At the intergovernmental meeting in Bangkok yesterday on the boat people crisis, Htin Lynn, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myanmar director-general told off the UNHCR for politicizing his country’s internal issues.
Htin Lynn was responding to a call for Myanmar to grant citizenship to its Muslim minority – the 1.3 million Rohingya of whom many are stateless – made by the UN’s Asst. High Commissioner for Refugees (Protection). See ‘Burmese delegate rejects UNHCR call on Rohingya‘ (Taipei Times, 30 May 2015).
The Myanmar government views the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and adamantly labels them ‘Bengali’ to denote their origin from the Bengal district.
So sensitive is the disputed nomenclature that Myanmar initially refused to attend the crisis meeting should the term ‘Rohingya’ be used.
Descendents of immigrant Muslims in Rakhine self-identify as ‘Rohingya’ in the same way that born again Christian descendents of immigrant Chinese self-identify as ‘Anak Bangsa Malaysia’.
Myanmar, however, rejects ‘Rohingya’ as an ethnic categorization.
Colour blind and thoroughly confused Chinese
Meanwhile, the DAP Firsters are still badgering the Malaysian government to do away with its ‘Chinese’ and ‘Indian’ race categorization in official forms. They prefer their race to be known as “Anak Malaysia” – see above Hannah Yeoh’s petition to the prime minister as well as application in the birth certificate paperwork of her daughter.
The Myanmar government considers Muslims in Rakhine to be ‘Bengali’ because Bengal is where the Rohingya’s forefathers had originated from several generations before.
The Rohingya/Bengali look ‘South Asian’, i.e. people from the Indian sub-continent. Although there had been Indians in Burma from much earlier, the bulk of them nonetheless migrated during the British colonial era.
The forefathers of Malaysian Chinese similarly migrated to Malaya during the colonial rule of the British here. And inasmuch as Hannah Yeoh screams that she is “Beyond Race” and at the same time shrieking “Racist!” at her critics, she is nonetheless unable to deviate from the Chinese DNA – see below – of her Guangdong ancestors.
It is actually Hannah & her Firsters who are confused in this regard of identity, and not their bete noire Ridhuan Tee.
Last time fight Indians, now scared of Muslims
The latest census conducted in March-April 2014 puts the Myanmar population at 51.5 million. “Rohingya’ is not recognized.
This is not to say that Myanmar excludes all its Muslims and makes them stateless. Bamar Muslims, who belong to the majority ethnic community and distinguish themselves from the Rohingya, are Myanmar citizens.
Bamar Buddhists and other Buddhists are however wary of Islam, and Myanmar has drafted a religious conversion bill whereby those wishing to convert would need to obtain permission and register with their local authority.
There is also a movement by Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses.
Native Burmans have been hostile to the Indians ever since the latter first set foot on Burmese soil.
Anti-Indian riots in Burma some decades ago were racial, that is to say the violence was directed at ethnicity. The Indians were multi-religious, being Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim.
The Chettiars were Indian moneylenders who operated throughout the British colonies including Burma, and in the 1930s, these wealthy aliens took paddy land away from poor indigenous Burmese who failed to pay their mortgage. Before World War Two began, they were astute enough to repatriate their vast wealth back to India.
The Christians will not impose a theocracy. There is no Christian theocratic state in the world unless one counts the Vatican.
Nonetheless the Christian countries, i.e. those with a Christian tradition and belonging to what was called Christendom in the past, are today on top of the world in quality of life, democracy, technological advancement and other global indexes whereas the Muslim countries are languishing at the bottom of the international tables and dominate the ‘Failed State’ basket.
Adding religion to the explosive cocktail
In recent years, the hostilities in Myanmar have taken on a religious dimension.
The June 2012 riots in Rakhine killed 77 people, injured 109 and affected 30,740 Rohingya Muslims as well as 14,328 Arakan Buddhists. A total of 17 mosques and 15 monasteries were burnt down. (Source: Irrawaddy)
The August 2014 riots took place in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city. The hostilities between Buddhist and Muslim groups lasted four days.
It may not appear to be wholly rational but the Buddhists are afraid that the Muslims will marry and convert their women to Islam, take four wives, have lots of children, overrun the country, impose Syariah and one day turn Myanmar into an Islamic state.
Different culture, different nature
Rohingya man (above) and woman (below) interviewed by Al Jazeera.
“We live apart from each other”.
“We don’t eat their food and they don’t eat ours.”
Indeed both the Rohingya and Rakhine lead separate, parallel lives.
Last time fight Chinese, now scared of Christians
There’s a predictable pattern to politics. The push by similar forces will yield a set of similar outcomes.
In Malaysia, we already have Syariah and we might possibly get hudud. Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin is now reportedly mulling over whether to allow the motion for the private member’s hudud bill. PAS is hoping it will be debated in the next Parliament session.
While Myanmar is becoming strongly Buddhist nationalist, Malaysia is becoming strongly Muslim nationalist.
Expect ulama to sweep the board
Very soon PAS will hold its annual muktamar incorporating a triennial party election.
I forecast that Hadi Awang will retain his presidency of the Islamist party.
Tuan Ibrahim will win the PAS deputy presidency hands down. Ustaz Mohd Amar, Ustaz Idris Ahmad and Ustaz Iskandar Samad look set to coast to the three vice presidencies.
Nik Abduh will be victorious in the PAS Youth chief race by a mile. This charismatic son who has inherited his father Nik Aziz’s spiritual mantle is convinced that his party is being bullied by its coalition bedfellows – see Sinar Harian front page above.
The DAP evangelical politicians deserve a bouquet and Thank You note for helping the ulama regain their influence.
BELOW: Hannah the DAP Super CyberBully claims that “Utusan Malaysia remains free to poison minds”. Earlier she had wanted a JAIS officer to be suspended
Course is set, no turnaround option anymore
It doesn’t matter whether Najib or Tun prevails in the Umno power struggle. Either or, their Malay party is still heading down the path of Islamic orthodoxy – this is the logic of the developing situation.
Both Najib’s and Tun’s camp want ‘Malay unity’ in order to save Putrajaya from falling to Pakatan. Umno needs PAS whereas PAS does not really need Umno. Hence it is Umno which will have to bow to the terms set by PAS.
Malays believe closing ranks is most necessary to prevent the DAP from grabbing control of the country come the next election. This fear is far more grounded compared to the fear that the Buddhists in Myanmar harbour.
Surah Al-Baqarah reminds us of the dissemblers
Malays fear Christianization, especially when so many of the DAP legislators in Parliament and the state assemblies are Christian.
The number of opposition YBs who are Christian is much greater than you suspect because they are Christians who do not use Christian names, e.g. Ong Kian Ming, Yeo Bee Yin, Lim Lip Eng, Teo Nie Ching and Rajiv Rishyakaran or they hide their Christian names, e.g. Ngeh Koo Ham (James) and Nga Kor Ming (David).
Or they belong to communities that are not traditionally Christian, such as Mary Josephine Prittam Singh who is the DAP Adun for Rahang in Negeri Sembilan.
The Malays who protested the church cross in Taman Medan are only the tip of the iceberg.