I returned from Kongres Islam Sarawak (Sarawak Islamic Congress) last week (the congress was held from 10th – 12th of February) to a mixed feeling of relief and disappointment. It was a relief for the three-days congress was a successful event in that it was able to gather almost all key Islamic-activists that I know of in Sarawak. Although there wasn’t really much opportunity for serious interaction or dialogue between the various Islamic movement sects, I feel it serves as a good starting point (or a continuing point, perhaps); it proves – to a certain extent – that the Muslims in Sarawak can honestly work together and unite in matters that concern the ummah. However, it was slightly disappointing that the congress is still overshadowed by political interests. A simple question towards the state government policy is met by the presenter – a Sarawakian elite, a corporate-politician – with a rather negative and overly defensive response; even though almost every participant on the floor felt the issue being raised was most justified. I need not mention the issue here, for the point I am raising here is not about the issue being raised during the congress, but it is about the attitude of the Sarawakian elites – the exclusive small group of politicians and businessmen who put themselves on a “forbidden world” way above everyone else. To sum up their attitude in a word, I quote what a prominent local scholar from Peninsular Malaysia once said after several encounters with those Sarawakian elites in a number of talk series in Sarawak: “those people are arrogant!”. Yes, I definitely agree: the Sarawakian elites are very arrogant! It is their arrogance that has kept them from engaging in serious and honest discussions with Islamic and social activists from the grassroot level; which has led to the attitude where they believe (arrogantly) that every idea which opposes their policy or actions is wrong, and it is treated as such. I must make it a point, though, that by the “arrogant Sarawakian elites” I do not refer to all of the politicians or corporate individuals. There are still a number of politicians and corporate individuals who are quite sincere and mature in their work, rather knowledgeable and intellectual enough to open up to new ideas and changes; and, quite importantly, acknowledge their mistakes with a big heart. I just hope that we could optimize the manpower, the ideas and the abilities which are very positively diversified, for the betterment of the ummah in Sarawak.

Next Post »