Asian Human Rights: A Critique

Asian critics offer more sophisticated arguments than expediency in their resistance against demands for greater implementation of human rights policies. Of the various arguments voiced by Asian governments I shall focus on four: 1) that human rights are culture specific; 2) that community takes precedence over individuals; 3) that social-economic rights have priority over civil political rights, and 4) that the implementation of human rights should be respected as a matter of national sovereignty.

Asian critics offer more sophisticated arguments than expediency in their resistance against demands for greater implementation of human rights policies. Of the various arguments voiced by Asian governments I shall focus on four: 1) that human rights are culture specific; 2) that community takes precedence over individuals; 3) that social-economic rights have priority over civil political rights, and 4) that the implementation of human rights should be respected as a matter of national sovereignty.

The Arguments for Asian Values Examined

Argument 1: Human rights are culture specific. Continue reading “Asian Human Rights: A Critique”

Welcoming the Stranger: Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality

Hospitality most fittingly captures the ways and welfare of the pilgrim peoples. In the act of sharing we achieve freedom from the strangling and suffocating attachment to worldly goods. When we share and receive from one another, we are reminded that we are merely stewards of God’s gifts to be used for the common good. In offering hospitality to strangers we affirm we are merely fellow pilgrims en route to the heavenly city of God.

Welcoming the Stranger
Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality

Why I Find it Hard to Recognize and Welcome Strangers
– I am a Stranger Myself
– I am a Captive to a Self-Centred LifeStyle (Economic Security and Comfort)
What Biblical Resources Challenge My Complacent/Frantic Life of Economic and Cultural Captivity?
How Can I Make Room for the Stranger?
Ministering as Fellow Pilgrims Continue reading “Welcoming the Stranger: Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality”

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia (Partially Restored Copy)

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia An Asian Christian Social Vision By Ng Kam Weng Asian Politics at the Crossroads “The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.” This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described … Continue reading “Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia (Partially Restored Copy)”

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia
An Asian Christian Social Vision
By Ng Kam Weng

Asian Politics at the Crossroads
“The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.” This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described how Asian thinkers are asserting that global issues should not be discussed on terms set by the West alone. The time has come for respectable Asian intellectuals to make contributions from Asian traditions which defend “strong family values, respect for authority, consensus in decision-making, and supremacy of the community over the individual.” Continue reading “Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia (Partially Restored Copy)”

Moral Formation of the Church: A Socio-Theological Inquiry

It is common place to declare that all religions teach us to be good. As such, protagonists relying on an ethical justification of religion often point to a set of moral values which all religions presumably affirm. . . .Nevertheless, how we are taught such goodness is often not clearly explained. It is not clear how displaying of a set of common moral values would suffice to validate the ethical significance of religion.

The secularity of modern pluralistic societies also means that moral values are not the preserve of religions. The current dominance of rationalistic ethics in moral education is a case in point.


Moral Formation of the Church: A Socio-Theological Inquiry

Ng Kam Weng

I wrote this article more than fifteen years ago. Discerning readers will note that I made good use of Stanley Hauerwas on the subject of moral formation and Christian identity. I must confess that I have since concluded that his work is good only for the preliminary task of social critique and that it lacks resources for constructive social engagement. At the least we need to offer a framework for the Church to contribute to the building of the common good in pluralistic society, in answer to Muslims who charge that Christianity has no social relevance. For this positive task I find more resources from writers of the Amsterdam Reformed Philosophy – Herman Dooyeweerd, Abraham Kuyper and James Skillen. Continue reading “Moral Formation of the Church: A Socio-Theological Inquiry”

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia

“The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.�? This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described how Asian thinkers are asserting that global issues should not be discussed on terms set by the West alone. The time has come for respectable Asian intellectuals to make contributions from Asian traditions which defend “strong family values, respect for authority, consensus in decision-making, and supremacy of the community over the individual.�? Additional note was taken of policies that worked in Asia such as “a social contract between people and state which guarantees basic needs and law and order in exchange for respect for authority and self-reliance without welfarism, a morally clean environment, a free but responsible press,�? and the rejection of “the extreme form of individualism practiced in the West.�?

Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia
An Asian Christian Social Vision
By Ng Kam Weng

Asian Politics at the Crossroads
“The Asian way: Regional Thinkers Put Homegrown Ideas before the World.” This was the provocative title for a leading article published in the March 2 1994 issue of Asiaweek. The article described how Asian thinkers are asserting that global issues should not be discussed on terms set by the West alone. The time has come for respectable Asian intellectuals to make contributions from Asian traditions which defend “strong family values, respect for authority, consensus in decision-making, and supremacy of the community over the individual.” Additional note was taken of policies that worked in Asia such as “a social contract between people and state which guarantees basic needs and law and order in exchange for respect for authority and self-reliance without welfarism, a morally clean environment, a free but responsible press,” and the rejection of “the extreme form of individualism practiced in the West.”

Continue reading “Covenant Politics and Pluralist Democracy for a New Asia”

Review: Gellner, Civil Society & Conditions of Liberty

‘Civil Society’ has become fashionable in local political discourse. This slogan was overlooked despite the prominence it gained as a platform to rally human rights activists in their struggle against communist rulers in Eastern Europe. Only when the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Anwar Ibrahim linked Civil Society (Masyrakat Madani) to democracy did the term generate curiosity and excitement. A relatively unknown term was suddenly transformed into a buzzword among the local intelligentsia.

CONDITIONS OF LIBERTY: CIVIL SOCIETY AND ITS RIVALS

Author: Ernest Gellner

Reviewer: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

‘Civil Society’ has become fashionable in local political discourse. This slogan was overlooked despite the prominence it gained as a platform to rally human rights activists in their struggle against communist rulers in Eastern Europe.  Only when the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Anwar Ibrahim linked Civil Society (Masyrakat Madani) to democracy did the term generate curiosity and excitement. A relatively unknown term was suddenly transformed into a buzzword among the local intelligentsia. Continue reading “Review: Gellner, Civil Society & Conditions of Liberty”

Intellectuals in Politics

The modern state no longer needs to imprison or shoot intellectuals. It has become pragmatic and welcomes intellectuals albeit on terms set by the state itself. As one senior government commented, current leaders are only interested in the question of whether a policy works. “Don’t complicate it with the question of truth.�? This seems an easy requirement for intellectuals to accept and comply with in exchange for state patronage and job security. But the outcome is the disappearance of intellectuals in the traditional sense, i.e. as those who speak out of a non-partisan commitment to the wider truth even if it means confronting the state. Hence the prophetic fulfillment of Julian Benda’s classic essay on the “betrayal of the intellectuals�?.

INTELLECTUALS IN POLITICS

Publisher: RKP 1997

Editors: Jeremy Jennings and Anthony Kemp-Welch

The modern state no longer needs to imprison or shoot intellectuals. It has become pragmatic and welcomes intellectuals albeit on terms set by the state itself. As one senior government commented, current leaders are only interested in the question of whether a policy works. “Don’t complicate it with the question of truth.” This seems an easy requirement for intellectuals to accept and comply with in exchange for state patronage and job security. But the outcome is the disappearance of intellectuals in the traditional sense, i.e. as those who speak out of a non-partisan commitment to the wider truth even if it means confronting the state. Hence the prophetic fulfillment of Julian Benda’s classic essay on the “betrayal of the intellectuals”. Continue reading “Intellectuals in Politics”

Pluralist Democracy or Islamic State

Recently, DAP leaders criticized PAS for insisting on establishing an Islamic state while Syed Hussein Ali of the PRM called for a public debate on the issue. He suggested a compromise which seems to allow for some form of Islamic governance. Not surprisingly, leaders from BN were quick to exploit the situation by pointing out that the coalition between the opposition parties has no credibility if they could not agree on such a crucial issue.

Significantly, politicians who reject PAS’s Islamic state have not gone beyond a negative rejection and proposed a positive alternative while a forthright rejection of PAS’s proposal is appropriate, especially since PAS has characteristically dodged objections with the vague suggestion that the apprehension non-Muslims have about the Islamic state is simplydue to their inability to understand the true nature of the Islamic state.

PLURALIST DEMOCRACY OR ISLAMIC STATE?

Recently, DAP leaders criticized PAS for insisting on establishing an Islamic state while Syed Hussein Ali of the PRM called for a public debate on the issue. He suggested a compromise which seems to allow for some form of Islamic governance. Not surprisingly, leaders from BN were quick to exploit the situation by pointing out that the coalition between the opposition parties has no credibility if they could not agree on such a crucial issue.

Significantly, politicians who reject PAS’s Islamic state have not gone beyond a negative rejection and proposed a positive alternative while a forthright rejection of PAS’s proposal is appropriate, especially since PAS has characteristically dodged objections with the vague suggestion that the apprehension non-Muslims have about the Islamic state is simplydue to their inability to understand the true nature of the Islamic state. Continue reading “Pluralist Democracy or Islamic State”