Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nation needs closure not soothsayer

Nation needs closure not soothsayer

MAY 16, 2010 — Attempts to blemish the social fabric is threatening to drive a wedge between the different races in the country and is growing at an alarming rate.

The controversial “Melayu Bangkit (Malays Arise)” congregation organised by Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat (Gertak) and government agency, Terengganu Integrity Institute on May 13 was called off after the event was widely criticised by the public and opposition due to its divisive nature.

It is not surprising that a national government agency is involved in organising an event that is bent on reliving the darkest period of the nation’s history.

For decades, National Civics Bureau (BTN) has been instilling fear and hatred among the different races blaming the May 13 incident on the non-Malays for being insensitive and greedy.

Umno has conveniently chastised DAP as the perpetrator of the bloody event and the big win scored by the party in the last general election has been deemed as a signal of the deteriorating of the Malays’ political power.

DAP is being used as the bogeyman and Umno’s mouthpiece has called DAP’s rise to a position of power as a threat to the Malays’ way of life — position of the Malay language, Islam, Malay Sultans and the Malays’ special position.

The conditioning of the Malays have been so effective that it has managed to convince the Malays that this land belongs to them with the other races being conveniently labelled as immigrants (pendatang).

This process has been systematically carried out with the assistance of mainstream media dailies and television, namely the right-wing daily Utusan Malaysia and TV3 television station.

What this has evidently produced is an insecure Malay community which faces difficulty accepting that times have changed and the dogmatic ‘Malay Supremacy’ is unable to stand the test of time.

It is worrying that even with the advancement of internet where information is readily available, there are large swathes of urban and educated Malays that still profess to the mantra of ‘Malays First’.

Decades of systemic brainwashing and indoctrination has successfully bred distrust and mistrust between Malays and non-Malays.

Notoriously celebrated figures have also jumped on the bandwagon to drum up the pro-Malay sentiment.

This is typified by none other than the publicity-hungry parochial former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was pencilled in to officiate the congregation.

Mahathir has conveniently slammed his critics citing the old-school nag reminding Malaysians on the history of the May 13 incident and for all to abide by the social contract as a precursor for peace among the races.

He forewarned that the country will repeat the mistakes of the past if it denied history implying that the congregation is meant to educate Malaysians on the history of the country.

“I feel that if we forget our history then we will repeat this history,” said Dr Mahathir.

The congregation like many other right-wing NGOs like Perkasa is focused on putting out the agenda that the non-Malays creeping into the rights of the Malays and that the Malays need to unite politically to protect their rights that are slipping away.

The success of the Malay Agenda has always been linked to the political strength of Umno and as the beacon of the Malays, the myth that a strong Umno will protect the survival of the Malays economically and politically.

Proponents of Malay Agenda has time and again use history, sentiments and emotions to heighten the siege mentality among the Malays.

For Malays to progress with time together with the rest of the country there is no room for this kind of mentality.

While the Malays need to shed their insecurities, the non-Malays need to feel appreciated in a land they call their own.

Doomsayers and soothsayers like Dr Mahathir, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Perkasa President Datuk Ibrahim Ali and many other Hang Tuah-wannabes will not help to achieve these objectives and are threatening the social fabric of the country.

The nation needs closure from the episode of May 13 and does not need to relive the past; lessons have to be learnt but scare-mongers have to be done away.

Note : This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider on May 16, 2010

Back to the drawing board

Back to the drawing board

APR 26, 2010 — For the past eight days, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has led a campaign that showcased everything rotten about Umno and BN.

The vilification and assassination on the personal lifestyle of Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, candidate of PKR and Pakatan Rakyat was absolutely disgusting but it brought mixed results based on the Malays' voting pattern.

The people of Hulu Selangor did not respond to BN's campaign by giving Zaid a decisive thumping, but instead word has it that they were displeased with the gutter politics on show.

Even though Zaid was not elected as the new representative of Hulu Selangor, it has shown to the nation that Umno has adopted this brand of politics.

Playing the typical opposition's game, Umno moved in to kill off Zaid by accusing him of not being Islamic enough, referring to his liberal character.

Then there was the crossing over of a few of Pakatan's representatives in the hope of destabilising the alliance that has been touted as the government-in-waiting.

The ill intent and misguided efforts were a desperate attempt by Najib to hold on to power and to reverse the potential end of BN's 53-year rule.

The wisdom of the people of all races — Malays, Chinese, Indians, Orang Asal and the rest of the population — should not be underestimated though.

They crave for a government that is able to provide a visionary leadership to propel the country to greater heights economically, politically and socially.

The Malays have expressed their displeasure with Umno's extremism as indicated by a vote swing for Pakatan in some Malay areas of Batang Kali.

The majority of the Chinese in Kuala Kubu Bharu township and the many urban Indians including the Orang Asal showed their abhorrence of Umno's utter contempt of their rights as Malaysians.

It is fortunate that the self-imposed referendum on Najib's leadership did not backfire as it would have been very embarassing for Najib if BN had lost.

BN clearly outplayed Pakatan by dishing out monies and projects for the constituents of Hulu Selangor.

To the Anwar Ibrahim-led Pakatan Rakyat, the goal is to relieve BN's stranglehold on the lives of ordinary Malaysians — in the urban cities, kampungs, estates and the remote areas.

Pakatan needs to deal with the results of the Hulu Selangor by-election with great humility; that the trust of the people needs to be safeguarded and upheld with ultimate transparency, accountability and responsibly.

The people of Hulu Selangor have also shown some affinity to Pakatan and this should not be destroyed with internal squabbling and politicking among Pakatan component members.

The almost non-existent PKR machinery especially in Hulu Bernam and the Felda areas of Hulu Selangor show a lack of engagement with the Malay voters.

This is also similar in the national context, whereby the message of Pakatan does not get across to the Malay population and this has to be addressed by Pakatan as a whole, not just by PAS or to a lesser extent PKR.

The calls for change will not be realised if the Malays do not buy into this message and major effort needs to be given due consideration by Pakatan including DAP in order to break the myth that the Chinese-led party will trample on the rights of the Malays.

There has to be a clear, simple and direct message for the rural Malays that a Pakatan government will protect their rights, their livelihoods, the Malay Sultans, the Malay language and Islam as the religion of the Federation.

If these issues are given due attention, maybe then we will see a second political tsunami in the country come the next general election.

Note : This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider on April 26, 2010

The fight against mediocrity

The fight against mediocrity

APR 7, 2010 — In a world that challenges old norms, Malaysia seems to be struggling and slow in embracing new ideas.

Universal values that promotes openness and egalitarianism run foul among old-schooled politicians.

Many of them equate these values as Western-oriented or Tools of Imperialists with sinister motive towards a developing Muslim nation such as Malaysia.

These politicians brand those who promote these values as ‘enemies of Islam’ and ‘anti-developing nations’ wanting to re-colonialise the country through technological advances.

Sadly, some of these semi-literates hold positions of power that directly affects policy and the running of the nation.

Information and Communications Minister, Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim has been quoted as saying that Facebook and Twitter are tools used by Western countries to ‘control’ the people of Malaysia.

How could someone with any ounce of sense fathom the dogmatic and patronising comments from someone with such authority?

This sort of irrelevant and out-of-sync arguments do not hold water and makes Rais look even more pre-historic than he already is.

Rais’ younger Barisan Nasional (BN)comrades like Rembau Member of Parliament (MP), Khairy Jamaluddin and Kota Belud MP, Abdul Rahman Dahlan who are active twitters (also known as tweeples) themselves, have also defied Rais’ edict and even mocked the Minister.

Rais is just one of the many narrow-minded politicians, a lot of them within the Umno-BN fold and some within the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties.

We have been served with an array of idiotic pronouncements from low-class politicians that makes Mr. Bean looks a paltry slapstick comedian.

We can still remember one former Gerakan Minister passing remarks on the sexual antics of estate workers ‘doing it’ behind rubber trees.

How can we forget when a BN backbencher passed crude remarks about a fellow parliamentarian and her menstruation cycle.

It is still fresh in our minds how a so-called statesman, Father of Modern Malaysia and Champion of the Third World insinuated and describing to nauseating effects the homosexual acts alleged to be the habits of his one-time protégé now turned nemesis.

In Malaysia, sex sells and so does race as well as religion.

We have also been served with theatrics by the ‘King of Frogs’ who jumped about in parliament denouncing the Malay dominated-PKR and Islamic leaning-PAS of being rode upon by the chauvinistic DAP.

The ‘King of Frogs’ upped the ante by putting up a warrior-like show using his one-man NGO, Perkasa and warned the Non-Malays in both Pakatan and BN from questioning the Malay Rights.

The world of politics seemed like a playground filled with bigots, sex-maniacs and male-chauvinist pigs.

For so long, we have allowed ourselves to be misled and duped by these dingos and dinosaurs.

With the impending Hulu Selangor by-election, we will for the umpteenth time experience attempts to insult our intelligence.

Using the full might of the media, Umno will go the extra length to paint everything rotten about PKR and PR.

Umno-owned TV3 and Utusan have been their official mouthpieces for so long to the point that Umno have almost perfected the script, that was until technology decides to debunk their invincibility.

The power of the internet has started the countdown to Umno-BN’s obliteration.

The hypocritical stance between Najib’s 1 Malaysia and Muhyiddin-Mahathir-Perkasa’s hardline Malay Agenda has been exposed with the kind assistance of the internet especially the social media namely Facebook and Twitter.

When Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s aide, Nasir Safar revealed his true self and anti-Non Malay beliefs ironically in a 1 Malaysia camp, Netizens jumped on him instantaneously so much so that he had to resign from his post as Najib’s aide.

When Muhyiddin talked lowly of MCA and how he won’t vote for the MCA if he was a Chinese created a bush fire that spread viciously labelling him as a Malay radical and anti-thesis to Najib’s 1 Malaysia.

The process of stupefying the people has been halted in its track by internet, not by the strength of Pakatan.

Malaysians especially youths are unlikely to fall into the trap of mediocrity fuelled by Umno.

As the country gets more urbanised and technological advances affects the daily lives of Malaysians, politicians such as being mentioned above will be shunned even further by the people.

While youths relate more to new ideas and are receptive to change, there seems to be an inherent fundamental problem that lies within the PR youth wings as they are unable to attract youths to their side.

They are unable to tap on the vast resources of ever willing youths.

Due to weak leadership, lacking in ideas and creativity, youths see no difference in the actions and pronouncements of both sets of BN and PRyouth wings.

While the support of youths towards PR is massive in the last general elections, the same cannot be said of their participation within PR youth wings.

There is very little imagination coming out from the leadership of PR youth wings and on a few occasions they have been swamped by initiatives taken by BN Youth.

PR have only themselves to blame if the support from youths dwindled even further as they have shown more desire for excessive politicking, jostling for positions and the extraordinary thirst for menial municipal contract — sand, billboard, waste disposal, to say the least.

As much as youths can’t bring themselves to support the ever corrupt Umno-BN, they find it difficult to also be actively involved within the PR Youths.

The fight against mediocrity and elevation of the idealism among youth must be considered as part of the movement for change within the larger reform context.

It is on this pretext that mediocrity and dogmatic ideas will be abandoned leading to a vibrant society.

Note : This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider on April 7, 2010

Unmasking the pseudo-liberals and hijacking the middle ground

Unmasking the pseudo-liberals and hijacking the middle ground

FEB 19, 2010 — Recently Datuk Ibrahim Ali, supremo of Perkasa, a right-wing Malay NGO, together with his henchmen presented their economic agenda to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak outlining their demand for an economic policy that defend the rights Malays and Bumiputeras.

Perkasa stand out as Umno’s alter ego plying their role in pushing for the Malay agenda with much arrogance, pomp and vigour.

By putting forward its economic quota demands, Perkasa has revealed its claws to its allies and foes, announcing that it is a key player in shaping the domestic political scene.

Perkasa followed that up by demonstrating against the Australian government following the protest note signed by over 50 MPs demanding for the sodomy charge against Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be dropped.

From a humble beginning and a one-man show, Perkasa has moved up the value chain and has overshadowed Umno in many senses that has looked very timid as compared to the high octane Perkasa.

Umno sensing that their position and role is being undermined launched high-profile programmes like Umno Juara Rakyat to compete with the likes of Perkasa.

Other Malay-Muslim oriented NGOs like Abim, PKPIM, GPMS and Belia 4B have lost their relevance and seemed past their sell by date eventhough they tried hard to capitalise on Malay-Muslim issues like the recent “Allah” controversy.

In the run-up to the next general election, Umno realise that they can ill-afford to lose the Malay votes to hang on to power.

Umno-led Barisan Nasional have almost given up on the Chinese votes due to their incapacitated pro-Chinese ally parties like MCA and Gerakan beset by internal problems and leadership crisis.

On the other hand, the Indian votes also hang in the balance with MIC and its President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu suffering from a very negative perception among the Indian community.

On the opposite spectrum, individuals and civil society organisations calling themselves liberals and democrats have been rigorously denouncing Umno and Perkasa of being radical extremist building themselves as the total opposite to the hardcore Umno-Perkasa tag team.

Under the guise of their urban and middle-class setting, these pseudo-liberals are claiming that they represent the voice of conscience, Middle Malaysia or the middle ground.

These individuals loiter within the confines of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat and left leaning NGOs.

They ride on campaigns for equality and human rights pushing their pluralistic agenda to the extent that a lot of the noble values are diluted without a human face.

Their professed faith in championing for a single Malaysian race and fighting for gender and racial equality is questionable in its authenticity and sincerity.

While a lot more rational and credible Malay leaders within the Pakatan fold argues for the exact noble values like Azmin Ali, Khalid Samad, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, just to name a few; unfortunately these leaders are being lumped together with the group of pseudo-liberals and social democrats by the Umno-Perkasa goons.

These pseudo-liberals and social democrats’ band of bandits have been accorded positions of power after being elected as MPs, excos, Assemblymen and Senators under the banner of Pakatan in the 2008 general election.

This group is being backed and supported by their comrades in left-wing NGOs fighting for the cause of human rights, gender equality and single Malaysian race.

They are actively abusing their authoritative power to exert their influence in decision making with hypocritical stance by selectively pushing for a certain agenda and silencing themselves on issues of concern to the Malay psyche.

While they support vernacular demands from organisations like Dong Jiao Zhong and Hindraf; issues that touch the Malay community like monarchy, Malay language, position of Islam and Malay rights goes absent from their lips.

Their antagonistic and hypocritical stand on anything Malay-Islam has made them the perennial enemies of Umno-Perkasa.

In fact, they are the biggest hindrance to Anwar, Lim Kit Siang and Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s ambition to bludgeon Umno in the next general election.

In a period where political parties and pressure groups are actively enlarging their support base, this group if left unchecked will hand Umno’s propaganda tools like Utusan Malaysia a field day to shun away ordinary Malays from Pakatan.

In actual fact, they occupy the extreme opposite to Umno-Perkasa and their modus operandi are as radical as their nemesis.

They do not represent the voice of conscience, neither do they represent the actual middle ground or Middle Malaysia because they are bent on promoting hedonism and paganism under the banner of civil society promoting universal values.

These pseudo-liberals are the anti-theses to Perkasa causing Malaysians to be pulled and drawn further to either extreme away from the middle ground.

If Anwar is to successfully chart Pakatan’s course towards Putrajaya, these pseudo-liberals and their social ills must be nipped in the bud to ensure that Pakatan especially in PKR is able to attract the Malay-Muslim crowd which is key to dethroning Umno-BN.

Radicals, using race, religion or the liberal card are extremists nevertheless and should be confined in the fringe rather than be allowed to roam free at the centre of gravity among the middle ground.

Only then, will the liberals and the middle ground be freed of unnecessary labelling and negative connotations.

Note : This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider on February 19, 2010

Umno’s politics of engagement

Umno’s politics of engagement

NOV 21, 2009 — “If I were Chinese, I, too, would not support the MCA.”

Those words will ring in the ear of every single MCA member for a long time as the crudest statement uttered by a component party member.

The fact that the statement came from the Deputy Prime Minister and Umno’s Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has made it even more compelling.

It signals a major shift in the sacred policy of non-interference among the Barisan Nasional component parties.

Gone are the days when each component party’s business was theirs and theirs alone.

Prior to this, the camaraderie between BN members have been tested time and again but it rarely caused any shockwave, not to the extent that the sanctity of this policy is challenged.

When Umno was declared illegal by the High Court in 1988, the Chairmanship of Barisan Nasional went to MCA, as the next biggest party in the coalition.

MCA’s the-president Tun Ling Liong Sik subsequently accepted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s newly formed Umno Baru into the coalition, which then returned Umno and Mahathir as the coalition’s head honcho.

When Umno was rejected overwhelmingly by the Malays due to the sacking and ill-treatment of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, MCA again stood by Umno unflinchingly.

Even though Umno lost many Malay-majority seats, which led to their loss of Terengganu in the 1999 General Election, MCA stoutly defended their partner-in-crime.

Former MCA presidents Ling and Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting have strengthened the notion that Umno is the backbone of BN and that Ketuanan Melayu à la Umno is here to stay.

It is the leaders of MCA that has ensured Umno’s longevity and placed an aura of invincibility in the minds of Umno leaders.

Umno can do no wrong and the false sense of supremacy lingers on in the minds of Umno’s party rank-and-file.

MCA, at its mightiest, was still unable to lift a finger against Umno. What more smaller parties like MIC, Gerakan, PPP and others?

The emergence of East Malaysian parties as a force within BN following the 2008 General Election has further decimated the significance of MCA and also pushed MIC, Gerakan and PPP deep into oblivion.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is running out of time to put everything into place before he calls for a general election, to seek a fresh mandate, in the next 12 to 18 months.

Najib would also want to maintain the pressure on Pakatan Rakyat with continuous attacks on the Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan state governments.

However, the leadership crisis in MCA is proving somewhat a distraction to BN’s upswing following the political tsunami of 2008.

In order to maintain the upswing, Najib needs an MCA that is able to regain its place as the biggest Chinese party apart from DAP.

With the way things are headed, it leaves Najib with no choice but to interfere and meddle in MCA’s affairs as he is running out of options to revive MCA from its deep coma.

The DAP-led Penang Pakatan government is doing well enough to ensure that the state will still remain under Pakatan in the next elections.

On the other hand, opposition leader Anwar has recently shown signs of urgency and taken concrete steps in putting his party, PKR, in order.

Anwar’s appointment as Selangor’s economic adviser is a statement of caution to Najib that he will not take the political bullying from Umno lying down.

If Anwar can effect change by ensuring decisive and prompt decision-making in the Selangor state government, and also bring in badly needed investments as well as increase the confidence of the hard-hit business community, the pendulum will surely swing his way instead of Najib’s.

The political temperature is likely to increase in the run up to the next general election.

However, the impotency of MCA is a drawback for Najib in his quest to maintain his premiership.

Note : This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider on November 21, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Autocratic orthodoxy in religion

NOV 15, 2009 – The arrest of former Perlis Mufti Dr Asri Zainul Abidin in the bourgeois neighbourhood of Bukit Antarabangsa has opened up another Pandora’s box in the country.

Allegations by the state religious authority Jais that Asri was “teaching Islam without certification” has been criticised by many but also defended by some in the Islamic establishments.

Generally, Malay Muslims are being taught in their religious upbringing to accept and submit without question to the teachings of their tok guru, lecturer or ustaz in madrasahs, sekolah pondok or in university lecture halls.

This Asian-esque and parochial values has been effectively used by the local Islamic institutions and the conservative orthodox ulama's to strengthen their grip on the religion in the country.

The orthodox school of thought is entrenched in almost all state religious councils and local Islamic district departments, as well as top federal Islamic institutions like Pusat Islam and Jakim and the local universities.

However, some degree of intellectual debates can be seen in academically inclined Islamic institutions like Istac, Ikim and Yadim, ?which are viewed as a threat to these orthodox establishments.

Hence, it is surprising that Malaysian Islamic Youth Association (Abim) stoutly defended the move by Jais and showed that the disease of an old school of thought creeping into what used to be a progressive institution.

The dismantling of “total submission without question” as a result of an open education system and globalised borderless world seems to be scaring the orthodox groups which worry that their grip on the religion may be under threat.

Just like some old autocratic dictator offering up the lame defence of “Asian values” for the purpose of maintaining hegemony and hindering democracy, the traditional Islamic establishments are using the same mantra.

The arguments on maintaining law and order in that other established schools of thought, like Shiite, Wahabbi or Salafi, have no place in the country because they will “disrupt harmony and cause confusion among Muslims” mimics the autocratic line of arguments of “Order first, democracy later” leaders.

The labelling and unfortunate connotation that Wahabbism, Salafi or Shiite has been associated with, has been propagated to instil prejudice among the general Muslim population in Malaysia that these streams are deviationist in nature.

Just like democracy has been conveniently tainted with accusations that it is a Western and imperialist agenda; reform movement in Islamic teachings were also accused of being a Western agenda.

The Islamic reform movement were championed by progressives like Muhammad Abduh and Rasyid Ridha, which was carried out in this region by laureatte Syed Syeikh Al Hadi in the early 1900s through education in madrasahs and liberating publications.

Syed Syeikh Al Hadi went through similar ordeal with the dogmatic traditionalist Islamic establishments accusing him of being a radical and causing disharmony among the Muslim community.

This Cold War which went on until the 60s and 70s between traditionalists and reformists were termed “Kaum Tua vs Kaum Muda” with the reformists or Kaum Muda confined mainly to the Straits Settlements of Penang, Singapore and pockets in Malacca.

After Independence, with the establishment of heads of state or rulers as the guardian of Islam in their own state, the Perlis ruler is the only known royal to subscribe to the progressive reform Islam.

In this latest episode, the orthodox establishment launched an assault on Islamic reformists with the humiliating arrest of Asri in front of hundreds of attendees, including several lawmakers.

Like a regime under threat, in order to silence dissent, to blunt creativity and to kill off new ideas in the society, the dying regime needs to exercise their power to show that they are in control and that the religion is their key to bossing people around.

But like all regimes or juntas, education and exposure to new ideas will lead to progress and the disintegration of parochialism as well as formation of an egalitarian society.

The dogmatic conservative orthodox will eventually fall despite their suffocating grip on local institutions, media and enforcement agencies.

However, in order for the reform agenda to prosper, whether in religion or politics, it must be based on sincerity to develop or promote social upward mobility as well as create a more aware and rational society.

For too long, the society has been trapped in the dogmatic ways of an old depleted regime and the struggle to uplift the society by reformers should not go to waste – in religion, politics or otherwise.

- published in The Malaysian Insider : Nov 15, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Americans stuck with the devils they know

NOV 4, 2009 – The US foreign policy under President Barack Obama has taken a more conciliatory approach as compared to the swashbuckling style of his predecessor George Bush Jr.US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has zigged-zagged around the world trying to patch up the wounded relations as a result of the previous administration’s policies with potential partners for the strategic importance of the US.

The strain that was heightened by Bush’s War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq has left a deep scar among many Muslims in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Following the war, Muslims generally view the Americans or Westerners with great distrust and suspicion.

This prejudice has been easily taken advantage of by radicals and extremists through the Al-Qaeda and Taleban in the Middle East as well as the Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf in Southeast Asia.

Subsequent to the War on Terror, sermons in mosques, madrasahs and religious schools around the world has taken aim at the US and the West calling them Great Satan, Imperialists and the like.

Imams in mosques and madrasahs have been calling Muslims worldwide to defend their brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan, hence the pockets of foreign forces that slipped into Iraq and Afghanistan to defend the Muslim countries against US’ aggression.

At the same time, the Sept 11 tragedy has also made Muslims in the Western world an easy target for hate seekers and nationalists’ mob.

The ignorance of these bigots is ridiculously idiotic to the extent that some of them attacked Sikhs who are identified by their turbans which, to their western eyes, are similar to what the Arabs wear.

9/11, followed by the war against Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein has increased the gap between the Muslim world and the US-Western civilisation.

The siege mentality has overwhelmingly taken over the minds of many Muslims to the point that anything related to US or the West is being viewed with great suspicion.

This has also been exacerbated by Bush’s labelling of Jihadists and Wahabbism on the radicals.

Extremists’ movements worldwide have been fuelled with added conviction and fervour in their attacks against the US, Israel and the West.

These rogue groups have caused mayhem at places with high concentration of Westerners as well as economically important cities all around the world.

The US, on the other hand, has had to grapple with partners that are embroiled in their own domestic problems.

Iraq has been in turmoil from the moment Saddam Hussein was kicked out from the city of Baghdad with Sunnis and Shiites embroiled in a civil war jostling to fill in the vacuum left by the larger-than-life figure of Saddam.

Afghanistan’s President Hamed Karzai has been fighting the perception of being a stooge for the US and also rife with allegations of corruption and tainted democracy.

Similar problems in the sultanates of Middle Eastern countries, Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan and Southeast Asian Muslim countries have further complicate the situation faced by Obama.

Much of the problems have arisen due to the fact that the US has been grooming allies that will be “friendly” to them.

These allies in the Muslim world are notoriously known to flout democratic principles, embezzled in corruption scandals and also autocratic in their governance.

Obama has inherited a foreign policy that rewards yes-man and the goodies has created obnoxious and arrogant creatures devoid of the supposedly noble values that Americans are synonymous with – democracy, transparency and good governance.

It is time that the Obama put the respect of the world community back into US’ leadership by ensuring justice and fair play in their dealing with the Muslim world on the issue of Palestine, corruption, democracy and nuclear disarmament.

- published in The Malaysian Insider : Nov 4, 2009