps in the face, the daily insults that are the ostentation of the
      power of the few, in the face of the helplessness of the many... It
      discredits democracy. Nowadays, it is identified with corruption,
      inefficiency, injustice, which is the worst thing that could happen to
      democracy. Another tremendous injury is the great damage that the
      culture of solidarity has suffered all these years. Right now the
      predominant culture is that of "every man for himself," and if you
      fall, you're screwed.

      The new name for the financial dictatorship is the "international
      community" ; anything that you do to defend the little that remains
      of your sovereignty is "an attack against the international
      community", rather than an act of legitimate defence against the
      usury practiced by the banking system that rules the world, in which
      the more you pay, the more you owe. That is why in a country like
      Argentina everything has been dismantled: the economy, the state, the
      collective identity of a people who no longer know who they are,
      from where they came or where they are going.."

      The stubborn old man, Dr M refused to accept the IMF diktat, and
      Malaysia retained its prosperous independence. It did not go under as
      Russia and Argentina, because its ruler was a determined man who
      deeply felt his solidarity with his people. But it was not an easy
      feat: Dr M had to fight a to-the-last-man-standing battle with his
      Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, the IMF supporter in Kuala
      Lumpur. Anwar Ibrahim used the Soros-inflicted depression and stirred
      unrest. A weaker man, a Gorbachev, would have collapsed and vacated
      his seat, plunging the country into chaos. Dr M is made of sterner
      stuff: he deftly dealt with the Neo-Liberal by using some old and not-
      too-liberal laws against homosexuality. That was a correct if
      difficult decision: In similar vein, the Americans had sent Al Capone
      to jail on a trumped-up charge of small tax evasion, as they could
      not make other charges stick. An IMF supporter is no better than a
      gangster.

      However, for many Malaysian intellectuals this was a traumatic
      experience: they would have preferred correct results to be obtained
      by correct means. "Dearie, don't we all! But we can't put 'IMF
      support' into the penal code", I said to them. "The ruler has a duty
      to his people to protect them from neo-liberal wolves, and this
      obligation precedes his personal ethics."

      Soros retained a menacing presence in Malaysia. He paid for a Web
      magazine and repeatedly tried to buy a newspaper to brainwash
      Malaysians, as he does elsewhere, notably in Russia. In a Kuala
      Lumpur hotel, I met Malaysian fellow journalists who expectedly
      complained about another very non-Western Malaysian precept, that of
      government-controlled media. This would have been an embarrassing
      moment for me if I had not heard this complaint twelve years ago, in
      the offices of Russian newspapers. The Russians had no Dr M of their
      own; they privatised their media. It was snatched up by a bunch of
      moguls and turned into subversion tools against Russia. Now, almost
      all Russian media belongs to a galore of Israeli citizens.

      That is why I told my Malaysian colleagues: "Sorry, guys. If you had
      had it your way and made your newspapers and TV independent of
      government, you would have had a lot of fun for a whole week. One
      week later, your media would have been bought by George Soros, the
      man who preaches of the advantages of open society to oysters. As
      long as a wolf roams outside, a clever sheep sticks to its shepherd".

      This week, Dr M had an unexpected reason for joy: a French court
      found Soros guilty of insider trading. Its small fine of $2 million
      means little for a man who makes $1 billion a day, but it is
      satisfying to see him branded a thief. I would not be amazed to learn
      that the terrible excesses of the Zionists in Palestine were arranged
      as a diversion of attention away from their Globalist brethren. While
      Zionists ruin a village, Soros and the IMF ruin a country.

      Together with Castro, Dr M understood that the source of their power
      lies in the overvalued US dollar. Since 1972, the US freely issued
      green bucks no longer tied to gold. This financial swindle, the
      biggest in the history of mankind, brought enormous wealth to some
      people, and ruined a lot more. That is why Malaysia is the brain and
      the engine of an ambitious plan to create a stable currency, the
      golden Dinar. It is also called the 'Islamic Dinar', as Islamic Law
      forbids usury and interest, and the Dinar will bear zero interest. (A
      similar step was taken by Solon the Wise in Sixth Century BC
      Athens: he cancelled debts, zeroed interest and made people free. A
      hundred years later, Athens ushered in its Golden Age.) This year,
      the Dinar will become the currency to settle deals between Malaysia
      and some Arab countries.

      Currency trading, the pet tool of Soros, should be banned, thinks Dr
      M:



      The traders sell huge sums of currency they do not have to buyers who
      are members of the same circle. The buyers in turn sell this
      fictitious currency to others, force down the value and buy at the
      depressed prices. Short selling has been taken to the ultimate level.
      The currency trading is many times bigger than total world trade.



      The New World Order has in Dr M a most outspoken enemy. He views it
      as a continuation of old colonialism by new methods:



      Free trade had always been the war cry of the Europeans. In the 19th
      century they used gunboats to open East Asia for trade. They went to
      war when they were not allowed to supply opium to China. Now, the
      gunboats have disappeared, but the pressures are no less effective.
      An occupation army cannot colonise more effectively than the economic
      arm-twisting used by the West. Now international institutions are
      used to open up the countries for 'free trade'. Once the countries
      are opened up, the big corporations and banks would move in, and the
      locals will be swallowed up.



      Dr M has not mellowed with years. His thinking has become even more
      striking and extraordinary. While visiting Japan, he called upon the
      Japanese to reject the Western model as it is sure to ruin their
      achievements:



      Japanese system worked very well for the Japanese. It made Japan the
      second most powerful economy in the world. It may not be the Western
      way, but it can't be all wrong if it can achieve so much.



      In Dr M's view, Japan should return to strong government involvement
      in economy, and take up its leading role in Asia, for "East Asia and
      the world need Japan, its dynamism and its single-minded dedication".
      For Dr M, as for many important politicians in Asia, WWII was not a
      war between ultimate good and ultimate evil. "The success of the
      Japanese army in the early days of the war finally broke the spell
      cast by the Europeans. East Asians learned that their European
      overlords could be defeated." Similar sentiments are voiced in Iran
      and in Arab countries, where anti-British resentment brought
      nationalist leaders to seek help of the Axis Powers.

      Malaysia is an 'alternative' country where many Western ideas were
      found wanting and were rejected. We are used to frequent changes of
      prime ministers and presidents and see it as a success of democracy.
      But Dr M, this benevolent king-philosopher in Plato's mould,
      disagrees. It takes many years for policies to produce fruits, he
      says. First year in power, the ruler learns to be addressed and to
      address others properly. Next year, he forms his opinions. Then he
      makes decisions, and only in a few years can we judge his decisions
      properly. He succeeded because he had enough time, he says.

      This idea is unusual for us, but as the matter of fact, three of the
      most charismatic and extraordinary statesmen of our days, Dr M, Dr
      Fidel Castro and the Pope, persist in power for tens of years with
      great success. Commercial companies, nowadays as powerful as any
      state, also do not change their helmsmen without urgent need.

      Surely, if a statesman like Dr M were to lead Japan, (or China, or
      Russia, or, indeed, the EU) the world would be different. Many things
      have changed since WWII, and Europeans, together with ordinary
      Americans, are now experiencing the brunt of the same policies Asia
      suffered in its colonial past. 'The Open Society' has become the tool
      for robbery brought home, as the New World Order is the colonisation
      of Europeans and Americans by their new financial elite.

      Dr M is a strict opponent of the American War on Terror. For
      him, "terrorism never dies until the causes for terrorism are
      eliminated". He speaks against the impending Anglo-American
      aggression in Iraq, he refuses to accept the rant of 'Islamic
      terror'. Dr M supports the much-suffering people of Palestine without
      the caveats usually produced by his meek-hearted colleagues in
      Europe. His voice is heard, for Malaysia has not surrendered
      its discourse to its enemies.

      Malaysia reminded me of Cuba, the Island of Freedom in the Caribbean
      Sea. It is also an alternative society where highly educated men map
      a different future for mankind, for "today's world is in shambles.
      The abuses of the free trade system, the unlimited greed of
      speculators, have resulted in the world losing its way", in the words
      of Dr M. Similar ideas are expressed in Castro's speeches. The two
      politicians met a few times and expressed mutual admiration, despite
      their huge ideological differences: Castro the Communist and Dr M the
      Nationalist. In Cuba and in Malaysia, one can read a newspaper
      or watch TV without nausea. These two small countries have much for
      us to learn from.

      * * *

      Penang, Malaysia, is home to some of the best NGOs, notably the Third
      World Network, Consumers' Society, Citizens International and Taiping
      Peace Initiative. Their brilliant gurus, Dr Idris Mohammed
      (idrismd@...), Dr Rajamurti (twnet@...) and Anwar
      Fazal (anwar.fazal@...) amazed me with their knowledge and
      devotion to mankind, and shared with me their insights. I am most
      grateful for their guidance and assistance. I would also like to
      thank Dr Alijah Gordon, the American writer who made Malaysia her
      home, and Dr Hishamuddin Ubaidullah, the chairman of Deir Yassin
      Remembered in Malaysia. For the local Chinese opinion I am indebted
      to Mr To, a Minister of the Penang Government. I am grateful to the
      hospitable people of Malaysia and their Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir
      Mohammad, for showing a possible solution to the problems of
      Palestine.
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      [1] See Heather Cottin, `George Soros, Imperial Wizard', CovertAction
      Quarterly, No 74, Fall 2002.


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