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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Pastor's abduction: An unexpected lead or inconvenient questions? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Malaysiakini : “A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of green paper.”
- Derrick Jensen, 'Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilisation'

COMMENT | I did not want to write about this new development in the Pastor Koh abduction case but seeing as how the state security apparatus is unusually forthcoming about the progress of the investigation, it would seem that speculation is warranted, especially since the IGP has released extremely sensitive information about the case.
When I wrote about this case a couple of months ago, what I did was an attempt to make sense of the case and the way how the state security apparatus was investigating this case. Like many people, I was asking questions that are only asked when the state security apparatus is suffering from credibility issues.
I made two points in that article:
(1) “What I do know is that this is atypical for a kidnapping in Malaysia. I have no idea why the state security apparatus was slow to acknowledge this. The literature of kidnappings in Malaysia is clear-cut. Personal and financial motives are the norm, and ransom paying as the means of resolution is commonplace.”
(2) “Why do I get the feeling that the kidnapping of this individual is just another symptom and that nobody is interested in addressing the cause? I may be wrong, and there is ample evidence in my opinion pieces that I never had a problem in publicly stating when I have been wrong, but this case reeks of something sinister.”
Why would the IGP release details of the case to the general public before informing the family of Pastor Koh? To be fair I have no idea if they have informed the family, but one would assume that they would inform the family as part of the investigation by interviewing the family and associates of Pastor Koh if there had been any contact between the members of this syndicate and the abducted pastor.
Secrecy would be crucial as to not to alert other members of this syndicate and to preserve evidence obtained from suspects and other persons of interests of this new development. By alerting the public to this new development, members of the syndicate would learn that they have been compromised, that evidence linking them to a specific high profile crime has been discovered and that associates of theirs have been arrested by the state.
This is perhaps one of the most high-profile cases in Malaysian history. Though the authorities would deny it there are racial and religious overtones to this case because of the way how political parties have gone after Christians especially Christian evangelicals. Rumours are swirling of not only Pastor Koh but also how the state has handled this case and the manner in which the pastor was abducted.
By revealing information that the Pastor was under surveillance by this syndicate and the license plate of the vehicle the pastor was driving when he was abducted, the state seems to be laying the ground work that these are not merely “leads” but a breakthrough in the case. Again if you are building a case, why release such information and compromise the case.
Apparently the most important leads – the license plate and photos – were retrieved after the shooting from the house of the suspect. This begs the question if these syndicate members were on the radar of the state security apparatus for major crimes then why were they not aware that this syndicate was surveilling a pastor in a major city?
If the implication is that Pastor Koh is in some way involved with this syndicate, then why is it that the Pastor was not himself on the radar of the security apparatus, who were apparently aware of the criminal activities of this group?
In other words, a syndicate which had been on the radar of not one, but two special crime divisions of the state security apparatus managed to in broad daylight, carry out a kidnapping in a high-risk environment, all without the knowledge of the special crime units assigned to investigate them?
We are talking about major crimes here, and if the Pastor was either somehow connected with this group or was a target of this group, then surely the state security apparatus would have some inkling as to who kidnapped pastor Koh and why.
As it is, by releasing this evidence all it does is throw up more questions not only on Pastor Koh – which is unwarranted because the man cannot defend himself against rumours – but more importantly on the conduct of the state security apparatus when it comes to dealing with criminal syndicates.
The release of this information is detrimental because it creates two narratives that do nothing for the peace and stability of this country, which is what the state security apparatus is supposed to maintain.
The first narrative is that Pastor Koh is in some way connected to this syndicate. People who are willing to buy into this narrative will use it as a means of further demonising the Christian community and wallowing in the kind of stereotyping that is part of the toxic religious discourse in this country.
The fact that the pastor cannot defend himself against such allegations and it left to his grieving family to possibly counter the rumours spread by interested parties further muddies the waters in this case.
As it is the alternative media, social media and various groups have been turning up the rhetoric when it comes to this case. The only way to counter these claims is to carry out the investigation in a professional manner and have the public relations department of the PDRM in close contact with Pastor Koh's family and correct any misconceptions in a credible manner.
The second narrative is that the state security apparatus is part of a sinister conspiracy – is there any other kind ?– in the abduction of the pastor, in fact, the IGP “warned” people not to spread these falsehoods in one of the press conferences of the abduction.
The reality is that by their own words and deeds the state security apparatus has diminished their credibility and volunteering such sensitive information about an ongoing high-profile investigation merely adds fuel to the fire of the various conspiracy theories floating about in social media.
Ultimately even when the case is solved, people will retreat to these two narratives because of the way how the state security apparatus handled this case.
The IGP was wrong to release such information. He does a disservice to the investigation and to the PDRM but more importantly, he does a disservice to the family involved.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 7:09 PM   0 comments
Lo and behold, PM Najib’s Emergency rule By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Quintus: People should know when they are conquered.
Maximus: Would you, Quintus? Would I?”- ‘Gladiator’

COMMENT | De facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that if BN loses by a small margin, “The bullies in BN would be ready to create instability.”
Let us get something out of the way first. The only political party in BN that has the means and ways of creating instability is Umno and Umno has never been shy of playing the bully in Malaysian politics. Therefore, if any political party is going to declare emergency rule it is not going to be the BN alliance but rather Umno.
The former Umno strongman does not make flippant comments. He does not just throw things out there to get a rise. Everything he says or does is carefully considered and made with the intention of fulfilling his agenda.
I have made it clear that I do not consider the recent corruption allegations the existential threat facing Malaysia. I wager that if “bangsa” and “agama” did not corrupt the Malaysian system, most Malaysians would give someone like Prime Minister Najib Razak a free pass. He would be given this pass because in the words of Malaysiakini columnist Josh Hong reminding us that naysaying is not enough, “for all its flaws, Malaysia remains a prosperous, relatively efficient and economically vibrant country.”
Mahathir makes the case with his examples of voter fraud, compromised electoral system and vote buying, that even if the opposition wins by a small margin, they would eventually lose, because the Umno hegemon has no intention of ceding the political battlefield to the victors.
In any other civilised country, when a former prime minister makes such an extraordinary claim, the current prime minister, his cabinet and political allies would rebut the claim. They would assure the citizens of their country, that they would abide by the democratic process and that the rule of law and principles of democracy would ensure a smooth transition of power.
This is not the case in Malaysia. The Najib regime has made no comment and indeed the racial and religious rhetoric has escalated to the point that the Umno establishment has enacted laws that would give them legal authority to rule in emergency until such time that they feel confident enough to resume the facade of democracy in this country.
There is no point talking about the 1MDB scandal as if the current regime has any intention of conforming to democratic norms because scandals such as these depend on institutional integrity and voting demographics that, regardless of partisanship, hold politicians accountable for their deeds in office.
In my piece ‘Malaysian Official 1 should resign but won’t’, I wrote - “Najib loyalists are wallowing in the fact that Najib’s authoritarian measures ensure his political stability because there are no democratic or legitimate means to oust him from office. What is left is the internal mechanism of Umno which has been greased by the ‘cash is king’ dictum.”
While I have argued that we are a state in failing, what the former prime minister makes clear is that ultimately our votes really do not matter. I suppose we are a fascist state in making. In fact, I made this argument last year - ‘Umno and the fascist state’ - inspired by a piece by Peter Bergen who in looks to Robert Paxton’s ‘The anatomy of fascism’ to find out if the newly-minted US president had fascist tendencies.
To recap, here are the five points from the Paxton model that I used to describe the fascist Najib/Umno regime -
1) “A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of traditional solutions.”
2) “The superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason.”
3) “The belief of one group that it is the victim, justifying any action.”
4) “The need for authority by natural leaders (always male) culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.”
5) “The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will when they are devoted to the group's success.”
‘The end is near’
So yes, in all probability if by some miracle - and I say “miracle” because I do think the Najib regime will “win” in this upcoming general election - if the opposition does manage to take Putrajaya, Umno will not concede and most probably fulfil the former prime minister’s prophecy. It is not as if this regime has not been laying the groundwork for such an eventuality.
The reality is that late last year, the current Umno grand poohbah introduced himself as Chairman Najib with the National Security Council (NSC) Act and nobody seemed too concerned. While I argued that the NSC Act would have far deeper implications for the future of this country than the 1MDB scandal, the opposition in this country were extremely indifferent towards this new law. Beyond the usual outrage pieces by a few opposition politicians and the usual pieces by “activists” like myself, those people who marched on the streets for Bersih elections, did not seem too concerned with it.
I had expected that people would be organised, political and activist groups mobilised to march on the streets protesting this bill, like we see in many South American countries, but instead it was business as usual in oppositional political discourse. Indeed, something of this magnitude, where the current Umno president “shrugged “off a request by the Conference of Rulers for it to be refined”, was not even a major news story.
I remember urging people to read the Act and consider what the state was imposing on us. I remember talking to oppositional political operatives and questioning them as to why this was not a major issue for them. Most of the time, they answered that the average citizen was not interested in this issue.
Whenever I write articles like these, I feel like those old deranged coots you see in American movies with signboards claiming, “The end is near”. Waving a bell around, as people look aghast at such displays of emotional instability.
PKR’s Tian Chua rightly claimed that the bill would not be passed if there was no intention to use it and this is exactly why a law such as this is a safety net for the Najib regime and why the outcome of this election may finally seal our fate as a failed state.
So, either the opposition loses but hopefully maintains the status quo in terms of their composition in Parliament and the running of certain states or the opposition wins and loses everything when the hegemon decides to play by the rules that it created with laws such as the NSC.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:30 AM   0 comments
PM Najib, will our luck hold out? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Malaysiakini :   “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.”
- Abraham Lincoln

COMMENT | The prime minister has again made this extraordinary claim - “In the end, 10 people died because we had no loyalty. All there was is a readiness to betray who? Our rakyat” - with regards to the “Sulu incursion” while reminding uniformed personnel to be loyal in preserving the country’s security.
I will repeat the same questions I had in an article I wrote when the prime minister first made this claim of betrayal - “This, of course, brings us to the next set of questions. Who were those covert agents? What sort of investigations and which agencies were involved in routing out these ‘covert enemies’? Why weren't the press and the people of Malaysia notified that our soldiers were killed because of leaked information? Were the families of the soldiers who were ‘sacrificed’ notified that their deaths were the result of an ambush because of leaked intelligence?”
I expect no answer, of course. A few friends have written to me “explaining” that “civilians” may have compromised troop movements and that is what our prime minister meant by “betrayal”. If you believe that civilians had compromised troop movement, I suggest we have a far greater problem than most people believe.
Of course, in this particular rejoinder the prime minister claims - “When our own people betrayed their comrades, when they fed information to our enemies, our enemies surrounded and ambushed…” - which implies that our men were betrayed by their “comrades”, in other words, by security personnel, which is worse but yet again no explanation will be forthcoming.
Were those families of the 10 people who died told that their loved ones perished because they were betrayed by their “comrades”? Was there an investigation into these treasonous acts? Was there accountability? It does not matter, does it?
And are the Malaysian uniformed services "Muslim" uniformed services? I get that the majority who serve are Muslims but why does the prime minister feel the need to draw on Islam to remind the uniformed services to be loyal for the security of the country? The answer to this, of course, is obvious. Non-Muslims are constantly told that we are not patriotic enough, that we shelter under the security provided by brave Muslims and most importantly, there have been far too many Umno politicians and “activists” who remind us that government institutions are in reality “Malay/Muslim” institutions.
So yes, the Arabisation process being what it is, the professional standards of our uniformed services at the level it is, and this constant need to remind Muslims that loyalty to country means loyalty to the political establishment, it is no surprise that religion would be used to bolster support. Of course, if you are a non-Muslim in the uniformed services, you could either learn from this Islamic analogy thrust upon you or tune out.
I have said it before and I will say it again. I despise the propagandising of the state security apparatus. This happens all over the world. The prime minister’s rejoinder was delivered at a function organised by Wanita Umno - a wing of a political party - so this was a political event and not a government event.
Of course, in this country, the lines are willfully blurred so I wonder what would happen if Pakatan Harapan, or god forbid the DAP, organised a Ramadan event to honour the sacrifices of our uniformed services. Would these service people who embraced the “gifts” doled out at this Umno event be accepting to gifts offered by the opposition? Or would they be told by a government flunky not to intrude where they are not wanted?
I will just regurgitate what I wrote when another organisation was advocating loyalty to the establishment -
“Ultimately when we pledged to serve the king and country, our oath goes far beyond loyalty to the government. We are really serving the people of this country and our loyalty is with them. It does not matter if you support the establishment or the opposition, your loyalty should be with the people and not with political elites, especially when they dishonour the institutions you pledged to serve and protect.”
‘We have been lucky’
The prime minister is right when he claims that peace does not happen by accident, but because of the work done by the security services of the state. However, he should be aware that peace happens because of luck, too. We have been lucky. While pre-emptive action is a necessary component of national security, the element of luck also plays an important part.
With all the propaganda spewed against non-Muslims, we have been lucky that external forces have far more insidious designs that merely slaughtering non-Muslims in this region. These designs target Muslims and is about a specific Islamic ideology and a war against Islamic plurality.
I have talked about this briefly in my piece cautioning against snuggling up to the House of Saud but as far as domestic policy is concerned, I wrote about the corrosive effects of Islam as propagated by the state on the security of the nation.
If even Najib is not safe from Islamic enemies, two points need to be considered when it comes to our “luck” in avoiding the kind of carnage that other countries have faced from their home-grown Islamic extremists.
When it comes to propaganda against the non-Muslims -
1) “Just recently, instead of sanctioning the genocidal rhetoric of the Pahang mufti, Najib, who portrays himself as a PM for the people, said, ‘we cannot compromise on the Islamic struggle in this blessed land. We reject those who dislike Islam and know who they are and their collaborators.’”
And when it comes to the enemies within, who would destabilise the security of the state and the state security apparatus.
2) “The Umno state security apparatuses have acknowledged that IS (Islamic State) sympathisers could emerge from anywhere, even from Umno’s bureaucracy, which has for years sustained an anti-non-Muslim sentiment for political reasons.”
Islamic extremism and terrorism do not happen in a vacuum. It happens in environments which are conducive to the kind of extremism that groups like IS propagate. You can have all the pre-emptive action that you want but as long as there are citizens willingly to carry out terrorist acts, work with foreign agents to destabilise the government and have cover to spout their nonsense because it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between state-sanctioned propaganda and that which is advocated by foreign Islamic extremists, this is the environment that will eventually lead us to be another statistic in mass Islamic violence.
Now as far as foreign Islamic extremists are concerned, I doubt they would collaborate with non-Muslims, simply because they consider non-Muslims as filthy infidels - although the narrative has always been that non-Muslims corrupt Muslims, so perhaps there may be some non-Muslims who are susceptible to the money that these Islamic extremists get from the most mainstream of sources - so the obvious potential collaborators are those who are disenfranchised and been fed on a diet that Islam is under siege in this country.
Think about it this way. If there are people who are willing to betray their comrades in an incursion by foreign participants, how long do you think our luck will hold against the dark foreign Islamic cults aligned against us and their local proxies who are willing to betray the rakyat of Malaysia?
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:31 AM   0 comments
The day will come when we’re all ‘Kelings’ By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Malaysiakini : “I did not tell you it would be okay because I never believed it would be okay.”
- Ta-Nehisi Coates

COMMENT | Before I begin, does anybody question why Watsons would think that such a video advertisement would be acceptable to Malaysians? It is a good strategy to claim that the ad was based on folklore - the myth itself is somewhat racist if you think about it - but really, the ad is merely a reflection of the consumer base.
When PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang says, "Report and leave the problems to the authorities,” does he mean the very same authorities that behave in a manner which defines the “samseng” culture which he decries?
Does he mean the authorities that have a problem carrying out their duties when it comes to choosing between “secular” laws - which they are obligated to follow - and edicts coming from the syariah courts?
Nathaniel Tan’s piece on the ongoing Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) hearing into the death in custody of S Balamurugan is riveting, not only because it is lucidly written but also because it clearly articulates the silence of police officers who choose to do nothing where their actions would vindicate those of us who have said that the state security apparatus is not only staffed by violent thugs but also honourable men and women who would do the right thing.
The Balamurugan case is also evidence that some security personnel do not protect their sources. If a police officer does not protect his or her source from other police personnel, how then do they protect their sources from other criminal elements?
When inspector Mohd Noor Husri Johari says, “If I bring him to the hospital and he escapes or dies while en route, I would be held responsible," does this mean that he is not responsible for the death of Balamurugan when he eventually brought the prisoner to the destination he was ordered to?
If the police released the prisoner as was ordered instead of “rearrested”, then all this may have been avoided. As it is, there was a conspiracy to detain the deceased on “different” charges, police personnel who are ignorant of SOP (standard operating procedure), unquestioning in their obedience to superior officers, racist and only interested in safeguarding their positions even when the life of a prisoner is at stake. Only in Malaysia would an Islamic politician tell us to put our faith in people like these.
This is not an aberration in which the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) normally operates. I would argue that this is common practice in the manner in which the PDRM operates, and what is most damaging is that there has never been an outcry from the general public as there has been with corruption cases. There are, of course, many reasons for this.
The most important one is that marginalised communities face the brunt of police brutality and while there have been lawyers, activists and politicians who have been doing the hard work of representing these marginalised folks, there apparently is no room in urban middle politics for this kind of issue.
In the beginning of the year, referencing another great piece by Tan and the work of Aliran’s Perma Devaraj, I argued that the PDRM was a ‘service to some and a force to others’.
Quoting Prema’s piece on the findings of the EAIC, I summarised a few key points, which I will reproduce here -
• The use of brutal violence on a detainee during interrogation;
• False entries in the station diary of lock-up D9, including tampering of times in the entries;
• False information in a police report about the death of the deceased;
• Serious misconduct in ordering the re-arrest of the deceased without justification (the deceased should have been released at the end of the first remand);
• An eight-day delay in allowing the right of the deceased to contact and have access to his family;
• The CCTV in lock-up D9 not being in working order since 2009;
• A lack of knowledge or awareness of standard operating procedures among officers and police personnel; and
• Overcrowding in the lock-up (more than four people). At times, there were between six and 16 people in the lock-up.
Why is this tolerated?
The problem here is that this so-called “samseng” culture that Hadi worries about so much is, in reality, the culture of the state security apparatus. It is public knowledge that the PDRM has been resistant to independent oversight and anyone following these deaths-in-custody cases can see why. Not to mention that corruption is part of the culture of the PDRM by their own admission.
If you speak to marginalised Indians and Indians from the criminal underclass, they would tell you that the most brutal of security personnel are Indians officers who have no problem working for racist superiors. This, of course, is an uncomfortable truth that many activists, lawyers and politicians understand but racial politics, political correctness and the argument that it is not productive to “racialise” police brutality, and thus it is not part of the national discourse.
In nearly every piece I have written about the state security apparatus, I have talked about that nexus between criminal enterprise and the security personnel of the state. It is difficult for me or anyone to make the case that there are “good” police officers out there when we have the “only following orders” police officers in these deaths-in-custody cases.
Are there good and true police officers in the force? I am sure there are. They talk to me about their frustrations very often, especially when cases like these come up. But what use is frustration? What use is anything without action? The state security apparatus, if they were serious about cleaning up their image and correcting the systemic violence and corruption in the force, should be demanding independent oversight and not claiming in emails that independent oversight would restrict their normal operating procedures.
CID chief ASP Norsanizam Nordin said that referring to an Indian as “keling” was inappropriate in a workgroup chat and that he took immediate action after seeing them, which basically means it would be appropriate in a social setting? Didn’t a former prime minister use the word too and he was subsequently endorsed by certain parties (including me) as the only viable candidate for PM for Pakatan Harapan.
A Kugan, Aminulrasyid Amzah and Teoh Beng Hock, they were all “kelings”, except Malaysians never really saw them as such. Each death was politicised in its own way but they were not even Bangsa Malaysia in their deaths. Each death was ghettoised to fit a particular ethnic narrative instead of a Malaysian one.
You can say that I am generalising, that they are good people in the force, but then why are there so many deaths in custody. Why is this tolerated? It is tolerated because Malaysians do not really care that this is happening. Our apathy makes it easier for them to get away with it. Testimony like the kind we are reading about would cause violent demonstrations in other parts of the civilised world and these demonstrations would be warranted. Here, it’s just another excuse to hammer the kleptocracy.
The day will come when we are all “kelings”, when our economic and social standing will not shield us from the jackboot of the state.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:34 PM   0 comments
What can MCA do for BN? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Malaysiakini : “... By disarming, you at once give offense, since you show your subjects that you distrust them, either as doubting their courage, or as doubting their fidelity, each of which imputations begets hatred against you.” - Niccolò Machiavelli, ‘The Prince’
Castrated Eunuchs
COMMENT | The answer to that is MCA obviously cannot do anything much for the ruling BN coalition anymore. How do you remain relevant when you have lost your voting base? Umno does not need MCA to win elections. The dodgy meme that the current Umno prime minster is a “minority” prime minster is as fallacious as the so-called “Chinese tsunami”.
It is pointless talking about the other communities here in Malaysia because this has always been about the Malay-Chinese dialectic. How this regime demonises the Chinese community when the hegemon is in trouble or relies on it - former prime minister and now de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad actually at one time thanked the Chinese community for sustaining his power - in times of plenty demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between economic power, race and political stability.
If the Malay community was not in a perceived state of agitation, there really would be no need for anyone to question the relevancy of MCA because Umno would have no problem allowing the plutocrats, who actually run this Chinese-based party, to coast on former glories to sustain the charade that a multi-ethnic government runs Malaysia for the betterment of all.
I say “perceived” because the more I look beyond the spin and talk to people on the ground who actually have a pulse on what is going on, the reality is that the odds favour Umno in this coming election.
The “Malay” heartland, which the opposition has been unable to influence beyond coming up with dodgy data on how the heartland is not as secure as Umno believes, remains the key to Putrajaya. That most strategically adroit of political operatives - Mahathir - realises that if he can destabilise Umno in the peninsula to the point that Umno has to rely on Sabah and Sarawak for power, it would be game over for the current Umno potentate.
All of this merely means that as far as remaining relevant, MCA has very little to do now. By its own admission it has lost its Chinese voting base. The problem is, what does MCA think the Chinese community really wants? What exactly has MCA done wrong that has made the community lose trust, not in the BN coalition but rather in MCA?
Five years ago, in the MCA’s long journey into night, I wrote - “What is really destroying MCA is not the propaganda of DAP but the acceptance by a large voting demographic of the Chinese community that no representation in the government is better than MCA representation.”
So, this idea that representation in the federal government is the holy grail of the basis of “Chinese” support is mistaken. As far as anyone can tell, and most political insiders, establishment and opposition will tell you - most often off the record - is that all the opposition has to do is remain relevant on a state level and the majority of the Chinese vote will always go to the opposition.
There is this hypocritical stance that opposition types, especially DAP political operatives, take when it comes to this issue of representation and “Chinese rights”. Here are my comments regarding what an assistant to a DAP MP wrote about representation and Chinese rights:-
“Kelvin Yii, an assistant to a DAP MP, asked, ‘So, would the Chinese want to have a say in the government, or stay out there in angry isolation?’ All I can say is that if you were a truly multi-racial party with a race-blind agenda, this type of question would not need to be asked.
“But since this is still a thing, why doesn’t Yii define the ‘rights’ of the Chinese community, which he thinks are lacking under the Umno regime, and demonstrate how Pakatan Rakyat has secured these rights on a state level, or even made it an issue on a federal level. In other words, Yii, you don’t get to berate MCA for playing the race card when you have no problem playing it yourself.”
Impotency of Chinese politicians
While I get that most opposition supporters think the coming general election will be a referendum on Prime Minister Najib Razak, the reality is that career opposition politicians - establishment and opposition - have only one goal in mind. That is, a win is defined as keeping the game going by maintaining the status quo. Hence the Chinese voting base, who have grown used to the impotency of “Chinese” political operatives on a federal level, see more gain in state-level operatives looking after their interests and keeping the federal government in check, however ineffective that may be.
Moreover, since I have never allowed partisan group-think to influence my position on issues, I can honestly say that MCA has actually done a good job in attempting to restore some of the trust that they lost over the years. The problem is that no matter what it does, MCA will never be the go-to party for communal interests, even though their positions have been far more morally and intellectually sustainable than DAP and the opposition.
The most recent example is the MCA’s position on PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s bill on syariah amendments. I wrote that the MCA had a clear position and that their criticism against the DAP, although flawed in their execution, was far more honest than the position of the opposition. And yet this did not mean anything to the Chinese community, at least to those who voiced their opinion online.
In fact, this clarity of position caused MCA to be vilified by members of their own coalition and created another set of tensions that demonstrated the impotency of MCA within the ruling hegemon. Meanwhile, DAP as a “Chinese- based” alternative, no matter what opposition partisans claim, remains a potent force within the “Malay-dominated” opposition.
Not only is this used by the Umno hegemon in their propaganda, it is also confirmed by the statements made by DAP political operatives on a range of issues that they are powerbrokers within the opposition instead of political eunuchs who service the Umno machine.
Therefore, there is really nothing MCA can do. Every corruption scandal the MCA unearths pales in comparison to the excesses of this Umno regime. Even when the MCA articulates a clear moral position, they are vilified by establishment and opposition partisans. Goal posts are shifted, tolerance is raised on many issues because the goal of removing Najib is the only thing that matters.
The race discourse in this country means that the Bangsa Malaysia kool aid makes it seem that the MCA is the “racial” party and not that the foundation of Malaysians politics is threatened by racial fault lines.
In other words, in this break-up with the Chinese community, it’s not you (MCA), it’s the Chinese community.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:07 AM   0 comments
Much to lose as an ‘authentic’ Islamic nation By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, June 05, 2017
Malaysiakini : “You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it's only in troublous times that you line your pockets.”
- Aristophanes, The Knights

COMMENT | Saudi Arabia recognising us as an authentic Islamic nation is not something Muslims should rejoice. Indeed, any recognition by the House of Saud is fraught with danger. In these perilous times when the Muslim world is reeling from the belated realisation that the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to extremism and geopolitics, Malaysia as a stable moderate Muslim country should be careful who it chooses to get into bed with.
In the ‘Kingdom in Malaysia’, I articulated what I thought about this whole idea that we can benefit from the House of Saud - “I contend there is nothing we can and should take from the Saudi kingdom. I would argue that the reason why Malaysia is a so-called moderate state is because however dismally we have managed to resist the excesses of the House of Saud, we still have a multi-ethnic population whose contribution in politics, economics and culture has maintained a fast fading line between what the Wahhabis and their ilk want and what is rational.”
This idea that a small relatively stable Muslim country like Malaysia is running to embrace a failing kingdom locked in a life and death struggle with not only various Islamic extremist groups that they helped fund but also another nation - Iran - is troubling for more than just the absurdity of thinking that there are any real privileges of being considered an “authentic” Islamic state.
Prime Minister Najib Razak asks why King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud picked Malaysia and then goes on to claim because we are “recognised as authentic Islam and for our moderate approach. Those are what he (King Salman) views highly”. This, of course, is total horse manure because if King Salman really viewed “moderate” Islam highly, he would practice that in Saudi Arabia instead of giving Wahhabi clerics free reign to practice a regressive form of Islam.
Najib also claimed that he got a “positive response” to build “two haj complexes in Makkah and Madinah”, which means very little because we all know how the House of Saud takes to Muslim interlopers attempting to profit from Islam in their country. The House of Saud, of course, is the only one who can benefit from Islam.
I have argued that our prime minister is in a better position than the monarch from Saudi Arabia is. So why then does King Salman bestow such largesse upon a small Muslim Southeast Asian nation. You can believe what our prime minister claims, that the House of Saud thinks that we are a moderate Muslim nation that he views highly or you can believe that we are part of a greater Sunni/House of Saud struggle against the nation that the Saudis believe is a threat to their hegemony - Iran.
There is a reason why US President Donald Trump chose to make his grand speech to a host of Muslim potentates in Saudi Arabia. There was a reason why there was a host of Sunni-dominated heads of state in Saudi Arabia where Trump made it clear that Iran was the big bad wolf in world geopolitics and that what was needed was the Muslim world to fight against “terrorism” and recognise that Iran was meddling in the business of other Muslim countries, and as such part of that ‘terrorist’ definition.
The Saudi kingdom is always furthering the narrative than Iran is causing confusion and sectarianism in the Muslim world. Beyond regional (Middle East) geopolitics, this goes to the heart of Islamic dogma and this notion by the House of Saud that they are the true and only keepers of the faith. Statements condemning Iran like the one from the Trump-Muslim/House of Saud summit is a constant reminder that Islamic elites are embroiled in a worldwide struggle.
A tangled web
When the Saudi king paid (in more ways than one) Malaysia a visit, he took the opportunity to spit a little venom at Iran. What was most unfortunate was that Malaysia become part of the story. Point 15 in a joint statement by the two potentates is as follows - “15. The two sides expressed serious concerns over the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, stressed the need for Iran’s commitment to the principle of good neighbourliness and the need to respect the sovereignty of States.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Bahram Ghasemi, response was a mixture of authentic bafflement and subtle warning (Middle East Monitor) - “He called on the Kuala Lumpur government to avoid involvement in ‘dangerous’ scenarios that are aimed at undermining Muslim unity and supporting Takfiri terrorist groups, particularly Daesh, through financial cooperation with certain countries.
“Malaysian government is expected to review, as wisely as before, the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic and avoid suspicious areas and deteriorating issues by deep and long-term considerations,” This, of course, is all part of the balancing act or so Putrajaya thinks. Only a year ago when sanctions were lifted against Iran, Najib was waxing lyrical of the new trade deals between Iran and Malaysia - "We can belong to different schools of taught, but we have the same desired objectives and goals. So, the closer we work together, the better it will be for the Muslim world.
"During the two meetings, we had the opportunity to exchange views and opinion in an open manner on how both countries can elevate relations to a higher level.” This is part of the tangled web this government is weaving. China, of course, has always had close ties with Iran going so far as to complain of the new round of sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies linked to either Iran or North Korea's nuclear or missile programmes. As reported in Reuters - "China is opposed to the blind use of unilateral sanctions particularly when it damages the interests of third parties. I think the sanctions are unhelpful in enhancing mutual trust and unhelpful for international efforts on this issue."
Malaysia could have a moderating influence on the Islamic world, but for whatever reasons has chosen to overtly side with the Saudi kingdom. While Shia crackdowns are common in Malaysia, there will come a time very soon when Malaysia will be lumped with the rest of the Saudi allies as a possible target of retaliation.
We have to keep in mind that Muslims have massacred their co-religionists in greater numbers than colonialism or the machinations of Western hegemons. With a world economy in shambles, Washington under a weak leader, old cold warriors China and Russia resurrecting the great game - or as I call it, the neo-great game - this is not the time for Malaysia to embroil itself in Islamic intrigue. Malaysia now has to balance the strategic interests of a regional superpower like China against whatever Islamic hegemonic goals of the Saudi kingdom. If we had a strong stable government this would be business as usual but when it comes to mixing Islam and regional geopolitics things get much trickier, especially when local Islamic imperatives are mixed with foreign [Islamic] intelligence operations.
Since there is very little transparency in how the Najib regime handles the business of government and since religious dogma influences foreign policy, what we are left with is hostile Islamic interests in the region competing against the sole hegemon in the region.
Malaysia becoming a hotbed of Islamic intrigue by rushing into alliances because of the weakened state of the ruling coalition is a dangerous position to be in. History has shown us that situations like this do not end in a whimper. They end with a bang. Most probably, a series of bangs.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 12:35 PM   0 comments
The manufactured outrage against The Star By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Malaysiakini : “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
- Oscar Wilde

COMMENT | From the New York Times archives (Oct 29, 1987) - Malaysia shuts down 3 papers: “The Malaysian government, saying it feared a racial explosion, closed three newspapers today, including the country's liveliest English-language daily, The Star.
“In the last two days, 63 politicians and leaders of citizens groups have been detained in a sweep against critics of the administration of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Among them is Lim Kit Siang, leader of the main opposition party, Democratic Action Party.”
Back then journalist friends of mine told me to think about the families of employees that were affected by this clampdown, the uncertainty, financial and otherwise, they faced because of the actions of the government of the day. My response was, why should there be any uncertainty when the Star has a rich sugar daddy - the MCA - to cover the expenses of those involved for actions taken by their partners in the ruling coalition?
As a member of good standing - at least I think I was a member in good standing - with the establishment, I knew how things worked. We all did. Back in the good old days where the mainstream propaganda organs of the establishment were the only source of information, the Star every now and then profited from its reputation as the problem child of the state. This enabled it to command by virtue of luck more than any sense of journalistic integrity, the respect of a compliant citizenry.
Let's not forget that Utusan Malaysia kicked out former National Union of Journalists president Hata Wahari for pointing out the fact that the mainstream press was indeed biased in favour of the establishment when reporting the news, or to quote Hata, "all mainstream journalists, especially of  Utusan Malaysia, New Straits Times, Berita Harian and The Star should return to their true function as deliverers of objective information to the public, and not as tools of propaganda for the government, or any political party or individual, for their personal gain."
What is the appropriate reaction for journalists and members of the public when a propaganda organ of the state is sanctioned not for its reporting but because of a “mistake” which the state it serves, deems offensive?
Let us just unpack this mess.
1) The supposed “confusing headline and picture” which apparently could be seditious.
I am not going to sugar coat this. If this was any other religion, would this picture be considered seditious and would the concerns of believers of that religion be taken into consideration? The home minister claimed that - “It is highly inappropriate for the picture and the headline to be published on the same page, and it has caused confusion, misunderstanding and prejudice against Muslims, which could imply a connection with terrorism.”
Really? What “causes prejudice against Muslims” is when a university lecturer accuses an established opposition party of having a Christian agenda without offering any proof. What cause prejudice to Muslims is when the state organises an essay contest on an opposition politician which entails libelling the politician as racist and anti-Islam.
What causes prejudice is when Muslim politicians object to a chief minister of a state attending a buka puasa event and claiming he should embrace Islam if he wants to attend. What causes prejudice are unilateral conversions, smear campaigns by “Malay” propaganda organs, disappearances of religious figures, and unequal treatment before the law.
Why the suspensions?
This is not genuine outrage. This is a manufactured outrage. What this has done is allow opposition partisans to lash out at an establishment propaganda organ and certain Muslims to engage in some good old fashioned victimhood. Non-Muslims over the years had to develop a thick skin. We had to do this because nobody cares if we are offended. Hindus are offended that Indian preacher Zakir Naik has sanctuary in this country but the state could care less how they feel.
2) The Star suspending its editor-in-chief and executive editor.
Okay. Let me get this straight. The Star apologised for this mistake. As far as I can tell and as reported in the media, nobody from the state has asked for suspensions but the big shots over at The Star (and maybe the sugar daddies) have decided to censure their own pending an internal investigation.
What would this internal investigation reveal? The Star has already claimed that it was a mistake. Would the investigation reveal “radicals” within The Star who did this because they thought it would be an ironic commentary on the state of Islam. Would the investigations reveal that those suspended were part of a plot to ridicule Islam?
The only thing these suspensions demonstrate is that The Star will always bend over backwards to appease their master. It is not even; as if they ask how high when asked to jump, it is more as if they are jumping about on the spot whenever the gaze of their master is upon them.
3) What is offensive?
Malaysians, or maybe that should be non-Malay Malaysians, could give you a list of things they find offensive but somehow manages to escape the scrutiny of the state and the police chief, but what I really find offensive are comments by “public officials” who ask women reporters, “What are you wearing to bed?
But that is the way how the establishment views the mainstream press, right? As objects to fulfill whatever particular needs the state desires. In this case, it is the dissemination of information they view as appropriate even though most often that information is offensive to rational Malaysians all over the country.
This whole charade of a show-cause letter is pathetic. What could The Star say in its defence? The propaganda organ has already apologised. Perhaps what could be done is give control of The Star over to Umno. This way as defenders of ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’, those easily offended Muslims readers of The Star are assured that their sensitivities would be the main priority of the owners of The Star.
Should we be concerned about what is going on with The Star? Yes. Although this manufactured outrage is merely a distraction that The Star for whatever reason unwittingly played into, this is a taste of what is to come. Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon and unless something changes, all independent (as in not state controlled) media will be touched.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:29 AM   0 comments
Put Islamophobia on ice By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Malaysiakini : “We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called ‘Islamophobia’ in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.”
- The St Petersburg Declaration (March 2007), quoted in Paul Cliteur's ‘The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism’ (2010), p 276.

COMMENT | There is no such thing as “Islamophobia”. There are of course racists, bigots and other cretins who disparage Muslims and Islam around the world but unfortunately, the world is filled with racists and bigoted people who disparage all sorts of people, their religion and culture. This is not solely a Muslim issue.
What is solely a Muslim issue is this idea that any criticisms of Muslims is an attack on Islam or that acknowledging empirical evidence of the way how “Islamic” states operate is anathema to freedoms and rights enjoyed in the progressive world is verboten in "civilised" company. That any contrary narratives to the acceptable politically-correct discourse is an attack on a peaceful, peace-loving people who have always been at the mercy of colonialism or other forms of “Western” imperial ambitions. This is Islamophobia in a nutshell.
So, these Malaysian students in the United Kingdom gave out ice lollies in exchange for messages of peace. Apparently, they did this because they were deeply affected by the Manchester attack and wanted people not to hate Muslims. In other words, people had to sign messages of peace on their boards to show how there was no animosity towards Muslims instead of these Muslim students demonstrating that they disavowed the violent Islamists who preach hate against anything Western, secular or Christian. Muslim victimhood became the focus of the tragedy instead of the carnage of children and women who were the victims of violent Islamists.
University of Essex student Muhammad Fariq Bukhari Samsudin said that he planned “to introduce Ramadan to his non-Muslim friends so they can break fast together”, which is really painful to read because I wonder how Fariq would react if his Christian friends introduced him to Lent and perhaps together they could appreciate the spiritual harmony that religious observances supposedly bring. Fariq also claimed that "I think the root of the problem is that most of the people don't even understand Islam”, which is again something of a misdirection because some Muslims are always deflecting and saying that they would leave the interpretation of dogma to religious scholars except  -
1) When it suits their purposes to educate people on their religion.
2) When attacking critics, especially when said critics abandon the Abrahamic theological discourse in favour of rationality and empiricism.
Religious discourse that revolves around dogma is self-serving. I made this point in another piece - “Intelligent discourse in the Abrahamic faith revolves around the concept of doubt. They revolve around this concept because of the influence of the secular world. Rational Christians, Jews and Muslims who have shed their religion’s extremist impulses engage in conversation and not dogma. They attempt to reconcile their doubt with what the secular world has to offer.”
Whenever someone makes the claim that people do not understand their religion, it most often means that their religion has a lot to answer for. All religions have commonalities. Those positive commonalities make it possible for people of diverse religious faiths to play well with others. Call it evolutionary or spiritual but the result is the same, the receding of religious dogma and the acceptance of plurality of thought.
‘Good Muslims’
However, when people insist on pontificating about their faith or when the state defines religion, that is when the trouble starts. That is when people start claiming that their faith is misunderstood or that god made them the person to lead the faithful or there is some divine plan for all of us, even those who do not want to be subjected to any plan from up above.
This last part is made worse by the fact that those mortals who claim to understand god’s plan make the worst administrators on earth, not to mention the most bigoted, petty and hypocritical messengers that any divine being would be unlucky to have. This is, again, not solely a Muslim issue. More importantly, is the claim that people do not understand Islam. Here is a fact. People who live in Muslim-majority countries understand Islam very well. Muslims who live in Western secular countries do not have to worry about people not understanding Islam. The importance of understanding a religion only comes into play when the religion has an overt impact on the social and political landscape of a country.
While demagogues will of course use Islam and Muslims as scapegoats, Muslims in Western secular countries have more institutional protections than religious minorities in Muslim-dominated countries.  Non-Muslim minorities in Muslim-dominated countries are told to be followers. Here is PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang’s variation of this theme - “Islam has to be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam must be followers (pak turut).”
I helpfully defined what it meant by “followers” - "And this is the crux of the matter. Non-Muslims must be ‘followers’. Followers who do not believe. Followers who are forced to submit. Followers who can never lead because they are not Muslims. Followers who have to submit to the religious observances of Muslims even though they have their own religious beliefs, which are not observed by Muslims but in some cases restricted because they cause offence to Muslims.”
Which brings me to what DAP leader Lim Kit Siang recently said, “(We can succeed if) Malaysians adhere to the Constitution and Rukunegara principles to be good Malaysians by being good Muslims, good Buddhists, good Christians, good Hindus, good Sikhs and good Taoists. Hannah's journey as a good Christian cannot threaten, but only fulfil, her journey as a good Malaysian, just as how adherents of other religions aspire to be good Malaysians."
Concerning Yeoh’s journey as a "good Malaysian", I am curious. Does Yeoh consider herself a Malaysian first or a Christian first? You see, this is the type of questions that arise, when people pontificate about their faith and make a fresh batch of Bangsa Malaysia kool aid whenever the need arises. We do not need more faith in this country. What we need is people who want to create an egalitarian system that people will have faith in.
We can only succeed as a multicultural/religious society if we have politicians who check their religion at the door and commit themselves to secular principles and policies all the while keeping their faith private. Who defines what a “good” Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or Taoist, is?
The state and its actors should not be in the business of defining religion, what they should be doing is ensuring that religion does not define the business of the state.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:21 AM   0 comments
PSM and saving Malaysia from a kakistocracy By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”

- Thomas Love Peacock

COMMENT | Some of you may be wondering what “kakistocracy” means and I humbly suggest googling the word. Apparently, we are intent on saving the country from a kleptocracy but still have not figured out that mainstream politics - establishment and opposition - is intent on maintaining a kakistocracy. Nowhere is this more evident in the disrespectful and malicious manner PSM is treated by the opposition who supposedly want to bring about change.
I have seen opposition politicians attack PSM while making excuses for other opposition political parties and their own parties who have engaged in behaviour which is corrupt, mendacious and which betrays the principles that the opposition insists they have. I have read opposition supporters engage in the most malicious of propaganda attacking PSM political operatives, who have actually put in the hard grassroots level work of building communities among marginalised people.
Catchy political bromides are the currency and while a party like PSM goes about attempting to build consensus far away from the preoccupations of urban polities who mock in racial and religious terms the rural folk, mainstream opposition politics is dominated by issues far removed from the realities that would ultimately determine this upcoming election.
Whenever I read of how anonymous apparatchiks who accuse the PSM of being “greedy”, I realise why “the knaves will always benefit at the cost of fools”. Is it any wonder in attempting to explain why Umno always has the advantage, I drew upon the work of PSM’s Jeyakumar Devaraj (and the Penang state government-aligned Dr Wong Chin Huat) in attempt to offer a strategy in dealing with the hegemon.
The DAP's Sungkai state assemblyperson A Sivanesan's attack against the character and reputation of Jeyakumar is the kind of gutter politics that the opposition engages in. Folks who read my articles will recall how national president Mohd Nasir Hashim described the backstabbing by Pakatan (this time PAS) in the past election -
“…he (Mohd Nasir) emailed me a list of underhanded tricks that would make Carl Rove proud and commented: ‘PAS' crude campaign surpassed Umno-BN's style.
So unbecoming of PAS.
“‘We were literally on our own and got help from NGO friends. We were not prepared to fight PAS because they are not our principal enemy and our actions were construed as being weak,’ he said, reflecting on the recently concluded elections.”
Jeyakumar’s defence against the libel hurled against him by Sivanesan demonstrates the kind of politician Jeyakumar is. While he rightly threatens a lawsuit, he acknowledges the different backgrounds they come from but more importantly, acknowledges the privilege that his background affords him. Having said that, I will say (and this will no doubt embarrass the good country doctor) talk to the “old Penang people” and you would hear tales told in messianic fervour of this politician. I have this running joke with Jeyakumar that he is too nuanced for politics.
People have short attention spans. They want you to scream “kleptocracy” and then they pat you on the back. When Jeyakumar talks about corruption, he talks about the corruptive aspects of politics that democracy nurtures. He talks about how expectations from his constituents makes it harder for him to fulfill his obligations which goes far beyond merely satisfying their pecuniary needs.
What he says here - “‘I asked them, ‘do you want me to be clean or not?’’ he recalled. “‘You want your YB to be Santa Claus, a feudal lord giving away money... But at the same time, you want your YB to be clean. It doesn't jive,’ he stressed, adding that the role of politicians goes beyond just providing cash handouts or immediate assistance” - is something that many political operatives have said to me.
Exhibit no 1
Here is an excerpt of an interview I did with the Sungai Siput member of parliament after his arrest for allegedly carrying out “communist activities”. This part is useful because to demonstrate the kind of tensions that exists on the ground between people who need assistance and how their loyalties are constantly under siege. It is also an articulation of democracy in action - “It depends. Some communities have scolded the BN types who admonished them. Sometimes their overt support for us decreases for a bit, but if their main grievances are not handled by the BN, then it's a matter of time before they come back to us for assistance.
“So, in this game, timing is crucial. Sometimes we have to give them room to explore the options offered by the other side, and not try to hold them back by threats or ‘emotional blackmail’. But we must maintain contact so that we know when there is a need to mobilise them to protest some blatantly unfair decision of the government.”
I have made this argument before. The best way to deal with those marginalised groups who seem cut off from mainstream oppositional politics is to make an alliance with political parties like PSM. Grand national narratives do not get any traction with the voting groups that PSM engages with. This is another world and it is this way because the Umno hegemon set it up this way and the opposition has never had a genuine agenda to bridge this world and mainstream oppositional politics. Exhibit number one of never having a genuine agenda is the way in which it treats PSM. PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan said that there was no choice of stepping on toes but he is mistaken.
There is always a choice for both parties. I believe PSM could give a coalition like Pakatan, which has credibility issues and only partisans who have no clue as to what people think in the world outside the confines of their preferred echo chambers, long lasting value that would go beyond this election. Pakatan should make an electoral pact with PSM but more importantly, help them win those seats they are aiming because a grassroots-level caucus in Pakatan Harapan would be the first step in breaking into those secure Umno vote banks.
If this means sacrificing seats so be it because this caucus could be the means of destabilising the hegemon and returning democracy to the people. Jeyakumar warns the opposition not to “too confident, cocksure and arrogant," because he is better at reading the political tea leaves than the elites with their numerous flawed polls and their cunning strategies. He understands the nature of the political beast after years of struggling against it with comrades who did not rage against the Umno machine for personal gain.
However, I know nothing I say will change minds. While I do not agree with the ideological foundations of PSM, there is nothing in their manifesto which makes them at odds with the opposition. Even their stand on religion is clear and unequivocal which probably means that there could be an issue with Muslims in Pakatan who do not seem to have any trouble getting support from the so-called secular types in the opposition.
If you really support change, then you must come to the realisation that PSM is vital part of that change. However, if you think that they are just a distraction, then go on supporting political groups that have no incentive to genuinely carry out the reforms that Malaysia desperately needs. They assume they have your vote against a hegemon who unfortunately shapes the way how the opposition thinks and ultimately the direction of this country.
Even if you despise what I wrote here, go over to their website and see how you can contribute. Even if PSM comes out the loser in this election, you can be assured that their long hard work goes on and that PSM would ensure that your contributions reach the people that really need it.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 6:03 PM   0 comments
Ultimately military loyalty is to the people of M’sia By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Malaysiakini : “If you feel that strongly about something, you have an obligation to try and change my mind.”
- Aaron Sorkin

COMMENT | While some armed forces personnel - active and retired - have nothing but vitriol for my writings for Malaysiakini, I am glad to report on an anecdotal level at least, there has been far more support - most often qualified - for what I write amongst serving and retired members of our security services.
Anecdotal levels are of course cold comfort when the reality is that most people would rather not say anything unless cloaked in anonymity and people often confuse the echo chambers they live in as the “real world”, which is unfortunately far more complicated and diverse than what they read online.
I have always disliked the propagandising of the security services and while I believe that there are many people who do the hard work of keeping our country safe, they are hampered by the petty fiefdoms of their immediate superiors and hobbled by a self-serving political apparatus. The latter is more interested in maintaining political hegemony than by ensuring that these institutions are independent and serve the people of Malaysia.
The former meanwhile hampers the legitimacy of these institutions by eroding public confidence by its official statements, but more damagingly by engaging in practices that apes the accepted political culture that has resulted in our country being categorised as a kleptocracy.
Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Association (PVATM) deputy president Sharuddin Omar’s rejoinder to old soldiers, or in my case old sailors, “to the principle that we are always loyal to the current government” misses the point about loyalty, obligation and serving the country. On a professional level, while I have always observed the chain of command, truth be told my duty - however, you define it - was always to the men and women under my charge. This of course is old school military thinking but one shared by many old timers who put the welfare of the men and women under their charge ahead of politics, racial or religious. Times have changed, of course.
While many would dismiss this veteran’s association as just another government appendage, I was impressed that they disavowed former soldier Mohd Ali Baharom’s (aka Ali Tinju) racist actions in the strongest possible terms. As reported in the media - “His actions are contradictory and incompatible with the principles and practices of all armed forces veterans in the country. "In the future, we also hope that the media will only relate the actions of Ali Tinju as that of an individual and a Malaysian civilian, and not that of a Malaysian armed forces veteran," said the association.
Quoting the Malay proverb "kerana nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga” (one bad apple spoils the whole barrel), the association expressed hope that its reputation and that of all armed forces veterans would not be ruined by the actions of one man.
Many retired armed forces veterans make a distinction between loyalty to the institution and the people who make up those institutions. While I get that principle, I have never been unable to separate the office from the individual. To me, if the person in the office is corrupt then why bother defending the institution? I would much rather channel my energies in advocating change rather than spend my time defending the institution.
Honestly, what really bothers me is not that the “gomen is corrupt” but rather that our security apparatus is riddled with the kind of scandals that should make every retired armed forces personnel hang their heads in shame. To list the numerous corruption scandals perpetrated by service people is disheartening and we cannot solely blame the hegemon for that. But what does loyalty to the government mean?
Compromised institutions
Does it extend to postal vote fraud? Remember in 2011, when four retired military personnel admitted they were marking postal ballots on order from higher up? To recap - "The four - Major (Rtd) Risman Mastor, Kamarulzaman Ibrahim, Mohamed Nasir Ahmad and Mohd Kamil Omar - said they were ordered by their commanding officers to mark postal votes for the hundreds and thousands of personnel who were out in the field.
“Their expose today is the second after an ex-army man came forward earlier this month, making a similar claim that he was ordered to mark postal votes for other personnel.”
The problem with advocating loyalty to compromised institutions is that armed forces personnel who have served with distinction and honour are tarnished by those who would dishonour the codes they claim to hold in service of their political masters. Besides the existential threat that a certain religion poses, this has been one of my main themes that I have revisited - unfortunately - over the years. I wrote about how the armed forces was sinking in Umno’s quagmire - “(Navy chief) Abdul Aziz (Jaafar), if you remember was one of the service chiefs lined up behind (looking rather sheepish) Armed Forces chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin when he made an emotional appeal, which also included subtle threats and comments which were unacceptable, not to mention unprofessional, for an officer holding the highest rank in the military to make. He made this appeal when confronted with accusations by retired service personnel of vote/voter manipulation in the armed forces.”
Another example is when the current prime minister had a sit down with retired personnel to discuss the Lahad Datu incident. As reported to me by concerned retired service personnel - “The whole atmosphere seemed surreal to some who attended. When the prime minister walked in, ‘Negaraku' was sung and the armed forces marching song ‘Barisan Kita' (which one general quipped ‘Has the song been annexed by Barisan National?’) also got an airing. Apparently, it got quite comical when one retired air force general was frothing at the mouth that stern disciplinary action should be taken against generals who showed support for the opposition, the PM was chuffed up of and reminded those who attended that ‘spirit of this general’ was what was needed.”
These days many young people are speaking up. I am not talking about mainstream oppositional politics. I am talking about young people who rightly feel that current establishment politics is nothing but the same manure but with a different shovel.
What veterans should be doing, and this applies to anyone who has worked in the civil or security services, is to encourage these young people in their efforts to change the paradigm. We had it our way and we should encourage and support those people who truly believe in what this country could be.
Ultimately when we pledged to serve this country, our oath goes far beyond loyalty to the government. We are really serving the people of this country and our loyalty is with them. It does not matter if you support the establishment or the opposition, your loyalty should be with the people and not with political elites, especially when they dishonour the institutions you pledged to serve and protect.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:08 AM   0 comments
Perkasa, you should worry that Najib is a Manchurian candidate By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Malaysiakini : “If you think that you are living in a stupid country, you can be sure that you are being governed by the most stupid people!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

Mehmet Murat ildan
COMMENT | There is a whole lot of dumb going around now. Since the hegemon is making every card in the deck a racial one, aggrieved Malay supremacists have been tripping over themselves attempting to remain relevant at a time when the Malay community is divided and Malay political parties are wondering who exactly a majority of the Malay community - in the peninsula - will vote for. A decisive majority is needed for the winner to claim that the party is the only one that can defend “bangsa” and “maruah”.
Perkasa has been wondering around like a headless chicken attempting to please many Malay masters but only managing to further expose the scam that the BN is anything but a vehicle for a kleptocratic racial hegemon. While Perkasa comes out sounding like the village idiot, groups such as Isma (Malaysian Muslim Solidarity) have a strong consistent message of racial and religious supremacy, bolstered by a cadre of Muslim professionals who engage in sophisticated rhetorical legerdemain to subvert the democratic process in favour of Umno, although they claim the mantle of “independent” Malay/Muslim opinion shapers.
Perkasa meanwhile is waging a muddled war on two fronts, the first with MIC and the second, with MCA. While certain Umno personalities rightly point out that Perkasa is a joke, the reality is that much of what Perkasa advocates is in line with mainstream Malay thought even though the community is fractured and not along ideological lines but along party (political) lines.
Perkasa’s war against the MIC is based on the MIC’s Vell Paari statement that Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik - who apparently is an honorary member of Perkasa - should be investigated for allegedly being an Islamic State (IS) recruiter here in Malaysia. Apparently, such a claim makes someone a threat Islam.
While I have no idea what Zakir Naik is doing here, the reality is that Malaysia has always been a transit point for Islamic terrorism. The New Mandala ran a piece in 2013 – ‘Extremism in the name of Islam and Malaysian Muslims’ - which I think is still relevant today. Indeed, I think the climate has become more tense with recent geopolitical conflicts and regional ratcheting of Islamic fervour by hegemons fearful of loss of power.
While I thought the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project was a flawed endeavour, I do think that the thrust of the piece - an examination of how the state creates an environment either willing or unwittingly for these types of extremists to thrive - is an important point.
The article references prominent experts and the work of two I am most familiar with - Joseph Chinyong Liow and Gordon P Means - and points to the reality that when the state makes the environment conducive to radical ideologies then we can expect more trouble from foreign devils waiting to use Malaysia as a transit point and staging area for terrorist acts. Anyone here remember the Kuala Lumpur ‘al-Qaeda summit’?
Land of opportunity
The following passage from the article should describe why I am really not concerned with Perkasa’s bleating that Vell Paari’s words were an affront to Perkasa - “For jihadi militants, Malaysia was a land of opportunity but not where militants could enjoy tacit government sponsorship or a safe sanctuary. What Malaysia had to offer the al-Qaeda network was its climate of politicised Islam within a Muslim-majority population, its visa-free immigration to citizens of Islamic countries, its excellent worldwide communication linkages, and its advanced banking system that included a well-developed sector of Islamic banks.
“Both Liow and Means have shown that the Umno-led government has played an important role in enabling, though not outright and formally encouraging, extremism in the country by way of sanctioning religious revivalism and Islamisation.”
Honestly, when you have a father of two pleading guilty and jailed for “giving support to a terrorist group and supported terrorist act involving the use of explosives” and if you are a rational person, you do not really have time to worry if Islam is under siege but rather if explosives are being set off in the name of Islam.
Then, of course, there is Perkasa’s concern that the MCA will be a conduit for communist China with the “cooperation deal” that the MCA inked with the ruling party. Unlike many other of my pundit brethren, this whole China relationship is not something that concerns me. I have more concern with the anti-China rhetoric from the opposition fuelling the anti-Chinese Malaysian sentiment that is the refuge of racists that should be of worry for any rational person.
As usual, these so-called defenders of ‘Malay’ rights are missing the bigger picture. Which is more dangerous - China attempting though commerce to spread its influence or Islamic jihadism attempting to subvert imperfect democracies in the region?
Perkasa deputy president Sirajuddin H Salleh asked, “Has BN, Umno and Malay NGO leaders forgotten the thousands of Malay soldiers and their families who suffered and died while fighting the communists who saw Beijing and Mao Zedong as their guide during the emergency? And my question to Sirajuddin is, is Perkasa forgetting the thousands of Muslims who have died all over the world because of Islamic terrorism?
Understand this. I am not too concerned about the communist threat or that MCA is sending party members to be possibly indoctrinated by the Communist Party of China. What I am worried about are the thousands of young Malays who are sent to the Middle East and come back with beliefs and ideas that are anathema to our way of life, and this seems perfectly fine with the Umno hegemon.
Why apply a different standard to the Chinese component party of BN? I suppose that being Malay and a communist is a pardonable offence, but being Chinese means that you and the generation after is always a threat.  What is Perkasa actually worried about? That these MCA cadres would return and turn the Malays into unthinking, unquestioning drones who support an ideology that is promulgated by the state? Oh wait…
Actually, what Perkasa should be worried about is the rhetoric of the grand Umno poohbah concerning China. I doubt there has ever been a Malay leader who is so unabashedly pro-China and who does not miss an opportunity to demonstrate to China that Malaysia - Tanah Melayu - would make an ideal playground for Chinese business. A Malay leader who has no problem cosying up to China whose ambassador to Malaysia angered Malay rights types with his overt rejoinders of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
If I were a Perkasa member, I would worry about the current grand Umno poohbah being a Manchurian candidate.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:31 AM   0 comments

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