Apa lagi Cina mahu redux - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | "Kumpulan pentadbir
kerajaan baharu yang dipimpin PH pada hari ini mengamalkan dasar 'lead
by example' dan saya yakin ia menjadi tarikan untuk mereka menyertai
kita terutama Bersatu... kita tidak sekat asalkan mereka tinggalkan budaya lama," - Ahli Majlis Pemimpin Tertinggi Bersatu Mohd Redzuan Yusof (above)
liberal intelligentsia in this country plays the same kind of game the
far right in this country play. Both use race to detract from
objectively examining policy decisions and political rhetoric. The
far-right makes everything about race, while the liberal intelligentsia
attempts to erase “race” from the discourse. The latter enabled by this
nonsensical Bangsa Malaysia claptrap.
Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof's recent statement that the Malays have
conceded too much to “racists” is the kind of “Apa lagi Cina mahu” Malay
politics that passes as brilliant political strategy in this country.
The context of this was the “khat” issue, but it could be used for any
issue when it comes to Malay race-based parties.
Blaming Sin Chew
and Dong Zong are political moves but underneath it are the simmering
race tensions that people often ignore in favour of political bromides.
When Redzuan, for instance, say something like this - "What is mine is
mine, and what is yours is also mine." - this is the essence of racial
should not be dismissed as communal distrust because every policy of
the government of the day is meant to firm up support of the majority
race. Race and religion is front and centre when it comes to policy
consideration. To argue otherwise, to make it seem as if there is a
political alternative is mendacious.
Electoral strategies and
governmental policies include the major component of race. So this idea
that we are suspicious of each and not trusting one another is not
something which should be dismissed. There are legitimate reasons why
the various communities do not trust each other and to solely blame
politicians, as the left and well-meaning "moderates" tend to do, is
I wonder what kind of response Redzuan will get from
his fellow cabinet ministers? After all, what non-Malay Malaysians want
is an equal share of the pie. So yes, since nothing is really “mine,”
what non-Malays want is what is rightfully “ours”. Therein
lies the rub. Mainstream Malay political dogma is about protecting the
entitlement programmes, the state-funded educational opportunities and
the vast civil service which is considered employment for the majority
When non-Malays say we are “all Malaysians” what does this
mean? Article 153 (which is often misinterpreted, but that is not the
point) and various other provisions in the constitution divide us along
racial and religious lines. There is no mainstream ideological basis for
this contention, nor is there any evidence that the political class
supports such a notion.
a politician like Redzuan reminds non-Malays to read the Constitution,
he is not asking us to “read” the constitution in the literal sense, but
rather he is reminding Malaysians of the fictitious social contract.
That non-existent document whereby the non-Malays have to remember that
we are the "guests" of Malays, much like how Zakir Naik thinks the old
guests should go back to wherever they came from if they question the
new quest's motives.
The Apa lagi Cina mahu strategy is not meant
for the Chinese. It’s meant for the Malays, who also need to be reminded
that their economic and religious security is dependent on Malay power
structures, and no matter how much non-Malay power structures attempt to
appease the Malay majority, the sole guardians of everything “Malay”
belong to the Malay political class, no matter which political party
they are from.
This is why making statements of how Harapan should save Utusan - a Malay power structure mouthpiece - is ridiculous and viciously cynical. If you want to save Utusan
you would hand it over to those Malays who would turn it back into that
"pinko" rag that the British distrusted all those years ago.
the non-Malays are right to fear that their private and public spaces
are going to be intruded on by the state on racial and religious policy
decisions, the Malays are right to fear the egalitarian policies would
take away their entitlements and their preferential treatment.
caveat to this last part, said preferential treatment is heavily reliant
on class. Hence, what we get are class-based resentments which have
nothing to do with actual policies and decisions, but everything to do
with corruption and governmental malfeasances. See the Tabung Haji,
Felda and other numerous scandals involving “Malay” institutions.
as one Bersatu politician told me: “Do you know what would happen if we
decreased the number of Malay participation in the various programmes
if we moved to a needs-based approach? You are a realist, Thaya, what do
you think would happen, if Malays suddenly realised they were not
getting the lion's share of everything?” There is that I suppose.
us take education for instance. I am against vernacular schools because
they do nothing to foster the kind of interactions that are needed to
form some sort of social cohesiveness in society.
the way national types schools have become mired in religiosity and
race-baiting, not to mention becoming a petri dish for all sort of
governmental policies, I can understand why non-Malays would not want
their children to be part of this system and choose the vernacular
alternative. I understand why some parents choose to privately educate
their children. Or how some parents send their children to live with
relatives so they could use the home address for one of the better
We need to openly talk about issues like race
and religion without hiding behind dodgy concepts. And it is the
progressive forces in Malaysia who should be defining the discourse, not
the political class which needs to protect the power it has
accumulated. This would explain, why non-Malay politicians have
such a hard time pushing egalitarian policies, but it would also explain
why they see political capital in the status quo remaining.
that has changed is the spin that non-Malays should buy into the social
contract because Malaysia is under new management, which is what
Harapan politicians are offering its non-Malay base now.
liberals go on about how Dong Zong or Hindraf are “racists” – something
DAP supporters used to say about Hindraf, Waythayamoorthy and
Uthayakumar, – I always wonder what planet they are on. Sure, the
polemics of race-based interests groups bother me too but to pretend
that we are not living in a country where race is embedded in nearly
every policy decision be it, social, economic or political, is far more
damaging than what mainstream Malay politics or the far right does.
non-Malay activist wrote to me in a blithering rage asking what more
does someone like Redzuan want from the Chinese community. I replied
that she was missing the point. Redzuan does not want anything more from
the Chinese community. He merely wants the Chinese community to play
the same game they did when they were supporting the MCA. He wants the
DAP to play the same role as the MCA did. He wants the status quo.
Malaysiakini : COMMENT I have said in the past
that when we need to speak up and tell our prime minister some hard
truths, we have to do so with respect.
It is true that there are
some politicians for whom we have little or no respect, but this is Dr Mahathir Mohamad, our elder statesperson who is 94 years old, not a man
of 30 or 40 whom we can whack as we please without any remorse if they
go off track. Unfortunately, of late Mahathir has been seriously vilified by Malaysians, including some of my fellow Sarawakians, rightly
or wrongly. To many, the writing is clear on the wall. His time as
prime minister is up.
In an online chat group, a friend recently
challenged me after I called for decorum in the language used against
Mahathir, asking what respect I still hold for the prime minister after
all the misgivings against him, his dictatorial decisions and for
allowing racial and religious taunts to prolong, in particular.
did not come from a politician whom we could brush aside as an
adversary, but an ordinary professional whom I know has zero political
ambition. Things are not looking rosy for Mahathir indeed. I only
have sympathy for the grand old man. Surely, a man of 94 should be
spared such animosity and spite, hate even. My worry is that the longer
Mahathir stays on in the job, the worse it will be for him. Only Mahathir himself can decide whether he wishes to be spared more public attacks, ridicule and misery.
is my beef with Mahathir now? His statement on Friday that the 'Sabah
for Sabahans' and 'Sarawak for Sarawakians' mentality was unhealthy, adding that everyone should think of themselves as Malaysians and not individual territories. "We
may live in Sabah, Sarawak, or on the peninsula, (but) we are
Malaysians and we talk like Malaysians," he had said, stating his
I’m sorry, but I have to express my disapproval too,
for the slogans were coined for good reason. The prime minister must
practise what he preaches. Mahathir is the one who has to lead by
example by thinking that he is a Malaysian first and not a Malayan. If
he thinks that the 'Sabah for Sabahans' and 'Sarawak for Sarawakians'
mentality is unhealthy, then the prime minister must also discard his
'Malaysia for Malayans' mentality.
For 56 long years, it has all
been about Malaya and worse, that only the interests of Malayans of a
certain race were given priority. It has reached a point where Sabahans
and Sarawakians just did not feel a sense of belonging in Malaysia. The
'Malaysia for Malayans' mentality is not only unhealthy, but also
dangerous in a multiracial and multireligious country like ours because
Mahathir is the nation’s powerful chief executive.
The recent pronouncement by Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (photo)
that 'Malaysia is for Malays' cuts a deeper wedge, especially when the
prime minister did not tick off the mufti for his racially stinging
remark. What about Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin’s 'I
am Malay first, Malaysian second' declaration some years ago? No one
So, I have to ask Mahathir to spare us his sermons of
thinking like Malaysians when he did not bother to tell others the same
thing in the past. Please, don’t preach to Sabahans and Sarawakians now.
It smacks of double standards. It is even hollow.
disappointing that an elder statesperson like Mahathir is still unable
to see the growing disillusionment among Sabahans and Sarawakians
against many of his 'one-man' policies, both past and present.
recent example is his decision to set up Bersatu branches in Sabah and
Sarawak, even against the wishes of Pakatan Harapan allies in the Borneo
territories. Don’t blame the people of Sabah and Sarawak for
feeling that Mahathir’s desire is to see Malayan parties in control of
their homeland. The powerful Bersatu chairperson has insisted that his
party must have a presence in the Borneo territories even when support
Because to a leader like Mahathir, Malaya must always be in charge.
Sabah and Sarawak will have to take and follow instructions from Malaya.
This is something we resent and will no longer tolerate.
way, the 'Sabah for Sabahans' and 'Sarawak for Sarawakians' slogans are
our way of telling Malaya that we have had enough of playing second
fiddle for the past 56 years. We have to chart our own destiny now, with
or without Malaya’s approval or support. If Mahathir really wants
Sabahans and Sarawakians to have a sense of belonging in Malaysia, he
should know what to do first – stop pushing us against the wall.
As it is today, Malaya has many issues to resolve. The controversies surrounding Zakir Naik, khat, Dong Zong, Selangor conversion bill and the sex video are all Malaya’s creations. We
do not have such problems in Sabah and Sarawak. Those are Malaya’s
issues to resolve so don’t burden Sabah and Sarawak with them.
fact, if Mahathir and other Malayan leaders were able to think and act
like Malaysians, we would not have to face such disturbing issues of
race and religion in the first place. Who is responsible for
perpetuating and prolonging them? Why is the most powerful man in the
country today dilly-dallying in putting an end to these contentious
issues once and for all?
And that is my way of telling our grand old man some hard truths with the utmost respect.
The last thing DAP or Harapan needs is a gag order - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Malaysiakini : “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying
and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of
morbid symptoms appear.”
– Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks
COMMENT | You know what the real crisis in Harapan is? The fact that more Pakatan Harapan politicians do not speak up. If DAP members follow the “internal memo”
by Lim Kit Siang urging them to voice their grievances through the
proper channels – especially when these concern other coalition partners
– this would sound its death knell.
of this is optics. As a political party which has accused the MCA of
being “running dogs” for their Malay partners, the sight of your own
members mewling in the corner does not look good. Better to yap in the
open even if it means getting return fire than becoming what you claimed
would never happen to DAP.
Secondly, it is cathartic. The people
who voted for Harapan wanted change. They were told that this could
happen even though the coalition was partnering with the main architect
of old Malaysia. When theGrand Poohbahstarts acting up, the sight of politicians putting up a fight is exactly what a dejected base needs.
when DAP central executive committee member Ronnie Liu, for instance,
warns of creeping Mahatharism, and gets blowback from Bersatu members,
or when Klang MP Charles Santiago (photo) – who like Second
Deputy Penang Chief Minister P Ramamsamy is becoming the conscience of
Harapan – does a very public tango with the old maverick, this is a good
It means that there are politicians in Harapan who want a New Malaysia as opposed to a Neo-Malaysia. In
fact, this is what is keeping the Harapan flame alive, which is slowly
sputtering out. Some people ask what is going on with Harapan. The
answer is simple. That manifesto which some people want to burn is not worth the paper it is printed on. Nobody
really had a plan – if the old maverick is to be believed – because
they did not believe they could win. So all those reforms that everyone
bought into – including this writer, who not only endorsed Mahathir but
also Harapan – have only ourselves to blame.
But this does not mean that the game is over. You can still reform the system even though you did not think you would win. The
problem is that politicians who want to do something are being stymied
by those who are afraid to drain the swamp and worry about the return of
Umno. Don't they realise that they are slowly replacing Umno with Umno?
of this was the political narrative and take-no-prisoners dialectic of
the then-Harapan opposition. Where everything the Umno regime did was
going to destroy Malaysia, and post-election the narrative has been
“well maybe not really destroy Malaysia, especially if we can work it
out” type ploys that has angered a vocal section of the base.
Take the Lynas backpedalling, for instance. Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (photo),
after jumping on the Lynas bandwagon, says this about the extension –
"Isn't that enough to tell you that we gave a chance to Lynas to improve
and fulfil the conditions?”
Really? Can you imagine if Kok had said this before the election? Maybe
saying something like this, putting forward a nuanced argument would
have mitigated the feelings of betrayal that some people have about
Lynas. Instead, the Harapan opposition implied that the Najib regime was
complicit in the possible deaths of Malaysians due to radioactive
So bravo to those seven DAP members – Lee Chin Chen
(Bilut), Young Syefura Othman (Ketari), Kamache Doray Rajoo (Sabai),
Chow Yu Hui (Tras), Chiong Yoke Kong (Tanah Rata), Woo Chee Wan
(Mentakab) and Leong Yu Man (Triang) – who did the right thing and spoke
truth to power.
At least if the mandarins in Putrajaya do not
want to fulfil their commitments, there are DAP members who are making
their stand clear. This is important. Maybe it will not change
anything and God knows, the next racial and religious provocations will
push broken promises to the background, but at least people who vote for
the DAP still have some hope that there are politicians in the party
who will honour what they say they will do.
Whatever your view of
Lynas, what Bentong MP Wong Tack is doing is correct. Holding the
government of the day – one that he is a part of – to account. The
only way out of this for Harapan is to admit that their propaganda on
Lynas was wrong, and to work with detractors to correct whatever dangers
this project brings to Malaysia and be transparent in the process.
of this is the supporters of the old maverick who jumped on board
Harapan and now want things to go back to how it used to be. The
so-called power sharing formula, which was not really about sharing but
was in reality about acquiescence.
The role the MCA used to play
with Umno. The narrative that non-Malays should be grateful that they
have a place in this country and it is always about compromise, which
means the non-Malays have to step aside and play along to the greater
agenda of keeping the Malays in a single party through various social
and economic policies.
R Nadeswaran in his last column wrote,
“We, the people, wait for the answers with bated breath”. This is the
question to ask. When politicians state their stand, either because they
are forced to or because of their principles, they are answering the
questions the rakyat is asking.
Asking people to conform to party
politics or party discipline is what screwed up old Malaysia and it is
what is screwing up New Malaysia. If the best thing that this New
Malaysia has to offer is that politicians are bucking party politics
and not toeing the establishment line and voicing what the rakyat who
voted for them want of a new Malaysia, this would be one of the better
moments of the Harapan regime.
It is unproductive laying the blame
squarely on Mahathir. In fact, this is what the MCA and MIC did, with S
Samy Vellu in an interview with Malaysiakini going so far as to say that the old maverick made unilateral decisions and did not give a damn about the cabinet.
is important is that politicians stand up to him and what they believe
in. Asking people to channel their grievances through proper channels is
exactly what the old maverick wants. This is a stratagem from the Old
My advice to politicians from Harapan who want
to create a new Malaysia or at the very least plant the seeds of a new
Malaysia, is do not be quiet. Be vocal about it even if it means going
against the party and the government. This is especially important for
the younger elected representatives of Harapan.
Don’t worry about losing elections. That’s beyond your control and the fact is, you thought you would lose the last election. Maybe
if you did something, young people or people who had never bothered to
vote before, would feel inspired to vote, instead of thinking nothing
Besides the political terrain for the moment means
that power would be disused, and who knows if the far right can organise
anything beyond marching in the streets because of the blunders the
Harapan government makes and not the by any strategic brilliance of the
Do not worry about offending your coalition partners.
Do you think Bersatu Youth cares if it offends its coalition partners or
disrupts the grassroots and activists that political parties use? If
they are doing something that you believe is Old Malaysia, do not be
sucked into that mess.
In other words, speak up for Malaysians who voted for you and not just your political party.
Zakar Naik a clear and present danger - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Malaysiakini : “A liar is always lavish of oaths.” - Pierre Corneille
| Let us get one thing out of the way. The non-issue with Zakir Naik,
the alleged money-launderer and religious instigator, is that he and his
supporters believe that his freedom of speech (and theirs) trumps the
non-Muslim’s freedom of speech in this country. This is par for the
course in this country.
The real danger this English-speaking
religious provocateur presents to this country is that he could
radicalise a specific class of racial and religious provocateurs,
galvanise the far-right and influence Malay power structures into acting
against the interests of the country in the name of religious
In numerous articles, I have elaborated on the
phenomenon of “external” religious agents of influence whose agenda is
to undermine “native” Islamic practices in the service of disparate
Islamic groupings intent on establishing some sort of Islamic caliphate
in the region. The use of proxies and other “useful idiots” – a Russian
term – is well-known and well-documented.
defence journals, non-partisan think-tanks and the collation of
reportage by independent journalists, not to mention the pronouncement
of radical Islamists, indicate that Southeast Asia is the new theatre
of operations for radical Islamic groups. This is beyond dispute.
since Zakir Naik was given refuge in this country, he has meddled in
the politics of this country, furthered racial and religious divisions,
opportunistically sided with Muslim power groups in this country and
furthered nativist narratives meant to ferment dissatisfaction in
non-Muslims communities and goad them into a confrontation with
Malay/Muslim power structures.
When challenged on this, Zakir Naik
engages in sophistry, fabulations and lying to deflect from the fact
that his words and actions are designed to spread a particular type of
Islam which are at odds with the norms of this country. He has been
aided and abetted by Malay political power structures who have used him
to further narratives that appeal to certain sections of the
Malay/Muslim community who believe that Islam is under siege in this
Keep this in mind. This is a country
where we are still absorbing the fact that pastor Raymond Koh and social
activist Amri Che Mat have been taken by the state – see the Suhakam
conclusion. This is a country where religious-political operatives
demonise liberals, the LGBTQ community, Christians and Chinese education
groups as a threat to Islam.
this political and religious terrain, the authorities let Zakir Naik
wander around, a religious zealot who has said that some apostates
deserve the death penalty. In questioning the religious agenda of Pakatan Harapan when it comes to Zakir Naik, I wrote
– “These days, it would seem when it comes to these types of
provocations, the ruling establishment is silent. Since Harapan took
over, we have had provocateurs at Kampung Manjoi, a prime minister
hopeful telling us not to spook the Malays, a mufti telling a deputy
chief minister of a state to leave the country if he loses a rigged
debate and of course, a Malay politician threatened with death because
of the fake news that she wants to destroy an Islamic institution.”
of Zakir Naik, and they are a legion, have attempted to paint – as
usual – opposition to his vile rhetoric as attacks against Islam. The
fact that this supposed religious confab
in Perlis has the likes of Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and Vinod Kalimath,
both Naik loyalists and converts to Islam, points to the tone of these
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin in asking the organisers of the Perlis event to drop
Zakir Naik (for his own good) qualifies his objections because of
people with “ill intent”. Now, this is a religious operative who has
said horrible things about democratically-elected representatives who
have spoken out against Zakir Naik, hence his words should be taken for
what they are.
While I am a proponent of free speech, kudos to Perlis police chief Noor Mushar who said
that Zakir Naik was welcome in Perlis but he could not give speeches
willy-nilly without informing the security apparatus because, "We are a
multiracial country and the sensitivities of others have to be taken
A couple of months ago I asked
the DAP why they wanted a friend like Asri - “The finance minister is
meeting with a religious leader who, when he was chiding the DAP for not
making its stand clear on P Ramasamy who was accused of being a
supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), said: 'I could
also see this hate and anti-Islam (sentiment) in Ramasamy, which is a
trait of the LTTE.'”
My article got a response
from Syahredzan Johan, Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary, babbling on
about how "New Malaysia" is about building bridges and reaching out to
those who you may disagree with. How is that working out for the DAP,
Syahredzan? Those cheap words by political operatives babbling on
about "New Malaysia", seems reprehensible considering that Zakir Naik
loyalist Asri is backing the plays of an alleged money-launderer and
racial and religious provocateur like Zakir Naik, who lodged police reports against non-Muslim government ministers for doing the job they were democratically elected to carry out.
I have no idea what kind of “grilling”
was taking place in Bukit Aman when Zakir Naik was summoned to answer
questions. It is obvious that he has run afoul of laws that restrict
certain kind of speech in this country. If a non-Muslim had said what
Zakir Naik said, would there be any doubt of the outcome?
that is the question, right? Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed has
said that Zakir Naik’s permanent resident status is dependent on the outcome of police investigations. Exactly
how there could be any other outcome beyond the fact that he did say
those words, has a history of denigrating other religions, has a history
of attacking the non-Muslims in this country and generally causing
trouble everywhere he goes? What else could the state security apparatus
come up with except to toe the Zakir Naik line and claim he was
misquoted or misunderstood?
Remember this is a man who the religious czar of this country, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, found “inspiring”.
Zakir Naik is a man who has made a career of making anti-Semitic
statements and proclamations that it is better to support a corrupt
Muslim leader than a law-abiding non-Muslim leader. This is inspiring to
Harapan should expel Zakir Naik from Malaysia. I say
this not as someone who is offended by his speech. I have heard it all
before from the natives of this country. This is a preacher who
could radicalise middle-class English-speaking Muslims who would commit
acts of violence because they believe that Islam is under threat from
the non-Muslims in this country and weak Muslim leadership.
Neither Mahathir nor Kit Siang are villains - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Broken Promises By Lying Scumbag Politicians
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | Racism and religious
bigotry will continue to dominate our life while top leaders weaken the
nation with scandals, corruptions and mismanagement. – Liew Chin Tong
claiming that the “khat” fiasco is the worst crisis the DAP is facing
since GE 14, and blaming it on a “post-truth” milieu, what Chin Tong is
doing is relying on misdirection, instead of getting to the root of the
problem. Attempting to paint Sin Chew and Utusan as Malaysia’s version of Fox news is the kind of post-truth rhetoric that is getting the DAP into trouble.
do not get to play the “post-truth” card when you have the prime
minister of Malaysia claiming that the Harapan manifesto was just an
empty campaign promise because Harapan believed they could not win. You
do not get to play the post-truth card, when you have backpedaled on so
many issues, which before the election were touted as the kind of issues
that would save Malaysia.
Liew is misdirecting again when he
claims that the folks with “contrarian” views on the khat issue, are
branded as traitors to the ethnic cause. You cannot have a contrarian
view when the view is the establishment view. People who think that khat
is a great idea are not positioning themselves as contrarian. They are
supporting the Establishment. The people who do not think that khat is a
great idea, who apparently have very little say on the matter, are the
ones with the contrarian view.
conflating the DAP base with the rest of Malaysia – which means that a
majority of Malays think that khat is a great idea – and they fall into
line with the liberal intelligentsia who cannot help themselves, but
write about how wonderful khat or Jawi is.
MCA are the ones with the contrarian view (when it comes to the Chinese
community) when they were supplanted by the DAP, which just goes to
show you the DAP's inability to get a grip on pushing a narrative.
course, facts matter. But it is not the definitional arguments of what
is khat or what is Jawi is, but rather the fact that the Establishment
view dismisses the view that khat (in Malaysia) has anything to do with
religion, despite evidence to the contrary.
Does this mean that
people who learn khat will suddenly convert? Of course not. It merely
means that some politicians cannot bring themselves to concede that this
has a religious component to it, and would rather bamboozle people into
thinking that this is merely a secular educational directive.
about all of that. What is important is not that the base is divided
over khat, but rather that khat has become the flash point for all the
backtracking and backpedaling that Harapan has engaged in, and for which
the DAP has become the target because they were the loudest proponents
The problem with partisan politics is its Manichean
worldview that allows politicians to get away with almost anything.
Pointing to the competing narratives of who is painting who as the
villain, is one such example of this worldview.
It is not the
press which is painting Mahathir or Kit Siang as villains, but rather
the base and its Pavlovian response of wanting heroes and villains
because it is easier than acknowledging that they voted into this mess.
is certainly not a villain because he and Bersatu, we were told, were
needed for the Malay vote. Mahathir gets to play the race card because
the power brokers in Harapan wanted him to play the race card because it
was to their advantage.
What people should be asking, is why
these same politicians who claimed they could control Mahathir, are not
doing so now? Why are they just letting the old maverick do his thing?
Before the election that brought Harapan into power, various politicians
from Harapan assured everyone that they could “control” Mahathir. Now
when Mahathir does what he does, politicians wonder why some people
think Mahathir is the villain.
The far right have always believed
that Kit Siang is the villain, but the reason why he is getting into
trouble now is not because he supports khat, but because he chooses to
support it in a disingenuous manner. Saying Malaysians are distrustful
of each other does not work when the sensitivities and cultural
attitudes of the majority community have to be accepted, while the
minorities cannot make the same claim.
That is the real issue. Not
the far right, not the so-called deep state, not unknown political
conspirators, but rather the fact that Harapan – the DAP – is not
reacting proactively to issues which they claimed would save the
country, but rather recycling BN era policies and being shocked when
some people reject those policies.
What are the non-Malay
ministers or deputy ministers doing in their ministries? Looking over
past BN policies and attempting to replicate them? The new improved BTN.
The new improved khat lessons. The new improved Lynas deal. The new
improved China deals. The new improved BRIM and other BN era
Part of this was the ludicrous way
Harapan framed the discourse before the election, but what is important
is that certain reforms could have been carried out immediately, but
instead Harapan backtracked. This is a stupid strategy.
Harapan had carried out serious reforms instead of backtracking and
backpedaling. Do you think that this khat fiasco would have blown up?
People would have given the DAP, Harapan and Mahathir the benefit of the
doubt because Harapan would have had a track record of actually
carrying out serious reforms.
If Harapan had a track record of
carrying out reforms – something which they could have done very early
on – when this khat issue cropped up, nobody would say anything because
with ICERD, the Rome statute, and the repeals and amendments of various
acts and the start of needs based entitlements programmes, the Harapan
government would have banked in goodwill that would have sustained
them, instead of what is happening now, which is tiresome
The DAP continues to mischaracterize khat as
something borne out of the cauldron of post-truth media, or that people
who oppose it are factually incorrect or that opposition to khat makes
you racially and religiously insensitive to the sensitivities of the
coalition, all of which makes a certain segment of the base distrust the
DAP even more.
If Dong Zong raised this issue in a post-reform
milieu, people would have just rolled their eyes and got on with
whatever capitalist endevours they were engaged in. Instead people got
spooked when they were told not to spook the Malays, they got riled up
with the red meat of the 1MDB scandal, they cheered and than jeered
whenever the old maverick went up against the royalty or when he
unilaterally backtracked on something that was supposed to save
Malaysia. Mostly though, they begun to wonder what they signed up for.
know why some people get angry? It is because no attempt is made to
seriously reform the system, and the people who want change are made to
look like the ones causing problems.
'Running dog' narrative returns to bite DAP - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 12, 2019
Malaysiakini : "Either Umno and the police are covering up an impending terror attack, or MCA is making things up
to scare non-Muslims into submission. The most concerning problem
before us is that senior officials from the same ruling coalition are
telling two conflicting stories to justify a policy decision that runs
against the grain of the Malaysian social fabric, and is severely
dividing our society. It is no wonder that there is a deficit of trust
and confidence in government institutions."– Howard Lee, DAP Youth chief
DAP’s scorched earth policy when it comes to MCA was always a dubious
strategy. Recent events have demonstrated that in the same position,
DAP espouses the same kind of rhetoric and manoeuvrings that MCA was
2012, when debating MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek, DAP
secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claimed: “We should not bow to fate and
have the right to equality. We should not kneel and beg. We should be
brave enough to stand and ask for it.”
The implication being that
under MCA, the Chinese community – the non-Malay communities – were
begging for scraps from the Umno dining table, and that under DAP
stewardship, non-Malays would have political leaders who would demand
their rights as accorded in the constitution, unlike the supine nature
of MCA politics.
Even back in the days before the dream of
Putrajaya was even on the table, the political warfare between DAP and
MCA – a dog-eat-dog fight, if you will – was an indication of the
shape of things to come.
Looking back at the debate, it was more a debate about realpolitik and false expectations.
DAP had bragging rights on the management of Penang and their
performance in Selangor – again depending on who you ask – MCA’s history
of nation-building, the kind which involved managing expectations,
compromise and yes, complicity, became a big juicy target for a mob
fueled by ahistorical polemics, ready for a change of leadership, even
if it meant non-Malay leadership. Last March, I wrote about how the MCA-DAP rivalry was merely fueling anti-Chinese sentiment.
political parties have this delusion that they are independent
operators. They are not. They are in reality proxies for Malay power
structures, with varying degrees of public and private influence within
"To believe otherwise, would be delusional. While
it is easy to paint MCA as running dogs of Umno, the same could be said
of DAP, who have had to bend over backwards to accommodate the return
of Dr Mahathir Mohamad into the opposition ranks."
political narrative post-May 9 has been one of backpedalling, reversals,
sycophancy and Orwellian doublespeak, because the weight of expectation
collided with the realpolitik of Malay rule.
something MCA had learned over the decades, and which was something that
DAP managed to navigate in state politics extremely well. But
ultimately, the lure of federal power meant that whatever “good”
intentions the coalition had withered away in the face of the old
maverick’s take no prisoners, make no apologies strongman political
Years of demonising MCA as a 'running dog' for the
establishment should have been a lesson for DAP, but now they are slowly
learning the cost of doing business with Malay power structures on a
When some non-Malay Harapan partisans tell people who demand
reform to not rock the Harapan boat – much like how Lim told non-Malays
that they do not need to “beg” – it is exactly the same position MCA
was when it was balancing expectations in the BN coalition.
DAP never gave MCA the benefit of this excuse, and neither should anyone who believes in a New Malaysia. We
are always told if we do not support Harapan, then former premier Najib
Abdul Razak will return, but there are worse things than a kleptocrat,
and corruption is something we have been through, especially during the
first Dr Mahathir Mohamad era.
Have you noticed that what MCA was
blamed for – the dereliction of its duties when it came to important
social, economic and political policies – are now termed as
“distractions” by some partisans. These are not traps, distractions or sandiwara, but rather the gestalt of a functional democracy.
affect the economy. Najib, before he slipped into a kleptocratic
stupor, understood this, which is why he "cast himself as a moderniser
who would roll back the privileges that have deterred investment and
alienated minority Chinese and ethnic Indians. He has also pledged to
base government assistance more strongly on needs than on race.
"But those plans have largely failed to advance due to stiff resistance from within the ruling, ethnic Malay Umno.” Who
was the prime mover in Umno during that time? What we are talking about
here when it comes to the reform agenda – which DAP championed and
which it claimed MCA was not up to the task to carry out, and which
ultimately was connected to bread and butter issues?
national car, backtracking on Lynas, backtracking on egalitarian
policies, backpedalling on institutional reforms, be it the state
security apparatus or local council elections – all this is connected to
the economic ecosphere and not some pie in the sky distractions, which
some would have you believe.
These days, the people are left
wondering if DAP will cave when it comes to important policies issues
because since May 9, all they seem interested in doing is justifying the
policies of the government, even if it goes against their campaign
manifesto or more damning, their positions before the election.
DAP political operatives tell me that their Malay counterparts are not
picking up the slack. Really? Did DAP allow MCA this luxury?
When Bersatu youth demands the resignation of Penang Second Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy (photo)
– because the young boy minister does not have the cojones to demand it
himself – we should realise we are heading back to familiar political
territory. What was the response of DAP and its
partisans when that happened? How many times did Umno Youth demand the
resignation of an MCA member for not toeing the line?
Lim claims DAP is not taking the non-Malay vote for granted, but he offers up feeble excuses for the khat controversy,
stood by while Harapan power structures abandoned International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
says nothing of the moves made by the religious czar of Harapan when it
comes to Islamic policies, and generally lays the blame on the former
regime for mistakes and missteps that DAP makes.
How long is DAP
going to coast on the 1MDB issue? How long is DAP going to coast on the
excuse that it would take years to fix the problems of this country?
This last point was not made before the election.
How long is DAP going to rely on partisans who are willing to cut them slack because anything is better than Najib? MCA took decades to become a 'running dog'. How long will it take DAP?
Here is why some people are Islamophobic - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, August 10, 2019
Malaysiakini : “Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.” ― Sam Harris, 'The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason'
COMMENT | As expected, I received the usual attack text messages and emails for my article on the khat fiasco. I am often accused of being anti-Malay and suffering from Islamophobia. These attacks, mostly ad hominem
in nature, are now coming from non-Malays, people who before the
historic May 9 win supported the points I made about the racial and
religious discourse when it was directed against the Najib regime but
now they warn me against rocking the Pakatan Harapan boat.
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said that he believes that the opposition against khat was grounded in a phobia about Islam. My question is, can Muslims understand why some people are Islamophobic?
The recent close encounter
in Selangor with unilateral conversion demonstrates that religion –
Islam – continues to be weaponised in the Harapan regime - something we
were told would cease under the new management.
I am not
interested in the political manoeuvrings behind this latest provocation
against non-Muslims but what I am interested in addressing in this piece
is the reality that the phobia against Islam in this country is
justified and like it or not, it falls on the DAP to maintain the
secular line when it comes to religious provocations.
warn non-Malay political operatives in private and in my articles that
they should remain strictly secular and not trespass into the domain of
Islam because they need to be a line in the sand when it comes to
mainstream Muslim politics in this country. My advice was not
welcome and the Kool-aid was dispensed and we have a large segment of
non-Muslims engaging in the “true Muslim” meme as I defined here.
other words, a ‘true’ Muslim as defined by those who have been on the
receiving end of Umno-influenced Islam all these years, is a Muslim who
conforms to the political and social conventions of the so-called
moderate stance espoused by Pakatan Rakyat.”
Having said that, a big shout-out to the DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo for his rejoinder on the Selangor DAP’s no-nonsense stand over the issue of state legislative assembly speaker Ng Suee Lim for doing what he did when public reports and my snooping around confirm that he was under extreme pressure. Kudos to Lim Guan Eng for making the stand of the party clear and unambiguous on this issue and defending the Selangor DAP.
national organising secretary Anthony Loke meanwhile should consider
growing some cajones because this issue is not a Selangor DAP issue but
which has consequences for every non-Muslim in this country. Just say
"no comment" instead of engaging in weaselly deflections if you don't
want to make a stand on an issue.
The MCA deserves credit, too, with MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er getting to the heart of the issue when she said this: "If
the Harapan state and federal governments purport to herald in a 'New
Malaysia', whereby as Malaysian citizens, we extol the values and
goodwill of multiculturalism, then enacting laws to legally permit
unilateral conversion of a minor is mala fide and breaches such values."
have argued that unilateral conversion is religious kidnapping.
However, it goes beyond that, if that was not bad enough. I made to
which I think relevant as to why claims about people having a phobia
against Islam is not only justified but I would argue that those
“phobias” are a self-defence mechanism –
“If an adult wishes to place his or herself under such obligations,
then it is their right to do so, but a parent unilaterally deciding to
convert a child without the consent of their partner is not only morally
reprehensible but should also come with legal consequences, preferably
jail time with a couple of strokes of the rotan.”
the “true Muslim” meme that is political in nature, the reality is that
a majority of Muslims believe that unilateral conversion – when it
comes to Islam – is justified. Exploring environs beyond partisan echo
chambers reveal connective tissue between Islamic policymaking and a vox populi of Muslim social media.
Harapan Malay/Muslim political operatives claim an issue like
unilateral conversion plays well with their base, they are probably more
right than wrong. It really does not matter if political pundits bray
about bread-and-butter issues; the reality is that for a majority of
Muslims, their religion trumps the bread-and-butter issues that connect
us all as citizens of this country regardless of race or religion.
don’t support PAS because of their brilliant economic or social
programmes; they support PAS because they believe they are the keepers
of the faith. Similarly, those who supported Umno on the basis of race
and religion did so because they believed that religion was better when
it came with entitlement programmes.
In a political terrain such
as this, is it any wonder why some folks could be termed “Islamophobic”?
Mind you, if there was a strict separation between policies which
affect Muslims and non-Muslims, and there was empirical evidence to
support such a position, then non-Malays would not have a fear of Islam.
Instead, the rules that apply to Muslims "only" have always touched
non-Muslims and defined our economic, social and political realities.
Zan Azlee in his column in Malaysiakini
arguing that Malaysia may be racists forever correctly points out the
privileged position he is in as a Malay/Muslim when it comes to
criticising race and religion. This was demonstrated when DAP veteran
Lim Kit Siang had to rely on social activist Anas Zubedy's position when asking controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik to voluntary leave this country.
too, adds to the phobia. This unfairness when it comes to fighting with
one hand tied behind your back. This handicap when it comes to
defending secular positions and the reality that if you do this, you
would not only have to contend with mainstream Malay/Muslim retaliation
but also partisans who have no interest in rocking the boat. When it comes to the racial and religious discourse in this country, I will end with my favourite Philip K Dick quote:
“This is a mournful discovery. 1. Those who agree with you are insane. 2. Those who do not agree with you are in power.”
Khat has everything to do with religion - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | “We will discuss it further, but the thing is, it is an art form,” – Wan Azizah
idea that khat has nothing to do with religion, that it is merely an
art form meant to instill some sort of “appreciation” and handwriting
skill in young children is bunkum. The government and various
politicians' rejoinders that the politicization of this issue is merely
a symptom of “old Malaysia” is in fact a tactic of Old Malaysia now
redeployed to ensure compliance from a Harapan base, with the threat
that the old Malaysia would return if certain sensitivities are not
Claiming that khat has nothing to do with religion is
mendacious. Khat and religion in this country are not mutually
exclusive. Perhaps it is elsewhere, but not in this country. Just last year, as reported in the mainstream Malay press, Jakim
intended to form a Jawi community secretariat to strengthen the writing
of Jawi in this country. One of its initiatives was to create
programmes related to Jawi and, of course, the promotion of khat.
Also last year, Pemanis (Persatuan Melayu Perlis) advocated the teaching of Jawi in preschools. Two
years ago, as reported in the mainstream Malay press, Exco Persatuan
Seni Khat Kebangsaan (PSKK) urged KDN and Jakim to enact legislation
to curb errors in khat sentences. Indeed, if one is to go online, you
will discover that there have been various “fatwas” by state religious
bodies on the proper use of khat writing in commercial products (for
example) and other (what many would consider mundane) issues.
Indeed in May this year, Jakim started collaborating with Yayasan Restu to gain expertise in the writing of khat for one of their religious diploma programmes. What is Yayaysan Restu ? From their website:
Restu Foundation was established in 1998 as a non-profit organization.
It aims to spread the message of Islam throughout the world, strengthen
the faith of Muslims and revive the field of Islamic arts. "The
Restu foundation dedicated itself to compile and record the traditional
cultural motifs of the Malays for every state in Malaysia that are
clearly influenced by the Islamic culture.”
So again, this idea
that khat has nothing to do with religion, is horse manure. Anything
the Federal religious bureaucracy gets involved with has to do with
religion. This is a fact. What is also a fact is that the
religious bureaucracy will get involved with anything if it believes it
could add a religious dimension to it. However, this should
not detract from the reality that the talking point of khat proponents
that this has nothing to do with religion, is just another attempt to
bamboozle the non-Malays.
Non-Malays are being misled into
allowing our public space – which includes the public space of Muslims
who do not subscribe to state orthodoxy – to be Islamized because the
government of the day needs to buttress its Islamic credentials.
When Lim Guan Eng (above) blames Sin Chew Jit Poh,
for stirring up non-Malay fear of khat, what does this say about Lim
Guan Eng and his eagerness to propagate an art form, which is linked
with religion and which the state actively uses to strengthen its hold
on the majority of this country ?
Harry Tan Huat Hock,
secretary-general of the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP),
claimed that the introduction of khat was to “inculcate the value of
the Malay heritage and national identity, and that issue should not be
blown out of proportion to the extent of inviting controversy “
from better handwriting, the goal post has been shifted to inculcating
the value of Malay heritage and national identity. How does learning to
write in a specific way inculcate the values Harry talks about? And why
do young children have to learn the values of Malay heritage and
Keep in mind that Malay heritage and national
identity are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, Malay heritage, despite
historical and cultural revisionism, is not based on doctrinal imports
from the House of Saud.
Mujahid Rawa (below), in a piece
expressing his devotion to Jawi, made the same claims or rather he
conflated certain concepts. He made the claim that learning Jawi is an honour for Malaysians, and the rather noxious meme that in order to be a
united Bangsa Malaysia, we would cherish Jawi as one people.
readers of my columns know I despise the Bangsa Malaysia that is passed
around, mainly by the DAP. Do you see what is happening here? Lim Kit
Siang claims that learning Jawi may have made him a better Malaysian,
and now we have Harapan’s religious czar pushing the idea that Jawi is
linked with with the concept of Bangsa Malaysia.
What happened to
ideas of secularism, egalitarianism, shared history, shared culture and
the various other non-religious building blocks that we were told was
what we should aspire to before the historic May 9th win? Those ideas do
not seem attractive to politicians who are bending over backwards to
justify ideas that they once claimed could only come from Umno/BN.
my last article I noted that learning about culture is a one-way street
in Malaysia. Whether you think that learning khat somehow strengthens
national unity, or makes you a better Malaysian, or is just a rather
innocuous government policy is not the point. The point is that
the propaganda that khat has nothing to do with religion, that khat is
somehow mutually exclusive from religion, that khat is merely about art,
is misleading and mendacious.
If it was all those things, I
believe that people would not object to it. If this country believed
that learning about each other's culture is a positive, where one
culture is not buttressed by supremacist policies, than all this would
mean nothing, and khat would be taken at face value. This is not the case here.
are free to believe that learning Jawi and khat makes you a better
Malaysian, but you are not free to propagate the idea that khat has
nothing to do with religion.
The Lynas con - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 05, 2019
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | It would be a great
loss to Malaysia if misguided people prevent us from extracting and
using the high clean electrical capacities of rare earth. Just as the
lithium ion batteries in the cellular phones is not harmful even when we
carry them everywhere in our pockets and put them to our ears, the
mining and extracting of rare earth from Malaysian earth will not harm us in any way. – Mahathir Mohamad, 2012.
She cannot even spin with a straight face
does not matter what your position is on the Lynas issue. What matters
is the fact that the Harapan government’s u-turn on Lynas makes the
anti-Lynas activists look like a bunch of dodgy environmentalist who
duped the then Harapan base with propaganda. Keep in mind the
dodgy environmentalists were supported by mendacious politicians who
jumped on the bandwagon sloganeering and making promises that shutting
down Lynas would save Malaysia.
Back in 2012 at an anti-Lynas rally in Penang , the then Penang Chief Minister led a chant of, “Henti Lynas, Selamatkan Malaysia'
(Stop Lynas, Save Malaysia). Anwar Ibrahim, now PM designate, claimed
that if the then Pakatan Rakyat won Putrajaya, they would cancel the
Lynas project and defend all environmental and heritage issues. This
was seven years ago. Since then the anti-Lynas rhetoric leading up to
the historic May 9 win became more intense. Lynas was portrayed as an
existential threat to Malaysia.
Commentary around the issue hit the
usual Harapan talking points. The talking points revolved around,
corruption, an uncaring government and that the Umno regime was intent
on committing crimes environmental and otherwise on Malaysian citizens. While
Harapan’s manifesto may have been silent on the issue, is this an
excuse for allowing Lynas to continue its operations – even if such a
decision is “kicking the can down the road” – instead of keeping
promises made by politicians on the run up to May 9, which was supposed
to not only save Malaysia but save lives?
Wong Tack (above),
whose appeal was that he was more activist than politician, rode on the
anti-Lynas wave and become part of a coalition that overthrew the Najib
regime. The Lynas issue, which for so long we were told was an
existential threat to Malaysia, became a symbol of the radioactive
nature of Umno politics that seemed to be on the verge of being settled.
government’s backtracking on this particular issue is appalling. Before
the historic May 9th win, politicians from Harapan portrayed this issue
as one of life and death. The propaganda coming out from the then
Harapan opposition painted the Umno regime as culpable for all sorts of
imagined crimes if the “radioactive” Lynas by-products infected the
citizens of Malaysia.
Now we are told that even though the
situation is less than ideal, it is preferable to the status quo.
Preferable to the status quo? Before the election, stopping Lynas meant
saving lives. What changed?
DAP Youth deputy chief Chiong Yoke
Kong is on the ball when he demands that the minutes of the cabinet
meeting be made public and the stand of each cabinet minister on this
issue be revealed. Malaysians have a right to know, which cabinet member
does not want to save Malaysia, or was just playing Harapan supporters
for fools when he or she claimed that stopping Lynas meant saving lives
and saving Malaysia.
The cynic in me wonders if DAP youth already
knows the answer to their query and are confident that what is revealed
would cause them no fallout, but why question political motives for
transparency when it comes to this issue?
It gets even more
curious when you consider the comments of Deputy Minister in the Prime
Minister's Department Fuziah Salleh who somehow finds a way to blame former BN ministers for being "deceived" by Lynas but loses the courage to name these ministers.
long is Harapan going to blame the BN regime for their backtracking and
policy failures? The real question is how come these former BN
political operatives have more influence in the Harapan government than
Harapan political operatives?
And doesn't this demonstrate the
utter failure of Harapan political operatives in containing the
influence of former Umno/BN members who we were told would be controlled
when Harapan claimed the throne of Putrajaya.
Tack, wonders if there are dark secrets about the Lynas deal that people
don’t know off. Well, yes, there very well could be some dark deals or
maybe it is just business as usual for this government. What this
government has done is make Wong Tack the poster child of the boy who
said, “As the rakyat of Malaysia Baru, the people deserve to know the
reasons if we are forced to swallow Lynas' toxic radioactive wastes and
subject our children to so many risks,” which brings up a valid point.
the historic May 9th win, Harapan accused the Najib regime of allowing
the citizens of Malaysia to be exposed to hazardous materials for
profit. This appeal to emotion was the most virulent kind of anti-Lynas
propaganda that implied that the Najib regime was so uncaring, so
corrupt that the regime was willing to sell Tanah Melayu and poison
children for profit.
The question of Wong Tack’s resignation is a
legitimate one. I think Wong Tack should resign and run as an
independent, if he believes that there are dark, secrets behind this
deal and believes what he said of Lynas before the election.
all, if he continues in his role as a politician for Harapan, he would
just be carrying on the lies of a government that claimed that the Lynas
issue was one of life and death for the good people of Kuantan.
Unless, that view was complete bunkum? Unless all the pre-election
rhetoric demonizing Lynas and its supporters were part of a propaganda
campaign against the Najib regime, and Harapan had no intention of
shutting down Lynas. This explains the earlier views of the current grand poohbah.
Alternatively, maybe Harapan politicians knew that
Lynas was not an existential threat to Malaysia and as such, Lynas
should be allowed to continue because profit trumps whatever
expectations Harapan supporters have of their elected reps. This makes
the backtracking worse because in the Harapan dominated social media;
pro-Lynas advocates were shouted down and portrayed as stooges for Lynas
and the Najib regime. Pro-Lynas advocates have argued that
numerous false claims were made against the company and that there was a
concerted effort to spin evidence and facts against the company.
Harapan politicians used Lynas to gin up a base which not only gorged
on the 1MDB fiasco, but who had no problem believing that the Najib
regime would endanger the lives of children with radioactive waste for
When Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate
Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin says that “The Cabinet has taken note of
various viewpoints on this issue, and some people have varying views.
Therefore, this is the decision that has been reached” is complete horse
I get that there could be varying views on this issue,
but what is important is the views of the Harapan government that,
before their electoral win, claimed that by shutting down Lynas this
would save lives and Malaysia.
Malaysiakini : “Keep your language. Love its sounds, its modulation, its rhythm.
But try to march together with men of different languages, remote from
your own, who wish like you for a more just and human world.” ― Helder Camara, Spiral Of Violence
| I get worked up whenever non-Malays talk about the beauty of
multiculturalism and how Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures and how
we are all 'Bangsa Malaysia'. A prime example of how all this is so much
horse manure is the khatcontroversy that has some non-Malays concerned about the influence of Malay/Muslim culture in our education system. UKM’s
Institute of Ethnic Studies Teo Kok Seong said, “This kind of attitude
shows that we have actually failed in the process of establishing a
nation of one heart and one soul.”
of course we have failed in establishing a nation of one heart and one
soul. Why? Because we have a constitution that defines us along racial
lines, a political system divided by race, a bureaucracy dominated by a
majority and political operatives who claim that the state-sanctioned
religion gives them the mandate to rule over non-Muslims who should be “pak turut”.
National laureate Lim Swee Tin claims that khat
or Jawi writing will not jeopardise one's faith. Well, of course, it
won’t. When Malay/Muslim parents send their children to Chinese
vernacular schools, have there been reports that their children’s faith
had been jeopardised? Have there been police reports that their
children's faith had been leached out of them because they mixed with
Similarly, learning this khat writing -
or whatever it is - is not going to jeopardise the faith or lack thereof
(as may be the case) of non-Malay children. But this is not really the
point, is it? What some people fear is the intrusion of culture/religion
in our supposedly secular spaces.
The question is, is this fear
legitimate? Teo said that in order for us to move forward as a nation,
“the people must be open to learning the arts and cultures of others in
order to understand their uniqueness and strength.” Here is the
thing though. Learning about culture is a one-way street in Malaysia.
The non-Malays have no choice but to learn about Malay culture while the
Malays get to retreat to a mainstream political system that claims that
their culture, their economic survival and their political system is
under threat because of the non-Malays – which generally means the
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong said
that the new Malaysia project means, “We must do it with new
assumptions, new concepts and new ideas. This applies to institutional
reforms, the economy, defence and security and culture and identity.”
what new assumptions, concepts and ideas have Pakatan Harapan
introduced when it comes to this new Malaysia project? In the short time
of Harapan rule, we have been reminded to “not spook the Malays”, reminded that the "deep state" is out to stifle reforms, Mujahid Yusof Rawa has introduced us to “compassionate Islam” and needs-based affirmative action has not been accepted as the new normal.
Liew also bemoaned that we see the 'other' as a threat. He wrote,
“Some Chinese fear that the Malay officialdom would attempt to eliminate
their cultural identity. Some Malays think that the Chinese are
scheming to dominate the Malays.”
Okay, Liew, which of those two
propositions could be backed up with evidence and actual governmental
policy? Which of those two propositions has merit and was the basis of a
people's struggle under the long Umno watch? Which of those two
propositions are a direct result of actions by state actors in the name
of race and religion which, by the way, the DAP opposed for decades?
So is opposing khat anti-Malay? People who are concerned about the introduction of khat
in our education system are merely reacting to decades of the
Islamisation process that turned an education system that was one of the
better elements of our colonial legacy into the broken, religious and
racially addled system it is today.
The real question is, why even
introduce something like this at this moment? Surely there are more
important issues in our education system that need to be addressed? Even
in this was not a cultural issue, is good handwriting a priority when
it comes to educating our young people? What possible benefit could the
introduction of khat into our education system have beyond the pabulums espoused by certain non-Muslim intellectuals?
this has become a minor skirmish in a culture war that the Harapan
government should not engage in. It also demonstrates that when it comes
to anything to do with the Malay/Muslim culture, the normally
boisterous political operatives in DAP have suddenly become mute (the
grassroots-level of political operatives of the party exempted, of
course). If this was something that the BN regime had done, you could
imagine the controversy it would have generated.
supporters of Bersatu are quick to condemn non-Malays when they speak up
on the very issues which were political currency for Malay political
operatives before the historic May 9 win.
This idea that speaking up on “non-Malay” issues would rock the Harapan boat is prevalent in social media. When
it comes to the culture war, the non-Malays lost a long time ago. The
reality is that people who speak up on issues like these are like
soldiers who skulk around in jungles not realising the war is over.
Don't look to non-Malay political operatives in Harapan to oppose such measures. They are now part of the problem.