Friday, October 16, 2015

BUT JOHOR IS NOT PALESTINE or MONTE NEGRO

by azly rahman


So-- Johor wants to leave Malaysia?

As a life-long student of Globalizaion and Political Science, I have always thought that acts of secession throughout history have always been ones of blood-letting and life-giving and the struggle of nationalists or freedom fighters  crafting their idea of nation-hood through bloody or blood-less revolutions. But it is always about the "peoples" of one ethnic group wanting to be free from the shackles of oppression and poverty and cultural and racial humiliation imposed by the "majority" (or even minority, as in apartheid South Africa) or more powerful people ruling them. Ireland, Scotland, Bolivia, India, or even the original 13 colonies of the United States come to mind. Or Palestine.

But Johor, Darul "Expensive'? A wealthy state heavily invested by billionaire investors from China? A state whose people are happy with Lego-land, brand-name premium outlets, proposed Disney Johor, and mega-profit-generating football-culture-industry? Johor-- a state with ethnic diversity as diverse as the composition of Malaysia itself -- wishing to secede? What is a "Bangsa Johor" anyway -- a word of late coined? I have only heard of Bangsa Malaysia.

Malaysians reading this are either laughing or actually taking it very seriously. I know Texas wanted to leave the United States when Barack Obama was elected president. Americans laughed at  the Bush Family dominated oil-rich state. Now talks of leaving the union is no longer heard. The Bushmen of America has stopped talking about wanting to be divorced.

OK there is a provision. But, granted that the Najib regime has messed up this country big time to the brink of bankruptcy inching to be like Greece, Malaysia is still not Israel. The idea of Malaysia is a beautiful one; especially when we can still argue and debate the provisions the Constitution and under a better and more no-nonsense government yet to come, we will be a benevolent nation-state obligated to "share the wealth,". That is the philosophical idea of Federalism vis-a-viz state autonomy. 

-- Not that I love Johor less, but I love Malaysia much more and appreciates the beauty of all the states and see that poorer states can benefit from the progress of others and learn from good governance. I see Malaysia as a showcase of how these different ideologies impact institutions and how ideological state apparatuses are used.

-- Today the gap between the rich and poor in Malaysia is hideous. Not only there are states that are extremely wealthy, but within the states themselves, classes of people are produced; there is the 1% and the 99% occupying each. There are homeless people and there are those with homes more than enough and big enough to park ten monster luxury trucks. That's hideousness in the way we have evolved as a nation, when our pledge in the Rukunegara (Principles of Nation-hood) is that two-pronged strategy -- redistribute wealth/eliminate poverty and not to develop economically along racial lines/identifications.

-- It is unacceptable to see people begging and homeless in Sungai Petani, Kedah and Kangar, Perlis when in Johor Baru and Shah Alam, folks with big bikes ride the highway arrogantly begging for attention to acknowledge their love for Marcos-type conspicuous consumption. That is the image of hideousness, and if we measure it by the teachings of Muhammad, who left the world with only "three dinars" and an empire of faith, that is not acceptable and tantamount to mass anger the magnitude of the Iranian Revolution.

-- I for one am sickened reading about those in power displaying wealth and using wealth to display power arrogantly and to buy more influence and power and to show others that money rules. I for one am sick of reading about world's monarchy especially in those so-called Islamic countries parading wealth as if they are the neo-Pharaohs of this post-Apocalyptic-Malaysia world; arrogantly displaying their hundreds of luxury cars and monster trucks and monster bikes, whilst the poor and subjugated rakyat salivates like Pavlovian animals in amazement and wonderment of why god is so just in granting such Divine Rights to kings. So hideous it makes me want to watch reruns of Monty Python movies all day.

-- No-- we need a better Malaysia and not one progressively fragmented that one day, even a small and insignificant state such as Perlis that had only one traffic light in the 70s would want to leave Malaysia and join the kingdom of Padang Besar and become a new nation and fly a flag in the United Nations -- the birth of a new and for sure sovereign state called PADANG MELANGIT, complete with anew national anthem "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" borrowed right from the Beatles, just like how Malaysia's Negara Ku is borrowed from "Terang Boelan" a Hawaiian under-the-moon-joget song .

-- I hate to think that one day my homies in my old crib in that gangsta city of JB will one day be given "foreign passports" and I will visit them as foreigners! Or I might even have to climb a Mexican border-tyoe of wall trying to seek asylum in a state I used to have fun in going to the semejid, makan semekut, eating ikan semilang, and at night when it is cold, I use the gebor my mother would get from the gerobok, and I would then have a nice dream of why the world is so violent with all the gobloks running nations!

-- I love you Johor, but I love Malaysia more. Stay calm and stay there with humility, at least for now. There is a process and issues of practicality to this pipe dream, if you ask political scientists on how to go about being freed.

-- ar

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