Friday, February 8, 2013

Kelantan: Let's hear it from the Chinese

A few years ago, I was requested by a government statutory body to conduct a workshop in Kota Bahru .  Days before the trip, I was filled with apprehension after having heard so much about the "Islamic state" in that far north east corner of the peninsular.

The day came and I boarded a MAS flight to KB. To my amazement on board the flight were tourists from Germany, Italy and Switzerland, and the aircraft was filled to the brim.

After checking in at the Perdana Hotel, I suddenly had an attack of migraine. I decided to visit a nearby clinic for treatment. I was attended to by an Indian doctor who was extremely friendly. While he was checking out my condition, I asked him whether he had another practice in KL and he said no. I asked him why. His reply was, "Why should I when my practise is doing well here." I then asked him further, "What about these Islamic rules by PAS?" "None whatsover. Stick around and you will see the difference between hearing and seeing. For years, you people in KL have been brainwashed by the government that the PAS government is bad. Do you know that you could even get bak kut teh at Jalan Besar?" This was the beginning of an eye opening event for me. Now, someone just sent me an email in which I would like to reproduce it here.

In Kelantan’s politics, one name towers above all, Nik
Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, affectionately known as Tok Guru Nik
Aziz. What is the secret to this man’s almost cult-like
appeal to Kelantan folks?  Let's hear it from the Chinese
in Kelantan.

Kelantan’s political history is as enigmatic as itself.
Having had the distinction of being the first state to be
won by an opposition party in 1959 when Malaya was still in
euphoria over Merdeka, PAS ruled it from 1959 to 1977.
PAS’s tenure in Kelantan was briefly interrupted by BN’s
political scheming in 1977 through an emergency that lead to
a 12 year BN interregnum.

In the 1990 general elections, BN suffered its most
devastating electoral defeat in history when PAS and its
erstwhile ally, Semangat 46 swept all the parliamentary and
state seats in the state. And PAS has ruled the state since

Having run Kelantan for 40 years, especially since 1990, PAS
under the leadership of its spiritual leader and Menteri
Besar Nik Aziz, has consolidated its grip in the state. Nik
Aziz’s popularity with Kelantan folks is due in no small
part to his clean and upright leadership and willingness to
live out his religious convictions.

In his 1990 inauguration as the Kelantan MB, his first acts
were to reduce his official salary by 40 percent, cut down
on state official entertainment expenses and eschewed
staying in his official MB residence for his own house. With
his humble and modest lifestyle, he has won over many
Kelantan folks’ respect and admiration.

Unlike UMNO leaders’ willingness to manipulate religion to
divide and rule the people, Nik Aziz lives out his religious
convictions while not abusing religion. In his world view
which is coloured heavily by Islam, racialism is not
acceptable as he believes everyone originates from a same
forebear and hence deserves to be treated equally.

Equal treatment for everyone – is that not a dream for all

Why PAS is winning hearts

Kelantan has treated its minorities fairly through monetary
support for their religious places.

Has Kelantan under PAS being so Islamised that non-Muslims
fear living there? Kelantan Chinese Assembly Hall (KCAH)
chairman Oie Poh Choon has this to share.

“Once, I attended an official event where Nik Aziz was
the guest of honour. The attendees included mostly Malays,
Chinese and 10 Thai monks.”

“The Thai monks started to recite Buddhist chants after
having the meals. Not only did Nik Aziz not stop them, he
even asked for microphones be provided for them and sat
through the sessions, in full view of 1000 plus Muslims. He
has a favourite phrase: 'If PAS has ever forced anyone
to convert to Islam, please show me the

Contrary to the mainstream media’s demonization,
Kelantan’s other religions get equal treatment and
development opportunities. According to the PAS
supporters’ club (DHPP) chairman, Hu Pang Chaw, KB has
many non-Muslim religious places such as churches and
Chinese temples. Among these places are a 450-years old
temple, a temple that houses a 108-feet Guan Yin statue, and
a Buddhist temple that houses a 100-feet sleeping Buddha

Some of these temples are even built on Malay reserve land. Some temples also received annual grants from the state government. In
Kelantan, the churches and temples are not subjected to the
policy restriction of having buildings taller than mosques
like in some west coast states.

Minority perspective

KCAH chairman Oie Poh Choon opined that the Chinese lead a
happy tranquil and peaceful life there thanks to the state
government’s fair treatment and righteous

“Unlike what the mainstream media’s lop-sided portrayal
of us being side-lined, we lead a happy and pleasant life
here. We have an exemplary MB. Our living condition here is
good, which is why we have chosen to remain here. Kelantan
is a good place to reside in.”

He believes that the Kelantan government is like many other
governments in the world, who takes care of its minorities.
Besides the many policies that promote fairness, it has
additional policies that also take care of the

“Kelantan state glimovernment is the first in the country to
implement the ‘land sustains school’ policy which was
followed by the Perak PR state government in 2008.
Kelantan’s only independent Chinese secondary school,
Chung Hua Independent Secondary School, was allocated 1000
acres of land by the state government for its usage in 2000.
Now the school earns around RM 300,000 annually from the
land rentals.”

In addition the school is allocated a RM 20,000 grant
annually. The Chinese vernacular primary schools are also
well supported, even by the Malay community.

DHPP’s Hu explained that of the Kelantan’s 15
Chinese vernacular primary schools, only two are wholly
Chinese populated. The rest have between 20 to 50 percent
Malay student population. In Kelantan, many Malays take
pride in learning Chinese.

In my visit to MB Nik Aziz’s residence, I met his grand
children. Five of them could speak Mandarin fluently. Nik
Aziz even praised them for being able to converse in
Mandarin and lamented of his inability to do so!

Systematic Allocations

KCAH chairman Oie Poh Choon has praises for the state
government’s fair treatment of the Chinese.

According to Oie, every year the state government will
allocate RM 1.7 million for the Chinese community here.
“If we are short of funds, the Chinese state exco, Dato
Annuar Tan will ask for more from the treasury. Nik Aziz
will usually approve it.”

“RM 1.7 million is not much. However we know that the
state government has limited revenue. Yet it is able to
provide funding regularly to the Chinese community. We
recognise their earnestness, unlike some parties who often
promised much but don’t deliver. With PAS, when the amount
is announced, the cheque is already prepared.”

As for KCAH’s youth wing advisor Lau Chit Fang, the
Kelantan Chinese community doesn’t doubt the state
government’s sincerity in taking care of the minorities as
the non-Malays can’t decide Kelantan’s political

“The Chinese voters are only present significantly in a
few state seats; we are not politically influential. We
don’t doubt about the state government’s sincerity or
honesty in treating us fairly.”

“On the other hand it is UMNO who seems bent on
wrecking the people’s relationship with the state
government. They go around telling the Malays that PAS is
selling out to the non-Malays.”

“PAS on the other hand has continued to stick to its
principles in treating everyone fairly. For over 20 years we
have not felt threatened here,” Lau added.


If PR wins Putrajaya, how will the non-Malays

PR can emulate Kelantan’s policy as we don’t practise
racialism here. I emphasise accepting Islam, not converting
to Islam. Everything in this world is created by Allah.
We can’t say that because a durian’s seed has no
creator. A durian comes from a durian tree. Likewise the
same too for a human being; he is a descendant of the first
human beings, Adam and Eve.”

Hence, PR can copy us. Have we ever killed any Chinese?
Have we ever denied anyone from getting license from running
business just because he is a Chinese?

Will PAS win the next GE?

I believe PAS can do well in the next GE if the elections
are run fairly. However, we all know PAS don’t own any
radio or TV stations. I have been an MB for 22 years, yet I
was never invited by any Malaysian TV stations for talks or
interviews. We also don’t have daily newspaper, only a
twice weekly party newspaper. UMNO knows if we ever get fair
media coverage, we will be able to counter their lies.

If PR forms the federal government, will it implement the
hudud laws?

PR’s common point is to remove BN’s dictatorship. Why is
Kelantan’s development fund being administered by the
federal departments? As to how much funds have been spent on
building schools, hospital and roads in Kelantan, we are not
told. The projects are not even opened for public tendering
which is unlike PR states.

Kelantan under PR has observed true democracy and voting
system whereas BN has even resorted to using phantom voters.
PR’s common goal is to remove all these abuse of power. As
for hudud, it will only be implemented on the Muslims unless
the non-Muslims request for hudud laws to be extended to

BN has often said that PAS is being manipulated by DAP and
vice versa. What is your view of that?

Show me the proof! Its all nonsense.

Bad omen for BN

Look at the car license plate number! Doesn't it tell you something is going
to happen to BN in the coming 13th General Election ??  This is certainly a sign of things to come.