By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Berkeley–Anwar Ibrahim (b. 1947), leader of the Opposition in the Malaysian parliament and Former Deputy Prime Minister (1993-1998) of Malaysia came here to give an important speech last Fall. Early in his career, he was mentored by the then Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, but he became one of the most prominent critics of Mahathirâ€™s administration; and, thus, ran afoul of his mentor, and was convicted of corruption in 1999 (this is ironic with Mahathirâ€™s Administrationâ€™s infamy for the deceit of his Administration). During 2004 this judgment was reversed by a Federal Court, but later the Deputy PM (Prime Minister) was arrested for sodomy. (â€œMy high hopes were betrayed…,â€ for homosexuality is a most serious charge under Islamic law), but, because of an international hue, this charge was, also, abandoned. During 2008, he was recharged under that accusation, but won a Ryding (a representative seat) to Parliament, nonetheless, by a 15,000 plurality in the same month as the second accusation. This made him the head of the opposition in government as leader of the Permtang Paug Party.
Although Malaysia does not have the population or the square miles of China or India, it is one of Asiaâ€™s tigers by its economic growth and achievement since its Independence from Colonialism. During 1942-1945, it was occupied by the Japanese. In 1948, the Federation of Malaysia was formed while still a dependent of London. It included a third of Borneo and Sabah (counter-claimed by Indonesia) the Malay Peninsula, the contested oil-rich Spratly Islands and, at the time of founding, Singapore which, after Independence (1957), seceded from the union. The Philippines claimed the entire of the new nationâ€™s territory at inception, too!
The CIA (the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency) describes the constitutional monarchy of Malaysia as a middle income multi-sector country with a bicameral legislature, — with an upper House, the Dawn Negara (Senate) and a lower House of Representatives. Succinctly the Malays have adopted the English West Minister form of democracy with an adaption of the British legal system.
Economically, electronics exports are leading the way although its GDP (Gross National Product) has been hit hard by the worldwide recession. Yet, circa 88% literacy gives hope for even expanding development in the future when negative global pressures subside. Further the Peninsula of the Malays is rich in natural resources. Yet, this and industrial development has produced a pollution problem that has to be addressed for the health of their residents. What are weak in the Monarchyâ€™s future are the demographics of the population: The age balance between the young and old and middle age is weak.
The Federation is diverse with the majority Islamic Malays being approximately slightly over 50%, but there are Chinese (24%), Indigenous (11%), Indians (7%) and various others (8%). The national religious and linguistic divisions are just as varied. Besides Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and even Shamanism co-exist within the same sphere with a population of about 24 million.
Malaysia dominates most of the Malay Isthmus and is located on the strategic Straits of Malacca. It is roughly the size of the Western American state of New Mexico â€“ 329,750 sq. km. to be exact, but with a tropical-based agriculture that has allowed for an expediently larger and a more diverse populace and development.
There is a high literacy rate within the amalgamated hereditary States and Territories (the latter is appointed by the Central Government) which can counter the imbalance in demographics. It is important to remember that the super city of Kuala Lampur is not the capital of this new Muslim-dominated country, but a much smaller traditional aristocratic nucleus holds the honor of the political hub. In this way it can be compared to Karachi and Islamabad.
Although Anwar was incarcerated for seven years in total, he still holds that â€œIslam and democracy are not incompatible!â€ He declared that, although he was in solitary confinement for most of that period, he was able to read; and, thereby, was able to extend his education into new areas.
Although there is a rising tide of Islamaphobia, and the fear of a Muslim totalitarianism, â€œSharia embodies the freedom underlying Islamic law.â€ The Islamic entrance into Southeast Asia was peaceful. â€œIt included the seeds of pluralismâ€ as we have seen above. Ibrahim perceives that Malaysian democracy is domiciled peacefully within Modernism. â€œThe citizens have [utterly] rejected radicalismâ€ through the ballot box!
The abuse of human rights leads to terrorism! â€œWith free societies, we learn to cope with terrorism.â€ He asserted that there were three major parties in Islam, but he failed to elaborate on his statement. Emphatically, â€œWe should address poverty,â€ though!
â€œThe Judiciary often mimics their political masters.â€ The ruling elite hinder politics.
Talking about America, â€œ[Bush] insisted [that] security [must be] a betrayal [of his international friends]. Cowboy diplomacy has given way to [a more free] consistency.â€ Your previous Presidency lacked democracy!
Therefore, optimism will [must] succeed!