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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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KJ wants Umno homecoming, but old guard want to fight the future - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, July 16, 2018
Khairy Jamaluddin
Malaysiakini : “I'm Jack's complete lack of surprise.” - Narrator, Fight Club
COMMENT | With Umno going full metal far right, the only person in the largest opposition party who seems to be talking any sense is former youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
His failed bid for the Umno grand poohbah post indicates that the old guard and their old ways will continue to hold dominion over the Umno base. Khairy’s rhetoric of Umno being a big tent party for the Malays is from the playbook of the GOP, which makes similar claims. But unfortunately, that’s not the reality.
A long time ago, when I first started writing for Malaysiakini, I made it known that Khairy was my bête noire. No idea why I said it, but something about this young man rubbed me the wrong way. I could go over the litany of his misdeeds, but that would be hypocritical considering I have advocated for the motley bunch that runs Putrajaya now.
I have to take Khairy’s rhetoric at face value. With MCA down for the count for the time being and MIC – god only knows what they’re doing – the only opposition we have is a Malay one.
I doubt anyone could make a decent argument as to how Umno and PAS are going to make an effective opposition for all Malaysians. This leaves a few lone political operatives to hold the current establishment accountable. Khairy is one of them. And it’s going to be one hell of job. Not only is he going to face the online opprobrium of Pakatan Harapan partisans, he’s also going to have to face the machinations of his own party. The reality is that even at the height of his influence, Khairy was despised by the far right elements who are now firmly in control.
A reader asked me, how I would react if Khairy joined Bersatu or any other Harapan party. My answer is, why not? Have you seen the so-called best and the brightest of Harapan? At least Khairy talks a good game and has practical experience when it comes to the business of governing.
Besides, at this moment, there are games afoot between the various Harapan power groups, which would make it very interesting if someone like Khairy was in the mix. If he brings his base over to Harapan – and he does have a base – it would be interesting to see how this impacts the various Malay power blocs in the coalition.
Sticking with Umno
Khairy has publicly claimed that he is sticking with Umno. But does Umno need or want him? Well, yeah, they need him, but they definitely would not be sad to see him go. Right now, there is a middle-road Malay base which supports Umno, but who are glad to see the back of the former grand Umno poohbah Najib Abdul Razak. This same group is also despondent that Khairy lost and the opportunity to reform Umno into an urban-based Malay political outfit has gone up in smoke.
To be honest, I was a little taken aback by the emails I received and the number of young Umno-aligned Malays who invited me to their chat groups, all devastated that Khairy lost. They were articulate in their views of how the party needs to reform. What really got to me was their belief that they were the young generation that would reform Umno and this was the beginning of a new ‘Malay renaissance.’
I think what Khairy gets right is that there is a movement within Umno which understands that the far right gambit is one of diminishing returns. As long as Bersatu has DAP and PKR as its wingmen, they control the middle ground.
Umno, meanwhile, has nobody but PAS. At this moment, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whether you like it or not, defines the Malay middle ground, even if he does not have the base. Honestly, the Harapan grand poohbah is slowly building up Bersatu, and adheres to the mantra ‘If you build it they will come’. This is the Malay future, as Mahathir and his coterie define it.
Umno's roots
So when someone like Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman claims that Khairy is “liberal,” and compounds it by saying that: “We are going back to our principles according to the party constitution. If he thinks we have to be more liberal compared to what we have been doing now, then I beg to differ” is really dumb.
What do you think Khairy is doing but hearkening back to the days when Umno was an effective means to govern with its centrist ideology – well, for Malaysia - and its effective (English language) educated bureaucrats?
The Malays who support someone like Khairy are talking about the Malays and how Umno has failed in the agenda of making them modern and competitive, while the party fat cats send their children to liberal schools and lead extravagant lifestyles. Meanwhile, the average Umno-supporting Malay has to rely on handouts to survive in this competitive ever-changing world. This is the realpolitik when it comes to the Malay dilemma.
Indeed, when we talk about Umno back in the day of English-educated bureaucrats, this is what these party ‘liberals’ want to go back to. Does the Umno base want this? As Khairy said, it is difficult, but this is what leadership is supposed to be about, right? When Mohd Arshad Raji writes about how Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan understand a thing or two about leadership, what do you think he is talking about?
There was a time when Umno the ‘liberal’ entity – staffed by English-educated bureaucrats who took pride in their jobs before you know who – decided that race and religion was a safer bet to ensure compliance from the Malay community. Apparently, those were the days when all was good in our land of plenty. Maybe that was not the case, but it sure as hell was better than the way Umno turned into a bloated, lecherous ethnoreligious entity which conned the majority into thinking it was the only game in town.
Khairy’s middle path is, in reality, Umno returning to its roots. This is what the foolish in Umno do not understand. But Mahathir does, which is why is he attempting to replicate the formula he had a part in wrecking.
The problem is that he has to contend with the ethnoreligious nonsense that he cultivated for years, and thus has to pay heed to the rumblings from the cretins who insist that they need to shore up a particular kind of Malay support – the same support which will diminish if Harapan can handle the vagaries of the economy. That is the future.
If, as Khairy advocates, Umno has a homecoming in its return to its centrist, educated roots, it may have a chance; but the old guard wants to fight the future.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:07 AM   0 comments
The fascist attacks against Fadiah Nadwa Fikri - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, July 14, 2018

Malaysiakini : "It is said that there's a democracy... but clearly it's a lie.” - Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, lawyer
COMMENT | When I first heard that this young lawyer was to be questioned by the cops over her allegedly seditious article about the monarchy, I was ambivalent. I had not read her article but the way how things are in Malaysia, the slightest “provocation” meant that people were called up for saying the most innocuous things. Then I read her piece.
Make no mistake, what Fadiah wrote is but one side of the argument. A side which has been forcibly silenced over the long Umno watch and now it would seem attempted to be silenced by the nascent power brokers in Putrajaya. It is a side that many Malaysians subscribe to but who fear speaking up for a variety of reasons. It is a side which is a game changer when it comes to how politics is perceived, practised and evolves in this country. This is the reason why some fear what she wrote.
Besides Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, where are all the other political operatives who before the elections were shouting about how the Umno state was a failed state because freedom of speech was assaulted almost daily and the horrible Umnoputras were destroying democracy? I guess not spooking the Malays does not extend to someone like Fadiah because "these" types of Malays obviously do not count.
Let us not be precious. The ruling elite over the decades has curtailed the power of the monarchy. The last attempt was a brazen power grab by the former Umno regime through the National Security Council (NSC) gambit. The current Pakatan Harapan grand poobah has done his fair share of rabble-rousing when it comes to the power and the role of the monarchy. When it is convenient to defend the institution of the monarchy as a sacred cow of Malay/Muslim politics, political operatives jump up and down attempting to outdo one another in burnishing their ethnic and religious credentials.
All the while, the average rakyat, like what Fadiah describes, are left to the whims and fancy of political operatives who do not wish to change the paradigm because to do so would probably level the playing field and require them to actually engage in the political process to garner votes.
In my most recent article about Harapan waffling on abolishing the NSC Act, I alluded to this idea that curtailing (even further) the powers of the monarchy could be done legitimately without retaining the NSC - "Recent events and the shocking behaviour of royalty before and after the elections demonstrate that perhaps we are better off with formalising certain powers of the executive which further curtail the powers of the royalty. Those issues which Mahathir - and yes, people like me - claimed were being taken away from the royalty are perhaps better left in the hands of the executive without any need of consultation with the royalty."
What this young lawyer wrote was clearly articulated, well-thought through and needed to be said. It goes deeper than that though. It goes to the heart of the kind of feudalism sans monarchy that is this political system. When a certain group of Malays are exempt from the harsh glare of the religious police for behaviour which get the average not politically or socially connected Muslim in trouble, this is one example of the feudal system which is the reality for the majority community.
While this is the reality of the majority community, it is also our reality for obvious reasons. When Fadiah says this for instance – “Any attempt to break the fortress built around this existing system in order to democratise the space for people to assert their political existence is often met with harsh criticism and rebuke. As a result, the power to shape the future and direction of the country remains in the hands of the privileged few, thus further alienating the voices of the many, in particular the marginalised. Genuine democracy which seeks to place people at its heart therefore remains out of reach.” This helplessness in the face of state power is felt by every Malaysians regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation.
Did I say political operatives do not want to change the paradigm? A little nuance is needed. What I mean is, they do not want to change the paradigm unless it suits their purposes. Now sometimes the agenda of political operatives aligns with the rakyat but most times, especially in Malaysia, we have been programmed to accept their agenda as something pragmatic because sacred cows are in reality beasts meant to frighten the rakyat from speaking truth to power.
Some folks will say, let the political operatives operate behind the scene and do not rock the boat. This only emboldens elements which are detrimental to democracy in this country. People hold their representative accountable and if political operatives believe that they know better and a compliant rakyat will shout down dissenters, they will operate only when it suits their purposes and not the rakyat.
Three questions
Look at the three questions Fadiah posed –
1. Mengapa golongan yang darahnya merah, semerah darah mereka yang dipaksakan kepatuhan kepada golongan itu, mempunyai hak keistimewaan tersendiri?
2. Mengapa golongan yang memerah hasil keringat mereka yang bersusah payah berjuang untuk terus hidup dan mencari kehidupan yang manusiawi perlu diberikan layanan dan pemujaan persis tuhan?
3. Mengapa golongan yang dikurniakan secara mutlak mengikut budi bicara sendirinya kuasa besar dan kekayaan yang dirampas daripada mereka yang diperhambakan, kebal daripada kepertanggunjawaban?
Do you think these three questions are important? Do you feel that for far too long we have been under the thrall of an ideology which not only forces us to make pragmatic decisions which has impeded our identities, competitiveness and our sense of community in a fast-changing world? Do you think these questions are seditious? Do you think that our country is better off if we did not ask these questions? Do you think that this supposed New Malaysia is the right place to ask these questions?
Keep in mind the political elites have been asking these questions in their own way for their own agenda for decades. It is just that these questions have been verboten for the average schmuck pushed around for decades.
Are my questions seditious? Is this a crime on the same terrain of terrorising a convenience store in the name of religion? Because that is what it boils down to. People who do not want to be questioned and accusing the people who just want a discourse of sedition. Is this the new Malaysia where people are told not to rock the boat because to do so would spook the majority?
Has anyone ever done a detailed study on what the majority wants? Even if the opinion of the majority is divided, this is no reason to shut down the discourse. This merely means that people have to win over their detractors with reason. But reason has no place in the pen of sacred cows.
This is why attacks against this young lawyer are fascist. The attacks are fascist in form and substance. The attacks are anathema to a kind of Malaysia which is possible, if only more people have the courage to begin the discourse and the state does not shut down the discourse because their agendas are in peril.
I have been down on this whole New Malaysia idea. Honestly reading what Fadiah wrote gives people a sense of optimism. Not that her side is right (this is what discussions are for) but finally we are able to have this conversation.
Let us see if the state snuffs out this optimism.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:59 AM   0 comments
Mahathir’s patently unfair cabinet by P Gunasegaram
Friday, July 13, 2018

Malaysiakini : COMMENT | If fairness becomes secondary to your desire to hold the reins of power and to exercise any prerogative you may or may not have in your own favour, how much better are you than your predecessors?
One can argue till the cows come home and one can muster all kinds of distorted reasoning to support one’s beloved leader and current hero, but there is only one fair way to allocate cabinet positions - it must reflect at least roughly the proportion of parliamentary seats the respective parties won.
Otherwise, it is simply not a reflection of the desire of the people as shown in the polls and one can draw a clear and unwanted parallel to the gerrymandering that has been prevalent in our polls for a long time whereby some constituencies are several times the size of others. Certainly not something that Pakatan Harapan, or the majority of Malaysians, want.
When we look at the composition of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet, it is patently unfair and ridiculous. It represents a barely disguised attempt to usurp power in favour of his own Bersatu, which won only 13 of 52 seats it contested in Peninsular Malaysia, by far the worst showing of any of the component parties at a 25% win rate.
To illustrate how ridiculous the situation is, consider this: Bersatu has 13 MPs and all but two of them have become either ministers (6), deputy ministers (4) or menteri besar (Mahathir’s son Mukhriz who is Kedah menteri besar). Probably all MPs but Mahathir, Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz are first-time MPs. So, up to eight first-time MPs have become either ministers or deputy ministers.
What a travesty of justice when long-time parties such as PKR and DAP who have many multiple-term MPs have been simply left out in the cold. PKR had many Malay MPs who could have easily filled positions much better than the raw, untested material that Bersatu had to offer besides Mahathir and Muhyiddin.
Let’s look at the proportion of parliamentary seats of each party relative to the proportion of members in the cabinet and deputies. The numbers for cabinet positions and deputies are taken from this article in Malaysiakini, which also highlights the severe under-representation of PKR and DAP in the cabinet.
The figures speak for themselves. While PKR has 39% of seats in the coalition, they have only 26% of cabinet positions. In contrast, Bersatu with 11% of seats has 22% of cabinet positions, double what they are entitled to. In terms of numbers, if the proportionate principle is applied, PKR should have 10 to 11 cabinet positions instead of seven, while Bersatu should have two to three instead of six.
PM’s prerogative
The sequence of events indicates a devious, orchestrated and managed attempt to shore up Mahathir’s power and give him much more control of the country and how it is run by using so-called prime ministerial prerogative to choose his cabinet, and using an organised campaign to push such views across.
The talk about such prime ministerial prerogative - which comes up over and over in online comments - is specious and holds no sway in a completely different context where Mahathir’s party is a minority partner in the coalition where the big boys are clearly PKR and DAP.
By using so-called public opinion, which sometimes is manipulated by planted opinions, and the myth that Mahathir alone won the elections for all Malaysians, he has chosen to ignore the basic rules in any coalition - consultation and consensus as far as that is possible.
He inveigled himself into the hearts of DAP by offering its supremo Lim Guan Eng the coveted finance minister’s position, apparently without prior consultation with PKR which had the highest number of seats in the coalition with 48. Anwar Ibrahim’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was named deputy prime minister.
After that, Mahathir could do no wrong in the eyes of the DAP and the DAP sang Mahathir’s praises and his so-called vision and foresight. When PKR’s Rafizi Ramli questioned why Mahathir was being non-consultative, he was roundly chastised - and rather rudely - by a storm of cybertroopers.
At the same time of the announcement of Lim as finance minister, other announcements of the core team were Muhyiddin as the home minister, which should have been offered to PKR considering that Mahathir was only going to be transitional prime minister until Anwar took over. Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu took on the Defence Ministry.
Mahathir delayed the announcement of the full cabinet until July 4, an unprecedented almost two months after the elections. Instead he, simultaneously with the core ministers group, announced a Jedi-like council of elders or Council of Eminent Persons as it was formally known. This was headed by his close friend and controversial former finance minister Daim Zainuddin who many are uncomfortable with to this day.
This council seemed to be taking care of important matters instead of a properly constituted cabinet.  Other members were former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas CEO Hassan Marican, Hong Kong-based Malaysian tycoon 94-year-old Robert Kuok, and economics professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
Meantime, Mahathir’s tone became more vague about when he will step down as prime minister. Before he joined Harapan and Anwar’s campaign to oust Najib Razak, he said that he was not interested in becoming prime minister - he only wanted to help remove Najib. That changed to he does not mind that if the people wanted it but it will only be for a transition period of perhaps two years.
And then he said that he may have to stay on longer if it was needed and left open the date when Anwar would replace him. That has raised much concern within PKR, although many did not voice it the way Rafizi did, there is definite uneasiness within PKR about Mahathir’s intentions.
Cosy ties
But this did not seem to be the case with DAP, which struck a cosy relationship with Mahathir post Lim becoming finance minister, with both echoing each other about how bad the debt situation in the country was but providing little substance to their argument, as this article explains.
In fact, insiders say DAP played a big role in convincing Harapan to accept Mahathir as interim prime minister in favour of the straight and honest Wan Azizah who was considered not to be savvy enough when it comes to politics.
In fact, when the king asked Wan Azizah to form the new cabinet as the leader of the party with the highest seats (remember, they all, except for Warisan, contested under the PKR symbol), she politely turned him down and said the coalition has chosen Mahathir as the prime minister. Wan Azizah then went on to ask the king to pardon her husband, which he readily agreed to.
But Mahathir is not one to necessarily honour the spirit of agreements, which in the case of his position in Harapan meant that he needs to consult Harapan leaders even if he is prime minister. This is, after all, the new Malaysia. The prime minister’s party can no longer rule by itself. He needs the support of the others. His prerogative can be removed by his coalition partners by removing him as coalition leader. That is the way it should be. No more dictatorship through the exercise of prerogative.
DAP’s cosy relationship ended when Mahathir did not make adjustments in his final cabinet list. Rumblings of discontent over the final cabinet list spread through the DAP and Mahathir was criticised for not selecting members from the list submitted by the component parties.
Harapan’s mistake was not to agree on cabinet composition criteria before agreeing to Mahathir as prime minister and now the PM was exercising his prerogative. But it is a prerogative that must be exercised judiciously, repeat, judiciously.
In fact, one name which reports say he chose was PKR’s Azmin Ali (below) for the powerful economy ministry although this was not proposed by PKR because Azmin was already sworn in as Selangor menteri besar. That may have been done to further dilute Anwar’s influence by raising the alternative scenario of Azmin becoming prime minister in the future.
Prerogative does not mean a licence to appoint whoever and appoint political novices who have no proven expertise in any area into the cabinet. Two examples will suffice - Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Rina Harun.
There is no record I could find of Syed Saddiq ever having held a job. This 26-year old goes from a student straight into the cabinet as youth and sports minister when they are so many other more capable leaders within Harapan. Rina is rural and regional development minister and was a former Umno politician. On the other hand, her deputy is prominent PKR lawyer and social activist R Sivarasa, one of those who has tirelessly been campaigning for decades against BN. How unfair is that?
Surely, this kind of blatant unfairness is not what Harapan wants. Mahathir’s excesses - and he does not have the power in terms of parliamentary seats to do this - can only be checked if the two main long-standing partners in Harapan stand together as one and do not let themselves be divided by anyone, and most of all the ever-wily Mahathir.
The lesson PKR and DAP should learn is to stick together and be united and remember why they wanted to overthrow BN in the first place. Otherwise, Mahathir is going to prove to be a menace in future insistent on doing it his way without due consultation. Note: This article is the first in a series about Malaysia post-GE14. The next article deals with the question: Did Mahathir win the elections for Malaysians?


P GUNASEGARAM says we must never again surrender our right to question and criticise - fairly. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 6:37 PM   0 comments
Why is Zakir Naik still in our country? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Malaysiakini : “You perceive the force of a word. He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense... Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.”- Joseph Conrad, author
COMMENT | It is really a funny question, right? When I say “our” and there are people who were born here, like Letchumie Sinnan who has been given the run around by the bureaucracy for 20 years and been stuck in permanent resident limbo, while a demagogue, alleged money launderer and extremist sympathiser like Zakir Naik get feted by the political and social elite.
Meanwhile, there are thousands of Indians and Chinese who have to eke out a living and contribute to the economy but are not considered citizens of this country. Over the years, I have met and attempted to help - in my own small ineffectual way - dozens of Malaysians to get their MyKad. It is really galling to witness a religious hatemonger like Zakir Naik being defended by the political elite in this country of the Islamic persuasion, while so many - a legion, I would say - have no one to speak up for them.
The fact there are Indians and Chinese in this country who are considered, for whatever reasons, permanent residents (if they are lucky) and the state wilfully refuses to recognise them as citizens, while Zakir Naik gets to spread his horse manure in comfort, is an insult for anyone who has served this country, either in the state security apparatus, in the teaching profession or whatever else capacity that has made this country what it is today.
Let me say this. I bet my last ringgit that all these Malaysians who have been denied their citizenship, who have been given the run around by the bureaucracy and who toil in menial jobs unable to get a foothold, I bet that they have contributed more to this country than the radicals like Zakir Naik. All those people I have attempted to help over the years display a profound love and loyalty to this county, even though they have been marginalised.
Someone like me often wonders, how could you love this country when it doesn’t even recognise you? How can you be loyal to this country when it has willfully abandoned you? We live in a great country is their common refrain. Yeah, a great country, where the likes of Zakir Naik get to say what he likes and (now) to be deported only if he misbehaves.
Tell me, what does “not creating problems” mean? What would it take for Zakir Naik to be kicked out of this country? What exactly is the threshold here? We all know that Zakir Naik uses words to instigate, demean and mock other cultures and religions. We know that his words are meaningful to large sections of the Malay polity, even though they may not understand him.
We know that he remains unrepentant since he has probably met with every Malay power broker of note in this country. So, what exactly does misbehaving mean? His kind of Islam is supposedly the antithesis of the kind of Islam Harapan wants to propagate. Or is it?
Kudos to P Ramasamy, the Penang deputy chief minister II, for giving it his all when it comes to the extradition of Zakir Naik. What I want to know is why aren’t the rest of the Harapan gang coming out with a unified comment on this issue. Are the major power players in Harapan reserving comment? Are they too busy, thinking up ways of how not to spook the Malays?
Freedom of speech?
Every time I write about Zakir Naik, I get many emails from people – Malays – berating me for insulting this man. I sincerely do not get it. When I provide evidence – Zakir Naik’s own words – of the racist, bigoted and inflammatory speeches he has made, it is ignored. When I explain why non-Muslims would be offended by what he says about our religions, it is ignored or dismissed, as not understanding his intent.
When I attempt to provide an analysis of why, even if you were not religious, Zakir Naik’s words amount to incitement against secular democracies, I am told that he is an expert and thus qualified to speak about everything under the sun. Why do we need this man in our country? What possible service has he done for Malaysians that warrant the political elite to think of him as someone who is an asset to this country?
And here's the thing, if there was freedom of speech like the kind Zakir Naik has for everyone, nobody would have an issue with him. But we have blatant double standards that border on malicious. It is the smirk which tells us that he can say things without consequences but the ‘kafirs’ have to take it.
The last time I wondered if Zakir Naik was a security threat, I got hate mail up the wazoo. Here’s what I wrote - “However, Zakir is a special case. In a time when the Islamist agenda in this country is taking new forms and the agenda is promulgated by new alliances, a preacher like Zakir who specialises in deepening already established cultural and religious rifts is a threat to national security.”
I get it. I see all these huge rallies, and the Malay/Muslim hegemons don’t want to be the Muslims who deported Zakir Naik to India. The country, which even our local preacher took a dig at in a poem which managed to insult the Hindu community, but he insisted was a personal letter to the prime minister of India. Nobody wants to be the pious Malay/Muslim political leader who said that Zakir Naik does not belong in this country.
Ramasamy (photo above) hammers the point home when he reminds the Malaysian government that they deported Chinese Uighurs and Sri Lankan Tamils back to their countries of origin.
What is the hold up with Zakir Naik? Why is he a special case? You know what I think. I think the reason why Zakir Naik is not deported – secret deal or not – is that the Malaysian government does not consider what he is alleged to have done in India a crime. They probably justify those charges as religious persecution against a beloved Muslim preacher. They probably think that anyone who disagrees with what Zakir Naik says is Islamophobic.
Why is it, for some people, the beauty of their religion is only found in the vilification of other religions?
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 5:29 PM   0 comments
The problem with Mujahid’s ‘moderation’ - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

Malaysiakini : “It needs a new face with new ideas, but everything stays in order to improve. So, the question of doing away with Jakim has not arisen at all.” – Mujahid Yusof Rawa
COMMENT | A recent Nancy Graham Holm article in Huffington Post, which examines the fallout from a BBC4 radio programme about ‘progressive Islam’, is worth reading because it highlights issues that are germane to the kind of Islamic politics this new Pakatan Harapan regime is attempting to propagate.
The man now in the Islamic hot seat is the always-charming Mujahid Yusof Rawa. In a Malay Mail interview, he assured people that the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) and its bloated budget were "vital" to the smooth running of the government. He also claimed that under the previous administration, a "huge" amount of the budget went into the pockets of various state-level religious operatives for various reasons, which included Islamic schools.
As for the think-tank under his purview, the Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute (Iksim), he said that he would consult the Council of Rulers when he has to decide on its fate. Siti Kasim is right when she mocks Mujahid for enabling Jakim and its huge budget, and his dodge of getting the royalty involved when it comes to Iksim – a private think-tank that has nothing to do with royalty. What new ideas can Mujahid bring to Jakim? If everything has to stay in order to improve, then what is the point of new ideas anyway?
Big on rhetoric
Mujahid talks in platitudes, never in detail. His answers lack nuance, but are big on the feel-good rhetoric some supporters lap up. How's this for you: new ideas are welcome, and maybe what Mujahid should be doing is rejecting old ideas which have done nothing but divide this country and the Malay-Muslim majority.
In a series of interviews with Malaysiakini, he proclaimed many ideas that rational Malaysians want from the Islamic discourse and ministries in this country. Many were no doubt impressed with the political and religious sentiments expressed by the head honcho of religious affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department. However, a cursory examination of his statements reveals that Mujahid’s rhetoric does not stand up to scrutiny.
Let us take this statement for instance. “When it comes to morality, that is their personal space. But don’t publicly encourage it in the open because it then becomes an offence under the law.”
This seems ‘reasonable’ on first reading, right? But then why do religious authorities intrude in the personal spaces of Muslims and non-Muslims at all? Why do religious authorities raid homes and private establishments looking for transgressions? Is Mujahid claiming that under this new administration, these practices would stop? Is he claiming that Muslims would be allowed to live in peace however they choose, as long as it is in private?
By the way, some of the things some religions consider an “offence under the law” are upheld as human rights in functional democracies all over the world. Some of the things Islam and other religions consider ‘haram’ or ‘sinful’ are accepted basic human rights in the rest of the democratic world.
Mujahid claims that Harapan does not want to politicise religion, but this of course is complete horse manure. If you really did not want to politicise religion, then you would not have to look to any kind of Islamic jurisprudence or alternative views to justify policy decisions you make. In his own words, he claims that in order to contemporise Islam, he needs to look at other Islamic sources. The claim that Islam is not partisan is ludicrous.
And that is the problem right there. PAS, for instance, in wanting amendments to the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355, is in keeping with their ideological and religious stance.
The question, is, why hasn’t Harapan come out and declared that they are against Act 355? If this wasn't an issue about politics – and as Mujahid himself contends that parties that make use of racial and religious issues are no longer relevant – then this really should not be an issue or problem for Harapan.
Change takes time?
But reality without the Kool-Aid is different. It is a reality that demands so-called moderate Muslims – especially political operatives – to indulge in the moderate pablum when they are actually choosing to commit to the same kind of Islamic agendas to remain in power. Never once do they think that the paradigm needs to be changed. Why is that?
Some Harapan political operatives and supporters knew very well what kind of Islamic agendas were in Harapan, but chose to spread the dogma of moderation and mock the naysayers.
Therein lies the rub. Mujahid wants an Islam that is convivial and not confrontational. However, when a religion – any religion – is made the religion of the state, it is, by very definition, potentially confrontational. Non-Muslims have to understand then when it comes to Islam in this country, secular rules of engagement do not apply.
Mujahid, for instance, does not seek counsel or guidance from a wide range of secular knowledge that has proven beneficial to the advancement of societies all over the world. Instead what he seeks is how to shape his moderate views within the Islamic canon. Take the issue of unilateral conversions for instance. Sure, there was that bill that was pulled by Umno, but there really is no need for deeper study or alternative views on this issue in Islamic jurisprudence. Unilateral conversion is religious kidnapping.
It is an obscene attempt to impose a religion sanctioned by the state on a child who has no choice. The solution is simple. Ban it. No parent can unilaterally convert a child. Would someone like Mujahid ever say, “no parent can ever unilaterally convert a child”? He may find it in some obscure Islamic jurisprudence, or who knows, maybe even consult the work of the late Kassim Ahmad – but non-Muslims would still be at the mercy of the possibility of him finding something ‘fair’ in the Islamic canon or not finding anything at all.
Former Umno minister Zainuddin Maidin even challenged Mujahid to close down tahfiz schools. Why not? What kind of syllabus do these schools have? Where do their teaching aids come from?
The House of Saud has admitted that it ‘exported’ a virulent brand of Islam, and if the United Kingdom's experience is anything to go by, then we now know that the syllabus inspired by or from the kingdom does nothing but preach hatred towards non-Muslims and Muslims who do not subscribe to their version of religion, one which unfortunately has a firm grip in Malaysia.
Would Mujahid do something as revolutionary as reforming the Islamic schools here in Malaysia? As usual, people say that change takes time. Have we not heard this all before? Have we not heard the religious rhetoric of moderate political operatives or religious scholars who say change takes time? The reality is that they are merely stalling for more time. This country and the Malay majority were not always like this.
Even something like consuming alcohol in the Muslim community has changed. Except of course if you are rich. Does anyone remember how it was back in the old days, before religious operatives monopolised the way Muslims thought and behaved?
My question is simple. How can people think that Mujahid is the reformer he claims to be when he thinks that Jakim only needs a new face, and his new ideas came from the same source?
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 5:14 PM   0 comments
Bumiputeraism root of nation's racial politics - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, July 07, 2018

Without removing the NEP and introducing meritocracy the politics will not change. Trudeau once said that democracy is the tyranny of the majority and Malays, including the pseudo Malays of converts ,happened to be the majority. This country got screwed because of that, with cradle to grave mentality, has made the Bumis believe in handouts and entitlements.  

They have become rent seekers. Others have to work, you are like parasites and it's a form of protection racketeering (jizya). Stop spinning and get your head out off your butt, apparently buried too deep. - Extracted from Malaysiakini

 Malaysiakini : “These policies have been abused and misused by certain strata of the administration to benefit just a very few selected Umnoputras up the food chain, while many Malays have been ignored.” - Rais Hussin, Bersatu supreme council leader
COMMENT | I have no idea why Bersatu leader Rais Hussin would take issue with the comments of Amercian professor Meredith Weiss in the lefty magazine Jacobian since it is a rather benign piece on the Pakatan Harapan victory on May 9.
And, of course, Rais ends the way how some Malaysians end their critique of any argument, resorting to the ad hominem of the “armchair critic” and "… the safe confines of her ivory towers in the US” as if Malaysia is some sort of hotspot instead of a stable democracy that rejected a kleptocrat.
When Western academics and whistleblowers dissed former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, they were embraced - but any hint of a criticism or insight on the current Harapan new deal is scorned. 
Rais objects to the “why” this rejection of Umno came about and the obstacles (ideology in this case) for truly reforming the system which Weiss claims are the “ketuanan” ideology (bumiputeraism) and personality politics that dominate the Harapan regime. Anyone reading the article will find nothing offensive and certainly not anything resembling the literary ramblings of the New Yorker.
More importantly, what Weiss claims is something the outlier political pundits have been saying since the Harapan win, which predictably has been drowned out by the schizophrenic Harapan political operatives and the faithful. It must be swell (so far) for this new administration that people are not shouting “apartheid” whenever a Harapan political operative talks about “Malay” rights in some form or another.
Rais himself acknowledged that the previous government’s Malay rights-based initiatives would not be ditched but reformed so they help the average Malay and not the Umnoputra. The current Bersatu grand poobah latest comments on Khazanah echo the same sentiment. Has the average Malay been damned by the system set up to “lift them up”? The answer is, maybe it is the system that is the problem.
The same fable that the “Malays” need that little something extra to compete is what drives the various Malay hegemons squabbling for power amongst themselves. Malay political power structures use the same methods to ensure compliance in the Malay community but with varying degrees of compromises to their non-Malay allies.
Meanwhile, nobody from the establishment then and now pays attention to academic studies which point to a different narrative of bumiputera equity and the other sacred cows of Malay/Muslim political power structures. Try asking academic Dr Lim Teck Ghee about the reception his study received from the previous Umno administration. What do you think the current Harapan administration thinks of it?
The bumiputera agenda is always defined by its proponents as a means to elevate the Malay community. There is nothing inherently racist about this system, they argue, but it has always been "abused" by various Malay power structures. This is the foundation of the bumiputera system.
In essence, a noble endeavour corrupted by political operatives. Never that, a priori, this system has no place in any functional democracy. There’s always this element of pragmatism non-Malays have to have when we talk about this issue and acknowledging that the cost of sharing power with Malay power structures (especially those in conflict) means that we share power not as equals but as serfs to an ideology that has duped this country royally for years.
I acknowledged this spirit of “voluntarism” in another piece: “Is there some clarity in thinking this way? Is there merit in believing this pragmatism trumps the kleptocracy of the state? Pragmatism in knowing, but not saying, that it is in nobody's interest to change the system but instead replacing the power-brokers in the hopes of maintaining some kind of social and political equilibrium?”
Been there, done that
The new Malaysia discourse by non-Malays is defined by those participating actively seeking to impose dogma, causal cynicism and, of course, those optimistic that there is indeed a place for all of us under the Malaysian sun. All of which are used by the various Malay power structures (and their enablers) to sustain the Malay agenda. It’s the social contract in one form or another.
Some folks have asked me why I have not weighed in on the DAP kerfuffle about the ministerial posts and honestly, while I think the specific candidates are not the best and brightest that DAP has to offer, I think these types of power struggles and displays are part and parcel of the political process.
However, what irks me is that yet again, this is not so much an issue of craven political opportunism but rather that the racial undertones are obvious. And frankly, when people tell me to trust the current leadership when it comes to their choices of political appointees in the various ministries, I would say, “Thank you but been there, done that.” Rais puts forward the idea that change takes time but I would argue it is hampered by an ideology that stalls any kind of racial and social reform. The Fitch Group recently cautioned that the lopsided composition of power that favours Malay political structures in the new Harapan government is a time bomb that lies nestled in the Harapan regime. I would argue that it is, but one of many.
“While the number of cabinet positions that was allocated to each party was in rough accordance to their seat count, the two largest parties, centrist PKR and secular DAP are under-represented whereas the Malay-dominated parties Bersatu and Amanah enjoy over-representation. This has likely resulted in some dissatisfaction among PKR and DAP and in our view, will potentially emerge as a flashpoint in inter-party relations within the Harapan coalition.”
Sooner or later, non-Malays are going to demand more from their political leaders believing that this is a new Malaysia and this is where things will get messy. While there are many enablers in the non-Malay power structures, there are also many who want to change this country and believe the old ways of doing things are not what they signed up for. This, I believe, will be the major flashpoint in non-Malay power structures.
Removing political appointees does not demonstrate a commitment to political reform. Who replaces them and how subservient or not they are to their political masters is what demonstrates a commitment to reform. I can’t speak for anyone else, but Malaysians are used to window dressing.
If politicians say the right things, some people are impressed. But it is rarely followed by action. These issues get lost in the news cycle and before long, another BN has replaced the old one. The excesses of the previous government are easy to slash. What is harder is to slash the system that enabled such excess. “Ketuanan Melayu”, “bumiputeraism” or whatever else Malay power structures and their non-Malay enablers choose to term their systemic racism, it is what had led this country to its kleptocratic status.
Weiss rightly pointed out that rancid ideology and personality politics will hamper whatever genuine reforms the Harapan government is capable of carrying out. And this is the key. We are still in the early stages. Harapan is capable of carrying out such reforms if it so chooses.
Rais is only half-right when he argued that the Malays do not need Umno. What he forgets to mention is that the Malays need something like Umno, which means Bersatu. Or at least that is conventional Malay politics. Non-Malay political structures need that too. As long as this is the case, there is no new Malaysia.
Maybe what we will have is a neo-Malaysia.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:23 AM   0 comments
What does RM1.1b worth of BTN hate get you? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Malaysiakini : “When we don't know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” - Chuck Palahniuk, ‘Invisible Monsters’
COMMENT | Okay, I will admit to being pretty bummed out that the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) was not axed. I mean think of all the money we would save and there would be less of a need for kids to break open their piggy banks. But sure, I get it. It would look bad for the new administration if a federal religious authority was axed. As it is, the Malay far-right crowd are claiming that this new administration would destroy ‘bangsa’ (race) and ‘agama’ (religion) and culling this particular body would reinforce this perception.
But seriously, the Biro Tatanegara (BTN), spared? When the Selangor and Penang state governments banned their students and civil servants from attending these courses, it seemed as if political operatives finally got it. Even Kelantan jumped on the bandwagon, stating that they would not send their people for these brainwashing initiatives unless the BTN “curriculum was not changed in accordance with Islam.” So maybe PAS only got half of it.
Where did I get that RM1.1 billion figure? Well, Wong Chun Wai wrote a pretty good piece for The StarPretty hate machine – which neatly defined the problem with the BTN courses. And he should know, right? I’m kidding, Wong, it’s the new Malaysia so everyone has got a say. But seriously folks, people have heard stories about the BTN courses. There were testimonials of the kind of horse manure that goes on there.
Has anyone really visited their official website? I do, pretty often. The images there serve a purpose. Loads of images of Malay civil servants and the activities that BTN carries out. This provides a narrative that the dominant Malay majority are the ones who actually serve the state, serve the country and in essence, serve the political party - Umno - that supposedly serves the Malay community.
This is a powerful narrative captured in images and it is amplified when minions of Umno used to claim that it is the non-Malays who are not patriotic, it is the non-Malays’ religions which threatens Islam.
Some would argue that there are a few bad apples in the organisation, so get rid of them. Well in Wong’s article, he quotes former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Abdul Aziz, who in 2009 pushed back on the horse manure in Parliament that the work of a few bad apples sullied the programme - “Don’t think that people outside do not know about the syllabus based on patriotism for Malays. They know what the syllabus is all about, so who are we to say that it did not happen? You want to lie? You make people laugh.
“I mean, there are people who attended the courses who came out very angry. There were many instances of the use of words like Ketuanan Melayu. It is ridiculous. Do they want to say that Malaysia belongs only to the Malays and the government is only a Malay government? Should only the Malays be given the spirit of patriotism? Other races are not patriotic about their country?”
Okay, you may say, fine, reform BTN. Sounds simple, right? Has anyone stopped to think, why this organisation is needed? Forget about what it is costing taxpayers but why would there ever need to be a government agency instilling “patriotism” in the civil service and students? Why would the state need to do this except to ensure that people are brainwashed into voting for them?
No more propaganda, please
Is the new BTN going to be about the Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid? Is the new BTN going to be about how there are no race and class divisions in this country and how everyone has to “save Malaysia”?
Think about that. Think about how this current government is desperately attempting to assure the “Malays” that they would be taken care of and that they have nothing to fear from non-Malay political structures. This kind of thinking is because of the BTN and other propaganda arms like it.
Remember that MCA and MIC and all those other BN, non-Malay power structures turned a blind eye to the brainwashing and hate speech coming from BTN and just assumed that all this was part of the social contract and the means to ensure compliance in the Malay community. Do non-Malays want they, ‘new Malaysia’ non-Malays representatives, to follow the same kind of thinking?
So, what does RM1.1 billion – over the years – get you? For the Malays, it is - “The Chinese are rich”, “don’t spook the Malays”, “liberalism is a threat to Islam”, and the rest of the propaganda that defined Umno dogma. What did it get the non-Malays? Every time as a non-Malay, you have to worry about not rocking the Malay vote - the tendrils of the courses of BTN touched you even though you may not have attended any of its “courses”.
Every time you hurl some invective against the system anonymously online, using racial insults or religious bigotry, it is because of the boot of Umno dogma you may feel - depending on your economic status - in the real world. Every time, you have to think not as a community but rather consider how this plays out in the majority Malay polity, you have been touched by the BTN courses.
You fear or hate Islam? You cheer when you read articles telling like it is to the Malay community by other Malays? All this is part of the propaganda, the culture that is really part of what it means to be a non-Malay Malaysian and this is the function of the BTN. BTN not only taught Malays how to hate and who to direct it against, it also taught the non-Malays how to react.
For years, we voted in successive BN governments and if DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang’s numbers on the BTN funding is to be believed, the figures have increased. This would mean that we were literally endorsing the hate coming from this organisation. Do you really trust this new administration to reform this institution? Do you really want your tax ringgit spent on an organisation whose function is to instil a sense of patriotism in the civil service or students or whoever they target?
Do you really want this for new Malaysia?
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:15 AM   0 comments
For ‘bangsat’ and negara - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, July 02, 2018

Malaysiakini : “Trust no one." - Deep Throat, The X-Files
COMMENT | Wong Chin Huat’s piece on why Malaysian’s cannot afford Umno’s abrupt meltdown was nerve-racking because it would be dismissed or worse ignored during this moment of great political euphoria.
With Umno’s accounts being frozen and DAP’s Lim Lip Eng asking if MCA and MIC’s accounts should be frozen too, it brings to mind what Heinrich Heine observed: “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”
The two big takeaways from Wong’s piece is that the destruction of Umno would cause an infusion of Umno blood into Harapan or would radicalise a Malay base which voted for Umno and PAS. Wong is correct on both scenarios, and as I have argued in numerous pieces – much to the consternation of my editors – the existential threat facing this country is Islamic in nature.
How long Harapan can maintain the middle ground when it comes to this issue remains to be seen. There will eventually come a time when either Umno or PAS or both demand that Harapan demonstrate its Islamic commitment, and it remains to be seen if Harapan can withstand such assaults, or if the supposedly all-powerful non-Malay component members stand up to this kind of religious intimidation.
Crippling the opposition may seem like a good strategy for the short-term, but I do not think it is incumbent on the government to offers incentives for Umno or the opposition to remain a viable alternative. What the opposition has to do is come up with narratives of their own, and while some think Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is senile for talking the way he does, he’s right when it comes to the realpolitik of power.
While Umno frogs crossing over to Harapan means a temporary infusion for the various Malay power structures, the reality is that the demographic who voted for these frogs may not cross over themselves. Indeed, in the short-term this may seem like a win, but the only thing it does is breed resentment which almost always leads to radicalisation.
Saying “it’s the economy stupid” is axiomatic. As long as Harapan maintains a grip on its fiscal responsibilities and the economy is viable things should go smoothly. All these ethnocentric rumblings will be on the backburner. Indeed, regardless of any provocations thrown up by Umno – in whatever form it is in – or PAS, nobody would be in the mood to rock the boat.
However, economic and social reforms should go hand in hand with reforms on religious institutions and whatever else that maintains an ethnocentric grip on the majority. Umno may just be a vehicle, but the reality is that the ketuanan system is more than just a political party. The system confronts us when the current Harapan grand poohbah talks about how the Chinese are rich, or when Anwar Ibrahim warns us not to “spook the Malays.” The system also includes those non-Malays who enable such narratives because this is the new Malaysia.
More and more, it seems that the only opposition we will have is an Islamic one. Whoever controls Umno – the newly minted president may be removed from the board – will realise that PAS is the only viable candidate when it comes to regaining power. In fact, an Umno bereft of most of its 1MDB-tainted funds is a kind of tabula rasa for a reengineered radical Malay right.
With Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the helm and the Abdul Hadi Awang faction in control of PAS, the opportunities for mischief are great. Attempting to cripple this Islamic alliance by the Harapan regime will results in more blowback than profit. The PAS people I have spoken to are biding their time until Hadi and his coteries get their just desserts. Make no mistake, they are not some progressive element within PAS, but rather the more virulent kind of Islamists whose ideology – if one can call it that – is intoxicating for a variety of reasons, but chiefly because state stupidly encouraged such nonsense for decades.
Controlling the narrative
Here is where I disagree with Chin. While I do not know if Malaysians have really ever wanted a colour-blind system, I would argue that Umno did impose its brand of ethnic nationalism on the Malay polity – the most successful purveyor of which is, of course, the current Harapan grand poohbah. The problem now is that PAS is free to control the Islamic narrative unless the Harapan state imposes its own.
For someone like me, a non-Malay, the only acceptable narrative is a pluralistic one. A marketplace of ideas that should keep us safe from the machinations of the deep Islamic state, Umno and PAS and yes, maybe even Harapan. The problem with this is that it probably won’t work because there would be very little political will for something which gives more freedom to Malay-Muslims because they will not be easy to control. People should be concerned. When PKR, DAP and PAS joined forces, it opened up whole other avenues for the Islamist party. Look how that turned out. Can you imagine an Umno and PAS combination?
As it is, if the Merdeka Center poll is taken at face value – and why should it not – there is a base in Umno which views cooperation with PAS as something beneficial. And here's the kicker: they were always there, except that the political elites of Umno kept these burners low.
The outcome of this Umno election is tricky. The new/old power structures could subscribe to their moderate Malay base and make strategic deals with PAS when it comes to the rural heartlands. This is because most urbanites only think these people are ignorant and backward and don’t give a crap about them, except when it comes to the old maverick convincing them that the alternative coalition will look after their “rights.”
Harapan has to get its act together. It has to undertake major reforms in the way how they deal with the rural heartland. They have to reform institutions which Umno used to spread its poisoned narratives, but more importantly they have to stop with this nonsense that this is a new Malaysia, all the while sending contradictory messages to its diverse base.
More important still, the political operatives from Harapan should stop making inane comments about Umno and PAS. If there are allegations to be investigated then let the so-called independent bodies do the work, while Harapan political operatives get down to the hard work of saving the country instead of taking pot shots at the old regime. Of course, it would be worse if Umno dissolves into Bersatu. Then this would just leave PAS and a Malay base which now understands that Umno could never be trusted and that PAS was right all along.
Furthermore, who knows if the political careers of these frogs is sustainable. Of course, some people think that the Umno base are all waiting for dedak, and they will doubtless be sorely surprised when a resurgent Malay right rears its head.
Racial and religious tensions in this country will be on the rise, and will only get worse if and when Mahathir steps down.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:12 AM   0 comments
Does Mat Sabu want M’sia to remain a rogue Asean nation? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 30, 2018

Malaysiakini : "Najib’s rights are far more numerous and superior in comparison with the rights and powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.” – Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the National Security Council law
COMMENT | I just don’t get it. The current Pakatan Harapan grand poobah says because they (Harapan) thought they could not win the elections, they made strong promises. Bersatu supreme council member Rais Hussin claims that the promises were not plucked out of thin air but instead the election manifesto was the efforts of a wide range of political operatives and various stakeholders. Now the disputed debt in this country is the Harapan excuse as to why their 100-day promises cannot be met.
Malaysiakini columnist P Gunasegeram and Rais Husin and anyone actually reading the Harapan 100-day manifesto would understand there is a whole load of promises that could be kept in the first 100 days which would not incur any expenses. I once wrote that if Harapan manages to do quarter of what they said they would do, they would be a better government than BN.
Now it is all about rebranding or reshuffling. BN government agencies and programmes that were supposed to bring ruination to this country have been rebranded Harapan-style, with the expectation that nobody cares because of the euphoria - as Rais calls it, I say Kool-Aid - is strong and folks who think otherwise are kicked to the curb.
I get it. I really do. When people are baying for the blood of people from the establishment and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that certain people are needed to remain in place, even if they did something wrong, that is the reality of politics. You do not destroy the bureaucracy by burning it to the ground. That is stupid. However, this should not be used as an excuse to shy away from promises made which does not incur expenses and that gives democracy back to the people.
Now Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu (popularly known as Mat Sabu) says that the National Security Council (NSC) Act is supposed to be “reshuffled”. It’s all about how this Act is actually a “good vehicle” for government minions to serve the state. All that is needed is a few legal provisions to be "reshuffled".
What the hell have they been giving him to smoke in the Defence Ministry? This is especially when people like his boss, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and just about all the big guns in Harapan had previously argued that the Act would be used on the opposition, usurped the power of the Agong and as Kit Siang claimed, with this law, Malaysia would replace Myanmar as a rogue state.
This is what he said - “When the Najib government regards democracy and human rights activists as bigger threats than ISIS terrorists as envisaged by the monstrous NSC bill, Malaysia is replacing Myanmar as the rogue nation in Asean.”
Okay, I am not an objective person when it comes to the NSC Act. My public statements on this issue were brazen calls for street demonstrations and my frustrations as to why this never happened are a matter of public record. When Mahathir first started attacking this law as diminishing the powers of the Agong, he met with pushback from Universiti Malaya professor Shad Saleem Faruqi, who is now in the Council of Eminent Persons, or whatever it is called.
Shad said – “In sum, the grounds of challenge against the NSC Act mentioned by Tun Mahathir may not be sustainable in law.” But he also wrote –  “The NSC Act is an ordinary law passed by a simple majority under Parliament’s ordinary law-making powers. It is not a law under Article 149 (to combat subversion). As such, several issues of fundamental rights violation are relevant.”
Of course, as former Federal Court judge Sri Ram Gopal and others point out, this law did bypass the consent of the rulers.

Why keep the law?
So, two points. The first point of this law, as many Harapan advocates claim, diminishes the power of the Agong and the second, that it violates basic human rights and legitimises the authoritarian power of the state in the hands of one person. So, you may say, you know what, maybe the diminishing of the powers of the royalty is a good thing, right? I am down with that.
Recent events and the shocking behaviour of royalty before and after the elections demonstrate that perhaps we are better off with formalising certain powers of the executive which further curtail the powers of the royalty. Those issues which Mahathir - and yes, people like me - claimed were being taken away from the royalty are perhaps better left in the hands of the executive without any need of consultation with the royalty. And if this is the case then, why retain this law? Just pass laws which further restricts the powers of the royalty and for further more definite issues, wait till you can amend the constitution with the necessary two-thirds majority. Indeed, reshuffling what aspects of the law? The gross human rights violations?
Which brings us to point two. We have a manure load of draconian laws in this country which Harapan claimed that they would end. For heaven’s sake, there was even waffling on the Anti-Fake News law a few weeks ago and Harapan decided that it was not worth the public anger to retain such laws. So, this idea of tweaking a law which Harapan had claimed was destroying the role of the Agong and putting us into Trump s**thole terrain is absurd.
Why even reshuffle the bad parts of this law? What does the Council of Eminent Persons, which Shad Faruqi is part of, think of this new development? Does Harapan want its grand poobah to have powers more superior than the Agong? Maybe it should be this way. After all, a former Umno prime minister, and now Harapan big cheese, has been doing that for years, right?
We have enough “security laws” to deal with the type of warfare – including psychological – against the kind of extremism – Islamic – that poses a danger to this country. Not to mention, willing partners and assets which have been sidelined for far too long, because the former regime was mired in corruption scandals.
I'm glad there are Harapan leaders willing to go on record stating clearly that this law has to be removed. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why Mat Sabu would even consider such a move. Maybe some folk in Harapan really do not understand why this piece of “monstrous” legislation needs to be removed or maybe, just maybe, they think it is a good thing, now that there is really no opposition in this country.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:18 PM   0 comments
What are the limits in ‘New Malaysia’? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Malaysiakini : “Please lah. Don’t be stupid!” – Art Harun, top blogger
COMMENT | The quote that begins this piece was a rejoinder by top blogger Art Harun to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in this whole “Mandarin” statement imbroglio. Art puts it well - “But please do your job as a minister as you should be (doing). After all, you were the one who so proudly proclaimed ‘I am not Chinese, I am Malaysian’. You are showing the wrong signal. The wrong attitude.” - a sentiment which was echoed by the sometimes ornery but always friendly email group of Malaysiakini subscribers I often find myself part of.
To be honest, I find all of this rather dumb. The problem with the Bangsa Malaysia ‘Kool Aid’ is the negation of race and the hypocrisy of action(s) that precede or proceed it. It is always better to acknowledge your ethnicity and the reality of racial and religious politics in this country rather than put forward a hypocritical narrative that the non-Malays have to subscribe to in order to share power with the majority Malay community.
What is really disheartening is that the same propaganda does not apply to the Malay community except when they are called “racists”, an example of which, when Art had to qualify his statement - “I am not racist. And I am not talking about Malay rights or the proverbial ‘mertabatkan Bahasa Melayu’ and stuff.”
This particular issue really does not concern me. What I found interesting is when Lim said this - “The new Malaysia is an inclusive, respectful and diverse country. While safeguarding the status of Malay as an official language, we also need to master the use of other languages in order to increase our competitiveness.” And Art’s reply - “Don’t be arrogant and dismissive of this. You are really pushing it. There is a limit to the ‘new Malaysia’,”
Forget about the Mandarin language snafu, for a moment. Lim and Art raise interesting points. What are the limits in this new Malaysia? For the record, when people go on about new Malaysia, I have no idea what they are talking about. I think for most people who voted Pakatan Harapan, it merely revolves around expectation.
They expect the state security apparatus to get on with the reform programme. They expect that race and religion will somehow not be issues either because the Harapan regime will not make them so, or that the former regime has lost its ability to fabricate them.
The reality is very different. What are the limits of this new Malaysia? In other words, what are the sensitivities of the majority community that we should be mindful of when it comes to race and religion? That’s what I thought at first. Then I said, screw it. There’s something wrong here.
I get emails in Bahasa Malaysia all the time. The volume now is the same as the mails in English. Young Malay people always email me about current issues to keep me informed of their activism, or articles/blog posts in Malay that I may find interesting. Sometimes the going is difficult. Regional dialects and the fact that some of the lingo is beyond me. Most difficult is when they write in “pakar” BM. I muddled through it though and what really gets me, whether conservative or liberal, the issues more often than not are not so much about race but religion. Sometimes the two get conflated but what do you expect, right?
I read this great letter by Abdullah Afiq in Malaysiakini - Navigating fear and loathing in ‘Malaysia Baru’- and thought, why the hell are not more people reading this? What he writes is the kind of stuff I get from the young Malays who write to me. Forget about this whole Mandarin gaffe, the real action of where this new Malaysia really is, is in what a young Malay like Abdullah Afiq describes in his letter. Abdullah Afiq, is right when he says “activists” groups like Malaysian Muslim Solidarity (Isma) are attempting to control the narrative in social media as to what it means to be Muslim. But what can Harapan do?
Here are a couple of things that directly relate to what Abdullah Afiq writes about. Abdullah Afiq believes that religious “authority” should spread their word on social media, although he qualifies this as religious scholars who are cognisant of the time they are living in, which I assume means those of a progressive bent – no pun intended.
Three points
However, what is really important here is that the powers of the state should not be used to impose any kind of religious narratives on young Malay people. Here are three points that I think test the limits of this new Malaysia much better than the language fiasco that Lim found himself in.
1. Mohamed Tawfik Ismail (Umno MP for Sungai Benut from 1986 to 1990) said the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) should be shut down instead of re-evaluated. This was in response to Putrajaya that a committee would be formed to re-evaluate this religious organisation.
How much money is spent on funding Jakim? What has Jakim done to create an atmosphere of peace and stability in this country between Muslims and non-Muslims? If Islam is in the hand of state rulers, Tawfik is right to challenge the existence of this body on constitutional grounds.
Beyond closing it down, what should be done is an extensive audit of this organisation. I want to know where the money went, who it went to and what was done it with. I believe when the curtain is finally pulled what we would discover is that very unIslamic things were done by very people who impose their brand of Islam on the average Malay rakyat through their outsourced moral police.
Keep in mind, this is the institution that decries excessive laughter. The state should not control the Islamic narrative insofar as providing a stable ground for a marketplace of ideas. Isma and their kind have every right to attempt to forge a narrative but it should not have the backing of the state. Also liberal “Muslims” should not have the backing of the state, either.
Indeed, when it comes to religion, the best narrative the state can offer is that the state, while “Islamic”, believes in a plurality of voices, which is what the former Umno regime attempted to halt.
So when Abdullah Afiq writes something like this “…when a fellow Malay proudly admits that he is a homosexual looking for a boyfriend, the majority did not know what and how to respond” - at least anyone who does this will be relieved that the state (notwithstanding silly colonial laws about homosexuality and the like) will not use religion to come down like a house of bricks on him or her and the only thing sanction will be the vicious tweets or comments by people who disagree with these choices.
2. Apostasy. Look, two years ago, when Najib Razak was the grand poobah, he made it clear in the Rooney Rebit case, that the executive can interfere to his heart’s content when it comes to the way how Islam is practised in this country.
We are talking about freedom of religion here. A right supposedly guaranteed to all Malaysians. When Abdullah Afiq writes,"…When a fellow Malay renounces God in a thread… and the majority did not know what and how to respond.” – and if the Umno grand poobah knows how to respond, then the laws should reflect this attitude - that supposed sacred cows are not so sacred after all.
Obviously, this is not a Sarawak issue only. Or Sabah, for that matter. The former Umno regime has never presented any proof of proselytising by Christian activists. What we do know is that there is enough anecdotal evidence that Muslims for whatever reasons want to leave their faith, as described in Abdullah Afiq’s letter.
If Najib as the former grand Umno poobah can decide for whatever reasons this does not apply in Sarawak, who is to say the Harapan regime cannot make the make the same strategic move when it comes to Islam in this country?
3. Harapan has to finally resolve this issue of unilateral conversion. Okay, thought I would slip this in here. Remember last year when the tabling of the proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 was postponed? Then deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed that this was because "…The attorney-general (AG) has been asked to study the feedback and look into the proposed amendments together with religious experts.
"This is to ensure the amendments will not be against Islamic fatwa or the Federal Constitution," said the deputy prime minister.” Guess what? I think Zahid is right. I think that new AG Tommy Thomas should look into this and finally the bill would be tabled in Parliament. Unilateral conversion is a form of religious kidnapping. The fact that the former Umno regime saw no issue with this demonstrates how easy it is to define this new Malaysia as in opposition to everything Umno did.
Creating a new Malaysia is not that difficult. Testing the limits is not such a hazardous endeavour. All that is needed is the will to do what Umno did before with fiat, but this time through the proper legal and legislative processes.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:22 AM   0 comments
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