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No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

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

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

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

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

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

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

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

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

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


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

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Sex, lies and hypocrisy in Penang - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Commander Thayaparan
Malaysiakini : “And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.” - Oscar Wilde, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’
COMMENT | The cancellation of Fa Abdul’s play 'Sex in Georgetown City' (later renamed 'Love in Georgetown City'), is the kind of fascist tactic that most Malaysians should be horrified with, but which goes unnoticed because people do not understand how religious extremists count on small wins to achieve a big victory.
I read Pravindharan Balakrishnan’s letter to Malaysiakini about the cancellation of the play and marvelled at how Pravindharan talked about “functionalism,” our education system and conflicting normative values, which made it sound like we were at a tea party instead of a knife fight in an alley, which is exactly what the fight against religious extremism is in this country.
It is ridiculous talking about our screwed-up education system when the reality is that in Penang, for instance, the state government, which likes to claim it believes in secular values, has made it a point to out-spend the previous state government when it comes to Islamic funding. Just last year when Lim Guan Eng was still chief minister, he crowed that RM4.11 million to Islamic affairs showed that the state government did not neglect the welfare of Malays and Islam in the state.
I have made this point numerous times. When you fund organisations that promote a specific kind of Islamic narrative, what you get are religious bigots and extremists, probably enjoying gorging on state coffers, spouting religious propaganda to clamp down on our public space and define public policy.
So when the Penang mufti. objecting to a play he did not see because of its original title, says this - “Art and entertainment activities that are left uncontrolled will only lead to the destruction of humankind” – what we are left with is not a religious operative attempting to crack down on our public space, but rather state-sponsored, state-funded and state-sanctioned religious thuggery, that is attempting to define art and what is acceptable discourse in our public space.
Forget functionalism, this is about fascism. This is also about lies and hypocrisy. Both of which are the currency extremists trade in. Penang PAS Youth information chief Ahmad Shafian Ujar claimed that this play will lead to ‘free sex, baby dumping, drugs and other social issues.”
Which community is he representing? I did not see Christian, Hindu or Buddhist religious operatives protesting this play. So he’s there not for the non-Malays, but for the Malay community, the Islamic community.
What does this say about these social issues? It tells us that these "social problems" are more prevalent in areas where religious dogma is public policy This is a fact. Now, those places, I am sure, are not staging English-language productions with titles such as 'Sex in Kota Bharu.'
So when this religious operative blames the DAP state government for not cracking down on plays like this, I blame the Penang state government for continuing to outspend BN in furthering the agenda of religious intolerance and for failing to redefine the Malay/Muslim agenda in Penang.
That RM4.11 million could have been spent on bolstering educational initiatives for young Malays and after-school secular activities for Malay students, instead of funnelling money to the Islamic affairs bureaucracy which, let me guess, has no state oversight. This is what people mean when they say that Pakatan Harapan is not changing the narrative.
Drenched with sex
Then there is the hypocrisy. These religious types always like to make it seem as if non-Malays are obsessed with sex. Even though this particular play was written and produced by a Muslim, the implication is that these so-called liberal values are always attached to “sex”. The reality is that the Malay/Muslim media is drenched with sex. The Malay press reports endlessly on the sex lives of celebrities. They report endlessly on the sexual activities of the average Malay rakyat.
The Malay readership laps up these stories. For all this talk about banning plays and works of literature by these religious hoodlums, what is in the Malay media is the constant exploration, or should that be exploitation, of sex.
One of the protesters of Fa Abdul’s play was worried that the LGBTQ agenda would be propagated by her play. How about this? A couple of months ago, Malay-language daily Kosmo! ran a cover story title – ‘Terseksa jadi hamba seks teman serumah’ (Coerced into becoming sex-slave of housemate). For the record, I am not an avid Kosmo! reader. I have many young Malay friends who pass me this kind of news stories because to them it demonstrates the hypocrisy in their community.
This particular story is about how a young Malay male named Zach, in a loving heterosexual relationship with Shira, is blackmailed into committing homosexual sex acts with his housemate, Fariz, after the latter lends him money which he cannot pay back.
I have not seen Fa Abdul’s play, but this rencana utama (lead story) seems to me something our moral guardians would latch onto. I am curious though: if someone is blackmailed into committing homosexual sex acts, is it still a religious crime? After all, Zach thought this was a test from god - Dia juga mengakui lebih positif dan menganggap perkenalannya dengan Fariz adalah ujian daripada Tuhan. How does someone get coerced into committing homosexual acts? Apparently, he could not repay his loan, so he had sex in lieu of repayment. Then the guy records their sex acts and blackmails him for more sex.
And Zach eventually reconciled his relationship with Fariz as a test from god - Dia juga mengakui lebih positif dan menganggap perkenalannya dengan Fariz adalah ujian daripada Tuhan.
Why isn't there a clamour to shut down Kosmo!? Because our moral guardians are more interested in clamping down the public space in urban areas than in the Malay/Muslim public space?
Or maybe they just understand that life is stranger than fiction.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:51 AM   0 comments
The collapse of PAS’ religious moral order by P Ramasamy
Monday, February 18, 2019
Awang Hadi, Prisoner of RM90 Million, How Mamakthir squeezes Hadi's balls to dump UMNO
Malaysiakini : ADUN SPEAKS | Nobody expected that PAS, which once boasted of providing an alternative political system based on the principles of Islam, would go down the drain under the weight of corruption, cover-ups and lies.
Its leaders have been exposed as corrupt individuals who would condone lying if it serves their narrow political interests. The withdrawal of the defamation suit and settlement against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown merely confirmed that PAS had received RM90 million from Umno just before the last general election.
Although its president Abdul Hadi Awang gave a detailed statement in a London court about the confession of the party’s central committee member Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz, yet in Malaysia, he pretended that he had not heard the recording. The out-of-court settlement in the UK with Rewcastle-Brown was another way of admitting that PAS actually had no case against her.
Further, the failure of PAS to expunge the actual statement from the article was proof beyond doubt that the party had accepted money from Umno. Hadi’s meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad last Friday and the promise that PAS would not support Umno in the Semenyih by-election was an attempt to wiggle out of a tight situation.

PAS and its leadership are in deep trouble. Its leaders have been painted as corrupted and a bunch of liars. The luxurious lifestyle of its leaders has been exposed to the public. In short, the artificial religious moral order that its leaders created have fallen flat. The party is in shambles.
Nobody trusts that Hadi, being such an opportunistic person, would stick to his promise to Mahathir that he would not support Umno in the coming by-election. He is too deceptive and slippery to be trusted. Even after receiving funds from Umno, Hadi would not think twice of betraying Umno. Umno deserves PAS and vice-versa.
A new twist
A few days after Hadi’s meeting with Mahathir, PAS leaders have come out with a new story, saying that they met up with Mahathir to reassure their support in case there is a vote of non-confidence against the prime minister by members of the other Pakatan Harapan component parties.

This is another preposterous lie by PAS leaders to cover up their moral decadence.
There is no such thing as other Harapan component parties trying to destabilise Mahathir. It is merely a figment of the wild imagination of PAS leaders trying to ingratiate themselves with Mahathir.
The recent U-turns by PAS leaders is a fear that the party is losing its political relevance in the country. Lies, corruption and opportunism are undermining the party from within.
If its leaders can condone lies in the name of religion, then there is no stopping the party from condoning other nefarious activities.
Amongst PAS leaders, there is fear of being investigated and the party deregistered for indulging in corruption. They do not have much choice other than to fall at the feet of Mahathir.
Such is the saga of the party that sought to provide a religious political alternative to Umno, but in the end, replicated its adversary by indulging in vices.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 2:57 PM   0 comments
Legacy of Mamakthir - So called "Great Leader"


So Called Great Leader.
I had placed poll on the left side bar of my blog on our Great Leader on Wednesday, December 16, 2009. You are allowed 5 answers.
This poll will run for a month. I allowed it to run until Vizu Polls shut down on the Tuesday, December 11, 2012, with a total of 16,254 people who rsponded.
It is what you feel about him. It basically is about what he is, the"Father of".
This will be his legacy when he kicks the bucket.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 12:07 PM   0 comments
Vote PSM for Semenyih - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Malaysiakini : "Kalau menang PSM berkhidmat, kalau kalah PSM masih berkhidmat. Ini politik PSM. Tetap berkhidmat untuk rakyat. (If we win PSM will serve. If we lose, PSM will still serve. That is PSM's politics. It will always serve the people.)" - Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul

COMMENT | Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul's story is a familiar one when it comes to why people join Parti Sosialis Malaysia. Working for an NGO when he first came across PSM, he was impressed by their dedication to the rakyat.

As the PSM candidate for the coming Semenyih by-election, he is doing everything you would expect from a candidate of a political party that has always demanded real change, but has been failing at the ballot box.
He has declared his assets and agreed to a debate. The latter is a tiresome prospect because there are no real political debates – even in the West – where it is all about personality and not about policy.
But, hey, it would be interesting to see how a PSM candidate differs from the other mainstream candidates. As for how much he's worth, that's another story. Unlike mainstream political hegemons, PSM does work the grassroots and work for the grassroots. Here’s the thing about PSM activist/political operatives – winning or losing is not the point of their struggle.
I hate it when mainstream political operatives talk about their 'struggle,' because it does not mean a struggle for the people they claim to represent, but rather their struggle for political relevancy in the rigged game they choose to play in.

But talk to any PSM member/supporter – be they Malay, Chinese, Indian or Orang Asli – and political relevancy, though desirable, is not the paramount concern.  Their concerns are the issues – local – facing the communities they operate in, and the larger socioeconomic context of political hegemony at odds with a sometimes apathetic, but most often voiceless strata of society.
Independence and service
People often talk about the 'tongkat' (crutch) mentality of the Malay community. On the one hand, they mock and are dismissive of the entitlements for the community. On the other, they choose the pragmatic approach of furthering these programmes because it is beneficial to the party of their choice.
Nik Aziz talks about being independent and continuing working as a masseur so he does not have to rely on outside funds. He talks about using his allowance as an MP to fund a service centre to help the people, as former PSM Sungai Siput lawmaker Dr D Michael Jeyakumar did. He knows his work could provide him with an avenue to learn more about the people he serves.
What we are talking about here are ideas of independence and service which are far more important in changing minds than whatever the mainstream political alternatives are offering, in terms of promises of more entitlements, or using the federal machinery to entice voters to vote for them.
Nik Aziz may be inexperienced, but his inexperience is that of not knowing how to work the system to his political advantage. He understands there is something wrong with the system, and he wants to engage with it and change it. This is why PSM candidates say that win or lose, they will continue working for the people. They understand there are no quick fixes.

This is echoed in the interview I did with PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan: “Though we have lost elections, we have won many local struggles in estates, squatters, and at work sites, and these victories keep us going. "Our track record in the grassroots struggle cannot be challenged by any other parties. Today, some good policies are there because of our long struggle.”
Breaking the system
Voters in Semenyih have a choice. They could opt for the mainstream political parties embroiled in a conflict about political power, or they could choose an independent party/individual, which could be the first small step in breaking the dominion of the two-party system, which offers little difference in terms of policy or modus operandi.
Suaram adviser Kua Sia Soong articulates the need for a third progressive force in Malaysian politics: “Thus, at the by-election in Semenyih, PSM can spearhead a long-overdue ‘Third Progressive Force’ to offer a non-racial, progressive and sustainable alternative to BN 1.0 and BN 2.0 for the future generations of Malaysians.”
PSM has always had a low-key approach to political campaigns. This is because they are not flushed with funds like the other mainstream political parties. Now that Pakatan Harapan is in power, no doubt the federal machinery would be mobilised to exert influence over the elections. We can see the kind of political games played instead of narrowing in on policy.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is playing the psywar game, by claiming that PAS will not support BN in this by-election. His latest meeting with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is typical 'Malay' politics, all smoke and mirrors, to cloud the issue and make partisans focus on anything but the lacklustre candidate Harapan has put up. Keep everyone guessing and nobody will concentrate on the issues.

Who knows if PAS will support Umno – although they have been voices of support – but that's the whole point of the game. Muddy the waters, and make it a spectacle. Hadi, of course, is doing his part to 'keep 'em guessing'. If the Malays are spooked by the power plays of the political elite, they will cling to stability where they can find it.
Meanwhile, Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is playing the victim card with his close encounter of the third kind with rowdy Umno supporters. The youth and sports minister said he would lodge a police report about his near assault by Umno supporters.
To get an alternative narrative, read PSM Youth chief Khalid Ismath's take on the situation, as reported in the Malay Mail: “Khalid, however, said all other Harapan leaders and ministers did not take the path that Syed Saddiq took, pointing out that the Election Commission has dictated far apart areas for the parties running in the Semenyih state race.
“'But this youth minister ignored police orders and intentionally entered BN’s path. Provocation,' he tweeted.” PSM candidates have no need for this drama. Years of interacting with the establishment means they do not needlessly provoke a confrontation to get press. When they protest and are hauled up the establishment, it is for a purpose. This purpose is not to draw attention to themselves, but to the cause they are advocating.
I hope PSM wins, or at least makes a good showing of it. However, for people like Nik Aziz, even if he loses, he will still carry on the work of speaking out for the marginalised.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:48 AM   0 comments
Does Harapan really want to control Mahathir? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Our Great Leader
Malaysiakini : Power is the ability to direct or prevent the current or future actions of other groups and individuals.- Moisés Naím
COMMENT | One question that kept cropping up before May 9, was, could Pakatan Harapan control Dr Mahathir Mohamad if the coalition won the election? Harapan political operatives assured their base and fence- sitters that there were mechanisms in place that would constrain the former prime minister who many claimed was the architect of the kleptocracy that then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was leading. Very quickly after the election, it becomes obvious that Mahathir was still playing by his own rules and all those voices pre-election were muted, embroiled in their own battles of grappling with a bureaucracy that was attempting to find its new master.
Most people view Mahathir’s backtracking on accepting Umno members as some sort of betrayal of Harapan and the people who voted for them. But is it really a betrayal? I was not the only one writing of how the fall of Umno would see an infusion of Umno talent into Bersatu. I remember writing of how that this was the game plan, that Bersatu was the lifeboat for Umno members who wanted to jump ship.
James Chin’s 2017 article on why Mahathir is at the centre of Malaysia’s opposition power play is required reading for anyone who thinks that Mahathir’s moves are out of the ordinary. In it, he not only describes the political machinations of someone I consider the shrewdest political operator in modern Malaysian history but also clearly articulates the reasons why Mahathir joined the then opposition.

In numerous articles, I reminded readers that we should not be naive when it comes to backing Mahathir. As Chin rightly pointed out, the reason Mahathir joined the opposition was not for reform but to oust Najib. The central reason why this was feasible because it involved the Malay political establishment which is the only power structure which matters.
Two points, Chin made (and in all modesty which I have made numerous times also) are worth revising.
1. “The other two pillars of the Malay establishment, the civil service and the security forces, would also be much more likely to accept a non-BN government with Mahathir than they would one without. The Malay establishment has a deep fear of the DAP who many view as Chinese chauvinists who would destroy Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) and Ketuanan Islam (Islam supremacy) should they win government. With Mahathir at the helm of Harapan, these fears are minimised.”
2. “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.”
While PAS and Umno may attempt to continue the narrative that the “Chinese DAP" is controlling Mahathir, what they are really worried about is that the old maverick is slowly consolidating Bersatu’s power in the civil service and the security apparatus.

Some people see these Umno defectors as merely corrupt politicians jumping ship but it is deeper than that. What is really happening is people with influence in the Malay establishment and people who actually have an understanding of how the bureaucracy works – corruption and all – pledging allegiance to Bersatu to carry on "business as usual" to sustain a dominant Malay power structure, which Bersatu aims to be.
Post-Mahathir milieu
Bersatu, which is slowly replacing Umno as the right-wing Malay party capable of maintaining the system of patronage and privilege of the Malay community, is not something that happened overnight. It was the game plan from the start and if you believe that Harapan political operatives did not know this, then they are incompetent or are just plain lying to their base. Or maybe the base was drunk on the Kool-Aid.
Nowhere is this game plan more evident than in the recent allegations by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer that the Harapan win rattled senior members of the judiciary (for a whole minute) but then they “extremely happy” when members of the old regime were elevated. "The talk among the judicial members was that they were appointed because of the influence of an ex-minister who they served earlier.”
So the question changes from “Can Harapan control Mahathir” to “Does Harapan want to control Mahathir?” This is really the question, right? Voters may have been fooled by the promises of reform but does anyone really think that the power-brokers in Harapan were fooled into thinking that joining up with Mahathir, the creation of Bersatu and the ousting of Najib would really bring the reform that this country needed?
Forget about the broken promises. Look at what is happening in Harapan. Besides a few nanny state policies, what they have been doing is reworking the policies of the former Umno/BN regime. This goes far beyond renaming BRIM or retaining propaganda organisations or re-tweaking economic and social policies to give them a new spin which is the least of our problems.
These days, the DAP seems more interested in deflecting than in reforming, going after the MCA which has nothing to lose by reminding DAP of its failed reform policies. Meanwhile, PKR and Amanah are having to grapple with the fact that the Malay establishment has very little use for them and the smarter political operatives are already forming alliances which would be of use in a post-Mahathir milieu.
Sure, you can point to some political operatives who are making noises about the moves of the Harapan Grand Poohbah but the reality is that the real power-brokers in Harapan and their influential minions are remaining silent because they understand that this was the nature of the bargain they made to get federal power.
The upcoming Semenyih by-election is a good example of the inevitability of the ascension of Bersatu. Even if Bersatu loses Semenyih, it more than makes up for it with further defections from Umno. While a loss in Semenyih may look bad perception-wise, the reality is that the Malay establishment never relied on elections to maintain power.
Umno may claim bragging rights if they win Semenyih but it would be worse for them in the long run if more members jump ship and they are straddled with an “official” alliance with PAS. People will forget the Semeyih loss in wake of more defections and consolidating power through defections is a game not anything as unpredictable as elections.
So to retain federal power, does anyone really think that Harapan wants to control Mahathir?
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 3:33 PM   0 comments
Siti Kasim: An inconvenient woman - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Malaysiakini : “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” ― Abigail Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams
COMMENT | For those of us who view religious extremism, which is reaching critical levels as the existential threat facing this country, Siti Kasim is the raised middle finger to the religious bigots, fascist crypto-Islamists and race supremacists who have control and influence in this country.
Whether fighting for the rights of women, indigenous people, the LGBTQ community or opposing radical Islam, Siti Kasim has made herself a target for the religious bureaucracy and political operatives in the establishment.
While most Muslims who do not support the darker paths of Islam are content to hope for a moderate agenda from the political and religious elite, Siti openly advocates a progressive agenda for all Malaysians.
In this interview, Siti reminds us why people who read are dangerous to the established order of things, and continues in her effort to save Malaysia from the political and religious class who view her as a threat to their dominion.
Siti Kasim is an inconvenient reminder that the progressive forces in this country that could save Malaysia are being marginalised, and that speaking truth to power is problematic in these partisan times.
Do you think the persecution you face is based on the fact that you are a woman questioning religious dogma? Yes, being an outspoken woman does not sit well with the patriarchy culture of radical Islamism. Also, a woman who does not conform to their view on how a Muslim woman should be.
How do you cope with the harassment you receive?
I try to ignore and focus on my causes. Of course, I can’t run away from reading the nasty messages sent to me, but I take it in my stride and believe that what I am doing is right for my country and my fellow Malaysians. The supportive messages I receive give me the strength to continue, and I know I am on the right path. I thank God for giving me a strong constitution to face all the negativity thrown at me.
What do you think is the Attorney-General's Chambers' (AGC) role in the current charges against you?
I am not sure what is the AGC’s role in the current charges against me. (Note: This interview was conducted before the AGC dropped the charges against Siti Kasim for showing her middle finger to hecklers in a forum.) From what’s stated by OCCI Fadzil, he received the endorsement to charge me from the previous AGC. I believe it’s selective persecution against me by certain quarters within the government.

How do you engage with Muslims who believe in the Islamist mode of thinking and believe that sanctions against you are justified?
You have no hope of engaging with them. These are people who are indoctrinated in radical Islamism. The teachings, the mentality of which is no different from that of Talibanism and ISIS terrorists. Only Taliban and ISIS terrorists will sanction others for being different from them. The only difference between them and the Taliban and ISIS is that they have no power or weapons to carry out their threats. When they have those, the country will be torn asunder.
Yet our government does not seem to realise that we have a serious terrorist mentality bred with extreme prejudice inside our society, which needs to be eradicated. This is a serious problem today.
Malay-Muslims are participating in and leading terrorist organisations all around the world. We have groups like Skuad Badar, which is nothing more than a terrorist organisation without weapons terrorising people. We have people like Amri Che Mat and Pastor Koh disappearing in plain daylight and never to be heard again. We should be terrified. Not talking about it is not going to make it go away. We need to tackle it head-on with extreme conviction.
Does being a "liberal" Muslim who appeals to a certain demographic bring with it more problems when engaging in the Islamic discourse? It should not be. Remember our Rukun Negara has the word 'liberal' in it, and it was written by Malay leadership at a time when Malay society needed to progress. In fact, most of the liberal Muslims I know have more knowledge about the Quran than the majority of the Malay population because liberals read more on their own and don't depend on the cleric class to tell them about their religion.

Do you think that Mujahid Yusof Rawa (photo) is doing enough to offer a counter-narrative in the Islamic discourse in this country?
No. They are still not facing the fact that our religious-bent Malaysian education system is delivering to us every year a more radicalised Islamist generation who are intolerant and increasingly militant in mindset. It is no surprise that PAS is increasing in strength, and Umno has to be more radical Islamist than before in order to gain Malay votes.
We need to change this mindset by changing education to go back to our secular humanist roots. The roots that made the Malays progressive and more developed in the 80s.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the Orang Asal community in this country and what has the Harapan government done to address this issue?
First, I'd like to correct the usage of Orang Asal and Orang Asli. The 'Orang Asal' term is used for Sabah and Sarawak indigenous people, whilst Orang Asli is for those in the peninsula. The Orang Asli are largely forest or agriculture based, although several individuals have achieved levels of educational and economic success comparable to those of the dominant population.
Nevertheless, it is no hidden secret that the Orang Asli rank among the most marginalised of Malaysians today, not just in terms of numbers, but in their ability to determine their own fate. The once politically autonomous and independent people are but a pale likeness of their ancestors. Much of this has to do with the fact that the Malaysian nation state does not recognise the Orang Asli as a separate people - that is, as distinct groups associated with particular territorial bases and requiring 'government' on a different basis from that of the other communities.
But, as can be discerned from their demands, the Orang Asli are not, at least not yet, seeking self-determination in the sense that they want to secede from the Malaysian nation-state. Rather, the desire is to exercise full autonomy in their traditional territories, both in the control and ownership of their lands, and in the determination of their way of life and in the way they deal with the dominant society.

The issue of Orang Asli land rights is but the most visible and deeply-felt manifestation of the principal problem facing the Orang Asli viz-a-viz the unwillingness of the state to recognise the Orang Asli as a distinct people. Using the 'land rights' problem as a strategy for Orang Asli political mobilisation is rational because the issue is deeply felt among the communities, easily identifiable, and it is the source of much social stress for the Orang Asli.
With the recent suit which our federal government initiated against the Kelantan state government, it can be seen that the Pakatan Harapan government is attempting to correct the wrongs. We have also seen more Orang Asli senators being appointed when they came into power.
From our engagement with the current government, we can see there is a lot more improvement than before, at least with the current minister in charge of Orang Asli Affairs. We hope the Harapan government will continue with its determination in trying to solve our Orang Asli problems.
Do you believe that Harapan has a moderate Islamic agenda?
They have, but they do not know how to go about it. They do not have the leadership for it. The political will is missing. I will be talking in more detail on this subject in my column soon.
Do you think it is important for non-Muslims to speak up when they witness Islamic transgressions or does this make the situation worse?
Yes. We need them to stand up for fellow Malaysians, and Malays who are being persecuted by the conservative Islamist authorities, to ensure Malaysia will always be the home for their children and grandchildren to live in and prosper. When any public policy is based on any religious ideology, every citizen must have the right to speak up about it.
Is the press doing its part in highlighting Islamic provocations?
No. It has not done enough to highlight and criticise.
Why do think "moderate" Muslims are afraid to speak up?
Just look at the social media comments by their so-called fellow Muslims against anyone who does not conform to them. The amount of vile comments, threats of sanctions, harassment, persecution and even threat of physical harm by the Islamist elements in Malay society are enough to scare away and silence many Muslims.
Do you think the Malay community needs Islamic departments at state and federal levels?
Under ideal conditions, the answer would have been 'no', but in our environment we need a federal department that can monitor and revamp radical Islamic teaching that is going on today to abolish them. That should be their job.
We don’t need them to do dakwah (proselytisation). No government should be using tax money to propagate any religion.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:02 PM   0 comments
That familiar Malay tune in Semenyih - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, February 11, 2019
Our Great Leader
Malaysiakini : “If Mahathir cannot help create a wave of change among the rural Malay voters for the 14GE in the remaining 100 days, then no other political leader could accomplish this ‘Mission Impossible’.” – Lim Kit Siang
COMMENT | The quote by Lim Kit Siang that opens this piece is open for debate. Most post-election analyses have determined that Mahathir did not create the Malay tsunami that his allies hoped he would.
For the record, in numerous pieces before the 14th general election, I advocated that Harapan should stop waffling and endorse the former prime minister for the top job, using the same line of reasoning as Kit Siang.
The upcoming Semenyih by-election comes on the heels of the Cameron Highlands debacle. Post-May 9, the Malay power brokers in Harapan and their non-Malay enablers have failed to counter the Malay and Islamic narratives of the Umno/PAS union. This by-election is seen as a bellwether for Malay support of Harapan, and Harapan political operatives tell me that they are leaving nothing to chance.
If you thought that Harapan playing the BN game in Cameron Highlands was bad, you will witness the full glory of neo-BN in the Semenyih by-election. Most analysts agree that Harapan has to play the race and religion card in Semenyih. This has received blowback from many quarters, which puzzles me.
Harapan partisans have been calling and emailing me, outraged that the strategy seems to be to court the Malay vote in the upcoming Semenyih by-election, which runs contrary to the idea of New Malaysia. Firstly, there is no New Malaysia. This should be evident by now.
If Bersatu and Mahathir were needed before the election to court the rural and semi-urban Malay vote, why is there opposition to tactics and strategies to maintain the Malay vote post-May 9? Lim Kit Siang said, “Pakatan Harapan lacks any personality capable of convincing rural Malay voters to support the pact, aside from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”
In 2017, Kit Siang said that while he did not agree with all of Mahathir’s reasoning for not allowing the DAP to contest under the Bersatu ticket – if the DAP were de-registered – he understood his stand. Meanwhile, Mahathir said that PPBM (Bersatu) needed to remain a Malay party because the Malays were still communal.


Mahathir said: “If they (Malay voters) see a multi-racial party, they will not support it. They (Pakatan Rakyat) got a lot of support from the Chinese, but little Malay support and without it, you can’t win. So we can replace Umno with our group (Bersatu), not by being like Umno, but we would be a Malay party.”
Kit Siang seemed fine with this and offered a kind of restatement of old Alliance-style politics when he claimed – “Bersatu was still more Malaysian than Umno, as the former wants Malays to unite and work with other citizens, while the latter wants Malaysians to remain Malays, Chinese and Indians and is even trying to polarise the next elections as a battle between the Malays and Chinese.”
So this whole idea of Bersatu and Malay power brokers playing the race and religion card in Semenyih as something anathema to New Malaysian politics is horse manure. There are two kinds of partisans. The ones who understand they were making a deal with the devil to oust Najib, and those who believed there was a new Malaysia.
'RM90 million scandal a positive strategy'
Bersatu and PAS people who I talk to are feeling good about the upcoming Semenyih by-election. Umno has never been the underdog, one said, and if we take Semenyih, we would have demonstrated that we are still a force to be reckoned with in the Malay community, an old Umno friend, said recently.
Meanwhile, PAS political operatives tell me that they are going to be playing up the “persecution” card in their campaigning. “This RM90 million scandal could be a positive strategy for us, because the AG is a non-Malay, and we can argue that this is some sort of religious persecution,” one of them said.
Indeed, for people who held their noses and voted for Harapan, knowing full well what they were getting into, the stench is becoming unbearable. But what else is there for Harapan to do, asked a non-Malay political operative who spoke to me a few days ago. People, non-Malays, talk about the “Malay” strategy as if it were something in the past and not the strategy Harapan employed to give it federal power.
I keep asking Malay political operatives in Harapan why they do not offer a counter-Malay narrative to what Umno and PAS are offering. The answer is always the same. The grassroots are not interested. Those who voted for Harapan are mocked by those who did not vote for Harapan, as being lied to by Mahathir. They took a chance on us and now we have to deliver like Umno, a Harapan political backer informed me.
I argued that this is the problem. The Malay political elite does not want to change the narrative. The non-Malay establishment has calculated that it is better that they play along, instead of making waves, allowing the discourse to be dominated by this New Malaysia horse manure which plays into the hands of the far right.
I often reference this Bersatu strategist I like talking to because she gives it to me straight: “Commander, it is like this. The Malays are in a win-win situation now. Those who did not vote for us are not going to be marginalised by Harapan, and they know it.
“Those who voted for us are a bit confused as to what exactly the Harapan Malay agenda is. PAS and Umno are pointing to those policies which they say usurp Malay rights and Islam. We have to play the race and religion card and if any non-Malay member says how can we do this, they are liars because they knew this would be a fight for the Malay vote.”
So, the real question about playing the Malay tune, in Semenyih and beyond, is how far right is the Malay Harapan establishment willing to go, to defeat the Umno and PAS union, and how far is the non-Malay establishment willing to follow the Harapan Malay establishment?
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:00 AM   0 comments
Fake degrees and fake reforms - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, February 09, 2019
Bangi MP Dr Ong Kian Ming has spoken up in support of Dr Maszlee Malik’s appointment as Education Minister, in response to critics citing his alleged “support” for controversial preacher Zakir Naik.  


Malaysiakini : “Ong said given the more serious nature of the revelation, Najib must ask the two ministers to quit to reflect his seriousness in upholding accountability.” - Malay Mail, June 26, 2013
COMMENT | I really did not want to get into this whole “fake degree” fiasco but then I read Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming’s piece about not needing a degree to be an effective politician and realised how much trouble we are in. Ong couldn’t even bring himself to name the minister in question, and chose instead to backtrack on earlier positions he held while maintaining he has been consistent.
Ong's piece is politics at its most craven. Ong is half-right. You do not need professional qualifications to be an effective politician. However, professional qualifications most times add a veneer of legitimacy to mendacious politics because people are conditioned to think that professional degrees add an element of credibility to political rhetoric.
But it adds very little to actual governing and policy-making which entails a different set of skill sets, most importantly political will. Ong says that a professional qualification is not needed to be an effective politician. This is true. A politician lies or spins, works the party system, makes alliances and enemies and generally does despicable deeds to court votes, and you do not need a professional qualification to do this.
Do all politicians do this? Maybe not, but mainstream political parties are filled with elected politicians who do this. Furthermore, Ong now claims that when being part of the government or a ministry, “it is more important for you to know your scope of work and your policy responsibilities. Having done a degree may be helpful in training you to think more broadly and critically and hence, better equip you to govern. But it is not guaranteed.”
With regards to “degree mills”, Ong said: “My stand on this issue is clear and has not changed. It is not acceptable for politicians to buy degrees from degree mills and then try to pass these off as being genuine academic degrees.” On this issue, Ong's stand is not clear. I would argue his stand on this issue was clear but since coming to federal power his stand has been reversed. What Ong says now is radically different from what he said back in the day. The justification he is making now is a mockery of what this Pakatan Harapan reform government is supposed to be about. It does, however, demonstrate that Harapan operatives are excelling in back-pedalling.
In 2013, Ong had asked then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak to sack two ministers who Ong claimed had fake degrees. If anything, his stand then was clear. Two points need to be understood when considering Ong's change of position. And this is so funny because the headline for the report blares out “Sack ministers with dubious degrees, DAP MP tells PM”.
The first, Ong has a clear position on this issue and demanded the resignation of ministers with fake degrees. “It is truly disappointing that on the first day for ministerial replies in the first parliamentary sitting since the 13th general election, Malaysians have to accept the reality that Prime Minister Najib Razak has appointed two ministers with two dodgy degrees each from institutions which are degree mills.”
The second, Ong shifts the goal posts. In his piece yesterday, he claimed that not having a degree does not necessarily impede a politician's ability to carry out his policy responsibilities but the question here is, does having a fake degree impede the minster’s ability to carry out his responsibility? We should refer to what Ong said before Harapan came into federal power:
“Therefore, to entrust two ministers with fake degrees with the serious responsibilities of human capital development and the management of certifications and standards is not only a gross embarrassment but also most ironic for a prime minister who has made transformation his clarion call.”
OKM
Bending over backwards
Should the police investigate someone for having a degree from a degree mill or a fake degree? Probably not. But if having a fake degree is part of the systemic corruption that someone like Ong used to rail against, then why is Ong now making all these justifications for a member of his coalition?
Ong asked then prime minister Najib for the resignation of the two ministers in 2013 and asked for the ministers to resign to prove their commitment to reform. Why is Ong not asking the current prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the resignation of Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya (photo)? Why is he not asking Marzuki to resign? Why is he not asking for the Harapan political elite to demonstrate they are committed to reforms?

In 2013, Ong made the case that fake degrees hamper the ability of ministers to effectively carry out their policy responsibilities. He called it an embarrassment for the reform agenda of the Najib regime. Now when a deputy minister who has to be a credible spokesperson for Malaysia has been caught with a fake degree, why isn’t Ong applying the same standards?
Does Ong really believe that his position has not changed? Does Ong really believe that his muted goal posts-shifting piece about fake degrees is really the way how to reform the system? I mean, does anyone else realise how funny this is?
Bersatu deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir said that Marzuki was not appointed for his academic credentials and here we have Ong telling people that academic qualifications do not necessarily mean a minister would be good at his job, which directly contradicts what he said back in the day when he was going after the Umno regime. Is there some sort of collaboration when it comes to shovelling the horse manure or do Harapan political operatives all think the same way?
Now people may say this is not a big issue. Truth be told, I am not really bothered by politicians who go around carrying fake degrees. As far as I am concerned, all the ministerial appointments have been a dodgy affair and it would not matter if the appointees had sterling academic qualifications. The reality is that most of them are not really interested in reform or do not have any ideas for reforming the system.
What is alarming is the way how politicians who used to claim to want to reform the system and hold the government accountable are now bending over backwards to defend issues which before they came into power they claimed were indefensible. The question is not how Marzuki can be a credible deputy minister but how those who backtrack on their positions just to defend Marzuki be credible reformers?
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 4:21 PM   0 comments
Wang Kelian – into the heart of darkness - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Malaysiakini : “You know I hate, detest and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies - which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget.” ― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
COMMENT | I have no idea what will become of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the mass graves at Wang Kelian. While NGOs and activists have expressed support for the government’s decision to set up this RCI, I remain sceptical if anything will come of it.
Wang Kelian is more than just a mass grave. It is an indictment of a system that is mired in corruption bordering on the evil and a society that has very little interests in the plight of marginalised peoples who come to our homeland.
We are a nation that has still not acknowledged our history of slavery upon the indigenous people of this country. We do not attempt to learn from our past. We bury it, hoping that we may escape whatever lessons it could have taught us.
The executive director of the human rights NGO Tenaganita, Glorene A Das, reminded the powers that be to also investigate the individuals (including those who may be politically linked) who were behind the cover-up of Wang Kelian: “The reported cover-up of the activities of human trafficking syndicates and the annihilation of vital evidence needs to be explained; those involved in it should be brought to justice, without fear or favour.”
And this is an important point. The fact is that Wang Kelian could not have happened if the was no collusion among crime syndicates, the state security apparatus and most importantly, the political class who were needed to facilitate and give legitimacy to a cover-up. We are talking about high crimes perpetrated by local actors working in concert with foreign high-ranking officials.
With this in mind, the idea that the police are going to “assist” in this RCI is laughable. One of the things I argued that the new Pakatan Harapan government should do, after their historic May 9 win, is to unearth the killers and slavers of Wang Kelian. I have a deep mistrust of the state security apparatus. Please refer to this piece.
In it you will discover that all Bukit Aman has done is to stonewall journalists investigating this case. They dodged questions from the then opposition political operatives, contaminated (or worse) the crime scenes and these were enabled by the ruling BN regime. International publications like the Guardian reported that the state department claimed that there was high-level participation of government officials in Malaysia and Thailand in the Wang Kelian mass killings.

A police Special Branch report compiled over 10 years detailed the systemic corruption within the enforcement agencies, claiming that at least 80 percent of law enforcement officers at the border were corrupt. The DAP’s Steven Sim (photo), who has been doing sterling work, which often went unreported, questioned then home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the status of 12 police officers who were persons of interests in this crime and what did the home minister say in his written reply? That there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.
No independent investigation was done
Bukit Aman, when this issue first seeped into the mainstream media, claimed that there was no evidence that any police personnel were involved. Never mind that evidence was tampered with. Never mind that there was circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing. Never mind that political operatives from the highest levels of the Umno system were repeating the same denials as the state security apparatus, despite no independent investigation having been done.
We are now to believe that the police are suddenly interested in discovering the “truth”
Unfortunately, the "truth" is unpalatable when it comes to human trafficking in Malaysia. As per this report: In one of their major coups in 2011, the Special Branch arrested eight Immigration Department officers based at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for their alleged involvement in a human-trafficking operation. When interrogating the suspects, one of them was asked, "Who else are in the payroll of the syndicate?" And the shocking answer was: "It would be easier if you asked us for the names of officers not on the take."
Do you know what is dangerous about the game we are playing here? Forget about the fact that Bukit Aman assisting in this investigation should raise red flags. Consider the political operatives and their hangers-on who could have been involved in this. What we have are political operatives who are now part of the government, who were also part of the old regime. Who can you really trust when it comes to this RCI, in the sense that some kind of political interference could be applied to save the collective behinds of political operatives in the establishment and the opposition.
What we have are political operatives and their hangers-on who could have profited or covered up crimes in the old regime and who now work in this new regime. Would they really be interested in the truth being exposed? Would they really be interested to shine a light on the nexus of criminal enterprises, the security apparatus and political power in this country?
And what of the state security apparatus? Has there been any real reform since the Harapan government took over? There were rumblings of closing down certain units and chatter on the streets was because these units had become so entangled in criminal syndicates they were supposed to be investigating. It would be easier to close down these units and sweep everything under the carpet. I have said before, that the state security apparatus is riddled with petty fiefdoms, whose allegiances shift with the turning of the political tide.
I hope I am wrong. I truly do hope so, but I think nobody really wants to confront the heart of darkness which is Wang Kelian.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:36 AM   0 comments
A Malay Malaysia - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, February 04, 2019
Malaysiakini : The ends justifies the means, that's the system
I learned that in school then I dropped out
Hit the streets, checked a grip, and now I got clout
I had nothing, and I wanted it
You had everything, and you flaunted it
Turned the needy into the greedy – Ice T (New Jack Hustler)

COMMENT | One of the things I find interesting is former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s public transformation of his image as a privileged Malay politician to that of an everyman attempting to fight the system hell-bent on destroying him. The Pakatan Harapan regime, for various reasons, comes off as malicious or tone-deaf to the message Najib is disseminating to the Malay base.
What Najib is doing is tapping into the class resentments in the Malay community, while demonising the Chinese community through a stand-in – the DAP. Harapan plays the same narrative – like demonsing the PRC – not realising (or not caring) that this narrative ultimately arrives at the same destination, the Malaysian Chinese community as a scapegoat for the mendacity of mainstream Malay international business deals, or toxic communal relationship or dissatisfaction of economic standards brought upon by unbalanced economic polices that favour a specific capitalist class in the Malay community.
When Harapan came into power, I warned that what we had was a “Malay” opposition, which would use race and religion in lieu of policy. What Harapan had to do was change the narrative because what they are up against was decades of indoctrination and entitlements programmes that had failed the Malay community.
 Here is the relevant bit – “The Malay opposition will define itself by offering a virulent counter-narrative when it comes to issues of race and religion. They will attempt to force the Harapan regime to demonstrate how committed they are in their secular principles and, of course, their egalitarian principles – if they are committed to these at all.”
Far-right Malay friends have this fantasy. When the Malays finally win the demographics game, and minorities are insignificant when it comes to political power, they believe they would have this racial and religious paradise without all the problems multi-culturalism brings. Never mind the economic and social repercussions of having a mono-ethnic Malaysia, what I find hilarious is how blind some of the mainstream Malay intelligentsia are to the class divisions in Malay society.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT) ran a piece recently, where Syed Husin Ali discussed the type of conflict “yang akan dihadapi oleh masyarakat Melayu sekiranya negara ini hanya didiami oleh satu bangsa sahaja (that will be faced by Malay society when this country is inhabited by only one race).” Syed Husin rightly pointed out that the type of conflict would be a class conflict. For the record, I am a Syed Husin Ali fanboy, and have followed his career and writings for years.

Two points are worth considering . Syed Husin (photo) discussed the two competing interests that would come into conflict - “Pertama kata beliau, adalah kepentingan nilai seperti agama dan moral, manakala kedua adalah kepentingan berkaitan politik seperti perkembagan ekonomi dan pendidikan. Apabila kepentingan-kepentingan ini bertentangan, maka wujudlah konflik. (Firstly, is the importance of religious and moral values. When mixed with politics in economic development and education, conflict will arise.) ”
And then he dived into the nature of the eventual class conflict that would arise - “Misalannya, kurang kekayaan dalam kalangan Melayu. Orang Melayu yang di bawah akan menganggap mereka miskin kerana kekayaan dikumpul oleh kelompok (orang Melayu kaya) yang sedikit. Justeru, timbullah konflik. (For example, Malay poverty. These Malays may think they are poor because wealth is in the hands of a small elite (rich Malays). This will give rise to conflict.)”
Syed Husin, who, no doubt, has studied other mono-ethnic societal breakdowns, points out the various degrees of manifestation that such class resentment brings.
When people understand that something is wrong...
The first manifestation is where people understand that something is wrong and that they are at the bottom of the totem pole, but are afraid to express this resentment. However, this does not last long. Sooner or later they express their anger and eventually - “Ataupun orang boleh sampai angkat senjata kerana marah. Keadaan ini boleh menimbulkan revolusi. (Or people reach the point where they take up arms in their anger. This will give rise to a revolution.”
I wrote about this decades ago, in a position paper that was mocked by the military establishment because I was told that this would never happen in Malaysia. Never mind that May 13 happened and the policies that were created post-May 13, planted the seeds – in my opinion – of an eventual class conflict in the Malay community.
One of the reasons why I think Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is ahead of the curve is because they understand that there is a class conflict within the majority community. While PSM is portrayed as some sort of “Indian” party – honestly the dumb casual racism they face online is indicative of the failure of progressive politics in this country - the reality is that for years they have been trying to tap into the class resentment of all communities in Malaysia.
Someone like the potential Semenyih by-election candidate, PSM Youth member Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, has a better understanding of the frustrations of the Malay disenfranchised than anyone from the other mainstream Malay political parties. PSM’s class dialectic is what mainstream Malay power brokers fear.

While PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan (photo) may be the public face of the party, the Malay and Chinese political operatives and grassroots activists bear a message that is drowned out by partisan politics and religious fervour. The sooner they get a foothold in mainstream politics and the majority Malay community, the sooner we should see progressive politics seep into the political landscape based on class divisions instead of racial or religious ones.
What I found interesting about Mariam Mokhtar’s latest piece is that it is a scattershot of the class divisions within the Malay community. What we are talking about are Malays whose privilege has some value at the moment as opposed to Malays who think they have privilege, but in reality are low down economically than non-Malays who have no privilege.
Then there is the issue of religion. What do the privileged political and plutocrat class of the Malay community do? They use religion to narcotise the working class and disenfranchise the Malay community. It is effective up to a point. What happens when they cannot use the non-Malays as a convenient punching bag? Well, what happens to rich Muslim potentates in many Islamic states?
The masses fall prey to a more virulent strain of Islamism, which tell them how corrupt their rulers are and how a truly Islamic state is where they would achieve parity. This is the experience of nearly every Islamic state – moderate or otherwise – in the world. Why do you think the disenfranchised and the working class are prey to Islamic extremists? Why do you think Islamic extremists find ample opportunity to recruit in academic institutions? The answer is because young, disenfranchised people slowly awaken to the fact that the system screws them over, while rich people are not subject to the same laws as them.
Does anyone really think that jailing corrupt potentates is going to solve the class divisions in the majority community?
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:12 AM   0 comments
The Icerd-supporting hypocrites - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, February 02, 2019
Malaysiakini : “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” ― Malcolm X
COMMENT | Malaysiakini columnist Zan Azlee’s latest piece is a response to Hafidz Baharom’s letter – and the discourse surrounding the hypocrisy of supporting Icerd but justifying the overt racism of certain property-owners here in Malaysia.
Mind you, I do not think Zan understands the etymology of the term “institutional racism” (which I will leave to readers to discover and which is why I use the word “overt”) but I understand where he is coming from. What he means, I assume, are the pro-Malay racist policies that define the social, economic and political landscape of Malaysia.
Nor do I think that Zan was justifying racism but it sure as hell comes off that way when a couple with the means to pay for accommodation are rejected based on the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs. The last thing they would think is the landlord is “fussy” and I am sure if you told them that this landlord supports Icerd, they would burst out in laughter.
The idea that you can be in favour of something like Icerd yet still believe that individuals are perfectly within their rights to discriminate based on race or religion is exactly the kind of horse manure that infects this country and which helps the political class maintain power.
One “award-winning” journalist when interviewed on a radio station actually said that while racism is a problem, she did not believe the state had the right to legislate when it comes to personal property. She made the distinction between the “discrimination” of (and by) the state and babbled on about how education would slowly ameliorate individual racism.
Really? The state is always legislating when it comes to individual property. The state is always legislating when it comes to how we conduct business. This idea for anti-discrimination laws when it comes to tenancy agreements (for instance) and something the state should not get involved in, is complete horse manure.
The central theme of Icerd is eliminating all forms of racism and discrimination and while the legalese of this convention is contextualised in support of certain race-based agendas, at the heart of it, what its proponents hoped Icerd would do is put us on the road towards reforming a system which is mired in the kind of racism and bigotry detrimental to social and economic cohesion.
This really goes beyond to use Zan’s term “fussy” landlords but rather the poisoned racial discourse in this country where certain types of racism are accepted – nay, encouraged - but where people clamour for the state to get rid of its racist policies.
“Racial preference” is such a quaint term. It’s like saying some of my best friends are people in my non-preferred category but I just do not want to rent out to them. Landlords having specific criteria that anyone could theoretically fulfil is not racism. It becomes racism when the criterion is race, or bigotry when it comes to religion.
Of course, people are blind to some things in this country or worse, do not really care. This idea that the state was racist, which created a separate space for the non-Malays to compete, live and die in, has resulted in a discourse which not only alienates people but also encourages a siege mentality in the non-Malay community.
It like people who scream that there is no discrimination in the private sector and that the only discrimination that exists is the kind carried out by the state. Or when they claim that there is discrimination in the private sector but it is more important for the state to handle the discrimination it perpetuates.
Really dumb
What people fail to understand is that the political class in this country benefit when people condone certain forms of racism instead of rejecting them outright. Racists will make all sort of justifications for their racism which will include prior experience with a specific race, falling back on racial stereotypes, deep-rooted anger for the systemic racism by the state or just plain, old-fashioned ignorance.
And the political class likes this state of play. Indeed, when mainstream politicians advocate some form of anti-discriminatory laws, what they are really doing is inviting the non-Malays especially to call out the racism of the state while defending the racial preference of the individual which is spun to look like the preference of the community even though many people would object to justifying racism in their name. Or at least, that’s what I hope.
Why do they do this? Because it helps their narrative that without the protection of preferential policies, they would be at the mercy of the minorities who have no problem – or so they claim – with preferential policies of their own.
They get to point to the hypocrisy of these people who clamour for something like Icerd but have no problem being “racists” when it comes to their interests. This is why the majority need the protection of the state and why the minorities want to strip the majority of this protection or so the official mainstream goes. This whole idea that some pundits like to propagate that, “We are Malaysians, we are all racists” to support certain agendas while disavowing others is really dumb.
Whenever I hear this, I say, “Speak for yourself.” I am always questioning my ideas when it comes to race and religion. I support legalisation and ideas which address these issues and sometimes disagree with the solutions offered.
Imagine what would happen if a non-Malay politician said that he or she supports something like Icerd but also supports the right of landlords for racial preference. What signal would this send to the Malay community? So it's easy under the cover of anonymity to promote a racist agenda but not so easy to justify such a stand either politically or morally when you are promoting a "new Malaysia".
All this goes back to the Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid. That stupid idea that seeks to eliminate race from the discourse under certain - political expedient – conditions. This has made an honest conversation about race impossible. If people were seriously interested in reform, they would support something like Icerd and condemn the racism that is perpetrated through government policy as well as condemn racism carried out by some of the rakyat.
The political class is hypocritical and mendacious when they want to tackle racism in the property market (for instance) but ignore the racism in the government. However, the rakyat is hypocritical when they justify certain forms of racism, but demand that the government confronts the racism in the government.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:57 PM   0 comments
Is wooing PAS a good idea? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Malaysiakini : Renji - Another well argued article. Why is Thayaparan the only writer on what’s going in in Malaysians politics worth reading? In my view it’s because he is objective, honest and truthful. The paucity of comments demonstrates that few really want to see the wood from the trees.   

“In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

COMMENT | This is God’s honest truth. I am more wary of the crypto Islamists within Pakatan Harapan – more so now that Harapan is the establishment – than I am of PAS. 
There was a meme floating around before the Cameron Highlands by-election, that Harapan should be working in some form or another with PAS. After the by-election, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was asked, considering the results, if it was time for Harapan to woo PAS.
Malaysiakini columnist P Gunasegaram advances the same idea in his post-mortem of the Cameron Highlands by-election: “And they should not exclude a possible alliance with PAS for this, thus pulling the carpet from under Umno. This may require a leadership change within PAS and the dropping of DAP’s virulent opposition to the Islamic party.”
About the only thing I disagree with Guna’s point is that it is not so much the DAP's virulent opposition to PAS, but rather that the DAP has hitched its wagon to Amanah’s narrative of Islam, and any sort of relationship with PAS would be defined by PAS trolling Amanah in the religious, political and social discourse.
I do not think people understand how damaging the fallout has been with Amanah splintering from PAS, or how PAS blames the DAP for this. When the so-called moderates of Amanah left PAS, a vacuum was created in the Islamic discourse in PAS, which has not been filled. This suits PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang just fine.
Two points I have made before need to be considered. The first when I warned not to underestimate PAS: “Some opposition analysts think that PAS was crippled when Amanah broke away, but my thinking is different, especially when speaking to PAS grassroots-level organisers. While a political party needs a robust dialectic within it to remain relevant, PAS is now free to define (centrally) its own version of moderation without having to rely on non-Muslims (or Muslims who are simpatico to non-Muslim politicians) input to craft a narrative which resonates with their ever-growing base.”
And the second, when I warned of PAS’ foreboding green tsunami: “PAS has remained true to its principles, and in numerous articles that mainstream English speakers can’t be bothered to read, told their supporters that winning the federal government at the expense of their Islamic values is not something which PAS desires. What they want is a Malay/Muslim tsunami which legitimately leads them to federal power or to create coalitions with like-minded political hegemons, so long as power-sharing does not involve them in betraying their Islamic values.”

Non-Malays think Hadi (photo) is the problem. He is for them, but for most of the base, Hadi is doing a great job. Strategically, PAS is not working with Umno. It is Umno that is working with PAS. Hadi has managed to define, sometimes through proxies, the Islamic narrative in this country and had made federal Islamic institutions irrelevant when it comes to the Islamic narrative in this country.
While people may snigger and claim that Hadi has been bought and paid for, the reality is that PAS has leveraged its indifference to moderation, as a means to federal power, into a powerful symbol of racial and religious unity.
Anecdotally speaking, one of the benefits of attending the anti-Icerd rally was to observe and listen to the PAS base and what they thought of the political climate, which on the one hand does business as usual and on the other attempts some kind of reform. What people do not get about some PAS partisans is that when they see politicians caving in or back-tracking on policies that undermine the Islamic narrative of PAS, they become more convinced that the politicians are cowards and out to subvert Islam, and that PAS is the line in the sand when it comes to their souls.
Brilliant moves of Harapan?
Some people may think these are brilliant moves of Harapan in burnishing their Islamic/Malay credentials, but all they do is remind people that Harapan political operatives are duplicitous and weak compared to the political operatives in PAS, who have always made their positions clear.
Any discussion about “constructive” dialogue, when it comes to Islamisation and moderation, cannot happen in the current political climate, and it is not because of PAS. Forget about PAS’ history of socialism or whatever left-leaning ideas that were the foundation of the original struggle. What we have today is an Islamic party committed to the religious dogma it has imported from external forces that seek to define the Islamic narrative in Southeast Asia in this post-Pax Americana landscape.

An unbiased reading of the conflict between DAP and PAS is that it is not an overt religious conflict, but rather that PAS believes that the DAP is carrying out a sub rosa agenda of Christianisation and a racial agenda under the cover of the kind of multi-cultural agenda they are pushing.
Whether this is true is beside the point. If the DAP had remained committed secularists and did not demonise the MCA as betrayers of the Chinese community, thereby defining the conflict as racial with the BN hegemon, this would have redefined the religious and racial narrative with PAS.
PAS understands all to well that it would be more difficult for them if they were dealing with committed secularists and a race-neutral political party. They know it would be harder to convince a sizable section of the Malay community of a nefarious Christian agenda if there was no circumstantial evidence of such political operatives talking about their religion.
If we had an authentic non-Malay political party which did not think that securing the Malay vote meant pandering to the same preoccupations that the Malay power brokers do, it would be harder for PAS to make the argument that the Malay community is victim to a plot to destabilise race and religion in this country.
A post-May 9 PAS is not interested in moderation as defined by the non-Malays. Why should we, one PAS strategist asked me: “Look at the Harapan manifesto. They buat (make) so many promises. When we object they called us racist. Now dia bikin the same thing as us. Dia (Harapan) tipu (deceive) and they say we cannot be trusted. How-lah, Thaya?”
In my opinion, working with PAS is not the answer. What Harapan needs to do is to redefine the Malay discourse in this country, which does not necessarily mean official proclamations of needs-based policies. Limiting the Islamic bureaucracy, democratising the spaces in which Malays hold their discourse, and facing head-on Islamic transgressions – as Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (photo, above) claimed he used to do – is what will keep Islamic extremism at bay.
Affecting policies for the Malay community through independent institutions, reforming the education system (minus religion), constantly monitoring corruption in agencies tasked with helping Malays mitigates the corrosive politics of race and religion that PAS and Umno are dishing out.
All these reforms do not necessarily cater to the non-Malays, which should be an idea of how Harapan can out-manoeuvre PAS and Umno, while still playing the race and religion card.
posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 5:09 PM   0 comments
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