LATEST BOOK BY KUA KIA SOONG…
MALAYSIA’S 14th GENERAL ELECTION: THE BIG ISSUES*
‘This timely book by Dr. Kua Kia Soong will not only stand the test of time but will remain a classic reference for years to come… It will be a hard struggle for Malaysians to take back the country from the hands of corrupt and indifferent politicians. Yet we must fight on and Kua has given clear pointers of the issues that we must confront and resolve.’
Dr Ariffin Omar, Former lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia
‘Finally, an honest and critical look into what Malaysians can expect for the next general elections. Kua writes with verve and profundity, raising difficult questions but always in the end grounded on the conviction that a better world is possible. He speaks truth to power. Look no further for the right balance of academic inquiry and accessibility.’
Fuad Rahmat, Business FM
‘Kua’s book is a must read for his critical and valuable analysis of the political, economic and social landscapes shaping Malaysia. He challenges the neo-liberal framework that has defined the policies of both the ruling government and opposition political parties, and offers a very much needed inspiration for the way forward.’
Gayathry Venkiteswaran – Centre for Independent Journalism
Malaysia’s 14th general election will no doubt be fought between a Barisan Nasional coalition that boasts its sixty years of “stable rule” and a Pakatan Rakyat coalition calling on the electorate to “save Malaysia” from the BN’s kleptocracy. Malaysian voters will likely be treated to tirades about current scandals including 1MDB, as well as past scandals, now that the former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir has joined the Opposition. But what are the big issues of this election?
This book, a compilation of the author’s recent writings, discusses the important issues confronting Malaysian society today. If any sustainable democratic progress is to be made in this country, it is crucial that voters are informed and demand that candidates and their parties clarify their stand on these issues well before Election Day. Kua concludes with an alternative programme for Malaysia that is both inclusive and progressive – ‘Manifesto of the 99%’ by The Left Coalition, to transcend the years of corruption, neo-liberal capitalism and lack of democracy. Failure to learn the lessons of the last sixty years of BN rule will condemn the country to a further dysfunctional future for the vast majority of Malaysians.
For those interested, please contact us at suaram(a)suaram.net or + 603 – 7954 5724
For Immediate Release
15 June 2016
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) launched its Annual Human Rights Report 2015 on the 15th June 2016 at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
In 2015 as in previous years, Malaysia continued to crack down on critics, dissenters, opposition politicians and human rights defenders. With the introduction of increasingly repressive laws and the crude manner in which the Government of Malaysia stretches the limit of its power to penalize the voices of dissent, Malaysia is tipping further into an autocratic state. In the expansive list of human rights violations recorded in 2015, SUARAM seeks to highlight the following:
Harassment, Restriction and Detention of Dissenters, Political Opposition and Human Rights Defenders
With the exposure of the 1MDB scandal in the international press and the growing voice of dissent, the government initiated its campaign of crackdown against dissenters, political oppositions and human rights defenders. Between the mass arrests during the #KitaLawan, #TangkapNajib and #BantahGST rallies and the investigations and harassments of human rights defenders following Bersih 4.0 under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Government of Malaysia has repeatedly flaunted its disregard for human rights and the decision by the Court of Appeal in 2014.
Apart from the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, countless opposition leaders and human rights defenders have been subjected to prosecution under the Sedition Act 1948, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Section 124 of the Penal Code. In an extreme case, activist Khalid Ismath was subjected to solitary confinement and inhuman treatment when he was detained for expressing his views on the detention of Kamal Hisham.
Justifying Denial of Civil Liberties with Security
Following the high profile terror attacks around the globe in 2015, the Malaysian government claimed the need for stronger measures to prevent terrorism. Under the guise of national security, the Government of Malaysia introduced new laws that are far more repressive and draconian than existing laws. These include the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2015 that permits detention without trial and the National Security Council Bill that grants the Prime Minister power to declare an area a security area and to impose quasi-emergency status in the area.
Besides the introduction of these new repressive laws, the state launched a series of arrests and detentions under existing provisions including the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959, raising grave concerns for the denial of the right to a fair trial. The criminal justice system of Malaysia has also been compromised by the existence of laws such as POCA and POTA. In 2015, the allegations of torture by victims of these laws raise grave concern for the rights and physical well-being of those charged under these Acts. These also cast doubt on the professionalism and effectiveness of the Royal Malaysian Police in countering terrorism and maintaining law and order.
Contempt for the Rights and Welfare of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrant Workers
The heart wrenching scenes of refugees adrift in the Andaman Sea and the chilling images from the Wang Keliang death camps were not enough to change the stance of the Government of Malaysia or the state government of Penang on the plight of asylum seekers and refugees. They continue to live in fear of harassment, prosecution and deportation. With no respite in sight for the continued harassment and denial of rights of the Rohingya people by the Burmese state, the problems that manifested itself in 2015 during the height of the refugee crisis would likely be repeated in 2016.
State Sanctioned Corporate Interests at the Expenses of Human Rights
With scant respect for human rights, corporations and businesses have been given a free hand to accumulate profits in Malaysia. While cases of illegal logging, forced evictions and land grabs have become common news items, the state and the police seem ineffectual in preventing the confiscation of the rights and interest of the people affected.
The signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in 2016 despite the vocal opposition and protests in 2015 leaves Malaysians apprehensive about the negative impact on the welfare and rights of Malaysians that the TPPA will bring.
The political turmoil within the ruling government as well as the opposition is challenging for human rights defence whether civil and political rights or economic, social and cultural rights. Regardless of political inclination, the events that transpired in 2015 have reaffirmed the need for immediate steps to be taken to remedy the on-going human rights violations.
To this end, SUARAM calls upon the Government of Malaysia to sign and ratify the remaining international conventions and to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur to investigate and report on human rights in Malaysia.
SUARAM further calls upon the Royal Malaysian Police to reform its operations and structure to be more transparent and accountable by establishing a memorandum of understanding with SUHAKAM and EAIC outlining best practices to be adopted by the police to ensure that the standard operating procedures of the Royal Malaysian Police are compliant with international human rights norms.
With these recommendations, SUARAM hopes that 2016 will not be another year of dark despair but a year of redemption for human rights in Malaysia.
Copy of the report can be purchased from SUARAM or GerakBudaya. For more information, kindly email [email protected] or call our office at +03 7784 3525!
KUA KIA SOONG’S LATEST BOOK:
‘MODERATES & EXTREMISTS IN MALAYSIA’, SUARAM 2016, 180 pages, RM28
“Any work by perhaps Malaysia’s most prolific public intellectual is a welcome addition to our very small corpus of contemporary scholarship… Kua Kia Soong has done a remarkable job on many diverse subjects… I have no hesitation in recommending his latest book, and hope that his prolific pen continues to write bravely and frequently.”
– Tommy Thomas, Senior lawyer in the Malaysian Bar
“For more than forty years Kua Kia Soong has been writing – with both wit and wisdom – about what ails Malaysia. His latest collection of essays takes off from the premise that the country is mired in religious and sectarian bigotry, deeply institutionalised racism, ‘national security’ as a cloak for authoritarianism and ravenous corruption. Malaysia needs audacious voices that speak without fear. In asking the right questions, his provocations open up the possibility of another kind of society, standing firmly on the side of rationality, truth, justice, democracy and human rights.”
– Gareth Richards, Gerakbudaya Bookshop, Penang
The rise of the far-right and the religious bigots in Malaysia has in turn given rise to a ‘Movement of Moderates’. In the body politic, espousing “moderation” becomes imprecise since it is an example of the kind of language that is also used by the powers-that-be to deal with those who uphold truth, justice and human rights. Malaysian society is fast becoming an Orwellian dystopia in which labels such as “moderates”, “extremists”, “national security”, “national harmony” and other fluffy terms have become relative and imprecise, depending on how they are defined by the state and the judiciary.
In this collection of provocative essays, Dr Kua Kia Soong analyses the glaring issues as they have arisen in the current Malaysian political sphere. In his characteristic straight-talking and non-partisan approach, he takes to task the ruling Barisan Nasional and the alternative Pakatan Rakyat coalitions on these national and international issues. He calls for far-reaching reforms that recognize all citizens as equal and promote healthy ethnic relations, while dealing effectively with racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance in our society.
Dr Kua Kia Soong is director of the Malaysian human rights organization SUARAM. He was principal of the community-funded New Era College (2000-2008); Opposition MP for Petaling Jaya (1990-95); director of the Malaysian Chinese Research Centre (1985-90); political detainee under the ISA (1987-89); lecturer in Sociology at National University of Singapore (1978-79).
Racism & Discrimination in Malaysia: A Historical and Class Perspective
Email us as [email protected]
At last! The elephant in the room is not only acknowledged but caringly examined from trunk to tail by Malaysian social scientist Kua Kia Soong.
This is the first in-depth expose of racism & racial discrimination in Malaysia, written from a historical and class perspective. It forces the nation to confront once and for all the ‘Bumiputera agenda’ which has been implemented with impunity since the New Economic Policy in 1971. These discriminatory policies fail to meet the standards of international conventions and continue to stymie Malaysia’s goal of achieving high-income status by 2020.
This book is about the politics of race and class in Malaysia, highlighting the structural conditions that enable the crude manipulation of race to serve the economic interests of the ruling elite. The chapters on the Emergency contain declassified documents from the British Public Records Office, which were made available after the 30-year secrecy rule was lifted. The author offers alternatives that are needs based and thus race-free by doing away with such discriminatory policies, rent-seeking activities and patronage politics.
Foreword by Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, Former UN Special Rapporteur
INTRODUCTION: RACISM & RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
- The politics of race & class
- Legacy of British divide-and-rule strategy
- Authoritarian populism of the Malaysian state
- Racist threats during UMNO power struggles
- Racism outsourced to Malay supremacist groups
- The ‘Bumiputera/Immigrant’ conceptual trick
- Do Malays have special “rights”?
- The Umno elite and their statistical charade
- Malaysia’s crony capitalism
- Institutional obstacles to attaining high-income status
- Affirmative action based on need not race
- Non-discriminatory basis of the federal constitution
- The world community outlaws racism & racial discrimination
Chapter 1: PRE-COLONIAL MALAY SOCIETY
- Who was here first?
- Malay feudal mode of production
- Contradictions in traditional Malay society
- European mercantilism
Chapter 2: BRITISH COLONIAL DIVIDE-AND-RULE
- From mercantilism to imperialism
- Malay resistance to British intervention
- Colonial backing of the Malay ruling class
- Promoting the ‘special position of the Malays’
- Malay Reservations Enactment
- Discrimination against rubber smallholders
- Growth of the working class
- Radicalization of the working class
- Non-Malay commercial class
- Specific communalist colonial policies
Chapter 3: NON-RACIAL ANTI-COLONIAL MOVEMENT
- Making of the Malayan workers’ movement
- The radical Malay intelligentsia
- Japanese Occupation: Brutal communalism
- Post-war workers’ struggles
- The Malayan Union and the politics of communalism
- The Federation of Malaya proposals
- The Peoples’ Constitutional Proposals
- Prelude to the revolt: Reaction
Chapter 4: EMERGENCY & THE ‘RACIAL’ FORMULA
- Imperialist stake in Malaya
- The ‘Emergency’: 1948-60
- Communalist tactics against the guerrillas
- Crafting the ‘Alliance Formula’
- Civil rights compromised
- Dato Onn’s communalist politics
- MERDEKA: The communal formula enshrined
Chapter 5: UMNO’S RURAL COMMUNALIST STRATEGY
- The neo-colonial economy
- The peasantry
- Peasant differentiation
- The state’s rural communalist strategy
- State intervention in the rural sector
Chapter 6: MALAYSIA: LARGER COMMUNAL EQUATION
- The neo-colonial solution in Singapore
- Sarawak and Sabah in the racial equation
- The bigger communalist pond
- Struggle within the Malay ruling class
- May 13: Coup against the Tunku
Chapter 7: NEP – INSTITUTIONAL RACISM
- BN: Larger communal formula
- Racial discrimination institutionalized
- The 1974 general election
- New Economic Policy
- Dominance of metropolitan capital
- From import-substitution to export-orientation
- Workers’ struggles since Independence
Chapter 8: THE STATE & SOCIAL CLASSES IN THE SEVENTIES
- Contradictions within the ruling coalition
- Accommodating the non-Malay capitalists
- Growth of the Malay middle class
- The working class
- Conflict with metropolitan capitalists
- Super-exploitation of workers and women
- State repression and communalism
Chapter 9: MAHATHIR & THE CREATION OF PRIVATE MALAY CAPITAL
- Mahathir’s authoritarian populism
- Sensational financial scandals
- Privatisation and the new Malay capitalists
- Favoured Bumiputera capitalists
- Favoured non-Bumiputera capitalists
- Petronas – the cash cow
- A racist legacy
- Restructuring of the Malaysian working class
- Islamic populism
Chapter 10: RACISM & RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN MALAYSIA TODAY
- Back to crony capitalism
- UMNO outsources racism to the far-right
- Post-GE13: Bumiputera policies with a vengeance
- Heightened Islamic populism
- Institutional racism
- Racist indoctrination in state institutions
- Racism against ethnic Indians
- Racism against indigenous peoples
- The state, ruling class and communalism
- Class differentiation in Malaysia today
- State repression and communalism
CONCLUSION: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION BASED ON NEED NOT RACE
- The struggle for greater democracy
APPENDIX: THE WAY FORWARD
- Outlaw racism, racial discrimination & hate crimes
- Never too late for truth & justice
- Non-racial alternatives to national development