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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 theirrelevancy 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
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.
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,” saidUtusan 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.