Saturday, 21 September 2013

wan saiful

Wan Saiful: I did not call for Article 153 to be scrapped in 10-15 years

The Chief of IDEAS called me up yesterday afternoon to clarify his position on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.  (refer my notes at the end of Wan Saiful's statement) 

from Wan Saiful Wan Jan via email to 20 Sept 2013 at 8.53pm

IT IS REALLY AMAZING how quickly things can go wrong if you take your eyes off the blogosphere and twitterland.  Even those who know you personally could change their minds simply by reading a few tweets.

I have recently been accused of calling for the abolishment of the special position of Islam and the Malays, based on what I said at an event in the afternoon of Malaysia Day (Monday 16 Sept).  But I missed the first few days of this development because I had to tend to my mother, who fell ill on that Monday evening and is now in hospital.  As a result of not following these developments, I am now accused by some as a traitor.

I am still not 100percent “back in the game” and I won’t be until my mother is fully discharged.  But I thought I should quickly come up with a brief explanation.  I called Dato Rocky earlier and he very kindly suggested I send this explanation to him so that other critics can also read it.  Please forgive me for the brevity and lack of details as I am typing this from a crowded emergency room of a hospital (with a non-functioning aircond and very stuffy).  I am happy to chat about all these later if necessary, but for now, I just want to clarify some of the wrong allegations against me.

My actual message is as follows:

-       I know quite a few people are talking about how the special position of Islam and the Malays is discriminatory.  I too have been debating this for quite some time.

-       But I am worried about how some quarters approach this issue.  Some are very aggressive and make demands for immediate change.  Others take it too emotionally such that the issue is treated as a taboo that cannot be discussed.  These dynamics have driven discussions underground, and this is not healthy.

-       The best way forward is for us to not treat this issue as a taboo, but instead engage in healthy conversation *if* we really want to discuss it.

-       And certainly no one should expect or demand for any change to happen immediately.  You will just end up frustrated and angry (and usually more aggressive too).  If any, you’ll be lucky to see a change 10-15 years down the line.  This is a huge issue and it will take time to be digested rationally, if at all.

Let me also clarify my own position on these issues:

-       I am a beneficiary of various government support programmes. I have also seen so many successful individuals who have benefitted from the same assistance.

-       As a result of what I have seen over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the position of both Islam and the Malays does not need legal protection.  Islam is a strong religion on its own.  And the Malays have proven that we can stand on our own two feet.

-       It is therefore better for the various protectionist measures to be stopped.  I see legal protection as a weakness. I believe in individual responsibility and we as individuals should defend our own identities.  I am fully aware that this position is new and is still unacceptable to many, and if so, I hope we can courteously agree to disagree.

So let me make this clear.  My belief comes out of conviction of our ability to compete and succeed. We are strong enough to stand on our own feet, and, most importantly, to help each other without being dependent on the government.

By extension I feel that protectionism is a sign of weakness and I refuse to accept that a whole ethno-religious group is weak simply because of who they are.  I appreciate that this worldview may differ from those who see protectionism as a right that must be defended, and I appreciate that even though we have different views, that view has its merit too. I just hope that we can focus on the end aim, which I think is, actually, quite similar, and make space for differences in the methods to achieve that ultimate aim.

Again, apologies for not responding earlier.  But I hope to be back “online” properly in the near future.


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