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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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Do Malaysians want religious freedom in Malaysia? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Malaysiakini : “If a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission.” ― Flemming Rose, Danish journalist and author
COMMENT | Since as academic Manjit Bhatia correctly points in one of his replies to me - that there is really no such thing as a "Malaysian" - we will have to make do with the various diverse voting blocks that make up this country. A visiting journalist (who I have known for some time) from a Southeast Asian country, here to cover the May 9 general election, posed this question to me - do Malaysians want religious freedom in this country?
I won't bother going into definitions but I could make the case that non-Muslims definitely want "freedom of religion" in this country. When it comes to religious freedom in this country, the constraint has always been Islam's interactions with the other religions. Our religions are defined by how much freedom the state grants us, which depends on the state's definition of Islam. I get that it is election season and BN political operatives are scrambling to regain the middle ground.
Mind you these days, the middle group is mainly composed of the non-Malays (which I suppose includes bumiputera non-Muslims) and the dreaded “puak liberal” that right-wing types love to demonise. Just last year in October, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuk reminded us that BN – and this cannot be emphasised more, BN not Umno – is committed to making Malaysia an Islamic state. Not only that, Lim Kit Siang claimed that the DAP supports “Islamisation” based on the constitution (whatever the heck that means) which really stuck in my craw.
Meanwhile, out of the blue (or maybe just jumping on the bandwagon) Amanah, a supposedly “moderate” Islamic party, bring ups in Parliament the question of atheism amongst the faithful. I vented in my usual way of how people do not really have a secular alternative in the opposition. The one good thing I like about the election season is that the Umno state attempts to put on a mask of moderation. In attempting to appeal and reassure the non-Muslims of their rights, the state has overturned unilateral conversion cases, invest in non-Muslim places of worship and countless other strategies which are at odds with the weltanschauung of your average Islamic bureaucrat.
We are living at a time when PAS, which used to be the sworn enemy of Umno, is snuggling up to the hegemon because the former fears a loss of Malay/Muslim support. The state religion has become more than just a tool of suppression/repression but has undergone a transformation where disparate groups eager to draw out concessions from a weakened ruling party use it. What was fascinating about the exchange between the fabulous Siti Kassim and Perlis mufti Dr Asri Zainal Abidin during the Sukaham inquiry on missing persons was the fact the Perlis mufti discovered that he was “… not in the position to answer that kind of stupid question”.
This really meant that he was not in a position publicly to exalt (for religious reasons, you understand) the disappearance of a person he had deemed a threat to national security for his supposed religious beliefs that went against the state-sanctioned Islam of this country. And at one time, this was the poster boy for religious moderation amongst opposition supporters. With the dwindling financial assistance from the House of Saud, the extreme Wahhabi-influenced Islam that the Sunni sect imposes all over the world is in trouble. PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, for instance, belongs to the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) which certain Gulf states, including the Kingdom, have placed on terror watch list.
He is cosy with the Umno grand poobah, who is mired in corruption scandals, so much so that he has to enact anti-fake news laws to discourage dissent. Only in Malaysia, a so-called democratic moderate Muslim country, can a mainstream Muslim political leader, who is part of a group that certain Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, designate as a terror group, make the claim that PAS is ready to lead this country to a new dawn.
This goes back to the reality that majority of Malaysians – Muslims - are the community who do have freedom of religion, freedom from religion or any other kind of “rights” attached to how they choose to worship. This, of course, is often overlooked because non-Muslims who feel the overt force of religious restrictions dominates the discourse. The fact is that it is Muslims who most often feel the overt force on the state in their daily lives.
Controlled environment of fear
If you are a non-Muslim in this country you have the choice of going secular – in form, if not in substance – with the DAP and very little else. If you are Muslim/Malay and join the DAP, you are tarred as a traitor to your race and religion. However, while in DAP you cannot voice out your concerns of the way how Islam intrudes into the lives of Muslims because this would cause “trouble” for your party.
Meanwhile, you are free to criticise the Islamic practices of the state when it comes to non-Muslims which in turn gets you lumped with the “puak liberal” and the other Muslims who dissent against the state-sponsored religion. Now that’s tough. Even more so when the DAP builds a "syariah compliant" hospital and describes it as the "first in Malaysia".
Forced conversions, unilateral conversions, state security apparatus personnel involved in terrorist groups and a Muslim polity continuously encouraged in their belief that the Islam is under threat from other Muslims all working for the dreaded DAP, is how the state defines Islam in this country. This is a peaceful country. Whenever there is trouble, the trouble begins and ends with the twin spectres of race and religion. This is the question - if you really believe that your religion is superior, then how can you safeguard the religious freedom of others?
Corollary to this, if you have to rely on the majority who are taught to believe this, how can you advocate on behalf of those who either do not want religion in our political spaces or want their religion to be treated “equally” as that of the state-sponsored religion? It all boils down to what I said in ‘Hadi Awang is not the problem’ – “If you are waffling on your commitment to a secular state, then you have to make your case for an Islamic state and this is where the trouble begins and ends. If oppositional Muslim political operatives and their allies would just stop using religion as the basis of critique and concentrate on furthering the agenda of the secular state, oppositional Muslims MPs would not have to worry about attempting to ‘out Islam’ their rivals because this would not be the grounds on which they battle for votes.”
Sure, we can talk about how people practice their religious beliefs in a controlled environment of fear in this country, but the reality is that the religion of the state always hangs over the head of religious people because religious institutions, the state security apparatus and mainstream Malay/Muslim politics is defined by racial, but more importantly, religious superiority. Does any political party really believe in freedom of religion in this country? Can any political party which wants a sizable vote from the majority who are told/believe in religious superiority actually advocate such in this country? More importantly, do the people who support these political parties encourage their representatives to pursue this line which would ensure that all "Malaysians" have religious freedom?
The answer, unfortunately, is ‘no’.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:23 AM   0 comments
Don’t expect Najib to answer Rafidah - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Malaysiakini : “When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads.” ― Ron Paul
COMMENT | Caretaker prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s failure to address the open letter by Rafidah Aziz regarding the privatisation of over 40,000 hectares of military land across the country to a three-person company, does not bode well for the self-described Bugis warrior. Rafidah was not only an Umno insider, she was also a former high-ranking official of the establishment. While she may have picked a side in this conflict within Umno, this should not diminish the allegations she made against Najib personally in her open letter.
Instead of the minions of the state, including a relative of Najib, taking pot shots at Rafidah, the caretaker prime minister should address her allegations in an open and transparent manner. Of course, since he can't seem to find the resolve to address the 1MDB issue in an open debate with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister-designate of Pakatan Harapan, there is very little evidence that he would find some to face off against the former minister of international trade.
If the Umno state claims that Rafidah is lying – as the state's minions do – then why not sue her in open court? If the Umno state is claiming – as the state's minions do – that these allegations are “fake news”, the genesis of which is supposedly a WhatsApp message passed around, why doesn’t the state use the newly-minted anti-fake news laws against her? Rafidah has eschewed the usual Malaysian-style politics of poison-pen letters and directly addressed these allegations towards the caretaker prime minister, and if this does not show cojones, I do not know what does.
Moreover, these allegations are important. Not only to the voters but to former and still serving security personnel. Why is it important? Because when allegations of corruption revolving around the security apparatus of this country, be it personnel, land or the myriad other concerns attached to the security apparatus of the state, these become issues of national security. We are not merely talking about any pieces of land here. We are talking about land, whether “idle” or not, which has some connection with how the state handles the security of the nation. More importantly, if business interests could find easy access to those who hold the reins of the state security apparatus, this complicates things in obvious ways.
Let’s face facts. The state security apparatus is riddled with corruption scandals. International arms companies understand that we are a pliant country when it comes to the way how we do business. There are recent examples of so-called “rogue” regimes like North Korea, using local front men to facilitate international arms deals. The state security apparatus is a collection of petty fiefdoms allegedly connected to organised crime, which has been documented by numerous government commissions and non-aligned NGOs. We even have had security apparatus personnel arrested for terrorist activities.
These allegations merely continue a narrative of greed, incompetency and high-level governmental corruption. This point is neatly summarised by retired Brigadier General Mohd Arshad Raji: “Besides the commercial value, any relocation of the military bases would have serious strategic, security and defence implications. Additionally, relocation to remote regions would cause much discomfort to the uniformed men and women and their families.”
Mohd Arshad’s Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) also posed three questions to the prime minister but no doubt these would be ignored too. In other words, the voices of retired service people are not important except when they are called to sing along to the Umno tune like deranged old men, and encouraged to show that they have loyalty towards the country which translates to loyalty towards Umno.
Long-buried secrets
Not only are the allegations in Rafidah’s open letter serious, they are not complicated like the 1MDB issue. These are straightforward allegations of governmental malfeasance and if these allegations are lies as claimed by the minions of the state and by Mindef, then why not openly release the cabinet papers that would determine once and for all if the former minister of trade is lying? The very fact that these allegations are not complicated is what troubles the Umno hegemon. You can dismiss the 1MDB scandal with legalese, complicated multinational business practices, grey-area economics and the arcana of international banking systems but when it comes to these allegations, it is clear-cut.
The Defence Ministry's rebuttal of these allegations was not really a rebuttal of the specific allegations and certainly not one that takes into account the issue of cabinet papers (which is germane), but rather was merely a denial and the excuse that “procedure was followed”. This, of course, does not answer the allegation put forward by Rafidah that this was indeed a business conspiracy approved by the highest levels of government. So, is this what it is? A high-level agreement with private entities that was kept from public scrutiny? This, of course, is the essence of the kleptocratic government that governs Malaysians. It also raises more questions when it comes to the current Umno grand poobah.
This happened when he was defence minister and if these allegations are true, they demonstrate a pattern of corrupt practices which always seems to come back and bite Umno in the nether regions. Most leaders in the armed forces just kept their heads down, looked after the welfare of the men and women under their command, and went about the business of soldiering. Our omissions contributed to the breakdown of the system. If this sounds horrid, well, everyone has a story to tell and these days, it would seem that former establishment types, including me, who are seeking regime change, have a lot to answer for.
This is what systemic corruption looks like. Coupled with institutional discrimination, we arrive at a point when the hegemon turns upon itself when it discovers that agents who faithfully served them for years expose all their long-buried secrets. Many people ask, why didn’t Rafidah “make noise” when she found out about the deal? Why not cause a ruckus then? That is an important question, of course, and there is no point attempting to sidestep it. This, of course, are the vagaries that occur when Umno goes to war with itself and the enduring conflict attracts combatants with agendas, hopes and feelings of remorse of their own.
What I will say is this - I do not care for the reasons why someone unearths the dirty little secrets the state wants to hide, only that I want it exposed so people hold their elected representatives accountable and never forget that fascism most often is encouraged by the will of the people, which is something opposition supporters should be mindful of. Forget about the fact that this issue is about a major financial scandal involving the state security apparatus, high-ranking government officials and unknown corporate interests. This is also an issue of which establishment personalities are lying.
Najib can easily answer this question. Of course, he will not.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:00 AM   0 comments
Keep our places of worship out of the election - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Religious ideas, supposedly private matters between man and god, are in practice always political ideas.” - Christopher Hitchens, ‘The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish’
COMMENT | The Council of Churches issued various messages – coded – urging the flock to vote, with the diocese of Melaka and Johor bishop Bernard Paul going so far as to say, “This GE14 is that moment to move for a better Malaysia and a better future to create a nation that we can be proud of and die for .”Really? What nation is not worth dying for now? So all those state security personnel, they are what, just living on ‘dedak’? With all these mainstream Christian leaders urging the flock to vote and opposition politicians wearing their religious beliefs on their sleeves, is it any wonder that someone like Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor reminds civil servants to beware of the purported evangelical wing of the DAP?
The “evangelical” meme has been a staple of right-wing Malay social media ever since certain politicians and their churches made extremely careless remarks in their exuberance for regime change in the last election. Since then, this idea of a surreptitious evangelical invasion has gained currency among the Umno elite and this new front of attack against the DAP has made the old meme of “chauvinism” obsolete.
Opposition types like to go about how China is bailing out the Umno hegemon and that the China deals are an attempt to subvert the sovereignty of this country but maybe the Umno hegemon in its latest attack against the “evangelicals” is taking a page out of the playbook of how China deals with Christians in their country. From the Vatican/China deal to the policing of underground churches in the motherland, the idea of the state imposing control on the religious practices of non-Muslims could take on a new turn here in Malaysia where the state already defines Islam.
When I said, caretaker integrity minister Paul Low was giving bad advice to the Christian community, I meant it – “What this does is give pro-Umno propagandists the opportunity to further the narratives that Islam is under threat and that opposition parties are attempting to destabilise the country by religious means. Using religion as a political power tool always results in self-inflicted wounds.”
It is, of course, convenient for the Umno hegemon to lump every Christian, regardless of denomination, into the “evangelical” threat because that is exactly how propaganda works. You know what makes propaganda work more efficiently? When you supply propagandists with ammunition. Ammunition like asking the flock to be polling and counting agents, which is a direct intervention into the political process.
There is nothing wrong with Christians, Hindus, and however you self-identify, engaging in the political process but you are just giving Umno propagandists ammunition when church leaders urge their flock to directly engage in the political process, and in substance, choose a side. When you do that, you become political targets.
You really think that the Umno state would not use this as an opportunity to deflect and engage in propaganda operations against religious institutions in this country? Or do these non-Muslim religious leaders think that because possible victory is at hand, they can play fast and loose with their words. For heaven's sake, look at how the state polices the Islamic faith.
Dangerous times
These are dangerous times for non-Muslims in this country. We are heading into an election where we could finally have a two-party system. We could finally change the direction of this country. This is an opportunity for the opposition and those who support it to demonstrate that the secular impulses of the opposition is stronger than the religious imperatives of the Umno establishment, even though we have in the opposition many from the Umno establishment.
Because of the compromised composition of the opposition, the only real shield we have against the religious imperatives of the state is for the opposition to keep a strict separation between mosque and state, church and state, and temple and state. This is not the time for non-Muslim religious leaders of any religion to step into the political arena. This is a time of circumspection. This is a time when non-Muslims religious leaders should be encouraging brotherly love - to use Abrahamic nomenclature - and "not carpooling and overcoming obstacles", which is exactly the strategies of the opposition.
Mind you, those are good things, but non-Muslim religious leaders should be above the fray. Religious people will vote the way how they choose to vote, but this is not the time for non-Muslim religious leaders to overtly take sides. This is not the time for non-Muslim religious leaders to decide that it okay to step into the political arena and supply the faithful with religious bromides and silently pray for regime change in a country where the Muslim population is at war with itself.
Is it any wonder that the average Malay, already narcotised with propaganda of religion and race, views the inclusion of church politics as anything other than an attempt to subvert ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ in this country? Indeed, this is not the time for the non-Muslim religious leaders to think they have the upper hand because the Malay polity is split. This is not the time for non-Muslim religious leaders to issues overt messages of regime change merely because they think the regime is weak. I am just waiting for the Hindu/Buddhist (a difference of degree) leadership, whoever they are, to come out and make some equally obnoxious statement and this would complete the trifecta of religious stupidity that infects the political landscape of this country.
In ‘Hudud, Christians and religion already in politics’, I argued that there are times when we must cross that line between church and state. However, we have to be very careful if we cross that line and timing is everything.
Non-Muslim religious organisations making overt claims of regime change is a foolhardy endeavour, especially when the ruling regime in such peril, the Malay-Muslim community is in a state of agitation and when nobody knows how this election will turn out.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 8:02 AM   0 comments
Why as opposition supporter you should vote PSM - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Malaysiakini : “You politicians have stayed professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs.” — Mary Matthews (Katharine Hepburn) in ‘State of the Union’ (1948)
(Writer's note: I am not, and have never been, a member of PSM. I do know a few political operatives from PSM as I do members of other opposition political parties and the establishment.) COMMENT | First off, a shout-out to RK Anand for his impressive interview with PSM’s S Arutchelvan. He really gets into the desiderata of PSM in this political landscape and his piece is the antidote to all the faux (as opposed to fake) news out there. Furthermore, thanks to P Gunasegaram, who I hope does not mind this homage to his lucid article on why Umno has to be benched.
This piece on ‘10 reasons why you should vote PSM’ also applies to BN supporters – yes, they are out there - who think that BN under PM Najib Razak is not worth voting for and a reminder to the #undirosak crowd, to which I already made this pitch. If you are lucky enough to have a PSM candidate in your area and already know that you are going to vote opposition, then consider PSM your opposition candidate. Why?
Well, because you know that your vote is not going to go to Umno/BN but if you really want to save Malaysia, use this opportunity to create the foundation for an opposition which directly opposes the mainstream politics that has brought us to this point. This election could be your first small step in truly saving Malaysia.
1. Voting PSM into the opposition is a reminder to the opposition that their job is not to become the next BN.
This, of course, is the fear of many rational-thinking opposition supporters. Say, you are sick of dynastic power groups. Say you are sick of political hegemons squashing dissent in their organisations. Say you are sick of the way how mainstream politics is about race. Say you are sick that mainstream policy-making is about seeing what your political opponent does and then doing the opposite, without deeper considerations.
Say you want politicians who would remind the opposition should they come into power – or do not – that the Umno/BN way of doing things, is not the best idea if you want to really save Malaysia. If you believe in all these things, vote PSM.
2. You reject the idea that religion always has to be the major issue in mainstream Malay politics.
Are you sick and tired of the way how mainstream politicians use Islam? Do you worry that the only avenue young people have to voice their dissent is through mainstream political parties who understand the use of religion as a narcotising tool to silence dissent? When you have one side claiming they want to turn this country into an Islamic state and the other side at times contemplating Malaysia as an Islamic state through the constitution, you know you are in trouble. If you want young Muslims to have an avenue where religion is not part of the “struggle” or indeed a political party that does not use Islam to garner votes, vote PSM.
3. You are sick and tired of the opposition telling you to be pragmatic and that ultimately, they will work things out.
PSM does not have apocalyptic political fantasies. But for PSM, the political process is the Malaysian struggle. Struggle implies long work ahead. It is not contradictory when PSM operatives want to remain activists doing the hard work on the ground and not getting into “politics”. They understand what politicians do and they want to remain effective proponents for the causes they claim they want to represent.
This is exactly why people should vote for them. They want to do the hard work instead of thinking of politics as a profession.
4. You understand a two-party system only means something if there are ideological and foundational issues that separate the parties.
Read the public comments of academic James Chin - “In summary, if the defenders of the Malay establishment are forced to hand over power to someone from outside the Umno should it lose the upcoming election, there is no better person than Mahathir. For them, Mahathir simply represents an alternative Ketuanan Melayu leadership rather than real political reforms.”
5. You want candidates who actually care about their base instead of candidates who are linked by mutual hatred towards the Umno regime.
Here is what I said earlier - “Catchy political bromides are the currency and while a party like PSM goes about attempting to build consensus far away from the preoccupations of urban polities who mock in racial and religious terms the rural folk, mainstream opposition politics is dominated by issues far removed from the realities that would ultimately determine this upcoming election.”
6. You want your representative to actually have a system – manifesto - to aspire to, instead playing the racial game with an eye (always) towards the dominant community. Read the public comments of social activist Kua Kia Soong here, here and here.
7. You want candidates who would actually advocate on behalf of marginalised peoples so you could live your privileged lifestyle without worrying (too much) about them. I wish I was joking about this.
8. PSM will endure even if they do not get any seats in this election and would continue serving the people they choose to represent even if those people do not have the power to get them into office.
Say you do not vote for PSM. They will continue doing the work that they believe will save Malaysia. They will continue the work, even when they understand that the mainstream political process and those who support it have no use for them.
They will endure, which is more than I can say for the opportunists and charlatans of the mainstream political elite who say things they know opposition supporters want to hear but will not give a damn about fulfilling their obligations because they know partisan politics trumps accountability.
9. You want politicians who speak truth to power and not only just want to convert power for themselves.
Mainstream politics is about safe seats. Mainstream politics is about thinking that a seat is yours by virtue of commanding a voter base – which could turn on you at any moment. Mainstream politics is about accruing power within the political parties you are a part of. Forming schisms and cliques. Power jockeying and kissing up to power in your little pond. This does not leave much time to do anything else but service your political careers. Are all mainstream political operatives like this? Maybe not. I can guarantee you that none of the PSM candidates is like that.
10. Because the opposition needs PSM.
I wrote this about the DAP, but the reality is that the opposition needs PSM. For far too long, the opposition has relied on personalities or wonky strategies to garner the votes of marginalised, disenfranchised, and yes, rural communities. What is needed is sustained grassroots-level activism and a change in direction from the Umno/BN template, which has been adopted by the opposition. Read here – “If maintaining the status quo is the best we can hope for, then stacking the political deck for future political gambles would be advisable. Encouraging PSM to work the grassroots and providing the machinery that would enable them to galvanise the disenfranchised from all communities would be a better option than sticking to old formulas.” And read PSM sole parliamentarian Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj's appeal. You could contribute to the PSM cause here.
Writing this article was difficult. There are candidates that PSM are going up against whom I know and I really wish they could have worked something out with Harapan. However, I believe that PSM is onto something, and although ideologically I have very little in common with PSM, they are indeed needed for the greater good of this country.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 4:43 PM   0 comments
R.A.B.U - The final conflict in the Malay community - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Malaysiakini : “We call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, political situation, creed or parties, young and old, to join us in saving Malaysia from the government headed by Najib Razak. We must rid ourselves of Najib as prime minister. If he’s allowed to go on, the damage will be worse and worse.” - Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan leader
COMMENT | To my Malay comrades, old and new, this article is for you. I am not fishing for votes for Pakatan Harapan. Indeed, this will be the only time I will do this. Never has the Umno hegemon been so afraid of losing political power. They are doing everything possible to mute the voices of those who will not submit to their power. This is not a political conflict the non-Malays can prosecute on their own. No election will ever be. As the years go by, the window of opportunity will close until the light of democracy can no longer seep through and we Malaysians will eventually be consumed in the darkness that fascism brings. You know what I speak of.
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong proclamation that GE14 is our final battle is slightly queer. Shouldn’t that be “war”? After all, a “battle” implies a continuation of hostilities until a “war” which defines an outcome. So is this the final battle before the war? I realise when opposition MPs talk about “wars” in the political sense, the Umno hegemon will be up in arms – maybe literally – and there would be this nonsense about a Chinese MP warring with the placid Malay community. Claiming that a political party will defend Putrajaya with the last drop of their blood, brandishing the “keris’” around and claiming enslavement of the Malay community if they lose this “war” with DAP, is the province of Umno.
Since I too am bound by certain imposed norms, instead of “final battle”, I will say “final conflict", which implies finality and which I assume was what Chin Tong was going for.  However, this is not “our” final battle. This is the final conflict within the Malay community. This GE will once and for all determine if the Malay community will reject Umno and embrace a two-party system or continue supporting the Umno hegemon when the other two communities have abandoned BN.
The stakes are much higher than merely living in a kleptocracy and systemic inequality. If the opposition loses this fight and depending how badly they lose, we would be bereft of any kind of sustained opposition against the Umno hegemon. Malay opposition power structures have to win at least one state and preferably as a dominant political party, to ensure the survival of the opposition as a credible threat to Umno. If the Malay community does not endorse through the ballot box alternate Malay power structures in the Malaysian political system, what could happen if the opposition loses is the DAP could be the last party standing surrounded by either a weak coalition of Malay powerbrokers or worse, a resurgent Umno.
Does this mean that the struggle is over? No. It would just mean that it would be more difficult for the opposition because it would mean that the opposition would have to redefine itself. Some would argue that this is a good thing but this is not the conversation we have to have now. At this moment, if you are a Malay who believes in a two-party system, this opportunity is the closest “we” have of attaining that goal. There has never been a time when Malay power structures have been at such odds with one another in a way that could change the course of this country. This is the perfect opportunity for progressive Malays and those who think like them to stake their claim on the future of this country.
If this is a fight between the current Umno grand poobah and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, this is also a fight between the disparate power groups aligned with the latter, who may stem the tide of religious extremism and the corrosive culture of corruption that hastens the ascension of religious extremists in this country. If Mahathir and the opposition manage to dethrone Najib, there is a possibility of a recalibration of the power structures in this country. There is a chance for political reform. There is a chance that we will not become a theocratic state because of a compromised leadership struggling to maintain power.
Why this time is different
Now, you may hate the opposition. You may hate the compromises they made. You may hate the fact that they have aligned with the person they themselves claimed is the architect of this mess, but the reality is that if the Malay community does not decisively vote for the opposition, then we would be in some very deep horse manure. I have already put down my ideas of what I think would happen if Umno won badly.
The upside is that even if Umno wins badly, there would still be hope for the opposition. It would be difficult and we would find ourselves in the terrain usually the province of theocratic weasels but at least we would still have a voice, provided the Malay community empowers the opposition Malay power structures and these groups realise that they cannot play the same Umno game. I always tell Malays who could not be bothered to vote that the opposition has thrown in everything in this election. People think that the stakes are not high and that there will always be an opposition. After all, the opposition has lost before and they have managed to make a comeback.
However, this time it is different. The Umno hegemon has already lost its two-thirds majority. It has suffered electoral setbacks in states which it assumed it had an iron grip on. The opposition did this without the help of the former prime minister. However, this is the first time when the Umno hegemon could be supplanted as the sole guardian of Malay power because of Mahathir.
Some people do not seem to understand the significance of the struggle between the current prime minister and the old maverick. If Bersatu as the sole Malay-based party manages to dislodge Umno from Putrajaya – even with the assistance of the non-Malays – this would radically change Malay politics. This would mean that the Malay community would no longer solely subscribe to Umno. They would have a choice between different political parties. No longer would Umno have dominion over the Malay vote in a majoritarian sense.
The mainstream in the Chinese community have made their choice. While I do not speak for the disenfranchised of the Indian community, all evidence suggests that their dissatisfaction against Umno is based on their hatred towards the MIC.  Whether this translate to hatred towards BN - Umno and the MCA - remains to be seen. Hence as far as the non-Malay vote goes – in the Peninsular – I am pretty confident that the opposition will not suffer from lack of non-Malay votes and this extends to Malay opposition operatives relying on non-Malay votes.
As I argued in numerous pieces, this is the existential war within the Malay community. While “our” votes are of less value – electorally and demographically speaking – from the votes of the demographic that is needed to take Putrajaya, we have arrived in a situation where non-Malays are spectators to the final conflict in the Malay community.
Of course, there are many people who do not vote for various reasons. There are people who understand that thriving in this country means working the system and making peace with the reality that the political system is designed never to be the one they hope for and most political parties have no desire to change it. These people also despise the partisan politics that infects our public spaces. The outcome of this election will no doubt elicit a fair amount of schadenfreude from these people.
However, whether they vote or not, this election will determine if the Malay community wants a choice on how they want to be governed. And choice, even though compromised, is the only thing that will save Malaysia.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:10 PM   0 comments
The prince and the forked tongue one - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, April 09, 2018
Malaysiakini : “It was written, I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” ― Joseph Conrad, ‘Heart of Darkness’
COMMENT | Is anyone stupid enough to think that Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants to get in touch with his inner “keling”? The same opposition supporters who go on about our “apartheid” state have no problem when the designated head of the opposition uses a term which Indians consider derogatory. Indeed, we get the same horse manure of the origins of the word as if its current usage is anything but derogatory. Not only do Indians consider it derogatory but everyone else except, of course, on social media where we get long explanations of the term. Try saying that to an Indian in real life and see what the response is.
Indeed, the last time Mahathir used the word – which he should know is a slur – a PKR leader said this - "Although I regret the usage of the word and urge Mahathir to rethink the need of using such words in future, at the same time, Malaysians must be cautious of attempts to divert attention" – yes, no kidding. I am sure Pakatan Harapan supporters will make any excuse, use any justification to ensure that people do not forget that the goal of removing PM Najib Razak trumps everything else. If Najib had said it, opposition supporters would be telling Indians how the Umno grand poobah disrespects them and they should vote for the opposition.
I wonder how many racists, bigots, religious extremists, chauvinists and other kleptocrats it takes to dethrone the current Umno grand poobah? And if the word is not a racial slur, I wonder if the Indians in DAP and PKR allow themselves or have no issue when their Chinese and Malay comrades refers to them as “keling”? As someone who has been on the receiving end of such racism on these forums and in other places, I wonder if the next time I meet a political operative from Harapan they will refer to me as “keling”.
Mahathir, if he was referring to attacks against his ancestry, could have just said, “Let me use a Tamil word” but instead he chose to use a derogatory term and compliant hypocritical supporters, who slavishly follow the party line bend over backwards attempting to justify its usage. I guess we are getting a hint of the shape of things to come when it involves the politics of race under a Harapan government. Then, of course, there is the issue of the young prince from Johor talking about the forked tongue one. I have had many emails asking me what I thought about the old maverick's comment.
My answer is this. Good for him. When the young prince was making statements about corruption, and race relations which opposition supporters agreed with, they were practically prostrating themselves in the comments section of the alternative media praising him as though he was the second coming. They were reaffirming their belief in the monarchy system and pleading with him to lead the country. When his father made statements that were in alignment with their beliefs, opposition supporters were so enamoured with his statements that some of them even suggested moving to Johor.
All of this naked adulation was embarrassing because it showed that whenever anyone says anything which remotely conforms to opposition expectations, the Harapan faithful would fall on their knees, especially if it came from a Malay.
Harapan’s ‘chosen one’
Now people are saying that the royalty should not get involved in politics. What utter horse manure. For the majority of opposition supporters, the royalty should not get involved in politics as long as the royalty supports the Umno establishment. If the royalty says anything that remotely sounds as if they support the opposition or mention things that the opposition says, then this golden rule of the separation between palace and state is ignored by most opposition supporters.
What did the prince actually say? He said that people should endorse the status quo. He said that the status quo needed to be reformed. He reminded people of the misdeeds of the Harapan’s ‘chosen one’. He also hinted that the royal house of Johor would attempt to reform the government from the inside and this involved high royal manoeuvres. All of which neatly falls into traditional Malay politics. Fair enough. If you are a BN supporter and you were struggling to define the election beyond the 1MDB issue, the words of the young prince and the election manifesto of BN would be a starting point to change the narrative.
Of course, since open criticism of what the young prince said is verboten, and let’s face facts, opposition supporters have such a quaint way of expressing their displeasure against anyone who thinks they are against Harapan, this would mean that opposition supporters cannot openly attack the young prince. But really, there is nothing that the young prince said that the majority of opposition supporters have not sublimated, rationalised or justified in their support to overthrow Najib. I would argue that this statement by the crown prince is exactly what the Umno establishment needed. It was exactly what establishment supporters needed because it came from a person who until he made these statements was beloved by a majority of opposition supporters.
I, of course, have a different view of things. I, too, think the Umno hegemon needs to be benched. I know the system needs reform. But I want people to point out the flaws in the opposition like the way how the young prince pointed out the flaws in the establishment. I want the opposition, even now, to realise that they are on notice. The system is against you? Well, tough cookies. You knew what you were up against when you, me and anyone in the opposition decided that a two-party system is needed to save Malaysia. If you are an opposition supporter and feels as if you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back, that’s too bad.
Remember that the next time you mob against people who have different ideas from the group think that infects opposition spaces. I do not want rabid mobs thinking any criticism of the opposition means the people making those criticisms are ‘dedak’ eaters or working with the establishment. And since the Najib regime has taken a page from the Donald Trump playbook, I will take a page from Hillary Clinton's. Remember Hillary’s slogan, "I’m with her"?
For the moment, because I want a two-party system, I’m with the forked tongue one.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 5:49 PM   0 comments
What Najib fears most is revolt from his own base - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Malaysiakini : “Another fact that allowed fascism to gain power over men was their blindness. A man cannot believe that he is about to be destroyed. The optimism of people standing on the edge of the grave is astounding.” ― Vasily Grossman, ‘Life and Fate’
COMMENT | The game is on, I guess. What is touted as the mother of all elections is upon us. With the dissolution of Parliament, Prime Minister Najib Razak has finally rolled the loaded dice. He has stacked the deck in his favour and his minions are overseeing the rigged game. But does Najib really fear a Malay tsunami?
The Umno grand poobah claimed that he did not believe that there would be a Malay tsunami because this would mean a rejection of Umno. This is a strange thing to say because it essentially also means that the Umno president believes that if more Malays voted, they would reject Umno.
This, of course, is conventional politics. Political hegemons the world over understand that large voter turnouts usually mean that the established order is under threat. It is a little different here in Malaysia because the established order is not under threat, merely a political operative struggling under the weight of numerous corruption scandals.
Why would more Malay voters reject Umno? More importantly, what is the opposition offering the Malay community which is radically different from what Umno is offering? Besides the usual pabulum that both sides make about race and religious relations in this country, about the only issue that the Malay opposition keeps harping about is that the Umno grand poobah is a kleptocrat. In other words, it is not about a rejection of Umno but rather it is a rejection of Najib. After all, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Pakatan Harapan PM-designate only hooked up with the opposition after he failed to get the current Umno grand poobah to step down.
Umno says it is a champion of Malay rights, while Bersatu claims that Umno has betrayed Malay rights through the corruption of the Umno grand poobah. I have made this argument before, that if Umno was not a centre-right party and if most Malays did not want what Umno was offering, PAS would have made great inroads into the political mainstream of this country.
The fact that most Malays rejected the Islamism that PAS offered and were content with the control of the Umno state, should say something about the Weltanschauung of the Malay voting demographic. The fact that PAS became mainstream was not anything that Umno did but because of the opposition. Whether they remain mainstream remains to be seen.
While some would argue that this was more of a legacy issue than a corruption issue, the reality is that the corruption scandals of the current Umno grand poobah have become the major issue at this upcoming election. An Umno insider recently hissed that it was difficult to mount a successful defence for their great Bugis warrior because Najib was the face of the 1MDB scandal and even if people really did not understand the minutiae of it, they had an easy reference for the scandal in the form of the Umno grand poobah.
This is why the Umno state which usually could get away with most anything in the Malay community had to resort to such measures as creating an anti-fake news law – which essentially meant that you could not talk about the 1MDB issue - and extreme gerrymandering – which essentially meant that even if you did not choose Umno, Umno chose you.
This also means erecting barriers on the validity of Bersatu through bureaucratic legalese. The temporary dissolution of by Registrar of Societies (ROS), while most probably legal, goes against the spirit of democracy, but it is also important to note that Bersatu, knowing the kind of tricks the ROS would play, should have been scrupulous in conforming to all the necessary “paperwork” and hoop jumping that they knew would come their way.  The fact that they did not do this say more about their sense of entitlement - or perhaps a deeper strategy; that would be reckless but impressive – than it does about the mendacity of the Umno state.
Reliable paymaster
But really, all this goes beyond the fear of a Malay tsunami. If Umno was really sure of its traditional bases then why is it that Umno is going all out to court the rural vote and placate the civil service. Needless to say, the civil service was always a reliable vote bank because they understood that Umno was always a reliable paymaster.
Except these days, with the propaganda of the GST (I say propaganda because I am for it and this issue has been propagandised by the opposition) and the numerous “reports” of financial scandals, the sentiment is that Umno cannot fulfil its entitlements programmes for the civil service. Whether this is true is beside the point. Umno understands that this is the perception, and the civil service has always been the main vehicle of social mobility for the Umnoputra class.
Nobody cares, certainly not the civil service class, as to why prices rise but what they understand is that the government is somehow involved. Nobody cares about China’s investments only that they fear that the Chinese could take over because Najib is weak. Encouraging “yellow fever” is what the Malay establishment does when it wants to galvanise the Malay vote. In other words, this really isn’t about Umno the kleptocracy. It is about Umno the kleptocracy under Najib.
Claiming that if the Chinese community wanted representation in the government they should vote BN is a played-out strategy. The reality is that the Chinese who vote opposition think they get better presentation in the opposition even though they are not in power and would get better representation if they get into power with Bersatu.
And let’s face facts. There are many in Umno who are annoyed that there should even be Chinese representation in BN, especially now that the Chinese community has abandoned Umno. Right-wing Malay thinking revolves around, why bother with the fig leaf of representation when all that is needed is the majority Malay/bumiputera base?
This is why the great fear of Umno has always been the idea of a “split” in the Malay community. This idea, of course, is the strategy of the opposition. The Malay base, which is made up of various voting blocks, is what is really of concern for Umno. A Malay tsunami would be dangerous but the reality is that Umno fears that the base is unstable.
There is a viral video featuring the Harapan PM-designate in which he prophesies Umno’s demise by the year 2020 (but the decline would start earlier) because he claimed that the Malays would be bored of the money politics of Umno and that the Umno leadership would be squabbling amongst themselves for prestige and power instead of ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’.
If this worries Umno, they should take heart because he also claims that the Malays would not support any other Malay-based party, which should worry the opposition.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:52 AM   0 comments
The last great political fight for Zaid - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
Malaysiakini : “The whole world keeps asking: ‘What has gone wrong with Malaysia?’ In other words, they are asking what has gone wrong with Malays. How do we respond to this?” – Zaid Ibrahim’s speech (translated from Kelantanese Malay) to 300 Kelantan Pakatan Harapan party workers in Kota Bharu, March 20, 2018
COMMENT | I really do not get it. Why isn’t DAP offering Zaid Ibrahim a seat? Why am I reading about possible young candidates going on about the reasons why they as – non-Malays – feel marginalised in this country instead of someone like Zaid, who – considering his maverick status – has played well with others (this time) when we are told that this is going to be the ultimate electoral brawl within the Malay community.
It just does not make sense. Pakatan Harapan – whoever they are – tell us that Bersatu is needed to secure the rural Malay vote and it is filled to the brim with former Umno acolytes attempting to present an image of reformasi. Meanwhile, PKR is floundering and has yet to shed its “weakest link” image of Harapan. Amanah is attempting to discover how exactly it fits in this coalition and the DAP is busy ensuring that MCA and Gerakan are footnotes in history.
There are very few Malay politicians like Zaid. Who knows what brought upon this change from Umno political insider to mainstream political outsider. That is a big leap to make. From Umno embracing you, to everyone thinking that you are that crazy uncle who makes politically incorrect (in the Malaysians context) utterances in public.
The opposition needs a Malay politician like Zaid. After all, the opposition has many Malay politicians from the Umno mould. They have politicians from the PAS mould as well. Rare is the Malay politician who understands that this conflict is not about saving Malaysia but rather is an existential conflict within the Malay community.
Think about this. Umno, Bersatu, PAS, Amanah and even PKR, when they talk about the Malays, the belief is that the system is needed to save them. Zaid is a Malay politician who thinks that there is something wrong with the system. When I was editing his book, one of the questions that frequently cropped up was, “Do you really want to put this in the book?” “This” was slaying sacred cows types pieces that played well with non-Malays but which I believed will alienate his Malay audience. Zaid’s answer was always the same.
“It’s reality, Thaya” or something like that. And when you think about another Malay politician, the former Umno strongman now Harapan PM-designate, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also revealed “truths” about the Malay community when he led Umno and the sycophants lapped it up. These days, of course, they use it against him but the Malay community despite what the Umno state wants you to believe has always been in conflict.
There is a discourse going on far away from the mainstream urban/English-dominated media. Young Malays from both sides of the political divide send me materials – sometimes poorly translated, but hey I asked – of the political discussions that are going on, away from what we think is the Malay discourse. Zaid’s name always crops up. He is divisive, which is a good thing because unlike the majority of Malay politicians who are easily dismissed, the ad hominems sometimes spewed at Zaid gives way to discussion on what it means to be Malay in this country.
Forget about the opposition narrative that Bersatu and Mahathir are needed to save Malaysia because of the demographic they apparently can get for the opposition; there is another narrative, a politically incorrect one – depending on how you view such things – that only a Malay can say and do things in this country when it comes to addressing his or her community. Actually, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) man, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, said more or less the same when he joined Bersatu.
Departing from script
I do not want to get into the merits or lack thereof of this type of thinking but let’s face facts. Whenever mainstream Malay politicians talk about their community, they stick to the same script and attempt to pay homage to whatever political correct ideas because they need the non-Malay votes because as yet – as yet – they do not command the majority of the Malay vote.
Meanwhile, Zaid departs from script. When he does, nearly everyone gets upset with him and I am talking about political operatives from his own coalition. And it is troubling. Umno uses what Zaid says to target the opposition. Meanwhile, the opposition predictably wonder what adverse effect his words has on the community they are trying to placate.
Nobody ever stops to think, that maybe if there were more Malay politicians like Zaid and the mainstream oppositional politics nurtured such people, they would not have to worry about being targeted by Umno or worried about the Malay vote because there would be a demographic within the Malay community who values what he or people like him advocate.
The system wants to destroy Malay politicians like Zaid, and by system, I mean the political system in general and not only the Umno state. Why? Because if more Malays subscribed to what Zaid advocates and then more Malaysians subscribed to what he advocates, then racial politics would slowly lose its appeal. What would political parties do then?
I reference this when I argued that Zaid is a relevant Malay even though some claim he is out of touch with the Malay community – “I have to ask, what does out of touch mean, exactly? That he warns them that a dogmatic approach to religion cannot withstand the vicissitudes of the modern world? That institutional integrity protects them from the powers of the state? That entitlement programmes have not benefited them if they have to rely on them forever?
“That Malay right is a sham that protects the political elites but not the average Malay citizen bereft of political influence and money? That race-based policy which favour one race is morally suspect? That modernity means more than just aping Western culture or that tradition means more than just aping Arab culture? Does all of this make Zaid out of touch with the pure simple people that Umno claims they want to ‘uplift’?”
About the only thing I disagree with is this idea – his and others – that if fielded, it needs to be in a Chinese-dominated urban seat. This will not prove that DAP is not a Chinese-centric party, it will just prove that the Chinese will vote for an “acceptable” DAP-endorsed Malay candidate. No, if Zaid really wants to signify a new political narrative, he should face off against Umno powerbrokers with the full support of the DAP – his party – and Harapan beside him.
This, after all, will be his last great political fight but before that, the DAP should allow him to enter the ring.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:56 AM   0 comments
Najib, our security apparatus not an Umno division - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, April 02, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.” ― Lysander Spooner
COMMENT | What I despise more than religious extremism – the existential threat to our country – is the way in which politicians propagandise the military. Check that. What I despise more is when the military top brass canoodles up to politicians. Nowhere is this more evident when armed forces chief Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor urged our security apparatus to be loyal to the government headed by the Umno grand poobah.
The government does not pay for all those “entitlements” that the state security apparatus gets. Those are paid for by our tax ringgit. We live in a country where non-Malays are routinely demonised for not showing loyalty, but the reality is that the security apparatus in this country is a bastion of racial dysfunction by design. It was not always so. Read the public comments of retired brigadier-general Mohamed Arshad Raji as to the “issues” non-Malays face in the armed forces.
In the West, politicians go on bended knee and proclaim how they are grateful for the military service men and women do for their country. Civilians of a certain political persuasion or those who feel the need to burnish their patriotic credentials make asinine statements of how they are grateful to the service these men and women provide to their country.
All of it is just a load of horse manure. Politicians in the West do not give a damn about the men and women in the security service. What they give a damn about is the military industrial complex and using the security apparatus as a means to instil toxic patriotism, but more importantly, as a means to extend empire. Citizens who go about how grateful they are really do not care that social programmes that these men and women rely on after service are often whittled away in political games.
Here in Malaysia, it is the opposite. The state security apparatus is told to be grateful to the government. Public institutions are deemed “Malay” institutions even though they are funded by our tax ringgit, and so non-Malays are wary of the state security apparatus, especially when the Umno state uses it to sanction citizens who are just exercising their democratic rights.
The Terengganu top cop, for instance, gets to claim that Terengganu is gangster-free because of its Malay majority, and the deputy prime minister gets to say that a shoot-to-kill policy is what is needed because most victims of violent crimes are Malay, hence the community needs to be protected. This of course does not take into account the numerous corruption scandals, deaths in custody and the host of other issues that make it impossible for the average citizen, no matter his or her “race”, to have any faith in the state security apparatus.
What of our military? Six years ago, when the military voting fiasco first surfaced, I was shocked and deeply embarrassed by the antics of then armed forces chief, Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, and so in a piece which directly touched upon a whole host of issues plaguing the military, I wrote – “Do not believe anyone who tells you that the security apparatus of a state, or any state anywhere in the world, is ‘apolitical’? The armed forces do the bidding of its elected civilian masters. But what they don't do is engage in the political process on behalf of their political masters.”
Have you ever noticed that it’s the top brass that makes all these ridiculous statements? The upper echelons of the state security apparatus are always currying favour with Umno potentates for obvious reasons. The reality is that the rank and file indoctrinated by years of government propaganda are slowly beginning to realise that they are merely pawns in a game that they do not understand but realise they are on the losing end of.
Marginalising the opposition
So while the Umno grand poobah talks about how the opposition, or more accurately the DAP, is going to bring ruination to those scared military and police institutions, the average service man or woman is desperately trying to survive in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape which has a direct impact on their lives.
Umno thinks that by marginalising the opposition when it comes to the military and the police force, they can secure their claim over these people. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality that a number of ex-service personnel have joined the opposition. The reality is that more and more retired personnel are talking about the issue faced by the state security personnel to still serving men and women in the state security apparatus and lay the blame on Umno’s doorstep.
They do not do this because they unpatriotic or are in cahoots with the opposition but because they genuinely feel that after decades of Umno rule, the state security apparatus and the numerous other outfits connected with it are in dire need of reform.
If Umno’s tactics were really that effective, there would not be a chorus of voices emanating from the military and state security establishment wanting not only a change of administration but a reform of the system so that our state security apparatus could face the challenges which is about to confront our country.
Honestly, what I find really troubling is the number of state security apparatus people who are involved in terrorist activities, not to mention criminal enterprises. Who knows how many military and police personnel owe their allegiance to elements other than the Umno regime?
There is no point strutting around in military drag and proclaiming that we are the best in the world when recent events have demonstrated that we are woefully ill-prepared to deal with incursions and we have got by with luck and service people who are still committed to their jobs.
While some state security personnel are power-hungry petty tyrants who want to play the system, there are far more honest people who can’t wait to get out of service and use whatever opportunities they have coming to them and start anew. I know because I speak to far too many young people in our armed services who can’t wait to get out.
And that is the problem with institutional corruption. Sooner or later, people realise that they do not owe any allegiance to institutions or traditions which has been corrupted. It’s a sad day when someone like Lim Kit Siang has to say that the DAP will defend the Royal Malay Regimen, because the only thing the state security apparatus needs defending from is the machinations of the Umno state.
The quest to save Malaysia should start by reforming our state security apparatus. As luck would have it, you have in a young Bersatu member – Wan Saiful Wan Jan – someone who may have some ideas on how to do it.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:28 AM   0 comments
A ‘bad’ Umno win and the non-Malay fate - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, April 01, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Our worst enemies here are not the ignorant and the simple, however cruel; our worst enemies are the intelligent and corrupt.”  – Graham Greene, ‘The Human Factor’
COMMENT | I really wish when Umno “konco-konco” (to use a Mahathir term) make threats against the Chinese and Indians, they would elaborate on them, so the pundit class – that would be people like me – can make an accurate threat assessment. I am kidding, of course. I enjoy riffing off these goons because their generalities allow me to fill in the blanks and explore narratives often ignored for a more palatable fare.
The Umno grand poobah's son, Nazifuddin Najib, claimed that if Umno lost the upcoming general election, the bumiputera power that also protected the Chinese and Indians would be lost. Insidious words for a tragic election.  Who exactly wishes the Chinese and Indians harm in this country? The only threats, which have always been made or existed, are those emanating from Malay/Muslim hegemons.
However, Nazifuddin (photo) is correct but not in the way he thinks or people who despise Umno think. It is a little more complicated than merely reverting to the Umno playbook and this election is perilous not if Umno loses but depending on how “badly” Umno wins. If Umno wins with an iron-tight mandate from the Malay community then the non-Malays are safe.

However, if Umno wins by merely scraping through and with the aid of the electoral legerdemain of the mendacious electoral redelineation, then the non-Malay community is in trouble. A “bad” Umno win would embolden the Islamic deep state and with other Islamic powerbrokers, make Umno conform to extreme Islamic narratives that even Saudi Arabia is attempting to withdraw from. Bumiputera power is Umno power and the only people who could challenge it are the Malays. However, the Malays in this election are not challenging bumiputera power. What they are challenging - and led by the most cunning political operative this country has - is the right to replace Umno as the wielder of bumiputera power.
So, if Umno loses then the non-Malays would have a coalition made up of Malay/Muslim political hegemons who partnered with the “Chinese” dominated (DAP) opposition and the Chinese and Indians in this country would still be protected by bumiputera power courtesy of Bersatu. Meanwhile, depending on how Umno wins (1) by commanding the lion's share of the Malay vote (2) by having to rely on PAS (3) by heaven knows what permutations arise if Sabah and Sarawak do not maintain their vote bank status, then would this mean that the Chinese and Indians would not be protected?
Who exactly is threatening the non-Malay communities and what exactly do these threats entail? Bumiputera power manifests in so many ways and the only vulnerable points of the non-Malay communities are the urban centres which so far have been shielded from the excesses of the Islamic deep state. And there is a reason for this. Nobody wants to destroy the economic infrastructures that pay for the rights and privileges that Malays are warned are always in jeopardy.
Doubled-edged sword
Already right-wing Malay sites are pushing the narrative that if the “Malay” opposition is wiped out, the political landscape would be defined by a Muslim (Umno) hegemon against a Christian (DAP) dialectic. This, of course, is something that I warned about last year when I wrote about the irrelevancy of the non-Malays to Malaysia’s future. Three points are worth revisiting.
1. I sincerely hope that Bersatu and Amanah make headway in this upcoming election and become viable Malay power structures in their own right because if they do not and the DAP remains the last political party standing in this election, this would be the end of oppositional politics in this country.
2. If you thought that the Chinese community was getting it bad from Umno now, you would be witness to the community getting it worse if Bersatu and Amanah are wiped out by PAS and Umno. Indeed, all PAS has to do is hold on to Kelantan and maintain the status quo in Terengganu and this would be a victory, even if they lose in Selangor.
3. We are already witnesses to the Islamic games a weakened Umno plays with PAS but consider what would happen if a strong Umno is held accountable by the Islamists and a sizeable Malay population indoctrinated by years of racial and religious supremacy unburdened by alternative (perhaps more moderate) Malay power structures?
This redelineation shenanigan carried out by Umno is a double-edged sword. It only means anything if there is a Malay tsunami in Umno’s favour. If there is a Malay tsunami and Umno wins but is crippled – politically – in the process, it would be worse for Umno. Check that. This, of course, does not take into account what happens in Sabah and Sarawak.
This is really an all or nothing game. If Umno wins “badly” then the non-Malays are in trouble. This is why it is imperative there is a huge voter turnout and there is a decisive opposition win. Now some would argue that if there are no clear winners, this would be a problem too. It would only be a problem to the non-Malay/Muslims opposition parties because Muslim/Malay solidarity and the political permutation it could involve trumps any other kind of political partnership with non-Malay powerbrokers.
This is the last great fight of the Malay community before the next great fight where the choices would be between some sort of imported Islamic extremism and a bloated regime, staggering under decades of corrupt rule, infiltrated by extremists working in the deep Islamic state. I would rather we fight this fight and hopefully stall the next one for a couple of generations at least, instead of turning our backs and thinking that this election does not mean anything.
Civil society group Komas thinks that the redelineation exercise is a racial tragedy waiting to happen. Get real, folks. This election is a racial tragedy and it will be worse if the opposition does not win the fight.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:31 AM   0 comments
Anti-fake news law is another attack on all of us - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Malaysiakini : "The actions of the two reporters may have hurt the feelings of the people but I was satisfied that they did not intend to offend anyone. It was an act of sheer ignorance." - Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail
COMMENT | Here is an example of the fabrication and dissemination of fake news and how the Umno hegemon deals with it. Eight years ago, journalists from the Al-Islam magazine went undercover in the Catholic Church, took Holy Communion and then spat out the communion wafers, the photos of which they published in their magazine. Why did they do this? Because they heard “reports” that the church was converting Muslims.
How did the Umno state deal with these purveyors of fake news? They did not do anything. Charges were dropped and the magazine apologised for any distress caused. “The journalists said they had found no evidence of the illegal conversion of Muslims.” And what of the press? How does the Umno hegemon handle fake news when it comes from the press? Well, this what a self-defined Umno’s mouthpiece said of the role of the media six years ago in a forum - “In our style of writing, we have facts, spin and one more - blatant lies. From the point of psychological warfare, let’s not follow ‘blatant lies’, let’s not write lies. Spin we can; no matter how we spin a certain fact to be biased in our favour, that’s okay,” said Utusan Malaysia editor Mohd Zaini Hassan.
Fellow forum panellist, meanwhile, used Islam to justify deceptions against the opposition. Umno young ulama secretariat Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya rationalised this by “citing how Prophet Muhammad had used deception to fight his enemy.” I have been getting calls and messages asking me what I thought about this proposed anti-fake news bill. I just do not see the big deal. What this proposed bill does is makes it easier for the Umno state to control the narrative, scare the crap out of some people and allow for a certain amount of hand-wringing by a certain section of the general public.
The greater danger that the government made into law was the National Security Council (NSC) Act, but not many people showed any interest in that. This proposed bill is just another in a long line of clumsy efforts by a government in jeopardy because of its ineptitude and pecuniary scandals. What the Umno state has done is just another attempt to define what is fake. They do this with religion. They do this with race. They do this with myriad other issues and policies that affect us as a society. This is nothing new.
In fact, I do not think that this has much to do with the press in the boarder sense. I think this proposed bill is aimed at the average citizen. To restrict the flow of information. To stop people from using social media to ferment and encourage dissent. People spread crap that they know is false all the time and when it comes to partisan politics, there is a whole lot of horse manure to spread around. What this bill is supposed to do is put the fear of god into people so they would think twice about disseminating news that they think will get them into trouble. So, if it something that puts the government in a bad light even if it’s true, people would think that they would be a target of state intervention.
And you know what, they could be with this new law. Indeed, the state does not need this law to put its boot on the neck of anyone it wants to. This is Fear Tactics 101.
Will the people be cowed?
How many times has Malaysiakini been raided? How many times have opposition political personalities sued the mainstream media for libel and won? How many times has the establishment sued alternative media outlets for libel and won? There has always been a somewhat robust application of laws that restricts certain kinds of speeches and the usual state clampdown on what it perceives as “fake news”. The quote that opens this piece was used to justify non-intervention. But there have been some cases where people have been found guilty of spreading fake news in Malaysia, two come to mind:
1. “A former religious teacher and a housewife who disseminated fake news via their Facebook account regarding the halal and non-halal frozen meat, which were purportedly found stored together in a container, were fined RM2,000 each by the Sessions Court today.”
2. A teacher has become the first person in Malaysia to be charged in court for spreading false information through WhatsApp.
“Rafeah Buang, 36, pleaded not guilty before judge Awang Krisnada Awang Mahmud at the Tawau Sessions Court today on a charge of knowingly making and initiating false communications via WhatsApp with the intention of annoying others three years ago.” Does it make me a traitor to freedom of speech because I think they got what they deserved? Probably. The real reason for this proposed bill is to make the average citizen reconsider what he or she is spreading around. This is all about self-censorship and how the state literally wants you to enforce its definition of what fake news is.
But why act surprised? There are many partisans in the alternative media who want to silence dissenting views and they want certain media outlets of their choice to enforce this or they threaten to cancel their subscriptions. The real question, is will people be cowed? Will news organisations cave in to the threats from the state – and by news organisations I mean, organisations that do not have the protection of the state?
Ultimately, what this proposed bill does is demonstrate how weak the government is. After all, there are numerous laws in play – restrictive laws – that the government could use to silence dissent. What this law attempts to do is make the average citizen of this country complicit in their own subjugation.
I do not know about anyone else, but I am going to continue doing what I do, and the Umno state will continue doing what it does.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:01 AM   0 comments
Can we have a moratorium on fishing for Indian votes? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, March 26, 2018
Malaysiakini : "It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority." - Lord Acton
COMMENT | Around election time, the “Indian vote” comes into play. Politicians from both sides of the divide make the necessary noises of “inclusion” to cater to the demographic. The comments sections of such news stories are sprinkled with the usual racists diatribes against the community. Besides the urban English educated voter, the people who actually vote in districts which could actually mean something, do not read the “English” news stories that come out in the alternative media, or the mainstream (English) media for that matter.
I get that Indian votes are important, especially when the opposition intends to contest in seats where every vote counts but with the establishment ramping up the propaganda and the opposition doing the same, the reality is that the Indian community, or at least the marginalised in the Indian community, are slowly coming to the realisation that they will always be on the losing end when race-based hegemons clash.
So, the morons spewing such invective are only spewing them out to Indians who may actually be opposition-inclined. Why they would be after reading such crap is beyond me, but this idea that politicians so heavily invested in the race dialectic between the Chinese and Malay community fishing for Indian votes, in case they need something extra in tight races, is getting ridiculous.
I have questioned the value of having Indian-based parties, arguing that it would reflect reality a little better if we had an Indonesian or maybe even a Bangladeshi-based party. I do not know the exact numbers – does anyone? – but it would seem more realistic to cater to them than the Indian community.
The script is always the same, the prime minister or his proxies make some noises about the “plight” of the Indians and then there is the predictable response from the other side. Partisans point to the participation of Indians in the opposition but cannot conceive that their side is afflicted with tokenism like the establishment they claim they want to dispose of.
While I acknowledge the contribution of those opposition political operatives who have gone out of their way to handle the stateless Indian issue amongst others, the reality is that as a voting block except in some extreme cases, the Indian vote is practically worthless. (This, of course, makes their efforts all the more worthwhile.)
Worthless in the sense that it only means anything if it is a deciding factor and not that it generates any political capital on its own. I mean the MIC, or any other party claiming to represent the Indian community, means very little because the votes of the Indian community beyond special circumstances do not mean a thing.
The current Umno grand poobah claims that the government is inclusive but the reality is that you cannot be inclusive with quotas. The same applies to the opposition. When my friend, former Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar talked about quotas, we argued about it very often. Quotas are, by definition, exclusionary.
Squandered opportunity
Besides in the realpolitik sense when people talk about Indians, who they are really talking about is the disenfranchised in the Indian community. The urban educated class, most probably opposition-leaning, have very little interest in the community beyond the usual confluence of religion and other festivities. Furthermore, as a community, there are divisions along religious lines - Christian and Hindu - and of course, sub-ethnic groups, which sometimes translate into political affiliations.
All of this makes fishing for Indian votes problematic. The MIC has let down the community badly and even though they are now scrambling to attempt to solve some of the problems of the community (which community?) they have an albatross around their neck when it comes to religion (Umno) and corruption (their own).
Now, I do not want to pit MIC against the Indian political operatives of the opposition because both are doing good work for the community they claim to represent. Both work under specific pressures, which is always a problem for minority ethnic groups in majoritarian hegemons.
Anecdotally, I have met far more Indians who will not vote MIC but would vote nearly any other party solely because they view the MIC as some sort of overlords who attack the “common” man, engage in gangster behaviour while blaming the criminal activities of the community on Tamil films, monopolise temple activities, and generally have stamped on the backs of the Indian community. The common refrain is that the MIC does not need the Indian vote, and whatever ministers the MIC has in the government are there to serve for self-serving purposes.
Whatever promises made to the Indian community do not mean much. How exactly if the community is not a significant voting block are those who break promises going to be held accountable? How exactly does a community whose political leadership, either establishment or opposition, are constantly told that they are there because of the votes of the Malay and Chinese effectively advocate on behalf of their community like the Malay and Chinese leadership? So, this is not solely an MIC problem.
Hindraf was a squandered opportunity and since then, whatever leadership that marginalised Indians hoped to have, has been taken over by opportunists and charlatans who always make such grandiose claims on behalf of the community and then scuttle away into the darkness waiting for the next opportune moment to flare up again.
I was talking to an MIC operative and he was heartened by the participation of youths in their programmes and took it as a positive sign that the young Indians were returning to the MIC. Meanwhile, when I talked to government-aligned youth activists, they claimed that their only interest was trying to help the community and they would take the help from any place they could get it. They were as uninterested in the “issues” of the urban Indian electorate as they were in supporting the MIC.
And if you visit the alternative news sites and read about how the average opposition supporter thinks about the community, you would realise how the politics of race plays out in the unfiltered section of news reports. Add this with some of the comments that some opposition political operatives make about how you could bribe the community with alcohol and rice and you will understand why people – not only Indians – are apathetic when it comes to voting in this country.
So, while I get that the reason for all these overtures is that political operatives understand that every vote counts, ultimately what the Indian community - however they self-identify - needs to reach that place where they no longer need not only the government but political parties, much like the allegiance to political parties by the other minority is by choice not necessity.
After all, in substance there are already in this position because the political landscape in this country does not need them.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:51 PM   0 comments
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