Articles, Opinions & Views: The youth vote – what Harapan should do - 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

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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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The youth vote – what Harapan should do - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Malaysiakini : “Seven out of 10 young Malaysians polled said they found politicians to be untrustworthy and the main cause of Malaysia’s problems today.” - Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research
COMMENT | Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong discussing the issue of young people not voting (specifically concerning the Chinese community) said something that really displays the tone deafness of the opposition. Not his comment, mind you, but the opposition's failure to understand the demographic that could help them take Putrajaya. He said, “...(DAP) was now seen by Chinese youth as an ‘establishment’ party.”
Pay close attention. This is not peculiar to young Chinese in this country. Young people in this country think that the “opposition” is part of the establishment and you know what, the opposition became part of the establishment when they became a credible threat to BN. If Pakatan Harapan manages to take Putrajaya in this upcoming election, it would truly become part of the political ruling class in a two-party system. That is the reality. It does not have to be a problem though.
Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng reminds young people about the consequences of wasting their vote by their method of preference (giving up), “Once you give up, they win. Who wins? Those in the ruling clique. The status quo will remain." Again with the tone deafness, young people are apathetic because they think the opposition in this country, following its business-as-usual politics, is already a component of the status quo.
Claiming Harapan “are not the best” but they are “better” than BN which flows trippingly from the CM’s tongue, is not the kind of catchphrase which makes young people think they better get voting but more importantly, displays a profound lack of understanding of what is expected from an opposition.
Don’t bother erecting that strawman of young people wanting a perfect system because young people are not naïve. People often deliberately conflate idealism with naiveté and this just makes the discourse more difficult because telling young people they should vote for you because although "not perfect, you are still better" is not an effective strategy. Young party members telling other young people that they listened to the “party elders” and have accepted the party’s stand does not inspire confidence either.
The Kluang MP also said something that applies to all young people – “They rather focus on earning money or working in Singapore” – okay, maybe that last part of working in Singapore could be replaced with some other country. The underlying point of believing that politics archives very little and they would be better of working the system or ignoring it, is indicative that the opposition has failed to spark a rebellion against the system because as the days drag on they behave more like the system.
Young people or at least those I have talked to, those who voice their concerns on social media, those who are involved in some sort of social and political activism, those who participate in the discourse or just the average young person who vents online, are not looking for the perfect system. Those involved in progressive politics merely want the bare minimum they see youths in other countries are fighting for and winning.
They want to see our politicians or political parties doing that. They want to believe that progressive politics will lead to a possibility of change and when politicians using the same strategies as the entrenched establishment ask them to be pragmatic, they either want to spoil their votes or not bother showing up at the ballot box at all.
Changing drivers
One activist who read my article of how former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reshaping Umno yet again, asked what is the point of voting for entrenched political interests even if it establishes a two-party system? He often reads online how this country is going to turn into a crap hole, so why bother voting when the entrenched interests would not be invested in changing the country because actually changing the country would mean that those interests would have less of a hold on the majority in this country.
“You think I and my friends like looking over our shoulder for the religious police? If the religious departments ask for more money in a Harapan administration, you think these people won’t give it to them?” There is a strong anti-establishment streak in young people in this country but nobody in Harapan seems interested in mining it for political gold, instead they are investing in official narratives in the expectation of political gain.
I have said it before: Harapan should commit to the game that they wanted to play but this chasing after the rural Malay vote at the expense of the youth vote is just stupid. In fact, by all accounts from all the surveys, analysis and commentaries by credible think-tanks, not to mention the experience of foreign countries, the votes of young people have changed the direction of the country or political alliances but more importantly young people who were inspired to vote by the rhetoric - the rhetoric, mind you - of politicians who understood why that demographic was important, turned up to vote.
Of course, they did not tell these young people to be pragmatic, or not be stupid or that they did not know any better. What they did was take the ideas of these young people and run with it. This is not a “Western” idea. This happens in countries in Africa, the Middle East and yes, in Southeast Asia but it is just the West that offers the more well-known examples of how "old men" have inspired young voters.
In the UK, there was Jeremy Corbyn who changed the fortunes of the Labour party and in the US, if Bernie Sanders (an independent) was not sabotaged by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he could have saved the world from Donald Trump. These two old men offered something radically different from the business-as-usual politics that some think is the only way to gain political victory.
Everywhere you look, Harapan is painting itself into a corner by seemingly emulating the kind of politics that BN practices. Of course, having Mahathir does not challenge perceptions but young people would overlook this if the rhetoric of change coming out Harapan was revolutionary instead of the conventional political thinking that they do not know any better or that they are idealistic or that the system will correct itself if it merely changes drivers.
If Harapan really wants young people to roll the dice, they should make the stakes high instead of the low stakes that young people rightly or wrongly perceive the current political game offers them.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:54 AM  
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