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Anti-liberalism is anti-Rukunegara, says Tunku Zain
FMT Reporters | September 20, 2015
Negeri prince derides politicians who use ideas to divide and control the populaton
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PETALING JAYA: The views of conservative politicians such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad who vilify liberalism were scornfully dismissed today by Negeri Sembilan prince Tunku Zain Al-Abidin Tuanku Muhriz as examples of political thought control to divide the population.
Tunku Zain, who heads the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs think-tank, said liberal ideas were a challenge to the powers that be.
They would brand liberal ideas as alien and heretical concepts, creating new justifications “to consolidate state-sponsored division”, he said in his opening address at the Malaysian Freedom Summit, a conference to discuss ways of widening the freedoms of citizens.
He said the term “liberalism” had been redefined over time to suit the objectives of politicians. As an example he noted that Dr Mahathir was quoted earlier this year as saying that liberalism had resulted in Britons joining the Islamic State terrorist group and slaughtering people.
Tunku Zain said politicians who portrayed liberalism in a negative light were clearly departing from Malaysia’s Rukunegara, which speak of “guaranteeing a liberal approach towards our rich and varied cultural traditions.”
The Rukunegara, or national principles, were adopted in Merdeka Day 1970 by royal proclamation, in an attempt to dampen racial hostility after the racial rioting of May 13 the previous year. The preamble states that Malaysia intended to maintain a democratic way of life, create a just society sharing the nation’s wealth equitably, guaranteeing a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions, and build a progressive society through science and technology.
Tunku Zain was also scornful of politicians who invented new rhetorical terms, such as the Umno politician who argued after the Red Shirts rally last week that there was an acceptable “Islamic” form of racism.
“The adoption of such rhetoric, coupled with the vilification of liberalism highlights how malleable our political landscape is; how bereft it is of ideological conviction,” Tunku Zain said.
Umno Supreme Council member Annuar Musa had said on Wednesday that he was racist, but claimed this was permitted in Islam as long as other races were not harmed. Critics pounced on him, accusing him of falsely depicting racism as acceptable under Islam, and urged action against him by Jakim, the Islamic affairs department.
Tunku Zain said “Islamic racism” showed how far politicians would go for their agenda, and criticised the tactics used by politicians to divide citizens by appealing to class, culture, race or religion, through such terms as “Asian values” (once propounded by Mahathir) or the “Islamic way of life”
Use of such terms, defined by the state instead of by individuals, would enable the state to offer “protection” to these groups, leading to “paternalism, authoritarianism and the politics of patronage that inevitably spirals into corruption.”

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