Take a country populated by diverse communities, the indigenous and immigrant, of roughly equal size. These communities profess different religions and ply different trades. The immigrants are better at business; the natives prefer to till their soil. It could be a description of Palestine with its native Palestinians and the immigrant Jewish communities. But here the comparison ends. In Malaysia, the communities live in peace without UN peacekeepers, they pursue their cultural and religious interests without submitting to bleaching multiculturalism, their country prospers while rejecting the IMF recipes, and it is a native son of soil who stands at the helm of good ship Malaysia.
On a less formal note, Malaysia is warm, wet and exotic. On the monsoon-swayed shore of Andaman Sea, a long-tailed, lithe monkey throws coconuts from the heights of a palm tree, flying fishes jump out of the warm blue sea and splash back, a white triangular sail rises on the horizon. Indians serve their sweet and punchy tea, teh tarik, pouring it with gusto in pulling motion, and neatly place curry on ecologically-sound banana leaves. Malay fishermen unload their haul on the shore and sort it under a broad banyan tree. At night, hundreds of stalls open at the Night Bazaar, feeding, dressing and entertaining locals and tourists.
In Malacca, the oldest-in-East-Asia Catholic church stands next to the Great Mosque next to a Vishnu temple next to a Taoist pagoda. The Dutch-built austere Town Hall is surrounded by spacious British colonial mansions. Narrow streets preserve the charm of the Seventeenth Century, when the Malaccan sultanate was the hub of commerce. Many of its denizens bear proud Portuguese names, but in appearance they do not differ from other residents.
In Penang, old Hakka smugglers warm their bones on the wooden jetties that form a floating island off Georgetown. Tamils sell junk on Armenian street, next to the most advanced chip plant, home to Athlon microprocessor. Yuppies have not taken over all of the Old City, and it reminds of Jaffa as it was before 1948: a modest, humane Eastern city. The glorious Oriental Hotel preserves the days of Somerset Maugham and the Straits’ Settlements. Delightful and modish Chinese girls flock out of the convent school. Native Malays carry on their unruffled life in peaceful villages, happily serve in the army and provide the backbone of the administration.
Islam is the state religion, as it had been in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, when it peacefully seeped in and eventually became preferred to the older Hindu beliefs. Brought by the traders, Malay Islam is exceedingly tolerant, local, thoroughly adjusted to the place, as it is practically everywhere but on the pages of the New York Times. The girls do not cover their faces, but often wear a scarf, like religious Jewish women. On Fridays, men like to go to a mosque for prayer, the great social unifier and integrator. As Communism was always frowned-upon in Malaya, Islam is the preferred style of social movement.
Prosperity is ubiquitous: perfect roads, new cars, brushed-up and restored relics of the past. There are no beggars, no striking poverty. Malaysians live well: they have given up home cooking and eat out in countless restaurants and at the stalls, where one dollar buys a square meal. Neighbouring Thais and Indonesians flock in and to cook their national dishes. The Twin Towers in the centre of futuristic Kuala Lumpur are the tallest in the world. 9/11 did not happen here, and the hotel security’s main worry is Durian, strong-smelling fruit the tourists are prone to smuggle in, disregarding the “No Durian beyond this point” signs.
It is a peaceful land: one rarely sees a policeman or a soldier. There are no security guards in the shopping centres, no visible tension, no American troops or bases, no prostitution, gambling and narcotics. Evening open-air parties, much swimming in the warm sea, friendly chat, unrushed small trade: in short, a relaxing spot. How come … why do they not fight, these people of different backgrounds?
The secret of the Malaysian success was given away by their Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir bin Muhammad, whom local newspapers affectionately call ‘Dr M’: “It is better to share a pie than to have all of no pie”. In the 1960s, Malaysia was torn by strife, for the native rural Malays felt threatened by the economic success of the Chinese and Indian immigrants, city dwellers with a long tradition of market economy. Numerically, the natives were hardly a majority, rather a plurality, of citizens. Economically, they were nowhere. Riots were frequent, and destruction appeared imminent. A pie was there to share: mineral resources, oil deposits, tin and rubber, an educated work force, a relatively small population; but the same is true for many countries that nevertheless came to grief.
Where others failed, the Malaysians succeeded: they pursued a New Economic Policy (later called a New Development Policy), aimed to correct imbalances in agreement between the communities. That the pie of national economy should grow and the respective shares of the communities should be increasingly equalised was the idea of NEP and NDP. The prospering immigrant communities understood that disparity can ruin their good life, and agreed to affirmative action in the interest of the indigenous people. The indigenous Malays acquiesced to this relatively slow process.
The affirmative action is not too radical: a Malay student has priority if he wants to study medicine or business management, as before the NEP there were just a few Malay doctors, businessmen, administrators. The native Malay gets a five percent discount when he buys an apartment. Malay businesses have some small tax breaks. In new developments, the developers have to secure 10 percent of flats and houses for the Malays, in order to avoid ghetto formation. Malay is the national language, but there are street signs in Chinese and English; Islam is the state religion, but there is full freedom to practise other religions as well.
A guest from distant Palestine, I cried: Eureka! If we, Israelis and Palestinians, would learn from the Malaysian success, establish equality and take affirmative action to ensure a fair share for each community, Palestine would be at least as prosperous and happy as Malaysia. Even the notorious Jewish settlements would cause little irritation if their founders would ensure a fair share of Palestinian residents. (Nowadays, a Palestinian is not allowed even to tread on their fenced grounds.) Malaysia is an example to emulate. Let us follow the Malaysian way, erase partition, restore broken unity, return refugees home and live together happily ever after. Wealthy and privileged minorities can impose their will for a while, but in the long run, only agreement and fair sharing a la Malaysia will work.
Not only in Palestine: This is a general panacea against the malady of inequality and national strife. In the Twentieth Century, the Masters of Discourse promoted their own patent medicine: partition and transfer. Liberally applied in Greece and Turkey, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East, in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, in the former Soviet Union, and this has already ruined half a planet. Nowhere had it improved things. Subcontinent Muslims I meet regret the day Pakistan was torn off India. From Tajikistan to Belarus people dream of returning of the Soviet Union. Hungarians and Czechs feel nostalgia for Oesterreich. Ravaged Smyrna, devastated Sudetenland and bleeding Palestine confirm that partition wounds do not heal for centuries, and that population transfer ensures future massacres. It should be undone.
The Malaysian way of integration had an alternative, the way of partition, and it was pursued by Singapore, a splinter Overseas-Chinese city-state at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. It has some similarities to the Jewish state: authoritarian rule, vast employment of foreign guest workers, aggressive stance towards their integrated neighbours. A great friend of Israel and the Far East base of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, Singapore is an important link in the global system of currency trading, an integral part of the New World Order, a supporter of the US and Australia. Singapore is better than Israel: it did not expel its native Malays, did not conquer the Peninsula, did not launch aggressive wars. It could be a free and peaceful city-state, but the dynamics of partition made it a potential source of trouble. By taking a leaf from Israel’s book, Singapore declared its ‘right’ to wage war on Malaysia if the country hikes the price of the water it sells to the island.
Singapore poisons the minds of the Malaysian Chinese and encourages their immigration to the island. It is a very unnecessary thing, for the Malaysian Chinese community is well integrated in their country. In Penang, there is a Chinese Prime Minister, and, despite affirmative action, the Chinese retain commanding heights in the economy. What is worse, Singapore politicians try to influence decision-making of in the People’s Republic, the economic giant with little political will of its own. It is proof that the evils caused by choosing the partition model do not stop at partition but have lasting, damaging effect on the world.
How the Malaysians did it
The ruling block of moderate nationalist Malays and its Chinese and Indian counterparts have managed the country since the 1960s, and Dr M, actually a medical doctor by profession, has served as the Prime Minister for over twenty years. Next year he will retire at the ripe age of 78. He came to power as a young radical and Malay nationalist, expressing the natives’ disappointment over the too-slow progress in levelling economic misbalance between the communities. His victory scared the immigrant communities and made them more amenable to Malay demands. But Dr M carried out reforms gradually and gently. Under his rule, Malaysia became a prosperous industrial nation, a leader in computers as well as in traditional pursuits. Even more important, it is a rather happy land of contented people.
Malaysia rejected the Western idea of nation-state, as it accepted the many-coloured mosaic of its communities. They are not three, but rather thirty-three. The Chinese form many communities of various languages, cultures and religions. There are Cantonese, Swatow, Hakka, Hokkien, as distinct as Sicilians and Swedes. Indians are equally diverse: Muslim and Hindu, Punjabis, Tamils, Bengalis. The native Malays also form various tribes and ethnic units. The oldest inhabitants of the Peninsula, the orang asli or ‘original men’, Negroid tribes akin to Australian aborigines and Indian Dravidic people, still roam the jungles. Europeans and their descendents (of mostly mixed marriages) live in Malacca, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia rejected the idea of the ‘melting pot’ as well. Communities are not asked to integrate and assimilate; they are encouraged to keep their identity and may attend schools in their native tongues while keeping the same curriculum. They do not fall for the trap of multiculturalism, either. The uncomfortable part of multiculturalism as preached by New York is the removal of the backbone of the nation: the rejection of the original religion and culture of the majority. As I watched CNN on pre-Christmas days, I noticed their fear of actually referring to the Christian holiday without balancing it by an example of Hanukkah or Kwanza. Not so in Malaysia: there is a state religion and a state language, and tolerance of minorities.
Most importantly, Malaysia rejected the faith of Neo-Liberalism. Together with Castro and the Pope, Dr M is an outspoken critic of the Chicago School. He does not want to sell assets to the highest bidder, nor thereby to impoverish people and create a new class of super-rich. Food and housing are inexpensive and often subsidised. Dr M is not a socialist. He prefers a strong middle class, but he was taught enough Mencius (Mengzi), the Second Sage of Confucianism, to know of the obligation of rulers to provide for the common people.
The Neo-Liberalists tried to devour Malaysia. The Scourge of Nations, the Imperial Wizard George Soros, a mysterious man with unlimited resources and strong ties to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, who broke the Bank of England, ruined Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand, attacked Malaysia, too. His financial offensive wiped out ten years of Malaysian development and ten years of 20 million men’s labour: a cool $30 billion of damage. The country would have been devastated but for Dr M, who slammed currency controls into place.
After the Soros plague, Malaysia asked for help from the IMF and the World Bank, and was told that aid is conditional upon acceptance of IMF rules, including lifting of currency controls. Ostensibly, that was the purpose of Soros’s raid: to break the country, to send it running to the IMF and to turn it into a vassal of the New World Order. All nations that accepted IMF rules were ruined: from Argentina to Bulgaria, from South Africa to Russia.
Eduardo Galeano, the noted Uruguayan writer, in a recent interview, said: “Argentina did everything it was ordered to do by the International Monetary Fund and it’s destroyed. The lesson is not to buy into IMF discourse, which leads not only to the extermination of national economies, but to horrific consequences that are not only economic. A discourse that not only translates into mass impoverishment and an offensive concentration of wealth, but into slaps in the face, the daily insults that are the ostentation of the power of the few, in the face of the helplessness of the many… It discredits democracy. Nowadays, it is identified with corruption, inefficiency, injustice, which is the worst thing that could happen to democracy. Another tremendous injury is the great damage that the culture of solidarity has suffered all these years. Right now the predominant culture is that of “every man for himself”, and if you fall, you’re screwed.
The new name for the financial dictatorship is the “international community”; anything that you do to defend the little that remains of your sovereignty is “an attack against the international community”, rather than an act of legitimate defence against the usury practiced by the banking system that rules the world, in which the more you pay, the more you owe. That is why in a country like Argentina everything has been dismantled: the economy, the state, the collective identity of a people who no longer know “who they are, from where they came or where they are going.”.
The stubborn old man, Dr M refused to accept the IMF diktat, and Malaysia retained its prosperous independence. It did not go under as Russia and Argentina, because its ruler was a determined man who deeply felt his solidarity with his people. But it was not an easy feat: Dr M had to fight a to-the-last-man-standing battle with his Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, the IMF supporter in Kuala Lumpur. Anwar Ibrahim used the Soros-inflicted depression and stirred unrest. A weaker man, a Gorbachev, would have collapsed and vacated his seat, plunging the country into chaos. Dr M is made of sterner stuff: he deftly dealt with the Neo-Liberal by using some old and not-too-liberal laws against homosexuality. That was a correct if difficult decision: In similar vein, the Americans had sent Al Capone to jail on a trumped-up charge of small tax evasion, as they could not make other charges stick. An IMF supporter is no better than a gangster.
However, for many Malaysian intellectuals this was a traumatic experience: they would have preferred correct results to be obtained by correct means. “Dearie, don’t we all! But we can’t put ‘IMF support’ into the penal code”, I said to them. “The ruler has a duty to his people to protect them from neo-liberal wolves, and this obligation precedes his personal ethics”.
Soros retained a menacing presence in Malaysia. He paid for a Web magazine and repeatedly tried to buy a newspaper to brainwash Malaysians, as he does elsewhere, notably in Russia. In a Kuala Lumpur hotel, I met Malaysian fellow journalists who expectedly complained about another very non-Western Malaysian precept, that of government-controlled media. This would have been an embarrassing moment for me if I had not heard this complaint twelve years ago, in the offices of Russian newspapers. The Russians had no Dr M of their own; they privatised their media. It was snatched up by a bunch of moguls and turned into subversion tools against Russia. Now, almost all Russian media belongs to a galore of Israeli citizens.
That is why I told my Malaysian colleagues: “Sorry, guys. If you had had it your way and made your newspapers and TV independent of government, you would have had a lot of fun for a whole week. One week later, your media would have been bought by George Soros, the man who preaches of the advantages of open society to oysters. As long as a wolf roams outside, a clever sheep sticks to its shepherd”.
This week, Dr M had an unexpected reason for joy: a French court found Soros guilty of insider trading. Its small fine of $2 million means little for a man who makes $1 billion a day, but it is satisfying to see him branded a thief. I would not be amazed to learn that the terrible excesses of the Zionists in Palestine were arranged as a diversion of attention away from their Globalist brethren. While Zionists ruin a village, Soros and the IMF ruin a country.
Together with Castro, Dr M understood that the source of their power lies in the overvalued US dollar. Since 1972, the US freely issued green bucks no longer tied to gold. This financial swindle, the biggest in the history of mankind, brought enormous wealth to some people, and ruined a lot more. That is why Malaysia is the brain and the engine of an ambitious plan to create a stable currency, the golden Dinar. It is also called the ‘Islamic Dinar’, as Islamic Law forbids usury and interest, and the Dinar will bear zero interest. (A similar step was taken by Solon the Wise in Sixth Century BC Athens: he cancelled debts, zeroed interest and made people free. A hundred years later, Athens ushered in its Golden Age.) This year, the Dinar will become the currency to settle deals between Malaysia and some Arab countries.
Currency trading, the pet tool of Soros, should be banned, thinks Dr M:
The traders sell huge sums of currency they do not have to buyers who are members of the same circle. The buyers in turn sell this fictitious currency to others, force down the value and buy at the depressed prices. Short selling has been taken to the ultimate level. The currency trading is many times bigger than total world trade.
The New World Order has in Dr M a most outspoken enemy. He views it as a continuation of old colonialism by new methods:
Free trade had always been the war cry of the Europeans. In the 19th century they used gunboats to open East Asia for trade. They went to war when they were not allowed to supply opium to China. Now, the gunboats have disappeared, but the pressures are no less effective. An occupation army cannot colonise more effectively than the economic arm-twisting used by the West. Now international institutions are used to open up the countries for ‘free trade’. Once the countries are opened up, the big corporations and banks would move in, and the locals will be swallowed up.
Dr M has not mellowed with years. His thinking has become even more striking and extraordinary. While visiting Japan, he called upon the Japanese to reject the Western model as it is sure to ruin their achievements:
Japanese system worked very well for the Japanese. It made Japan the second most powerful economy in the world. It may not be the Western way, but it can’t be all wrong if it can achieve so much.
In Dr M’s view, Japan should return to strong government involvement in economy, and take up its leading role in Asia, for “East Asia and the world need Japan, its dynamism and its single-minded dedication”. For Dr M, as for many important politicians in Asia, WWII was not a war between ultimate good and ultimate evil. “The success of the Japanese army in the early days of the war finally broke the spell cast by the Europeans. East Asians learned that their European overlords could be defeated”. Similar sentiments are voiced in Iran and in Arab countries, where anti-British resentment brought nationalist leaders to seek help of the Axis Powers.
Malaysia is an ‘alternative’ country where many Western ideas were found wanting and were rejected. We are used to frequent changes of prime ministers and presidents and see it as a success of democracy. But Dr M, this benevolent king-philosopher in Plato’s mould, disagrees. It takes many years for policies to produce fruits, he says. First year in power, the ruler learns to be addressed and to address others properly. Next year, he forms his opinions. Then he makes decisions, and only in a few years can we judge his decisions properly. He succeeded because he had enough time, he says.
This idea is unusual for us, but as the matter of fact, three of the most charismatic and extraordinary statesmen of our days, Dr M, Dr Fidel Castro and the Pope, persist in power for tens of years with great success. Commercial companies, nowadays as powerful as any state, also do not change their helmsmen without urgent need.
Surely, if a statesman like Dr M were to lead Japan, (or China, or Russia, or, indeed, the EU) the world would be different. Many things have changed since WWII, and Europeans, together with ordinary Americans, are now experiencing the brunt of the same policies Asia suffered in its colonial past. ‘The Open Society’ has become the tool for robbery brought home, as the New World Order is the colonisation of Europeans and Americans by their new financial elite.
Dr M is a strict opponent of the American War on Terror. For him, “terrorism never dies until the causes for terrorism are eliminated”. He speaks against the impending Anglo-American aggression in Iraq, he refuses to accept the rant of ‘Islamic terror’. Dr M supports the much-suffering people of Palestine without the caveats usually produced by his meek-hearted colleagues in Europe. His voice is heard, for Malaysia has not surrendered its discourse to its enemies.
Malaysia reminded me of Cuba, the Island of Freedom in the Caribbean Sea. It is also an alternative society where highly educated men map a different future for mankind, for “today’s world is in shambles. The abuses of the free trade system, the unlimited greed of speculators, have resulted in the world losing its way”, in the words of Dr M. Similar ideas are expressed in Castro’s speeches. The two politicians met a few times and expressed mutual admiration, despite their huge ideological differences: Castro the Communist and Dr M the Nationalist. In Cuba and in Malaysia, one can read a newspaper or watch TV without nausea. These two small countries have much for us to learn from.
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Penang, Malaysia, is home to some of the best NGOs, notably the Third World Network, Consumers’ Society, Citizens International and Taiping Peace Initiative. Their brilliant gurus, Dr Idris Mohammed, Dr Rajamurti and Anwar Fazal amazed me with their knowledge and devotion to mankind, and shared with me their insights. I am most grateful for their guidance and assistance. I would also like to thank Dr Alijah Gordon, the American writer who made Malaysia her home, and Dr Hishamuddin Ubaidullah, the chairman of Deir Yassin Remembered in Malaysia. For the local Chinese opinion I am indebted to Mr To, a Minister of the Penang Government. I am grateful to the hospitable people of Malaysia and their Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohammad, for showing a possible solution to the problems of Palestine.