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Thu, Apr
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We need to see an end to the widespread and systematic abuses of Rohingya rights which for too long have been ignored. I appeal to all the people for action, today.   Please help end the "slow burning genocide of more than 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar.   The Burmese government’s plan is to drive us out of our own ancestral land. This cannot happen – we are people of Myanmar, and should be treated as such. Failure to act will have devastating consequences and lead to untold suffering. - Tun Khin
It is a great honor to speak at this event today. First of all I would like to express many thanks to the organizers for arranging this timely conference and for inviting me to share the history and reality of Rohingya people.
 
My own personal history in Burma dates back generations. My family had long resided in Buthidaung, and my paternal grandfather, Mt Gaffar, was a parliamentary secretary during Prime Minister U Nu’s parliamentary government. A British-educated Burmese national – and a Rohingya man – he served the newly independent Burma.  Other members of my family have served the government and as part of the civil service.

 
I was born and brought up in Buthidaung Arakan State.  My parents, along with over 200,000 Rohingya, were forced to fled the country on foot into neighbouring Bangladesh Burma’s first large scale campaign against the Rohingya – nagamin or “Dragon King” operation. They left in the spring of 1978 were repatriated back to Burma – and their home in Buthidaung – in the autumn the same year.  I was born three years later. 

 
 
 
Despite of our ancestral roots in western Burma, my family, and many others have been stripped of our citizenship and denied a nationality in Burma. This has had long lasting consequences, and has made it increasingly difficult for Rohingyas in Myanmar to exercise other rights and live in dignity. The latest round of violence against Rohingya in Burma  is part of a long standing pattern of discrimination, abuse and oppression which I will speak about in some detail later.

 
 
Before I do, I want to talk a little bit about the history of the Rohingya in Burma. The government has often claimed that Rohingyas do not exist in the country, that there is no such thing as Rohingya, and that we are in fact “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh. This is not true. 
 
Rohingyas were ancient settlers of Indo- Aryan descendant converted into Islam in 8th century A.D and new generation of mixed blood of Arab (788 A.D - 801 A.D ) plus Persian (700 AD -1500 A.D) plus Bangali (1400 AD - 1736 AD) plus mogul in 16th century AD.
 
In ancient times the Rakhine State was called Rohang and the people in Rohang were called as Rohingyas so that Rohingya was a name of an ethnic group only occurred under historic event. Rohingya was not created under politics and not the same as Mujahids, armed group.Although Rohingyas’ spoken dialect are not the same as Rakhines’ spoken words, it ought to be taken care of the fact that their words are the same as ancient waithali (vesali) words and the culture is same too based on Ananda Sandra Stone Monument or Shitthoung Temple pillar of Arakan translated by Oxford University in 1935-42 which was erected in 8th Century.
 
According to history, Islam reached Arakan before 788 AD and it attracted the local people to come to the fold of Islam en masse all over Arakan. Since then Islam had played an important part towards advancement of civilization in Arakan where Muslim, Buddhists and Hindus lived side by side for centuries with amity and concord as one family and ruled the country together. Coins and medallions were issued bearing “Kalima” (the profession of faith in Islam) in Arabic Language and persian script. Persian was the Court Language of Arakan and it was common for the kings to adopt Muslim names.
 
Rohingya Muslims of Arakan who have their proud history, culture and tradition as other indigenous races of Burma and there is no justification to take them as foreign race for the simple reason that they profess Islam and keep Islamic names. Other Nationals can easily distinguish from their features who are them. They are also different from one another in their Language, customs and culture. Similar is the case with Rohingya Muslims who have been together as a race in a group from time immoral in a territory included within the Arakan and Burma. 
 
The word “Rohingya”, use of the term in the English language can be traced back at least until 1799, when researcher Francis Buchanan wrote of a dialect in western Burma “spoken by the [Muslims], who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.” Rohingya ethnicity was also identified in the Journal of London published in 1811, as well as in the 1815 of collectiones vocabulorum in Berlin of Germany. 
 
By denying our existence and identity, the Burmese government have sought to distract attention from the appalling human rights violations we are and continue to be subjected to. This cannot continue.
 
Before I speak about the recent violence and the atrocities taking place in northern Rakhine State, I want first to talk about the situation for Rohingyas  and other Muslims  in Rakhine state before 9 October.  It is important to place this recent violence in a historical context of state sponsored discrimination, oppression and persecution of the Rohingya.

Since Burmese independence on 4 January 1948, 19 full-fledged armed operations with frequent state patronized communal riots, have been engineered and carried out against the Rohingyas resulting in their death, massive destruction of their settlements, holy places of worship, economic bases and expulsion from their hearths and homes. 
 
Some of the major armed operations against the Rohingya people, orchestrated by the Burmese government since 1948 are mentioned below:
 
Military Operation (5th Burma Regiment) - November 1948
Burma Territorial Force (BTF) - Operation 1949-50
Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin regiment) - March 1951-52
Mayu Operation - October 1952-53
Mone-thone Operation - October 1954
Combined Immigration and Army Operation - January 1955
Union Military Police (UMP) Operation - 1955-58
Captain Htin Kyaw Operation – 1959
Shwe Kyi Operation - October 1966
Kyi Gan Operation - October-December 1966 (Buthidaung-Maung Daw)
Ngazinka Operation - 1967-69
Myat Mon Operation - February 1969-71(" in Sittway and Kyaukpyu districts)
Major Aung Than Operation – 1973
Sabe Operation February - 1974-78
Naga-Min (King Dragon) Operation - February 1978-79 (resulting in exodus of some 300,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)
Shwe Hintha Operation - August 1978-80
Galone Operation – 1979
Pyi Thaya Operation – July 1991-92 (resulting in exodus of some 268,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)
Na-Sa-Ka Operation – (ongoing )since 1992
 
The first issue I want to talk about is citizenship. As many of you  know, Rohingyas in Myanmar are not granted full citizenship rights. Indeed, we have gradually stripped of our citizenship and our right to a nationality, notably by the 1982 Citizenship Law. While many of our countrymen and women were given national identity cards, we Rohingyas – myself included - were issued with temporary registration cards known as a “white cards”. With this card, we are neither citizens nor foreigners, but instead live somewhere in between in legal limbo. 
 
Without citizenship many of the rights we would normally take for granted were no longer guaranteed for Rohingyas. Rohingyas movement was – and remains - severely restricted, and they are subject to a tightly controlled system of travel permissions. Whether they want to travel to the next village or to neighboring townships, Rohingyas can only go with authorization of the authorities. This has major consequences for their day to day lives. It makes it very difficult to travel to find work and to travel to market to sell and buy goods. Rohingyas are also barred from studying at universities and colleges in Burma. I should note that in the past during Rohingya students not only studied at higher education institutions, they formed official Rohingya student associations and cultural organizations in Rangoon.  Not anymore. In taking away our citizenship the government took away something just as precious: our future.
 
Many of you will be aware of the 2012 violence, primarily between Rakhine and Buddhists, and later supported by the state, which led to loss of lives and massive destruction of Rohingya and Rakhine homes and other property. Over 140,000 people were displaced by that violence, and today almost five years later over 120,000 people, the vast majority of them Rohingyas, live in squalid displacement camps. The government has no plan for them to return to their homes, or to ensure they can live their lives in dignity. Instead, they keep them segregated in these camps, prevent them from travelling outside –and cruelly, and restrict humanitarian organizations from providing vital support and assistance. 
 
In fact the government can be said to trying starve Rohingya in to submission by placing extreme constraints on our livelihood opportunities and by blocking and/or severely restricting humanitarian assistance to our communities, either in internal refugee camps or in Rohingya villages.  
Recent years have also seen the political disenfranchisement of the Rohingya. Where as in previous elections Rohingyas had been allowed to vote and even run as Parliamentary candidates – indeed in 2010 a Rohingya MP was elected for Buthidaung – this was not the case in 2015. Rohingyas, and other white card holders, were barred from voting, and Rohingya candidates were not allowed to stand as candidates on the basis of deeply discriminatory criteria and procedures enforced by the Election commission at the local and national levels.

The government relied  on various security forces – police, Border Guard Police (BGP) Special Branch, the military and other agencies – to control Rohingyas lives, whether our physical movement, ability to build and repair homes,  pray and gather together in mosques or register newly born babies. These forces extort money, extract forced labor, and confiscate food and other produce with total impunity. As Rohingyas, people are not able to complain or access justice mechanisms.  Human rights violations and other abuses against Rohingyas are usually met with impunity.

This brings me to the present day, where security forces have committed the most unspeakable atrocities against Rohingyas since armed group attacked border police posts on 9 October.  Let me be clear: there is no justification or excuse for the use of violence and these attacks were unacceptable. But the disproportionate response by the security forces, who have essentially rampaged thought Rohingya villages with total impunity is unacceptable and must be met with the strongest condemnation and responses by the international community. 
 
To date, the government of Burma has failed to even acknowledge human rights violations have occurred. This is despite mounting evidence to the contrary. The UN Office of the High Commissioner published a report in early February which contained detailed of the most unspeakable acts of cruelty. These findings have also been documented by human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. They have documented unlawful killings, extrajudicial executions, rape, torture, enforced disappearances and mass arrests. The military have burned hundreds of Rohingya homes and buildings to the ground. The UN has concluded that these crimes very likely amount to crimes against humanity.
 
Almost 100,000 people have been displaced as a result of the violence and around 73,000 of them had now fled to Bangladesh. I recently met with some of the survivors and they recounted to be tales of violence and devastation so appalling. As a Rohingya refugee myself, I was especially moved and cannot  bear to watch our fellow Rohingya people being treated like animals, hunted by the security forces in this way. 
 
Instead of speaking out the government has continued its long standing policy of denying security force violations. State media has published article after article of propaganda, accusing Rohingyas of lying about the situation, and of spreading “fake news”.What’s more, they have allowed advocacy of hatred, of discrimination and of violence to go unchallenged.
 
All this is happening today in a country which the British government, the USA, and other countries describe as making great progress, where human rights are improving, and is making a transition to democracy. Indeed, Since the Burmese military government announced six years ago its intention to open up the country to western investors and engage with the anti-China Western forces, various western governments, including EU and its members states like the UK, the USA and others have applauded the government in Naypyaydaw for allowing limited human rights reforms and undertaking market reforms.  A great deal of global praise has been showered on the Burmese government – while all the new waves of violence and persecution have flared up.  
 
The reality is, the situation cannot continue. We need to see an end to the widespread and systematic abuses of Rohingya rights which for too long have been ignored. I appeal to all the people for action, today.   Please help end the "slow burning genocide of more than 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar.   The Burmese government’s plan is to drive us out of our own ancestral land. This cannot happen – we are people of Myanmar, and should be treated as such. Failure to act will have devastating consequences and lead to untold suffering.
 
Thank you very much.  May Allah  bless you!

When we were young, the most popular question posed to people of my generation, irrespective of race, color, religion or ancestry was, what is your ambition? We were oblivious to politics then.

When the prime minister (PM) spoke about Transformasi Nasional 50 (TN50), a new ‘vision’ for the nation, it brought back memories of what we wanted to be when we grow older. Some of us achieved our dreams, some had to change and some failed.

It is a jolly good thing to happen when we are at the last leg of Vision 2020 and focusing on our youths as the core to this new vision.

For that matter, it is our Youth and Sports Minister, En Khairy Jamaluddin who conceived TN50 and we can say it is his ‘baby’.

The PM said “…we are responsible citizens and forefathers, to leave behind the best and the greatest legacy to be inherited by future generations. Let the old legacy pass”. TN50 will seek to transform the country’s economy, citizen well-being, environment, technology, social interaction, governance and public administration.

He does not want the initiative to be politicised. “Our government today is a government which is willing to listen and uses the bottom-up approach. I believe our development must be balanced and development must be on the basis that no Malaysians will be left behind” he added. There should be a more just and equitable society.

The general goal for TN50 is for Malaysia to become a top 20 country in the world by the year 2050.

The responsible ministry said one of the key activities will be the discussion and networking groups. Other groups are also welcome to participate and share their thoughts. It will also be working with other government agencies, corporate bodies and NGOs.

While the various parties are working on the TN50, as a senior citizen, I feel compelled to lay down a few pointers as my personal input.

1. Leave behind the best and the greatest legacy.

It is good to leave behind the best and the greatest legacy in the form of TN50 to be inherited by future generations but, it must also be desired not to let the old legacy to just pass by.

2. Let the old legacy pass.

There is a popular adage that goes something like this, ‘Forget the past, don’t worry about the future, live in the present’. But, usually those who choose to simply forget the past miss out on its fullest potential. There are valuable lessons to be learned from it - the strengths and weaknesses. Also, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

It is not so simple as to just let the old legacy pass. It is a heritage passed on by our predecessors and we should where possible jealously guard it.

3. TN50 will seek to transform the country’s economy, citizen well-being, environment, technology, social interaction, governance and public administration.

Compare it with Vision 2020 that calls for the nation to achieve a self-sufficient industrialized nation, encompassing all aspects of life, from economic prosperity, social well-being, educational worldclass, political stability, as well as psychological balance.

As I see it there is not much difference where TN50 emphasises environment and technology. Therefore, we should try to fulfil or complete what was envisioned in Vision 2020.

4. Finish what we started.

There were scant mention of Vision 2020 and how the ‘Way Forward’ paper will be fulfilled. Unfinished jobs/projects can be swept under the carpet but rarely would they pick themselves up and quietly leave by the back door. They never do. It is an unwelcome mark on one’s soul, mind, or spirit. Perhaps, convincing us that we just can’t stick with anything and would naturally produce negative vibes.

The chorus of the song “Finish What We Started” by Diamond Rio goes like this:

“And step by step and mile by mile… Taking each turn together… Following the signs that point to forever… And side by side… True and tenderhearted… We'll finish what we started”

We should together finish and touch the tape in 2020 and raise our hands in jubilation.

5. Respect for elders.

This has to do with how much the elders can help the youths working on this new vision and offer valuable lessons. It is also a sign of compassion and mannerism, traits that many cultures value.

“O’ you who have true faith! Do not let men make fun of other men – perhaps they may be better than the other (group of men)…” (Quran: Al-Hujurat 49:11)

6. Era of “the government knows best” is over.

It was reported that the TN50 town hall session is the clearest indication yet of the new paradigm that the era of “the government knows best” is over.

It was on April 4th in 2009, that the PM announced “The day and age where government knows all and knows best is so long over”. We do know in between the two dates, there were many instances where government still knows best. Be that as it may, I do hope that it will be a reality that actually exists henceforth.

7. It must be on the basis that no Malaysians will be left behind.

This is noble. But as in most things that we saw happening, it is easier said than done. As an example, the KVMRT project was for the well being of the people but quite a number have to suffer with the line or track passing virtually over the roof of their houses without any compensation.

8. The PM does not want the initiative to be politicised.

I fully agree but groups from the other side have to be included to contribute their two sen worth. Similarly, the present government should not take sole credit when the initiative is implemented and proven successful in future.

Let us make this a truly all-inclusive Malaysian effort for our future generation. We are the “legal guardian for future generations” and whatever decisions we make today will impact them.

Let us all be statesmen that think of not only for the next generation but for the well-being of future generations.

To achieve this, the government has to provide the leadership.

To be more meaningful, I would suggest for us to produce a longer term or more of a perpetual Vision to consciously guide us. More like a vision statement for the country along with mission statements. The successive 30-year visions can be included in the objectives.

What say you…

The Hudud Laws are clearly and brightly enshrined in the Holy Quran. In essence the Hudud Laws are collectively a code of fundamental laws providing for the parameters of and the legitimate punishments for every Muslim who commits offences in breach of  Allah’s Commandments. The Hudud Laws are made in Heaven. They are willed by Allah. They are Divine justice from Allah, the Ultimate Law Giver.

The Hudud Laws are immutable and eternal laws, they ceremoniously bind all Muslims, prophets and followers, without any exception. They could not be fashioned and wilfully amended to accommodate the human changing psyche, material desires, social development and economic dominance more so to legitimise odd behaviours and inhuman excesses. The Hudud Laws are regal and supremely and divinely tailored by the Creator of the Universe to ensure that man would not loose his intellectual superiority, spiritual essence and dignity as a respectable human being.  

Without the Hudud Laws, there are always the imminent danger that man would steer away and deviate from religious norms and good respectable humane moral conduct and hence to fall unwittingly into the bottomless pit of disgrace and inhumane misconducts and loose his spiritual enlightenment and superiority as Allah’s viceroy (Khalifah) on this blessed earth.

Let us look at ancient example of man unfortunate fall into unmitigated disgrace. The Holy Quran vividly tells the story of Prophet Lot’s community who arrogantly transgressed Allah’s moral parameters. They committed the highest sin of the flesh by indulging in homosexual intimacy between men and lesbianism between women beyond the walls of saintliness and Divine obedience. They immediately sparked the Wrath of Allah the Magnificient as even animals do not commit such outrageous excesses. Allah did wait long. Divine justice was swiftly meted out - they (the sinners) were violently rained with fiery blazing brimstones and they perished miserably and their entire cities were turned upside-down. A tremendous catastrophy indeed. No one survived except Lot’s family but his wife. Let it be known that this punishment is for later generations to ponder to not to repeat such act of wicked lewdness in the like footsteps of Lot’s community.

Now in the present century we have in our beloved country a Federal Government with a strong Muslim representations both in the Senate and the Dewan Rakyat. For almost sixty years after independence, the Federal Government had done virtually nothing of significance to resurrect the Hudud Laws in the Holy Quran to be the laws of the land for Muslims. Until today the Government continues to apply the English Laws (both criminal and civil) to every Muslim instead of the Hudud Laws from the Holy Quran. What is brazenly blasphemous is – not only that the Government had abandoned its duty and responsibility (to the Muslim community) by not implementing the Hudud Laws after wielding executive powers and ruling the country for more than half a century but they unashamedly resisted and blocked the “blessed journey” of the Hudud Laws into Parliament. This would tantamount to shaking the celestial Arasy (The Throne of Allah), that is, a phenomenon indicating a spectacular facet of the Divine Wrath to those who reject and block the implementation of Allah’s Commandments.

Let it be known that as citizens we love this country, we love the Government and above all we love Islam most. It is lamentable that the Government we put into power to rule us had never earnestly looked up to Heaven for guidance and spiritual strength in moulding the Muslim community in this beloved country. Had they done so, the Hudud laws would have been the laws of the land for the Muslims years ago. They had conveniently forsaken and renounced their intrinsic duty and the trust they hold for the spiritual salvation and grace of the Muslim community.

Until to-date, besides making some inroads into Islamic banking and finance practices, the Government limits the practice of Islamic Laws only to solemnisation of marriages, divorce and distribution of “harta pusaka” and such other trifling matters of life. Generally the Syariah Courts’ judicial powers are much to be desired – far from what Allah had ordained and enshrined in the Holy Quran. The Government is bereft of the political will to see that the entire Laws in the Holy Quran be planted as the thriving laws for the Muslims. This laikadaisical attitude is most regrettable and all the Muslim Federal Ministers and those voters who supported and put them into power would be answerable to Allah for their long inordinate delay and dismal failure to find ways and the paths that would usher the Hudud Laws see the light of day.

The Holy Quran in many brilliant and sparkling verses stirringly urge “the Muslims to trek on with Jihad by way of their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah”. In our beloved country the imminence of Jihad now is to apply the entire Allah Laws in the Holy Quran to the Muslims. I believe the huge majority of Muslims in this country are now impatiently waiting for Allah Laws to be applied to their lives. But alas  the bulwark is the Muslim Cabinet ministers who nonchalantly and conveniently consider the Hudud Laws as an  insignificant facet of life.  For about sixty years they steered the country’s administration eversince independence they did not lift a finger to assist in making the Hudud Laws the laws of the Muslims. In Akhirat Allah would definitely ask them “why did they reject  Allah’s Laws? And be mindful…Allah the Magnificient requires an answer.     

In reflection this is precisely what Jihad is all about now in this beloved country. Don’t they (the Muslim Federal Ministers) see it that it is their duty to Allah and the Muslims that with the power they wield, they are in a position to apply the Hudud Laws on the Muslims. But they coveniently do not. Their priority of life has been awkwardly  inverted. Their secular ways tops the pyramid, Allah is placed on the second tier and the Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad Bpuh lies on the third tier. It appears that the Government may fall under the category of the doomed creature as stated in the Holy Quran as “having eyes but they do not see, having ears but they do not hear and having heart but they could not feel the Divine presence”. And in dramatic eloquence…the Holy Quran concludes “they are worse than animals”.

This is indeed true as wee see in our own eyes that the Muslims are herded like domesticated cows by the Government to live under the unblessed man-made laws (the English Laws) instead of the Hudud Laws. Unfortunately too, the Muftis, the majority of ulama’ both in the Government sector and in the higher learning institutions have not made a consistent formidable campaign to urge the Government to implement the Hudud Laws among Muslims. The Muslim masses continue to meekly slumber in submitting to the chaotic man-made laws. The apathy continues….until Hudud Laws replace the present man-made laws, there would be no peace of mind (sakinah), blessing (barakah) and true and complete Divine love (rahmah) for the Muslim community. 

When in Akhirat those who are condemned to Hellfires see the punishing fury and terror of Hellfires, they revolted tumultuously accusing their leaders thus - “It is you who caused us to be condemned to Hell” and they make a frantic call to the Almighty “Oh Allah because they (our leaders) have vilely misled our lives, increase two-fold the punishment of Hellfires upon them” and “if not for them, O Allah, we would have become the blessed dwellers of Jannah (Paradise)”. The leaders promptly reply “ O Allah, it is not us who misled them, it is they who have wronged themselves”. Allah in His glory replied “Do not argue in My presence, both of you would get the fiery punishments for what you have done, that is, leading your lives not in accordance with the Holy Quran and the Sunnah”. The message here is crystal clear – follow not and support not anyone in life blindly, just lead you own entire life strictly in accordance with the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW.

The Holy Quran eloquently warns the Muslims in Surah An Nisa verse 60 thus “Have you not seen those who claimed to have believed in what was revealed to you (Muhammad), and what was revealed before you. They wish to refer legislation (laws and regulations) to Thagut, while, in fact, they are commanded to reject it; and Satan wishes to lead them far astray”. This verse is truly a reflection of our wicked miserable position now, that is, while we categorically claim ourselves to be true Muslims (beriman) but oddly we do not submit to the criminal laws as enshrined in the Holy Quran instead we meekly bow our souls to the man-made English (Thagut) criminal laws. Ponder a moment in the silent ambience of our soul. Are we not sinners deserving the fury of the Hellfires for casting away the Hudud Laws in our lives?”.