Articles, Opinions & Views: An open letter to MCA - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
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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

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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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An open letter to MCA - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, June 04, 2018
Malaysiakini : “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” – George Orwell, 1984
COMMENT | Dear MCA, tough year, right? Let me be very clear. What you went through in this election amounted to a keelhauling. DAP made no secret of wanting to destroy you at the polls, and for all intents and purposes, they succeeded. This does not mean that the MCA is finished, however. You remain the only opposition in town.
When I say “only opposition,” I mean the only mainstream opposition for a secular base, and not the Umno-PAS opposition, which could no doubt be a highly successful combo for the race and religion crowd. It all depends on how Pakatan Harapan deals with the economy. What does the economy have to do with race and religion? Glad you asked. As long as Harapan steers the economy in the right direction, issues of race and religion will be muted.
Now, the Umno-PAS pairing would no doubt attempt to push these issues to the forefront, but as long as Harapan carries out economic policies which are a mixture of entitlements, fiscal responsibility, keeping the cost of living at a reasonable level and weathers turbulent international economics vagaries, people will be content and would not fall for populist racial and religious agendas.
Or maybe because of the racial and religious dynamics of the opposition – read that as the Malay to non-Malay ratio – the country could be subjected to sub rosa agendas which citizens would notice or ignore. Could go either way. That and of course the treacherous sea of Malay politics. At this moment, there is a possibility that Harapan could use the excesses of the former Umno regime to remove players from the chessboard.
All well and good, but the reality is that Umno still has a strong base, and could potentially galvanise the majority Malay vote depending on how Harapan navigates between Malay nationalism – not ‘spooking the Malays’ – and broad-based Malaysian issues. MCA, meanwhile, should not buy into this illusion that we are in a post-racial Malaysia. Nobody should. Right now, there is all this talk of opening up MCA to all races, and even Umno is floating this idea.
The reality will soon sink in – after the financial corruption card plays out or the cost of living does not improve – of how racial we truly are. While I am ambivalent about you opening up, what I do know is that you do not have to be a multiracial party to advocate secular, egalitarian principles – contradictory as that may seem – and act as a watchdog for corruption in the new government.
At this moment, anything you say will be mocked, and your political operatives vilified. But here’s the thing. The same happened to the opposition during the long Umno watch, before the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim cobbled together an alliance which eventually brought down the Umno state.
If MCA becomes a multiracial party organically, that’s all well and good; forcing the issue, however, especially when it comes to the hypocritical political landscape of Malaysia, is unhelpful. Let’s face facts, MCA has in many ways been a lifeline to the Indian community because the MIC was totally out of it. In other words, just because you are a race-based party does not mean you only have to obsess about Chinese preoccupations. The history of MCA at the ground level is evidence of this.
This post-election spat between MCA and Umno is a necessary first step in regaining some sort of equilibrium. Sure, you are vulnerable at this moment, and Umno is in a far better position, but things change. And fast. Besides, MCA is still cash rich, which is why there are moves to destabilise corporate interests in the guise of cleaning house. Nothing you say will win the social media war at this moment, and while the majority of the Chinese community have now abandoned MCA, this is a great opportunity for you to chart a new course.
This may sound like an oversimplification, but people have tasted the freedom of kicking out political hegemons which they believed failed them. A reformed MCA would then be a perfect candidate for people who say that they will throw out the current government if it fails them. Some have no understanding of the reality that Malaysia really has no opposition to speak of. In other words, people may choose not to vote if they believe Harapan is not living up to its promises.
But if a resurgent MCA can demonstrate a commitment to change, they could function as the alternative. While it may seem as if everything is a mire of partisanship, what is important to remember is that MCA – despite having propped up a kleptocrat – was also a major component in the success of this country when times were good. If the current revisionism is to be believed, this would include the time when Dr Mahathir Mohamad led the BN hegemon.
Right now, the Harapan establishment is operating without any oversight, in the sense that they have the goodwill of a people desperate for change. But do not have the popular vote. While Harapan political operatives blame the Umno regime’s electoral malfeasance for this, the reality is that we remain a divided country. While it may seem that MCA is at a disadvantage at this moment, the reality is that after decades of being subservient to the Umno hegemon, you can finally address issues in a way that the new political paradigm demands.
Not only was MCA in the government during the so-called golden era of Malaysia, you are now in the position now of being in the opposition after decades of seeing how a bureaucracy evolves. MCA understands the nature of racial and religious politics when it comes to the power-sharing formula, and more importantly, the faultlines when it comes to policy decisions involving the sensitivities of the majority.
And you have the luxury of not starting from scratch. There are some who would argue that MCA needs to, but I am not of that opinion. While Umno rightly points out that MCA is bereft of their protection, the reality is that Umno has very little protection they could offer anyway. Until they can sort out their internal problems, Umno is unlikely to even form a cohesive strategy except yelping on the sidelines and wondering when their political operatives would be visited by the Harapan state for sins past. Or who would jump over to the good ship Bersatu.
While I get that the business community would naturally shift to the ruling power elite, this does not mean that MCA is bereft of influence. Small business, civil society issues – now that the civil society elite are hovering around the Harapan regime – and numerous other grassroots issues could be exploited by MCA to its advantage.
And let’s face facts, the BN regime on the whole has lost touch with the grassroots. Noises from the Harapan faithful and political operatives are busy telling civil society types – those not hovering around the new political elite, that is – that the war is over. This, of course, is not the case. Political operatives only believe so because they think their political opponents are down for the count.
Pundits assume that MCA needs to reform. That’s true, but more importantly, Harapan has to impose reforms, or else people will lose faith. And this is an important point. Because people now understand that regimes can change – peacefully – in Malaysia, there is a potential voting base for MCA for a public desiring change.
Whatever criticism from your side must be objective. If the proposed policy is beneficial, MCA should support it, and if it is not, you should clearly articulate why. Again, it may fall on deaf ears, but when you build up a consistent coherent narrative, people will gravitate towards it. You should stake the middle ground, attempting to create a narrative of balancing the expectations of diverse communities without resorting to the Kool-Aid of ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ or anything else BN cooked up in the past.
Being Malaysian is being Chinese, Indian, Muslim, or however you self-identify, and not extinguishing culture for an incoherent political ideology. A history of being at ground zero of racial and religious hot button issues, as well as economic and foreign policy issues, makes a reformed MCA an extremely viable alternative if Harapan does not carry out the reforms it has promised.
Of course, being an alternative may not get you in power, but all this depends on how the Malay vote plays out. It's all about credibility and persistence – something that MCA in its current form lacks, since you have been coasting on the bloated policies of Umno for decades.
In any case, all the best, and welcome to the opposition.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:20 AM  
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