theonlinecitizen

a community of singaporeans

Malays in 2007: Renewed confidence amidst turbulence?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on December 29, 2007

By Kamal Mamat

Amidst the gloom of inflation and concerns over spiky social issues, one can sense that generally, 2007 has been a positive year for the Malay community. Of course, the rising costs of goods and services dent this sentiment.

But, lest we forget, the five years preceding 2007 were pockmarked by the scars of 9/11 and the subsequent economic recession, which impacted the already economically-disadvantaged community most.

Considering the stigma of having to deal with the extremist elements within, worsened by the economic downturn of those years, the Malays have reasons to cheer, no matter how muted, to what 2007 has brought upon.

A recap of the year 2007 necessitates a detailing of both highs and lows within and surrounding the community.

An optimistic outlook

In an October speech, Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim painted an optimistic outlook, highlighting the community’s progress in education, employment and quality of life, as well as the good economic growth.

The community beamed with pride in November when Natasha Nabila of St Hilda’s Primary School was named the top PSLE student for 2007 with an impressive 294 aggregate score, shattering a 1993 record.

Likewise, writer-architect Isa Kamari’s Cultural Medallion is a source of excitement in an otherwise quiet Malay literary scene.

Throughout the year, many other Malays’ successes were featured in the media, vindicating Dr Yaacob’s assertion.

While many see these as inspiring role models needed to stimulate the community forward, there are an equal number of cynics who view the successes as tokens rather than norms, noting that the community is still lagging behind in both economic and educational terms.

Another important milestone is the introduction of the Joint Madrasah System, essentially a restructuring of the present Islamic schools’ system in response to the Compulsory Education Act of 2003. Under this new initiative, Madrasah Al-Irsyad will focus on primary education and the other two, Madrasah Aljunied and Madrasah Al-Arabiah, will re-channel their resources to secondary education. Many herald the timely changes.

Nevertheless, the exclusion of three other madrasahs (Al-Maarif, Wak Tanjong and Alsagoff) causes concern amongst the community, witnessing a fairly heated debate in Berita Harian over their ability to meet the stipulations of the Act. (Read the Straits Time’s report here.)

Integration

The issue of Malay-Muslims’ integration within the wider community is amply addressed this year. Different socio-religious organisations conducted outreach activities to promote greater understanding of the community, including inviting non-Muslims to events in mosques and initiating inter-faith dialogues.

The opening of the Harmony Centre at An-Nahdhah Mosque is a strong indicator of the community’s desire to place Islam as a progressive and tolerant religion, very much aligned to the needs of a plural society.

Similarly, 2007 sees an increased number of Malays’ involvement in CC-organised activities, from 232,000 in 2003 to 525,000 this year (as reported in Berita Harian, 3/12/2007). What is more encouraging is that there is an increased number of Malay participants in what is traditionally seen as Chinese –dominated activities, such as qiqong and tae-kwon-do.

Problems

It is easy to overlook these facts and figures when the current inflation problem is taken into account. Arguably, the Malays are most affected today, judging by a 2005 statistics that the median monthly household income for Malay families is the lowest at $3,050, compared to $4,570 for Chinese and $4,120 for Indian homes.

Moreover, there are pertinent issues which remain to be tackled. Central CDC Mayor Mr Zainuddin Nordin succinctly highlights these problems in a recent article in the Straits Times. Chief amongst these include problems of dysfunctional families, which is associated with doubling in divorce rates and high teen pregnancies.

The emergence of Subutex as an addictive substance and the high number of Malay abusers poses another challenge to the community.

These issues, among others, should never be under-emphasised.

Notwithstanding the difficulties, a comparative analysis points to an overall positive year, fueled by sparks of optimism. The achievements I have stated earlier reflect the renewed confidence of the community, more so its desire to break out of its contentious communal shell.

At the same time, it can be seen as a response to our government’s erstwhile call for integration. Therefore, in what I have discussed at length in an earlier article (“Beyond Tokenism – Malays, integration and the SAF“), it is hoped that the government will reciprocate this desire by opening more avenues for integration, units within the SAF and the elite Administrative Service as two key examples.

Visit Kamal’s personal blogsite for more of his writings.

——————————

Advertisements

41 Responses to “Malays in 2007: Renewed confidence amidst turbulence?”

  1. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Kamal Mamat

    In my opinion – you have missed the most important point altogether. I do NOT support Dr Yaacob Ibrahim’s vision of a community of excellence (masyarakat cemerlang). I want a balanced community (masyarakat seimbang). Balanced between Dunia and Akhirat. Of what use is excellence in worldly things but a complete failure in matters of Akhirat ?

    So to me – the Malay community has NOT even begun asking the right questions. Pricipally because the current discourse is centred around this nonsense concept of masyarakat cemerlang without addressing Akhirat.

  2. Robert HO said

    RH:
    1. Just briefly, your sentence “At the same time, it can be seen as a response to our government’s erstwhile call for integration” caught my eye. ‘Integration’??? Why should the minorities like the Malays and Indians — and the rapidly-increasing hordes of Vietnamese, Burmese, Indonesians, Filipinos, Thais, Indians, Chinese, as well as Caucasians, etc, — be ‘integrated’ at all??? Is it even possible??? Especially now in the 21st Century of rapid movements and footloose migrations that are stirring the migrant ‘melting’ pot with incessant stirring???

    2. Why can’t the Malays have their own Malay [modern] Kampung? The Indians their own Little India? So that little Malay and Indian children can grow up, make friends and play with their own kind instead of trying to fit into an alien ‘qiqong’ that even I, a Chinese, feel is slightly ‘alien’? So that elderly Malay and Indian women can exchange their native recipes and gossip of events from home in Singapore as well as their historical ‘home’ in India and Malaysia or Indonesia. So that the Malay and Indian communities, living together in close proximity, can build their own communities, and self-help and good neighbourliness come naturally? Right now, the Malays and Indians are atomised and deliberately isolated from each other for, of course, POLITICAL reasons, like everything and every policy in Singapore is done for largely political reasons. I have written previously about how this deliberate and political atomisation of the Malays and Indians have hampered their lives, from food to all the goods from market food to clothing and special needs, etc, thus reducing the quality of their lives.

    3. Some may argue that this isolation of the Malays and Indians is to ‘integrate’ them, to make them loyal ‘Singaporeans’ instead of being Malays and Indians, that is, to totally change their historical natures and even character and personality. So that the Indian woman will no longer wear a sari but a dress. Likewise the Malay lass a baseball cap instead of a tudung. Would that be a successful ‘integration’?

    4. Loyalty [and ‘integration’] is just another self-serving value foisted upon victims by powerful rulers at the top to reinforce and perpetuate their power. Take the parallel policies and efforts of employers to similarly foist ‘loyalty’ [to the company] upon their employees. Who does this ‘loyalty’ to the company serve? The boss of course. If employees are ‘loyal’ to the company, like we are supposed to be loyal to Singapore, meaning loyal to the LIEgime, then we will willing give our best and even our lives [in the case of the LIEgime] without question. To accept even bad things and suffer ruinous policies without question. To accept meekly their continued rule even when they rape the state treasuries for their own “weight” and clout, for their own personal and selfish grandiosities. Thus, like the philosophers, we must question and dissect the value of ‘loyalty’ to see it for what it truly is. And the rulers cynical use and abuse of this concept to bind us victims tighter and tighter into their own self-serving, selfish, system, ultimately false to us and destructive of our potentials and abilities because victims who see their lot too clearly can sometimes evade their fate as continuing sheepish, willing and obedient tools for the power plays and pleasures of the rulers.

    5. To end, do not be too enamoured of the LKY LHL PAP LIEgime tokenism [a word you have yourself used] of using some token Malay successes to opiate the rest of the Malay community into a drugged stupor and thus unable to see their fates as tools and sheep for the manipulations of the rulers. Blue Heeler has questioned in his recent blog whether the Malay success in the PSLE is not just another manipulation to continue to subjugate the Malay community into unquestioning acceptance of whatever the rulers wants them to be, which is korban sheep. It is something we victims must always keep in mind. Keep alive your Cynicism. It is key to opening your eyes to many things in Singapore.

  3. aniza said

    i have visited and contribute comments on Malaysian blogs and everybody knows that in M’sia,malays are considered the special elite or the bumiputeras the name that was being called in m’sia…i a singaporean malay had the priviliged of working in KL for quite a number of years and now iam back…
    M’sian Malays look highly in S’pore Malays due to several factors
    1.S’pore Malays able to stand on own feet without the crutch…eventhough by statistic we may be behind but that have been achieved with own effort…
    2.I have personally work with M.sia malay and i find them low in confidence and not too sure of things they wanted to achieve and that.s a stark contrast of the s.pore malays..
    3.I have mingled with m.sia chinese…most of them just wish to have us compare to their own m.sia malays as their counterpart/citizens…cos we are more open-minded…accept criticism and try to improve ourselves and learn from mistakes…
    and lots of other differences…i do not wish to insult my own race,malay but of our neighbouring country…sometimes am ashamed cos there’s too much of effort being questioned as..’do they get the job just because they are bumiputera or by MERIT’…that’s serious…m’sia malays has the mentality of denial syndrome where they fear meritocracy,so called their malay land lost…and do not wish to treat own citizens equally and mind u after 50 years of priviliged they are still way behind in all sectors..some says still living in the jungle…
    I do not want to make any so called comparison between m’sia malays and s’pore malays…but for myself as a person and was born and bred in singapore do not wish to end up like them-m’sia malays…
    Statistic and who come first or last in the ranking does not matter as long as u achieve that by own merit…you can always hold your head up and ppl will respect u as what you are..
    As social problems facing S’pore Malays…treat that as a challenge,solve them together cos in this world every race has it’s own problem…strength and weakness..

  4. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza,

    Yes its true that Singapore Malays fare better than the Malaysian Malays under Meritocracy since they have succeeded without the NEP crutch. BUT – what about the issue of Akhirat ? Is Dunia all there is to it ?

    I have no doubts whatsoever that the current Malay Muslim PAP leaders do NOT place much emphasis on the Islamic issue. To them – material success is all there is to it.

    For me – I want a BALANCED community. Balanced between Dunia and Akhirat. So far – all we have seen is excellence in Dunia. Where is the Akhirat component ?

  5. aygee said

    To Dr Syed Alwi,

    We shouldnt keep turning to the Govt to lead us in everything. We should show we can also help ourselves.

    I applaud whatever the Govt does to help Malays “integrate” in the secular environment.

    On the afterlife and Akhirat, it should be a personal, family endeavour. I think this is up to parents in imbue in their children, religious teachers to teach the community…not the Govt.

    On a separate point, though i applaud Kamal’s post, whatever we achieve as a race, what i read from this year’s National Day rally i.e. the PM’s speech, seems to be the same – we are still a problem in today’s society.

    Single motherhood, high divorce rates is NOT a malay issue – its a Poverty cycle issue, its a Low Education issue. If the govt wants to help, then we solve it as a nation.

  6. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aygee,

    In Islam – there is NO secularism. A Muslim leader MUST address Islamic issues. And secondly it seems that we are NOT permitted to conduct our Muslim affairs independent of the Government. Hence there is this Singapore Islamic Education System which many find to be grossly diluted. We are NOT free to conduct Islamic matters as we see fit. Instead we have to conform to Government rules. What is the fate of our madrasah education ? What about Islamic classes at mosques etc ? We all know the answer. Do you ?

    Your argument is therefore – fatally – flawed.

  7. aniza said

    have no doubts whatsoever that the current Malay Muslim PAP leaders do NOT place much emphasis on the Islamic issue. To them – material success is all there is to it.

    dr syed alwi,

    I understand that yes akhirat is important for all muslims..but do bear in mind which country we are living in..we are not in saudi arabia/turkey-muslim countries, we are in Singapore-place where there residents of multi-cultural/religious are staying together…Malay ministers not only have to attend to malay problems but also national…PAP are not UMNO…a place where we are a minority…up to individual/parents to emphasise on the issue of akhirat…and at the same time educate their children that both dunia/akhirat is important… we are in a country where results are important to earn a moderate living… as an able bodied adult simply we just cannot stay home,pray 5 times from subuh to isyak that a piece of rice will fall from the sky…it’s not realistic…humans are made by god to work for a living not just laze around at home do nothing..for myself it’s better to have a balanced of achieving both dunia/akhirat…
    Aygee,
    On a separate point, though i applaud Kamal’s post, whatever we achieve as a race, what i read from this year’s National Day rally i.e. the PM’s speech, seems to be the same – we are still a problem in today’s society.

    my answer-I as an individual do not think that ‘we are still a problem’ to the govt.Govt are merely concerned due to high statistic among Malays in Teenage birth that lead to generations of dyfunctional families..Govt wanted our community as a whole to reduce the high numbers but in today’s modern world it’s impossible to wipe out the said problem not only here but in the world…the govt understand that some not all feel NOT COMFORTABLE if maybe some christian or maybe some indian organisation helped in to tackle the issue as that might be some kinda clash of culture…
    aygee you wrote
    -ts a Poverty cycle issue, its a Low Education issue.
    my answer-I do not agree with your comments on low education issue..does not directly by majority contribute to the poverty cycle…it’s more of family upbringing..for example both parents had only primary school education but son/daughter maybe a graduate…this is possible…my opinion is that to have a strong-bonding family not by measure of wealth/education leads to a succesfful children

  8. aniza said

    Dr syed alwi you wrote

    -In Islam – there is NO secularism. A Muslim leader MUST address Islamic issues. And secondly it seems that we are NOT permitted to conduct our Muslim affairs independent of the Government. Hence there is this Singapore Islamic Education System which many find to be grossly diluted. We are NOT free to conduct Islamic matters as we see fit. Instead we have to conform to Government rules. What is the fate of our madrasah education ? What about Islamic classes at mosques etc ? We all know the answer. Do you ?

    my answer
    -Status of Malays in Singapore

    Although many Malays in Singapore are generally of mixed descent, they are still recognised as indigenous people of Singapore by the Singapore Constitution, Part XIII, General Provisions, Minorities and special position of Malays, section 152:

    The Government shall exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language.

    Thoroughly just read in detailed what the stated above means that i get under the online encyclopedia…fate of madrasah education that i can see lies in only our hands the Singapore Malay community…the govt as stated on the above had to promote our religious need and that’s in the contrast of your “We are NOT free to conduct Islamic matters as we see fit”
    ” Instead we have to conform to Government rules”the govt is actually promoting and providing space…under the constituition we have the special position but bear in mind if we have so called the special space how bout the other religions in Singapore…hindus/taoist/buddhist and etc…govt gotta to have the special balance not only proving special space for us…we do not want to have something like the Hindraff rally recently in m’sia where as u shld know UNMO is seen as one sided to the Malays/muslim…and you gotta have sensitivities for other religions…as i stated Singapore is a multi religious contry where special caution need to balance all religions and the same time as what stated as the above…
    All muslims salary was deduct every month under the MBMF fund as u should know…we gotta be responsible for the well-being of our muslim children who attend islamic classes..and pls compare ourselves to other muslim minorities in asia…do they have so called big,elegant mosque and high technology computers that we have here??How bout the majority muslims say in M’sia??All i can say from what i know is that their mosque solely was bulid on the govt fund…some in the capital,KL is well striking look at masjid negara….it’s just a national landmark but not an aducational instuition compare to us…we have achieved things that muslim minorities/majorities not yet achieved on their own…even Indonesia maids learn computer skills in the mosque but how about their own Indonesian mosque…do they even have computers in them…??
    What you are trying to promote is a MUST education for all children to study islam and at the same time in standard academics…but the majority of us must have a say on this….u cannot enforced on things that now what i can see it’s the parents role to educate their children…in teaching of islam…bear in mind pls not let Islam seen as a burden or some special religion to be on the national agenda…it’s up to specific muslim individual to determine/instill islam as our way of life…

  9. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza,

    I am sorry that you think that way because there is NO SECULARISM within Islam. If we were to follow your line of thinking – then why remain Muslims at all ? After all you live in a Non-Muslim country and so it is more profitable to follow the Non-Muslims ! NAUZUBILLAH !

    Your arguments holds no water in Islam. I strongly suggest that you study Islam in greater depth first because obviously you place less importance on the Akhirat aspect. Maybe Islam is not important to you – but for the rest of us – Islam is of great importance. Don’t generalise your views to include the many other good Muslims in Singapore.

    Maybe you do not mind what the future will be for your children. But I care a lot about mine. I want them to be good Muslims. And so I will insist that our Muslim leaders MUST also address Islamic issues. Failing which – well – we just have to support other political parties more willing to address the Islamic issue.

  10. Gary Teoh said

    when we talk about dunia and akhirat, PAP is only interested in dunia,whereby every time they talk about economic growth,first world, everything they want number one, but they left out akhirat,So therefore Malay PAP PMs have to follow their tow keh.It all leave it to mufti and other muslim bodies to spread the word of Allah,whether a person goes to shurga or neraka

  11. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza,

    Astaghfirullah ! You think its all about nice mosques and computers ? My God – Islam is NOT materialistic. Of what use are those computers and nice mosques if Allah rejects them ?

    Obviously you are very materialistic. How much Fiqh is gonna be taught to our children ? Will they learn to perform Solat etc ? Will they learn how to conduct the Tahlil ? Or is it all about nice pictures of them playing with computers ?

    I tell you what – you carry on that way. For me and for many others – we will stand up for Islam because we want the blessings of Allah for us and for our children. Islam is NOT about materialism.

  12. aniza said

    Dr syed alwi,
    You are a doctor and it seems that u have misinterpret my stated comments…i find that u have thoroughly failed to fully understand my comments which i find quite baffling for a somebody of your status..
    initially you wrote
    :What is the fate of our madrasah education ? What about Islamic classes at mosques etc ?
    I am merely stating that we have the best madrasah in the region/our mosque acted in such a way of an educational instituition that i find other countries do not have…so am i wrong to state that??and computers for learning and u stated that iam materialistic??so you are saying no computers in the mosque for learning while other countries in the region..i remember some kelantan delegates telling that they find that Singapore has the best advanced mosque for children to have more understanding in Islam and use computers as a learning tool…which sadly kelantan mosque do not have…so where u stand in this issue??to be progressive or to be…???
    you wrote::
    Of what use are those computers and nice mosques if Allah rejects them ?
    so u are telling that our MUIS have to seek for Allah approval for computers to learn in mosque???and might as well have just a surau in singapore…since u are saying bigger well equipped mosque does not provide good islamic education for our children..

    you wrote:Obviously you are very materialistic. How much Fiqh is gonna be taught to our children ? Will they learn to perform Solat etc ? Will they learn how to conduct the Tahlil ? Or is it all about nice pictures of them playing with computers ?
    please have a wider perspective in the issue…so u are saying that for the past years our mosque failed to provide the best teaching of fiqh/solat/tahlil that is BEING taught by a well qualified ustaz/ustazah that derived from our very own madrasah…and some i know have the qualification studying in the al-azhar university that is the highest Islam educational instituition in the Islamic world…??so u are telling me that you are questioning our very own mufti capability to lead Singapore muslims…
    you wrote:
    our arguments holds no water in Islam. I strongly suggest that you study Islam in greater depth first because obviously you place less importance on the Akhirat aspect. Maybe Islam is not important to you – but for the rest of us – Islam is of great importance. Don’t generalise your views to include the many other good Muslims in Singapore.
    How can u tell that i have place less importance of islam??pls do not assume as i clearly stated i want a BALANCE of both and obviously you have misinterpret the whole concept of my comments…
    you wrote:
    And so I will insist that our Muslim leaders MUST also address Islamic issues. Failing which – well – we just have to support other political parties more willing to address the Islamic issue.
    so u are telling me that Malay Ministers just solely concentrate on the Malays and Islam and not for national issue??so it seems u feel mufti not doing enough to address our islamic issues as bear in mind we had our very own syariah court for muslims whereas how bout the other religions…??so u are telling me that it’s better to have a kinda like umno/pas…and also i do not think they will be an Islamic party in Singapore in the future…that you dream off bear in mind what happen to kelantan/trengganu under PAS??Do you want Singapore to be like them…??and also this is my personal comments and am not pulling other muslims to agree with me…and how long have u been staying here in Singapore as muslims…obviously u have failed to understand our needs….Islam is a religion that teaches us to have knowledge of other general academics…to pursue it and to be of well qualified..and what materialism when am talking about balance…
    pls don’t question…my integrity as muslim…cos i find your arguments does not talk sense of questioning me as a muslim…i think that for the past years since independance it seems u suggest that Singapore is not a place to practice Islam that you insist to have your way…i just wanna question u …so where is other ideal places in the whole of asia that you deem fit suit you??I have travelled extensively due to my work and find that Singapore is a place where not only Islam can be freely practice but other religions too..so please be a progressive muslim…and if u think that Singapore as in the whole failed to provide u good Islamic education…and you feel that we gotta hide here and there to travel to mosque pls deem fit look for a better country…that you think suit you…

  13. aygee said

    Dr Alwi, you wrote:

    “Maybe you do not mind what the future will be for your children. But I care a lot about mine. I want them to be good Muslims. And so I will insist that our Muslim leaders MUST also address Islamic issues. Failing which – well – we just have to support other political parties more willing to address the Islamic issue.”

    “I tell you what – you carry on that way. For me and for many others – we will stand up for Islam because we want the blessings of Allah for us and for our children. Islam is NOT about materialism.”

    I’m curious..are you a newcomer to Singapore?

    i’m trying to understand your logic:

    – you want your children to be good Muslims and you look to your Muslim leader for this? If the Singapore govt fails in giving you this, WHY cant YOU give them good Islamic upbringing? Why cant you find a good religious teacher or school for your children who would give your children that balance you’re looking for?

    The Singapore govt focuses on economic improvement of its people and the agenda of the Muslim leader is to get the Malay/Muslims aligned with the national agenda. Religious agenda would seem more of a personal agenda to me.

    If you feel that you, your family and your children need a fair balance of dunia and akhirat, and you expect the GOVT to provide that (rather than placing that responsibility on yourself as a parent), then i think you may be living in the wrong country.

    We live in a plural, secular society. Yes, there is no secularism in Islam, but there is no religious leaning in the Singapore govt either.

    and i dont think you’re in a position to speak for others when you say “I and many others”.

    Anyways, this discussion is going into a holier-than-thou tone, which is tangent to the original post and i shall stop commenting.

  14. mr.udders said

    Alright everybody, JIHAD! Yeah! Woohoo~

  15. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza

    Tell me – what will be the future of our madrasahs under the new system ? And tell me – what will the future of Islamic education be under the new system ? Will we still produce good asatizahs and ulamas ? Or will that come to an end ? You are talking about the PAST and not the future. Please address the current situation and the proposed changes to Islamic education and what it will entail.

    As for our Malay Muslim MP’s – no one is asking them to devote 100% of their time to Islamic issues. But obviously they are currently devoting ZERO to Islam. And thats NOT acceptable.

    I am NOT a progressive Muslim. I am simply a Muslim who tries hard to follow the dictates of Islam. I too travel the region and I find that Islam in Singapore “hanya sekadar bermegah megah tanpa keikhlasan” !

    I am NOT impressed by pretty mosques and nice computers. I am more impressed by the spirituality of the Indonesian pesantren. I am more impressed by the urgency of Malaysian Islam. Here in Singapore – Islam has become lip-service and thoroughly plastic. And mind you – I too travel the region.

  16. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Gary Teoh,

    Yes I agree with you. In Singapore everything has a materialistic bent to it. Including Islam. What bothers many Muslims here is the new Islamic education system which we find to be thoroughly diluted. Hence arguments like Islamic education is best left to parents – holds no water because the Government steps in and dilutes Islamic education !

    It seems to me that our Singaporean society has become thoroughly materialistic. Its all about dollars and cents.

  17. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aygee,

    Yes parents are responsible for teaching Islam to their children. But that is why the Government should NOT step in to dilute Islamic education. Leave it to the community and stop trying to dilute Islamic education.

  18. aygee said

    Dr Alwi also wrote:

    “A Muslim leader MUST address Islamic issues.”

    Dr Yaakub is part of the PAP/Singapore govt, and Minister in charge of Malay/Muslim affairs. He is, unfortunately, not, a Muslim leader.

    “And secondly it seems that we are NOT permitted to conduct our Muslim affairs independent of the Government. Hence there is this Singapore Islamic Education System which many find to be grossly diluted. We are NOT free to conduct Islamic matters as we see fit. Instead we have to conform to Government rules.”

    “Many” – who’s the “many” in your statement? We are not free to practice Islam as we see fit? Those are very dismissive statements, sir.

    Singapore is unlike Malaysia and Indonesia – where religion is within their constitution. we are a secular country that allows religious freedom.

    Traditional Islamic education focuses on fiqh, tasawuf, tauhid, arabic, islamic history, amongst others.

    But there needs to be some secular elements such as computers, Internet, collaboration, Science, English, maybe even Mandarin (as China becomes a superpower). i.e. preparing the child for the future.

    What is wrong with that? and i think its a still a work-in-progress, this Islamic Education system, as there is no successful working model out there for us to copy. There’s a lot of sensitivities and difference of opinion to be taken into account.

    And i still dont get your argument about the role of parents in giving a balanced upbringing, and blaming the govt for diluting Islamic education.

    You still have a choice as a parent:

    1. send your children to a secular education system, while providing for the Akhirat part separately. Mosques provide these religious classes. As a parent, you can imbue good Islamic practices in your household that your children will follow.

    2. Or you could send your kids to a madrasah system, where the govt is trying very hard to provide a more balanced system where the child is also prepared to face the Information Age, while gaining an Islamic education.

    from the looks of it, i think it is still YOUR CHOICE as a parent, what sort of upbringing you want for your children. why does this argument NOT hold water?

    Look at the way Christian/Catholic mission schools, Buddhist schools have worked out for our country. Did they compromise anything in their religion to provide a “balanced” life for their students? Why should we Muslims be special and different?

    As long as we have this mentality of a people who needs to be treated differently and special, we’ll always remain in the periphery…

    anyway, back again to the posting by Kamal. Its about Malays and whether we’re on our way to move into the mainstream of Singapore society.

  19. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aygee,

    Firstly, the Islamic education provided at the mosques will now have to follow a new curriculum which many parents find to be too diluted Islamically.

    Secondly the madrasah system has been put under much uncertainty and I stand with PERGAS in their recent statement concerning madrasah education. Yes – one needs secular subjects too. BUT NOT at the price of the usual Islamic subjects. In future we still need ulamas who are graduates from al-Azhar etc. With the new madrasah system, will we be able to produce ulamas who are al-Azhar qualified ?

    Thirdly – Islam is unlike Buddhism or Christianity. Islam has Syariah Laws. Why do you think we have a Muslim registry for marriages that is different from the civil law one ? Why do you think that we have MUIS ? Or for that matter a Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs ? Precisely because Islam does NOT recognise secularism. A Muslim leader MUST be concerned about Islamic issues. He does NOT have to spend 100% of his time on Islamic issues BUT he cannot simply ignore it.

    Finally – there can never be 100% equality between Muslim Singaporeans and Non-Muslim ones. As a Muslim – are you prepared to uphold the political interests of the Non-Muslim majority – even though it may be at the expense of Muslims elsewhere ?

  20. aygee said

    Sorry but i feel i need to add this further.

    Let’s look at the Madrasah system over the years.

    30-40 years ago, the Madrasahs were left on their own. What kind of students did they get? Either muslim families who want their children to become religious teachers, or students who couldnt cope with the secular system, fell out and joined a madrasah.

    the govt intervened, and brought PSLE and O-level systems into the madrasahs. it was a step forward, turning Aljunied, AlMaarif, Alsagoff into more recognised Islamic schools.

    So this new devt with the madrasahs…I see this as the next step forward – to make madrasahs into even better education institutions.

    I believe that if the govt doesnt step in and help, and left to our own devices, i would think madrasahs will remain the same as it was 30-40 years ago. Why? because madrasah teachers are Islamic teachers, they are not EDUCATORS. there is a difference.

    Look at the Malay schools from the British era and after we gained independence. We were malnourished, without anyone reviewing and updating textbooks, and “educating” students who are NOT prepared to compete in a growing Singapore economy.

    What did the govt had to do? shut down the Malay schools system and bring Malays into the mainstream education system. Did it do well for us Malays? think about it.

  21. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Another question Aygee,

    Are you familiar with what is being taught at the mosques and madrasahs ? Are you familiar with the methodology and subjects involved in Islamic education ? If you are – then you will understand why many parents feel that the Government is trying to dilute Islamic education.

  22. aygee said

    and one more, i promise this is the last comment.

    Dr Alwi also wrote:

    “Tell me – what will be the future of our madrasahs under the new system ? And tell me – what will the future of Islamic education be under the new system ? Will we still produce good asatizahs and ulamas ? Or will that come to an end ? You are talking about the PAST and not the future. Please address the current situation and the proposed changes to Islamic education and what it will entail.”

    I think it is you, Dr Alwi, who is talking about the past.

    What will the future of madrasahs and Islamic teaching will be in the future? Who knows – its a work-in-progress. But we shouldn’t stop trying to improve things. we have to try and see if it make things better.

    As far as i know, bringing O and A level systems led more of our students being better able to gain entry into prestigious Islamic universities such as Al Azhar, and those in Malaysia. I believe the younger imams and ustazahs in the mosques today are the result of this change.

    I would also believe that this new system will create asatizahs and ulamas who are better at commenting on both syariah AND civic laws, better at advising on Islamic finance, banking and insurance, better at educating cross-cultural and cross-religious issues faced in Singapore.

    Dr Zakir Naik – one of my favourite Islamic speakers – was from a medical profession before he turned to dakwah and teaching Islam. I wonder what kind of educational background he grew up in. His bio is on wikipedia – have a look.

    As it this, i grew up with the madrasahs in the mosques. My ustazahs and ustazs were, ironically, trained in the Indonesian and Malaysian religious schools anyway.

    so i suggest we be more open-minded, and let things develop first before jumping to conclusions.

  23. aniza said

    dr syed alwai,
    it seems that you have been twisting and turning your comments…mind you i read one of your comments bout the Lina Joy case in M’sia…that i can still remember u are stating bout the part u said that we cannot live by religion…and your comments was copy and paste under the M’sia DAP by them and it was debated heatedly…among m’sia bloggers…arguing bout a M’sia Malay…comments that UMNO failed to help the Singapore Malays…and now i find your comments to be of contrast said…

    Tell me – what will be the future of our madrasahs under the new system ? And tell me – what will the future of Islamic education be under the new system ? Will we still produce good asatizahs and ulamas ? Or will that come to an end ? You are talking about the PAST and not the future. Please address the current situation and the proposed changes to Islamic education and what it will entail.

    I read thoroughly bout the new system JMS…it actually provide balance of both Islamic education…and academic and at the same time will still continue to produce ulamas and asatizah…so what is so wrong bout that and why are u so against it…..it’s not the end of islamic education…in Singapore in fact it provide well balanced/maintained student that will contribute to the muslims in Singapore…and i guess if you think that it’s not right…it’s totally out of the Islamic context…then i suggest you wrote to MUIS and held a debate with them…we’ll see then between a doctor and a well qualified Islamic scholar that is our mufti…who will be more…outstanding in the debate..

    As for our Malay Muslim MP’s – no one
    is asking them to devote 100% of their time to Islamic issues. But obviously they are currently devoting ZERO to Islam. And thats NOT acceptable.

    Pls make a thorough reserach about the role of Malay MP’s duties…in the context of PAP…not UMNO/PAS in M’sia…mufti has the responsibility in delivering Islamic issue to muslims and it seems you are saying that our mufti is not doing a good job…in educating our muslims where his qualifications is of the highest in the Islamic world..

    am NOT a progressive Muslim. I am simply a Muslim who tries hard to follow the dictates of Islam. I too travel the region and I find that Islam in Singapore “hanya sekadar bermegah megah tanpa keikhlasan” !

    I suggest you don’t try hard…i find that you have gone overboard…way over…from your writing and comments posted it seems you are a frog under a skull…what more of sincerity you are asking??it seems u are saying efforts make by us all these years and also MUIS has considerably fail you…as a Singapore muslim…how long have u been staying here??

    I am NOT impressed by pretty mosques and nice computers. I am more impressed by the spirituality of the Indonesian pesantren. I am more impressed by the urgency of Malaysian Islam. Here in Singapore – Islam has become lip-service and thoroughly plastic. And mind you – I too travel the region.

    If you admired the Indonesia pasentren…then pls go ahead stay in Indonesia…they will definitely welcome u down there… for your info Indonesia govt do not mix religion and politics…and by the way pls donate to their mosque fund…i find that their mosque is in tatters of which i must say u would like it that way in tatters but of high spiritually and Malaysia islam…muslim in M’sia has in fact mix between race and religion…in one of the m’sia blogs i read your comments u are so against of their obsessed in religion and at the same time their mentality crutch…for myself personally i do not wish to be like them obsessed with their special priviliged until they forget where they stand in this world…so which side are u…??still defending for them their special rights..they are in fact fighting among themselves bout religion and also their special rights… i guess it’s good for you to travel there and try to solve their complex confusion…and finally if u find that we muslim here practised in a plastic mosque…and also plastic madrasah…pls compare the state/fact..between muslims in Singapore/Indonesia/Malaysia…

    But that is why the Government should NOT step in to dilute Islamic education. Leave it to the community and stop trying to dilute Islamic education.

    It’s the community who agreed to the JMS in the madrasah that was introduced by Minister yaacob by the advise of mufti…first u say govt not allowed muslims to deem fit practised our religion…then now u say govt has stepped in…so??
    your comments remind me of how defensive and critical of especially malaysia malays argue about topics ranging from economic till their bumiputera status…you sounds like them…and finally paranoid…pls be consistent in your arguement because i do not see any sense in your vague arguements…it seems you are able to argue well in malaysian blogs than here…
    I stand firmly in the comments i stated as i say it’s important for muslims to have balanced of both akhirat and dunia..and also u have in fact turn the blog topic into religion…where do u stand??

  24. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza and Aygee,

    I think that you have absolutely no clue as to what the recent changes in Islamic education will imply. The business of religious education is NOT to produce O and A level certs. Yes – we need asatizahs who can relate to society. So secular subjects are a must. But do you know what it takes to produce an al-Azhar qualified ustaz or ulama ?

    The proposed system takes too much from the religious subjects because it imposes an UNREASONABLE LOAD on the students. Do we then reduce the Islamic content ? Do we then reduce the Arabic content ? Do you even know what the entry requirements are for al-Azhar ? I do not think so. I stand by PERGAS in their last public statement on the madrasah issue. I agree with PERGAS. I hope PERGAS will keep monitoring the situation – especially the curriculum.

    Don’t compare Singapore with Malaysia because Islam is guaranteed in Malaysia. Not so in Singapore. You mean to tell me Islam is at risk in Malaysia ? No way ! Singapore is NOT Malaysia. Muslims form only 15% of Singapore’s population whereas Muslims form 60% of Malaysia’s population. Yes – I debate on Malaysian blogs and that is precisely why I can see the threat to Islam in Singapore via DILUTION. Indeed my debates on Malaysian blogs has convinced me of the dangers of dilution of Islam in Singapore. I guess if we fail to produce well qualified ulamas – then we will just have to IMPORT qualified ustaz and ulamas from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

    As for Mufti, MUIS etc – these are all quasi-Government bodies. Did the Muslim community vote in Alami Musa to head MUIS ? Do we have a say on who is to be our Mufti ? I would not vote for many of the current personalities – but they are instead appointed by the Government. The Muslim community has no choice in this matter.

    I think that you people are simply not familiar with the issues involved. You have no clue as to what the proposed system will imply – especially in view of the need to produce well qualified ulamas and asatizahs.

    As for the integration of Malays – we can never ever fully integrate into Singaporean society precisely because of Islam ! Muslims have a different world-view, value-system and even aspiration. For the majority of Muslims here – yes we want material progress BUT NOT AT THE PRICE OF LOSING ISLAM. For us Islam is a major constraint and is of paramount importance. Those who ignore this reality will not survive long politically. We cannot invent some kind of a new version of Islam.

  25. aniza said

    dr syed alwi,
    There’s a saying says…we have black hairs but of different way of thinking…still i do not agree of the said arguments you have commented which i think does not make sense at all..from the way you say things it seems u are not comfortable with the way Islam is practised here..am dissapointed to have u as my Singapore Muslim counterpart…it seems u have in fact question capability of Islamic bodies here and also our very own ministers…if u want Singapore to follow the system that is practised in M’sia i can say it’s the end of our island state…they have indeed mix politics with religion..and end up making other communities alienated with their official religion that is Islam..that is bad..and at the same time u place greater importance that is first religion then country…i read Mr Lee Kuan Yew book about a chapter of setting up SAF…there are two things that he feared feeling uncertain..to pick country or religion when face enemies of same race/religion…and as you shld know this issue has been going on for a few years…although i can see changes of attitude in deploying among SAF soldiers…now in reality i see for myself of you a Singapore muslim that fit exactly he had stated in the book…i find that you do not wish to be part of the community that wish to progress ahead as Singaporean first..all i can say u are a stranger among us..the few that insist to be different…i suggest if all fails…that i advise you just pack your beg and head for your own country of your choice…pls do not pull or enforced your rules to the rest..

  26. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza,

    No – I do not believe that we can follow the Malaysians simply because we are a small minority here – whereas Muslims are a majority in Malaysia. What I am asking for is for the Malay-Muslim MP’s to be more pro-active regarding Islam. To make sure that our madrasahs and mosques are not compromised. To make sure that Islam is not diluted.

    On the other hand – yes – I do NOT believe that our Malay-Muslims can fill in sensitive positions in Singapore. Why ? Because of a serious conflict of interest. Whose interest comes first ? Muslims in South East Asia or Singapore’s Non-Muslim majority ? It is in the interest of Singapore’s Non-Muslim majority to get access to the consumer markets and natural resources of her Muslim neighbours. But it is also in the interest of the Muslims to favour the Bumiputra and Pribumi in any business deal. Will Singapore respect such wishes ? Will you as a Muslim – favour Singapore’s majority Non-Muslims over the Muslims in neighbouring countries ? Will you shoot at an Indonesian Muslim soldier ? Are you willing to uphold the political interests of Singapore’s Non-Muslim majority – even at the expense of Muslims elsewhere ?

    I am thoroughly convinced that it is perhaps better for us Singaporean Muslims NOT to hold sensitive positions. Maybe you have your own ideas. But for the majority of Singapore’s Muslims, we want progress WITHOUT losing Islam. In other words we are NOT prepared to downplay our Muslim identity just to fit into Singaporean society. There will never be a Singaporean first and Muslim second. It will always be “I am a Singaporean Muslim.” It goes hand in hand. Today we have many private religious schools like Andalus etc. Why ? Because parents feel the dilution factor and want proper Islamic education. These private schools are in great demand because of the attempts to dilute Islamic education.

    There will never come a time when we are fully integrated. We have to accept Unity in Diversity. Binneka Ike Tunggal. We cannot be homogeneous nor can we ignore the role and importance of Islam in our lives. We want Halal food. We want Islamic burial practices etc. We want to progress BUT WITHOUT losing Islam………

  27. saintmoron said

    Allow me to use this article ‘Malay in 2007…..’ to show the differences in races, cultures, religions and social status etc and the threats they pose to a country, especially one without a nationhood due to the aforesaid ‘differences’.

    I say Singapore is in danger of disintegrations if the present intakes of foreigners are not stopped or curtailed.

    We can clearly see something similar in nature to that of the Pakistanis; people of the same race and religion(belief) disagreeing on ‘how to integrate into the society(reads country)’. How to define ‘their own identities’ in racial/religious terms, albeit this time in a non homogenous country. Although Pakistan is almost homogenous in race/religion, it is also multi faceted in different tribes and factions in Islam(sunni,shites etc). Hence, we can see the complexities and thus the delicate situation this tiny country faces.

    A dire situation has arises due to the viability, I would rather use the word survivals of the citizenry or the average local born man in the street. The Leadership seems to say that, ‘yes, we are trying to save/support you(the people) by bringing in others(foreigners) ‘to save you’. But I think they(the leaders) are messing up the whole issue for liking(even loving) the aliens more than their own compatriots.The Leaders want the woods and not the trees although the former derives from the latter. Do they(leaders) crossed the river and destroyed the bridge? Personally, I think they do and therfore believe that they are not grateful and totally lack foresight.

    With their WORLD RECORD emoluments, one aspect of their(leaders) own livelihoods is ensure; a life of luxuries/opulence ANYWHERE. But to return to the Topic, I like to reiterate that agree to disagree or disagree to agree mean only two unpleasant words: diversity means differences which are likely to lead to contradictions and conflicts. Should turmoils/calamities beset this tiny landpiece, those who can ENJOY LIVING ANYWHERE will likely abandon all the ‘problems of the country’. Don’t take my words, check if anyone in the leadership has ever ‘admitted any personal weaknesses’. I do not expects them to do so for it goes against their own tagging of been talented, if not born genius.

  28. Andrew Loh said

    Saintmoron,

    You have made a good point – which is basically the identity of being a Singaporean. The influx of such a huge number of foreigners will, without doubt, have an impact on how we see ourselves. And as the govt focuses on bringing and attracting even more foreigners, Singaporeans – esp the less abled, poorer ones – will feel a sense of alienation in their own country.

    It is rather noticeable that the govt has, of late, abandoned its earlier rhetoric of trying to institute a “Singaporean identity” – something which was part of its public statements and speeches in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Now, all we hear about are globalisation, attracting foreign talents, and so on. The “Singaporean identity” seems to have been ignored at worst, or put on temporary obscurity, at best.

    With regards to the article, I do not speak with any authority or with much personal experience in this, but I do feel that minority races in Singapore may feel the alienation even more deeply than the average majority-race Singaporean.

    It is thus important that the govt steer away from constantly trumpeting the merits of foreigners and begin to identify itself with Singaporeans born and bred here.

    The constant exhortation for us to accept foreigners is beginning to get on the nerves of a lot of Singaporeans – esp with the rising cost of living, where the benefits of having foreigners here (as trumpeted by the govt) is not experienced in our everyday life.

  29. saintmoron said

    Andrew; ‘globalization’ is indeed ongoing universally, however, I like to say that our GOVERNMENT(formed by one political party) is ‘globalizing’ our tiny country at breakneck speed.
    I suspect the ‘purpose’ of this ‘speed-up national globalization process(manoveure)’ is to blame ‘globalization’ wholesale(fully responsible for the problem) for the citizenrys’ survival problems. This will exonerate the leaders from being accountable for the woes of the people.

    Seen in the aforesaid dimension, I am inclined to feel let down by our leaders and also feel that they are irresponsible. And should they indeed settle abroad whence there are problems and or to spend their wealths accrued from holding political offices here, then I think I will never be able to find words to describe them.

    Lastly, I like to say to our Malay and other race Singaporeans that seen in this context of national(our) survival problems, everyone is equally affected, only the largest race, namely the Chinese are affected in the greatest numbers. Let us unite and try to help ourselves instead of squabbling amongst us.

  30. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Andrew Loh & Saintmoron

    I agree with your views. Certainly the current influx of foreigners into Singapore is very threatening to us Singaporeans. We are NOT importing the geniuses of China, India etc. What we get are often those who failed to migrate to the good old US of A. And given half a chance – many of these foreign talent will eventually make their way to America, Australia etc. Singapore is cheating herself if she thinks they are here on an ideological or cultural basis. Its pure economics ! And when the going gets tough – it will be economics too that will be a decisive factor for them. In Singapore – its all about money…Sadly even Islam has become commercialised in Singapore. Can’t our leaders look beyond money ? Is merit to be interpreted only along materialistic lines ?

    To me – merit must also include other dimensions of the human condition. Honesty, integrity, humility, family values, loyalty and so on – are some intangibles which must be factored into what constitutes merit. Otherwise by what yardstick do we judge merit ? Only financial success ? Only academics ?

    Indeed – today we speak of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner’s theory). We talk of EQ besides IQ. We talk of Spiritual Quotient and the Adversity Quotient. Gone are the days where we focus mainly on IQ. The Emotional Quotient (EQ) is just as important.

    We have to make a quantum leap beyond merely academic and financial success as measures of merit.

  31. aygee said

    Responding to Dr Alwi Jan 3, 9.13am:

    It seems to me that you are extremely passionate about this madrasah issue, that every other Malay/Muslim in singapore must conform to your opinion. So much so that you’re not even open to hear differing opinions on this topic (which i have to say again, is swaying way beyond the original post by Kamal).

    You even go all the way to make a judgement that we’re not informed enough and not in a position to comment.

    I think it’ll be much more helpful if you inform and share, rather than take a confrontational stance and tell us we’re not worthy to argue with you. Who knows – perhaps we might sway to your opinion.

    But, in the end, I think you should take on a better platform to take your passion to – that is to bring this to MUIS and the madrasahs who agreed to follow the program, rather than head towards an argument on a blog.

    I’m all for integration, progress and dynamism (i.e. to try something new and see if it results in something better), if it means bringing the Malays more into the mainstream.

    I trust Dr Yaakub, Alami Musa, my Mufti, to do the best that they can do for the community. They didnt say “hey, we’re different, we need to be treated differently, leave us alone.”

    At least they stood up and took on a heavy responsibility, trying to get Islam, Muslims and Malays integrated into the bigger Singaporean picture. Indeed, its a big task with many differing opinions, complexities and levels of passion.

  32. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aygee,

    This issue has been brought to the attention of MUIS, the Malay-Muslim MP’s etc etc by many people, parents, ustaz and ustazah, PERGAS etc.

  33. aniza said

    Dr syed alwi,
    I do not see the vision that you wish to implement here in s’pore will be a reality…
    although yes as what you stated above numerous organisation…and parents etc…has bring their displeasure of the new system…nothing will change the decision making…
    I suggest if you feel emotional about the current islamic education in s’pore which you described fake…then bringing about comments in BLOG will not lead you anywhere…as i said NOT EVERY singapore muslims wil agree to your vision…mayve it’s better you set up a kinda opposition party…or maybe be a member of the opposition..
    only an ISLAMIC PARTY can make possible your vision in s’pore..that will cause discomfort for the rest of s’poreans…

  34. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza,

    I don’t have visions etc. I go to mosque on Fridays and people talk about similar issues. Basically one does NOT need an Islamic party. Its just FARDHU AIN & FARDHU KIFAYAH. Easy stuff. Solat, Fiqh, Tahlil, Zakat etc etc. In any case – I am now of the opinion that perhaps PRIVATE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS like Andalus etc holds the key.

    Why set up an opposition party when all we need is a simple school teaching Fardhu Ain & Fardhu Kifayah ? Truly – the demand for Islamic education in Singapore is very high. Hence private religious schools have sprung up. In any case – we can always IMPORT ustaz & ustazah from Malaysia, Indonesia and even Brunei. When that happens – too bad for MUIS !

    Its a free world. Demand and supply. Singapore fails to deliver – we look elsewhere. MUIS fails to deliver – we set up our own private schools ! Long live capitalism. Long live the free market !

    Of course – IF an Islamic party is formed – it will NOT get Chinese votes to win. The PAP will frighten the Chinese voters away. Thats what happens in Malaysia anyway. Similarly the Chinese dominated opposition parties also cannot get Malay votes. Only a MODERATE Muslim party JOINING HANDS with the largely Chinese Opposition has a chance of winning. Thats how UMNO rules Malaysia. If you want a Muslim Opposition – then it must be moderate in its views. Not PAS.

  35. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear People,

    There is NO NEED to set up a Muslim opposition party. Such a party will be painted as being extremist and the PAP will simply frighten the Chinese voters away. Even if it is a moderate Muslim party – there is no guarantee that the PAP will not infiltrate it with extremist elements in order to portray it as radical.

    The issue before us here is simple – basic Islamic education. Farhu Ain & Fardhu Kifayah. Why the need to go so far ?

    There are many private religious schools. Demand and Supply. Free market. Here is a business opportunity. Lets set up more schools like Andalus ! And mosques can always import ulamas from neighbouring Muslim countries.

  36. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aniza and Aygee,

    Anymore comments from you people ? Those who are well connected with the Muslim grassroots can see what is happening in society today…..

  37. aygee said

    Dr Syed Alwi,

    Any more comments from “us people”, did u say? aah, i see now, there’s you and there’s us, eh?

    I’ve asked you a few things:

    – educate “us people” who dont know enough about madrasah issue. Maybe we might be swayed by better information. But rather than educate us, you already made a judgement we’re not worthy to argue with you. and you want to continue with a confrontational tone. so i give up.

    – i said all along its up to parents to give the best Islamic education for their children. You instead keep harping about govt interference in Islamic education, getting poor religious teachers in the future etc etc…

    Now you’re back to fardhu ain and kifayah – back to basic Islamic education. Which comes back to my earlier assertion – a parent can choose whats best for his children.

    – now, after all that, you say we we can import islamic teachers (i.e. FT for religious teaching), if our proposed system is not good enough. we already do import religious teachers, as i grew up with Indonesian and Malaysian trained ones, which i said earlier.

    We are just going round in circles, and you seem to be arguing for arguing’s sake.

    You’re certainly unhappy with the govt, MUIS etc – which i dont. i see them as making progessive steps. You clearly dont agree with me and you’re not open to discussion, so i shall not continue.

    – to quote you “there is no secularism in Islam”. in my opinion, thats a neo-con, right-wing view, which i dont share. If there’s no secularism in Islam, then why even bother about worldly activities? On youtube, Dr Naik discusses Islam and Secularism. quite eye-opening.

    – I also said that we’re straying away from the main blog – which is about malays in the mainstream. the blog was about integration into the bigger Singapore agenda. Yet you still want to keep on this track about madrasahs – about treating Malays/Muslims differently. You dont want to discuss this too.

    Sir, i wish you well.

  38. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aygee,

    I have explained the problem. By insisting on O and A level certs, we are subjecting our madrasah students to an unreasonable load. Are we then to dilute Islamic education ? And if so – will we produce madrasah graduates capable of entering al Azhar ?

    Secondly, the common basic Islamic education system at the mosques is now to be modified into something which MOST parents find to be thoroughly diluted. Yes – parents are responsible for teaching Fardhu Ain Kifayah. But why then dilute the basic Islamic education at mosques ?

    I am now of the view that Singapore Muslims should just go ahead and set up private Islamic schools like Andalus etc. And should MUIS fail to produce al-Azhar qualified ulamas etc – we have no choice but to import ulamas from our neighbouring Muslim countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei etc. Of course when that happens, I have no doubt that MUIS will be discredited !

    Now as far as integration is concerned – there is a limit to it. As long as we do not compromise our Islamic identity and practices – its fine. But some people believe that to be a good Singaporean – we must dilute Islam. This I reject.

    As for Zakir Naik – thats only one point of view. Read more Islam please. There is such a thing called “jumhur ulama”. There is such a thing called the ijma'(or concensus) of the ulama. One fellow disagreeing with the majority means nothing ! Check on the majority view. READ.

  39. aygee said

    there u go again, Dr.

    I disagree with your “no secularism”. but u simply brushed off my opinion and IT IS I WHO HAS TO GO AND READ MORE? why dont YOU read more on secularism in Islam?

    Your opinion is better than mine because you’re the “majority”? who is the majority?
    one fellow against the majority – according to who? by whose benchmarks? Who says the majority has to be the right opinion? again, you make dismissive and sweeping statements.

    On O and A levels in madrasahs, this is a problem in your eyes (and those others you mentioned), but not others, like me.

    “Some people believe becoming Singaporean means you dilute Islam”.

    Some people – meaning you, i guess. I dont agree with that statement. I on the other hand, feel that I can be a good Muslim, a good Singaporean, and at the same time keeping my identity as a Malay.

    As far as i’m concerned, in Singapore, I am allowed to practice my religion, at the same time, i’m urged to work/study hard and earn some financial success. I dont see how this is compromising our faith. As long as I keep my faith and keep my feet on the ground, i dont see anything wrong with me wanting to do well (as the Govt wants me to).

    as far as i know, its (O and A levels) already been around in some madrasahs. my sister went through the system in AlMaarif. correct me if i’m wrong here.

    I see this as a further refinement of the system. in my opinion, I dont think it will dilute Islamic teaching but instead produce more rounded students. From what i read, students are allowed to either focus on more Islamic topics, more standard secular topics, or a mix of both. MUIS, the headmasters of the madrasahs, and the Education Ministry are working together to make sure it all works.

    I say its a worthwhile and progressive move – at least give it a try first.

    U disagree with this and and brush me off as a minority opinion. U cant seem to accept that I disagree with you.

    but unfortunately, rather than giving a good argument to try to make me understand, or sway my opinion, you take on a confrontational position and claim “the majority is right”, “we cannot argue about Islam”, or “you dont know enough to even understand. Go read”.

    and this is why i feel its tiring discussing with you. We’re going round in circles.

    Ok – now this time, i promise…i will no longer comment on this topic. thanks.

  40. Dr Syed Alwi said

    Dear Aygee,

    Minority opinion as in Zakir Naik – not you !

  41. Faizal said

    Dear All,

    Stop all these. Let us live peacefully. And Dr Alwi, are you medical doc. or a Phd Holder..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: