Malaysia at 60: The Promise Fades

Malaysia at 60: The Promise FadesOn Aug. 31, Malaysia will celebrate – if that is the proper word – the 60th anniversary of its founding with its people subdued and with a government widely regarded as a kleptocacy. It is wracked with a continuing scandal that has robbed the exchequer of an estimated US$11.4 billion lost to fraud and mismanagement…

Malaysia Loses a Polymath – and a Malaysian

Malaysia Loses a Polymath – and a MalaysianRehman Rashid, who died on June 3 in Kuala Lumpur of complications from a heart attack, was described by a friend as “essentially an old-school secular, Anglophile, Queens English-speaking ‘Malay’ with an elite education. Most under-40 contemporary Malays would struggle to relate to him, because there are vanishingly few similar to him around these days…

Malaysia’s Rajah Bomoh: Throwback to an Earlier Age

Malaysia’s Rajah Bomoh: Throwback to an Earlier AgeOn March 8, 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from the radar screens of air traffic controllers at 1:19 am in what has become the biggest mystery in aviation history. The Boeing 777-200R, with 227 passengers and 12 crew, had departed from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 am. It was en route northeast…

Malay Scholars Find Fault in Malay Leaders

Malay Scholars Find Fault in Malay LeadersThe United Malays National Organization (UMNO) presents itself as the guardian of Malay interests, culture and language. So what do the 1MDB and other scandals say about the fundamental problems of this long-dominant ruling party, the institutional arm of the Malay elite?  The disappearance of vast sums from the accounts of the state-backed 1MDB investment…

Official Religious Orthodoxy Driving Malaysia to Extremes

Official Religious Orthodoxy Driving Malaysia to ExtremesMalaysia likes to present itself as a moderate Muslim state and it is fairly credited with cracking down on terrorism or individuals trying to join ISIS in Syria/Iraq or al-Qaeda related groups. Yet even some Islamic scholars are now accusing the government itself of fostering extremism through official actions. The government interferes with religious issues…

Malaysia’s Bomohs: Witch Doctors in Modern Society

Malaysia’s Bomohs: Witch Doctors in Modern SocietyLast week, students at several schools in the town of Pengkalan Chepa in the eastern Malaysian state of Kelantan suddenly began screaming and gyrating, seeing a particular Malay ghost called Pontianak,  also known as Kuntilanak in Indonesia -- evil, half-dead, foul-smelling, dripping blood with a nail stuck in her neck, a shrieking female poltergeist. The…

Opinion: Don’t Let Radical Islam Colonize Malaysia

Opinion: Don’t Let Radical Islam Colonize MalaysiaMalaysians are fascinated by Islamic preachers from outside even though these preachers live in societies plagued with violent radicalism, chaos, corruption, intellectual shallowness, low rates of literacy, racism and bigotry, not to mention how these societies view women, people of other religions and even child marriage. We fail to see that the Hindu-Buddhist syncretist Malay…

Johor Sultan Says Be Malay Not Arab

Johor Sultan Says Be Malay Not ArabIt is not often that modern Malaysian sultans, least of all from Johor, make sage public statements. But a mix of wisdom and exasperation was evident in the recent words of Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar:  "If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practice Arab culture, and do…

The Two–Year Search for MH370

The Two–Year Search for MH370On March 8, it will be two years since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur International Airport bound for Beijing and disappeared into the world’s greatest airplane mystery. At 01:19.30, Captain Zahairie Ahmad Shah, a 33-year MAS veteran, passed the last Malaysian communications waypoint and replied “Good night, Malaysian three seven oh.” He never…

Budget Axe Falls on Malaysian Universities

Budget Axe Falls on Malaysian UniversitiesOne of the key sectors in government to face budget cuts last October was higher education. Hidden under the populist measures of the BR1M people’s aid scheme, higher pensions and a widening of zero-rated items under the goods and services tax introduced last year, education cuts are just starting to be felt. The education institutions’…
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