I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore! - - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
Malaysiakini : “I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to
get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out,
and yell, ‘I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!’
Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've
got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this
anymore!” – Howard Beale, ‘Network’ (1976)
COMMENT | It is the eve of this
great election. ‘Great’ to me is an ominous word. So much hope has been
put in this election by folks who want change. I do not fear the Umno
state. What I fear is that the hope of change is but an illusion. That
the people who claim to lead for change will not transform this country
before it slips into the delusional dreams of Islamic extremism.
What I do know is that if we do not take this first step, we are
really screwed. A first step that we have never been in a position to
take and if we do not, we would have lost the single best chance to
change this country. If we do not finally have a two-party system, then
we will only be able to watch as our country slips further down the dark
path of totalitarianism. You think it’s bad now, wait and see.
For the record, my definition of a two-party system is a system where
two coalitions have had a chance to govern the country. We have never
had this. Yes, the opposition has made gains and is a credible threat to
the Umno/BN establishment but we have only known Umno rule and whatever
permutations of it since Independence.
I know this man. A “pakar” Malay officer who worked his way up, as we
say. He revered Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and was a lifelong member of
PAS, even back in the day. We reconnected in the heady days when PAS
took to the streets after the ejection of then deputy premier Anwar
Ibrahim from Umno paradise.
He still referred to me as “Tuan” and it was the happiest day of his
life when PAS formally joined Pakatan Rakyat. With the passing of Tok
Guru and the fragmentation of PAS, he quit the party. His family and
most of his friends joined him. Then former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad made his play with the
opposition. This old sailor who had left PAS and was thinking of
sitting out in this election was suddenly stirred. He can’t explain it.
He knows for a long time that Mahathir was the “mahafiraun”. It was what
PAS had taught him.
However, these days he sees PAS cuddling up with Umno and he hears
how Mahathir wants to correct his mistakes that he made when he was with
Umno. He sees Tok Guru’s family “manipulated” by Umno. He sees mothers
turning against sons. He sees an old adversary not allowed to visit the
grave of a religious scholar who once led the way. This old sailor is
Now, of course, most of them (like my sailor friend) are retired but
when they hear the call by their old prime minister, they understand
that Umno is not to be trusted. They tell their friends and families.
They make it known by going to ceramahs. They donate to the cause, even
though they do not have much.
These are not the service personnel - the high-ranking officers who
got fat from the gravy train. These are the men and women who served on
the ground. Who understood that the state security apparatus was a
branch of government and that there were some honour and dignity in
serving. He has repented, my old colleague says to me. “Soon, there will be many in PAS, who may have to repent as well.” Anyone who has read my articles will know that my issue with PAS is
not their Islamism. My issue with PAS is their Umnoism. My friend will
not join any political party, but he will vote Pakatan Harapan in this
election. From now on, I am independent, he says.
Now, of course, the “choices” in this election may seem identical but
eventually, these will be refined or redefined. The first step is
understanding that you have a choice. This is what Umno fears. This is
what the former Umno prime minister is banking on - that people will
take that leap of faith. That the Malay community realises that they
have a choice. And because the Malay politics is defined by Malay
institutions, he wisely chooses to directly appeal to those
Will things change? Who knows? I do know that after decades of being
ruled by Umno, things have to change. I do know that after decades of
being told by successive Umno potentates that they are the only ones who
can rule this country, that things have to change. I do know that after
decades of Umno rule, our country is heading down a dark path and it’s
not because of the corruption or the systemic discrimination but because
the underlying policies of Umno – using religion – has opened the
majority to influences from the outside that would bring ruination to
Could the opposition bring this change? I have no idea. I only know
that we cannot carry on this way. We cannot carry on believing that this
country is doing well when there are no political voices to dissent
against the hegemon in Putrajaya. I know that if politicians think that
it is their birthright to rule this country in perpetuity that this will
only lead to sorrow.
I know that if politicians continue to think that they are not
accountable to the people, they will continue suppressing voices of
dissent. The Umno regime is doing everything in its power to stack the
deck. They are doing everything in their power to ensure a victory that
they do not deserve. This is politics, they say, so what has “deserve”
got to do with it.
Fair enough, but every time the establishment does something like
this, they make people angry. I am not talking about the vitriol that
some opposition supporters display online. I am talking about the
real-world anger that could manifest in so many ways. In a Muslim-majority country, this is especially dangerous. I am on
record as saying that the greatest danger to this country is the
National Security Council Act. There is a reason for this obnoxious law.
But I think that the state security apparatus understand that their
role is to facilitate a smooth transition of power and not hamper it. All I know is this. After decades of rule by a single party, watching
the corruption, the bigotry and smug assurance of rule, I am mad as
hell and I am not going to take this anymore.
We can worry about how we are going to reform the system later. We
can worry about how we are going to reform the institutions later. We
first need to take the first step with people who say they are
interested in doing those things and have never – well, the majority of
them – had the opportunity to govern this country. If the opposition carries out even a quarter of what they promise, that would be something that the country desperately needs.
Are you as mad as hell and not going to take this anymore?