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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Connecting The Dots

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Image taken from, hosting by PhotobucketWhen Walski was a wee lad, and just starting to learn how to count, one of the fun things he remembers doing was to play Connect-The-Dots. He's quite sure that you know the drawing activity Walski's talking about, right?

What he found fascinating was that the resulting image was often not at all what he expected when he started from the first dot. Of course, Walski doesn’t find them quite as fascinating any more – this is talking about when he was 2 or 3 years old, after all.

But it so happens that in real life, there are virtual dots that, when connected, form interesting mental pictures, too. These dots come in the form of events and sometimes organizations or people. And the resulting pictures snapshots of the reality around us.

The difference is that the images you find in real life, which in fact are hiding in plain sight, often times are more difficult to form. Among the reasons for this is that you don’t always know immediately what dots belong to which picture. Until it is formed in totality.

Now, if you’ve read this far, and think that Walski’s lost his marbles, or worse, is writing about kiddie activity books, now is probably a good time to tell you that there is a point to all this.

It all began one fine day with a question, and a hunch.
(unraveling the imaginary dots, and more, in the full post)

The perplexing question Walski had was this: how is it that all these Malay/Muslim rights NGOs have appeared out of nowhere? Ok, he’s not talking about the more established ones like ABIM, Pekida, PGSM or Perkasa. No, it’s the other ones that seem to suddenly appear, like mushrooms on a moist and fertile dung-filled field, whenever there is an issue pertaining to things Malay/Islam – real or perceived.

Why ask this question? Well, if you’ve ever had to deal with the Malaysian Registrar of Societies (ROS), you’ll know that it’s not that easy to form an association, much less an NGO.

And then there’s the fact that certain religious organizations, which by their very nature, don’t auger well for nation building, are tolerated and to some degree encouraged by the government. One that comes to mind almost immediately is Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia, part of the larger international Hizb ut-Tahrir, one of whose aims is to one day form a global Islamic state. The sovereignty of Malaysia, as it stands today, probably doesn’t fit into the grand scheme of all things Hizb ut.

In fact, so tolerated is this organization that they have been given a KDN publication number, or permit to publish its newsletters, sometime around September 2009 thereabouts. Issuance of these numbers comes under the purview of the Home Ministry, and according to Wikipedia, under the “absolute discretion” of the Home Affairs Minister.

Incidentally, the ROS also comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Coincidence? Hold that thought for a moment, because there are more virtual dots to connect.

The hunch that Walski had? Remember the Third Power Column mentioned in a previous post (on November 18, 2009)? Well, information has surfaced that puts the Third Power Column into perspective of the bigger picture.

About 2 weeks ago, a confidential e-mail purportedly from Mahaguru58, pro-tem head of the Muslim Bloggers Alliance (MBA), was disclosed in a blog called Perisik Rakyat®, by blogger Tulang Besi, who was kicked out of the alliance because he disagreed with the unpermissability for non-Muslims to use the word “Allah”. This same posting was published at Malaysia Today, which is how Walski initially got to know about it.

What the e-mail, dated February 14, 2009, reveals is quite interesting. The following is an excerpt (emphasis by myAsylum):

Assalamualaikum dear MBA members.

I was invited to a closed door meeting with Datuk Seri Dr. Hj. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and in charge of Islamic Affairs, Government of Malaysia day before yesterday at the Shangrila Putrajaya. The meeting took place at 9pm at a designated meeting hall in the exclusive hotel.

The invitation to me was relayed by Rocky Bru @ Ahiruddin Atan, President of All Blogs to discuss amongst many other topics, the problem being created by the publishers of the Malaysian Roman Catholic Magazine 'Herald' who remain obstinate in using the term 'Allah' to represent their idea of God in their Malay section of their Christian magazine.

Fellow blogger Nuraina Samad who blogs at, the daughter of National Laureate, Allahyarham Tan Sri Samad Ismail, was also there and two other bloggers who wish to remain anonymous.

Also attending on behalf of the Malaysian Government's side was Dato' Hj Wan Mohamad bin Dato' Sheikh Abd.Aziz, the Director General of JAKIM, the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia, Dato' Hj Ibrahim bin Lembut, the Director General and Chief Syarie Judge of the Syariah Justice Department of Malaysia, Datuk Dr. Syed Ali Tawfik Al Attas, the Director General of IKIM, the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia and other top officials of the Ministry (Islamic Affairs, Prime Minister's Department).

(source: Perisik Rakyat®)

There is, therefore, very good reason why Mahaguru58 asked, later in the e-mail, to keep the communiqué under wraps. It also explains why recent statements from Ikim and Jakim on the A-word issue have consistently slanted a certain way.

Assuming that what the e-mail reveals is true, there is, therefore a collusion between members of the government executive, government agencies, the Syariah judiciary, and Malay/Muslim NGOs – all now associated with the Third Power Column, a nebulous entity that Walski has had a hunch existed. It’s aim? To promote religious conservatism with the end-game objective of turning Malaysia into a different kind of nation than what our founding fathers intended in 1957.

More dots that contribute to the bigger picture: the organizations that have been most vocal in the recent A-word issue – the Malay/Muslim NGOs and UMNO, or at the very least, prominent individuals within the party.

So what’s the picture that the dots, once connected, reveal? Personally, after thinking about it for a bit, Walski thinks that there’s actually more than just one picture, convoluted as these resulting images may be.

There are, in fact, at least two pictures – the first is that there is a concerted effort to eventually turn Malaysia into an Islamic theocracy, kind of like what’s happened in Acheh. But this possibility is not really feasible today because of one very important document, which stands in its way – the Federal Constitution. Enter Zulkifli Noordin, who during the last session of parliament intended to table amendments to the Constitution (via The Malaysian Insider), which would help pave the way. This is all part of the Third Power Column theory, which Walski has mentioned in the past.

Speaking of, yesterday, Walski posted a poll borrowed from The People’s Parliament having to do with Zulkifli Noordin. The result so far is close to unanimous – PKR should give the guy his walking papers.

The second emerging picture is that the Third Power Column, already in existence for quite a while, is being used as a tool by UMNO to help the party regain the political ground it lost during the last General Election in 2008, purportedly in the name of Islam. But things done for the sake of political expediency, no matter for what overt reasons, often have effects that last longer than intended. And sometimes these effects are not at all desired, nor anticipated.

The “support” given by the government and its agencies emboldens the Third Power Column. The action of the government in tolerating the post-Friday prayer protests is consistent with the theory that these organizations are being used for the ultimate aim of power consolidation.

Fine and well if the real objectives of UMNO are not achieved. But if UMNO succeeds, then the empowerment given to the various individuals and organizations can’t be yanked back overnight, lest UMNO loses its credibility with the column. The illusion of empowerment, however, is taken as license, and over time, gains momentum.

Once that momentum reaches a tipping point, it’ll be difficult for anyone to pull back the reins. Perhaps that’s why UMNO is so adamant on wanting to ensure that the Internal Security Act (ISA) remains on the books, as an escape clause should the shit really hit the fan.

Already, signs of this momentum are showing – interfaith dialogue is now being promoted by many parties, individuals in government included, as a means to amicably solve the A-word non-issue that’s become so contentious. As we saw in the 4-part Mahaguru58 video interview with Zul Noordin in yesterday’s posting, interfaith dialogue is something the Third Power Column is against, alluding that it will lead to bigger “demands”.

Whether or not Zulkifli Noordin is acting based on his own principles, or is being used as a tool by UMNO, either knowingly or otherwise, is left to be seen. It all depends on what PKR decides to do, and what Zul Noordin does after that.

The situation we have today is not something that happened overnight. Rather, it is the result of numerous events that have happened sporadically over the last decade or so, occurring out of political expediency, without much regard for long term effects that we are now witnessing – numerous hurried amendments to the Constitution, the “declaration” of Malaysia as an Islamic country, the demolishing of the judiciary as an independent institution, the civil service and government agencies becoming partisan, erosion of civil liberties – to name some that come to mind. These, further compounded with more recent events like what was described in the e-mail excerpt above.

And for what? All for the sake of short-sighted political expediency.

While the 1Malaysia concept may be an honest attempt to try to salvage what little social and national unity we have left, Walski can only describe it as trying to use a flimsy band-aid to treat an almost-severed limb. A case of too little, too late. Worse, with what’s happening on the ground, 1Malaysia sounds like nothing more than hollow sloganeering.

And that, folks, is the stark and ugly picture that the dots have revealed. Connecting the dots may have been fun and fascinating as a little kid when the images revealed were benign caricatures.

But the pictures that this recent connect-the-dots exercise has revealed… well, let’s just say that “benign“ isn’t a word that comes to mind.

So can you see what Walski sees, now that some of the dots have been connected?

He hopes that you do, because seeing the dot-obscured picture for what it is, is half the battle won, in Walski’s humble opinion...

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