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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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Money is wasted on youth (ministry) - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform.”
― Henry David Thoreau

COMMENT | Does anyone else find it hilarious that Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman vows to defend the freedom of speech of that doctor who wrote an anti-LGBTQ polemic but remains strangely quiet when it comes to the freedom of speech of Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi?
This should tell you something about the politics at play or maybe even the kind of prejudices which are acceptable to the ruling elite in the country. Funny isn’t it, that the youngest minister in the government who is supposed to be supportive of youths, has no opinion on the state’s reaction to these two young activists. That Syed Saddiq has the gall to claim that whatever form the new Biro Tatanegara (BTN) and National Service programmes will take, it will mould the new leaders of tomorrow, is the height of hypocrisy.
As far as I can tell these two young people are demonstrating leadership qualities that other young people should pay attention to, rather than the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) of the new Pakatan Harapan regime. Honestly reading and understanding the issues these young people bring up, how they handle criticism and the reaction of the state towards them is far more instructive, in my opinion, on what it means to be Malaysians than whatever voodoo programmes the Youth Ministry belch up to justify its existence.
Which brings me to the little spat between opposition political operative Khairy Jamaluddin and Syed Saddiq about the alleged misuse of funds of the1Malaysia For Youth programme. Well, duh? Of course, some of the funds would have been misused, but is this really a revelation or is Syed Saddiq just taking a page from the older political operatives instead of truly reforming his ministry?
My question is, why does Harapan keep insisting on keeping programmes or tweaking them when before the election they said these programmes were destroying Malaysia? Young Syed Saddiq said that the idea behind 1Malaysia For Youth programme was “noble” because it was supposed to be about encouraging volunteerism among young people. This is really silly. Any government programme is there is encourage young people to vote for them. Can anyone seriously make the argument that government initiatives – any government initiatives – are non-political?
These programmes exist to brainwash young people into thinking that the government is a benign entity which should be supported because – depending on the quality and efficacy of said programmes – governments bring some sort of benefit to their lives. Whatever they receive in terms of experience or skill sets is built upon a foundation of propaganda.
This said propaganda worms its way into young people and they conflate political parties with the independent institutions of government. They do not think of government institutions as independent but rather as an extension of political parties. They may not articulate it as such, but it’s all there in how they express what they think of government and its role.
The real issues
Two points. 1. Has there ever been an audit on all these programmes, and a determination of how the funds were used and who profited from these youth programmes? I mean serious audit, not an audit to blame the BN government for all that is wrong with this country. 2. Has there ever been an in-depth study on how these programmes shaped the young generation over the years? Or is this merely window-dressing to justify the existence of a youth ministry while money gets diverted to who knows where?
Is the youth minister really interested in addressing issues faced by young people these days? You know what young people talk to me about or what has been reported in the press over the years? The following may depend on socio-economic background but here goes (in no particular order) –
Systemic discrimination in the public and private sector, religious intolerance which hampers their intellectual development and social lives, the cost of living especially young married couples, domestic violence, crime, the lure of religious terrorism, substance abuse, owning property, their  sexuality, their activism, the disconnect between their skill sets and the employment opportunities, talent mobility in the region, lack of awareness in financial planning, how to get other young people involved in the political process without resorting to political parties, aging parents, mental and physical health issues, lack of information about birth control or lack of access to birth control and the list does go on. This is really just a taste.
You really think that these substantive issues have been addressed by the former regime in any real meaningful way with drowning out the voices of young people in propaganda or racial and religious rhetoric? And does young Syed Saddiq want to play the same game?
Sure, spin doctors could make the case that the ministry has attempted to address some of these issues but would anyone really buy that? I do not get me started on the sports aspects of that ministry. Anyway, my comrade, R Nadeswaran is better qualified to speak on that subject. And he has.
Honestly, how have these programmes over the years shaped young people? Has it made them more responsible citizens? Has it made them more community-minded? I would argue that young people do have a better sense of community than their elders but this is in spite of what the government has done, not because of it.
Here’s a question. How do you get young people forget their difference when some young people believe that there should be Malay-only education institutions? Or that people should be cautious of criticising institutions like Mara because of the sensitivities of those involved? How exactly does “volunteerism”, “team building” and all those other fancy terms, negate political and social boxes imposed on young Malaysians and of which they desperately attempt to break free from, sometimes resulting in clashes with the state?
Instead of spending money on these youth programmes and a revised BTN propaganda effort, the money should be used on our education system and healthcare system, for example. Instead of fighting over the United Education Certificate (UEC), perhaps the Youth Ministry should discover why national schools, which are supposed to be the time and place that young Malaysians form their identities and integrate with one another, have become a hotbed of racial and religious intolerance.
Young people do not need programmes for volunteerism or whatever else nonsense to make them political leaders of tomorrow. What they need is a primary and secondary education system where racialism and bigotry are not enforced by the state under the guise of majority sensitivity.
Young people have access to information now. This, of course, does not make them news literate but it does make them understand that there is something wrong with this country and the people who lead it. How many percent of the “young” population vote? Not if they are eligible to vote, but if they even think that voting will improve their lives? I have no idea about anyone else and I, of course, do not speak for young people, but when I see young political operatives talk about young people, it seems like they do not speak for them either.
I get that Syed Saddiq is the youngest minister with no real working experience but you know what, I can name so many other young people who understand the problems of young people and who would jump at the opportunity to use the ministry to further the agenda of young people.
All these programmes conjure up images of a Leni Riefenstahl film and if that’s the goal, great. But young people deserve better.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:21 AM   0 comments
Ultra-liberals and the futility of discourse - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 13, 2018

Malaysiakini : “The political nature of man made it highly unlikely that a society designed to meet regularly would remain peaceable. "The way to make friends quarrel is to pit them in disputation under the public eye," Jefferson said.” ― Jon Meacham, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
COMMENT | Truth be told, I like Rafizi Ramli. Sure, we have had a very public spat but the reality is that for whatever reasons, he often kicks the Pakatan Harapan regime in the nut sack and more often than not, gets pilloried for it on social media. The internal politics of PKR, I have very little interest in. No matter who runs the good ship, PKR politicians in Harapan will not stray too far from mainstream Malay politics even though they, like the DAP, claim to be a multi-racial party.
Malay establishment politicians have to pay attention to certain agendas and non-Malay establishment politicians have to enable such dictates. It does not have to be this way but it is easier to retain power this way. Recently, Rafizi labelled those hounding Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on the whole child marriage fiasco as ultra liberals who "focus on the one issue". Not nice, Rafizi.
Dismissing these critics, while saying these ultra liberals are not responsible for the poor, while the DPM, was, is a strange way of deflecting from the criticisms of the cautious response of the DPM on this issue. Firstly, child marriage, as in marriages between children and adults, is normalising sex with children. Furthermore, it is normally the “poor” children who are exploited in this manner. Also, this idea that ultra liberals are single-issue advocates is rather bizarre, because it's like saying that rights groups who advocate on a specific subject do not care about anything else – the poor – because they advocate for specific issues.
Last year when Umno was in power, my Malay-speaking activist friends were always worried that the state labelled them as deviant and that meant they were liberal. As one young activist said (in Malay no less), how could he be liberal when he can't even speak English that well. Even now I do not want to go into the whole definition on the debate about what a liberal is even more so an ultra-liberal, which I suppose is akin to an ultra Malay or Islamist or howsoever else Malaysians define such things.
It gets really messy when Rafizi claims that some activists are biased against Wan Azizah because she wears a tudung, more “Malay” looking in her outlook and appearance and behaves like a moderate. Really? Some would argue that Wan Azizah is an idealised version of a Malay woman. A fair skinned, tudung wearing, religious and socially compliant political operative. I mean we are talking about a community which is a melting pot of various people foreign and domestic, right?
Why even say horse manure like that? And what does having a Malay outlook mean and does having this Malay outlook, trump whatever agreed upon principles that the opposition says it has? How does one define the middle ground this way? But wait. Rafizi already staked out the middle moderate ground. “And the moderate centre behaves like Wan Azizah. The moderate centre does not behave like very vocal social activists who want outright political condemnation,” he said.
Wait, so all those years when tudung wearing Malays were outright in their condemnation of Umno policies and rhetoric, they were not the “moderate centre”? All those social activists many of whom were tudung clad did not represent the centre of Malay politics, which is what the opposition (Harapan) was saying was the true face of this country?
What about those who do not wear tudung? Are they somehow less “moderate” in their views? Does the content of the criticisms change depending on whether one wears a tudung or believes in a specific religion?
Muddying up waters
But what is the moderate centre in PKR? By labelling activists who are vocal in their criticisms about a political operative who is also the women and family development minister, as ultra-liberal, then what is the moderate liberal's position? Less vocal? It is like PAS saying that anyone who disagrees with their interpretation of Islam is liberal but an ultra liberal is someone who actually voices out such disagreements. Where does someone like Zaid Ibrahim fall when it comes to the liberal and ultra-liberal label?
Which brings us to the futility of the discourse and the big tent approach of PKR. Let us be honest here. In most cases, the discourse is between the Malay component – liberal or orthodox – and the non-Malay component of PKR. Rafizi’s example of Malay groups who are not happy with the UEC recognition and bringing those who are and those who do not together sounds like a swell idea. But really, when it comes to Malay rights, can there ever be a dialogue? Why do Malay rights groups oppose the UEC? The basis of their dissent is based on racial and religious supremacy, right?
So it's how you have to allay their fears, right? But this is the problem right here. Non-Malays as citizens of this country should not have to allay the fears of their countrymen. How exactly does the UEC, for example, threaten the culture of the Malay community?
How exactly is talking about this with people who base their objection to specific issue along racial or religious lines going to get us to that place, where we are all treated equally before the law?
How erectly does the discourse work with people like this? I mean really, saying non-Muslims can use the word, Allah – as long as it was not misused – is something to be proud of? If I ask an orthodox Malay who believes in Malay supremacy how do the non-Malays misuse the word Allah, he or she would say that by uttering the word, they would be misusing it.
For whatever reason, Rafizi is the only political operative who pisses in the Harapan kool-aid occasionally. I will take occasionally over the prostrating of most political operatives at the altar of the great old one.  But for Allah's sake, be mindful of how you respond to criticism. If your critics are wrong just say they are wrong and but don’t engage in identity politics.
The discourse is hard enough already without folks who should know better than muddying up the waters even more.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:57 AM   0 comments
Is patriotism worth RM250? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, August 11, 2018

Malaysiakini : “The flag is the simplest and cheapest symbol and for the cost of eight cigarettes, we can buy and wave the flag.”- Rais Yatim, in 2013 when he was the social affairs and cultural adviser
COMMENT | When some people say we can finally raise the Jalur Gemilang with pride after May 9, I go, huh? Why can we finally raise our national flag with pride? I suppose you could make the argument that we finally become a democracy, if the yardstick is changing governments, that is. But some would argue that the big change was merely a reshuffling of the deck.
Indeed, waving the Jalur Gemilang and patriotism go hand in hand. Except, if you’re from the LGBTQ tribe, or liberal Muslims or ‘chauvinistic’ Chinese, or ‘traitorous’ Indians, or not from the 'bangsa' Malaysia tribe (the negation of ethnicity/culture in favour of partisanship), then waving the flag or even depictions of you waving the flag means that you are promoting something which goes against the group think of the state or not wanting to spook the majority in case they have second thought about the Pakatan Harapan government.
In January of this year, I asked why would the non-Malays be patriotic to this country –
“And really, what is it the non-Malays have to defend? We have to defend our ‘success’ in Tanah Melayu. We have to defend the fact that we have to work hard because we are not beholden to a system of privilege – ideological, religious and constitutional – that enables us to think for ourselves and realise that the world does not owe us anything. “We have to defend how we spend our wealth – too expressive in the luxuries the fruits of our labour afford us, and we are deemed un-Islamic, corrupt in our excesses, and of course, corrosive to the Malay/Muslim community.”
 
Please do not claim that things will not change immediately. That is not what I am saying at all. I believe that deep down inside, people know this. They know the freak show when they see it. 
It never ceases to amaze me that certain types of governments always need to foster, instil, encourage or in some cases, enforce a sense of patriotism on its citizens. That is really what’s bugs me about the re-branding of the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses, for example. Why do people need to be reminded or taught about being patriotic to the country? I mean we know, or should know, that any kind of state propaganda is there to enforce allegiance to political parties and not democratic, independent institutions, right? The irony, of course, is that people generally have more loyalty to political parties than any other institution in the country. They have more faith in political parties than democratic principles or ideals. In other words, partisanship is tangible, while any other kind of patriotic feelings to the country is not. 
And what the hell does patriotism mean anyway? I can tell you who should not define it. I can tell you when the state attempts to define patriotism, it is always extremely dangerous. The last people who should define patriotism are people in power. The last people who should define patriotism is the religious elite. In other words, if you have some power over your countrymen, you are in no position to define what patriotism is but it normally means that these tyrants do. 
RM250 penalty 
What really ticks me off is when bureaucrats and politicians weigh in on patriotism. Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) administration reminded business owners that they faced a RM250 compound if they failed to fly the Jalur Gemilang. This clause is apparently in the business licence agreement. 
MPK public relations officer Izad Zainal Muhammad Safian babbled on about how this would “foster patriotism among Malaysians, especially traders in the council area, by flying Jalur Gemilang and the Pahang flag. You can bet your last ringgit that fines collected for not being patriotic is going to line the pockets of you knows who. It sure as hell not going to benefit the people in any way. Really, a municipal council telling traders to be patriotic. I get that they are the middlemen but seriously, you really think that this type of "extortion" encourages patriotism? 
Being forced to hoist the flag with a RM250 penalty for failure to comply, does not foster patriotism amongst traders who just wish to make a decent living. Who makes these flags and who profits from the enforced patriotism of these traders? Always follow the money trail. But really, when you have to force people to wave the flag, do you really think that people would feel any sense of kinship to their countrymen or the state? 
You see these big companies going all out during the patriotic season, and you just know the bottom line is part of their consideration. I do not blame them. It’s all part of the capitalist system, but here in Malaysia where we have plutocrat-politicians, you just know that the big companies will have incestuous links with the ruling government. Corruption and patriotism go hand in hand, and believe me, they pay more than just RM250. 
Small traders who have to deal with low-level bureaucrats and mid-level politicians, of course, have to play a different game. RM250 may not mean much, but to some people that is a sum they could do with. Former minister Rais Yatim back in 2013 - the quote that begins this piece – went on about how students, young people and the denizens of urban areas were not patriotic enough. Of course, instilling patriotism meant loyalty to the state which at that time was Umno, but really this is Malaysia, so when people tell me that they have loyalty to the country what they really mean is that they are glad that Harapan is now in the driver’s seat. 
So it’s funny, right? Young people and urban folk were the catalysts for kicking out BN and for Rais Yatim getting his new job, whatever it is. A political conversion brought upon by young people and urban folk, who had very little patriotism to this country. I can understand why the former Umno regime was worried about why people were not patriotic enough. Their jobs depended on it. 
The same applies to the Harapan bunch. You really think they have any allegiance to the democratic institutions/principles of this country? If they did, they would not be reneging on their promises which would cost them nothing to keep (if it did cost them something, why make it in the first place?) or poking their noses into the lives of people on religious grounds. 
Also, when a judge denies a gag order on Najib's corruption trial because it goes against free speech but the MCMC issues a guideline against the use of specific words by broadcasters, does anyone else see the hypocrisy in this? Let me guess, those lists of banned words and books, is something Harapan either on a state or federal level will not get to.
People have to discover why they are patriotic to this country or if patriotism is even something worth thinking about. But if its value is RM250, I can assure you, you are doing something wrong.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:43 AM   0 comments
Road to theocratic state paved with mala fide intentions - - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Any religion-based state has a mission to limit the minds of its people, to fight the developments of history and logic, and to dumb down its citizens. It’s important to stand in the way of such a mentality, to deny it from continuing its mission to murder the souls of its people, killing them deep within while they are still alive and breathing.” – Raif Badawi, 1000 Lashes, Because I Say What I Think

Don't forget, hate for Jews and anyone who ain't of their faith. - my take.
COMMENT | Pakatan Harapan – either by design, incompetence or maybe just a lack of imagination – is making the Islamic discourse in this country even more toxic than it already is.
Take the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), for instance. This is a religious bureaucracy plugged into every aspect of government. Why hasn’t there been any sustained effort by this so-called religious authority to combat corruption, racism and bigotry? Isn’t this the kind of Islamic moral police that Harapan alluded to when it comes to the religion of the state?
The pointless op-ed piece about Women, Family and Community Development Minister Dr Wan Aziziah Wan Ismail, penned by her deputy Hannah Yeoh and panned by Latheefa Koya, is an example of how the political elite attempt to cloud issues that they do not want to deal with.
In past articles, I have written about the tremendous pressure Muslim political operatives are under. I get it, I really do. It should tell you something about mainstream Harapan dogma when people do not question why Latheefa’ position on the issue of child marriage, for example, is not defended, while the cautious – and I am being charitable here – position of the deputy prime minister is embraced by the political elite who told us before the election that they would defend the secular position in this so-called Islamic state.
The removal of the photos of LGBTQ activists, who by the way were also part of the struggle against the Umno regime, not only demonstrates the pettiness of the religious bigots in Harapan, but also the hypocrisy of their actions. How many Harapan political operatives met with activists (who were part of the LGBTQ discourse) as part of a grassroots rejection of Umno?
De facto Religious Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa's double speak of the state protecting these people from a society that rejects them hides the fact that the bigots within Harapan believe that the more disenfranchised you are, the less political cost you incur. Sooner or later, everyone becomes disenfranchised except the political and religious elites. Keep up the good work Charles Santiago and anyone else who public ally opposes these religious imperatives.
And no Mujahid, I do not want you to arrest them. I want you to keep your mouth shut about them, and instead create a counter-narrative that Harapan's Islam is about promoting a first class education for your brethren, weeding out corruption in the political and religious class, ensuring the healthcare system is one of the best in the region, and ensuring a plurality of Islamic voices, so young people do not join extremist groups that pose a danger to the citizens of this country.
I have asked this question many times before, but how many times have past Umno administrations made unilateral decisions which went against the perceived Islamic groupthink to garner votes from non-Muslims? How many times has the Umno regime retreated from extreme positions to appease their BN non-Malay/Muslim partners?
Did they suffer – before May 9, 2018 – from a Muslim backlash? No, they didn’t. Why? because the majority of Muslims are content to follow their leaders instead of setting the Islamic agenda.
My last article was more about the hypocrisy of the opposition then any real political influence by a foreign power. Anyway, all of this is just a smokescreen. Three important issues have cropped up which point to the theoretic agenda of the Harapan state – far more important than a bumbling group from DC mucking about our country.
Syariah compliance
The first is the syariah-compliant guidelines for the private sector. What horse manure is this? Apparently, this was in response to the incident where some woman was sacked from her job for not covering up her aurat. Let me get this straight. We have already had problems in the public sector where religious types dictated how we dress when we interact with the bureaucracy, and now, Harapan wants to impose its “guidelines” on the private sector?
I can just picture it. Private companies who want to do business with the government will suck up to the regime by adopting these guidelines. Some women will advocate for this guideline to be adopted by their companies to ensure that they are not discriminated against, and when there is pushback from the company, the religious far right will get involved and Harapan and these bigots will be on the same page.
This is how it starts – innocently enough. Hidden behind a message of fairness is actually the tools for compliance. Guidelines eventually become dogma, and because they think people will not notice – most often they do not – they encroach into our public and private spheres uncontested.
Taxpayer-funded brainwashing
The second is the rebranding of the National Civics Bureau (BTN). I wrote about this here – “Okay, you may say, fine, reform BTN. Sounds simple, right? Has anyone stopped to think why this organisation is needed? Forget about what it is costing taxpayers, but why would there ever need to be a government agency instilling ‘patriotism’ in the civil service and students? Why would the state need to do this except to ensure that people are brainwashed into voting for them?”
People need to question why Harapan is accepting money from kids who break their piggy banks, but has the money to fund what is essentially a state propaganda organ, which would reach into every facet of public, not to mention private life? Do people not see the hypocrisy and danger of an organisation like BTN, revamped or not? While some Harapan politicians have spoken up on this, the big guns are waxing eloquent about other senior leaders, promoting a third national car, or reminding the rakyat about how bad Umno's corruption scandals were. Not to mention the defence that Harapan made these promises not realising they could win has achieved some sort of legitimacy among the faithful.
NSC waffling
The third, and perhaps most important, is the waffling on abolishing the National Security Council Act 2016. All I can say is, you lying sacks of manure. Before the election, Harapan, the then-opposition, was going on about how this act had effectively turned this democracy into an autocracy. Malay opposition politicians, including our current prime minister, said that this act further eroded the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
In fact, Dr Mahathir Mohamad went so far as to claim that Najib Abdul Razak had given himself the powers of the Agong. Anwar Ibrahim mounted a legal challenge and later withdrew it. This is the most dangerous law this country has.
Now, these duplicitous politicians are claiming: “When it comes to security issues of the country, we will examine all aspects to ensure our country’s safety is not compromised.” Really? What changed? I mean what have you discovered about the security of the country that changed your mind on the utilitarian values of this act? Did the Najib regime have good cause to table this act? Was the Najib regime aware of things that necessitated such an act that you were (then) ignorant of? Were all criticisms against this act unfounded? Based on ignorance and not fact?
Theocratic agenda
Let me be very clear. I say theocratic agenda because ultimately, religion is the foundation on which unjust laws and propaganda will be used in this country. This is the new virulent strain introduced into the Islamic discourse. Virulent because:
The goodwill Harapan has from its base clouds the discourse in an avalanche of apologia, or more often ad hominems. This adds to the virulence of the discourse, because people lose sight of the real issue and attempt to engage with the strawman arguments. This, of course, only strengthens the Malay far-right position.
The media is concentrating on the plethora of corruption scandals of the past regime, which subsumes other more important long-term issues which have long-lasting effects on the social and political landscape of this country. Politicians, who before the election were bullish on institutional reform which involved the religious apparatus, now find it profitable to carry on existing narratives that worked so well for BN until the events of May 9.
This, of course, is the most dangerous aspect of this new Malaysia I get that people do not think it is a big issue. But look back at the history of the country and see the cultural changes that took place. Do you really think corruption has done as much damage as the religious and racial imperatives of the Malay and non-Malay political class?
PREVIOUSLY
IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M'sia
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:39 AM   0 comments
IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M'sia - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Malaysiakini : “Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home.” ― William Ewart Gladstone
COMMENT | Some folks have been emailing me asking me what I think of all this International Republican Institute (IRI) “collusion” with Pakatan Harapan.  I get that “collusion” with foreign powers is a big thing at the moment, but honestly I do not really see the issue here. Some people have said that the IRI is a cut-out for the American intelligence apparatus or something like that.
Really? Look, I think the American intelligence apparatus is a cut-out, or has become a cut-out, for big business - Big Pharma, Big Agro, et cetera - and all the other corporate interests that influence American foreign and domestic policy.
Besides, the fact that a representative from the organisation goes around blabbering about the “long game” with the opposition demonstrates that whatever nefarious intentions attributed to the IRI aid is misplaced because it sounds like amateur hour when you boast about a victory which you acknowledged that you had no hand in.
This looks like spin to counter all the negative spin that the IRI faces all over the world. A good news story about a democracy that works in an Islamic country and how the IRI played its small part.
Granted, I would like to know what kind of “training” they provided to our local politicians. I am most curious if this involved the use of social messaging and propaganda, but ultimately this kind of interference happens all the time.
Foreign groups wishing to cultivate a specific kind of government or promote specific agendas operate in countries through ways benign and toxic. Opposition parties facing hostile establishments have very little choice but to get support where they can find it, more so if such support is sexed up with democratic ideas. Furthermore, since its inception, our opposition has been made up of former establishment figures, so there of course would be foreign power brokers invested in how the country chooses to vote.
Claiming, as the IRI did, to have access to the prime minster, his office or to political operatives, is admittedly worrying. However, I consider most of these types of engagements as falling under the “lobbying culture” which Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should be familiar with, considering he had paid a lobbyist back in the day to meet a US president. So, it is not that unusual.
Choosing sides
Which is not to say that the IRI is a benign outfit. Just two years ago, US media outlet Politico reported that Russia concluded that the organisation posed “a threat to Russia’s security and political system.” I mean, Russia should know a thing or two about interfering in the political process of foreign countries. 
IRI’s response was: “For 33 years, IRI has worked around the world with citizens, civil society groups and political leaders to advance democracy and human dignity. We’ve helped women and members of marginalised communities take their rightful place in the decision-making process of their societies. We simply believe, as Ronald Reagan said three decades ago, that ‘all people should have the freedom to determine their own destiny’."
On the other hand, US magazine Mother Jones in 2004 detailed the fallout from the organization’s activities in Haiti and Venezuela and of its penchant to choose sides:
1. “At the time, all the major US democracy-promotion groups were active in Venezuela, including both IRI and NDI (the National Democratic Institute). But documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that while NDI worked with parties across the political spectrum, IRI staffers spent much of their time cultivating the opposition.
2. “And despite a warning from the National Endowment for Democracy not to take sides in Venezuela, IRI also used its own money to bring opposition figures to Washington, where they met with top US officials.”
So there’s that. Of course, now everyone from Gerakan to Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is claiming that they had no involvement with IRI and their ilk. PSM is the most believable because of their track record and the fact that their ideology is anathema to mainstream US groupthink. Gerakan, meanwhile, is correct to call out PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar over her claim that Gerakan received training from IRI. If she makes such a claim, she should back it up with evidence and not attempt to smear everyone with the mulch Harapan finds itself in.
Now the IRI has claimed it worked with the BN regime too, but it does sound like an afterthought considering their man had said that they played the long game with the opposition and that Harapan political operatives had allegedly thanked the IRI for standing with them all those years.
Comic relief
Maybe it’s just that in the rush of things, people say stupid things, especially when the assets you have cultivated produce political fruit, waiting to be plucked. Ok, that was mean. Do I think that there are compromised political operatives in Harapan and BN? It would not surprise me, but I just think this whole thing with the IRI is overblown. But it does provide some comic relief though, courtesy of the DAP.
Lim Guan Eng’s denial of any involvement with the IRI was funny.  Pro tip. If this is the first time you are hearing about this, should not the logical answer be to discover more about the subject instead of merely denying any involvement because your coalition partners admitted involvement?
Here’s the thing. If the influence of IRI through Harapan is detrimental to the sovereignty of the country, then DAP is involved by virtue of being part of the coalition.  And really, DAP has been “critical” of the US Republican Party? Has DAP been critical of the US Democratic Party too? Or is this a cheap shot at US President Donald Trump to score points with the domestic audience?
Of course then there was the predictable backpedalling, when Guan Eng (photo) admitted that DAP had contact with the IRI but did not hear the reporter’s question properly. Yeah, right. The first flight response from DAP when it comes to anything it perceives could tarnish its image is getting tiresome. Nothing to rock the boat, eh, Guan Eng, even when it means waiting to craft a response which does not throw your coalition partners under the bus.
And of course, the stupidest thing was said about having contacts with the US political parties. Lim said that DAP had no contacts with the US Republican Party or the US president, but training with thinktanks was okay because it was not like having contacts with the US Central Intelligence Agency. How stupid is this?
Look, a political party having contact with another democratically elected political party is good, even if the political party is in the opposition and share the same ideologies. It is the way that democracies work and democratic ideas flourish.
However, far more dangerous, are members of a political party attending training and workshops by so-called thinktanks which promote agendas public and sub-rosa. Indeed, it would have been better if DAP maintained ties with the US Republican and Democratic parties because that is what functional political parties do. Maintaining lines of communication with other democratically elected political parties is a good thing, and not mucking about with foreign NGOs, some of whom are funded by political parties which could have been infiltrated by intelligence operators beholden to higher undemocratic powers.
It is good that DAP finally cleared this up. Guan Eng’s bad hearing saved the day because at best DAP was ignorant of what their partners were up to – which does not inspire much confidence – or at worst, DAP is a useful idiot. Look up the term. When it comes to help and funding from foreign NGOs you have to take the good with the bad. It is unfortunately as simple as that, especially considering that we have done our fair share of regional interference. Look that up too.
All of this nonsense, of course, is a smokescreen for the real threats to our democracy which are the moves by the Harapan regime to backtrack on their campaign promises and start a new, more virulent Islamic discourse, which is for part two.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:11 PM   0 comments
Second oldest genes and the oldest Malay political game - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 06, 2018

  
Malaysiakini : “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” – George Carlin
COMMENT | Some of you may have read (and had a hysterical fit of laughter) about the theory put forward by historian Zaharah Sulaiman (top photo) at a recent forum organised by the Muslim Youth Movement (Abim), where she claimed that the Malay gene was the second oldest in the world. This flight of fancy was grounded by a rebuttal by Monash University professor Maude E Phipps.
But what is really amazing is what Zaharah is intending to do. As reported in the Malay Mail: “The historian also said she plans on approaching the government hoping to revise Malaysian history so it will be more accurate in light of the recent findings.” If anything, what this demonstrates is that the idea of ketuananism cannot withstand scientific and intellectual scrutiny. Although with this government, you can never say never. Maybe what they need is time to “study” the issue before making any comments.
‘Studying the issue’
What does "study the issue" really mean anyway, especially when it comes to the promises made before the election? Take this latest bit about the Gender Equality Bill. Deputy Women’s Minister Hannah Yeoh says “religious authorities must now be consulted to ensure the bill being drafted takes into account cultural norms.” Really? Whose cultural norms are we talking about here? And which religious authorities would be consulted? That's the key right? The other faiths in this country do not have religious authorities. The only faith with authority – pardon the pun – is Islam. You cannot get a Gender Equality Bill off the ground, but you can seriously propose a Racial and Religious Hatred Act?
One of the reasons why I have great scepticism for this nonsensical Racial and Religious Hatred Act, is that as usual, Harapan politicians say things but do not back up their words with action. For instance, when Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said that Pakatan Harapan is a Christian-led coalition and uses their platform to evangelise on the Sungai Kandis campaign trail, would this run afoul of the act?
Lim Kit Siang may term this as Umno’s “ scorched-earth policy” but nowhere is his rebuttal did he reference the proposed act, and what it would mean for the racial and religious discourse in this country.
The fact that PKR retained the state seat – low voter turnout notwithstanding – is evidence, I think, that most Malays couldn’t care less about the racial and religious slander coming out of Umno.
The only people with real influence in the religious discourse is PAS, and as usual, they choose their words carefully and infiltrate existing power structures and political movements to subvert them from within… Hold on, did what I just write run afoul of the act?
Losing control of the narrative
The reality is that Harapan is bending over backwards to demonstrate that they do not want to spook the Malays. When someone like PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man says that under this new regime, Islam and Malays rights are more freely criticised, what he is really saying is that Malay power structures are unnerved that the sacred cows that for years were used to stampede on the rights of non-Malays are slowly running out of steam.
The Malay world did not end on May 9. Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin thinks that the existential crisis in his party is the rhetoric of race and religion, but he is wrong. If it were, then it would be a crisis for Bersatu too, but it isn’t. The existential crisis for Umno is that it no longer controls the narrative when it comes to Malay rights, and that it has lost the Islamic narrative to PAS.
Because Harapan is so afraid of controlling the narrative when it comes to Islam, all the power lies with PAS at this moment. This is why Malay/Muslims who call for an end to child marriages or seek to halt the regressive elements of the religion are demonised as ‘liberals’, and even the Harapan political and religious elite are cautious about issuing statements in case they go against whatever groupthink they think will win them elections.
The folly of caution
Being cautious when it comes to this is stupid. I get that the Harapan Malay power structures do not think they have the Malay vote locked down. But that’s okay. What you need to do is expand the base, especially the younger Malay voting demographic, instead of reaching out to the same (old) base which is slowly, for various reasons, becoming irrelevant.
Look, when someone like Tuan Ibrahim gets his knickers in a twist about religious schools in that he does not want them touched, why do you think this is? Because Islamist power structures, like the one he belongs to, understand that the indoctrination process spread out throughout the country gets them a young voter base aligned with their ideology.
Because no matter what people say, young people want progress. This is not to say that they are not religious, but they do not want their religion to constrain them. Instead of encouraging a vanguard of progressive Malay voices, what Harapan and its enablers are doing is attempting to replicate the BN formula, which ultimately led to the Najib Abdul Razak regime.
What is the foundation of ketuananism? “Those Malays who want an egalitarian system will no doubt be mocked or vilified for expressing such sentiments and accused of rocking the Harapan boat. Encouraging the perception that the Malay vote is monolithic and unchanging is the foundation of ketuanan politics.”
This idea has become so ingrained, perhaps not in the general Malay population, but rather the political and intellectual class of Malay society, that we get – for lack of a better word – moronic statements, like the historian and her world’s second oldest gene, or the numerous statements about Malay rights and the supremacy of Islam over every other religion.
I get so many emails from people asking me to give time to the government to formulate their policies. This is not about policies. Let me be very clear. I have very little interest in the corruption scandals that plague this country. With a change in government, I have full confidence that there are people working to solve this issue, knowing that corruption is a matter of degree.
No, the existential threat facing this country is religious extremism coupled with racial supremacy. The government needs to put forward a counter-narrative to the ideas put out by PAS and Umno. They should not cave in to the regressive forms of theocratic tendencies, because that is exactly what the opposition wants.
Here's the thing. Bad ideas and rhetoric have to be challenged at every opportunity. Extremists sense and understand how they can manipulate weak governments into creating bigoted policies. They understand that the Harapan faithful do not want to rock the boat, and will use every opportunity to hamper reform efforts in the guise of bangsa dan agama.
If you raise these kinds of issues with the regime, all you will probably get is something like what Yeoh says, that the religious authorities would need to be consulted to take into account cultural norms.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:44 AM   0 comments
Why are official child sexual abuse stats still state secret? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, August 04, 2018
Turkey's highest religious body suggests children as young as nine could marry under Islamic law
Malaysiakini : “… girls who reached puberty as young as nine years old were physically and spiritually ready for marriage” – Shabudin Yahaya, Tasek Gelugor MP
COMMENT | Last October, Azalina Othman Said, who was then minister in the prime minister’s department, said that no sexual crime cases involving children were protected under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Yet, she said Section 15 of the Child Act 2001 prohibits any media report from including details that would lead to the identification of the children in any proceeding, regardless of whether they were victims, witnesses or suspects.
Azalina said this when responding to MP Kasthuri Patto (DAP-Batu Kawan). Patto later referred to a statement by Ong Chin Lan, the head of the Sexual, Women and Children Investigation Division of the Royal Malaysian Police, in which Ong had said the police did not want people misinterpreting such information. Patto wrote: “This statement is highly irresponsible as the public must have this information to protect their children, families and their communities.”
Last month, Suriana Welfare Society executive director Scott Wong highlighted the fact that many in the country were ignorant of the sexual exploitation of children. He drew attention to the fact that official statistics sealed under the OSA hampered efforts to understand the issue.
Dominique F Fernandes writing for The Diplomat (about this OSA classification) who also highlighted the case of pedophile Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin who Mara thought deserved a “second chance”. She asked: “But shouldn’t society be alarmed and coalesce to arrest the rise in cases before our moral fabric unravels? The spike in cases of sexual abuse against children is either a new phenomenon, the result of an inability to stop feelings of powerlessness present with increasing modernisation; or an age-old one, only uncovered as a result of society’s ever-lower tolerance to such offences. Both scenarios are equally worrying.”
Right now, our deputy prime minister and minister for Women, Family and Community Development is under sustained pressure to do something about the case that essentially legalises pedophilia. When two underage citizens, for whatever reasons, decide to get married, that is one thing. But when a grown man marries a child and this is sanctioned by the state, to me, this exemplifies the unravelling of our moral fabric. It really does not matter what religion endorses such unions. What does matter is the fact that the marriage of an adult man and a child is normalised in our society.
Has this anything to do with a specific religion? Critics have accused me of a whole host of issues when it comes to Islam but the reality is that I am merely reacting to the statements made by prominent politicians, religious scholars and activists. Indeed, some folks may claim that when police division chief Ong said people would misinterpret the statistics, that it is people like me who would do the misinterpreting. I think this line of reasoning is horse manure. Let me be very clear. Any culture, religion or state which sanctions child marriages in Asia or elsewhere will receive nothing but scorn from me. If a Hindu, Christian or Buddhist religious operative sanctioned the marriage between an adult and a child, this would receive nothing but opprobrium from me.
The exploitation of children, specifically the sexual exploitation of children, is something that has been buried beneath secrecy and apathy in our country. When it comes to child marriages for instance, we have “religious sensibilities” to contend with. I am glad that folks like lawyer Latheefa Koya are calling out the horse manure when they see it. In many pieces, I have singled out not only Kasthuri Patto but also the DAP’s Teo Nie Ching who constantly do good work.
Protecting religious elites
With regards to MP Shabudin’s statement, Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Seri Setia) had said: “I don't blame him totally because the law allows it. I'm not saying he is right, but that is the mindset of Malaysians today, of Muslims today." Is that really the mindset of (Malaysian) Muslims today? I do not think so. I think that this is what religious operatives or politicians who profit from religion want people to think. I think that hiding child sexual abuse statistics behind the OSA is not because people would misinterpret the data but because more people would speak out against a culture that endorses the sexual exploitation of children.
I think if more people understood the scope of the problem, they would compel their elected representatives to act. I believe that the reason why this data is hidden is to protect a corrupt religious and political culture which seeks to reinforce a specific type of religious discourse and they are worried at the outrage that would happen if people were to be confronted by the kind of culture that such beliefs nurture.
This is not about religion, this is about the religious elites. I am sure the Chinese, Indian and Orang Asal communities would want to have the official statistics on child sexual abuse within their communities. We would want to confront this issue head-on and ensure that our children are protected. We would want our religious and political leaders to act.
Similarly, I think the same of our Malay-Muslim brethren. I am sure they would want to know the official statistics so they could address this issue in their religious and political spheres of influence. There is no need to hide the truth from Malaysians unless what is hidden is detrimental to the political and religious elites in this country. This is usually the case. It’s one thing supporting something in the name of religion. It is another for the whole world to see the consequences of such support.
When this issue crops up, the context is usually a sensational case highlighted in social media. Let me assure you, conversations which social workers, the state security apparatus – current and retired – and religious activists have, points to a culture where children are sexually exploited and it never sees the light of day.
And this should be an easy win for the Harapan regime. Why on earth should there be such cautiousness when confronting this issue? This idea of the “sensitivity of religion” is misplaced. What are they afraid of? A mass rally supporting the right of an adult man to marry 11-year-old girls?
The first step is admitting we have a problem. The first order of business is not hiding things from Malaysians. After all, the 1MDB issue is no longer an official secret. By the same token, the time has come for Malaysians to confront the issue of child sexual abuse and for politicians to stop enabling this culture.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:36 AM   0 comments
Kulasegaran’s apology for the truth - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 01, 2018
Bujang Valley's Hinduism long before the advent of Islam
Malaysiakini : “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell, author of ‘1984’
COMMENT | I have got the perfect solution for this Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran’s ‘pendatang’ kerfuffle. Maybe Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa can organise a meeting between Kulasegaran and Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki to settle their differences whereby the end results would be that Kulasegaran acknowledges that Malays were never ‘pendatangs’ and that the police would carry on with investigations on the numerous police reports filed against him. All this, of course, would be done “behind closed doors” – where have we heard this before? – and as usual, the non-Malays would come out of such meetings chastised while the idea of Malay supremacy would be reaffirmed.
Alternatively, Kulasegaran could resign. But why stop there? Every non-Malay political operative should resign because sooner or later they are going to slip up and say something hurtful to the sensitivities of the Malay community. Hold on, maybe there should be a law that non-Malays cannot run for any kind of public office. And perhaps that is what former minister and Bersatu member Rais Yatim wants. In a tweet reported in the press, Rais said this:
“When a minister or civil servant is urged to quit because of his ‘mulut celupar (rudeness) about an issue with a negative impact on the nation, the implications are huge. “This minister has lost his credibility because he is unable to present himself as a cabinet member,” Rais (photo) tweeted in Bahasa Malaysia.
How times have Malay political operatives displayed "rudeness" which was dismissed by the ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ crowd? Do not get me wrong. If Kulasegaran had done something that warranted his resignation, then I would have no problem for calls for his resignation, but what exactly has he done which warrants a loss of credibility? Do the other Malay political operatives in Harapan think that Kulasegaran should resign? Or is this just a Bersatu thing?
There are many who think that Rais has no business being in Harapan because he is a political operative with a history of rudeness, not to mention political scandals. Will anyone in Harapan call for Rais' dismissal from the coalition? I thought not.
Racist rhetoric
I made this suggestion here - "When you consider the racist rhetoric coming out of Umno powerbrokers, government ministers and government institutions, the religious bigotry from the same, Umno should just drop this charade of democracy and ban all non-Malay/Muslim political parties. This way, the Malay community, or least that section of the Umno voting base, will not have to be encumbered by the existential threat the non-Malays supposedly pose to their ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’.”
Whenever issues like this crop, I always think, if only there was a law that would protect the sensitivities of the majority. I mean clear-cut laws that would give justice to the poor souls who were offended by the harsh words of political operatives. Wait a minute. Harapan is going to give us such a law. Oh boy, I can’t wait for the Racial and Religious Hatred Act to come into force. Surely what Kulasegaran said runs afoul of this law? Then, I won't have to think if there is any validity to what Kulasegaran said.
That’s the use of this law, right? To protect the religious and racial sensitivities of Malaysians? So, when some Malays claim that the non-Malays are out to usurp their power and privilege and demonise non-Malay political operatives, this should run afoul of the law but most probably will not.
Why? Because, as former Umno supreme council member Annuar Musa claimed, racism is allowed in Islam - “Being racial is endorsed in Islam as long as you are not cruel towards other people. This rally if you say is racist, yes. What are you scared of? Islam has put in place guidelines, what is not allowed is racism that is cruel towards other races.”

But wait. Say you do not buy religious-sanctioned racism, Sungai Besar Umno chief Mohd Jamal Yunos (photo) claimed that his racism was constitutionally endorsed - "We have no problems to say we are racists or what. I admit I am racist, but my racism follows the constitution. I am defending our rights. Malays have to be racist..., but it must follow the social contract.”
Hey, if I’m wrong then somebody from Harapan should set me straight. Are lies about the non-Malay community considered in the kind of speech that this Act aims to discourage? Speaking about lies, what about history and context? If such offends the sensibilities of anyone, would they be a defence under this law?
What if what Kulasegaran said is fact? Don’t be ridiculous. Here in Malaysia everything is ahistorical but more importantly, the reality distortion field of ketuananism means that words flowing from the mouths of non-Malays are judged on a different standard – a standard which changes at any moment – than those from the ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ crowd.
Official narratives
Right, so the validity of Kulasegaran’s statement is not important. What is important is that it has hurt the official narratives and sensitivities of the majority Malay community.
Now, I don’t know if the average Malay even cares what Kulasegaran said but the ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ political operatives care. If this was under BN rule and something like this happened, and it has before, the non-Malay component party would meekly apologise – no doubt necessitated by the public opprobrium of Umno Youth – and the natural order of things would be restored.
Some folks think that Kulasegaran is not blameless in all of this. That’s a fair criticism when it comes to Malaysian politics. I mean, why even dredge up something like this, right? I blame the whole Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid. On the one hand, we are all supposed to be Malaysians but on the other, we incessantly talk about race. Of course, talking about race when you are Indian is frowned upon but when it comes to the Chinese/Malay dialectic then apparently it is okay.
Besides this whole ‘pendatang’ issue is passe. A couple of years back, the former Umno poobah reassured the Chinese community in a Gerakan convention that the Chinese community were not ‘pendatangs’. Then MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon labelled those who engaged in such rhetoric as political dinosaurs.
“We have been here for three or four generations. This is our homeland and no one has the right to call any Malaysian pendatang,” he said. Chong praised Prime Minister Najib Razak for insisting that Chinese were not pendatang during Gerakan’s delegates conference yesterday.”
While I can understand the political fallout from Kulasegaran’s statement, I really have no issue with it. I have no need for Malay leaders to legitimises my ethnicity and citizenship of this country and if what Kulasegaran said reminds people of historical fact even if certain groups use it as political capital, so be it.
Umno used to shield its political operatives and ignore the baying of its members for blood. Harapan should grow a pair and do the same. The more Harapan does not control the narrative, the easier it becomes for the far-right nutjobs to control the narrative.
And as history demonstrates, Malay political structures have very little backbone when it comes to bucking trends, even if such strategies may very well end up benefiting them.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:53 AM   0 comments
Malaysia Airlines, MH3: The flight from hell by Mariam Mokhtar
Monday, July 30, 2018
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | Malaysia Airlines, in particular, MH3 from London’s Heathrow Airport to Kuala Lumpur, should be renamed the airline from hell. Ask the passengers who were stranded at Heathrow on Friday, July 27.
They received an email at 0300 hours on Friday morning, to inform them that their flight, which should have departed at 10.45am London time, would be delayed till 12 noon. Who reads emails at that ungodly hour? A few more hours in bed would have been appreciated. Some passengers had also flown in from Europe. Some had purchased tickets the day before. If they had known, about the delays, they would have chosen another airline.
When the MAS passengers checked-in at Heathrow, they found “closed” check-in counters. When asked, the few unhelpful ground crew employees sitting behind their desks would point towards another area of the huge complex, and say “Go there”. No reason was forthcoming. “There” was apparently “Counter 1” of the MAS Customer Services desk, where a long queue was visible.
Whilst dragging his trolley towards “Counter 1”, a redirected passenger would pass around 70 people, in another queue. These MAS passengers had allegedly been told to gather for hotel bookings. Around the corner, was a third queue of 50, or more, passengers, who were told a different story. These three queues did not appear to be moving. Only two ground crew employees were manning the front desks at Counter 1. An Airbus A380 fits around 550 passengers. This is the summer holiday.
Why did MAS fail to communicate with the passengers? There was no warning about cancellation. The notice boards said the flight would depart at 12.30pm. Is grim silence the standard operating procedure (SOP) for cancellations? Two MAS employees who appeared, beat a hasty retreat when passengers approached them for information. Another new SOP?
Mothers with babies among the stranded
An Heathrow Airport employee, who was approached for help, proved more useful than the MAS ground crew.
Mothers with babies and young children were among the stranded. Businessmen would be late for meetings. Two passengers had to attend funerals and the delay meant they would be unable to attend the cremations. Another had to attend a wedding. Many had connecting flights from KLIA.
Passengers travelling on their own would wait ages in a queue, only to be told that they were in the wrong queue. If they left their bags unattended while seeking information about MH3, the luggage would be destroyed by security staff.
One person who complained on Twitter, said that on the previous day (Thursday), one passenger had tweeted that their MH3 had been cancelled. That MH3 had taken off one day later (on Friday). So why were MH3 flights on consecutive days cancelled? What is happening? Was MH3, on Saturday, also cancelled?
Was it a technical error? No one knows because they were not told. Was it adverse weather conditions? Unlikely, as other flights were operating, normally. Had a crew member, like the pilot, been taken ill? As far as we are aware, there is a backup crew on standby. Is it strike action by MAS? Unlikely. Did MAS run out of money to pay for aviation fuel? Who knows? Remember a few years ago, when on two days, MAS passengers were told that their luggage could not be put on the plane because of headwinds?
Passengers are not unreasonable people
Did the airline need a particular spare-part to be flown in from KLIA? Passengers are not unreasonable people. They know the importance of safety. They understand that weather may affect the flight schedule. MAS management’s inability to communicate is both irresponsible and unprofessional and has let everyone down. MAS and Umno-Baru have two things in common. Brand loyalty.
The party faithful think that their party can do no wrong. The rakyat tolerated the previous regime because they were afraid of change. Despite a corrupt and under-performing Umno-Baru, they still voted for the party at every general election. That was until GE14, when the rakyat decided “Enough is enough!”
Despite the cost (MAS is one of the more expensive airlines for long-haul flights), poor service, shabby interiors and low-quality meals, loyal Malaysians still fly with MAS because they love their national carrier – brand loyalty. Many destinations across the world – North and South America and Africa have been axed. London is its only European destination. It is a farce to call the airline “International”.
When Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman (photo) retired as the CEO and managing director of MAS, he left MAS with RM5 billion cash reserves. When he was the CEO, MAS employees received yearly bonuses. Today, it is a different story, altogether.
The day that Khazanah and the government stop any political interference and politically-connected bureaucrats in MAS will be the day for rejoicing by all Malaysians. If MAS employees are demoralised, what about its passengers? After the MH3 palaver at Heathrow last week, passengers may finally say, “Enough is enough. We will fly with another, more reliable, airline.”
The management staff of MAS seem to be burying their heads in the sand and hoping that their irate passengers will forget about the problem. This is a tactic that was employed by Umno-Baru and their cronies; many still hope that the rakyat will forget about 1MDB.
The concepts of openness and accountability are part of the new foundations that are needed to restore the economic and social health of Malaysia. If the management of MAS cannot adapt to the New Malaysia, they will have to be replaced.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 2:22 PM   0 comments
Sorry Najib, but the genie is out of the bottle - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
The Genie is out of the bottle
Malaysiakini : "That will be my message to young people out there. I felt empowered at 18, that I could do anything, that I will not allow fear to dictate my actions." - Nurul Izzah Anwar
COMMENT | The grand Umno poohbah, now opposition leader, says that the “public” – read, Malays – are unhappy with the Pakatan Harapan government. If that is the case, there would be thousands on the streets, like what happened with the numerous rallies when BN lost the popular vote in 2013.
Remember that. Thousands on the streets, even though we lost, going to post-election rallies. That is rakyat power and not these snivelling NGOs and Rais Yatim (of course) reminding the government of Malay rights.
About the only thing I agree with our current Malay opposition leader – I say Malay, because Umno and PAS only care about the Malay vote - is that Lim Kit Siang should stop stalking him. I mean this with the utmost respect, Mr Kit Siang, but there is neither a need to remind people what a kleptocrat Najib Abdul Razak is, nor is it necessary to remind people how toxic his politics – our? – politics is.Instead of studying every word Najib says, effort should be spent on describing how Harapan intends to remedy the mistakes of the long Umno watch. There is no need to fire up the base anymore.
What someone like Kit Siang should be doing is expanding the base and the way how to do this, to inform people of the reforms that Harapan is in the midst of that would change the lives of Malaysians for the better.
If there is anything to talk about, of course, do talk. Because continuing screeds against Najib is best left to political pundits and not elder statesmen. Kit should be starting conversations on the possible changes in Malaysia and ensuring that political parties in Harapan do not revert to the days of Najib's Birkin Bag democracy.
The Malay far right is like Cardinal Richeliue. All you have to do is give them six lines written by the hand of an honest man, and they will find something to hang him with. In politics, there are no honest men. Hence the Harapan political operatives should be mindful.
Of the Malay opposition I wrote this: “The Malay opposition will define itself by offering a virulent counter-narrative when it comes to issues of race and religion. They will attempt to force the Harapan regime to demonstrate how committed they are in their secular principles, and of course their egalitarian principles – if they are committed to these at all.
“Add to this the perception that the ketuanan types will project that the ‘Chinese-based’ element of Harapan is pulling the strings will no doubt come into play, and it will be interesting to see how equal power sharing translates in this new milieu.”
Corruption and religious hypocrisy
While Najib may claim that Kit Siang is equating Islam with kleptocracy, the reality is that corruption and religious hypocrisy go hand in hand. That has always been the problem with the way how the DAP has attempted to use Islam in politics. My advice has always been to stay away from religion.
Embrace your secular position and defend it without having to rely on religion – any religion – to make your case. Speak up against religious harassment but do not attempt to define religious beliefs in line with your political agendas.
While I may bitch and moan about what Harapan is doing or not doing, the reality is that, for once, there is a bigger democratic space in the Malaysians political and social landscape, where the state will not stamp its boot on your throat at the slightest provocation.
The only people who are unhappy with the Harapan government are the far right instigators who think that when someone, for example, like Nurul Izzah Anwar (photo) wants to clean house with a TVET programme. They smell the fear in each other that their corrupt practices would be made public.
Anecdotally speaking, I think the average rakyat knows this. They know they have been screwed for so long and they understand that the government is attempting to do things to rectify the situation. That's the baseline. A small amount of cautious goodwill that should not be conflated by the social media outpourings by the Harapan faithful.
Khairy Jamaluddin may hope that the PAS/Umno Sungai Kandis tango is a one-off thing, but we all know that this is the new normal for Malaysian politics. But here’s the thing. The genie is out of the bottle. Malaysians understand now that regime change is possible. And however you self-identify, there’s this feeling that the rakyat can hold the government accountable. The genie of regime change is out of the bottle.

Umno miscalculated with PAS. Whenever I speak to PAS political operatives and activists, I get the sense that the base is fired-up. For once they think they really have the upper hand. PAS may have split the Malay vote in the last election but they know that this cannot be the strategy forever. PAS is testing the waters with Umno, knowing full well that their base is divided on working with Umno.
Slowly shifting to Bersatu
Sooner or later Umno is going to fall before PAS. Look, even the most unsophisticated PAS member knows that PAS is offering something to the Malay voting demographic. Religion. What is Umno offering?
Umno can’t say it is the protector of race and religion anymore because everyone who had a role in propagating that has been slowly shifting to Bersatu. People like me may complain about the religious and racial politics of Harapan, but the reality for a majority of Malaysians is that this sort of equilibrium is something they are used to.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's (photo) nose may twitch whenever he thinks he smells some sort of transgression in the Malay social and political terrain but the reality is that most Malays will eventually settle on the fact that the new ruling coalition will look after their rights, much like Dr Mahathir Mohamad did when he ran Umno. That’s not a rat he smells – those are Umno establishment rats abandoning ship.
The best part about this whole new Malaysia is that, for once, the majority Malay community understands that the power they wield is not dependent on Umno. If the Malays were really spooked, there would have been hundreds of thousands at that rally with Rais Yatim. The young Malay vote is the key.
You see it in the way how former propagandists still ply their trade, aided by young extremist voices, new voices emerging questioning sacred cows that rattle the cage and the way how, for once, there’s a sense of real uncertainty when it comes to the Malay vote. This is a good thing.
There is really no point banging the drum on racial and religious issues. All it does is to remind young Malay voters how they have been screwed over by the system.
What Harapan should do is encourage young Malays through economic and social reforms, so they become suspicious whenever a political party claims that only their party can look after their interests.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:27 AM   0 comments
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