Articles, Opinions & Views: Is violent surau incident another lesson about who we are? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
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“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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Is violent surau incident another lesson about who we are? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 08, 2017
Malaysiakini : “It's a universal law - intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Commander on the right
COMMENT | I have no idea if by writing about the “surau violence” I am stirring up trouble but when threats are made to ensure silence, then I really think it is important to speak up. However, what exactly is the issue here?
That a Chinese Malaysian honked his horn in annoyance when blocked by Malay Malaysians engaging in their religious obligations. Did this warrant an assault and property damage?
Let us interpret this incident in two ways. The first, an inconsiderate man who is “taught”, either through socialisation or through experience, that Muslims are sensitive, incurs the ire of some people who attack him because of his inconsiderate act. The second, that violence against a minority is something that has always been a part of our political and social landscape and this incident merely confirms that minorities should be careful in their dealings with the majority.
Okay, there is a third interpretation. This incident is merely an aberration that does not define the gestalt of Malaysian social interaction. Maybe there is some truth in that, but the first and second is what dominates the discourse for good reasons. People always say do not turn things into a racial incident but the problem is that no matter what anyone says, “race” is rubbed in our faces every single day. The system is set up to ensure that we look at things through a racial lens and any attempt to argue otherwise is futile.
However, what really gets to me was when Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said this - “Besides, the opposition used to say ‘do not try to scare people by racial conflict’, but what we saw yesterday did show that it can occur easily.” What the opposition says is that the establishment always attempts to use the threat of violence in lieu of debate to maintain hegemony. This is the opposite of a group of ruffians who use violence because they think they can get away with it or that they will receive minimum censure from the state for their actions.
Furthermore, inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar warned “parties were trying to create an issue out of the incident and making provocative comments over the social media.” Nur Jazlan has admitted that this was a “racial conflict” and what I want to know, is the PDRM going to investigate the deputy home minister for making “provocative” comments?
Since Nur Jazlan started this conversation about the ease of racial conflict flaring up in our society, I too would like to make my contribution. My contention is simple. When the state makes it clear that it has a racial bias against minority communities, then certain people who believe they can act with impunity capitalise on this sentiment, plying their thuggery on minorities who they think have been disrespectful to their religion, and by extension, them.
Let me give you an example or two. In my piece about Umno’s kenduri-kendara’ gangsters, I wrote of what Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said - "He was also reported to have advocated a ‘shoot first’ policy for the police at the same event, in dealing with suspected gang members in the wake of a violent crime spree that has resulted in, according to him, Malays making up the majority of the victims.
“He reportedly said there was nothing wrong with arresting the over 40,000 known gangsters in the country, half of whom are Indians. ‘What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays. Most of them are our race,’ he was quoted as saying.
“‘I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If (we) get the evidence, (we) shoot first.’”
So, if you have "evidence" you can take the matter into your own hands especially since as a "Malay" you are on the receiving end of criminal behaviour. This was said to the security apparatus of the state but what happens when the average thugs interpret this to mean if there is evidence of trespass against the Malay community, action should and can be taken?
'Tiga Line gang'
Please remember although the establishment has shied away from provocative comments by its members, it has never demonstrated a zero-tolerance policy towards members of the establishment who have made threats against the opposition, or let face facts, minorities.
Remember when an opposition leader made provocative statements against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. I do - “Six years ago, Penang opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim in a spat with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng not only referenced May 13 but also saying Umno has three million members that he could call in the Malay 'Tiga Line gang' and asking the army to take over the duties of the police.” Of course, calling in outsourced thugs to secure political victory or usurp political power is a threat many in Umno have no problem making.”
Look at it this way. We have one government minister claiming that racial violence is always a probability in this country and accusing the opposition of naivety when it comes to this issue and then we have the head of the security apparatus warning people not to make “provocative” statements about this issue.
Violence or the threat of violence is part of the social and political fabric of our country. For the most part, Malaysians know their place. Do not do this. Do not say that. “Tolerance”, a loathsome but applicable word, defines our social and political interactions. We do not accept differences, we tolerate them and if you are the majority, your threshold is lower than that of any minority.
In other words, the state sets the example. What happens at the top of the food chain filters down and marginalised groups seek to impose their will on those supposedly higher on the food chain but lacking the "protection" of the state - “We may not have everything you have, even though we have all these special privileges but we may inflict violence on you if we feel you have trespassed against us.”
Therefore, what are we really talking about here? Is this merely an incident that happened without context? Is someone like me, merely stirring up trouble in this beautiful multiracial country of ours? Racial incidents happen in every racially diverse society. The real issue is how the state reacts to such incidents. Is there parity of treatment? Is there empathy?
If there were no systemic imbalances in the private and public sectors or at the very least there were genuine attempts to correct those imbalances, incidents like these would pass without much comment.
As it is, when incidents like these happen, we are reminded of all that is wrong with the system and our place in it. Depending on your position on the totem pole, this ‘surau’ incident means very little or points to the dysfunction that you have to live with.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:01 AM  
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