Malaysians are angry and deeply bothered by the recent issue of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) organising what was reported as an “anti-Christianisation” conference.
There is nothing new about the need for such institutions to train students to fear themselves and non-Muslims and non-Malays especially. It is a natural programme to instill fear as part of a culture to defend the existence of race-based ideology. It is part of an apartheid strategy of Malaysian education I have written about in many articles.
What is new is the question: how do we dismantle this system and work towards peaceful co-existence?
I do not think the Christians and Catholics in Malaysia appreciate being bullied endlessly. I do not think they want to be branded as “evil people trying to spread false and dangerous message threatening Islam”.
I do not think they need to be associated with the Crusade War a thousand over years ago, or even linked to the brutality of the Christian-imperialist army who were chanting “guns, guts, god, and glory” before annexing cultures and massacring the natives of Latin America, Africa, Asian, and even Northern America - so that the Crusaders carrying the order of the European monarchs can built churches while sucking the blood, sweat, and tears of the natives they enslave.
I don’t think the Christians and Catholics in Malaysia want to be known as inheritors and carriers of the sins of their fathers. I think they just want to live, work, and worship in peace and be ensured that their safety in an majority Malay Muslim country be guaranteed.
Why do institutions such as UiTM need to instill such a fear and to unnecessarily turn young and hopefully not-yet-Daesh/IS radicalised students into hating the Christians and Catholics? If Muslims in predominantly Christian nations such as the United States, Canada, and Australia can help protect the safety of Muslims from Christian extremists-wannabe-terrorists, why can’t Malaysia do similarly by not allowing conferences that promote hate to be fed to students?
Why not encourage education for peace and conflict resolution? Why not teach empathy through ongoing good dialogue amongst Malaysians of different faiths? Why warn them of the “dangers of Christianisation” and not expect some lunatic fundamentalist groups to take the warning one step further and translate it into violent action, sanctioned and legitimised by the authorities?
What education should look like
Haven’t we heard the word ‘Islamophobia’? Why create ‘Chistianophobia’ at a time when the world is bipolar, violent, and plagued with all kinds of phobias?
Let us come back to our senses. Here is my thought on what education should look like if we are to prevent racial and religious riots in future:
The education of today's bumiputeras via the special privileges given to them in all aspects, from preschool to postgraduate - especially the education of Malay Muslims through the racially-based institutions linked to the ruling party - has one objective.
It is to produce more and more members of the Malay-Muslim-bumiputera privileged class who will ensure that the non-bumiputera-non-Muslims be kept outside the gate of equality, equal opportunity and meritocracy, even though they are the rightful citizens of this country whose parents and grandparents have laboured for this country so that the most privileged class of Malays and non-Malays can continue to be created to enslave the labour class of all races.
No need to have a complex understanding on Malaysia's philosophy of education, national development, frameworks of class evolution, politics of curricular studies, interplay between race, religion, and ideology, or any other complex theories of neo-feudalism to understand this simple fact of education and social reproduction in Malaysia.
We need to turn the system upside down and renew prosperity of this country, based not on the advancement of this or that race, but the simple human logic that each and every one of us is a human being with dignity and an important part of Humanity.
UiTM was different back in the days, especially in the 70s and early 80s.
There is a vast difference in the way Malays were educated in the institution. It was a place to harness the creative energy and problem-solving gung-ho cognitive capabilities of students who had so much energy than just reading books only, so that they may further their studies and contribute to the development of the nation's post-independence.
This is because the leadership knew what education and human liberation meant. Because the first prime minster was a firm, fair, and wise man. A good man. The best we have had.
However, beginning in the mid-80s till today it is looking like a place to engineer the development of totalitarianism and fascistic mono-ethnic thinking of a diploma mill used for political means by political masters only concerned with their own survival and vainglory, in all the excesses of political authority and one-dimensionality instilling fear of others instead of promoting diversity and the love for ethnic differences and cultural beauty.
The difference between our premiers
All these - and not much about the plain honesty of creating a generation of Malays able to see the true nature of their own potentials and be ready for an ever-changing world of globalising predatory.
Because today’s prime minster is a very weak and unwise man. Not a good man at all. The worst we have ever had, many are saying.
That's the difference, if we agree. How then must the rakyat reclaim those once admirable institutions?
Wake up, speak up, alumni and all. Education is the art and science of creating the free man and woman.
“A multicultural, multi-vocalic, multidimensional understanding of Malaysia's complex society.” This is what we need. This is a major theme on global education and international and intercultural understanding that Malaysian institutions such as UiTM need. This is it, rather than ones that continue to stupefy the students with themes that divide and insult the human intelligence as they relate to race and religion.
These institutions are not fit to be called universities and educational institutions if they continue to nurture cognitive-pathological thinking in an institution that is already mono-cultural. This is not necessary for an institution that denies the opportunities for the students to work together with students of other races, befitting of what Malaysia is and ought to be about.
I hope this misguided paradigm of educational progress and intellectual attainment can be changed with a gradual change in leadership; one that understands what education in the broadest sense of the word means.
Whilst universities the world over are taking pride in being globalised and oftentimes scrambling and racing to make their campuses truly diverse and multicultural, UiTM and Mara elite secondary schools i.e. Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) are still taking pride in defending the rights to be exclusively one-race, one religion, one-myopic vision at the expense of the development of the students' minds yearning to be multi-intelligent and able to develop multiple talents.
This has to change. Malaysians need to push for this change - because education is matter of national interest.
Enough of Islamophobia. Enough of Christian and Muslims massacring each other the world over. Let us not create another version of Chistianophobia or Islamophobia right here in Malaysia!