ASEAN’s moral fibre

ASEAN’s moral fibre  

Excerpts from xpyre

I wish the world was simple, in black and white, 2 dimensional. 

Now the Commonwealth has booted out Pakistan. To me, the booting out of Pakistan reveals ASEAN’s complete lack of moral fibre, in contrast.

Instead of allowing the UN’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to come out and brief Asean leaders on the situation in Myanmar, Asean leaders agreed to disagree and strongly rejected Singapore’s proposal. What do you think Ibrahim Gambari would have said? No one will ever know, now, and an opportunity to pressure Myanmar into loosening its grip on its people has now passed.

And who gains? I suppose every one in ASEAN gains. Fellow members of ASEAN who themselves have poor human rights records breathe a collective sigh of relief and it’s business as usual – because isn’t ASEAN about economic cooperation, never mind the social cost?

Asean Countries Vote against

UN Committee Resolution on Burma

By Wai Moe
November 21, 2007

Asean countries are holding fast to their historical habit of ignoring human rights and the struggle for democracy in the region, in spite of the new Asean charter approved this week at the Asean Summit in Singapore. 

Activists protest outside the Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday. A UN General Assembly panel on Tuesday passed a resolution strongly condemning the recent crackdown on anti-government protests by Burma’s rulers but the vote was dismissed by the military-run country’s neighbors. [Photo: AFP]

The United Nations General Assembly’s Committee for Social, Humanitarian and Culture approved a non-binding draft resolution on Tuesday that strongly condemned the human rights violations by the Burmese junta in September. The resolution must now go before the General Assembly for final approval.

The differences between the words expressed by Asean member countries following the bloody crackdown in Burma and the vote at the UN by Asean ambassadors are glaringly different.

  1. Eighty-eight countries voted in favor of the resolution and

  2. 24 countries voted against.

  3. Sixty-six countries abstained

  4. and 14 were absent.

No Asean-member country voted in favor of the resolution.

  1. Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia voted against the resolution.

  2. Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand abstained.

  3. Cambodia was absent.

  4. China and India voted against.

Moreover, a report by The Associated Press on Wednesday said that confidential recommendations by Asean region diplomats advised Asean to not intervene in domestic human rights problems such as the current situation in Burma, but instead to protect member countries from foreign meddling.

The recommendations were made in a report seen by the AP. It was commissioned by Asean, whose leaders adopted a landmark charter on Tuesday that among other things set up a human rights agency.

Critics of Asean’s Human Rights Commission say the body offers protection to violators of human rights rather than protection to citizens from governmental abuse.

Islamic practices

Vs

Islamic values

See

There is more to Islam than mere rituals. Islam is not just about rituals. Islam is also about values.And one of the most important values of Islam is to_

  1. ‘propagating good and
  2. forbidding evil’.

     

‘propagating good and forbidding evil’ _

  1. is not optional.
  2. It is compulsory.
  3. Islam makes it mandatory that we oppose evil.

We are asked to oppose evil with our hands.

Our Prophet (pbuh) has been asked by God:

“I have been ordered to dispense justice between you.”

“Whenever you judge between people, you should judge with (a sense of) justice” (4:58).

The Prophet has said:

“If any one of you comes across an evil,

he should try to stop it with his hand (using force),

if he is not in a position to stop it with his hand

then he should try to stop it by means of his tongue

(meaning he should speak against it).

If he is not even able to use his tongue

then he should at least condemn it in his heart.

This is the weakest degree of faith”

(Muslim).

  1. “Co-operate with one another for virtue and heedfulness

  2. and do not co-operate with one another

  3. for the purpose of vice and aggression” (5:2).

This means that_

  1. who perpetrates deeds of vice and aggression,

  2. even if he is our closest relation or neighbour,

  3. does not have the right to win our support

  4. and help in the name of race, country, language or nationality.


This is what Islam says.
Is it because these rituals are compulsory? Is it because you would not be a perfect Muslim if you did not perform these rituals?Hey, these are only rituals. Rituals are not values. Rituals are merely a demonstration that you have values. It is pointless performing rituals if you lack values. Rituals are not important if you lack faith or values. Rituals are the end result of the values you hold. If you did not believe that there is a God would you want to pray? Would it serve any purpose that you prayed if you did not believe that there is a God? If you did not believe that Muhammad was the last Prophet, if you think that he is a fake, is there any purpose in performing the rituals that Muhammad taught mankind? Your prayers are between you and God. Whether you perform them or not is between you and God. It does not concern anyone else. The same goes for all those other rituals as well.  But if you do not stand up for justice and fight against evil, oppression, persecution, etc., then it is no longer between you and God.

  1. God can forgive you for not praying.
  2. God can forgive you for the beer you drink every night.
  3. But God will never forgive you for your sins against society.

By not opposing evil you have not sinned against God.

You have sinned against  millions of fellow-Muslims and other humans. And you will have to seek forgiveness from all of them. God can’t forgive you. Muslims and other humans will have to do that.

Some Islamic values that rich muslim leaders try to ignore

See

A man may be ill or wounded, irrespective of his nationality, race or colour. If you know that he is in need of your help, then it is your duty that you should arrange for his treatment for disease or wound.

If he is dying of starvation, then it is your duty to feed him so that he can ward off death.

If he is drowning or his life is at stake, then it is your duty to save him.

Regarding the economic rights, the Holy Quran says:

And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and destitute. (51:19)

Anyone who needs help, irrespective of the race, religion or citizenship has a right in the property and wealth of the Muslims.

If you are in a position to help and a needy person asks you for help or if you come to know that he is in need, then it is your duty to help him.

“Indeed, the noblest among you before God are the most heedful of you” (49:13).

May I have a decent immigration policy, please?

May I have a decent immigration policy, please? 

Excerpts from  Hizami‘s article

It’s long been apparent that a vicious undercurrent of xenophobia runs through Malaysian society,

  1. cheerfully whipped up by the mainstream press, and

  2. championed by a worrying spectrum of individuals. 

  3. Remember the panicky TV3 reports on ‘immigrants’ flooding KLCC during public holidays, and

  4. Wong Chun Wai’s editorial on how ‘uncomfortable’ it was to see so many foreigners (the wrong sort – Whites are perfectly fine) around town?

  5. The obligatory newspaper reports connecting ‘illegals’ to the most recent crime?

  6. The seemingly endless trail of abuse left by Rela and over-zealous police officers towards foreigners?

  7. The off-hand way we shut illegal immigrants up in appalling detention camps, and

  8. dismiss any notion that when they ‘riot’, it might be because we treat them little better than dirt?

  9. Or the casual racism which can be found everywhere, from the blasting of tall, dark Africans on Petaling Street, to the perennial notion that

  10. we should be helping our ‘own’ poor, not filthy Burmese or Indonesian illegals.

I have never understood how any Muslim can reconcile racism with their religious faith.

I would like to talk about xenophobia and migration,

  1. incredibly unhappy about the way Malaysia approaches its migrants.

  2. Migration policy isn’t easy. Every country which is better off than others will have to grapple with immigration. And no one does it perfectly either.

  3. The US has hang-ups over Latinos; the UK has hang-ups over everyone, apparently; Australia has hang-ups over their ‘boat people’; and Europe as a whole has hang-ups over Muslims.

  4. But that’s no excuse for us to not try and do right by those who come to our country looking for a better life.

  5. And I would submit that there are a few crucial points we have to flag up to reform our new Immigration policy, that will form the basis for any policy we eventually come up with.

  6. The first is the illegitimacy of bigotry, and remembering our common humanity.

  7. We sometimes speak of ‘illegals’ almost as if they were sub-human. They’re not.

  8. Immigrants, whether illegal or otherwise, are as human as you and I.

  9. We’re not any superior to them – any one who dares to talk about ‘cultural superiority’ should remember that all these immigrants are descendants of civilisations at least as great as our own, if not even greater.

  10. Immigration policy cannot be coloured by notions that ‘we’ are any better than ‘them’.

  11. We have to treat our fellow human beings decently.

  12. That has implications, from making sure that our detention centres are humane,

  13. and that anyone we detain there can be repatriated in a very short time;

  14. to ending once and for all the legacy of abuse towards immigrants detained during raids.

  15. Being decent means no more dilly-dallying – we have to ratify the Refugee Convention NOW.

  16. Those fleeing from persecution in their homelands should never simply classified as ‘illegal immigrants’ and deported post-haste.

  17. If we can take them, and keep them safe, we should.

  18. If we can’t, we need to be part of an international system to make sure they get somewhere where they can be safe. This is basic decency.

  19. Decency and sense also means examining our economic treatment of immigrants.

  20. It’s an open secret that immigrants are paid less than local workers, and don’t get benefits. This is a travesty. This is why they don’t want minimum wage legislation. This is unacceptable. They contribute just as much to our economy, and we want to pay them less?

  21. I don’t know how much crime is really committed by immigrants, and how much of it is just moral panic whipped up by an unscrupulous Press.

  22. But whatever the level is, I would submit that just as it is with crime committed by Malaysians, crime is a function of deprivation.

  23. It wouldn’t surprise me that some immigrants are driven to crime – just like our own poor, deprivation will lead to crime.

  24. We also need to deal with the poverty that drives people to crime anyway.

  25. And it means if we want to get serious about crime, we have to tackle deprivation, and that includes the ghettos that immigrants live in at the moment.

  26. Appalling living conditions, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of integration into the wider community, these are all problems of deprivation that need to be tackled.

  27. We have to proceed from the premise that immigrants who are either here by reason of persecution, or have come here to contribute to our economy, deserve a basic standard of life equal to our own.

  28. That means that we need to provide the infrastructure. And we should accept as many immigrants not just as we need, but also as many as we can support.

  29. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. We can’t keep relying on cheap foreign labour to support the economy by the back door – if they’re helping us, we have to help back.

  30. Economies have traditionally depended on less well-treated foreign labour.

  31. Malaysians deserve a guaranteed basic standard of life. But so do our immigrants.

And we also have to recognise that some of these immigrants will also become Malaysians. That’s how a country grows.

Instead of living in denial, we should structure a proper policy, taking into account both immigrants who intend to stay here in the long term, and who should be integrated as Malaysians, and those who are just staying here for a while, who should get the same decent treatment we seek to extend to our own citizens as well.

I don’t think we have that sort of policy yet. It’s time we started asking the hard questions, and taking a long, hard look at our economy, our resources, our long-term needs, and structuring a policy revolving around both our economic needs, and our obligation of common humanity. Nothing less will suffice.

The dream remains one of a decent life for all the residents of this nation (and the world, too), Malaysians and visitors alike.