Articles, Opinions & Views: Arul Kanda’s war of words - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) 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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Arul Kanda’s war of words - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Before 1MDB, there was more freedom for us to do our job.” – Mustapha Kamil, former group editor of the New Straits Times
COMMENT | 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda’s verbal tirades against Malaysiakini columnist P Gunasegeram is unacceptable, but more importantly, it reinforces the negative stereotype (sometimes racist but always predictable) of him on social media and the comments section of the alternative press. One of Arul’s roles – I would argue his main role, considering the controversies surrounding 1MDB – is to communicate his position through the press, even more so when dealing with media he considers (for whatever reasons) hostile.
As someone who has had conversations with Arul, he always comes across as thoughtful even though he is operating under certain pressures. He is rational even when we have often found ourselves in disagreement, all of which makes his attacks against Gunasegaram even more illogical. If the CEO of 1MDB considered Gunasegaram’s article personal attacks against him, then he should have replied in a professional manner with a rebuttal, which Malaysiakini would have surely published. This, of course, is par for the course when it comes to the media and public personalities, and that includes, in my definition, anyone who writes comments pieces. Malaysiakini has published letters of people disagreeing with my positions and I have responded accordingly in the letter section.
Or Arul could have taken up Gunasegaram’s offer to be in a panel discussion or to debate the issue one-on-one with the veteran journalist who has spent considerable time and effort covering the 1MDB issue. Either option would have demonstrated that the CEO of 1MDB was eager to correct any misconceptions and was interested in keeping the dialogue open between the organisation he represents and the media. Instead, the rhetoric used by the 1MDB CEO – “fake news”, “coward”, “keyboard warrior”, etc – is exactly the kind used by partisans engaged in a political war that Arul claims not to be a part of.  Indeed, Arul makes the claim that the opposition media and opposition politicians are not interested in debating the “facts” but when the opportunity arises for Arul to do just that, he declines.
While Arul has every right to decline to appear on a panel or debate Gunasegaram, he weakens his position when he refuses to address the contents of Gunasegaram’s column but instead engages in ad hominems. Facts are always in dispute and to claim that whoever does not agree with the facts you present are wrong - instead of engaging that person - is the very act of creating fake news. If the job was to change the narrative that the 1MDB was not a noose around the current Umno grand poobah’s neck, then this attack against a journalist, who is one of the main critics of the 1MDB scandal, by using the language of “Umno” is merely reinforcing the narrative that the opposition, its supporters and anyone concerned with this issue is right and that the prime minister has something to hide.
Furthermore, the “coward” insult is really inappropriate because anyone who has read Gunasegaram’s pieces would realise that he has taken many unpopular positions with regards to the opposition which has earned the ire of opposition supporters who vent against his pieces on social media. For instance, he argued that DAP leader Lim Guan Eng should step down, that the opposition is wrong about the GST, and of course, his public comments are well known on what he thinks of Dr Mahathir Mohamad role in leading the opposition. These are not the writings of a coward. Indeed, in one memorable incident, Gunasegaram had to actually respond in the comment section of the “fake news” that he was “fired” from his former place of work.
Open to scrutiny
Arul decries opposition leaders who he claims have called him a liar and worse, but chooses to attack a columnist merely on the basis that he wasn’t there at the interview. Can we conclude that nobody has a right to comment on the 1MDB issue merely because they weren’t there when the CEO of 1MDB sat down with Malaysiakini? Are we seriously to believe that nobody has the right to dissect the comments made by public personalities in their interviews? Are we seriously to consider that when someone makes a public statement, which is what an interview is, that is the end of the matter and nobody should scrutinise or dissects those comments?
How many times political operatives from the establishment gave interviews in Malaysiakini and columnists, concerned citizens and political operatives from the opposition commented on them? The answer is all the time. When you give an interview, you open yourself to scrutiny. It is the same when you write a comment piece. The irony, of course, is that by attacking Gunasegaram, what Arul has done is squander any positive impressions he made when he sat down with Malaysiakini for his extensive interview. When the interviews first came out, people were talking about it. Everyone I spoke to, even though they disagreed with Arul, thought it was impressive that he sat down – in Malaysiakini of all places – and answered questions, which most political operatives, establishment or opposition, would not do.
They may have disagreed with the answers he gave but the general impression was that this was more of what was needed in the alternative press. Indeed, not everyone who reads Malaysiakini does so because they are “pro-opposition”. People read Malaysiakini for all sorts of reasons. They know that they won’t get what they want from the mainstream media and so, they hope that Malaysiakini will ask the questions they want answers to. Anecdotally speaking, most people were impressed that Arul actually withstood three hours of “interrogation” and they wished that opposition politicians were subjected to the same scrutiny for what they say and do.
That said, Malaysiakini is not the final arbiter of the “truth”. It never will be. Interviews done should be an attempt at fact-finding and not an exercise in partisan posturing. This last part, maybe I am guilty of, which is a good a way as any to end this piece.
Full disclosure: I encouraged Arul Kanda – who I know – to do an interview with Malaysiakini. By no means am I claiming that the interview happened because of me. Neither the editorial board of Malaysiakini nor Gunasegaram encouraged me to write this article.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 12:33 PM  

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