‘Patani with sovereignty and spirit of freedom’
Speech by Prof. Zam: Patani Vision 2020
Sat. 2015 – 07-11 17:51
Imron Sahoh and the editorial group of Deep South Journalism School
On 9th July, 2015, Deep South Watch website publicized a special speech given by Professor Dr. Kamarulzaman Askandar from University Malaysia Sabah (UMS), a coordinator of Southeast Asia Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN) on the topic Arah Tuju Patani (Direction of Patani) at the third forum on Patani / Deep South Vision 2020 (Wawasan Patani 2020 3rd : Arah Tuju Patani), organized by People College at the auditorium of the President Office, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus (PSU Pattani). There were many representatives from civil society sector and different ethnic groups attended at the forum on Saturday, 6th June, 2015.
Future direction of Patani, where to?
Prof. Dr. Kamarulzaman started the speech saying “I am worried about having to speak on the topic Arah Tuju Patani 2020 or Direction of Patani 2020, since I am not a Patani local, but a Singaporean Malay who grew up in Malaysia. However, it is common for me as a human being who has hope for a better future for Patani and I think I understand the problems that happen in Patani, though not all.”
“The topic that I have to talk today is the future direction of Patani, which I will talk about the issue of peacebuilding process and the spirit of freedom. Freedom has various meanings, but I will talk about the issue on the spirit of freedom only because in my opinion, it is the final goal of the vision of Patani. Talking about the vision of Patani, the question is where the destination is. It is like if we are driving a car, we must have an exact direction and destination. In my opinion, the direction of Patani is peaceful Patani (patani yang sejahtera) with sovereignty (berdaulat) and the spirit of freedom (berjiwa merdeka).”
“The reason why I mention the three points above is that they are linked with freedom, freedom as a human being. I want to quote the speech of Malcolm X, a human rights activist who supported coloured people in the US. He did not move only for coloured people, but also for justice and equality. He mentioned that “We cannot separate peace from freedom because nobody can have peace without freedom”. This brings us to the question, what is the meaning of freedom? It can be divided into two main points, that is, freedom from fear and freedom from wish. In other words, it is freedom from lack.”
“Talking about fear, the first question is why do we fear? We always fear everything. In fact, we should fear god only (being Muslims). However, at present we fear everything. For example, we fear that injustice will be on us. We fear the check-points, which are all over the streets. We fear to leave home at night. We fear to express political opinions because we think that if we do so, we may be looked at as a movement supporter. It is necessary for us to throw ourselves off those fears because it is our right to make us feel that we need not fear those things. We can use the right we deserve to use without having fear that there will be somebody to arrest us or treat us badly.”
“The next issue is freedom from wish. When we look at our society, which has no development in economy, houses or others, we still lack many things. The question is, why do we lack? Why is the economy not good? Why do people have no houses? These questions are necessary as whenever we can throw ourselves off the fear of lack, we will have freedom. Freedom has various kinds, be it political freedom, area freedom, power freedom and spiritual freedom. And we want spiritual freedom. For example, though Malaysia has been an independent state for a long time, sometimes I don’t feel that I have real freedom because I still lack many things. I still lack freedom or liberty in many aspects, especially in Patani area. I see it lacks so many factors that can be called independence, because it lacks freedom.”
Poem and Patani conflict management and Haji Sulong’s demands.
Prof. Dr. Kamarulzaman read Latiff Mohidin’s poem in 1976 called Songsang. The content and the message are as follows:
kalau aku sering saja
di perayaan tahun
seperti hari ini
Apabila semua orang
telah sedia duduk
aku bangun berdiri
aku tabur padi
kalau aku sering saja
Kota Bharu, Nov 1976.
“Forgive me if I behave opposite to others, especially in the annual celebration like today. As all people sit down, I stand up. When people stand up, I sit down. When people discuss, I fall asleep. When people let pigeons go to fly, I sprinkle paddy. Other people get freedom, but for me, not yet. I apologise if I behave differently from others. I only want to repeat memory.” (Translated by the narrator.)
“He explained that Songsang is to behave opposite to people in general. The poem above has the word ‘merdeka’, meaning freedom. As I mentioned above, there are freedom from fear and freedom from wish. When he said that other people got independence, but for him, not yet. This shows that he was struggling to be free from what was pressing on him. The question is, is seeing or behaving differently from other people or the state wrong or not? Or is it forbidden? So, who is different from whom? Are we different from people who are pressing us or people who are pressing us different from us? This is because, what we want is often fulfills what we lack or what we should have for ourselves. That is the demand for justice, the demand for progress, the demand for sovereignty and the demand for spiritual freedom. When people say that we have opposite opinion, we can also say that they also have opposite opinion. And when people ask why don’t we follow them, we can also say that why don’t they follow us? Why only we have to follow them even though everybody on this land also has sovereignty.”
Prof. Dr. Kamarulzaman also read Usman Awang’s poem called Kurang Ajar. The content and the message are as follows:
Sebuah perkataan yang paling ditakuti
Untuk bangsa kita yang pemalu
Sekarang kata ini ku ajarkan pada anakku;
Kau harus menjadi manusia kurang ajar
Untuk tidak mewarisi malu ayahmu
Lihat petani-petani yang kurang ajar
Memiliki tanah dengan caranya
Sebelumnya mereka tak punya apa
Kerana ajaran malu dari bangsanya
Suatu bangsa tidak menjadi besar
Tanpa memilik sifat kurang ajar
Some words are scare for a shy nation like us.
At present, I teach my children “You must be shameless.” to discontinue your father shyness. Look, those shameless farmers own the land by using this method although they previously owned nothing. This comes from the lesson of their shy nation.
A nation cannot be powerful if it is not shameless. (Translated by the narrator.)
“What Latiff Mohidin mentioned in Songsang and Usman Awang in Kurang Ajar reflect three issues about conflict management that some of you may have studied, be it in the conflicting situation at present, or the behaviour of each person in a conflicting situation, including the attitude towards the conflict and the trend of conflict. If there is a negative attitude, the behaviour is also negative. On the contrary, if the attitude is positive, everything will all be positive.”
“We can consider the proximity of the two poems mentioned above and see how relevant they are to the conflict management. If we take these as an example, we will not be surprised at what happens in this world. If Patani people behave differently or shamelessly to demand justice, to make peace, to have sovereignty and to save the spirit and become people with spiritual freedom, we cannot say that this is wrong because it is a part of human beings who want to save what is missing and resist the obstruction that prevents them to go ahead. The question is which direction Patani will go in 2020 to lead us to progress our society, to have spiritual freedom and for our descendants. If we do not do anything, we will leave a sin to our descendants. Therefore, we must think what to do.”
“The demand above is not new. And the Patani issue is also not new because the root of the problem has happened since 1786 when Patani lost and has been under the occupation of Siam and lost its sovereignty. The demand or the need at present is not new. How much did our forefathers devote in the past to demand what they thought is necessary for us today? We ourselves should get up and make demands because we have not received what is deserved. If we still do not get it, it does not matter. Keep trying and finding the way out. What we really want may not be very difficult, because we want peaceful society and spiritual freedom.”
In the past Haji Sulong Abdul Ramae made 7 demands as we all know, for instance, to teach Malay language at school; to allow Malay to be one of the formal languages; to let the tax collected be used in the local; to have Syariah Courts. Are his demands impossible to happen? Is it very difficult to fulfill what he asked for? However, today, we do not get all what he asked for. It is necessary for us to continue asking for these demands. We should not be shy to call for what we deserve though sometimes we are shameless.”
We will not reach peace if our spirits have no freedom.
“Going back to what I mentioned above that I will talk on the issue about peacebuilding process and spiritual freedom. That is to say, we will not reach peace if our spirits have no freedom. When looking back the peacebuilding process initiated by Thai Government since 2013 with Ustaz Hassan Toyib group and it was not successful, somebody said that such talks were not very good. However, some people said that it was good as it was the beginning of peace. For me, it does not matter if such talks looked weak, but it was a starting point. However, we have to see what has happened with the peacebuilding process, whether it is successful or not. We should always make assessment.”
“Of course, peacebuilding process always has obstacles. The question is what the obstacles are. First of all, it is the central government or Bangkok that faces political and government problems. Furthermore, do we know what we will get from the prospective peacebuilding process? Will Patani people get justice or not? Or, will we have an opportunity to progress? Or, do we just want to reduce violent incidents? And is this called peace? Whether those who will join in peace talk process really represent Patani people? What is important is whether Patani people have unity? How many groups are there in Patani? Today we talk about the direction of Patani in this nature, while other groups may talk about the direction of Patani in different nature. It is like when we tie many horses and when we clap our hands, they will run in different directions, pulling the rope here and there. This is because we did not tie them in the same direction.”
Patani people have sufficient potential to build peace by themselves.
“Today both sides still use violence. The question is who are victims of the incidents? The answer is all of us are the victims. The third party, on the contrary, is not a mediator, but the facilitator only. However, all of you have sufficient potential to put forward this matter. Every disheartenment must be kept as a lesson for us to go further because I believe that all of you have potential and the potential derives from yourselves. For instance, the potential that you are able to make until you get People College today. This is one option that can be used to replace violence.”
“I want to emphasise that all of you have the potential. Every single person has the potential. There is a theory saying that when changing or solving some problems, we must go through a period called “a painful condition” first. However, I do not agree with this theory though it is correct. This is because I have a question whether it is necessary that everybody must get pain in order to change the conflicts. Up to now, are we not painful enough? We should have enough because Patani people have suffered for a long time already. It is important that when we think of our descendants, we should give something good to their future.”
“Even though we have difficulties today, it is to make our descendants happy in the future without having any fears. Therefore, we need to find positive solutions, such as the work of People College or Prince of Songkla University, or the work of civil society sector, such as Deep South Watch and others. All these have potential and the potential will be even stronger if we have unity. It will be even stronger if we have a vision, but it must a mutual vision. Both the management and the grass-root levels must have the same direction. Both inside and outside the country must also have the same vision. This is one of the methods that can build strength of an ethnic. This is not a question for us only, but a question for an ethnic that wants progress, sovereignty and spiritual freedom.”