Malaysian Muslim Malaise: Globalization

Facing the challenges of globalization with all the negative impacts of Americanization, secularization, materialism, neo-imperialism, debt-bondage to World Bank and IMF, unilateralism, militant liberal capitalism, global media conglomerates’ manipulation and deception, impoverishment and homogenization of culture, bullying by the powerful, imposed liberalization, dominance of the global market, international and regional competition, commodification of education, environmental degradation, moral decadence, high tech crime, violence and war - all these and more at a time when the Muslim world is divided, weak and poor - certainly requires more than a change of mindset. The Muslim community in Malaysia, in particular the Malays, has to have adequate resources (people, time, money), unity, capacity, strength, agility, structures, systems, institutions and time to avert the negative consequences of globalization but, at the same time, to seize and create the opportunities to become stronger, more resilient, more competitive, more knowledgeable and more respectable. There is no doubt that balanced, holistic and comprehensive education of the younger generation is the key factor for success, strength and dignified existence as a community and as a nation.

Since independence in 1957, Malay leaders and intellectuals have grappled with the issue of how to change the negative aspects of Malay culture, Malay psychology and Malay behaviour patterns and the Malay mindset. Dr. Mahathir’s Malay Dilemma and Revolusi Mental of Senu Abdul Rahman et. al. are among the earliest writings which addressed the issue and seek to bring about the cultural transformation of the Malays. Since then numerous conferences and congresses have been held to find solutions to the malaise of the Malays. The school of Social Development of U.U.M. came out with a multi-disciplinary study of Malay values37 while the Institute of Malay World and Civilization of U.K.M. has published a compilation of research papers on the theme of ‘Building the Malay Capability in the Tide of Globalization’. (Seminar held from July 30 - August 1, 2003). A one-man formula for the reconstruction of the Malay Islamic civilization is also available.

In my earlier writing I highlighted 15 socio-cultural hindrances of the Malays, i.e.:

  1. The liberal-secularistic mindset.
  2. Conspicuous and ostentatious life-style.
  3. ‘Money politics’ syndrome.
  4. Weak moral fibre syndrome.
  5. The slave-master and patron-client complex.
  6. The ‘Lcpak’ (loafing or loitering) syndrome.
  7. Mediocrity syndrome.
  8. Dependency syndrome.
  9. Mathematics-Science Phobia.
  10. Short-term gain prosperity.
  11. Low regard for the value of time.
  12. Excessive other-worldly orientation.
  13. Superstitious mentality.
  14. Fitnah (slander and defamation) syndrome.
  15. Deviationist cult syndrome.

Our educational system has been undergoing periodic reviews and curricular changes to produce the right kind and quality of human resource with the right mentality and attitudes. Our teachers, lecturers and professors are urged to find ways and means of achieving the goal of academic excellence and a competitive, resilient and creative attitude among our students. But the task of moulding a character of moral integrity and spiritual purity cannot be abandoned or marginalized. Nevertheless, the formal educational system alone will not be able to achieve the desired goal. The family institution, the media, the political culture, the intellectuals, the business world, the entertainment world and the political leaders have to work in concert to complement the role of the teachers and lecturers to bring about the changes.

The following educational strategics to assist the Bumiputera students arc already in operation, namely the government sponsorship of bright students to study abroad, the fully residential school system, the federal secondary religious schools, the MRSM, the science secondary school, the smart school, the vision school, the science and technology orientation in the universities and the creation of several new science and technology university colleges. But the ‘tongkat (crutches) mentality’ or the subsidy dependent mentality is still posing a serious psychological hurdle. It is not surprising that the Malay government leaders have been urging the Malays to abandon the ‘reliance on government crutches’ attitude.

M. Kamal Hassan


Source: Essays on Muslims and the Challenges of Globalisation, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Republished with permission.
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