Syed Albar Dodging Game With BBC HardTalk

Posted: September 16, 2007 in Freedom of Expression

As per my previous post…..I’d like to just give people and overview over what our great foreign minister had to say to Sarah of BBC Hardtalk. Although I’d admit he was rather diplomatic although I felt he was quite annoyed with Sarah questions, perhaps pissed that “an outsider” was asking too many questions. As demonstrated by his other playmates, he shoot back with the aura of “none of your business, I’m Malaysian who are you to question!” approach.

Let’s go through the questions and answer session briefly to understand what went down as I did not manage to complete my last post with the answers…. This is more of a gist of what he said rather than a full transcriptions of what he said…

Malaysia just celebrated her 50th Independence, there is a to celebrate..economy is doing well…….

1.Is it time to change Malaysian laws and treat everyone the same?

When you are talking about looking at everyone we are looking at nation building, the most important think is Malaysians feel like they areMalaysians, we recognize our diversity as A SOURCE OF strength,there is no need to change laws as long as we are able to the exercise unity, we are able to act as Malaysians. and I think.this is happening…the process of nation building is not a short process…WE CAME FROM DIVIDED SOCIETY RECOGNIZED ..from divided economic functions , living with very poor living standards.we are have tackled the issue that will bring peace and stability and peopel are able to  share prosperity of the country ..IT IS HAPPENING..

2. Originally the laws were brought in to HELP Malays, basically to tackle poverty and illiteracy, there have been justifications at that time but since poverty and illiteracy have been eradicated What are the justification of  treating generations old of ethnic Chinese and Indians who have been in malaysia for generations now?

When you are looking at it ..From a de-attached point of view, if you look in reality the economy growth of non Malays are faster after the NEP than before it, the share of the cake is bigger ,deeper and wider, deeper. than before.It is not as if you are looking at a theoretical, conceptual thing. You are looking at the realities of the ground.The realities on the ground If you look at the Household income of  Malays Chinese, and Indians,even the Indians have better household income than than Malays. If you take it out of its ethnic dimension, then you will see it is the function of any government to help the less fortunate to make sure the division that is based on ethnic can be overcome

3. Is it fair that it is easier for Malays to get admission into university compared to ethnic Chinese and Indians?

I think the question maybe at the beginning is the same thing in UK or any country that start to build a nation. When you see the disparity and education opportunity.What we wanted to do is to create opportunity due to disparity. How do you avoid the people livingYou have to understand that in rural areas there are no facilities…We do have…

At present it is is based on merit. Of democratization of education, you have to look in total the number of students in malaysia. People who see in from outside will try to aggravate the situation and see disparity. You have too look at it this way without getting excited or emotional about it….look at it in a fair, balance.If you look at the number total students in all universities inMalaysia you will find that the number of non-Malays outnumbered the Malays.This shouldnt be an issue which divides us.We have tackeld the issue step and step wherever we see the disparity.It is working for Malaysia wherever we see there is disparity,now the government scholarship are given to non-Malays showing there is balance and fairness.

4. Do you accept that you are in danger as there is rising resentment among ethnic Indian and Chinese because of this situation that continues to persist even when it should not persist anymore?

It is enjoyed by Chinese in absolute terms in bigger amount than even theMalayshe then gives example of land in rural areas and urban areas and the price difference despite the quantity. We do not look at it that way we are looking at nation that was previously divided by economic functions now are  building on common factors compared to economy divide.

Do you not accept that there you are in danger, that there is rising resentment between the ethnic Chinese and Indian, because of this situation that it is persisting when it should not persist anymore?

We have  more open discussion but it does not imply negative but shows nation is more mature, we questioning things that we before we taken for granted The Chinese are looking at what more than they can get and Indians are looking how they could improve.I’m not saying there is no problem.For outsiders to come and tell us there are going to be racial problems…. you just saw the Merdeka celebrations, there is a sense of belonging and ownership.Its up to Malaysian to dismantle whatever…..

5. How is it that ethnic Chinese and Indians feel a sense of belonging when they can’t get access to top cabinet/senior cabinet post? Since 1973 no such post have been given, don’t you think it is odd that non-Malays have not got any such position for the last 30 years or so?

Who told you that?What do you mean by senior academic post…

even in other countries there are such issues and Sarah rebutted with an argument about it being about Malaysia not another country and then he said something about learning from other countries. Let me talk to you in a way you do not get excited..He went on to saying that she was upset about something she did not understand. Whenever we want to do something it is important to lookat  other countries…democracy. does not come by itself we look at examples.there will coem a time when the.Chinese,Indians, Malays  and other races have accepted arrangement, there will come a time. after all it is a democratic system,How can somebody from outside come to tell us..they have accepted..if there are able to..if the chinese parties or if opposition decide to gether and wanted to change, there is no laws to restrict them from changing it, it is up to voters. I don’t think so it is a democratic country…. ….each one of them have arranged in the coalition to work is well and good for somehting to come and tell….
6. What would you say about the fact that this social contract states racism?

We don’t have that problem you have to look at it objectively

It s not right to look at Malaysia as a racist country, it is not perfect but we have infusion of cultures, people get along etc.There are people who disagree, it is not is not a perfect situation.we succeeded in building a multi-racial country….there will come a time when it is the choice of the people…up to the voters..

7. Let’s look at investor.Investors would invest in Malaysia but choose do not do s, emergingthe problem is the Malays would do better as well as there were no restriction, there have got the people, got the resources there are not harnessing them in the right way, he suggest you roll back those measures to encourage entrepreneurial energy-emergent market fund manager…

He said something to the effect that 1 fund manager did not represent all fund managers and others are quite happy as Malaysia has stability…etc we are happy that is grown for the last…

8. Why hasn’t it grow as much as other countries? It’s slowing down compared to other neighbouring countries, why is that?

He says that there are times we grow faster than other countries and at time we fall back…its normal.. we can’t talk one particular moment…we have to look whether it has succeeded in creating prosperity,diversity etc..we are better than other countries.

9.Will it continue to do so?

Yes, . I’m a Malaysians..I will not let a foreigner tell me that racial problem are going to happen.

10. Survey on race relations in Malaysia-34%-have not ever eaten together of citizen of other races, lives of citizen so divided (work,eat,school separately). Does that worry you?

Yes of course that why we are adressing the racial issues.we talk about the dangers of long as we understand the issues and address it

10.Why is society getting increasing divided? The crown prince of Perak, say that in his some Malay majority school has made them where head scarves and avoid non-Malay homes, he said lives are being lived more separately and is increasingly so.

Ithink there is a very good comment made, he is as responsible as us.

He talked about the tudung usage..but we are identifying the problem,the fact that a person wears a tudung doesn’t represent extreme behavior, avoid extreme behavior,customs,culture...

11. It is becoming increasingly difficult.Isn’t race relations getting worse? Don’t you accept that it is getting worse?

All of us are talking about.Everywhere all around the world. race relations are getting worse! It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean we have to give up, we want to take steps to overcome it.Current government is giving the opportunity to talk about it to provide solutions ……In Merdeka celebrations, we gave all races a sense of participation so we are dealing with the problem of polarizations, division….

12.What are you going to do about the schools?/

We need to overcome problems of sensitivity. We want to have integrated schools under one school..medium…language of instructions. but the Chinese do not want it. We want to provide language Tamil and Chinese in national schools.

13. Under the Malaysian Constitution, every person has a right to profess and practice his or her religion. It is increasing becoming meaningless…

I disagree with you where can you practice religion, Malaysia is a place that you can practice multi-religion like the one that exist in Malaysia. If you are talking about converting that is a whole different issue altogether..

14. Why is converting a different issue? If a Muslim want to convert, there has a been a high profile case where, she tried to convert to Christianity and not allowed to …

You are confusing the issue…Nobody said that she could not convert to Christianity..referring to Lina joy..It was about the Identity card , she wanted to change her name…when you want to change your religion on the card it become a big problem a you can’t simply change your ID.Nobody has arrested her and forced her to become a Muslim, you cannot change your name in the ID.She made her choice in becoming what she she wanted to be..

15.Anybody can convert?Let’s take the case of Revathy, a Muslim born Malaysia who was sent to a rehabiliation centre for 6 months because she tried to live with a Hindu.

Yes anybody can convert.That happens all the have to look at the diversity. We see whether the conversion has been done…then she will have the option to decide on her own… it is up to them what religion there want to profess. Out of 5 million people that profess their own religion., 2 or 3 people do not represent everyone. There are so many other important issues I do not know why you want to focus on this matters.

15. It’s important, because it shows what the state is doing, how it affects other individuals. You take her case, why couldn’t she practice as a Hindu. But she has to go through rehabilitation for 6 months which she said is like a prison. Now she has to live with her mother to see her child.

If she wants to become a Hindu, it is up to her..because She is a Muslim.Out of how many Muslims that have converted to becoming a Hinud…She has come out nobody has proceeded against her.There want to make sure…

You know if you follow a certain religion like a member of a certain club..if you want to get out of the club.. you are subject to the club rules and have to follow them, same thing when you want to leave the club.If there want to change religion it is up to them..there will be misunderstanding…etc

16.Peope fear Islamization in Malaysia..Is it or is it not an Islamic state?

It is an Islamic state but not a theoratic Islamic State. Islam is the official religion in Malaysia.  We do not see the separation of and state..

17. But you have a Syariah Court operating?Only for Muslims? You have the system since the amendment since 1988.There seems to confusion towards when the laws apply and when it doesn’t?

Yes, Syariah Court is only for Muslims.I know you have look at certain parts..If there have matter pertaining to Syariah given to Syariah courts…

Its is very simple if there is any conflict the courts will decide.this is done in the courts..we use the rule of law to determine which law is applicable..

Malaysia is not an easy country to govern.It is easy for commentators to say this and that, overall we are happy and weakness we will overcome.

18. When your PM become a Prime Minister he promised to do a lot things, one of it corruption but corruption has increased. Does he accept that he has a lot to do?

Yes, there is a lot to do ensure corruption can be overcome with.. law and education..we have set up an institute of integrity to handle this.for good governance, morality etc.. When we have a problem we identify and tackle them..

19. Isn’t as as fast as you would hope?Do you accept that?

There are some problems, some can be handled fast, some slower…

* Phew..that was tiring to hear, write..understand…digest…….arggggggggh..its finally over..commentary update later..

  1. cdason says:

    wow.. ur really hardworking man.. this is like a full transcript!!

  2. Kavilan says:

    dare i say that this guy was actually “praised” by some quarters for actually not falling into Sarah’s “trap”?

    It seems many people are arguing that Malaysian issues should be left for Malaysians to handle. What’s so wrong about someone asking the right questions? It’s not like she was pressing for a cabinet reshuffle!

  3. Kavilan says:

    by the way, my heartfelt appreciation for taking ur time to lay out this transcript…

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