Followers

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I am a Muslim

JUNE 20 — The month of Ramadan and the abstinence from food does put you in a more self-reflective mood than other months. Of course, self-reflection should be a routine exercise as it spring cleans the mind and the heart.
I am a Muslim or, more accurately, I try to be as good a Muslim as I possibly can. It is both easy and difficult as all contest between good and evil is.
Though genealogically, I am supposed to be a seventh generation “born Muslim”, if there is such a thing. I like to think that I am a Muslim by my own choice from the age of 30 when I finally “came” to the Quran.  How God judges me is His prerogative.
I had a typical Malay upbringing where you are sent to Quran reading classes by the time you are five years old. By the time you are 10, you already know how to read the Quran, pray and fast. You know the basic five pillars of Islam.
However, when I was 12 years old, for an unknown reason, the question of God’s existence bothered me. I became increasingly bored with the sermons of hellfire in our neighbourhood mosque. 
Instead of frightening me into submission, it started to disgust me. The ustad around me also could not answer many of my teen questions and often I was scolded for asking blasphemous queries. But the yearning to know God was very strong in me and almost unstoppable.
This yearning led me to study various scriptures and even go into the church to learn the Bible, talk to Hindu priests about the Bhagavad Gita, and study some sudras of Buddhism. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time reading, debating and thinking about God and religion. I read and debated about atheism too.
I met as many priests, ulamak, swamis and atheists who would want to discuss and debate with me. It was not enough for me to just accept a religion or a scripture. Having come from Penang, I now recall Penang as a liberal and open-minded society, where such discussions are generally allowed or at least no one condemns you to immediate hellfire for enquiring.
That was my journey as a teenager throughout adulthood. I made a conscious decision to be a Muslim from my own evaluation of the Quran, Hadith and scholarly views. I am convinced that the Quran is the most reliable source of revealed scripture but I will not insist that anyone else must believe so too.
I am only too happy if someone wants to discuss the Quran with me because I want to share the wisdom and mercy of Allah with anyone who wants to. 
If someone disagrees with me, I am humble enough to know that my interpretation and understanding is not absolute. Furthermore, I have no wish to usurp the jurisdiction of Allah when it comes to guidance. I simply refuse to play the role of a demi god on earth though I know that many religious “leaders” and experts have absolutely no compunctions behaving so.
When I came to the Quran, I realise that the prophet Abraham also took the road of enquiry and seeking. His own father excommunicated him merely for enquiring. There are many instances of prophets reflecting and meditating to understand the world.
I am happy that today there are more and more Muslims beginning to make an effort to understand the Quran instead of merely reciting it. However, it saddens me too that there is also an increasing trend towards coercion by a minority but dominant and loud groups.
This religious coercion takes various forms from extremist statements, extremist and fascist behaviours and to even legalising certain “religious laws” on the sly. I say on the sly because these laws are enacted without my actual consent. Thus, being legally a Muslim, I am compelled to be subjected to it. 
However, those that impose those laws will not be present before Allah with me to defend me if they are wrong.
Does not this compulsion, to accept the views of others regardless of how learned they claim to be, an oppression? 
Muslims may, sooner or later, ask how do they reconcile the Quran’s clear principle that no one else is responsible for our actions and belief except ourselves with the insistence on forcibly accepting so called learned views?
Feelings of guilt or deluded sense of piety does not help to resolve the conflict between compulsion and personal responsibility in matters of faith. I may be wrong but the problem could very well be in the fact that being a Muslim, which is a journey, had been turned into a set of behaviours which is forced upon you even if you are not spiritually ready. 
In other words, in the interest of uniformity, you are compelled to be a hypocrite to avoid worldly punishments. Administrative and political expediency seems to override the individual’s right to have a personal relationship with his Creator.
Muslims attend prayers at Masjid Wilayah in Kuala Lumpur. The writer says compulsion to accept the views of others could be regarded as oppression. — Picture by Azneal IshakMuslims attend prayers at Masjid Wilayah in Kuala Lumpur. The writer says compulsion to accept the views of others could be regarded as oppression. — Picture by Azneal IshakI also note that politics cannot seem to keep away from the religion of any majority in any country. In India, for example, Hinduism seems to creep in and in Malaysia, Islam. The Christian world had already undergone its share in political history. This is actually a malady because politics being what it is, may very well interfere with the free practise of one’s faith as he deems fit.
This interference becomes effective with the cooperation of some of the religious class who likes the power that comes with cooperating with politicians.
As a Muslim, I believe that so long as there are mere humans who insist on monopolising the interpretation of Allah’s words, there will be strife, tension, disunity and oppression in the name of Islam. 
I pray that the Muslim spirit is allowed to be developed as enjoined in the Quran through beautiful preaching and polite discussions and not by coercion or force. Happy Ramadan.
* Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at
rapera.jay@gmail.com
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ramadan a month of self reflection

June 6 — The Ramadan month is here again as it does every year. Every Sunni Muslim knows that fasting is required during the month of Ramadan, it is one of the five pillars of his faith. He knows how to fast, when to break fast and what to do during the fasting month so that his fast fulfils the requirements of the fast.
This is the time when Muslims undergo disciplinary training of abstinence from food, drinks, lust and management of emotions for the love of Allah. The month is also filled with nightly ritual prayer of terawih, a special prayer which is much longer than the normal five times per day prayers.
Correctly practised, Ramadan is capable of being a month that transforms the caterpillar into a butterfly, change of bad habits into good ones. It can cause the hijrah or migration of  a person from a lower state into a higher state, a poor character into an exemplary one.
Whether Ramadan serves the purpose of transforming a person into a better human being or it only serves as a mere religious ritual depends on many factors, primarily how the individual Muslim sees it. It will be a sad state if good character emerges only for one month to be replaced by poor character for the next 11 months.
One of the significance of the Ramadan month is that Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed during this month. The first verse revealed was said to be the following in Surah Al Alaq: Read (O Muhammad!) in the name of your Lord who created (96.1). He created man from a clot (96.2). 
“Read, and your Lord is the Most Honorable (96.3) who taught with the pen, (96.4) taught man what he did not know.’’
Hence, the month of Ramadan is also a month of learning and relearning. In line with the first verse of the Quran, Muslims can use this month to revisit the contents of the Quran and to reach out to its messages. To read in the name of the Lord who teaches humans what they know not. This will be the best opportunity to evaluate how far we may have moved away from the teachings in the Quran and accepted other teachings of men as divine.
To the believer, there are many pearls of wisdom in the Quran and guidance for mankind in many areas of our life, particularly how to be a human being useful to His creations and to ourselves. The most basic and fundamental teachings of Islam comes from the Quran.
If a Muslim takes the trouble to allocate a mere one hour a day in the month of Ramadan to study the Quran, he may emerge more knowledgeable about Islam as contained in the Quran at the end of the Ramadan month.
Reading sincerely leads to self-reflection and hopefully, leads us nearer to Allah in our actions and we become useful human beings on earth so that those who do have the benefit of the Quran can see its mercy through our actions of kindness and industry. 
Reading the Quran will make us aware that there are many approaches of peace that Allah has taught us when we are faced with potentially hostile situations.
Reading the Quran also teaches us to preempt potentially aggressive or hostile situations in our dealings with other fellow human beings. As I mentioned earlier, reading the Quran will lead to self-reflection which is very important in life, like spring- cleaning our house or our cupboard. There could have been many mental cobwebs and dirt that may need to be dusted in our minds and our hearts.
Allah has clearly stated in the Quran that he will not change our state until we change what is within us. In other words, He requires those who want to improve to take stock of themselves — their diligence level, their mindsets, their thirst and quest for knowledge and so on.
I would invite my Muslim brothers and sisters to look inwards at ourselves during this Ramadan and see whether we are responsible for the state and condition that we are in. I find that too often we are busy blaming everyone from the Jews to anyone else who does not sound like us for our woes.
The story of Prophet Yunus in the Quran is an excellent example to critically evaluate myself when things go wrong. More likely than not, I must have erred in some way for me to receive “negative” response from the world.
“And remember Zun-nun (Yunus), when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness. There is no God but You: glory to You: I was indeed wrong! 021.088. So We listened to him: and delivered him from distress: and thus do We deliver those who have faith.” (Al Anbiya 87 – 88).
Salam Ramadan to all and may you each be blessed with what you sow.

*Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at rapera.jay@gmail.com.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Malay Mail Online.
- See more at: http://m.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/ramadan-a-month-of-self-reflection-jahaberdeen-mohamed-yunoos#sthash.TfLX3UGg.dpuf

Hadi’s Private Member’s Bill and its implications

Private Member’s Bill sought to be passed by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, which the government graciously allowed to jump queue in the list of matters to be debated in Parliament.
First is the political dimension where PAS is clearly trying to achieve a political score with the Malay voters.  It has been widely publicising it is willing to work with anyone to achieve its “Islamic goal”.  In this case, if the Bill succeeds, PAS will have the “glory” in political history as the party which was responsible for “enhancing the status of Shariah courts” and for paving the way for further implementation of  Islamic criminal law.
If it does not succeed in passing the Bill, Umno MPs will be accused of being insincere and “opposed to Islamic laws”.  Clearly, in this game, PAS gets the credit either way with the general Malay voters.
Politically, Umno therefore is “snookered” unless it can bring the issue up to another completely different intellectual and political level which I am afraid Umno is incapable of due to misconceived fear and other reasons.
Secondly, the Constitutional dimension.  As a matter of parliamentary courtesy, it is admirable the government has given way to a Private Member’s Bill from the Opposition to be heard before government business, which always takes precedence. I believe this is the first time and as the Parliament speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin repeatedly tried to educate the opposing members from the Opposition, this is a precedent.
I respect and admire Pandikar’s patience in educating the opposition members on the clear provisions of the Standing Orders. It really baffled me the opposition members are opposing their own Private Member’s Bills being heard first. Painfully amusing.
Constitutionally, any Act can be amended or even repealed by Parliament in accordance with the law and the Constitution. Hadi’s Bill ostensibly seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 in relation to enhancing their punishment provisions.
Currently, under section 2 of the aforesaid Act, Shariah courts can only impose punishment with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or with any fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or with whipping not exceeding six strokes or with any combination thereof. This is the so-called “356” punishments which Hadi’s Bill hopes to enhance. Obviously Hadi wants to enhance the penal powers of the Shariah courts to be able to implement Kelantan’s Shariah Criminal Enactment Code of 1993, through which they hope to impose hudud punishments. 
Hence, we are back to PAS’s version of hudud which they want to compel Muslims to follow by force of law. Put it another way, PAS’s “noble aim” of “serving Islam” is to ensure Muslims are subjected to greater punishments and despite what is provided for under the civil law system.
The long-term effect of enhancing the penal punishments will be to allow more criminal offences perceived to be offences against the “precepts of Islam” and within List II of the State List of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution to be passed. Hence, we will see a situation where there will be two sets of criminal laws for Muslims — the Shariah and the civil law system. Obviously, this will give rise to various complex constitutional issues such as equality before the law and so on. I believe even a challenge under Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution may be mounted by a Muslim who does not want to be subjected to it though this would require a court which would decide without “fear or favour”.
I do not know why the government has never thought of evaluating whether the existing criminal laws under the federal laws are already consistent with the Quran and authentic Sunnah and hence “Islamic” or not. Surely, the federal government is not taking the position the existing criminal laws under the civil justice system do not achieve “justice” as enjoined by Islam and therefore, un-Islamic?
It truly baffles me why as a nation we are keen on creating two parallel legal systems in the country. Apart from the injustice which may ensue, aren’t the policy makers concerned this would lead to disunity and enmity between the Muslims and non-Muslims? I hope I am just being over worried about the fate of my country.
Thirdly, the faith and theological dimension.  Muslims, especially those who with knowledge and take their faith seriously, will not like imposition on their faith and servitude to Allah. There have been tremendous debate and differences of views, even among scholars, on what constitutes “hudud” and “takzeer”.  Despite the fact most scholars agree the term “hudud laws” refer to only those offences for which punishments are clearly prescribed for in the Quran, some other scholars and politicians insist on including various other offences as hudud offences even though they are not mentioned in the Quran. Furthermore the word “hudud” in the Quran does not even refer to any penal offences. It simply means “limit” and the relevant verses refer mostly to matrimonial matters.
Many notable scholars, including the renowned Prof Dr Hashim Kamali, are of the view for every punishment, the Quran also provides for forgiveness to the offender. However, this provision of forgiveness is absent in PAS’s version of hudud. There are many theological debates and issues concerning “hudud laws” that are still unsettled to this very day. I fear imposing such laws on Muslims, which are very tied to their faith and servitude to Allah, may give rise to disunity among the Muslims.
I would like to repeat my call to the government to seriously study the possibility of a “fused” legal system to maintain only one legal system in the country which can cater to the peculiar needs of each religious community while ensuring general justice for all Malaysians.
* An error in the print version of this article has since been rectified here.
** Jahaberdeen is is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at rapera.jay@gmail.com
*** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.
- See more at: http://m.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/hadis-private-members-bill-and-its-implications-jaharberdeen-mohamed-yunoos#sthash.xwLVpfFI.dpuf

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Who or What is "Government"

The word “government” appears about 450 times in the Federal Constitution and understandably, it is not defined.
In our country today, there is an increasing demand for accountability and transparency from the government. Citizens want to know what the government is doing, how they are doing it and why.
Obviously, the citizens seem to want to play a greater and more significant role in the direction and evolution of the country. A simple enough desire but a complex quest as life is complex with many aspects to it.
On the other hand, if we do not know what a “government” is, how do we know what role to play in shaping the destiny of our nation?
We have heard about the separation of powers between the executive, judiciary and legislature, the three branches of government that are supposed to “check and balance” each other through their perceived independence from each other. In reality, however, the so-called independence may not be absolute due to overlaps between the three branches. 
For instance, the executive is made up of Cabinet members who are also members of Parliament, the legislature. These are the elected members of Parliament and at the state level, the elected state representatives — the so called people’s representatives in a democracy.
In theory, the members of the legislature are required to pass laws that would curb any abuse of power by the executive and to pass “good laws” that would benefit the nation generally. However, in reality, since some of the members of the legislature are also members of the Cabinet, how would the citizens ensure laws are not passed to perpetuate the power of the existing executive members?
Some of the laws passed by Parliament may contain what is known as “ouster clauses”. 
These “ouster clauses” aim to oust the jurisdiction of the courts to review the executive’s exercise of discretion in certain matters. In other words, the courts may be precluded, for example, from reviewing a minister’s decision thus effectively removing the theoretical “check and balance” objective of the separation of powers doctrine.
In my view, a more effective “check and balance” mechanism is a mature, responsible and united opposition in Parliament, which our country sorely lacks. I observe a greater role has been played by non-governmental organisations, pressure groups and organised concerned citizens that consists of opposition members in many cases.
Our discussion has not even touched on what exactly is a “government”.  It is not easy to come up with a comprehensive definition of “government”.  Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as  “ the group of people who control and make decisions for a country, state, etc, a particular system used for controlling a country, state, etc, the process or manner of controlling a country, state, etc.  This is a useful simple definition because it sets out three important areas that concerns government — the people involved, the system used and the process of governance used.
Once the ordinary citizen understands these three areas, then it becomes easier for them to decide which of these areas they want to be involved in or concerned with. 
In the context of Malaysia, our system of government is made up of the federal, state and local governments. It is often forgotten Malaysia is a federation made up of thirteen states and three federal territories (Labuan, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya). It is not like a situation where there is one country governed by one body of government in all aspects. The states have their own legislature and executive bodies. While the federation has the Federal Constitution which is the “supreme law” of the land, the 11 states also have their own state constitutions.
At the same time, while we have a constitutional monarchy and a King at the federal level, we also have nine state monarchs (Sultans) who have certain powers as given to them by their State Constitutions.
It is for this reason, for example, we do not have a codified uniform Shariah law for the whole country because Islamic law is a matter for the state to legislate. There are some matters the federal government can decide and there are certain matters only the state government can decide. Hence, in a system such as this, close cooperation between state and federal governments becomes crucial.
The process by which the country is governed is also determined by both Parliament and state assemblies that pass the necessary laws. This is an extremely important process as it will determine the behaviour of citizens in terms of what they can and cannot do in the broadest sense possible.
For example, some states have made it an offence for any Muslim to skip Friday prayers three times in a row, which is punishable either by fine or jail term. 
In other instances, the kinds of laws passed by both the state and federal legislatures can have a major impact on how and how much the ordinary citizen can earn his living or what kind of life he may lead.
What about the people involved in the three branches of government? Obviously, we would broadly hope it is made up of competent, honest, diligent, compassionate and “good” people. However, hope alone will be insufficient and we have to put in place the best possible mechanisms that can reduce the chances of our hopes being dashed.

* Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at rapera.jay@gmail.com
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/definition-of-government-jahaberdeen-mohamed-yunoos#sthash.gJSzTWi9.dpuf

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Do not underrate importance and freedom of thought.

 One of the most important distinguishing features between humans and animals is our ability to think and reason.  
Due to our thinking faculties, we are able to be the dominant species on the planet. We have heard words and ideas such as “intelligence”, “cleverness”, “creativity”, “innovativeness” and so on. All these ideas relate to the various ways in which the brain functions.  
The brain if you like, is in a sense like the computer — garbage in garbage out.  In other words, the usefulness of your brain to you and others will depend largely on what you put inside your brain and how actively you use its potential and capability.
Many people think that simply because they live or are able to survive, they are using their brains. I have no better answer than to quote the Quran:
“Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts with which they understand not, eyes with which they see not, and ears with which they hear not. They are like cattle, nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning)” (Quran 7:179)
In the above verse, Allah compares some human beings to cattle and says that these human beings are worse off than cattle. Allah says clearly that many human beings are lower than cattle. Why cattle?
Cattle is guarded, fed, and its direction and life is determined by the cowherd. Cows have a heart, eyes and ears and so do human beings. Cows cannot use them to better their lives. Cows do not think and see or hear like humans. Humans have been given the privilege by Allah to use their hearts, their eyes and their ears. Those who do not, Allah says, are worse than cows.
The educated, well-off and powerful among us who follow their “animalistic instincts” for their own desires need ''cattle'' around them to make their desires a reality. They spurn lies albeit sometimes couched in intellectual, religious, and even nationalistic terms. Sometimes they use sentiments. When this fails, they use power and fear and threats. They do all they can to wreck society and the basis of human nature as Allah created to satisfy their selfish ends.
But why must we fall in their trap?
Are we like the cattle being led by the nose by the cowherd? Merely for the miserable hay that is thrown in our way and the cow shack that we are allowed, we are willing to live a life lower than the cattle? 
Even though we know that the cowherd’s main purpose is to milk us and slaughter us? 
If so, why did Allah give us hearts, eyes and ears that are different from the cow if He intended that we should only be led by the selfish cowherd? Why do we insist on degrading ourselves when Allah has elevated us?
Allah has given a way out. He holds us personally accountable. He reminds us:
“And pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)”. (Quran 17.36)
It is now entirely our choice. We can choose to be the human beings that Allah created or we may continue to be lower than the cattle that Allah forbade us to be. 
I believe the weak remain weak and become weaker when they dispense with the powerful blessing given to us by the Creator — the ability to think and reason. An entire society becomes doomed when it collectively frowns upon thinking and diversity of thought. 
It is worse when a minority of powerful men dictate that the bigger majority of ordinary citizens should not be given freedom of thought. The entire society becomes like the cattle in the cowshed totally dependent on the minority cowherd. 
We have to learn to read books beyond our little kingdom that we sometimes wrongly tend to think is the universe.  The world of knowledge is far bigger than what we think or know. 
It may be difficult for some to believe but it is broader than the so called knowledge we think is possessed by the cleverest among us. In current times, it is already difficult to identify who are the truly intelligent ones or geniuses due to the nature of our formal education system and the patronage system that allows only individuals with mainstream-friendly ideas to prosper. 
Anything else is trampled upon and the true thinker may find himself ostracised to languish in solitude. In the land of fools, the thinker is usually treated like a mad man — dangerous to society. 
We fail to recognise the historical truth because we have deliberately been led to deny its significance. Why do great civilisations become great? A study of civilisations — the Roman Empire, Ancient Egypt, Greek Empire, British Empire, the Islamic Golden Age, Chola Dynasty — demonstrates that knowledge, the freedom of thought and discipline played a key role in bringing about their greatness. 
When little men rise to big positions through a flawed, oppressive and corrupt system, society as a whole suffers. Like all other civilisations that fade when the rot sets it, such a society too will fade into oblivion. 
Future generations will naturally become worse because the children now see the little men as icons and idols to be emulated. This vicious cycle will continue unless we understand and recognise oppression of thought and say no to it.
* Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at rapera.jay@gmail.com
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/do-not-underrate-importance-and-freedom-of-thought-jahaberdeen-mohamed-yuno#sthash.jYq4WNOZ.dpuf

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fix the past, design the future

In politics, if you don’t do the right things for the people, unless you are a devious schizophrenic Machiavelli, events will come back to haunt and hurt you.
Even if you are a devious Machiavelli, events will still haunt you but the fact that you are a sick schizophrenic will shield you from the pain of knowing you are a failed leader. It is important for politicians to understand this and more important for the citizens because they will bear the brunt of failed policies.
Some of our politicians do not seem to show any signs of reducing the play of political games. It is clearly calculated to cause political instability so as to achieve a certain political objective. On the other hand, people-oriented issues such as education, freedom of faith, employment, corruption, cost of living and so on, are not, and have never been championed as passionately by the political leaders. It should open up the eyes of the citizen that nothing excites politicians more than pure political issues, especially ones that directly concern power.
Hence, it falls back on the current government and the national leadership to decide what it wants to do under such turbulent political times. To me, the principle approach is easy but it requires honesty, courage and willingness to follow through to fix the past and progress to the future. There needs to be not only leadership, but visible leadership with a clear direction.
It is impossible to progress if we keep maintaining some of the failed national mindset and systems that have clearly brought us to this national inefficient state of existence.
We have to be courageous and not vindictive to identify the policies and thinking of the past that are preventing us from leaping forward as a successful united nation.
The sliding of Malaysia’s reputation on the world stage began a long time ago when we were accused of practising cronyism, nepotism and indulging in patronising politics in the mid-1980s.
Criticisms were already levelled then at how we have been misusing our newfound oil money on mega projects at the exclusion of building human capital. Home-grown and cottage industries, which are always the fundamental shock absorbers of any nation, were never given the necessary and due attention. Small and medium-sized enterprises were ignored or given lukewarm political attention, never mind the fact that we have an SME Bank. Political handouts to those who were close to the political circle and not to the talented were an open secret.
The judiciary suffered total disrespect locally and abroad and only recovered its image somewhat partly thanks to Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s initiative, when Tun Abdullah Badawi became the prime minister. Racial polarisation, religious egoism and extremism of the worst kind are allowed to rear their ugly head. Political leaders have been blind to the fact these divisive mindsets took decades to grow due to past policies or lack of visionary policies. Understandably, the people were excited when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak introduced the “1Malaysia” vision only to be thwarted by Umno’s powerful old guards who do not want the “old status quo” disturbed. A chance for a powerful reform vehicle to unite the people forward as one nation was watered down by these old guards who still wanted to wield power.
I can go on with many of the past policies that had failed and are still hurting the nation. Abdullah had somewhat tried to implement a reformist government but due to internal Umno politics, his administration was short-lived. He had largely refused to follow the old “Umno way” of doing things. Again, powerful old guards in the party will not allow change and hence, despite everyone saying what a nice man Abdullah is, the disinformation machinery was unleashed to retire him early.
 The writer says people want leaders who can fix parts of the past and the future to be planned and identified. — Bernama picThe writer says people want leaders who can fix parts of the past and the future to be planned and identified. — Bernama picThe unfortunate fact of the matter is this: the health of the country is tied very much to the health of Umno. There are many trappings that have been put in place in Umno and there are many powerful old guards who will try to chain the president down. Therefore, even as a president, you either toe the line or risk forced retirement. Only a firm and strong willed president can survive with his way of doing things in Umno. 
There are many things from the past that still persist today that have to be fixed by the present leadership. I repeat, the current leadership has to be courageous to fix the past so that we can move ahead as one nation. For years, Malaysians, especially the Malays, have been programmed not to think about many things. Allow the citizens in general and the Malays in particular the space and liberty to think and debate without having it always turned into a sensitive, political or taboo issue.
The integrity of the institutions that have been undermined over the years have to be restored so the citizens can have a sense of stability, safety and respect. Humanistic and nationalistic narratives ought to be accompanied by humanistic and nationalistic policies and actions. 
Real and holistic economic solutions ought to be designed, implemented and communicated to the people so uncertainty does not result in misinformed rebellion. An efficient leader is one who completely understands uncertainty among the masses is dangerous for the country’s stability. No one likes anxiety resulting from thinking the country has no direction.
The people are resilient but they need to understand and believe they have a leader who can help them pull through difficult times. That’s how people are.
People generally are sick and tired of political games. They now better understand the hypocrisy of the games and they want leaders who can fix parts of the past and the future to be planned and identified.
Floating along without a direction is bad, especially for a nation.
*Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at rapera.jay@gmail.com.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/fix-the-past-design-the-future-jahaberdeen-mohamed-yunoos#sthash.LjomfqYN.dpuf