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Challenges of Globalization: Setting the Muslim Mindset in Malaysia PDF Print E-mail
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Policy Perspectives , Vlm 2, No.1

Abstract

There are three basic assumptions behind this presentation. First, the larger significance of globalization as a complex multidimensional global phenomenon cannot be grasped without analyzing it against the framework of an emerging ‘new world order’ spearheaded and dictated by the government of the USA. Recent trends in the world economy and international affairs confirm strong earlier suspicion in the South that globalization is also a camouflage and a vehicle for a new economic, cultural and political control – a neo-imperialism – of the powerful materialistic forces of the world over the weak countries, in particular the Muslim world.

Second, the Muslim community’s mindset is inadequately prepared to face the challenges of globalization or ‘the new world order.’  The Malay Muslim community will be in serious trouble if it does not change the negative mindset fast enough to cope with the new circumstances and scenarios. Various efforts have been put in place by the government to bring about the required changes but the results have not been very satisfactory. Malay scholars and intellectuals have analyzed and continue to discuss the problems of the Malay community and concluded that what is needed is a) new generation of Malays – the ‘New Malay’ – but serious hurdles are still obstructing the rise of the new breed and b) a change of the Malay people’s mindset.

Third, the above two issues have a great impact on Malaysian education, economy and politics of this country. Coming up with the right solutions or formula is crucial to the survival of the Muslim community and Malaysia in the region as well as in the world. – Author

Introduction
The phenomenon of globalization has transformed not only world trade, communications and economic relations in the latter part of the last century but is having a profound impact on education at the beginning of this third millennium. Higher education is now part of the ‘global market place.’ The advancement in IT is creating a revolution in higher education through completely new forms of learning and teaching. A market-driven higher education curriculum premised up the idea of education as a product or commodity and students as clients or customers demands new ways of delivering knowledge and skills and evaluating the quality of courses and programs in public universities. As Malaysia strives to attract foreign students to study in her institutions of higher learning, teachers and lecturers have to be prepared to face a more diverse set of students and be subjected to the evaluation by international students who want to be assured of getting the quality of education they are paying for. The commodification of higher education would no doubt affect the way teachers/instructors perceive their role. Tension or conflict is bound to arise between the humanistic goals of education and the materialistic ethos involved in the new educational enterprise.

Some Definitions of Globalization

The end of the Cold War and the emergence of a new uni-polar global system led by the United States of America saw the rise of the processes of globalization involving global economic, technological, political and cultural standardization dictated by the triumphant Western powers (M.E. Selim, 2003). The integration of information technology in trade, banking, broadcast media and the telecommunications has accelerated the process of globalization at an incredible pace and speed. Some definitions and perspectives of globalization are given below:

  1. A coalescence of various transnational processes and domestic structures, allowing the economy, politics, culture and ideology of the one country to penetrate another. The chain of causality runs from the spatial reorganization of production to international trade and to the integration of financial market. (Mittelman, 1997:3)
  2. The inexorable integration of markets, nation-states and technologies to a degree never witnessed before – in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before the spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country in the world. (T.L. Friedman, 1999:7-8).
  3. The process of globalization has produced much that is new in the world’s economy and politics, but it has not changed the basic ways in which capitalism operates. Furthermore, it has done little to aid the cause of either peace or prosperity. (Magdoff, 1992:41)
  4. Although it can be argued that [the process of globalization] is not new, as human beings have always been engaged in a process of interaction throughout history, today’s ‘globalization’ is different, primarily because of the speed with which it is taking place. It is driven by new forms of connectivity, such as the internet, and is governed by different rules, or in many cases, by no rules at all. (Mohammadi, 2002:3)
  5. As Hobsbawm (1999) suggests “globalization means wider, but not necessarily equal, access for all and will lead to an increase in disparity between ‘the haves and have-nots’”. …. “However, millions of people around the world experience globalization not as an agent of progress … but as a disruptive force, almost hurricane-like in its ability to destroy lives, jobs and traditions.” (Mohammadi, 2002:3-4)

Concerns Regarding the Negative Consequences of Globalization

The proponents of globalization highlight the following positive aspects of globalization (Muzaffar, 2002):

  1. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has helped to reduce poverty by creating jobs and improving incomes.
  2. The expansion of trade and foreign investment has accelerated social mobility and strengthened the middle class.
  3. New communications and information technology have helped disseminate knowledge in many fields of study and disciplines.
  4. Communication is cheaper and easier. Costs of telephone call as well as travel have fallen.
  5. This makes it easier to understand one another. Communities, although heterogeneous, can be more cooperative now that there are more means of understanding each other.
  6. Globalization makes it possible for humanity to have compassion for each other when calamities – natural or man-made – affect others.
  7. Issues such as human rights, public accountability and problems faced by women are brought to the fore and addressed.

The negative consequences and implications of globalization, especially for the poor and weak nations in the Third World, far outweigh the positive impact. Below are some of them (Muzaffar, 2000):

    1. Environmental degradation due to unrestrained logging activities of transnational corporations whose sole aim is to multiply profits.
    2. Although poverty has been reduced to a certain extent, new economic disparities have been created. There are stark regional disparities in poverty.
    3. Basic necessities in life are set aside in favor of profits. Many countries in the South have been occupied with facilitating foreign investment in industries that are lucrative to foreign markets and forsaking the most fundamental needs of the people.
    4. Globalization aids the removal of national controls over cross-border financial flows. Dramatic outflows of capital from one country to another have caused havoc in some currencies, particularly in Southeast Asia.
    5. Advances in technology aggravated by the outflow of capital to low cost production sites in the South has caused growing unemployment in the North, which is an affront to human dignity.
    6. Globalization has popularized the consumer culture. Consumerism has given birth to materialism where people are more interested in what they have rather than the essential aspects of humanity.
    7. Global consumerism is now forming a homogeneous global culture where indigenous cultures of the South are being replaced by Western cultures.
    8. The global entertainment industry is propagating a superficial American pop culture, which titillates the senses and deadens the spirit.
    9. Formal education systems are emphasizing technical and managerial skills responding to market demands and leaving aside traditional academic subjects. This means that education is nothing more than acquiring specific skills and techniques and less emphasis on moral education.
    10. Although the IT boom has given rise to an expanse of information, there is a lot of information that is useless and meaningless causing people to be pre-occupied with trivia.
    11. Double standards are present in the human rights aspect of the present world where they are used as part of Western governments’ foreign policy but only when it suits them.
    12. Globalization has internationalized crime of all kinds.
    13. Like crime, disease is more rampant throughout the world, making the spread difficult to control.

It is obvious that globalization is a powerful vehicle for economic expansion of the haves, but it also constitutes an assault on national sovereignty, local cultures and socio-political stability. To Ali Mohammadi and Muhammad Ahsan, both from The Nottingham Trent University, contemporary globalization is another agenda of Western recolonization and the Muslim world has to wake up to this fact (Mohammadi & Ahsan, 2002). A strong case against the ‘global economy’ which highlights the perils of corporate and capitalist globalization is represented in a single volume edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith in which Mander says:
“Economic globalization involves arguably the most fundamental redesign of the planet’s political and economic arrangements since at least the Industrial Revolution...”
“We are being asked to believe that the development processes that have further impoverished people and devastated the planet will lead to diametrically different and highly beneficial outcomes, if only they can be accelerated and applied everywhere, freely, without restriction; that is, when they are globalized.”
“That’s the bad news. The good news is that it is not too late to stop this from happening.” (Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith, 1996:4-5)

David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World (1995), explained that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which were founded by the Bretton Woods conference in 1944 have held faithful to their mandate to promote economic growth and globalization. Prior to that the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, driven by members’ unified ‘vision of a global economy dominated by U.S. corporate interests’ had called for the setting up of worldwide financial institutions for ‘constructive undertakings in backward and underdeveloped regions’   (Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith, 1996:21). Korten concluded that, ‘tragically, while these institutions have met their goals [economic growth, expansion of international trade and foreign direct investment], they have failed in their purpose.’  He said:
“The world has more poor people today than ever before. We have an accelerating gap between the rich and the poor. Widespread violence is tearing families and communities apart nearly everywhere. And the planet’s ecosystem are deteriorating at an alarming rate.” (Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith, 1996:22)

Alan Durning divided the world into three consumption classes: ‘overconsumers’, ‘sustainers’ and ‘marginals’. The 20 per cent of the world population that consume roughly 80 per cent of the world’s resources are the overconsumers while the other 20 per cent who live in absolute deprivation are the marginals. It is noteworthy that the 1992 Human Development Report of UNDP introduced the ‘champagne glass’ as a graphic metaphor for a world of extreme economic injustice. Korten explained:
“The bowl of the champagne glass represents the abundance enjoyed by the 20 per cent of people who live in the world’s richest countries and receive 82.7 per cent of the world’s income. At the bottom of the stem, where the sediment settles, we find the poorest, who barely survive on 1.4 per cent of the total income. The combined incomes of the top 20 per cent are nearly sixty times larger than those of the bottom 20 per cent. Furthermore, this gap has doubled since 1950, when the top 20 per cent enjoyed only thirty times the incomes of the bottom 20 per cent. And the gap continues to grow.” (David Korten, “The Failures of Bretton Woods” in Mander & Goldsmith, 1996:24).

The highly disturbing trends of the economic inequalities have been reported by UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report of 1997 which pointed out that the trends were ‘rooted in a set of forces unleashed by rapid liberalization that make for greater inequality by favouring certain income groups over others’, and the Human Development Report of 1999 which stated that ‘economic integration is thus dividing developing and transition economies into those that are benefiting from global opportunities and those that are not’  (Chee Yoke Ling, 2001). Even the World Bank admits in its World Development Report 2000/2001 that ‘the world has deep poverty amid plenty’.
“Of the world’s 6 billion people, 2.8 billion – almost half – live on less than $2 a day and 1.2 billion – a fifth – live in absolute poverty, that is less than $1 a day. In 1998 the income share of the richest 20% was 135 times the income share of the poorest 20%. The current income disparity between the top and bottom 20% is estimated to be around 150 to 1” (International Herald Tribune, Feb. 5, 1999 quoted in S.M. Mohamed Idris, 2001: 11).

Bearing in mind that current globalization emerged from the transnational aspect of capitalist ‘development-modernization’ agenda and therefore is ‘another phase of capitalist development’ (S.A. Baharuddin 2001:4), the widening inequalities can easily be comprehended. Samir Amin (1997) identified five foundations of the grossly unjust world system:

  1. Technological monopoly of a few wealthy Western nations.
  2. The stock markets of New York, London, Frankfurt and Tokyo which control the global market.
  3. Monopolistic access and control of the planet’s natural resources by a global elite.
  4. Media and communication monopoly as part of the market economy and global capitalism.
  5. Monopoly over weapons of mass destruction.

The sixth factor that facilitated the rapid global shift and transformation of the world economy, not mentioned by Samir Amin, is the extraordinary innovations in I.C.T. (Mohammadi, 2002: XII-XIII). If capitalist globalization is unstoppable, as claimed by its ardent advocates, then it can be assumed that the plight of the poor and the weak nations of the earth is going to be worse off. We can, therefore, share the ethical concerns of Pope John Paul when he said:
“New realities, which are forcefully affecting the productive process, such as the globalization of finance, of the economy, of commerce and of work, should never be allowed to violate the dignity and centrality of human beings. I feel very close in spirit to people who are forced to live in a poverty which offends their dignity and blocks them from sharing the goods of the earth and forcing them to feed themselves with what falls from the table of the rich.” (Dawn, May 2, 2002 as quoted in Mohammadi, 2002:13).

The Muslim intellectual’s apprehension regarding globalization is not only on account of its adverse economic or ecological repercussions: it has to do also with its swiftness, totality and irreligious mission. This concern is expressed by Dr. Murad Wilfried Hofmann (a German diplomat who converted to Islam) thus:
“[Globalization] is total because it also transports Western Weltanschauung: the positivistic Occidental philosophy of life, its materialist paradigm and secular ideology … Today’s globalization happens in a situation in which material progress is in the hands of a de facto atheistic civilization. As a consequence, atheism is being exported as well … Globalization seems to recreate colonization, not militarily or politically but culturally.” (Hofmann, 2002)

Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has been one of the most vocal, frank and consistent critics of globalization among the leaders of the world, for in his view it stands for Western neo-imperialism, super-power unilateralism, destruction of national sovereignty, enslavement to the I.M.F. and the World Bank, predatory currency speculators, merging of giant banks and corporations to gobble up local businesses, a threat against the Muslim countries and Islam, ‘a religion that tolerates no heresy’ and an ideology that seeks to deceive the Third World. He sees globalization as presently interpreted as “the brainchild of absolute capitalism. Its objective is to enlarge the sphere of capitalist activities to the whole world.”  (Mahathir Mohamad, 2002:101). In his view,
“The market fundamentalists and the globalization theologians have elevated what they call ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘economic efficiency’, the maximisation of profits, the making of money as the most important moral basis of their religion.”

He calls for ‘a new globalization that works less in the service of the very wealthy and much harder in the service of the very poor.’  (Mahathir Mohamad, 2002-87). To him ‘a globalised world would be meaningless unless it is an enriched and an equitable world’ (p. 125). He has been advocating the need for smart partnerships, ‘prosper thy neighbour’ approach and allowing the Third World countries to develop at their own pace and in accordance with their own formula (pp. 205-231). The uncontrolled and unfettered globalization ‘must be questioned and should not be left to the rich countries to determine. And developing countries must act together to demand a say in making decisions that shape globalization. Globalization must be governed by rules and practices that protect countries from repeated economic turmoil.” (p. 10).

The New World Order

Since the break-up of the ‘Eastern Bloc’ at the end of the Cold War, the global balance of power based on a bi-polar structure was transformed into a new international system headed by a single super power, the United States of America. It signaled the triumph of capitalism and liberal democracy. The U.S.A. became the sole ‘policeman’ of the world and globalization as a process and a discourse served the interests of the triumphant ‘new rulers of the world’. Immediately after the Gulf War of 1991, President George Bush announced the advent of a ‘New World Order’ (NWO). That victory and the tragic event of Sept. 11, 2001 paved the way in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq for the champion of the NWO to practice unilateralism as a global trend. The birth of belligerent and defiant unipolarity by the superpower of the day poses a new challenge to the Muslim world and the Third World. When Dick Cheney, the American Vice-President said that the ‘war on terrorism’ could last for fifty years or more, it meant that ‘We are to live with the threat and illusion of endless war, it seems, to justify increased social control and state repression, while great power pursues its goal of global supremacy.’  (John Pilger, 2002:1). In this NWO, presiding over a ‘global economy,’
“A sophisticated system of plunder has forced more than ninety countries into ‘structural adjustment’ programmes since nineties, widening the divide between rich and poor as never before. This is known as ‘nation building’ and ‘good governance’ by the ‘quad’ dominating the World Trade Organization (the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan) and the Washington triumvirate (the World Bank, the IMF and the US Treasury) that controls even  minute aspects of government policy in developing countries.” (John Pilger, 2002:2).
The NWO reaffirmed defiantly by George Bush Jr. in the invasion of Iraq bears the imprint of the old imperialism which returns to respectability as ‘globalization’ and the ‘crusade against the evil axis’. The ‘Emperor’ in this case also plays the role of a ‘Chief Priest’ of Christian fundamentalism. ‘September 11,’ says John Pilger, ‘has strengthened Thomas Friedman’s ‘hidden hand’ of globalization, perhaps as never before. America’s economic wars are now backed by the perpetual threat of military attack on any country, without legal pretence’ (John Pilger, 2002:121). The NWO may be a euphemism for a modern version of imperialism. As stated by Nial Fergusson,
“Imperialism may be a dirty word but when Tony Blair is essentially calling for the imposition of western values – democracy and so on – it is really the language of liberal imperialism. Political globalization is just a fancy word for … imposing your views and practices on others. Only America could lead this new imperial world.” (John Pilger, 2002:153)

The threat of a new imperialism in the guise of globalization or the ‘war against terrorism’ is most serious to Muslim communities today because of its unstated conviction that what globalization has to offer to the rest of mankind including Muslims represents a superior form of life. The arrogance of the superpower and the struggle to impose its global hegemony or corporate empire (otherwise known as the ‘New World Order’) are behind the operation of covert and subversive acts which ‘rogue states’ employ to further their global interests. (William Blum, 2000). The powerful electronic media establishment in the west which helps to define and interpret the world serves as important integral part of the NWO. (M. Kamal Hassan, 1996:149).

The Knowledge-Based Economy: Malaysian Response

The currency attacks of mid-1997 and the financial turmoil that followed have seriously undermined Malaysia’s economic situation. The ‘tiger economy’ was badly wounded but by introducing capital and currency controls to shield its battered economy, Malaysia took a brave and unorthodox decision which earned the ire and scorn of the big powers. In the words of Tan Sri Ramon Navaratham,
“We should have learnt the bitter lessons of rapid liberalisation. We should only liberalise our financial structures in tandem with the strengthening of our financial institutions, which are still not strong enough. We should also insist on the need for a new international financial architecture that is transparent. Thus we have to prepare to resist undue pressure from the United States and other APEC countries that will want us to liberalise rapidly to suit their own agenda for globalization or what I call the ‘gobble-ization’ of our institutions and assets.” (R. Navaratnam, 1999:137).

A few years before the Asian financial crisis hit the Malaysian economy, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced the establishment of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) to assist in the economic transformation of the country from a production-based economy (P-economy) to a knowledge-based economy (K-economy). Knowledge, in addition to labor, land and capital, is now accepted as one of the key factors of production that drive the economy. New technologies and innovations are created through the application of knowledge to facilitate economic growth. Acquiring knowledge about customer behavior, markets, economics, technology and other resources not only opens new ways of wealth creation but also ensures the competitiveness of a country’s economy. The shift that Malaysia is making towards a knowledge-based economy has a direct implication on the education system.

Education, being the single most important factor in contributing to the transformation of a knowledge-based economy, took up in 2000 20.68% of the operating expenditure and more than 15% of the capital expenditure (see Table 1).

Table 1 – Allocation for Education

 

1999
Opex

Capex

2000
Opex

Capex

2001
Opex

Capex

Education
Total Budget
%

11,458
46,699
24.53

3,865
22,618
17.08

12,036
58,206
20.68

3,907
25,286
15.45

13,751
60,710
22.65

5,925
26,836
22.08

Source: Economic Report 2000/2001, Ministry of Finance, Malaysia, National Printing Company, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ref.: David Abdulai (ed.), 2001:15

Higher education, involving the public institutions of higher learning, is now gearing to produce more scientists, engineers, professionals and technologists to provide the requisite human resource to manage the challenges of ICT and the K-economy (see Table 2 on ICT Indicators).

Table 2 – ICT Indicators

Country

Newspapers
1996

Radios
1996

TV
1997

Fix Phones
1999

Mobile
1999

PC
1999

Hosts
1999

Argentina
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Ireland
Korea
Malaysia
Singapore
South Africa

123
800
23
153
394
163
324
30

677
695
155
703
1037
432
739
316

289
412
134
455
341
166
354
125

213.8
559.6
29.1
472.4
449.7
219.3
484.1
126.9

109.70
551.02
9.83
360.59
499.04
145.05
381.45

59.9
360.2
13.4
352.6
181.3
94.5
390.9
54.1

3.08
66.40
0.18
15.95
6.03
2.8
22.19
4.21

Source: World Development Report, 1999/2000, World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2000 -*per 1000. Ref.: David N. Abdulai (ed.), 2001: p. 46

Some of the major challenges facing the public universities in Malaysia are:

  1. To provide quality higher education to at least 40% of the university-going age group [17-24 years] inclusive of the deployment of ICT;
  2. To ensure that the educational programs offered are at the cutting age of knowledge and are of international standards;
  3. To emphasize on enhancing the creative and innovative abilities of students in the respective discipline and to prepare them to be continuous learners;
  4. To become truly knowledge organizations that actively create, disseminate, adopt and harness new knowledge;
  5. To excel in R & D activities through involvement in:
    1. developing products, services and technologies through harnessing Malaysian experiences in manufacturing and the other sectors; and
    2. spearheading breakthroughs in the conversion of Malaysian commodities into high value finished products. (David N. Abdulai (ed.), p. 21)

I would add a sixth major challenge, namely to strike the right balance between the urgency for professional education and the necessity of character education so that professionals will be people with  moral integrity and future leaders will not succumb to the temptations of material pleasures of wealth, power and status.

With the right skills and knowledge, our graduates should be able to contribute positively to the efforts of making the Malaysian economy more resilient and more competitive through technological innovations, creative exploitation of new markets and the development of new products and services. (David N. Abdulai (ed.), p. 86). Despite the government initiatives and efforts, Malaysia is still ‘lagging behind in some major developments, such as computer infrastructure, research and development as well as technology and in technical and knowledge skills as mentioned in the Economic Report 2000/2001. (David N. Abdulai (ed.), p. 88).

According to the Information Society Index (ISI), Malaysia is ranked in the third group as STROLLERS with a position of 35 out of 55 countries in the year 2000 (See Table 3).

Table 3 – Information Society Index Ranking

Category

Country

Rank
in year 2000

Scores
in year 2000

SKATERS

Sweden
United States
Finland
Singapore
Japan

1
2
3
11
10

5,062
5,041
4,577
4,014
4,093

STRIDERS

Taiwan
Korea
France

18
22
21

3,177
2,931
3,140

SPRINTERS

Malaysia
Philippines
Thailand

35
47
48

1,583
1,012
1,010

STROLLERS

China
Indonesia
Pakistan

51
52
55

915
888
719

Source: The Worldpaper, http://www.worldpaper.com, Ref.: David N. Abdulai (ed.), p. 90.

Malaysia’s allocation to R & D activity, 0.3% of total GDP in 2000 is low compared to Japan (2.8%), Korea (2.8% and Finland (2.6)  (see Table 4).

Table 4 – Workforce and Investment Comparison

Countries
(1997)

Services/
GDP
(%)

K-Skills
Workforce
(% of total
workforce)

Investment in
R & D/GDP
(%)

K-Skills in
R & D
(per million population)

Finland
Korea
Taiwan
Singapore
Japan
Malaysia

65
50
61
64
60
45

22.9
26.4
15.1
15.5
50.0
17.5

2.6
2.8
1.9
1.4
2.8
0.3

3,675
2,636
3,340
2,512
5,677
87

Source: NITC/MIMOS (2000) “Transition into the K-economy Era: Strategic Challenges, Strategic Actions,” Ref.: David N. Abdulai (ed.), 2001:99.

The table also shows that only 17.5% of total workforce in Malaysia is knowledge-skills (k-skills) workforce as compared to Japan where half of the total workforce are in the k-skills category. It is obvious that if Malaysia is to succeed in the global knowledge-based economy, her population has to overcome the shortage of domestic knowledge workers and acquire the ability to quickly adapt to changing environments. Dato’ Mustapa Mohamed, Executive Director, National Economic Action Council summed up the challenges of the ‘new economy’ thus:
“As a country, one critical challenge for Malaysia is globalization. The name of the game is competition and efficiency, but the underlying factors are technological advancement and systems. The challenge before us is to be as competitive as we can in this new knowledge-based global economy. What this means is that we have to be able to respond effectively, efficiently and quickly to challenges from both inside and outside the country, because what is considered the latest in the market today can be obsolete within such a short space of time.” (Dato’ Mustapa Mohamed, 2003).

Dato’ Mustapa also echoes the views of many Muslim intellectuals when he said:
“Personally, I think the biggest challenge to the Muslim involvement and excellence in science and technology is to have the right mental framework, attitude and approach. “(Dato’ Mustapa Mohamed, 2003).

The Malaysian Muslim Malaise

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 values (Ahmad Fawzi Basri et. al. 1996) while the Institute of Malay World and Civilization of U.K.M. has just published a compilation of research papers on the theme of ‘Building the Malay Capability in the Tide of Globalization’. (Seminar held from July 30-1, 2003). A one-man formula for the reconstruction of the Malay Islamic civilization is also available. (Hashim bin Haji Musa, 2001).

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 ‘Lepak’ (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.

(M. Kamal Hassan, 1996:233-251)

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 strategies to assist the Bumiputera students are 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.

The Necessary New Mindset
In light of the challenges of globalization and the NWO, it is important that we identify and prioritize the new mindset which the Malaysian Muslims must possess if they are to survive through the 21st century. These are the mindsets of:

  1. Competitiveness, to replace complacency and mediocrity.
  2. Global mindedness, to replace the kampong mentality and worldview.
  3. Ummatic unity, to replace partisan political rivalry, fanatism and hatred.
  4. Civilizational thinking, to replace utopian political idealism and simplistic thinking.
  5. Quality consciousness, to replace quantity orientation and mediocrity culture.
  6. Patriotism, to replace the lack of love for the nation and lack of knowledge of the history of the modern nation-state.
  7. Love of knowledge and wisdom, to replace love of pop culture and entertainment.
  8. Valuing time, to replace abuse of time or low regard for punctuality.
  9. Celebrating the truly great, to replace the cult of hero-worshipping popular media celebrities.
  10. Trustworthy and responsible vicegerency (khilafah), to replace feudalistic attitudes.
  11. Obligation to be strong comprehensively, to replace the culture of being contented with mediocre standards or achievements.
  12. Caring and protecting the environment as a God-given trust, to replace the exploitative and utilitarian mindset or the ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude.
  13. God-consciousness (taqwa) in all actions, to replace materialistic, utilitarian and egocentric tendencies.
  14. Holistic growth and development, to replace the fragmented secularistic mindset.
  15. Seriousness, discipline and high sense of urgency, to replace the lackadaisical attitude, lack of discipline and lack of sense of urgency in worldly matters.

To make these mindsets an integral part of the Muslims’ new culture, all social, economic, political and educational forces in the nation have to foster them systematically and consistently as new strategies of social engineering and nation-building. The educational institutions have a great responsibility to transform the new generation of Muslim Malaysians. They themselves have to undergo a transformation process to be better equipped to face the promises and perils of the New World Order. (See Edmund O’Sullivan, Transformative Learning, 1999 and Zahra Al Zeera, Wholeness and Holiness in Education, 2001). But their efforts will not bear fruits if other agencies of non-formal education, such as the media, the family, the entertainment industry and political parties were to project values or perspectives which contradict or cancel out the efforts of holistic education and the instilling of ethical and spiritual perspectives in all aspects of national development.

Among other things, the print and electronic media should feel morally responsible to promote the new mindset of holistic strength and reduce the amount of trivia and superficialities as they are poisons of the mind and soul of the younger generation. Parents, therefore, have to be more responsible to inculcate moral discipline, love of knowledge, respect for nature and peoples of all races and religions, accountability to God and the culture of comprehensive excellence. Malaysian business and industry should send the message that success in the economy comes through the combination of hard work, application of relevant knowledge and ethical norms, not through short cuts, patronage corruption or immoral exploitation or manipulation. On their part they have to accept that legitimate profit has to be complemented with social responsibility and a sense of moral obligation to society to ensure a clean and safe environment when they promote development and industrialization. The entertainment industry in Malaysia must be sensitive to the dangers of cultural imperialism by not importing or imitating the decadent and sensate forms of entertainment from other parts of the world. The promoters of cultural entertainment have to be innovative and responsible enough to integrate moral values with healthy and decent entertainment.

Political parties need to instil the spirit of patriotism, national unity and a united stand against the prospect of neo-imperialism, rather than playing into the hands of the agents of world hegemonic power. A new political culture that can withstand the threats of materialistic and predatory globalization in the 21st century is one which places a high value on the qualities of knowledge, integrity, selflessness, God-consciousness, people-oriented personality that is concerned with alleviating the pains and sufferings of the poor and have-nots, rather than opportunistic personality types who know how to manipulate power and wealth to further one’s own interest or the interests of one’s clan, family or cronies. Political power, if it is not to be manipulated by the global forces of the NWO, must be infused with high moral purpose, the love of the nation, social justice and a real understanding of the real politick of globalization or the political economy of the NWO.

The fall of many aspiring political leaders in the world and the corruption of money politics happen because of the moral weaknesses within the individual, the group or the party. As Malaysia marches forward in the face of globalization, she will continue to need more political leaders of great vision, transparency, integrity, tolerance, public accountability, courage, capability, incorruptibility, wisdom and maturity.

The schools and the universities are under great pressure to produce the right kind of human resources for the nation. They need to develop pedagogical approaches that lead to holistic and balanced growth of individuals in which the physical, the mental, the spiritual, the emotional and social needs of the students are harmoniously blended to produce rounded personalities. The integration of professional knowledge including science and technology with moral-ethical values, or of reason, revelation and I.C.T. should become the hallmark of the new educational endeavour in the 21st century. The Muslim religious teacher needs to understand and embrace science and technology as ‘signs of God’ in the universe just as the teacher of worldly sciences need to incorporate an ethical and metaphysical perspective in teaching and learning. The method of teaching Islamic religion has to be changed to ensure the relevanc and applicability of spiritual and moral perspectives, values and norms to contemporary life, to the new economy, to I.C.T., to S & T, to R & D, to new environmental issues, to human rights discourse, the problems of plural societies, the necessity of dialogue of cultures, religions and civilizations and international issues involving futuristic issues, scarcity of food, water, energy, intellectual property issues and complex management issues.

Setting the requisite mindset of the Malaysian Muslim community is certainly not an easy task as it requires a coordinated, unified and comprehensive agenda by all the agents of social change for a truly comprehensive transformation of the Malay people. We have to bear in mind that the Malays are a largely tolerant but custom-bound people with the behaviour pattern of the ‘nature’s gentleman’ who were exposed in the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries to an Islamic heritage which carried a strong emphasis on tasawwuf as well as elementary fiqh of al-Shafi’, separated from the more scientifically and technologically rich Andalusian legacy of the once holistic Islamic civilization. The task of changing the Malay mindset is daunting but not insurmountable. People do wake up from their slumber of complacency and will want to break away from their self-imposed prison of political myopia when calamities or disasters descend upon them as was the case with post-World War II Germany and Japan.

APPENDIX A

 

Globalization and its Mechanism of Control


Globlaization

Source: Ali Mohammadi and Muhammad Ahsan, 2002: 143

 

APPENDIX B

The Muslim World and the Recolonisation

 

Process in the Twenty-first Century

Co

Source: Ali Mohammadi and Muhammad Ahsan, 2002: 146

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