Malaysian opposition leader extols Rizal for ‘Malay union’

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Political foes tried to break Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim with solitary imprisonment on trumped up charges. He stayed firm, immersing himself in the Qur’an, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. José Rizal’s two novels, which he reread six times, inspired him no end to fight for democracy and international dialogue. Anwar became visiting professor at Georgetown University. He is esteemed as among the world’s most modern and erudite Muslim statesmen.

Last June 19, Rizal’s 160th birth anniversary, Anwar paid homage:

“‘Justice is the foremost virtue of the civilising races. It subdues the barbarous nations, while injustice arouses the weakest.’ – Dr. José Rizal

“Today we celebrate the 160th birthday of one of the greatest Malayans, the Philippine National Hero, Dr. José Rizal who was truly an Asian Renaissance Man. A polymath, Rizal’s knowledge and scholarship was beyond measure and his contributions as a writer, thinker and artist was titanic. Dr. Rizal is the ultimate demonstration of how education can take anyone, regardless of race, religion or identity, to seize their moment in history, empowered to make for better tomorrows.

“To call José Rizal a revolutionary is disingenuous, for he denounced violent uprisings and referred to himself as a reformer. Without doubt, his efforts helped to launch the Philippines’ fight for independence from Spain, but his pen was mightier than the Spanish sword. The potential power given in his education, received from the West, helped him lead his community out of colonial slump. His two novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are a testament to global literature and demonstrate mastery of language, satirizing the Spanish colonial project with allusion to classic Spanish literature and history, judging the brutal methods used with their own mythology. In his essay, ‘The Philippines a Century Hence,’ Rizal’s foresight warned the Spanish Empire of the struggle ahead if reform is not pursued and predicted the US’s growing influence in the Pacific. His hope was to inspire peaceful reform and gradual transition, but Spain labelled him a traitor and, at the age of 35, he was executed by firing squad in Manila in 1896.

“Rizal’s efforts took him beyond acclaim in just one nation. He not only believed in the indigenous peoples of the Malay Archipelago, but demonstrated what they were truly capable of. He advocated the union of the Malay lands against colonialist rule. He saw education as the highest element of any society that would ensure its survival and prosperity into the future. ‘In my blood runs the wanderlust of the Malays’ was a saying of Dr. Rizal. Let us take his example and seek the betterment of ourselves and our neighbors to build better futures.

“Rizal’s message reverberates today in his concept of the Malayan world and those sentiments of community we need to embody. For international cooperation and regional partnership, we should all take a page from Dr. Rizal’s words. His message remains important as we still find ourselves plagued by poverty and injustices in Southeast Asia.”

Malaysia’s parliament was closed in January, supposedly due to pandemic, which broke out a year ago. The king has urged 18 political party heads to reconvene, no more delays. Reports are that when parliament resumes late this month, Anwar might be installed as new prime minister, with his People’s Justice Party to lead a new majority coalition.

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The Philippines’ confused pandemic response shows in the use of face shields. Advising people for weeks to continue wearing them, health officials cite studies of 96 percent protection from infection by wearing face shields with masks. Added to physical distancing, frequent handwashing and disinfecting, the face gear can stop the spread of the deadlier Delta variant. Mass media dutifully helped spread the word.

Wielding highest authority, President Rody Duterte told Senate President Tito Sotto last week that face shields no longer are needed except inside hospitals. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed Monday morning, June 21, that Duterte prefers discarding shields outdoors except in public transports and crowded markets. But that night Duterte ordered continued use of shields, as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Who heads the IATF and most of its working committees? The same health officials who for weeks have been advising to keep those shields on.

“Now I know why the handling of the pandemic is not good!” Sotto tweeted.

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“Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” is available as e-book and paperback. Get a free copy of “Chapter 1: Beijing’s Bullying and Duplicity”. Simply subscribe to my newsletter at: https://jariusbondoc.com/#subscribe. Book orders also accepted there.

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