Articles, Opinions & Views: Malaysia’s way forward is not the way back by Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Death or Glory
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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

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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Malaysia’s way forward is not the way back by Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Friday, July 15, 2016
“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its students."
- Hector Berlioz, letter, November 1856.

Malaysiakini : More on the lessons the opposition can learn from the fall of Saddam Hussein. Part one, which appeared yesterday, contains lesson one to three. They are based on Stephen M Walt’s contentious article ‘Top 10 Lessons of the Iraq war’.
Lesson #4: The secularism and middle-class character of Iraqi society was overrated. The same applies here. We lost the battle for secularism a long time ago. Former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad may have been dead set against the Islamists, but it was under his watch that the process of Arabisation flourished under the watchful eye of the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim. The Malay middle-class may be split, especially in the urban area, but this too does not mean they are for a secular state.
The inclusion of PAS into mainstream politics and the ‘PAS for all’ propaganda ensured that this Islamic sect gained credibility, but more importantly further entrenched ideas that were anathema to a secular state. The opposition’s propaganda is that Malaysia is a secular state or that the opposition professes secular ideas, but the reality is that the opposition has done nothing beyond aping similar BN tactics in its political war with Umno.
This is extremely important because Umno’s use of Islam as a political tool has resulted in the malice of Islamic State (IS) and other Islamic groups at our doorstep, aided by Malaysian citizens sympathetic to their cause. The opposition does not encourage a progressive Malay middle-class or secularism when it:
1. Makes and then breaks alliances with Islamic sects.
2. Continues to fund state Islamic concerns and in some cases doubles the funding of such organisations.
3. When the opposition refuses to take a stand against certain Islamic provocations or demurs to engage with blatant discrimination because of the fear of offending their Muslim/Malay base or appearing anti-Islam.
4. When the opposition takes an agree to disagree position instead of engaging with Islam based on their supposed secular values, because to do so would jeopardise their electoral chances.
I will say it again. If the opposition does not become organised in a secular manner, the opposition will continue to be paralysed by Islam.
Lesson #5: Don’t listen to ambitious exiles.
The problem with high-profile defections or ejections from Umno is the tendency to believe that suddenly the opposition has newfound allies. There is a difference between an ally and an antagonist whom you share a common enemy with. This does not mean you reject this antagonist but it does mean making sure that you continue advocating issues based on principles but not on what is mutually acceptable to your newfound friend.
Anwar was acutely aware of this and as I wrote about his letter from prison, “However, of greater concern is when Anwar says, ‘…the idealism which once fired PKR appears to have been doused by the lustre of power and funds.’ Anyone who knows anything about the political funding of the opposition would know that the opposition has diverse streams of funding from the unlikeliest of sources.
“However, the inclusion of Mahathir in the opposition mix has also granted the opposition with a new source of funding with the aim of toppling Najib. Now, not everyone avails themselves of this new funding source but there are many, who find that it is easier getting down to the work of removing Najib when they don’t have to worry about funding to sustain their position. Mind you, this is not solely a PKR problem.”
This talk about former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin leading Pakatan should not even be part of the discourse. Furthermore, the idea that an alliance could be in the works with Najib refuseniks led by former prime minister Mahathir should be met with a great deal of scepticism. The reason why this keeps cropping up is because the opposition has always found it easier to rely on personalities to further its agenda.
The dearth of individuals capable of helming the opposition pact are the result of dynastic politics, feudalistic mentalities and a value system that values “strong man” over any form of organised leadership.
Lesson #6: It’s very hard to improvise an occupation. While I do not think that the opposition gaining control of certain states is akin to an “occupation”, let us just roll with the analogy. When the opposition gained control of certain states, it was bolstered by populist support that the opposition honestly did not expect. Soon the opposition found itself battling not only an entrenched Umno bureaucracy but also having to learn on the job. Add to this the internal power squabbles of an opposition unused to dealing with real power and the various schisms erupting within the disparate alternative coalition, the rakyat was witness to blunder after blunder, involving everything from religious rights to corruption charges and a near change of leadership that could have toppled the state government.
Nobody seemed to have planned for anything and it demonstrated that the opposition’s rhetoric did not manage to live up to expectations. Despite what critics say about Penang, the only opposition state that got its acts together was the one led by the DAP. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt there, maybe not political lessons but at the very least administrative ones.
What this demonstrates is that the thinkers in the opposition, those who have had experience with the system, are overshadowed by the flashier polemists. The opposition needs to have firm policies in place, capable bureaucrats who are willing to operate without fear or favour but most importantly, abandon the system of patronage that works for Umno but does not for the country.
Lesson #7: Don’t be surprised when adversaries act to defend their own interests, and in ways we won’t like. Carrying on the “occupation” analogy from above, it should come as no surprise that Umno “insurgents” would carry out a very dirty war against the opposition. Islam of course is used because it is reliable and has always worked in the past. Outsourced Umno red-shirted thugs harass and intimidate opposition parliamentarians and supporters. The federal government uses the police, attorney-general and various other government agencies to persecute opposition figures in hope that this would destabilise the opposition.
This is to be expected and the manner in which the opposition deals with these threats is indicative of how effective they are as an opposition. If all the opposition does is to ratchet up the rhetoric or appeal to the sympathy of specific racial or religious demographics, in the end they will lose populist support because Umno is ever ready with throwing crumbs from the gravy train and most often people know when they are taken for a ride. In the end, pragmatism will trump idealism if all the rakyat witness is the same old game being played by the opposition.
Lesson #8: Rethink US grand strategy, not just tactics or methods. In the beginning of the year, I wrote this: “Here in Malaysia, politicians who have power, or seek it, are so afraid that new ideas would impede their efforts that they are content to let the rot continue so long as the old ways, the old ideas, maintain them in power. Meanwhile, the disenfranchised of society regardless, of race but with very little options, plays the part of maintaining this charade we call a democracy.”
This one is perhaps the most important point. Whenever I talk to Umno establishment and opposition operatives, all they talk about are tactics and stratagems. I have always argued that Umno is intellectually and morally bankrupt. The old ways work for them. What about the opposition?
In order for the opposition to rethink its grand strategy, the opposition and its supporters must first define what constitutes a meaningful win.
Yesterday: What the opposition can learn from the fall of Saddam
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:42 PM  

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