Feudalism not helping democracy in Malaysia, says academic

Syed-Farid-Alatas-Feudalism-manifests-1KUALA LUMPUR: A sociologist today said the lack of democratic values among Malaysian politicians was not helping democracy in the country.

Syed Farid Alatas, who teaches at the National University of Singapore, said politicians in the country were more feudalistic in character.

“To a great extent, politicians have this feudal sense of entitlement, the feeling that they are above the law and have this sense of privilege,” he told an international conference by Istanbul Network, a think tank that focuses on the promotion of democratic values in the Muslim world.

Farid, the son of late prominent academic Syed Hussein Alatas who founded Gerakan said feudalism was a problem as it could influence the people.

“Feudalism manifests itself in terms of the outlook of politicians and this outlook then becomes prevalant among the people and colours how they view their rulers.”

But Farid welcomed the renewed interest from activists and scholars to discuss feudalism.

“In recent years, more and more people are discussing feudalism and more and more activists and scholars are writing about it in social media and the media.

“They are also going back to the works of scholars who wrote back in the 60s and 70s and this is good.”

Farid said Islam had also been interpreted by politicians in feudalistic terms, rather than its egalitarian character.

He gave the example of the Islamic decree to obey the ruler.

“This is not contextualised. It is as if Islam tells you to obey the ruler even if the ruler is oppressive or corrupt,” he said.

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