Race, Religion, And Royalty

Race, religion, and royalty are the toxic triad of Malaysian identity politics; a combustible combination for a multiracial nation. No surprise that contemporary commentators focus on this. Less noticed but far more consequential is that race, religion, and royalty are also the barnacles encrusting on Malay society, impeding its progress and undermining the culture. There cannot be stability in Malaysia if Malays, her majority population, were to be fractured or left behind. This collection of the author's commentaries examines this second far more critical preposition, tracing the deterioration of Malaysia's race relations, the oppressive as well as pernicious rise of Islamism, and the increasing assertiveness of Malay Sultans. "Ketuanan Melayu" (Malay Hegemony), the rallying cry of the hitherto ruling party, United Malay National Organization (UMNO), is a manifestation of this racism. It distracts Malays from facing their most daunting challenge - of being competitive and productive. This Ketuanan Melayu chauvinism poisons race relations. As for religion, Malays are increasingly preoccupied and obsessed with Islam. The faith is being exploited crudely but effectively by the other major Malay political party, Parti Al Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). The Islamic cachet sells with Malays. Islam, the variation approved and propagated in Malaysia, exerts its most destructive influence in politics, economics, and education. Islamism is now deeply rooted in all institutions and the public sphere. Increasing Islamization has turned Malaysian national schools from being less educational institutions and more indoctrination centers. Non-Malays have long abandoned the system. Now they are being joined by an ever increasing number of Malays, to the chagrin of the Islamists and champions of Ketuanan Melayu. Perversely, Malaysian schools which once played a major role in integrating the young are today being exploited to be instruments to divide and segregate Malaysians. With royalty, Malaysia is cursed to be burdened by not one but nine hereditary Sultans, with each taking turns to be King for the whole Federation. At least his tenure is restricted to five years, the only monarch in the world with term limits! Then there are the four non-hereditary governors who are no less regal and expensive in their tastes and demands, all at taxpayers' expense. Instead of acting as a buffer and mediator of conflicts among Malaysians, especially Malays, these Sultans aggravate them through their sly engagement in the old tried and true triangulation scheming. Today the Sultans align themselves with the ulama against the nation's secular leaders. Earlier, the Sultans were in cahoots with the politicians against the religious class to exploit business opportunities and to be able to frolic at their favorite casinos. These critical essays are descriptive as well as prescriptive. The writer advocates focusing on making Malays competitive through improving the schools and other educational institutions. Curtail if not remove the influence of Islamism, and emphasize English and STEM subjects. Reducing the oppressive role of Islam in the public sphere would also be a positive development; likewise with reining in the ruling class and the Sultans with respect to their corruption and rent-seeking activities. It is difficult to wean Malays of their special privileges crutch when Malay Sultans squat at the very top of the special privileges heap, and swagger with their most golden of crutches. Reining in that would be a good first step. Improving national schools by focusing on making young Malaysians fluently bilingual in Malay and English, as well as competent in science and mathematics would be another. The changes advocated here are small and incremental in nature to avoid being disruptive and destabilizing, but cumulatively they would be transformative and revolutionary.

Discursive Approaches to Politics in Malaysia

This open access book examines Malaysian politics using a linguistic perspective. It explores how language serves to (de)legitimise governance, and its subsequent policies and activities in Malaysia. Grounded in discourse studies, this edited volume presents research on the discourses produced by and on Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional from 2008 to 2020, studying how political actors (de)legitimise their governance through discursive means. The thirteen original chapters select spoken, print and digital texts in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, and deploy varied theoretical and methodological approaches. Their linguistic analysis unearths the language features and strategies that facilitate (de)legitimation. It shows how political actors shape the discursive representation and evaluation of multiple concerns in Malaysia. Consequently, Discursive Approaches to Politics in Malaysia: Legitimising Governance improves our understanding of contemporary Malaysian political discourse. It is of interest to graduates and researchers in the field of discourse studies, seeking to understand the discursive contours of politics in this developing Asian country.

Routledge Handbook of Islam in Southeast Asia

This handbook explores the ways in which Islam, as one of the fastest growing religions, has become a global faith for both Muslims and non-Muslims in Southeast Asia with its universality, inclusivity, and shared features with other Islamic expressions and manifestations. It offers an up-to-date, wide-ranging, comprehensive, concise, and readable introduction to the field of Islam in Southeast Asia. With specific themes of pertinent contemporary relevance, the contributions by experts in the field provide fresh insights into the roles of states, societies, scholars, social movements, political parties, economic institutions, sacred sites, and other forces that structured the faith over many centuries. The handbook is structured in three parts: Muslim Global Circulations Marginal Narratives Refashioning Pieties This handbook stands out as a single and synergistic reference work that explores the ebb and flow of Islam seeking to decenter many existing assumptions about it in Southeast Asia. It will be an indispensable resource for scholars, students, and policymakers working on Islam, Muslims, and their interactions with other communities in a plural setting.

Gender Pluralism

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009! This book examines three big ideas: difference, legitimacy, and pluralism. Of chief concern is how people construe and deal with variation among fellow human beings. Why under certain circumstances do people embrace even sanctify differences, or at least begrudgingly tolerate them, and why in other contexts are people less receptive to difference, sometimes overtly hostile to it and bent on its eradication? What are the cultural and political conditions conducive to the positive valorization and acceptance of difference? And, conversely, what conditions undermine or erode such positive views and acceptance? This book examines pluralism in gendered fields and domains in Southeast Asia since the early modern era, which historians and anthropologists of the region commonly define as the period extending roughly from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

The Kaiser and the Colonies

Many have viewed Kaiser Wilhelm II as having personally ruled Germany, dominating its politics, and choreographing its ambitious leap to global power. But how accurate is this picture? As The Kaiser and the Colonies shows, Wilhelm II was a constitutional monarch like many other crowned heads of Europe. Rather than an expression of Wilhelm II's personal rule, Germany's global empire and its Weltpolitik had their origins in the political and economic changes undergone by the nation as German commerce and industry strained to globalise alongside other European nations. More central to Germany's imperial processes than an emperor who reigned but did not rule were the numerous monarchs around the world with whom the German Empire came into contact. In Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, kings, sultans and other paramount leaders both resisted and accommodated Germany's ambitions as they charted their own course through the era of European imperialism. The result was often violent suppression, but also complex diplomatic negotiation, attempts at manipulation, and even mutual cooperation. In vivid detail drawn from archival holdings, The Kaiser and the Colonies examines the surprisingly muted role played by Wilhelm II in the German Empire and contrasts it to the lively, varied, and innovative responses to German imperialism from monarchs around the world.

Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism: Volume 3 of Religion & Society

The Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism is the third volume of the acclaimed Religion & Society series. The Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism follows a broad definition of fundamentalism and covers fundamentalism across time and place, although the emphasis remains on its primary manifestation: Protestant fundamentalism in the United States. It draws upon the work of historians, sociologists, religious scholars, anthropologists, political scientists, and others.

Race and Religion Among the Chosen People of Crown Heights

In August of 1991, the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights was engulfed in violence following the deaths of Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum—a West Indian boy struck by a car in the motorcade of a Hasidic spiritual leader and an orthodox Jew stabbed by a Black teenager. The ensuing unrest thrust the tensions between the Lubavitch Hasidic community and their Afro-Caribbean and African American neighbors into the media spotlight, spurring local and national debates on diversity and multiculturalism. Crown Heights became a symbol of racial and religious division. Yet few have paused to examine the nature of Black-Jewish difference in Crown Heights, or to question the flawed assumptions about race and religion that shape the politics—and perceptions—of conflict in the community. In Race and Religion among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights, Henry Goldschmidt explores the everyday realities of difference in Crown Heights. Drawing on two years of fieldwork and interviews, he argues that identity formation is particularly complex in Crown Heights because the neighborhood’s communities envision the conflict in remarkably diverse ways. Lubavitch Hasidic Jews tend to describe it as a religious difference between Jews and Gentiles, while their Afro-Caribbean and African American neighbors usually define it as a racial difference between Blacks and Whites. These tangled definitions are further complicated by government agencies who address the issue as a matter of culture, and by the Lubavitch Hasidic belief—a belief shared with a surprising number of their neighbors—that they are a “chosen people” whose identity transcends the constraints of the social world. The efforts of the Lub­avitch Hasidic community to live as a divinely chosen people in a diverse Brooklyn neighbor­hood where collective identi­ties are generally defined in terms of race illuminate the limits of American multiculturalism—a concept that claims to celebrate diversity, yet only accommodates variations of certain kinds. Taking the history of conflict in Crown Heights as an invitation to reimagine our shared social world, Goldschmidt interrogates the boundaries of race and religion and works to create space in American society for radical forms of cultural difference.

'Religion' and the Religions in the English Enlightenment

This study examines the changes which took place in the understanding of 'religion' and 'the religions' during the Enlightenment in England, the period when the decisive break with Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance notions of religion occurred. Dr Harrison's view is that the principles of the English Enlightenment not only made a special contribution to our modern understanding of what religion is, but they pioneered, in addition, the 'scientific', or non-religious approach, to religious phenomena. During this period a crisis of authority in the Church necessitated a rational enquiry into the various forms of Christianity, and in addition, into the claims of all religions. This led to a concept of 'religion' (based on 'natural' theology) which could link together the apparently disparate religious beliefs and practices found in the empirical religions.