Articles, Opinions & Views: My picks for top five news stories of 2017 - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Death or Glory
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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

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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My picks for top five news stories of 2017 - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | As the year closes and the mother of all elections lurks around the corner, the best we can hope for in the coming year is that our luck holds out, rationality prevails and that the young people of Malaysia finally decide in huge numbers to shape the direction of this country.
In no particular order, here are my picks of five news stories of the year:

1. The Tahfiz school fire
Twenty-one children and two adults died in a building deemed by the state to be a fire hazard. The perpetrators of the arson – young adults – apparently have been brought to some kind of justice, but the moral of the story is that if your fire hazard of a religious school burns down, it is not the fault of the operators of the school. It is not the fault of the state or any enforcement agencies meant to ensure the safety of young students who go there for a religious education. The moral of the story is that the federal government gives you more money, even if ministers in the said government have claimed in the press that monies for these schools “have not been properly used”.
From my vantage point: “The deaths of 21 children and two adults seems an obscene moment to remind Malaysians of the separation of powers between the federal government and state religious authorities. Obscene but predictable. Apparently, in Malaysia, the only time there is separation between mosque and federal power is when children die in a fire.”

The cover-up of Wang Kelian
The recent expose by the New Straits Times about the possible conspiracy of a cover-up of these mass murders and the unbelievable response of the state to the questions raised, demonstrates that the state security apparatus is in dire need of a total overhaul. This will never happen, of course.
From my vantage point: “In nearly every report or investigation by credible professionals on the business of human trafficking worldwide, what has always been highlighted is the connective tissue between corrupt public officials - namely security operatives - working in collusion with human traffickers. This, of course, goes beyond a few bad apples and where there have been scandals on human trafficking, there has always been evidence of the collusion between the security apparatus of that particular country and traffickers who profit from human misery.”

The kidnapping of Pastor Koh
Why was Pastor Raymond Koh kidnapped? There has been no ransom demand, no motives adduced, only rampant speculation and a highly professional grab of a pastor who was targeted by the state for allegedly proselytising. When minority religious figures are routinely demonised by the state and their outsourced minions, is it any wonder when something like this happens, people are quick to assume that there are elements in the state that have decided to take it up a notch when it comes to minority religious personalities in this country?
From my vantage point: “The imagery of these black masked kidnappers is an important factor in this narrative. How many times have we witnessed the spectacle of the state security apparatus “arresting” people - politicians, activists and dissenters - on various criminal charges while other state actors are exempt from those charges?”

The passing of Kassim Ahmad
There can be no doubt that the Umno state hounded this scholar and Islamic intellectual to his death. Not many Malaysians knew or even cared about how this soft-spoken Muslim academic, his family and even his lawyer were targeted by the state. His was a lonely war for his freedom but more importantly, his freedom to discuss his religion that he believed was hijacked by corrupt state actors for personal gain and deeper hegemonic agendas.
From my vantage point: "His intellectual contribution to Islam was anathema to people who believed that blind faith was true faith and his steadfastness in not disavowing what he said, his noncompliance to the diktats of the state was a wound that would not heal for those who wish to impose their beliefs on others.
“When I read of how the state persecuted him, I understand why he posed such a threat. If Muslims realised that their interpretation mattered then the so-called scholars would lose their influence and their hegemony of the debate would vanish. Kassim Ahmad was a constant reminder of what would happen if people embraced a religion that they had thought out for themselves."

5. Making Malaysia an Islamic state
At this moment, the state is going after former law minister Zaid Ibrahim and attempting to label - or should that libel? - him as an undesirable element when it comes to Islam in this country. Banning Zaid's book, which has been out for a couple of years on the grounds that it would cause “public unease” or some such nonsense, is merely the Umno state’s rejoinder that pettiness is the province of tyrants.
I have no idea how MCA or MIC or any other component member of the BN can talk about secular values that non-Muslims (including non-Muslims bumiputeras) fear are slowly slipping away from them after the announcement by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki that the BN government is determined to make Malaysia an Islamic state.
From my vantage point: “Depending on your point of view, the balkanisation of Malaysia is something that is a very real possibility because of this agenda of turning Malaysia into an ‘Islamic’ state. This is not something that any rational person would want and I am including the Malays in this equation, because if they really wanted to live in an Islamic paradise, they would have voted for PAS a long time ago.”
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:32 PM  

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