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Will Malaysia’s coronapolitics destroy her educational hope?

After only 20 months, the government of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, won out of an election that overthrew the kleptocratic and massively corrupt regime of Najib Razak, collapsed. Yes, the most short-lived government in the 60 year-history of Malaysia,  has just collapsed.

Mahathir wanted to stop Anwar Ibrahim from inheriting the coveted throne of Malaysian premiership. By hook or by crook. Little did he realize that, albeit his mastery in Sun Tzu and Machiavelli tactics, amidst his hard work to hold on to power till death do him part perhaps, that his own party sidekick   Muhyiddin Yassin, was cooking something in the political kitchen. A strange hot-pot of political hodgepodge of master- maneuvering ingredients of lethal proportion. Somewhat like a traditional Malay soup prepared for a Devil’s banquet as in a scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The government collapsed. Like one with a sudden heart attack. My concern is with Malaysia’s educational future.

I say this for Malaysians especially: You may all have known of my passion for education. Out of the more than 500 articles I have written, over the last 15 years of writing for the public, over 33 years of teaching, perhaps more than 60 percent addressed education and critical consciousness taking Malaysia as case study, framed within the context of global and comparative education. But how can a sound and sane education system be borne out of a regime change that was forced-delivered out of the birthing room of Malay coronoviral politics?

Our concern for our children

As with any Malaysian too, my concern is simple:

In the hands of leaders who do not have the idea of the political-economic, macro, and micro, or even neurological aspects of education, or even worse, those who do not have the experience of being in a classroom developing minds, we will be heading towards the doom mentioned above.

In the hands of those whose interest is to continue to divide and rule and reproduce beings into racists and religious bigots in a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-talented society, we will create an education system of social reproduction that will produce and reproduce more and more human beings ready to go to war with one another – whatever we may call a “war” is – when it comes to hidden and visible war to protect each other’s racial and religious interests. Besides protecting wealth and power.

This is my fear of the power of the “social conveyer belt” in education! What are we seeing reproduced?

What must we demand of the new (“illegitimate”) government as it finalised the installation of the chief execution officers of education who will not butcher the future of our children?

Education is Malaysia’s biggest failure. That’s where we breed race and religious bigotry. How long will this last? Will Malaysian education continue to be in the hands of “the rats mending the pumpkin”? As the Malay proverb, “seperti tikus membaiki labu” goes? This is my concern, as well as those fed-up with the never-ending politics of the “game of toilet bowls”, sacrificing the future of our children.

Coronapolitical regime

Only a people’s-choice government, betrayal-free can last long. Not the old-greedy Pakatan Harapan-type. Not the new one either! Some say this new regime comes with a new spirit. Not necessarily. Individuals cannot be separated from ideology. Anti-multiculturalist-backdoor, we are seen parachuted into this new set-up, deemed by many observers, as an illegitimate child of a coronapolitical coup.

The ideology of Mahathirism, which sustained the corrupt practices of politics and dynasty-building for the last 40 years has ended. Malaysians must rejoice. But we have entered a new age. Of uncertainty and fear and no cure. Of Malay-coronapolitics. Voters took their responsibility seriously. The coalition Pakatan Harapan fooled them quickly. All ended in idiocy.

Malaysian now have a new prime minister who thinks “Malay first and Malaysian later” in a cabinet pushing for the agenda of Malay-Salafi-Wahabbi only. I’d say: Why not be human beings first, Malaysian second, and Malay next? Wouldn’t this kind of thinking help up move forward? This would be a more sensible way to view the word that is constantly changing in all its diversity inspired by cosmopolitanism rather that communitarianism.

The coalition party Pakatan Harapan under Dr Mahathir Mohamad too was not keen on pushing the agenda for racial justice and harmony, through education. The goal of the new coalition, through education, as we may predict, is to render the non-Malays and non- Muslims inferior to Malay-Muslims, as citizens. Looks like there will be no hope for Malaysians to be Malaysians in a country heading towards damnation.

Imagine too those about to be prosecuted for crimes against the nation – may be scott-free? Is this divine justice? Today’s Malay politics: about the war to be billionaires as fast as one’s term of service allows. We voted for that game show!

I don’t know how many Malaysians are any more interested in the announcement of the new cabinet, when all is about a robbers’ banquet? In the new game, even PAS (the dominant Islamic party) will gradually gobble up Umno (the dominant Malay-nationalist party). Because one is more religious than the other. Fit to rule in toto.

The hudud might become the preferred form of punishment. There will be a great push for this. Thought-police and moral-police will be twin ideological state apparatuses of the new regime. “Liberals” will be hunted down. Malaysia’s new regime will pave the way for that “Islamic state” many longed for. Start reading Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, may we?

The gradual closing of previous corruption cases will signify the highest form of hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the new regime. It will be a government based on both, revenge and the insatiable urge to plunder. Race-religion as twin-turbo-force. The goal of the new regime is to make Ketuanan-Melayu-Salafi-Wahabbi take over everything. Education, especially.

As a political observer, my fear is non-Malays will not have a future in the new society, even if Mahathirists take over. The new regime is beginning to be swallowed alive by the race and religious deep state. A fatal game, selling off Malaysians.

Malaysia, as feared by many at the installation of this new regime, is on its way to total political collapse and the eighteen months of Pakatan Harapan seemed just a figment of our imagination. We are back to square one, with even worse politics of vengeance continuing. When in the world and hell-when are we going to progress?

In conclusion

In the entire scheme, this is my conclusion: Malaysia’s coronapolitics is merely an internal class war. Between billionaires from the previous Barisan Nasional  and wannabe millionaires from the short-lived regime of Pakatan Harapan. 

Of immediate concern to us is the future of education. Will it continue to create coronaviral politicians only good at killing one another through back door deals, backstabbings, and backing each other who were robbers in this epic of Ali Baba and the now perhaps 222 thieves?

I don’t know. Do we all – anymore? We are tired, aren’t we, Malaysians? 

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DR AZLY RAHMAN grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in six fields of study: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies, Communication, Creative Non-Fiction, and Fiction Writing. He has written more than 350 analyses/essays on Malaysia. His 30 years of teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He is a frequent contributor to scholarly online forums in Malaysia, the USA, Greece, and Montenegro.

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