Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bullshit Muslims?

Raja Petra in his today's posting “Bullshit Islam from Bullshit Muslims” writes:

“Umno and ABIM are enemies of the community. Umno and ABIM are enemies of Islam. Umno and ABIM serve the party and their own race. Umno and ABIM are not true Muslims. Umno and ABIM are bullshit Muslims. Umno and ABIM are practicing bullshit Islam”.

What made Raja Petra went beserk were two recent developments. First was the refusal by a number of UMNO assemblymen in Penang to accept Pakatan Rakyat state government’s invitation for them to sit on a number of state committees. The reason given by the assemblymen was: they wanted to remain loyal to their party (UMNO).

Second was ABIM Secretary-General Khairul Ariffin Mohd Munir’s press statement calling on the Public Service Department (PSD) to clarify its move to increase the ratio of scholarships for non-Bumiputeras. Following are excerpts from the press statement:

The Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) has called on the government to clarify the necessity for the Public Service Department (PSD) to increase the ratio of scholarships for non-Bumiputeras from 10 percent to 45 percent.

Abim secretary-general, Khairul Arifin Mohd Munir, said in view that the education quota issue was closely related to provisions in the federal constitution like Articles 153(2) and 153(3) it was therefore necessary that Malaysians be given an explanation for the move.

In response to the above press statement, Raja Petra writes:

The Islamic youth movement, ABIM, is upset that the government is not upholding racial discrimination. So the ABIM people too are not true Muslims. Yes, that’s right; don’t get too impressed and awed by any Arab look-alike, Bin Ladin wannabe. They may dress like Muslims from the Arabian desert. They may talk like Muslims. They may sujud (prostrate) on the ground with their backsides pointing to the sky five times a day. They may go to Mekah twice a year whereas others go only once in their entire life. Their wives and daughters may be ‘properly’ covered with a tudung or headscarf. They may even let loose from their lips a few Arabic words from time to time. But they are not true Muslims. They are munafik and fasik Muslims … Remember these two words: munafik and fasik … Yet the pretend they are true Muslims. Bullshit! This is bullshit Islam practiced by bullshit Muslims. What they uphold and practice is everything that Islam opposes.

Accusing others of being “munafik” and “fasik” is no joke. What is more, the one who is accusing claims himself to be a true Muslim. Well, a true Muslim does not easily accuse others of being “munafik” and “fasik”. This is an important, yet simple, rule of thumb.

Anyway, let us be objective about this. Reading ABIM Sec-Gen’s statement carefully, I conclude that what he intended was to get the PSD to clarify its move in increasing the ratio of scholarships for non-Bumiputeras. The reason is the reservation of scholarships for Bumiputeras, by virtue of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, is a constitutional matter.

Let us see what Article 153 says about this:

153. Reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits, etc., for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.

(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

(2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, but subject to the provisions of Article 40 and of this Article, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences.

It is clear from the above Clauses that it is “the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak” (the Bumiputeras). The responsibility includes reservation of quotas in respect of scholarships for them.

It is therefore not wrong for anybody to seek clarification from the PSD for its move. There are vital constitutional issues to be clarified. As it is the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under the constitution to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak through, among others, reservation of quotas in respect of scholarships, has the PSD consulted the Yang di-Pertuan Agong before making the decision to increase the ratio for non-Bumiputeras? If it did, has the Yang di-Pertuan Agong consented to the decision?

I have no doubt whatsoever that these are constitutionally valid questions.
Reservation of quotas in respect of scholarships for the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak has long constitutional history. The matter was thouroughly debated by our forefathers of different races before it was introduced into the letters of the Constitution. A unilateral act by the PSD to change the ratio seems to ignore its constitutional importance. Even if the situation now warrants the ratio to be changed, the onus is on the PSD to provide justifications that the new ratio is just and fair for all. And these justifications must be made public.
Having said this, I think a reasonable Bumiputera will have no qualm at accepting what is just and fair.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thank You!

I sincerely thank Professor Clive Kessler and Mavis C Puthucheary for attending my book review session last night. I was humbled by their presence not only because it was their book “Sharing the Nation” that I reviewed, but also because they are the authors of many other works on Malaysian politics and society that I enjoyed very much. I also thank Khalid Jaafar for sharing his views on the historical root of Malay society. Most of Khalid’s ideas - for he himself is a self-professed “soft-secularist” in a sea of “Islamist-Malay” world - are thought provoking. His proposition about the Malays’ secular root warrants further investigation though. I also thank Bro. Eekmal from the Middle Eastern Graduate Center (MEGC) for organizing the event last night. For those who attended the session, thank you and nice meeting you all!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ulasan Buku: Sharing the Nation

Sharing the Nation: Faith, Difference, Power and the State 50 Years After Merdeka
Norani Othman, Mavis C. Puthucheary, Clive Kessler
Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, Petaling Jaya, 2008-05-29
m.s. xiii + 99, RM 20.00 pb, ISBN 978-983-3782-43-7

Pembinaan bangsa dalam sebuah negara majmuk bukanlah suatu tugas yang mudah. Lima puluh tahun selepas merdeka, rakyat Malaysia masih bergelumang dengan debat mengenai isu-isu ”kontrak perlembagaan” - hak keistimewaan Melayu, hak yang sah bagi kaum-kaum bukan Melayu, kedudukan agama Islam dan, mutakhir ini, sifat negara Malaysia - samada Islam atau sekular.
Buku ”Sharing the Nation” karya dua sarjana Malaysia, Professor Norani Othman dan Mavis C. Puthucheary, dan pakar antropologi Professor Clive Kessler, menyingkap persoalan politik bangsa dan agama di Malaysia. Buku ini cuba mengenengahkan haluan negara Malaysia yang dikatakan bersifat ”demokratik, moden dan sekular”. Secara khusus buku ini menyorot sejarah pembentukan negara Malaysia moden serta mempersoal trend ”Islamisasi” dalam sistem negara yang dilihat bertentangan dengan asas negara yang sekular.
Mavis C. Puthucheary melihat bahawa konsep ”kontrak sosial” Malaysia yang berasaskan persaingan kepentingan antara kaum-kaum yang berbeza tidak boleh dijadikan asas pembentukan sebuah negara yang bersatu-padu. Beliau sebaliknya menyarankan satu ”muafakat nasional” yang bersandarkan nilai-nilai asasi kemanusiaan - seperti persamaan hak dan kebebasan individu - sebagai teras pembinaan bangsa yang lebih bersatu padu pada masa hadapan (m.s 26).
Norani Othman dan Clive Kessler pula mengkritik kecenderungan parti-parti politik Melayu - UMNO dan PAS – untuk bertarung dalam ”perlumbaan Islamisasi” yang kemudiannya menghasilkan sistem undang-undang dan politik yang lebih berorientasikan Islam. Kedua-dua penulis melihat natijah ini sebagai satu bentuk penyimpangan daripada asas negara Malaysia yang sekular. Trend ”de-sekularisasi” ini, Norani berhujjah, mengukuhkan tanggapan tentang dominasi Melayu-Muslim dan proses pembentukan negara Islam. Perkembangan ini, menurut Norani, membawa implikasi yang serius kepada penyuburan kepelbagaian budaya, kepelbagaian agama dan demokrasi di Malaysia (m.s 48).
Buku ini, yang menonjolkan naratif bukan perkauman, demokratik dan sekular tentang asas pembentukan negara-bangsa, menawarkan sandaran ideologi yang tuntas bagi mereka yang mahu menandingi ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah yang mewajarkan sistem politik berasaskan kaum dan agama di negara ini.
Namun begitu, kelemahan ketara buku ini ialah kecenderungan para penulis untuk melihat titik pembentukan negara Malaysia moden secara terpisah daripada rantaian sejarah sistem kenegaraan di Alam Melayu yang telah wujud sejak ratusan tahun sebelum negara merdeka. Sedikit sorotan mengenai hal ini tentu sekali memberikan gambaran yang berbeza mengenai kedudukan agama Islam dalam sistem kenegaraan di Malaysia.
Begitu juga, para penulis cenderung untuk menerima secara tidak problematis ”sekularisme” sebagai asas kontrak perlembagaan dan pembentukan negara, sedangkan ianya merupakan sisi yang paling kabur dalam kontrak perlembagaan dan paling kurang didebatkan oleh para ”perunding” kemerdekaan. Justeru, sumbangan besar buku ini ialah membuka semula ”pandora’s box” tentang debat ”kontrak perlembagaan” dengan melihat sisi yang paling kabur ini.

Marzuki Mohamad
Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia

Ezam Sertai Semula UMNO

Teka-teki mengenai kedudukan Sdr. Ezam Mohd Noor, bekas Ketua Angkatan Muda PKR dan Setiausaha Politik Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, akhirnya terjawab hari ini. Beliau secara rasmi menyerahkan borang keahlian UMNO kepada Presiden UMNO Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi di bangunan Parlimen petang tadi. Penyertaan semula Ezam ke dalam UMNO diumumkan ketika khabar angin mengenai beberapa orang Ahli Parlimen BN akan melompat ke Pakatan Rakyat sedang bertiup kencang.
Pengumuman ini menamatkan spekulasi mengenai kedudukan Ezam. Sebelum ini ada juga desas-desus yang mengatakan bahawa Ezam akan menyertai PAS. Dalam pilihanraya umum yang lalu, Ezam dilihat giat berkempen untuk calon-calon PAS. Ezam juga dikatakan rapat dengan beberapa pemimpin kanan PAS. Mereka tentunya kecewa dengan tindakan Ezam menyertai UMNO.
Sekilas pandang terasa seperti deja vu. Anwar juga rapat dengan para pemimpin kanan PAS sebelum beliau menyertai UMNO pada tahun 1982. Beliau juga hebat mengkritik kerajaan. Pada ketika itu, Anwar sebagai Presiden Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) memimpin gerakan pertubuhan-pertubuhan bukan kerajaan menentang pindaan Akta Pertubuhan.

Berdasarkan profail Anwar sebagai seorang Islamis, ramai menjangka bahawa Anwar akan menyertai PAS. Ternyata jangkaan itu meleset. Atas undangan Dr. Mahathir, Presiden UMNO pada ketika itu, dan restu pemikir Islam terkemuka, Almarhum Professor Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, Anwar memilih untuk menyertai UMNO dan melakukan jihad Islah dari dalam.

Sepertimana Pak Lah, Dr. Mahathir pada ketika itu juga berhadapan dengan pengaruh pesaingnya di dalam parti - Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Beliau juga berhadapan dengan pengaruh PAS. Kemasukan Anwar ke dalam UMNO bukan sahaja membantu mewujudkan perimbangan kuasa dalam UMNO, tetapi juga mengendurkan pengaruh PAS.
Apakah pula impak kemasukan Ezam ke dalam UMNO? Tentulah Ezam tidak boleh dibandingkan dengan Anwar, dan Pak Lah tidak boleh dibandingkan dengan Dr. Mahathir. Walau bagaimanapun, kesan penyertaan semula Ezam ke dalam UMNO agak menarik untuk diperhatikan.
Kita tunggu saja sidang akhbar Ezam esok untuk mendapatkan penjelasan mengapa beliau memilih untuk menyertai UMNO.

Krisis Keyakinan Terhadap Anwar?

Tulisan Oon Yeoh dan Ong Kian Ming di Malaysiakini sejak dua hari lepas menumpukan kepada Anwar dan masalah dalaman Pakatan Rakyat. Dalam dua tulisan sebelum ini, kedua-dua penulis menimbulkan persoalan samada Anwar merupakan seorang ”changed man” - daripada seorang politikus yang memanfaatkan sistem untuk kepentingan politiknya kepada seorang reformis tulin - dan boleh diharap untuk melaksanakan janji-janji reformisnya. Hari ini mereka menulis mengenai desas-desus perbincangan antara PAS dan UMNO untuk memelihara perpaduan Melayu.

Oon Yeoh dan Kian Ming nampaknya bersungguh-sungguh mempertahankan harapan para reformis. Jika sekalipun Anwar bukanlah seorang “changed-man” sepertimana yang disangka, mereka berhujjah bahawa Anwar akan tetap melaksanakan janji-janjinya kerana tindakan tersebut merupakan percaturan politik yang strategik.

Mereka menulis:

But even if one is cynical and believes that he has not changed, does it matter provided he carries out all the reforms he has promised? There is little doubt in our minds that he would free up the media, abolish the Internal Security Act and reform the Universities and University Colleges Act if he becomes the next PM. He would also dismantle the NEP and replace it with something better. You can also throw in a Freedom of Information Act to boot. In other words, he would implement all the things that civil society expects him to.

Why are we so confident about that?

Quite simply, because it would be to his strategic advantage to carry out such reforms. In fact, there is only upside and no downside for him to do so. He would be seen as the man who was responsible for 'freeing' up Malaysia and for turning it into a real democracy. He would become the greatest PM Malaysia ever had.

Saya bersetuju dengan kedua-dua penulis bahawa Anwar harus mengambil keputusan politik yang strategik. Untuk itu, beliau harus menjadi seorang populis. Bagi Oon Yeoh dan Kian Ming, ”membebaskan Malaysia” dan ”merubahnya kepada demokrasi yang tulin” adalah satu tindakan yang popular dan strategik.
Walau bagaimanapun saya agak sangsi bahawa saranan Oon Yeoh dan Kian Ming itu seratus peratus strategik untuk Anwar. Menghapuskan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri dan menyemak semula Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti mungkin popular, tetapi menghapuskan Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) belum tentu seratus peratus popular. Mempromosi hak kebebasan beragama juga belum tentu popular. Orang mungkin bertanya, hak kebebasan beragama yang bagaimana? Sekiranya Anwar menjelaskan bentuknya, mungkin beliau menjadi popular bagi sekalangan orang tetapi tidak popular bagi sekalangan yang lain.

Percaturan populariti semata-mata tidak selalunya menentukan dasar. Lebih-lebih lagi dalam masyarakat yang heterogenous seperti di Malaysia. Hampir tidak ada satu dasar yang apabila diumumkan sahaja boleh menyebabkan seorang pemimpin politik itu popular di mata semua kaum dan agama. Populariti - atau dalam bahasa yang lebih ilmiah, keabsahan politik (political legitimacy) - perlu dibina (construct).

Dr. Mahathir mengambil tindakan yang tidak popular apabila beliau memulakan perusahan otomobil nasional, melucutkan kuasa raja-raja, memecat hakim, melaksanakan projek mega dan memecat Anwar dari UMNO dan kerajaan. Tetapi Dr. Mahathir sehingga ke akhir pemerintahannya masih seorang pemimpin yang ”popular”. Barisan Nasional juga memenangi setiap pilihanraya umum dengan mengekalkan majoriti dua pertiga sepanjang beliau menjadi Perdana Menteri. Tentu sekali hal ini ada kena mengena dengan keupayaan Dr. Mahathir membina keabsahan politik di samping mengekang suara-suara yang membantah. Sebagai seorang wartawan, Oon Yeoh tentu sekali amat arif tentang bagaimana keabsahan politik dibina oleh para ”organic intellectuals”.

Yang lebih penting ialah keyakinan seorang pemimpin terhadap idea-idea yang dibawanya. Sekiranya Anwar yakin dengan idea-idea demokrasi liberal dan nilai-nilai separa-sekular (kerana Anwar lebih dikenali sebagai seorang Islamis), beliau tentunya akan melaksanakan segala janji-janji reformisnya. Populariti - atau keabsahan politik - boleh dibina. Ramai ”organic intellectuals” di keliling-kelalang Anwar yang bersedia - malah yang sudah pun - melakukan kerja-kerja membina keabsahan politiknya samada melalui media cetak atau media baru. Oon Yeoh dan Kian Ming tidak perlu meragui Anwar dalam hal ini.

Namun yang menimbulkan persoalan ialah mengapa pula timbul desas-desus PAS mahu mewujudkan kerjasama dengan UMNO? Apakah PAS - atau segelintir pemimpin PAS - mula meragui Anwar dengan idea-idea demokrasi liberal dan separa-sekularnya? Ini yang perlu dibimbangi oleh Oon Yeoh dan Kian Ming. Saya tidak mempunyai jawapan kepada persoalan ini. Minta maaf!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Short Book Review: Other Malays

Other Malays: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Modern Malay World
Joel S Kahn
Singapore, Asian Studies Association of Australia and Singapore University Press, 2006, pp. xxv + 228, RM 48.00 pb.

Professor Joel S Kahn in this book debunks the idea of less Islamic (secular) Malaysian past. He argues, "Malay intellectuals in the colonial period, and indeed the British rulers themselves, were neither anti-Islamic, nor did they seek to create a secular Malay world in which religion would be confined to the private sphere. On the contrary, the ideal Malay world of much nationalist discourse was one in which Islamic law was strictly applied by a national authority represented, at the level of the kampung, by the penghulu. In this world the highest authority, especially in matters of religion, was the sultan. The nationalist vision thus embeds Islam within the political relationships between raja (rulers) and rakyat (people)" (p 85). Professor Kahn also argues that alternatives to the nationalist persepective - the other voices about Malay-ness - did not exist, at least as fully formed alternatives. At the outset of his book, Professor Kahn observes "other voices are not somehow already out there waiting to be discovered and narrated in a scholarly text. When we read that some text or another is giving voice to these others, we must recognize that these other voices are also authorial constructions, not the unmediated voices of the subaltern groups that such texts may claim to speak" (p xv). This is a good book for those who want to discern the origin of Malayan state and society beyond the Kessler and the Farish type of secularism debate.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ezam Masuk UMNO?

Jocelyn Tan dalam ruangan ekslusif di The Star hari ini (22 Mei 2008) melaporkan bahawa bekas Ketua Angkatan Muda Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Sdr. Ezam Mohd Noor, akan menyertai semula UMNO. Menurut Jocelyn, Ezam telah mendapat lampu hijau daripada Presiden UMNO Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan Timbalan Presiden Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak untuk berbuat demikian. Pengumuman mengenainya akan dibuat tidak lama lagi.
Sebelum menyertai PKR (dahulunya Parti Keadilan Nasional) pada tahun 1999, Ezam merupakan Timbalan Ketua UMNO Bahagian Petaling Jaya Selatan dan Setiausaha Politik kepada bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The Star juga turut melaporkan bekas teman tenis Anwar, Datuk Nallakaruppan, yang turut aktif dalam PKR sebelum mengasaskan Parti Bersatu India Malaysia (MIUP), telah menyatakan sokongan terhadap kepimpinan Pak Lah.
Dalam laporannya, Jocelyn memetik kritikan Ezam terhadap Anwar ketika beliau meninggalkan PKR tahun lalu. Menurut Ezam, Anwar mengamalkan “politik diktator” dan Azmin Ali, Naib Presiden PKR, merupakan seorang perancang yang menguasai Anwar.
Kenapa Ezam memilih untuk menyertai semula UMNO bukanlah persoalan besar yang bermain di fikiran saya. Ketika beliau meletak jawatan sebagai Ketua Angkatan Muda PKR tahun lalu, saya sudah mengagak bahawa beliau akan menyertai UMNO.
Tetapi persoalan yang lebih besar ialah mengapa Sdr. Ezam, yang pernah ke penjara kerana Anwar, kini begitu lantang mengkritik bekas ketuanya itu? Apakah ianya semata-mata atas dasar perselisihan peribadi atau perselisihan fahaman politik, atau atas sebab-sebab lain yang beliau sahaja mengetahuinya.
Dalam tulisan saya yang lalu, Ezam: Politik Baru dan Bad Samaritans, saya memetik pandangan Ezam mengenai pilihanraya umum 2008. Beliau melihat pilihanraya yang lalu sebagai amat bersifat perkauman. Ini berbeza sekali dengan Anwar yang melihatnya sebagai bukti bahawa rakyat sudah muak dengan politik perkauman. Apakah penyertaan semula Ezam ke dalam UMNO, sebuah parti berasaskan kaum, semata-mata untuk membuktikan bahawa pandangan Anwar itu silap?
Apatah lagi Ezam mengkritik Anwar ketika Anwar disebut-sebut sebagai bakal Perdana Menteri setelah Pakatan Rakyat membentuk kerajaan persekutuan nanti. Ketika ini, ramai orang-orang lama PKR yang berbondong-bondong mahu aktif semula dalam parti. Mungkin ada peluang dilantik sebagai senator, atau kalau bernasib baik boleh jadi menteri.
Tetapi Ezam mengambil tindakan sebaliknya. Mengkritik Anwar dan menyertai UMNO yang dikatakan sedang tenat itu. Bukankah lebih baik pada ketika ini Ezam aktif semula dalam PKR. Tentu sekali beliau lebih layak dilantik sebagai senator, atau, jika Pakatan Rakyat berjaya membentuk kerajaan nanti, dilantik sebagai menteri penuh. Lagipun, jasanya kepada PKR dan Anwar cukup besar.
Teringat pertemuan kali kedua saya dengan Ezam di Jakarta pada akhir tahun 1998. (Pertemuan kali pertama pada tahun 1995 ketika saya sedang menuntut di UIA dan beliau ketika itu Timbalan Pengarah Institut Kajian Dasar di Jalan Telawi, Bangsar). Beliau begitu bersemangat berbicara tentang gerakan reformasi dan keyakinannya kepada Anwar. Ketika itu, Anwar mendekam di penjara.
Ironinya, ketika Anwar dikatakan sedang menuju ke puncak kuasa, Ezam pula berpatah arang dengan Anwar. Mengapa terjadi begitu? Biarlah Ezam sendiri yang menjawab persoalan ini. Lagipun, beliau belum membuat pengumuman untuk menyertai semula UMNO. Entah jadi, entah tidak.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Has Communalism Withered Away?

Yesterday, I presented a paper on post-electoral development at the "National Seminar on Elections 2008: Democracy At Work" organized by Electoral Studies Unit, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). In my paper "Has Communalism Withered Away?" I argue that, contrary to pronouncements made by some academics and politicians that communal politics is breaking down, communalism remain at the core of Malaysian politics. It seems that for some time in the near future, political parties and civil society organizations still need to grapple with the dynamics of communalism both in the realm of formal and non-formal politics. Below is my paper.
Has Communalism Withered Away?
Not Quite

Marzuki Mohamad

Communalism has been at the core of Malaysian politics. It permeates the country’s political process, party system, education system and social, cultural and economic policies.[1] When Malaysia gained independence in 1957, the informal communal compact reached by leaders of major ethnic groups - Malays, Chinese and Indians - contained terms that promote competing communal interests. Ethnicity and religion intertwined in the political process, often providing political legitimacy to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) - a coalition of race-based political parties led by the dominant United Malays National Organization (UMNO) - to negotiate behind closed door the terms of political compromises between different ethnic groups. Though the BN had sometimes relied on repressive apparatuses to maintain racial harmony - as well as to remain in power- it had also been responsive to demands from the various ethnic groups in order to gain enough multiracial support to guarantee its electoral victory. With an impressive record of maintaining racial harmony in an ethnically-divided society, ensuring political stability and sustaining high level of economic growth, the BN portrayed itself as the sole viable coalition to rule the country. This paper argues that, despite greater tendency among Malaysian voters to vote across racial lines and the lackluster performance of the ruling Barisan Nasional in the March 8 general election, communalism remains at the core of Malaysian politics. Both in the realm of formal and informal politics, the issues of race and religion, in varying degrees, continue to provide the basis for interest articulation and political mobilization.

Toward a New Politics of Non-Communalism?

Articulation of competing communal interests and implementation of state policies that promoted social and economic well being of the indigenous Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak (the Bumiputeras) had perpetuated the Malay/Bumiputera and non-Malay/non-Bumiputera dichotomy. Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, the implementation of Malay-favored New Economic Policy (NEP) which aimed at restructuring the society and overcoming poverty, as well as the introduction of cultural and education policies that encouraged the use of Malay language and promoted “indigenous” cultures, had caused considerable disaffection among the non-Malays.

By the 1990s, however, Malaysian politics had tilted toward greater openness in ethnic relations. Four contributors in The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia[2] argue that sustained economic development, particularly during the New Economic Policy (NEP) years,[3] had paved the way for the emergence of sizable multi-ethnic business and middle classes, which in turn eased ethnic tension and turned political discourse away from the old politics of “ethnicism” to the new politics of “inclusive multiculturalism”. This new politics is characterized by the emergence of new middle classes with “new forms of civility and participation among various ethnic groups”;[4] the creation by the arts community – the so-called cultural producer – of an inclusive trans-ethnic and trans-regional “national perspective” of pluralism;[5] a new non-communal and non-class interest-based politics associated with “mass politics of dissent, more interested in creating spaces for political expression than in winning votes”;[6] and not the least, the valorization of “developmentalism” - a political culture that valorizes economic growth and political stability, rather than ethnicity, as a new pillar of political discourse.[7]

An important marker of this new politics was the mushrooming of cross-communal and cross-sectional coalitions of civic associations pressing for political reform. During the period of Reformasi following the sacking and jailing of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in September 1998, overlapping coalitions of human rights NGOs, trade unions, women’s groups, student unions and Islamic organizations formed the backbone of Reformasi movement.[8] The multiracial movement seemed to symbolize a new political consciousness among the reformist sections of Malaysian society about the virtues of non-communalism, characterized by commitment to common values of humanity rather than ethno-religious and class identity in the struggle against state repressions.

Not long after the authors of the essays in The Politics of Multiculturalism put pen to paper, dissension occurred among the so-called “civic associations” over some contentious religious issues. First was the proposal by the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council to form an independent Interfaith Commission of Malaysia (IFC), a statutory body whose primary objective would be to “promote and protect every individual’s freedom to (sic) thought, conscience and religion with a view to (maintain) harmonious co-existence in (Malaysian) society”.[9] A conference was held in February 2005 to discuss the draft bill of the proposed commission and to “receive, address and make recommendations in respect of complaints or grievances brought by persons, bodies or organizations in connection with the individual rights to profess and practice his or her religion or faith of choice”.[10] Mainstream Islamic organizations however, protested against the proposal, which they described as anti-Islam and an effort by the non-Muslims to intervene in matters internal to Islam.[11]

Further dissension arose when women’s group Sisters in Islam (SIS) led a campaign in early 2005 to review syariah and municipal laws that allegedly impinged on individual freedoms. These included the laws that make certain acts, which the critics viewed as strictly “personal” and “victimless”, like indecent behavior, close proximity between unmarried men and women, drinking liquor and smoking, as punishable offences. The campaign, dubbed as the “Anti-Moral Policing Campaign”, sought to have such laws repealed on the ground that morality is a matter of personal choice and policing morality has no basis in Islam.[12] This move was again protested by the mainstream Islamic organizations like ABIM, JIM and the Allied Coordinating Council of Islamic NGOs (ACCIN) on the basis that those punishable offences are sinful acts, and hence the state and the Muslim society owe a collective duty to prevent them. The Islamic concept of al-amr bil ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar (enjoining good and prohibiting evil) was invoked to justify their stance.[13]

Between 2005 and 2008, new contestations over the role of Islam and Islamic law in the state vis-à-vis the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims to freely practice (or not to practice) their religions cropped up. These included the row over religious conversion of an estranged husband (the Subashini case), the tussle between Islamic religious authority and the non-Muslim family of a Muslim convert over who had the right to bury the convert’s dead body (Muhammad Abdullah @ Moorthy case); the Article 11 road shows; the Federal Court’s judgment in the Lina Joy case; the use of the word Allah in a Christian publication, The Herald; and the crackdown on Ayah Pin’s sky kingdom, a cult movement that was declared deviant by the Terengganu Fatwa Committee. The secularists accused the government of de-secularizing the state through creeping Islamization. The mainstream Muslims on the other hand claimed that the secularists are trying to de-Islamize the state.[14]

In November 2007, four months before the March 2008 general election was held, tens of thousands of Indians led by the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur protesting against a series of demolition of illegal Hindu temples by the local authorities. Beyond the temple issue, the HINDRAF alleged that the “Malay-led” Malaysian government has been “colonizing” and discriminating the ethnic Indians ever since the country gained independence in 1957.

The 2008 Elections: The Euphoria and the Hidden Hands

When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the dissolution of Parliament in February 2008, the divisive racial and religious issues were far from subsiding. Election goodies were given to the “disgruntled” ethnic communities - in the form of government aid to Hindu temples, Tamil schools and land title to Indian and Chinese squatters - but it was a little too late. The BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament and failed to gain control of five states in Peninsular Malaysia.

The BN’s failure to retain its two-thirds majority in the 2008 elections; the unseating of BN government in Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor; and the landslide victory of PAS in Kelantan gave moral boost to the opposition. What is more, electoral victories of PAS, PKR and DAP candidates in marginal Chinese and Malay-majority constituencies, as well as in racially mixed constituencies, seemed to indicate that there had been cross-ethnic voting in favor of the opposition. The hitherto ethnically and ideologically incompatible parties like PAS and DAP had also demonstrated greater cooperation in the elections and reinstated their once abandoned alliance in the Barisan Alternatif (BA) through the newly formed Pakatan Rakyat.

Euphoria was in the air. Anwar, now the Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader, asserted that “people were fed up with political issues along racial lines”. Johan Saravanamuttu declared that “the race-based system is braking down”.[15] Bridget Welsh on the other hand attributed BN’s lackluster performance to Abdullah’s failure to deliver on the promises for which he had a phenomenal mandate when he came into office.[16]

The real test of communal politics lies in the formation of government in the states won by the opposition. It was a clear cut case that Penang would have a Chinese Chief Minister from the DAP, while Kedah would have a Malay Menteri Besar from PAS. To give the state’s executive branch a more multiracial outlook, the new Penang state government appointed an Indian Deputy Chief Minister from DAP, alongside a Malay Deputy Chief Minister from PKR. However, the sole PAS state assemblyman in Penang, the three-term Permatang Pasir representative YB Hamdan Abdul Rahman, was not included in the state executive council line-up, indicating DAP’s reluctance to be closely associated with the Islamist party. Similarly, the PAS-led government in Kedah also did not include the sole DAP representative in the state in its Exco line-up.[17]

The events in Selangor and Perak were more dramatic. In both states, there were attempts to form UMNO-PAS coalitions at the state level purportedly to prevent the erosion of “Malay political power”. The threat of Malays losing their “political power” seemed to be quite real at least in numerical sense. In Perak for example, the number of Malay state assemblymen in the ruling coalition dropped from 36 (69%) out of 52 to barely 9 (29%) out of 31. Similarly, in Selangor, Malay representation in the ruling coalition decreased from 36 (67%) out of 54 to 18 (51%) out of 35. The Chinese gained more. In Perak, their representation increased from 13 (25%) to 17 (55%), while in Selangor, though the number of Chinese assemblymen in the ruling coalition remained 15, its percentage increased from 28% to 43%.

In Perak, given the fact that the DAP won the biggest number of seats among the opposition parties, the prospect of having a Chinese dominated state executive council or even a Chinese Menteri Besar in a “Malay state” prompted UMNO to offer the post of Menteri Besar to PAS should the latter agree to form a coalition government.[18] Similar negotiation also took place in Selangor but both failed to materialize as they were rejected by PAS. The party found the idea of forming coalition government with UMNO in the two states as politically incongruent as both parties would remain at loggerheads with each other at the federal level as well as in other states.[19] Senior party leaders also cited the party’s bitter experience in dealing with UMNO during its brief membership in the BN in the 1970s as one of the main reasons why it rejected the UMNO-PAS coalition proposal this time round.[20]

But the more plausible explanation could be that PAS realized that its cooperation with UMNO would jeopardize its newly gained multi-racial “national clout”. Cooperation with UMNO, purportedly to halt the non-Malays from gaining bigger stake in governing the two states, obviously did not auger well for the party’s effort to shore up its national clout with substantial non-Malay support.

Though the attempted UMNO-PAS coalition did not materialize, the issue of race remained one of the major concerns in the formation of state government in Selangor and Perak. Both are traditionally Malay states, although voter composition in the two states suggests that they are racially mixed.[21] Striking a balance between accepting Malay polity as the basis of the state and the new political demography tilting toward greater non-Malay participation in governing the states was not an easy task.

In Perak, it was only after much maneuvering that the DAP finally agreed to the appointment of a Malay Menteri Besar from PAS, though the Islamist party won the least number of seats (6 out of 59) in the state assembly. In return, the DAP gained the largest number of positions in the state executive council (6 out of 10) with its state leader, YB Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, being designated as senior executive council member. In Selangor, the DAP’s attempt to get one of its representatives be appointed as a Deputy Menteri Besar was foiled by the palace’s preference that a Malay be appointed to the post. In a statement to the press, the palace reasoned that as “the Sultan was the religious head for Islam and Malay culture and the Mentri Besar has the task of assisting in these duties, which would also have to be handled by his deputy, it was only proper that a Malay be the Deputy Mentri Besar”.[22]

As ethnicity remained one of the main issues in the formation of Pakatan Rakyat-led state governments, one could not rule out its significance in the recent much talked-about cross-over of BN MPs to the Pakatan Rakyat to pave the way for the coalition to form a new federal government. As of now, there are 44 Malay MPs (53%) and 38 non-Malay MPs (47%) in Pakatan Rakyat. Should the Anwar-led coalition fail to get enough number of Malay MPs to cross over, it is very likely that the “government-in-waiting”, if it ever materializes, would have difficulties in assuring the Malay-majority that Malay polity will remain as the basis of the state.

The Realm of Non-Formal Politics: Communalism Still@Work

Apart from observing tactical maneuvering in the realm of formal politics, one must also look at the dynamics taking place in the realm of non-formal politics - the ebb and web of racial and religious contestations involving non-partisan actors in the realm of civil society - to gauge whether communalism has indeed withered away. This paper argues that communalism - marked by both religion and ethnicity - is still at work.

First, dissension over contentious religious issues is far from being resolved. Issues concerning religious conversion, the position of syariah courts vis-à-vis the civil courts, the building of non-Muslim houses of worship, the publication and distribution of non-Muslim printed religious materials - which caused much tension in inter-religious relations over the past few years - will likely to continue. Thus far, there is no indication that the major Muslim and non-Muslim groups which had been championing the interests of their respective religious communities had reached any “agreement” on those contentious issues or, at the very least, moderate their stance.

Second, there had been deep concern among Malay groups that the post-2008 electoral development would likely to erode the Malay position. The long list of the Malay Consensus Charter released after a three-day Malay Congress held in Johor Bharu between 2 and 4 May 2008 suggests that the euphoria over an emerging new non-communal politics had deepened the Malay sentiment. The charter declares that “the existence of Malaysian nation and federation is based upon the Malay sovereignty (kedaulatan Melayu), which means the political power and the formation of the state is rooted in the long historical process with continued tradition and loyalty forging the relationship between the government and the Malay subject”.[23]

Third, though well-intentioned, policies which aimed at “dismantling” the race-based system were resisted by certain sections of the Malays. The Malay protests against Lim Guan Eng’s remark on the NEP indicated that doing away with race-based system is not an easy task. The Penang state government for example had to concede to the demands from the Class F Malay contractors that they be exempted from the new open tender policy and that no new players to be allowed to partake in securing existing jobs from the state government.[24]

As government and political parties need to respond to the pressures arising from the civil society, continued racial and religious contestations which occurred in this realm would have significant impact on government policies. Though there had been signs of greater openness toward multiracialism shown by both the BN and the Pakatan Rakyat, any radical change to the race-based system should be threaded very carefully so as not to deepen the existing contestations and divisions within the realm of civil society.


The Pakatan Rakyat’s “electoral victory” hailed a new phase in Malaysian politics. There had been greater cooperation and accommodation among the hitherto ethnically and ideologically incompatible opposition political parties. Malaysian voters also demonstrated their willingness to vote across racial lines, giving added advantage to the multiracial Pakatan Rakyat. However, as the basis of interest articulation and political mobilization remained communal rather than non-communal, there remained a serious question of how the political parties can push Malaysian politics along non-communal lines without deepening the existing racial and religious contestations. For quite some time in the near future, these political parties too still need to grapple with the dynamics of communal politics.


Abdul Rahman Embong. 2001. “The Culture and Practice of Pluralism in Postcolonial Malaysia”. In Robert W. Hefner (ed). The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Funston, N.J. 1980. Malay Politics in Malaysia: A Study of the United Malays National Organisation and Party Islam. Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Educational Books.

Gomez, E.T and Jomo, K.S. 1997. Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hefner, Robert W. (ed). 2001. The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Kessler, Clive. 2006. Malaysia: The Long March Towards Desecularisation Asian Analysis, October. (Accessed on 17 may 2008)

Lijphart, Arend. 1977. Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Loh Kok Wah, Francis. 2001. “Where Has (Ethnic) Politics Gone? The Case of the BN Non-Malay Politicians and Political Parties. In Robert W. Hefner (ed). The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Malaysian Bar Council. 2003. Points of Agreement: Towards the Formation of an Inter-Religious Council Workshop, Kuala Lumpur, 17 May 2003.

Mandal, Sumit K. 2001. “Boundaries and Beyond: Whither the Cultural Bases of Political Community in Malaysia?” In Robert W. Hefner (ed). The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Marzuki Mohamad. 2006. Zainah Anwar’s Hate Ideology: Desecularisation or De-Islamization, or Both?. Malaysia Today. (Accessed on 29/10/06).

Ratnam, K.J. 1965. Communalism and Political Process in Malaya. Singapore: University of Malaya Press, 1965.

Shamsul A. B. 2001. “The Redefinition of Politics and the Transformation of Malaysian Pluralism”. In Robert W. Hefner (ed). The Politics of Multiculturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Tan Liok Ee. 1992. “Dongjiaozong and the Challenge to Cultural Hegemony 1951 - 1987”. In Joel S. Kahn and Francis Loh Kok Wah (eds) Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Von Vorys, Karl. 1975. Democracy Without Consensus: Communalism and Political Stability in Malaysia. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Weiss, Meredith. 2006. Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

* Paper presented at the “National Seminar on Elections 2008: Democracy at Work” organized by Electoral Studies Unit, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), 17th May 2008, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
** Marzuki Mohamad is Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, IIUM. He can be reached at
[1] See Ratnam (1965), von Vorys (1975), Lijphart (1977), Funston (1980), Tan (1992), Gomez and Jomo (1997).
[2] Hefner (2001).
[3] The New Economic Policy (1971-1990) is an affirmative action which aimed at restructuring the society so as to eliminate the identification of race with economic function and to eradicate poverty. The policy in essence helped the Bumiputeras (son of the soil), which refers to the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, to achieve upward social mobility through government assistance.
[4] Abdul Rahman (2001: 63).
[5] Mandal (2001: 162).
[6] Shamsul A.B. (2001: 222).
[7] Loh Kok Wah (2001: 184).
[8] Weiss (2006).
[9] See the proposed draft bill of the Interfaith Commission of Malaysia presented and discussed at the National Conference toward the Formation of the Interfaith Commission of Malaysia, held in Bangi, Selangor on 24-25 February 2005.
[10] Malaysian Bar Council (2003: 1). Leading NGOs such Sisters in Islam, SUARAM and ALIRAN supported the proposal. Others included the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS), a non-governmental body representing major religions in Malaysia, except Islam; interfaith organizations like the Inter-Faith Spiritual Fellowship (INSAF) and the Malaysian Interfaith Network; human rights NGOs like the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM), the Voice of Malaysian People (SUARAM) and Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN); and leaders from the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR, People’s Justice Party).
[11] See ACCIN’s press Statement on the Proposed Inter-Religious Council dated 25 June 2004. The main Islamic organizations opposing the proposal were the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) and Persatuan Ulama’ Malaysia (PUM, Muslim Scholars’ Association of Malaysia),
[12] See Sisters in Islam’s press statement, "Moral Policing Violates Qur'anic Spirit and Fundamental Rights". (Accessed on 1 May 2005).
[13] See ABIM’s press statement Pencegahan Maksiat dan Salah Laku Moral Harus Dipertahankan (Prevention of Vices and Immoral Conduct Should Be Defended) dated 31 Mac 2005 at (Accessed on 15 June 2005)
[14] Kessler (2006); Marzuki (2006).
[15] Associated Press, 10 March 2008.
[16] Associated Press, 10 March 2008.
[17] A senior PAS leader indicated that the party did propose to appoint the sole DAP representative in Kedah as a state Exco hoping that the DAP will reciprocate the move in Penang. The matter did not materialize though. The Penang PAS assemblyman however was tipped to take up a senior position in one of the state’s Islamic agencies.
[18] Informal discussion with a senior Perak UMNO leader, 11 March 2008, Ipoh.
[19] Informal discussion with YB Dato’ Husam Musa, PAS Vice-President, 11 March 2008, Kuala Lumpur.
[20] Informal discussion with YB Tuan Guru Datuk Seri Hj. Abdul Hadi Awang and senior PAS leaders, 31 March 2008, Kuala Lumpur.
[21] In the 2008 elections, Selangor had 50% registered Malay voters, 35% Chinese voters, 14% Indian voters and 1% other voters. In Perak, there were 46% Malay voters, 40% Chinese voters, 12% Indian voters and 2% other voters.
[22] The Star ,14 March 2008.
[23] See the Malay Consensus Charter dated 4 May 2008.
[24] Informal discussion with YB Liew Chin Tong, Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Penang, 22 March 2008.

Malaysiakini-krasi: Media Baru dan Wacana Demokrasi

Pada 13 Mei yang lalu, saya diundang untuk membentangkan kertas kerja mengenai ”Dunia Siber: Fakta atau Fitnah” di Konvensyen Belia Kebangsaan anjuran Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM) dan Kementerian Belia dan Sukan (KBS). Panelis lain yang turut mengambil bahagian dalam pembentangan itu ialah mantan Menteri Besar Selangor, YB Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd. Khir Toyo, dan blogger Puan Nisah Haron.

Dalam pembentangan tersebut saya melihat bahawa dunia siber pada hari ini boleh mengandungi kedua-duanya - fakta atau fitnah. Tentu sekali setiap bahan yang dimuatkan di blog, laman web, emel - malah di mana-mana jua - dipaparkan sebagai ”fakta”. Hanya pembaca yang cermat dan berpengetahuan boleh membezakan antara fakta dan fitnah. Lebih-lebih lagi dalam era politik demokrasi dan kebebasan bersuara pada hari ini dunia siber menjadi medan untuk seseorang mengenengahkan pandangan mengenai sesuatu isu bagi mempengaruhi orang lain. ”Fakta” seringkali dipaparkan secara selektif untuk menyokong satu sudut pandangan.

Kertas kerja yang saya bentangkan bertajuk ”Malaysiakini-krasi: Media Baru dan Wacana Demokrasi di Malaysia”. Dalam kertas kerja ini saya melihat laman web, blog, portal berita internet, emel, sms, youtube - yang seringkali disebut sebagai media baru - telah menamatkan dominasi media cetak dan media elektronik sebagai alat penyebaran ”fakta” yang disusun untuk menyokong satu sudut pandangan. Dalam konteks negara dan pemerintahan, sudut pandangan ini disebut sebagai ideologi pengabsahan (legitimating ideology). Di negara kita, ideologi ini boleh muncul dalam konsep-konsep mengenai Kontrak Sosial, Rukunegara, Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB), Dasar Pembangunan Nasional (DPN), Wawasan 2020, malah Islam Hadhari.

Kewujudan teknologi komunikasi maklumat telah membuka peluang kepada suara-suara pembantahan (dissenting voices) dalam masyarakat untuk mengemukakan sudut pandangan alternatif bagi menandingi ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah. Di Malaysia, idea-idea alternatif mengenai hubungan kaum, pembinaan negara, Islam dan demokrasi banyak didapati di laman-laman web dan portal berita internet. Fakta - malah mungkin juga ”fitnah” - dipersembahkan di dunia siber untuk menyokong sudut-sudut pandangan yang bertandingan antara satu sama lain. Untuk mengetahui secara lebih lanjut sila baca kertas kerja yang saya bentangkan di bawah.

Malaysiakini-krasi: Media Baru dan Wacana Demokrasi di Malaysia

Marzuki Mohamad

Teknologi komunikasi berkait rapat dengan pemeluasan ruang masyarakat sivil dan pemugaran demokrasi. Habermas melihat perkembangan komunikasi di zaman pasca-renaissance di Eropah sebagai sebahagian daripada kemunculan masyarakat sivil di mana golongan kelas menengah menggunakan media untuk menyuarakan pandangan mereka.[1] Kemajuan dalam teknologi komunikasi yang membawa kepada peningkatan penggunaan internet, telefon mudahalih dan sambungan tanpa wayar - yang juga disebut sebagai media baru - memudahkan penyaluran maklumat secara cepat dan bebas. Kawalan pemerintah ke atas penyaluran maklumat menjadi terbatas dan penyebaran ideologi pengabsahan (legitimating ideology) pemerintah juga semakin kurang berkesan. Sebaliknya, muncul pula aktor-aktor baru masyarakat sivil yang menggunakan teknologi komunikasi untuk menyebarkan idea-idea yang berlawanan dengan ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah dan mempopularkan faham demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia. Di samping itu, pihak pemerintah juga telah mengambil bahagian dalam teknologi komunikasi maklumat untuk meningkatkan populariti. Dalam konteks hubungan antara teknologi komunikasi dan politik demokrasi di Asia, Clarke membuat pemerhatian berikut:

"These innovations provide opportunities for participation in media production by individuals earlier prevented from involvement by the cost of the necessary technology and the difficulty of access ... For governments the new communication technologies represent a double-edged sword: they have seen their longstanding dominance of the media slipping away as the public sphere opens inexorably to many previously suppressed opinions and kinds of information, yet at the same time they can increase their popularity and status by participating themselves. Control is much more complicated than ever before.[2]"

Kertas ini bertujuan untuk menilai bagaimana teknologi komunikasi maklumat, terutama sekali penggunaan blog dan akses kepada portal berita internet, telah membuka ruang kepada suara-suara pembantahan (dissenting voices) dalam masyarakat untuk mempopularkan idea-idea alternatif yang sebelum ini tidak mendapat liputan meluas dalam media cetak. Di Malaysia, ideologi demokrasi liberal dan faham kiri telah sekian lama menandingi faham politik pembangunan, semi-demokrasi dan kompromi kaum berteraskan majoriti Melayu yang membentuk ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah. Ideologi pengabsahan ini tercerna antaranya dalam konsep “kontrak sosial”, Rukunegara, Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB), Dasar Pembangunan Nasional (DPN) dan Wawasan 2020.[3] Secara khusus kertas ini akan menganalisa wacana kontrak sosial dan kedudukan Islam di Malaysia yang disiarkan dalam Malaysiakini dan MalaysiaToday, iaitu dua portal berita internet popular di Malaysia, untuk melihat bagaiamana idea-idea alternatif telah dikemukakan oleh suara-suara pembantahan dalam masyarakat bagi menandingi ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah.

Malaysiakini dan Malaysia Today

Malaysiakini diasaskan pada akhir tahun 1999. Penubuhannya dilatari oleh cetusan gelombang Reformasi 1998 dan pilihanraya umum 1999 yang menyaksikan pertarungan sengit antara Barisan Nasional (BN) dan gabungan parti-parti pembangkang dalam Barisan Alternatif. Walaupun dalam pilihanraya tersebut BN berjaya mengekalkan penguasaan majoriti dua pertiga di Parlimen dan menguasai semua kerajaan negeri kecuali Kelantan dan Terengganu, peristiwa pemecatan, perbicaraan dan pemenjaraan mantan Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, telah memberi lonjakan kepada wacana demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia di Malaysia. Malaysiakini, di samping beberapa laman web reformasi yang telah diwujudkan terlebih dahulu, telah menjadi saluran pemberitaan dan komentar politik alternatif untuk menyampaikan idea-idea pro-demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia.

Menurut Tong, dua pengasas Malaysiakini, wartawan Steven Gan dan Pramesh Chandran, mengasaskan portal berita internet tersebut untuk mengelak daripada sekatan-sekatan yang terdapat dalam Akta Percetakan dan Penerbitan 1984 yang mengawasi media cetak.[4] Mula diperkenalkan sebagai portal berita internet percuma semasa kempen pilihanraya 1999, populariti Malaysiakini semakin meningkat menjelang pertengahan tahun 2000. Dalam bulan Jun 2000, purata jumlah pembaca Malaysiakini mencecah 100,000 orang setiap hari. Pada 8 Ogos tahun yang sama, iaitu ketika penghakiman kes Anwar Ibrahim diumumkan, Malaysiakini mencatat rekod jumlah pembaca tertinggi iaitu seramai 319,000 orang.[5] Walaupun Malaysiakini memperkenalkan perkhidmatan berbayar bermula pada bulan Februari 2002, jumlah pembaca Malaysiakini terus meningkat bergantung kepada isu dan peristiwa semasa. Semasa kempen pilihanraya kecil Ijok berlangsung dalam bulan April 2007, Malaysiakini mencatat purata jumlah “page view” sebanyak 1.3 juta setiap hari dengan 44,000 muaturun video daripada laman tv internetnya,[6]

Walaupun Malaysiakini ditonjolkan sebagai media yang bebas, portal berita internet tersebut tidak terlepas daripada kontroversi. Majalah Far Eastern Economic Review keluaran Februari 2001 melaporkan pertubuhan amal Open Society Institute (OSI) milik spekulator matawang Amerika Syarikat George Soros turut membiayai organisasi-organisasi media di Asia termasuk Malaysiakini.[7] Bekas Editor Berita Malaysiakini, Chon Yen Long, kemudiannya mendakwa bahawa Malaysiakini menerima wang sejumlah RM 188,000 daripada Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) yang dikaitkan dengan OSI milik Soros.[8] OSI merupakan sebuah badan amal yang memberikan dana kepada organisasi-organisasi yang mempromosi idea-idea demokrasi liberal dan pasaran bebas. Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Malaysiakini, Pramesh Chandran, kemudiannya menafikan bahawa media tersebut mempunyai kaitan secara langsung atau tidak langsung dengan Soros. Beliau walau bagaimanapun mengakui bahawa organisasi tersebut merupakan salah satu daripada 20 organisasi yang menerima dana daripada Centre for Advanced Media, Prague (C@MP) yang merupakan sebahagian daripada MDLF yang dikiatkan dengan Soros.[9]

Malaysia Today diasaskan oleh Raja Petra Kamaruddin pada tahun 2004. Sebelum mengasaskan MalaysiaToday, Raja Petra merupakan pengarah, sebuah laman web yang giat berkempen untuk pembebasan Anwar Ibrahim. Laman tersebut ditutup selepas pembebasan Anwar dalam bulan September 2004. Berbeza dengan Malaysiakini, laman Malaysia Today yang boleh diakses secara percuma lebih bersifat komentar daripada pemberitaan. Ruangan “No Holds Barred” yang memuatkan tulisan-tulisan Raja Petra sarat dengan kritikan-kritikan terhadap pemerintah, terutamanya yang berkaitan dengan dakwaan rasuah dan salah guna kuasa. Antara siri “komentar pedas” MalaysiaToday termasuklah siri serangan terhadap Khairy Jamaluddin dalam “The Khairy Chronicles”, “pendedahan” amalan rasuah dalam pasukan Polis DiRaja Malaysia dan liputan pembunuhan model Monggolia, Altantunya Shaaribu, yang dikaitakan dengan pimpinan tertinggi negara. Sepertimana Malaysiakini, populariti Malaysia Today juga bergantung kepada isu dan peristiwa. Ketika krisis Mahathir-Abdullah memuncak dalam bulan Oktober 2006, laman web tersebut mencatat jumlah purata lawatan sebanyak 1.7 juta sehari.[10]

Sifat “bebas” laman Malaysia Today juga sering dipersoalkan. Dalam krisis Mahathir-Abdullah, MalaysiaToday banyak menyiarkan tulisan-tulisan pro-Mahathir. Perkembangan ini dilihat sebagai mengejutkan kerana Raja Petra merupakan “penyokong kuat” Anwar, musuh ketat Mahathir, ketika mantan Timbalan Perdana Menteri itu meringkuk di penjara. Sebelum itu, beliau mengkritik Anwar kerana kononnya Anwar telah berpakat dengan Khairy Jamaluddin untuk menyertai UMNO. Oleh kerana kritikannya yang pedas dan sensasi, Raja Petra sering digelar oleh kawan dan lawan sebagai “the loose canon”, opportunis, malah penulis upahan.[11]
Dalam satu forum di Kuala Lumpur pada bulan Disember 2006, Raja Petra mengakui bahawa laman web tersebut telah “digunakan” oleh ahli-ahli politik, terutamanya ahli-ahli politik UMNO, untuk melancarkan serangan peribadi terhadap satu sama lain. Malaysiakini memetik kenyataan Raja Petra dalam forum tersebut seperti berikut:

“if you are president of Umno, you become prime minister, so everyone wants to be president of Umno. So in that sense, there is a need to topple and sabotage each other. So those in the ruling party use us (Malaysia Today) as prostitutes, if you wish”. (Jika anda Presiden UMNO, anda menjadi Perdana Menteri, oleh itu semua orang mahu menjadi Presiden UMNO. Justeru, ada keperluan untuk menjatuh dan mensabotaj satu sama lain. Jadi, orang-orang dalam parti pemerintah (UMNO) menggunakan kami (Malaysia Today) sebagai pelacur, jika anda ingin mengatakan demikian).[12]

Wacana Kontrak Sosial dan Islam

Seperti yang dijelaskan di permulaan, kertas ini akan menganalisa wacana mengenai kontrak sosial dan Islam sepertimana yang terkandung dalam tulisan-tulisan yang tersiar dalam Malaysiakini dan Malaysia Today untuk melihat bagaimana ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah dalam kedua-dua aspek ini telah dicabar oleh suara-suara pembantahan dalam masyarakat sivil. Suara-suara pembantahan ini tidak bersifat ”neutral” tetapi sarat dengan ideologi.

Kontrak Sosial

Konsep ”kontrak sosial” itu sendiri sebenarnya sarat dengan makna ideologikal. Dalam tradisi Barat, kontrak sosial - yang merupakan satu fiksyen sejarah - sepertimana yang dibicarakan oleh John Locke dan Rousseau adalah berasaskan kepada keutamaan untuk menjaga keselamatan atau kebebasan individu yang menjadi asas kepada faham demokrasi liberal. Namun begitu, dalam konteks negara Malaysia, istilah kontrak sosial digunakan untuk merujuk kepada persetujuan bukan formal yang dicapai oleh pemimpin-pemimpin kaum sebelum negara beroleh kemerdekaan. Terma-terma persetujuan ini menjadi asas kepada politik kompromi kaum yang bertujuan untuk memenuhi kepentingan kaum yang berbeza, bukannya kebebasan individu. Dalam melaksanakan persetujuan ini, terdapat hak-hak individu yang disekat. Justeru, sementara istilahnya sama, kedua-dua konsep tersebut mempunyai makna ideologi yang jauh berbeza.

Dalam membahaskan isu dan konsep kontrak sosial di Malaysia, rencana-rencana dalam Malaysiakini nampaknya lebih cenderung untuk mengutarakan dimensi ideologi demokrasi liberal daripada sisi politik kompromi kaum. Pada tahun 2000, ketika wujud sedikit ketegangan dalam hubungan kaum ekoran isu tuntutan Suqiu dan kritikan mantan Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, terhadap pertubuhan Cina itu, rencana-rencana dalam Malaysiakini banyak mempersoalkan pelaksanaan kontrak sosial yang memberi keistimewaan kepada kaum Melayu/Bumiputera. Istilah Umno-putera sebaliknya digunakan secara sinis. Salah satu rencana dalam Malaysiakini menyebut:

"What social contract is Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad talking about? The real feeling on the ground or what the majority of Malays are now thinking is that Mahathir is really saying "do not question the Umnoputra rights" and "do not jeopardise the Umnoputra's ‘lucrative contracts'." There is no such thing as a "social contract" in Umno's vocabulary.[13]"

Ada juga yang melihat wacana kontrak sosial sebagai alat ideologi untuk mewajarkan diskriminasi terhadap kaum bukan Melayu.

"Recent developments like Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's constant reference to the "social contract" between Malays and Chinese 50 years ago, Umno's impatience to pursue "Malay unity" talks with PAS, and Umno Youth putting pressure on Suqiu to back down regarding certain alleged requests on Malay special rights, have collectively indicated Umno's attitude towards the Chinese: they send clear and unmistakable signals that when the crunch comes, the Chinese are still regarded as first and foremost, overseas Chinese with all kinds of ascribed stigmas, never mind that they are also Malaysian citizens.[14]"

Malaysiakini juga memberi ruang kepada penulis-penulis “anti-establishment” untuk “mencabar” ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah dengan mengaitkan konsep kontrak sosial dengan idea-idea eksploitasi dan hegemoni. Dr. Azly Rahman, dalam kolum tetapnya di Malaysiakini melihat hujah keharmonian kaum dan Dasar Ekonomi Baru sebagai alat ideologi untuk mengeksploitasi golongan yang lemah dalam masyarakat. Dalam rencananya yang bertajuk ”Malay Myth as Colonizing Strategy”, Azly menyebut:

"Peace and harmony is trumped as an ideology of unquestioning ideology so that the process of exploitation can be done not only less painfully but with all the pomp and pageantry of stylised postmodern-slavery ... What sort of urban post-urban myth are we to create to sustain the ideology of post-industrial tribalism in an age of cut-throat capitalist competition that is now eating away the moral, physical and emotional fabric of powerless, alienated and helpless Malaysians of all races of the underclass? [15]"

Bekas profesor Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Dr. P. Ramasamy (kini Timbalan Ketua Menteri II Pulau Pinang), melalui konsep “negara hegemoni Melayu”, mengkritik politik berteraskan kaum yang kononnya membiarkan kaum Melayu mendominasi kaum-kaum lain di negara ini. Dalam rencananya “Diabolical Game of the Malay Hegemonic State”, beliau menulis:

"Whether we admit it not, it is the preponderant role of the Malay hegemonic state that denies democracy, justice and equality to the various nationalities in Malaysia ... Forty-three years of Umno’s political dominance has ethnised Malaysian politics to the extent where institutions, policies, administration, the mind-set and others have been totally geared to see only members of the Malay race have an important edge over members of other ethnic nationalities.[16]"

Malaysia Today juga mencabar ideologi pengabsahan pemerintah atas asas yang sama. Menjadi kebiasaan laman web ini untuk menyiarkan rencana-rencana yang telah disiarkan di media lain termasuklah Malaysiakini. Jadi, tidak hairanlah banyak rencana-rencana “anti-establishment” di media lain yang turut tersiar di Malaysiakini. Namun yang menariknya ialah ruangan forum pembaca di akhir setiap rencana yang disiarkan. Melalui forum ini, banyak pandangan-pandangan yang ekstrim, malah bersifat cauvinis, dipaparkan untuk tatapan umum. Dalam perbahasan terkini mengenai isu kontrak sosial ekoran kenyataan Professor Diraja Ungku Abdul Aziz yang menafikan kewujudan “kontrak sosial” tetapi sebaliknya “kontrak ekonomi” untuk membantu golongan yang lemah,[17] terdapat komen-komen pembaca yang ekstrim berunsur fitnah (defamatory) dan menghasut (seditious). Sebagai contoh “technoboy” menuduh:

"What social contract, it is all a ploy by UMNO to justify their master role within BN so that MCA. MIC and Gerakan will kowtow to them. Now that LKY acknowledges the "beggar" tag, we see thru UMNO's real intention, all these are the evil doings of UMNO politicians to use it as a leverage to ask for more and more so that they can fool the Malay community of their noble mission to protect Malay rights whilst robbing the nation including the privileges of the Malay community for the benefits of UMNO elites and BN elites who are not even Malay, people like Samy, LL SHit, Vincent Tan, Ananda, etc, etc.[18]"

“Countach” pula mengata:

"I agree with Mahathir, the Father of Corruption. Korek, korek, korek, There was 'social contract' between Mugabe and Mahathir to rape and plunder their own country for 22 years.[19]"

“Ttsan” pula menyampuk:

"Another melayu lama barking.don't they know how to shut up.[20]"

“Mikewang” pula mengugut:

"Malay rights are in the constitution. I don't dispute that. However, the NEP is not. Social contract is as per condition existed at independence. ie. the extent of rights and privileges as prescribed and practised at the material time. Not a Never Ending Policy of apartheid. If you can find NEP in any agreement or "social contract", I'll take all my money out of the country and emigrate.[21]"


Wacana mengenai Islam di kedua-dua portal berita internet ini juga lebih cenderung untuk mengenengahkan Islam sebagai agama yang secocok, jika tidak “subservient”, kepada nilai-nilai demokrasi liberal Barat. Di samping itu, banyak terdapat rencana-rencana yang mengkritik dasar-dasar kerajaan mengenai Islam yang seringkali disebut sebagai “creeping Islamization” yang didakwa bukan sahaja bertentangan dengan nilai-nilai hak asasi sekular-liberal Barat tetapi juga mengekalkan polarisasi masyarakat berbilang kaum dan agama di Malaysia . Pandangan ini boleh dilihat dalam rencana-rencana dan berita-berita mengenai kes-kes Lina Joy, Moorthy @ Muhammad Abdullah, Shamala, Subashini, Kamariah Ali dan Ayah Pin.

Dalam bulan Januari dan Februari 2005, Farish Noor dalam kolumnya di Malaysiakini menulis siri rencana yang mengritik dasar dan peranan Islam dalam negara yang didakwa bersifat “autoritarian” dan menggalakkan perpecahan dalam masyarakat berbilang agama.[22] Dalam salah satu kritikannya terhadap pelaksanaan udang-undang Islam terhadap “pesalah moral” (mereka yang didapati bersalah melibatkan diri dalam kegiatan perjudian, meminum arak, khalwat dan lain-lain kesalahan jenayah syariah) Farish menulis:

"Today all over the Muslim world we have seen the emergence of right-wing neo-fascistic tendencies that aim towards a totalised control of society. The same tendencies were evident in the rise of the Nazis and fascists in Europe, as well as the communist regimes under Stalin and Mao, and even in the regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia. In all cases, the creation of a ‘morality police’ is the first step towards the state’s penetration into the most private, intimate (and therefore vulnerable) aspect of the citizenry’s lives .... But worst of all, the policing of the Malay-Muslim community threatens to undermine the most sensitive project of all: nation-building itself. For what kind of a Malaysian nation are we indeed building today, when there is one set of laws for Malay-Muslims and another for the rest? While the Malay-Muslim parties like Umno and PAS continue to out-do each other in the Islamisation race, they are in danger of entrenching deeper mistrust and misunderstandings between the communities at the same time. What began as a Malay-Muslim issue has now become a matter of national concern, and this writer would argue that this is now a Malaysian problem.[23]"

Di samping Farish Noor, beberapa kolumnis Malaysiakini seperti Salbiah Ahmad, Dr. Azly Rahman, Fathi Aris Omar, Lee Ban Chen dan Phar Kim Beng, turut memberikan perspektif “anti-establishment” dalam rencana-rencana mereka mengenai Islam.[24]

Perbincangan mengenai Islam di Malaysia Today banyak dicorakkan oleh tulisan Raja Petra dan penulis tamu seperti Farouk A Peru. Raja Petra yang pernah menggelarkan dirinya sebagai seorang “born-again Muslim”[25] mempunyai pandangan yang tersendiri mengenai Islam. Sebagai seorang yang tidak berlatarbelakangkan pendidikan Islam formal, beliau menunjukkan sikap yang agak sinikal terhadap “form” Islam, terutamanya aspek-aspek ritual agama. Dalam tulisan terbarunya mengenai Islam, “What is Islam?”, Raja Petra menulis:

"Rituals, however, are just that, rituals. These are what Muslims would call fardu ain. You acknowledge in your heart and on your lips that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, you pray five times a day, you pay your tithes (zakat and fitrah), you fast 29-30 days in a year during the month of Ramadhan, and you go Mekah at least once in your lifetime to perform your pilgrimage or Haj if you are able to (health-wise, finance-wise, and if it poses no danger to your safety and security and you are not barred from leaving your home) ... Doing these five things would make you a Muslim but only as far as performing the rituals are concerned. Whether you are truly a Muslim at heart or just a ‘show’ Muslim would be subject to whether you really have faith or akidah. And akidah can never be in the rituals you perform. It has to be something that rests in your head and lies in your heart. Which means you have no control over akidah. Either you have it or you don’t. You can’t ‘perform’ akidah like you can your prayers, fasting, Haj, and so on.[26]"

Kritikan terhadap amalan Islam lebih lantang dalam ruangan forum. Di akhir rencana bertajuk “Creeping Creeping Radicalism: Malaysians wonder if they are edging toward an Islamic state”, seorang penulis forum mengulas,

"Muslims in a way suffer from "besieged complex", not only judgementalism pressure coming from their own community but "The BIG Brother" is always watching over their shoulders, some say that muslims girls are more religious today because of better education awareness but is it true,!?[27]"

Bahkan kata-kata kesat juga digunakan. Dalam satu komentar tentang insiden demonstrasi membantah kumpulan “Artikel 11” di depan Hotel Cititel di Pulau Pinang dalam bulan Mei 2006, seorong penulis forum “Casper” mengecam kumpulan Islam yang berdemonstrasi:

"The nation died a little over yesterday's incident all thanks to the pack of dogs howling by the roadside of Cititel. As it is, the monkeys dominate higher office while the dogs enforce terror in the streets.[28]"

Seorang lagi penulis forum bernama samaran “Fan # 1, Allah Fan Club” menyampuk:

"Undang2 Allah"? Undang2 karut yang berasaskan fantasi? Baik aku emel Tuan Allah segera supaya dapat dibuktikan yang Ianya memang wujud dan pernah mengistiharkan "Undang2 Allah" ni, sebelum undang2Nya disindir oleh mereka yang mengatakan kenapa kehidupan kita mesti dibebankan dengan Undang2 Allah yang dianggap karut ni sementara kewujudan Tuan Allah sendiri pun sebenarnya satu soalan besar? Mampuslah Malaysia ... Gila betul.[29]"

Komentar-komentar penuh emosi seperti ini mengundang komentar balas yang juga penuh emosi. Lihat umpamanya komentar “play_achilot” dalam ruangan yang sama:

"Apa hal ni Casper-c? Sporting lah sikit? Perangai dan celupar tulisan kamu tu lebih paria dari paria. Tak fahamkah terdapat pelbagai mod yang dipakai manusia di tamaddun ni untuk meluahkan ketidak-senangan hati terhadap sesuatu perkara. Cara berlembut dan percubaan untuk membicarakan secara intellektual pun tetap berjalan dan akan diteruskan untuk berdailog bukan dengan orang macam kamu tapi orang yang lebih cerdik dan berbudi bahasa dari kamu. Orang macam kamu ni sesuai dengan cara jalanan sahaja. You sounds more like a failed frustrated communist/sociallist liar of their perception on society or an extreme chauvanist, non religious, unthrusworthy, uneducated zealout who look at others as dogs all the same. You are no different with Stalinist/Leninist type in the soviet era who prey on sincere Muslims only to get support but once objectives are achieved killed all Muslim scholars after the Revolution against the cruel Russian Czar. To people like ends justify means. Please be aware that all these whiles Muslim had been lying low but of course watching how far these IFC and liberals ones like you are behaving. There is limit in everything. The court decision will be challenged by the Syariah Courts and the Ummah in Malaysia whether you like it or not. OK!"


Teknologi komunikasi telah memberi ruang kepada suara-suara pembantahan dalam masyarakat untuk menyuarakan pandangan, sekaligus mempersoal ideologi pengabsahan pemerintahan dan menyemarakkan amalan demokrasi. Penyiaran tulisan-tulisan berbentuk anti-establishment dalam media baru telah membuka peluang kepada pelbagai kelompok dan kumpulan berkepentingan dalam masyarakat sivil untuk menyuarakan hak mereka dan memastikan kerajaan lebih bersifat responsif terhadap kebajikan mereka. Tetapi pada masa teknologi komunikasi juga telah mencipta satu ruang kelam di alam maya yang menghakis nilai etika serta sikap hemah dan tanggungjawab dalam menyampaikan pandangan. Berselindung di sebalik nama-nama samaran, individu-individu dari pelbagai latar belakang budaya, tahap pendidikan dan taraf sosio-ekonomi, mengambil bahagian dalam berwacana - sesetengahnya secara rasional, tetapi ramai pula secara penuh beremosi. Ini tentu sekali memberi kesan yang besar terhadap rupa wajah dan kualiti demokrasi dan masyarakat sivil di Malaysia. Sebuah demokrasi yang matang dan berkualiti tinggi tentu sekali mementingkan nilai-nilai estetika dan tradisi keilmuan dalam berwacana. Apatah lagi dalam sebuah negara berbilang kaum dan agama, batas-batas adab berwacana perlu digaris agar wacana bebas di alam maya berlangsung dalam suasana yang harmoni, waras dan menyumbang kepada pembinaan bangsa.


Azly Rahman. 2006. Don’t Imprison Apostates. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008)

Clarke, Judith. 2004. “Democracy and New Communication Technology: The Asian Struggle”. Dlm Steven Gan, James Gomez & Uwe Johannen (eds). Asian Cyberactivism: Freedom of Expression and Media Censorship. Singapore: Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
Farish A. Noor. 2005a. Not Just a Malay-Muslim Problem. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
_____________. 2005b. The Weapon Against Religious Authoritarianism. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
_____________. 2005c. Welcome to Talibanaysia. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
Fathi Aris Omar. 2004. Ruang Awam: Kemelut Puak Islam. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
Habermas, Jurgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Polity Press.
Hilley, John. 2002. Malaysia: Mahathirism, Hegemony and the New Opposition. London: Zed Books.
Lee Ban Chen. 2001. The Islamic State Debacle. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
Marzuki Mohamad. 2005. Interfaith Commission: Two Competing Views. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 3 Mac 2005).
_______________. 2006. Nothing Wrong With Multiculturalism?., (Diakses pada 21 September 20006).
Phar Kim Beng. 2004. Islamic State Concept Too Narrowly Conceived. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
Raja Petra Kamaruddin. 2008. What is Islam? Malaysia Today. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008).
Salbiah Ahmad. 2007. Islam and Law-Making. Malaysiakini. (Diakses pada 13 Mei 2008)
Tong Yee Siong. 2004. “Malaysiakini: Treading a Tightrope of Political Pressure and Market Factor”. Dlm Steven Gan, James Gomez & Uwe Johannen (eds). Asian Cyberactivism: Freedom of Expression and Media Censorship. Singapore: Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

* Kertas ini dibentangkan di Konvensyen Belia Kebangsaan 2008 anjuran Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM) dan Kementerian Belia dan Sukan Malaysia pada 13 Mei 2008 bertempat di Hotel Pearl International, Kuala Lumpur.
** Marzuki Mohamad ialah pensyarah sains politik di Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia.
[1] Habermas (1989).
[2] Clarke (2004: 4).
[3] Untuk perbincangan lanjut mengenai pembinaan ideologi keabsahan di Malaysia dan peranan intelektual organik (organic intellectual) dalam mempopularkan ideologi tersebut, lihat Hilley (2002).
[4] Tong (2004: 281). Malaysiakini didaftarkan di bawah Akta Syarikat sebagai sebuah syarikat sendirian berhad. Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) yang berpangkalan di Bangkok menyumbang sebanyak AS$ 100,000 (RM 380,000) sebagai modal awal penubuhan Malaysiakini. Para pengasas Malaysiakini turut menyumbang modal tambahan sebanyak AS$ 32,000 (RM 120,000).
[5] Tong (2004: 283).
[6] Malaysiakini, 27 April 2007.
[7] Tong (2004: 286).
[8] The Sun, 3 Mac 2001.
[9] New Straits Times, 5 Mac 2001.
[10] Perbincangan tidak formal bersama Raja Petra Kamaruddin, 31 Oktober 2006, Sungai Buloh, Selangor.
[11] The Star, 14 Januari 2006.
[12] Malaysiakini, 8 Disember 2006.
[13] Malaysiakini, 18 Disember 2000.
[14] Malaysiakini, 23 Januari 2001.
[15] Malaysiakini, 9 Julai 2007.
[16] Malaysiakini, 28 Februari 2001.
[17] Lihat “No Such Thing as Social Contract”, New Straits Times, 12 May 2008.
[18] Malaysia Today, 12 Mei 2008,
[19] Malaysia Today, 12 Mei 2008,
[20] Malaysia Today, 12 Mei 2008,
[21] Malaysia Today, 12 Mei 2008,
[22] Farish (2005a, 2005b, 2005c).
[23] Farish (2005a).
[24] Lihat umpamanya Salbiah (2007), Azly (2006), Fathi (2004), Lee (2001) dan Phar (2004). Untuk rekod, rencana penulis mengenai Islam - sebahagiannya menyanggah pandangan “anti-establishment” - turut disiarkan di Malaysiakini. Lihat umpamanya Marzuki (2006, 2005).
[25] Lihat “The Prince and the Pretender”, Malaysia Today, 26 September 2004.
[26] Raja Petra (2008).
[27] Malaysia Today, 24 Januari 2005.
[28] Malaysia Today, 15 Mei 2006.
[29] Malaysia Today, 15 Mei 2006.