Articles, Opinions & Views: The cowardly attacks against Maryam Lee - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) 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

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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The cowardly attacks against Maryam Lee - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, February 01, 2018
Malaysiakini : "Those who are able to influence others and defend the right to speak up without resorting to hate speech, should help protect freedom of expression for all, especially for young women like Maryam, and women in general. They can help do this by ensuring a safe space for meaningful discourse, both online and offline." - Empower
COMMENT | Over the years writing for Malaysiakini, I have received my share of online abuse.  Sometimes there are even calls by people who I do not know, who hurl abuse when I am critical of the opposition. The funny thing is, I have more rational engagements with establishment supporters in terms of articles they write about my pieces than the apparatchiks who have hurled abuse, racist invective, built elaborate straw men and, yet, who pride themselves on being the people who want to "save Malaysia".
This, of course, is nothing compared to what Malaysiakini columnist Maryam Lee has received. Young activists have sent me a data dump of toxic materials aimed at Maryam merely because she supports the #UndiRosak movement. Full disclosure. I wrote a two-part article critical of her arguments hence I feel if none of her critics wants to address the toxic atmosphere she is facing, it may as well be me. Two points that Maryam made when describing the toxic atmosphere she finds herself in are worth elaborating on.
1. “This violence and abuse are coming from the very pact who call themselves different from their political enemies - Pakatan Harapan supporters - who call themselves different from Barisan Nasional.”
I have often wondered - and I am not alone in this as numerous foreign correspondents who read the local media wonder the same thing - how some folks who pride themselves on their progressive politics, who blame Umno/BN for the toxic politics of this country, have never had a problem hurling misogynist and racist abuse against people who are critical of the opposition or who disagree with their position.
Even more troubling is that, most often, their intended targets have a history of social and political activism on behalf of the opposition. As I wrote – “I do not think civil society made tremendous progress. I think the opposition political elite made tremendous progress buttressed by civil society groups, who did not really understand the nature of the beast. There is this assumption that just because the politics of civil society groups and oppositional political parties aligned, there was some sort of understanding. Politicians say a whole lot of horse manure to get elected and count on activists to pass their message, but once elected, rely on their bases (partisanship) to stay elected.”
Some people say the opposition is fighting hard, Really? I know far more activists who have been on the front lines and have terrible experiences with the state security apparatus than most of these politicians who people say are fighting hard to save Malaysia, but in reality are fighting hard to maintain this system which makes it difficult to distinguish between the people destroying Malaysia and those who claim to want to save it.
Nearly every opposition personality laments the fact that the opposition is under attack by the establishment propaganda instruments but ignore the lies and online abuse committed by their supporters. This is a reckless omission because (1) this is reflective of the kind of Malaysia they want to create and the people who support them, and (2) the racist comments – not so much the misogynist comments – are used by the establishment to demonstrate the hypocrisy and race hate of the opposition.
2. “Harapan leaders are still silent, mum, not taking responsibility for this unruly behaviour, as their intellectuals and spokespersons keep refusing to address core issues raised by the #UndiRosak campaign.”
Here is the thing, though. Harapan either thinks that this movement is another Umno tactic or that this movement has no legs. This is why beyond mocking the movement as some Harapan leaders have done, they do not think that this is a serious issue. This is why they tacitly approve of the online opprobrium that the #UndiRosak movement receives. They have convinced their supporters or their supporters are convinced that this is just another movement to derail the train to Putrajaya.
I have asked numerous opposition leaders to publicly disavow the toxic atmosphere that some of their supporters create, but in typical fashion, some leaders claim that it is part of an elaborate Umno conspiracy to discredit the opposition and that their supporters would not resort to such “low class” tactics.
Opposition political operatives confide to me that whenever they want to take a principled stand against what they believe is wrong with oppositional politics in this country, they have to face the online abuse from supporters who are encouraged - either by silence or subtlety - by the leadership to mock and abuse anyone offering up a contrary opinion.
Pro-establishment writers who argue on the facts and contradict opposition narratives (especially if they are women) revive the most horrific kind of online abuse. I know one pro-establishment blogger who has received abuse in the form of rape threats, death threats and pictures of her posted on pornographic sites, much like the kind of online abuse Maryam has received.
'Umno DNA' a cop-out
Some people would claim that the atmosphere is toxic because of the Umno DNA in of some in the opposition. But we all know that this is complete horse manure. The rhetoric against the Umno establishment and anyone critical of the opposition has always been toxic. If you are critical of the opposition, you are stupid or you are on the ‘dedak’ train or you are bullying the opposition. That is the narrative and I believe more and more Malaysians are finally waking up to the fact that this horse manure is what makes the political process in this country not worth engaging with.
Here is the thing though, Maryam. While it would be nice if opposition leaders disavowed the behaviour of these supporters, it brings them no gain. If people are afraid to dissent, if they are afraid to face the abuse by anonymous online cretins, then it makes their jobs, whatever it may be, easier. Now I know many opposition leaders who are appalled by the behaviour of some opposition supporters, but ultimately, they think it does no good to alienate their base.
Having said that, kudos to DAP deputy secretary-general Teresa Kok for speaking out in a clear unambiguous manner. This is exactly what is needed and expected from the opposition. This includes the public comments of PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Klang MP Charles Santiago for also referencing the abuse that political commentator Hafidz Baharom has been receiving.
Maryam, when people make these kinds of attacks, they want you to cower in a corner. They want to stop dissent. The Umno establishment has the state security apparatus to do this. The opposition relies on online opprobrium to stifle dissent. Honestly, if they did not want this they would make a clear and unequivocal statement that this type of abuse is not tolerated and cite specific cases – such as yours – to demonstrate their sincerity.
I actually read some of the comments posted on your articles here in Malaysiakini and elsewhere and there were some opposition supporters who used their anonymity honourably and made rational arguments against your position. While I suppose we do have laws against these kinds of cyber-attacks - death threats, rape threats, doctoring your photos, etc – these anonymous cowards who support Harapan will never be held accountable for their actions.
Some tech-savvy anarchist folks who like what I write have called for the ‘doxing’ – okay, I had to look that up – of these anonymous cretins, who make racist and misogynistic comments, and to this I say, “Well, if they tell people to leave the kitchen if they can’t take the heat,” maybe the same should apply to them.
However, the onus is on opposition supporters to watch the flock. It is incumbent on those opposition supporters who are rational and not bigoted anonymous hacks to criticise those who make these attacks. It is for opposition supporters to disavow this kind of behaviour and create that safe space if they really believe in the values and principles of the online communities they count themselves a part of.
My advice to Maryam is to continue speaking out. Continue contributing to the discourse, but most importantly, "Illegitimi non carborundum."
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:39 AM  

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