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In A Foxhole

Rudyard Kipling

" “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”
General Douglas MacArthur

" “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, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.
“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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Thayaparan’s rejoinder to Ahmad Faizal By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, June 01, 2023

Malaysiakini : Well, I am angry because, by virtue of my ethnicity and status as a minority, I do not have the same privileges (rights) as the majority in this country. This extends to educational, housing and economic opportunities.

I am angry because I am banned from using certain words because the majority claim usage all for themselves. I am angry that minorities are told who can and cannot enter their sacred places of worship.

I am angry about unilateral conversion and how the state security apparatus, which is supposed to protect everyone regardless of ethnicity and religion, is doing nothing to stop religious kidnapping in this country but instead colludes with the perpetrators with the aid of the religious bureaucracy.

I am angry that the Islamisation process has seeped into every facet of this country and this has ruined our education system and everything else it touches.

I am angry that a theocratic party leads the opposition and its religious leader believes that non-Muslims must be pak turut (followers).

I am angry that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Muhyiddin Yassin, the president of Bersatu, have openly defied the royal institution but there has been no sanction from the state.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang

I am angry that leaders of Bersatu and PAS have resorted to downright racist and bigoted language and policies but there has been no sanction from the state.

I am angry that state-sanctioned racial and religious programmes indoctrinate the majority into at best being fearful of the minority and at worst, hating us.

I am angry that every utilitarian policy in this country (and no matter what people say, a utilitarian calculation is the best of the worst kind of calculation to make) has to be tempered because we are told not to spook the Malays.

I am angry because political operatives have to sublimate their democratic impulses (especially non-Malay political operatives) in favour of racial and religious supremacy because political operatives like Faizal would just attack them and claim they are attacking the “Malays” and Islam in this country.

Faizal does not get to claim, that I am somehow against the plurality of society when everything the mainstream political establishment does (and Faizal belongs to the most virulent of anti-democratic forces in this country) is predicated on homogenising the majority community and sidelining the minority communities.

Faizal dares say that working with the DAP is difficult because they appear to champion a specific community and he says this while belonging to a race-based party which is determined to erode the rights of citizens of a plural society in the name of race and religion. 

Racial and religious superiority

Faizal’s coalition is the definition of plurality hate in the Malaysian political and social landscape. The main goal of this fascist coalition is to destroy plurality, especially in the Malay community.

I most certainly revile the choice of voters who would choose to reject the plurality of society and believe that non-Muslims/Malays in this country should be pak turut. My survival depends on people who vote against this fascist coalition.

I do not believe that anyone who votes for Pakatan Harapan has intellectual superiority over those who vote for Perikatan Nasional for instance. Their vote is based on fear. Fear that the racial and religious superiority of the majority would be worse under PN, and I do not blame them.

Look at what Faizal’s comrade, the menteri besar of Kedah, has been doing. Not only has he been questioning the status of Penang but he has made it clear that his racial and religious obligations trump the democratic norms of this country. And he tells the non-Malays/Muslims to understand.

Faizal wrote: “I am sure the Harapan support base is aghast that a man with 47 corruption charges in court is now the deputy prime minister. Would it be fair to mirror your comments and say that this is the kind of leader Harapan supporters think the country needs? Of course not.”

Harapan supporters make their compromises for what they believe is the greater evil if PN comes into power, which is the same as PN supporters who have no problem with the corruption charges against Muhyiddin, who is the president of Bersatu.

Indeed when it comes to corruption, it was Hadi who also claimed (Dr Zakir Naik has said the same thing) that it would be better for Muslims to be led by corrupt tyrannical Muslim leaders rather than honest non-Muslims. So do not play this card with me.

Do not ask me to Google whatever defence you think is out there in support of your argument. You were the menteri besar and as you say, “experienced it”. Name names and detail how the DAP attempted to oust you from your position.

Of course, Harapan would abandon Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the Sheraton Move. By Mahathir's admission, he was making moves to consolidate his power and was betrayed by the very minions he tasked to secure him more power.

If Bersatu was really interested in Mahathir's political welfare, you would have come to his defence. Instead seeing how the political winds were blowing, every one of his minions abandoned him.

Faizal claimed that the “We vs Them” discussion is deleterious for Malaysia, but the whole narrative of PN is based on “We vs Them”. Malays vs the non-Malays. What PN hopes to achieve by playing the race and religion card, is that this unity government does its work for them.

If Faizal was really interested in pursuing any other narrative, he would offer it up. Instead, he continues demonising the DAP and trolling this unity government.

And no Faizal, there is no need for us to chat over a cup of coffee, on the fundamental issue affecting this country. If you really had the interests of the rakyat at heart, you would cease the racial and religious trolling, sit down with Anwar Ibrahim and use your grassroots activists to support policies this unity comes up with (with your input) to better the lives of all Malaysians.

But you won’t do that because ultimately PN believes that an unstable government makes political sense and the suffering of the citizens, especially the majority, could be used as racial and religious propaganda.

I stand by everything I wrote.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:29 AM   0 comments
Try contesting PAS on ideas, not co-opting them in govt By Terence Netto

Malaysiakini : The previous year, Ghannouchi had returned to Tunisia from over two decades in exile to lead what was called the Jasmine Revolution, whose most visible feature was the overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, who had ruled for nearly 25 years.

Following his triumphant return, Ghannouchi, then the leading intellectual in the Muslim world began steering his party Ennhalda to the leadership of what came to be known as the Arab Spring, the period of ferment in the Islamic crescent that saw Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, ejected from office.

Farther afield, the buffeting of another autocrat, Bashar Al Assad of Syria, also occurred.

Although the entire tableau of strife and unrest in the region did not eventuate in what its initial, freedom-questing stirrings heralded, it was a hopeful sign: that brutal dictatorships were going to be the order of the day in the Arab world. 

Freedom and faith

So, what was to be the replacement?

As envisaged by Public Liberties in the Islamic State, a book Ghannouchi wrote in 1993, he argued that God granted Muslims and non-Muslims alike a range of liberties, including freedom of religion, the press, and property ownership.

Was he espousing Western liberalism?

Here is the surprise: Ghannouchi’s reasoning was based on faith (aqidah).

Rachid Ghannouchi

He wrote that according to Islam, no government or political party is authorised to decide things arbitrarily for its subjects.

He argued the right to interpret the scriptures is everybody’s right, and he rejected the dogma of Western-style secularism which enforces the division between politics and religion.

He argued that the French ideal of laicite - the public square being stripped of all expressions of religion - was not the pre-condition of democracy. 

Instead, he argued that it is the enemy of genuine democratic self-government.

When he returned in triumph from exile in 2001, Ghannouchi declared to a mammoth crowd at Carthage airport that he was not interested in becoming another Ayatollah Khomeini.

He said: “We respect democracy without any restrictions. We honour the decision of the people whether they are for or against us.”

He said he aimed to live in a society where each and every woman enjoyed the God-given right whether or not to wear the hijab.

In the 2019 election, Ghannouchi led Ennhalda to victory in the Tunisian election and he became speaker of the assembly.

‘State security’

Sadly, Ghannouchi is now in jail in Tunisia for a year on a charge of calling another Muslim an apostate.

More ominously, more charges await him for being a threat to “state security”.

The right-wing government of President Kais Saied is moving to dismantle the foundations of Tunisia’s hard-won gains over the last decade in building a civil society.

For that, it has to put in jail its principal opponent, Ghannouchi, who is 81 and in frail health.

But where has prison been a lasting hindrance to reform and the building of a civil society?

The Islamic philosophy of Ghannouchi can be the lodestar of the government of Anwar, who incidentally is a good friend of Ghannouchi.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:18 AM   0 comments
Ahmad Faizal is the face of things to come By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 29, 2023

Malaysiakini : The interview is also indicative of how PAS is in control of PN, and Bersatu is merely the fig leaf of moderation that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang really has no use for. This is why Bersatu and Gerakan for instance always attempt to downplay the green wave.

The fact is that Hadi, who is adept at using propaganda more than his coalition partners, has no problem claiming that all these progressive Muslims are going to be swept away by the green wave.

Of course, Hadi knows that progressive Muslims in this country do not really have a platform or much political power, to begin with, but as long as there are non-Muslims in the political arena, and they are capable of forming coalitions with recalcitrant (in Hadi’s view) Malay parties, the Islamic state project would be a little (but not much) harder to achieve.

Faizal said Bersatu is not playing second fiddle to PAS but Bersatu scrambling for funds and PAS claiming that they will help them out is demonstrative of how powerful PAS and its money are within PN. 

“PAS has a lot of money. If Bersatu has no money, we will give them money. The fact is, PAS does not need a lot of money (to contest in polls). I personally used only a few thousand ringgit of my own money when contesting in the election. The rest were contributed by PAS members. So, what can we say?”

Sheraton Move

Lim Kit Siang and a host of other DAP leaders take umbrage of Faizal’s revisionism when it comes to the Sheraton Move, but this is exactly the kind of wacko theory that the base eats up.

Never mind that Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has said many contradictory things about his role in the Sheraton Move said this about the party that Faizal is a part of:

“The effect of Bersatu supporting PAS and Umno is that parties that have lost will form a government. This government will be dominated by Umno, as it is the biggest party. I am willing to accept Umno members who left Umno and joined other parties. But if Umno joins this unity government as a party, this I am unable to accept. Therefore, I was compelled to resign.”

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Faizal said that “for ‘statesmen’ like Mahathir and Kit Siang. When they made such statements, you really have to read into what they are saying.”

Fair enough then, Faizal should understand that the old maverick admitted complicity in the Sheraton Move but it backfired on him when his minions decided to make a play for the throne of Putrajaya: “At the time, I did not object as I thought this would strengthen my position and enable Bersatu to become a stronger member of Harapan.

“Much later, I realised that what was actually taking place was a stealth campaign to separate me from the rest of the Harapan government.”

Now, of course, Faizal is part of another coalition where Bersatu is playing handmaiden again. The fact is that while Faizal may think he is a “nobody”, he is exactly the kind of cunning but folksy political operative that the theocratic state needs. The fact that he could backstab his own partners is a feature not a flaw for these people.

Of course, Faizal would defend Hadi’s rants against the DAP. He has made it very clear what he thought of DAP.

From reportage: “In Perak, I am fighting a desperate battle alone against ‘puak-puak’ (factions of) DAP.

“I want to defend the land of the Malays, I want to champion our religion,” he tells a group of people during an informal discussion.

“(But) I do it, slowly. Alhamdulillah (thank God), my Umno friends (in Perak) do not scold me like this,” he added.

Political operators

Faizal claims he was taken out of context but the reality is that these ketuanan (supremacist) types really do not like to share power with the non-Malays, especially the Chinese.

The weltanschauung (worldview) of mainstream political operators like Hadi and Faizal are not worlds apart.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang

Both seek to use the DAP as a proxy for the Chinese community. Both seek to reinforce racial and religious narratives that seek to confine the role of non-Malay political structures to that of the handmaid of Malay powerbrokers.

What mainstream Malay power structures and the far-right have done so effectively is to define egalitarianism and secularism as uniquely non-Malay “rights”, thus in direct opposition to whatever Malay “rights” are peddled by factotums from the political elites.

Folks like to say that the Umno base abandoned Umno because of corruption but the reality is that who they voted for were all Umno people (Bersatu) and what the hardcore base wanted was a makeover.

It is easy to make fun of Faizal because this is exactly what he wants you to see. He understands that as an apparatchik of an Islamic state, he would reap the benefits of racial and religious privilege.

These are exciting times for political operatives like Faizal. He is still young enough to hang on to the coattails of older political operatives, but he understands that he would inherit the system they are attempting to redefine.

Some folks like to think that Khairy Jamaluddin could be a barometer of change. But the reality is that people like KJ (who I said people should vote for - hey what can I say, I have no trouble admitting I was wrong) will probably end up as talking heads for people like Faizal in an Islamic state articulately justifying the malfeasances of political operatives while the mullahs suppress democratic norms and inclinations of the populace.

These people are the shape of things to come.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:35 AM   0 comments
KJ conundrum - reinvented messiah or opportunist? By Martin Vengadesan
Saturday, May 27, 2023
Malaysiakini : So starved are we for talent, it seems, that his ability to speak fluent English is already half the battle won. But the thing is that he never stood up firmly enough against the divisive racial politics that have dogged this country for much of its existence.

That’s why I was not surprised to hear that he is considering an offer to join the right-wing Malay-first Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition of PAS and Bersatu.

Indeed, former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that Khairy would be offered a Bersatu supreme council post if he decides to join the party.

The HotFM DJ has said that he will answer soon but, in the meantime, his next destination is anyone’s guess. 

He has even joked about forming a party with former Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming and publicly posed the question to ChatGPT.

But why is a forward-looking politician even considering such a backward step? Surely, it must occur to him that the right-wing PN coalition is going to send our country spiralling in the wrong direction?

Former Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming

What we really need now is someone who will rise above the fray and drag our country kicking and screaming into a competitive and progressive future.

PN and PAS, in particular, are not the answer, Khairy.

When he first appeared on the scene in Umno Youth, he did seem like an urbane intellectual but when there were indications of unpopularity with the right-wing grassroots, he changed his tune and played to the gallery.

Indeed, he flirted with the hateful narratives and gestures of previous Umno Youth reprobates like Harun Idris, Najib Abdul Razak, and Hishammuddin Hussein before him.

Also, it wasn’t too long ago that he refused to take questions from Malaysiakini and his team asked our reporter to leave - in two separate incidents in 2017.

So why then am I still hopeful that Khairy wakes up and does the right thing? To help steer Malaysia back? To make the difficult choice because, in the long run, it’s what the country needs? 

I guess it’s because we are still at a long-drawn-out crossroads as we transition from a single-party dominance to a vibrant democracy.

We need leaders to wake up to a new reality and help draw the masses towards it.

In short, we need all the help we can get. Khairy is one of those leaders who can be a barometer of change and I would be fascinated to see a reinvented progressive Khairy carving out a new direction.

The ball’s in your court, sir. Don’t blow it.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:49 PM   0 comments
Aziz Bari rubbishes Peja’s claims of attempting to oust latter By Martin Vengadesan

Malaysiakini : “Both Lim and Nga never asked me to bring down Faizal,” said Aziz.

Faizal was the MB from 2018 to 2020, during the reign of Harapan and Perikatan Nasional.

Former Perak menteri besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu

However, he was dislodged by his Umno partners in December 2020 after losing a confidence vote in the Perak state assembly.

Despite that, he claimed in an interview this week that in Perak, “it was not Umno that tried to topple me as Perak menteri besar), it was Aziz Bari.” 

“When PN suddenly took over as (federal) government, they called it a ‘tebuk atap’ (backdoor government).

“When Aziz did it, it was with the permission of Nga. Aziz is Nga’s puppet.

“Out of anger or vengeance, they (DAP) did not need to work with me, they didn’t need to work with Umno. Umno understood that if there was a confidence vote, DAP would not support it, and neither would Umno. Thus, I was toppled,” alleged Faizal.

READ MORE: Peja: Will arresting ex-ministers reduce food prices?

In his response, Aziz said this was far from the truth and accused Faizal of trying to spin a new narrative.

He added that Faizal seemed to forget that it was Umno, not DAP, that brought him down.

Perak DAP chief Nga Kor Ming

“In fact, during the months when rumours and reports started to make rounds, I asked my officer to get appointments with Faizal.

“The purpose was to kill off the rumours and I suggested that both MB and I conduct the press briefing together. 

“But Faizal never responded. He actually allowed the rumours to spread and even personally talked about it in a video during the campaign in Tanjung Piai by-election,” said Aziz.

‘Peja was insecure’

The Perak government that was helmed by Faizal was peculiar in the sense that his Bersatu party was significantly outnumbered by DAP.

As such, Aziz, being the senior DAP Malay figure in Perak, might have been seen as a rival.

Aziz claimed that Faizal was insecure about his position and this may have prevented him from functioning as a state exco effectively.

“I was given education, environment and information portfolios, among others.

“Immediately, after the announcement of portfolios, I went to see him to discuss how information portfolio should function.

“But instead of helping, Faizal took away the portfolio without even telling me!” recalled Aziz.

“I have no idea why Faizal dislikes me, I didn’t know him, in fact, I never met him before I became exco in May 2018.

“With regard to his accusations that I wanted to topple him, I would like to state categorically that I never had such ideas.

“I knew the choice of MB is a party matter and it’s the party that decides,” stressed Aziz.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 12:46 PM   0 comments
Swatch raid: Not about LGBT but votes By Mariam Mokhtar
Friday, May 26, 2023

Malaysiakini : Some Malays believe the more we allow religion to interfere in our personal lives, the more brownie points we’ll receive from God and the faster we will enter heaven.

After decades of brain-washing, many conservatives fear the cross, hate dogs and pigs and think that handling cans of non-halal food like spam or bottled beer will “contaminate” them.

Some even refuse to touch the hands of non-Malays or those of the opposite sex, and would not eat food or drinks served in non-Muslim households.

Incredibly, corruption, cronyism, child marriages and conning fellow Malaysians are perfectly acceptable.

And now, watches in department stores are confiscated and a few choice words, like “Allah”, can only be used by Muslims and East Malaysian Christians.

READ MORE: KINIGUIDE | Jill Ireland, Dr M-era bungles and 'Allah' for non-Muslims

So, what’s in store for Malaysians in the years ahead? What will be raided and banned in the run-up to future state and general elections?

Malaysians want a firm steady hand on the tiller, and not an administration or leader, who panders to the extremists.

Haven’t we seen enough destruction caused by these sanctimonious types? Many have stopped questioning their leaders. They stopped thinking critically.

And they simply accept what is thrown at them. How can they be competitive or even attempt to release their “inner tiger”, if they are as docile as sheep?

What did we learn after 40 years? Instead of being more mature as individuals, we have regressed and the nation has taken a few steps backwards.

In 1982, one young man, a former student leader, was hand-picked by the then-prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to join Umno.

The reasons were twofold. Firstly, it was to stop the young man and the organisation which he co-founded - the Islamic Youth Movement Malaysia (Abim) from criticising the government’s failure at eradicating poverty and landlessness among the nation’s farmers.

Secondly, it was to help win Malay votes as the worldwide Islamic resurgence at the time meant that Malays were gravitating towards PAS.

Politicising religion

As a result of the young man’s actions, the previously secular Umno underwent an Islamic transformation. Religion or rather Islam, which under British rule was considered a private preserve, became politicised.

Fast forward to 2023 and the main protagonists are still around.

The irony is that 40 years later, Mahathir joined forces with his arch-enemy, Abdul Hadi Awang and the party he once despised.

Today, they are aimed at bringing down Anwar Ibrahim, the man whom Mahathir nominated to Islamise Umno to counter PAS.

So, was the raid on Swatch outlets a taste of what’s to come? The seizure is disturbing.

Is the LGBT issue, much like hudud or Shariah law, convenient tools which are stored in each government’s “toolbox”, until such time it is needed, like for a state election, when the administration wants to appease the conservative Malay?

It will be interesting to know the Madani government’s current stand on LGBTs.

After GE14, the then-Harapan government relayed many mixed messages about LGBTs.

Many members of the LGBT community felt betrayed that the promised reform and protection, after years of discrimination was not delivered.

They thought that they could have been accorded equal rights, but this was not the case.

Today, it is alarming to read about the government’s panic and fear of “LGBT elements”.

In the past, various politicians claimed that the government had experts who could help LGBTs return to the “right path”.

Religious officers will offer counselling, but we know that their version of counselling will be different from what we are used to.

For many in the LGBT community, counselling means that they are subjected to violence at boot camps, where it is alleged that effeminate males are beaten and humiliated by cruel taunts.

Is this how experts from religious departments use physical and mental violence to “cure” those with LGBT traits?

Apart from the alleged use of violence, LGBT participants are forced to pray harder and more frequently.

They hope that divine intervention through concentrated prayer, will compel the transgender to be what the authorities perceive to be a “normal” person.

We are petrified of acting firmly against religious extremists in society. In a few years’ time, they are not going to be satisfied with confiscating a few watches.

A Malaysian problem

They will demand more draconian measures against the LGBT and non-Muslims.

For those who think this is a Malay/Muslim problem, think again. Look at the “Allah” issue or what happened to Indira Gandhi and Loh Siew Hong.

Perhaps you are happy with halal and non-halal supermarket trolleys, or dress codes in government departments. These are all Malaysian problems.

We failed to nip the extremist problem decades ago and if the focus on the two Rs – race and religion - is allowed to fester, the lives of ordinary Malaysians will worsen.

Do not allow the tail to wag the dog. Anwar’s Madani government must be firm and stand up against extremists.

Stop being holier than thou.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 3:11 PM   0 comments
Jill Ireland, Dr M-era bungles and 'Allah' for non-Muslims By Geraldine Tong & Zikri Kamarulzaman

Malaysiakini : What is Jill Ireland’s case about?

Jill Ireland is a Melanau Sarawakian Christian who had eight CDs - bearing titles with the word “Allah” - seized by the Customs Department when she flew back to Malaysia from Indonesia on May 11, 2008.

In August of the same year, Ireland filed a legal challenge to get back the CDs as well as a court declaration on her constitutional rights involving equality before the law and religious freedom - including the right to use the word “Allah”. 

This started a legal battle that would last more than a decade.

The latest court ruling came from Judge Nor Bee Ariffin in March 2021, which ruled in favour of Ireland.

The issue came under the spotlight again when it was revealed that the government decided to withdraw its appeal against the 2021 High Court decision on April 18, 2023.

So, is it about getting back Christian CDs that had the word “Allah”, or about a Christian’s right to use the word “Allah”?

The short answer is, both.

But the declarations Ireland sought under Article 8 (equality before the law) and Article 11 (freedom of religion) of the Federal Constitution are not so straightforward.

When she initiated her case at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, she sought seven declarations of which two are on her right to use the word “Allah” and to own material bearing the word.

However, while the High Court in 2014 quashed the Home Ministry’s seizure of her CDs and ordered for them to be returned - it did not rule on the declarations of her constitutional rights. 

Ireland appealed to this lack of ruling on constitutional issues in the Court of Appeal, while the government appealed against the High Court’s decision that the ministry was wrong to seize her CDs.

What did the Court of Appeal decide?

In 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that the eight CDs must be returned to Ireland and ordered the High Court to hear Ireland’s case again, on just two of the seven constitutional declarations sought.

They were on whether Ireland had a constitutional right to import the seized CDs for her religious practice and education, and whether the Federal Constitution protected her from discrimination by law.

The two declarations specifically on her right to use the word “Allah” were not sent back to the High Court for a rehearing.

Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat - who is now the Chief Justice of Malaysia - led the three-person Court of Appeal bench that heard the case.

The CDs were returned to Ireland in September 2015.

What happened during the 2017 rehearing of Ireland’s case at the High Court?

The High Court heard Ireland’s case on two declarations sought - that her constitutional right to practise her religion was violated and the use of federal laws to seize the CDs infringed on her constitutional right to equality.

The laws used were the Publication and Printing Presses Act (PPPA) 1984 and the Customs Act 1967.

During the rehearing, Ireland’s legal team discovered that the root problem was a Home Ministry’s directive dated Dec 5, 1986, which completely banned the use of “Allah”, “Kaabah”, “Baitullah”, and “Solat” by non-Muslims.

As such, she sought an additional declaration that the directive was unlawful and went against her constitutional rights to profess and practise her freedom of religion.

Although the rehearing began in 2017, due to several attempts to settle the matter out-of-court, the decision was only delivered on March 10, 2021.

Judge Nor Bee Ariffin ruled that the Home Ministry’s directive - issued under the PPPA and used to seize Ireland’s CDs - has no statutory backing and is, therefore, illegal and irrational.

Judge Nor Bee Ariffin

Nor Bee, a Court of Appeal judge who sat as a High Court judge when delivering her decision, said the December 1986 directive went above and beyond the cabinet’s intention, in a memorandum on the matter dated May 16, 1986.

The contradicting 1986 cabinet stand and Home Ministry’s directive - and how it decided the case

On May 19, 1986, then-prime minister Mahathir affirmed that he assigned his deputy, the late Ghafar Baba, to determine what words can be used and what can’t in the Christian religion.

The letter was submitted to the court in Ireland’s case.

Attached to that letter was a note from Ghafar dated May 16, 1986, titled “Islamic terms/words in the AlKitab which cannot be used”.

The AlKitab refers to the Bible published in the Malay and Indonesian languages.

The note identified 12 words which were allowed and four words – “Allah”, “Kaabah”, “Baitullah”, and “Solat” - which were not.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (right) and the late Ghafar Baba

However, under the four disallowed words, the note read: “On condition, the book cover (front page) has the words “Untuk Agama Kristian” (for the Christian religion)”.

Note by Ghafar Baba

Seven months later, on Dec 5, 1986, a directive was issued by the Home Ministry, containing the list of the same 12 permitted words and four prohibited words - but this time - for all Christian publications and not just the AlKitab.

Additionally, Ghafar’s condition - that the book covers include the words “For the Christian religion” - was placed under the 12 permitted words instead of the prohibited words as was written in Ghafar’s note.

Home Ministry’s directive

Nor Bee ruled that this showed a contradiction between the directive and what was set out in Ghafar’s note.

She said the note clearly stated that the 12 words can be used unconditionally - whereas the four words could only be used subject to the condition that the front cover of the publication must contain the words “For the Christian religion”.

At the same time, Nor Bee said the cabinet could not have meant to impose a total ban on the four words because that decision would contradict a government order gazetted four years before that, on March 22, 1982.

The 1982 order - issued under the now defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) - permitted the AlKitab, which carried the word “Allah”, to be used within the confines of Christian churches throughout the country.

If the cabinet wanted to ban those words for Christian publications, it would repeal the 1982 order, but this was not done, the judge said.

As such, Nor Bee ruled that the Home Ministry’s directive was illegal, unlawful, and that it was devoid of any legal effect whatsoever from its inception.

Current Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the contradictions as highlighted by the judge were the reason behind the government’s decision to withdraw its appeal in the Ireland case.

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail

So did the judge say Christians can use the word “Allah”?

It’s complicated.

Although Ireland sought declarations specific to her right to use the word “Allah”, this was not one of the two declarations that the Court of Appeal ordered the High Court to hear.

This means it was never adjudicated, and there is no ruling specifically for this.

The rulings were only on whether the CD seizures breached her constitutional rights to practise her religion without discrimination.

To do so, Judge Nor Bee ruled on the legality of the directive used to seize those CDs - i.e. the ban on the use of the four words in Christian publications.

This means that the judge was not making a ruling on whether Christians had the right to use the word “Allah” in general, but whether Christian publications can use the word “Allah” and that Christians can own such material.

However, she did note that Bahasa Malaysia had been the lingua franca for the native people of Sabah and Sarawak and that the Christian communities of those states have used the word “Allah” to refer to God for generations when practising their Christian faith.

“The uncontroverted historical evidence that the use of the word ‘Allah’ by the applicant (Ireland) and her Christian community in Sarawak was over 400 years, since the year 1629, cannot be ignored,” she said.

She ruled this also negates the government’s argument that the directive is needed to curb public unrest.

Wait, what about a Federal Court decision the government claims supersedes this ruling?

In deflecting brickbats for withdrawing its appeal against the Nor Bee ruling, Putrajaya has several times referred to a 2014 Federal Court ruling which it said remains in force.

While the government has not been specific, this most likely refers to the Federal Court rejecting leave for a Catholic publication, the Herald, to appeal a Court of Appeal decision not allowing them to use the word “Allah”.

The Federal Court - in a 4-3 decision - found that the appellate court had applied an objective test when arriving at its decision, among others.

However, the Federal Court also ruled that remarks by the Court of Appeal bench on theological aspects were mere “obiter” - a passing remark that does not bind the court.

This was believed to be in regard to the Court of Appeal saying that the word “Allah” was not integral to the Christian faith.

READ MORE: CJ: 'Allah' ban not based on theological issues

Also to note, the government’s position at the time was that the Court of Appeal and Federal Court decisions on the use of “Allah” were specific only to the Herald - and not to Christians in Malaysia as a whole.

However, the Court of Appeal’s decision did have an impact on a similar case filed by Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).

What’s the SIB case then?

Like Ireland’s case, the SIB case began after the Home Ministry seized Christian religious books containing the word “Allah” in 2007.

The group won its case to get the books back in 2008 but continued to seek a court declaration that it had the right to use the word “Allah” in publications and for educational purposes.

However, the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 2014 rejected the application, saying it was bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Herald case.

SIB discontinued its 14-year legal battle to challenge this decision last month in the interest of “national harmony”.

Which court ruling takes precedent on whether Christians can use the word “Allah”?

Lawyers have opined that the Ireland case takes precedent on the use of the word “Allah” by Christians for religious and educational purposes.

This is because the rulings in the Herald’s case should be deemed specific to the Catholic publication, as was the Najib Abdul Razak administration’s position at the time.

In 2013, several ministers - including then home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - also held the position that the Court of Appeal ruling on the Herald did not apply to the AlKitab, which could continue using the word “Allah”.

This is consistent with the 1982 government order, referred to by Judge Nor Bee, in the Ireland case.

READ MORE: Gov't insists 'Allah' ban only for 'The Herald'

Does a ban on non-Muslim use of the word have Islamic precedence?

The use of “Allah”, as the Arabic word for God by non-Muslims, is common practice among Christians and Jews in Arabic-speaking countries.

This was attested to by Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin in a 2021 opinion piece where he argued that Islam and the Quran do not prohibit non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” - as this is the name of God.

Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

Instead, he said what is prohibited is the misuse of the word “Allah” - such as using it to describe idols, inanimate objects or humans.

PM said ruling only applicable in East M’sia. Is this true?

In an attempt to quell dissent over the government’s decision to withdraw its appeal on the Ireland case, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the court ruling is only applicable to East Malaysia.

However, this position does not appear to have solid footing, with former home minister Hamzah Zainudin and others pointing out that Judge Nor Bee’s ruling was not confined to East Malaysia.

Others also pointed out that the decision was delivered in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim

Likewise, after the 2014 Federal Court ruling, then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala said the cabinet’s position that Christians can use the word “Allah” also applied to copies of the AlKitab in Peninsular Malaysia.

Idris is the architect of the Najib administration’s 10-point solution which allowed the printing of Malay-language bibles.

READ MORE: Gov't lifts ban on printing of Malay Bibles

What about state Syariah laws barring non-Muslims from using the word “Allah”?

In theory, the Federal Constitution states that when federal law and state laws clash, then federal law takes precedence.

However, besides constitutional provisions safeguarding freedom of religion, there is no specific Act or article in the Federal Constitution on non-Muslim use of the word “Allah”.

In contrast, several Peninsular Malaysia states such as Selangor have state enactments that prohibit non-Muslims from using “Islamic words” such as “Allah”.

READ MORE: MB: Non-Muslims in Selangor still barred from using the word 'Allah'

This has led to situations such as the Selangor Islamic Department seizing Malay-language bibles in 2014, despite the then Najib administration’s 10-point plan allowing Christians on the peninsula to use the AlKitab.

This contradiction remains unresolved.

One peninsula state that does not prohibit non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” is Perlis.

So what’s next?

The Anwar administration has said that it plans to amend laws that leave room for contradictions on the “Allah” issue so that the matter can no longer be challenged in court.

The government also plans to limit the use of the word by non-Muslims to those in Sabah and Sarawak only.

How this might affect the use of the AlKitab and Christian wors

hip by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking East Malaysian congregants in the peninsula remains to be seen.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:53 AM   0 comments
Madani government does Hadi’s work By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, May 25, 2023

Malaysiakini : I refer to this dilemma as the Abdul Hadi Awang doctrine.

The Allah controversy, the Swatch raid and the formation of a special panel within the religious bureaucracy to handle LGBT issues in the Muslim community are foundational ideas of repression, censorship and demonisation that would be fascist regimes the world over use to control various diverse polities.

And this is just a continuation. Remember these sorts of activities litter the social and political landscapes of Malaysia.

Muda deputy president Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz wants Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to explain the Swatch raid and frets about the impact this will have on the economy.  

My question is, why does anyone believe that this was done with the knowledge of the home minister? Do not get me wrong, it very well could have been the will of the home minister but it also could have been done by agents of the deep Islamic state.

Now I understand that some folks are sceptical if such a state within a state exists here in Malaysia. The “deep Islamic state” is a result of the vast religious bureaucracy, the doctrinal teachings of propaganda endeavours like the Biro Tatanegara, the religious education system and foreign influence, either through education or experience in foreign theatres of war.

What we are talking about here are “travellers” who enjoy the support, either knowingly or unknowingly, of the Malay/Muslim political apparatus in this country, who believe they are setting the religious agenda, but in reality, are being manipulated by fascist elements within the bloated bureaucracy with agendas of their own.

The agenda of these fellow travellers is to subvert the constitutional bedrock of this country and turn this country into an “Islamic state”, even if it’s not the agenda of the Malay bureaucracy, royalty, plutocrat class or political brokers, whose definition of an "Islamic state" is relatively benign, if compared to the forces who are using it.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim

The real targets of the deep Islamic state are, of course, progressive Muslims who do not want a theocratic state.

Let us not forget that the most successful states, and where the majority polity is doing well because there is some accountability in these secular-leaning states, or at least states where the theocracy has not gotten its hooks into.

And the majority polity in these states like this state of affairs and defend it at the ballot box. This is why religious extremists want to dilute their votes even further.

Perhaps when Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim congratulated Coldplay on coming to Malaysia, he opened his Islamic bona fides to criticism and this is one way to counteract that. 

Or maybe this is the way how the deep Islamic state normalises the subversion of democratic norms and instils fear in the general non-Muslim populace.

Keep in mind we are always told that laws and prohibitions governing Muslims will not affect non-Muslims, but what this raid demonstrates is that any kind of business is open to sanctions based on Muslim preoccupations.

Islamic doctrine

Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said as much when he banned gaming shops.

"I am a Muslim and cannot gamble. Later in the hereafter, I will be asked what I did on this issue, and if I did not do anything, I will be punished (kena tibai). While I have the power, I should use it,” he said at a press conference after he tabled the 2022 state budget at the Kedah assembly in November last year.

Non-Muslims need to pay attention to two particular points. The first point is that any sort of governance is defined by his religion (I am a Muslim). The second point is the use of power (while I have it) to ensure Islamic doctrine applies to all.

Sanusi added: "When there are such premises, there are such activities, and not only non-Muslims (are involved), so I hope (this decision) can be understood as fairly as possible."

Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor

So what non-Muslims need to understand is this. The only Islamic narrative in this country is that Muslim leaders will govern based on their religious dogma and that as long as they have power they should use it to enforce their religious dogma.

Saudara Anwar has demonstrated that there really is no other religious narrative in this country. Which is why this Madani government is doing Hadi’s work for him.

While the PAS president blames the federal government for the failings of Kelantan, what he does not confront, is the wanton deforestation and other corporate malfeasance committed by a legion of GLC-type entities operating within Kelantan, all dogma approved of course.

This has not only ruined the environment but made its populace seek work elsewhere, in more successfully run states.

But what Hadi really wants is for Islamic first principles, or at least his version of them, to seep into every state of this country. This way overtly he is battling a supposedly massive federal bureaucracy but covertly cavorting with operators from the deep Islamic state who are sabotaging the democratic guard rails of this country.

This unity government does not have to confront the Allah issues or wage war on the LGBT community. All it has to do is control the narrative by focusing on economic and social issues that plague the base that PN has hoodwinked.

They could do this with propaganda state organs and a determined effort to undermine at every opportunity operators within the bureaucracy who have mala fide intentions towards secularism and democracy.

However, the Madani government deliberately chooses not to do this. Instead what they do is attempt to carry out a religious con of their own.

But by doing this, what this government is really doing is Hadi’s work for him.

Anwar is making it too easy for the theocratic forces in this country. Whether this is by design or incompetence is cold comfort for anyone who truly wants to save Malaysia.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 7:07 PM   0 comments
'Allah' usage issue: Takiyuddin trying to demonise DAP, says Aziz Bari By Martin Vengadesan
Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Malaysiakini : He added that a video going around on TikTok was yet another example of how PAS targets and attacks progressive Muslims through misinformation.

The video shows Takiyuddin at a press conference in Parliament yesterday, during which he is critical of Aziz, Bangi MP Syahredzan Johan and Election Commission deputy chief Azmi Sharom.

PAS MP Takiyuddin Hassan

The trio had affirmed in an affidavit cited in the Ireland case that they were not confused by Christians using the word Allah.

“First of all, I did this on a personal basis, and it has nothing to do with the DAP.

“Under the Constitution, Islam is a matter for the states and the rulers can only speak for their states.

“For those states without rulers such as Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak plus federal territories, they are under the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” said Aziz.

Right of non-Muslims

He also said that the court case by Ireland was about the rights of a Christian from Sarawak.

“To my understanding, the right of non-Muslims to practise their religion is protected by the Constitution.

“As far as I know, copies of the Bible (in the Ireland case) were not meant to be circulated publicly; it was meant strictly for the Christians for their use.

“I was asked by the lawyers acting for the plaintiff in the case,” explained Aziz.

“I believe how the non-Muslims practise their religion or how they call their God is none of our business,” he added. 

He said the provisions and framework about Islam in the Constitution are meant for protecting Muslims, not to prejudice non-Muslims.

Aziz said that Takiyuddin was very selective in what he wanted to highlight, adding that PAS had recently gone against the Malay rulers on the issue of keeping political speeches out of mosques.

He reminded Takiyuddin that just this week, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah visited Sarawak and called on all Malaysians to make unity a major asset for the nation’s future.

Amendment and revocation

In Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the amendment and revocation of laws - that are in conflict with a Rulers Council's decision over the word “Allah” - was part of his administration's efforts to ensure that the issue may no longer be contested in the courts after the 2021 landmark decision in the Ireland case.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim

"The decision made, on the advice of the attorney-general, is to streamline (all related regulations). Otherwise, if we (the government) appeal, the case may surface again because of existing conflicts.

"So, because of that, we are putting an end (to it) by amending all regulations to make it clear and no further cases can be brought to court," said Anwar during the Prime Minister's Question Time.

He said this in response to Takiyuddin who urged the government to justify its decision to withdraw its appeal in the Ireland case.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:08 PM   0 comments
After the cross, it's time for colours to create waves By R Nadeswaran
Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Malaysiakini : Yesterday, we made the headlines again. The same ministry raided numerous Swatch stores in Malaysia on May 13 and 14 for displaying its Pride Collection.

The rainbow colours on these watches, The Edge reported, were brought to the attention of authorities via a social media post that associated the collection with the British band, Coldplay’s support for the LGBT community.

The band is scheduled to perform to a sell-out crowd in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 22. But local religious leaders are protesting against the concert on the basis that the band promotes and supports LGBT community.

So, are we coming close to banning pink clothes and T-shirts with V-necks because these were previously associated with the same community? 

Will paint companies that have rainbow colours on their glossy brochures have to destroy them and come up with something in black and white?

Will the stalls along Petaling Street be raided for selling anything with rainbow colours or will signboard on shophouses be taken down because they contain rainbow colours?

Will logos with vibrant colours be ordered to change?

Are coloured pencils going to be removed and children’s art classes be restricted to less than half the pencil box?

Will schools be ordered not to conduct lessons on the optical prism or will it be totally removed from the syllabus?

Will students understand the acronym VIBGYOR (violet-indigo-blue-green-yellow-orange-red), which is a part of the spectrum of white light?

Will they also know the meaning of the idiom “the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”? Will they stop referring to a group of animals living together as “a pride of lions?”

Or would TV stations be ordered to change the colours in the test patterns and will it be an offence to have photographs of the rainbow on display?

Knee-jerk reaction

When will this obsession end? Many years ago, it was anything that resembles the cross that caused so many unnecessary problems for the nation and its people.

Even air wells and lighting drew the ire of a few people who were wearing blinkers.

Anything resembling a cross, even an air well was deemed to be confusing the people so much so, I had written in jest to remove the plus (+) and multiplication (x) symbols to be removed from the textbooks.

So many questions arise in what can be termed as a knee-jerk – automatic and unthinking - reaction to a non-existent issue.

When will common sense find its rightful place in the minds of our country’s administrators? Why has consultation become a thing of the past?

But there’s (white) light at the end of the tunnel.

Textile shops are going to make a killing because all Malaysians will be provided with a broad band of black cloth each to cover their eyes when they come across the rainbow in the sky!

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 4:12 PM   0 comments
When 'ketuanan' politicians need help, they run to DAP By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 22, 2023

Malaysiakini : Former Malaysiakini columnist Syahredzan Johan, who is now Bangi MP, astutely pointed out in 2020 that even the royal institution was concerned about the possible abuse of political power in the first attempt at an emergency:

“The word membatasi was the only one to be highlighted in red in the statement. The other words were printed in black. This statement is significant as it suggests that the rulers were of the view that there could be elements of abuse of power in an emergency and that the Agong’s role is to ensure that executive powers are not abused.”

The fact that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, Muhyiddin, and the rest of PN are more than willing to defy the royal institution demonstrates how far they and their base are willing to go to redefine the political, social, and religious landscape of this country.

PN chairperson Muhyiddin Yassin (left) and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang

You can bet on one thing, though. When these race-based charlatans want to be saved from the treachery of their comrades, they run to DAP. As a political party, DAP has a strong stable base that has always acted as a foundation for these Malay uber alles types to cling on to power.  

The worst of the lot is PAS of course. Having been injected into the mainstream of Malaysian politics on the wings of DAP, they now continue racial and religious narratives that they know are a lie but which are perfectly acceptable to the kind of religion they preach.

Bersatu, PAS, and now Umno, are parties that continue to dominate the Malay polity because of gerrymandering and unequal weightage of votes.

The raison d'être of PAS wanting to hook up with Umno in the last general election was to delineate the political landscape through legislation, which would finally destroy DAP as a functional political party.

This was not some sub rosa agenda, Hadi actually said this on the campaign stump. The fact is, the circle is now complete with Umno hooking up with DAP.

Indeed at one time or another, Malay uber alles political operatives have hooked up with DAP. Muhyiddin has sung praises of the DAP. Mahathir has done so too. Even Hadi has made nice with DAP.

So confident that states controlled by the political bloc were free from corruption in 2013, Hadi as reported in the press said Pakatan Rakyat (Harapan’s predecessor) states and political leaders were free from corruption. And he said this during the opening of a Chinese New Year festival in Kedah.

Harapan and Umno believe that it needs a fig leaf of non-Malay participation in government and pays lip service to the idea that Malaysia is a diverse country with equal participation for all.

Now, I get that some people may be upset when they read this but as long as the political paradigm is what it is, this will always be the role of non-Malays in the government.  

PN, on the other hand, with a virulent PAS in play, is the apex of the ketuanan (supremacy) ideology, bankrupt of ideas, disguising its entitlement programmes as populist moves for “the people”, which really means for the Malays.

DAP’s Faustian bargain

Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong has publicly admitted that Harapan did everything Muhyiddin, who is now a sworn enemy, wanted or needed when he was part of Harapan.

DAP played by the rules – unfair though it may have been – and let down its base when it came to various hot-button issues, and yet this was not enough for the gang from Sheraton and even Malay power structures in Harapan.

And now, Lim Guan Eng is calling out Muhyiddin in the Jill Ireland case saying - “I challenge him to name the person. If he fails to mention who the minister is, he is a liar and a coward.”

DAP, by making its Faustian bargain and working with Bersatu, demonstrated that working with morally suspect and corruption-tainted politicians was not an impediment to “saving Malaysia”.

Faustian is the only way to describe such power-sharing arrangements but it is the only cursed deal the non-Malay power brokers can make.

And when you work with these types of people, what can you expect? Mind you, in the political game, all this is fair game. Political operatives in many functional democracies switch sides all the time and attack their former comrades. But this is not a functional democracy.

This is an ethnocracy where all these proud defenders of bangsa (race) and agama (religion) run to DAP and the non-Malays when they need our help and then take a dump on us when they feel confident enough that they have suckered their community into voting for them again.

Now, of course, we have all this talk from all sides if partisans would vote for the enemy. Can they vote for the former enemy? Will they vote for a party that for decades they demonised?

Honestly, I do not see this as much of a hurdle because as far as partisans are concerned, Harapan and Umno, it is much as how Orwell defined doublethink - “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

All you need to know is this. When these Malay uber alles types are fearful for their political survival, they will run to DAP. Whether this is a good or bad thing, that is for you to decide.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 12:15 PM   0 comments
Instead of banning 'A' word, bar politicians from talking about it By Mariam Mokhtar
Saturday, May 20, 2023

Malaysiakini : We have so many pressing issues to discuss, but we keep returning to the “A” word. If its use is limited to only the Christians of East Malaysia, what about the thousands of Sarawakians and Sabahans who live and work in the peninsula? Are they not allowed to use Allah in their Sunday service?

There are more important topics to argue about, such as the cost of living crisis, the consequences of artificial intelligence on the working population and affordable health care for senior citizens or cheaper child care for working mothers. Instead, we go around in circles with the “Allah” debate.

Only the naïve will think that the “Allah” debacle is about religion. It is not!

The issue has three objectives: To confuse, frighten and demoralise. 

Using religion as a cover, the “A” word is just a ruse, to control both Malays and non-Malays. With control, comes power. With power, comes the ability to do whatever they please, easy access to wealth and an enviable position in society and politics.

Earlier attempts to quash the public outrage which followed the “Allah” ruling included the ulamas warning Muslims who criticised the court verdict, that they would be considered infidels.

Malay extremists warned Christians who wanted to use the “A“ word that they should convert to Islam, or worse still, emigrate.

Those who claim to defend the name are insincere. Many failed to speak out on issues of corruption, mysterious disappearances, abuse of power, incest, indiscriminate killings and domestic abuse.

Instead, we have a frightened and demoralised rakyat, with many Malays being fearful of their faith being compromised, and Christians being unable to practise their faith properly.

Years ago, Jakim warned Muslims that the use of “Allah” in the Christian Bible will confuse Muslims because they would mistake the identity of “Allah” and destroy their own faith.

Jakim has a tendency to insult the Malays by portraying them as spineless and stupid.

It is also said that the debacle is not just about control but also about fear. The authorities are afraid, because they suspect, but they will not tell us if it is true, that many Malays are secretly converting to Christianity.

A converted Malay will never vote for Umno, PAS, or Bersatu. Moreover, Article 11 of the Federal Constitution does not apply to the Malays.

Who to blame?

If Malays are that easily confused, should we blame our teachers, our home environment and the quality of education we received?

Let us blame the Education Ministry. Perhaps, if Malays were better educated, they would not be so easily confused, when they read the word “Allah” in the Bible.

Actually, there is no confusion. The word has been used for hundreds of years in the Golden Chersonese or the Malay peninsula without any problems.

The word “Allah”, from the Aramaic language, has been used in the Middle East, by both Muslims and Christians for thousands of years. In Peninsular Malaysia, only fools want to copyright the “A” word.

The consequences of this debacle will mean that most of us will be pessimistic about our future. That is what the politicians want of us because we will be easier to control.

The debacle did not start in 2007 as many people think, but had its roots in 1986, when it was alleged that two letters were sent by the Home Ministry to the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM).

The letter contained a list of 23 prohibited words, not just “Allah”. Then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad issued this directive as part of his Islamisation drive, and to curtail the freedom of religion for non-Muslims, contrary to the rights which are enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

It was also a time when the Malays were gravitating away from Umno towards the then-opposition.

In order to break this hold on the Malays, Umno needed a plan that would divide Malay opinion, and so, the “Allah” issue was born. Most Malays were fine about the use of the word until politicians intervened.

Instead of banning the word, we should take up the suggestion of a journalist friend from Penang who said that politicians should be banned from talking about it.

Whilst we are at it, let’s also ban race-and-religious-based political parties, as well as religious NGOs.

When the word is removed from their vocabulary, perhaps, politicians will finally do some real work and focus on policies to improve our lives.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:11 PM   0 comments
Madani govt should explain what rights non-Muslims have By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, May 18, 2023

Malaysiakini : Former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, at the time, while declining to press charges, claimed that the act was one of sheer ignorance.

Non-Muslims are constantly told not to hurt the sensitivities of Muslims in this country.

And this is why non-Muslims cannot use certain words, cannot construct their places of worship in the manner they choose, cannot proselytise and lately cannot hold fellowship with Muslims in certain states because apparently, this would confuse their Muslim brethren.

Yet, we are told we live in a country of equals. We live in a country of equals where a young non-Muslim/Malay kid cannot dream of becoming the prime minister because this would spook the Malays.

We live in a country of equals where Malay special privileges supersede the basic rights of access to education and affordable housing in this country.

And nobody cares about our sensitivities. Even the parties we vote for are subjected to speech meant to incite hatred and violence.

Remember when the Pahang mufti declared in 2016: “Not DAP only. Whoever is ‘kafir’ (infidel) and against Islam” and therefore an enemy of Islam [the implication being] who can be killed.

Here is a state mufti advocating the murder of non-Muslims and the state security apparatus remained silent. How exactly is this different from the threats of Islamic State?

Non-Muslims over the decades have coped with these restrictions and have thrived.

For the most part non-Muslim communities, although having to struggle, have overcome (for the most part) the systemic dysfunction against them.

And this has been used against the non-Muslim communities. Our success in the face of systemic discrimination has been weaponised against us.

If we are successful, this is at the expense of the majority of Malays. If we stand up for our rights which necessarily means everyone’s rights, we are warned not to spook the Malays. 

Meanwhile, the political apparatus of this country has peddled political bromides in the form of state-sanctioned propaganda like Keluarga Malaysia and Malaysia Madani.

Religion trumps bread-and-butter issues

Non-Malay power structures have dispensed the Bangsa Malaysia kool-aid. When Pakatan Harapan Malay/Muslim political operatives claim an issue like unilateral conversion plays well with their base, they are probably more right than wrong.

It really does not matter if political pundits bray about bread-and-butter issues; the reality is that for a majority of Muslims, their religion trumps the bread-and-butter issues that connect us all as citizens of this country, regardless of race or religion.

People don’t support PAS because of their brilliant economic or social programmes; they support PAS because they believe they are the keepers of the faith.

Similarly, those who supported Umno on the basis of race and religion did so because they believed that religion was better when it came to entitlement programmes.

Take the “Allah” controversy for instance. I know some people will get angry when I write this but compared to other issues like unilateral conversion for instance, this ranks rather low on my list of what rights do I have to give up as a non-Muslim in this country.

This is the truly sickening part of all of this. We as non-Muslims have to prioritise our rights and consider which rights are expendable to maintain the peace. Why? Well, the state security apparatus which enforces rights is certainly not on our side. The political apparatus, even those we vote for, is not on our side.

Then, of course, the Islamophobia card is played. Islamophobia is something religious extremists use when attempting to deflect.

There is no such thing as “Islamophobia”. Of course, there are racists, bigots and other cretins who disparage Muslims and Islam around the world.

Unfortunately, the world is filled with racists and bigoted people who disparage all sorts of people, their religions and cultures. This is not solely a Muslim issue.

What is solely a Muslim issue is this idea that any criticisms of Islam are an attack on Muslims 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" society.

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.

So what can we non-Muslims do? Absolutely nothing. We have neither political actors with the requisite political will nor the voting polity to ensure that our rights are protected.

What we need to do in this new phase before this house of cards collapse is for the government to spell out the rights of non-Muslims.

Why? Because this saves time and energy and we do not have to go through this horse manure every time issues like this crop up.

This way, political operatives do not have to make feeble excuses as to why certain rights are prioritised and even then chucked by the wayside to ensure that the Malays are not spooked.

Tell us what words we cannot use. Tell us who can enter our places of worship. In fact, list out the sensitivities so we non-Muslims are clear that our presence is tolerated insofar as we observe these legal provisions.

So what this Madani government should do is spell out what rights non-Muslims have. Also include how, if Muslim provocateurs make statements against non-Muslims, nothing will happen to him or her.

In fact, codify these laws so we won’t have all these political operatives and concerned citizens wasting their time making police reports.

People just do not get it. Sooner or later, religious imperatives will trump democratic norms. Why? Because religious charlatans understand that their religious con bears fruit.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:23 AM   0 comments
Guan Eng, problem isn’t really Hadi anymore By G Vinod
Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Malaysiakini : Now here is my question, what is the outcome of the probe? This was said nearly two months ago. Can someone from the police and Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) provide us with an update?

The thing is, it seems the authorities are reluctant to throw the book at hate preachers and incendiary politicians due to mysterious reasons.

Preacher Syakir Nasoha

For example, in October last year, preacher Syakir Nasoha was caught on video making false accusations against Hindus, Buddhists and the Dayak community.

He claimed that Hindus and Buddhists will join the Jews and Christians to destroy Islam, and falsely accused the Dayaks (who are predominantly Christians) of raping and killing Muslims in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Many police reports were lodged against the preacher for his inflammatory remarks but what action has the authorities taken against him? Can someone update us?

Unsavoury characters

There are many others like Hadi and Syakir, who are treated with kids' gloves by the authorities despite their clear breach of the law.

From my understanding of the situation, these people are emboldened due to the authorities’ inaction. So, pardon us, the ordinary citizen, when we get sceptical about lodging police reports against Hadi and those like him. 

If Guan Eng and DAP are really upset with Hadi, perhaps it is best for him to ask Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail about what is happening.

Besides, the DAP leader is a former finance minister and a backbencher who shares close ties with both Anwar and Saifuddin. Surely, the duo is just a phone call away from him.

Late Karpal Singh

In my view, there is little need in asking the public to do much about this. We have already done our part since 1998 – by taking on the then-powerful BN administration and working alongside Pakatan Harapan leaders to put the latter in power.

In fact, those like Guan Eng, his illustrious father Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh have been taking on the corrupt establishment way before Anwar’s sacking as deputy prime minister in 1998.

You guys are in the government now. You have the authority to implement the reforms the nation badly needs.

As such, you have the power to overhaul the nation’s law and order process to make it function professionally for the people.

Therefore, do get the police and AGC to act on all the previous reports lodged against hate preachers and divisive politicians first.

Once the people see the authorities have little tolerance for such characters, public confidence in enforcement agencies and political leaders will rise again.

In fact, if the authorities really act without fear and favour, there won’t be a need to lodge police reports as all these troublemakers will cease spewing their drivel.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:55 AM   0 comments
Hadi's words breach limits of free speech By R Nadeswaran
Monday, May 15, 2023

Malaysiakini : I had argued that a statement made by an individual and its truthfulness is no business of the police or any other law enforcement authority, unless it breaches the country’s laws.

And saying goodbye to a dearly departed in Spanish is no offence.

I wrote two articles questioning the arrest and the reasons for it.

I had to “educate” the police, the IGP included and suggested that they use Google if they did not understand any foreign word before jumping the gun. 

Never mind that the IGP and some of his officers were made to look like fools when they had to retreat with their tails between their legs because the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) decided there was no case and binned the investigation papers.

As an advocate of free speech as one who expresses his views and opinions without fear or favour, I hold steadfastly to the laws of the land.

I had made a conscious decision from the beginning not to touch the three Rs – race, religion and royalty. Occasionally, I cross boundaries because of public interests.

That is why I have chosen to address PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang - whose speeches and diktats have crossed the borders of free speech.

He has falsely accused some communities of wrongdoing and as a result, caused discord and disharmony among the people.

Making wild accusations

No one will have objections if he wants to preach his own breed of his religion, but when he steps on racial issues and even ventures to pass unsavoury remarks on the royalty, it becomes a big “No”.

Ever since GE15, the PAS leader and his cohorts have made all kinds of statements, making wild accusations and authorities seem to believe it is par for the course. 

Last year, Hadi turned his guns against the non-Muslims and non-Malays, claiming that the majority of the corrupt are non-Muslims and non-bumiputera.

Last week, he took it further, slamming Malays who work with the non-Muslims and non-Malays, whom he claimed are the “biggest plunderers”.

They (such Malays), he said, work with the non-Muslims and non-Malays, who form the biggest group of plunderers, and those who give and receive bribes.

It continued with a tirade against media outlets which carry the “devil’s voice” and academics “whose brains are kept in their stomachs”.

How long can we go on dismissing these statements as words of a frustrated old man who has lost the seat of power and perks that come with it?

Surely such statements are causing discord, especially with comparisons made and wild accusations being levelled against certain sections of the community.

Hadi has reiterated calls for the Malays to unite, as the race is being openly conned (ditipu terang-terangan). While no one grudges the unity bit but what followed was unacceptable.

“They have become victims of the country's politics, and are being plagued by corruption, moral decay, and division among themselves,” the Marang MP said.

How long will the authorities pretend these wrenching pronouncements were not uttered or published and that they will not be repeated?

Those who monitor social media postings have picked out far lesser harmful statements, arresting the perpetrators, detaining them for a few days and then charging them in court.

Is Hadi one of those untouchables the authorities do not want to touch? Is he one of those who have been given the carte blanche to say anything and the rule books are thrown out of the window in the process?

We cannot have one set of rules for the ordinary man and another set for a politician who is dressed in religious garb with matching headgear to go with it.

But we must take cognisance and be reminded that “no one is above the law” is just another phrase in the armoury of those who are tasked with upholding the law.

Is it a case of “different strokes for different folks?”

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 3:36 PM   0 comments
Umno’s dirty tricks return to haunt Zahid By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

Malaysiakini : Umno, which for decades stamped its imprimatur on any organisation or personality which demonised the DAP and opposition using racial and religious politics, is now attempting a reversal of its electoral fortunes by appealing to the centre of Malaysian politics.

All the toxic racial politics that PAS led PN are shovelling back at Umno and this unity government, are from the Umno’s playbook which served Zahid's party well for decades.

I would argue that there is nothing original in what PAS and PN are doing.

There is no innovative strategy beyond reaping the rewards of Umno’s decades of racial and religious corruption of every institution in this country. 

Worried that “youths” are influenced by politics of hate perpetrated by the opposition? What do you think the religious industrial complex has been doing for years under the watchful gaze of Umno and then the timid reaction of Pakatan Harapan-controlled states and briefly the federal government?

People are miffed over PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s latest statement that ignorant Malays are being used by the DAP, especially when it comes to fielding candidates but this is not new.

Hadi just presents his toxic rants in religious drag but Umno played these kinds of dirty tricks for years.

In 2011, Zahid, who was then-defence minister, claimed that Umno had sniffed out a plan for the DAP to field Malay candidates in Perak because if they won, DAP could rule Perak by proxy through a Malay candidate.

He said: “This is because the Perak constitution forbids non-Malay from becoming menteri besar. For this reason, the DAP is planning to name a Malay candidate to contest a state seat so that eventually, a DAP menteri besar could be sworn in."

He also claimed that this nefarious plan was done without the knowledge of PAS and Amanah, adding - “I'd like to remind PAS and PKR not to become a mere tool of the DAP.”

So while Hadi, who frets that ignorant Malays would fall for the DAP’s ploy and encouraged them to have nothing to do with the DAP, back in the day Zahid was warning Malays of the same thing.

"We shouldn't remain complacent in the face of DAP's actions. I'd like to urge Malays not to associate themselves with the DAP, whether by becoming their candidates or partners under Pakatan Rakyat.”

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang

Hadi has always been spooked – maybe because of Umno’s propaganda – that Malay DAP candidates are being used.

In claiming that Malay DAP political operatives are being used by the DAP, what Hadi is saying is that the only people who can use the Malays are other Malays.

Specifically, Malays who are part of the ketuanan system or ketuanan adjacent. Hadi’s atavistic version of Islam is predicated on the belief that non-Muslims can only be “pak turut” (followers).

And really all this horse manure about Malays losing power or the Chinese talking over the economy and this country, was all developed by Umno.

You only have to remember what Pejuang head Muhkriz Mahathir said when he was a big wig in Bersatu, when everyone wanted to overthrow Bossku (Najib Abdul Razak).

"Looking at Umno, when there were big issues which we could not address, we would talk about DAP, Chinese chauvinism and how Lim Kit Siang becoming prime minister would destroy Malaysia, that the Malays would disappear, and the mosques can no longer air the azan.

"I admit that I too have said such things, in front of a 100 percent Malay audience. Thinking back, I feel guilty and a sense of regret."

Pejuang president Muhkriz Mahathir

So when Dr Mahathir Mohamad goes on about the “Malay People Declaration” or whatever drivel he is peddling now, it is because there are issues he cannot deal with.

So what do all these Malay uber alles parties or coalitions stand for? If you ask the average PN supporter, he would mimic exactly what an average Umno supporter would say.

If you ask establishment types, you would get a different, nuanced answer which involves correcting the systemic imbalances when it comes to corruption, and homages to old alliance politics, which ironically Umno had a hand in destroying.

In times of political uncertainty in the Malay political establishment, we can rely on two dominant modes of propaganda and repression.

The first is to scapegoat the DAP for everything wrong with the country and the second, promote “Islamic” policies which would act as connective tissue between supremacist ideas and victimhood narratives.

The Umno people I speak to have only disdain for PAS. Back in the day, they had a modicum of fear and respect for the revered PAS leader, the late Nik Aziz Nik Mat, only because he reflected the kind of Islam that was foreign to Umno. At least publicly.

As someone who had “issues” with Nik Aziz and had publicly expressed them, it is important to keep in mind that PAS supporters and the leadership under him were steadfast in their narratives about a kleptocratic government, the high cost of living and the values of Islam in a Malaysia which was compromised.

Now, of course, under Hadi, all this has changed.

Hadi, after keeping his head down while in power with opposition in urban states and with PN briefly in the federal government, has come into his own.

Using Umno’s playbook but minus the fig leaf of non-Malay/Muslim participation, PAS believes it can reshape Malaysia into an Islamic state in the heart of Southeast Asia.

I sincerely hope that Zahid and Harapan have some new dirty tricks in dealing with PN because the latter has demonstrated that they use the former's dirty tricks better.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:24 AM   0 comments
In search of my English-Scottish-Welsh-Malay Roots - All Parts 2-6 By James Ritchie
Sunday, May 14, 2023
Raised as a Thai Buddhist. My father’s Asian ancestors were of Chinese-Thai descent from the district of Phuket Province in Southern Thailand. Raised as a Thai-Chinese, my father and his older brother Hector were born at the family 30-acre property at Falim Village in Ipoh where my Scottish grandfather Alexander Hector Ritchie stayed until his demise.

Life was idyllic as the young Ritchie Eurasian brothers romped the padi fields in the midst of the extended family of aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. A little “tarzan” he fell when swinging from branch to branch, and was revived when he drank a cup on urine provided by a playmate—the liquid by-product being a well-known cure many human ills including trauma!

In the early days, a Thai troupe often visited his Northern Malaya bringing with them a puppet show called “wayang kulit” where old stories of Hanuman the monkey deity was acted out by its puppeteers. “We grew up speaking Thai ...we even had Thai names. My brother was known as Ah Dong while I was known as Ah Khlong…which refers to the nearby Kinta River.”

When my father was born, a Cantonese amah who took care of him often showed off her ward. “I was handsome and had curly and wavy hair (and) one amah remarked what a lovely girl I was. My amah said I was a boy and not a girl and there was a bet and I was stripped to decide the winner. “It was found I was very much a boy...and (even so) that may be the reason I was given the name Ah Mui--normally a girls’ name.”

As a youth my father understood the rituals of his Thai Buddhist ancestors, their superstitions and the practices of the monkhood. “We often visited the Thai Buddhist priests from the Thai temple at Tambun Road. As beggars (monks who devote themselves servility), they asked for rice…they always came for prayers when invited. “There was an occasion when prayers and chants were recited to keep evil spirits from visiting the house…a reed rope circled the house to prevent the evil spirits from entering.”

After their mother died, my father and his older brother Hector, was adopted by a Scottish miner Charles Ernest Cumming staying at Flora Villa, not far from Menglembu. His step-father bought the brothers a bicycle each to use to go to the Anglo Chinese Methodist School (ACS) three miles away. Describing his new home my father said: “The main bungalow was at one end of the garden. It consisted of three rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs…it was mosquito proof with really large rooms with a bathroom attached.

My mother who was five came to live with the Cumming family and grew attached to Johnny who the 13 years old. Brought up by a Cantonese “amah”, my mother and all of us never knew our roots I first learnt about mum’s real identity when I was 10. As the story goes her biological father was Pahang PWD engineer James Harpur who had a Malay house helper named Meriam staying at their Kuantan residence.

Days before my mother was born, my biological father left on duty for Kuala Lumpur. But before leaving, he told Pierson to check on Meriam who was pregnant and asked him to visit his residence. I remember Grandpa Pierson telling me the story about the unique circumstances of my mother’s birth on that fateful day in March 1923—the year of the Pig.

Grandpa Piers said: “Harpur called to say that he was leaving for Kuala Lumpur on some official business and asked me to check on Meriam. “By coincidence, I visited Harpur’s place the very day your mother was born and found no one at home. “Meriam had left and I thought she had probably taken the baby with her. However, I routinely checked around the house and behind at clumps of banana trees heard a distinct mewing sound of a kitten.

“There I found your mother, with umbilical cord, covered with red Kerengga Red ants…she must have just been born hours earlier." Pierson quickly bundled the infant baby to get medical assistance from the Kuantan government clinic where she was registered at Lily Harpur Pierson—his daughter. My mother studied in Hong Kong before returning to Singapore as an 18-year-old nurse, to marry my father during the Japanese invasion.

After the War, only Pierson returned Malaya to work as a tin miner in Perak. My father who was a natural sportsman and as an Anglo-Chinese school student, became Perak “Victor Ludorum” State athletics champion in August 1934. Johnny Ritchie who was a temporary teacher, took part in the Perak athletic championship in Ipoh Club padang. Participating as a decathlete—the 100 yards, 200 yards hurdles, 400 yards quarter mile, shot-putt, discus, javelin and became champion.

To keep fit, he often rode joined his schoolmates to cycle from Ipoh to Penang-104 miles away, a journey which took 11 hours. However, when he was 20 and armed with Senior Cambridge certificate, he left by train for Singapore to seek employment. Renting a room at Geylang for $10, he lived off daily meals of roti canai at three cents a piece.

Initially he wanted to join the army but was advised against it by Singapore army chief British Brigadier General Shakespeare. However, through the recommendation of his foster father’s friend, a Singapore shipping dockyard proprietor Merton Brown he secured a job as a clerk with a salary of $35. Luck was on his side because the Methodist Reverend who would marry my father and more after the War broke out, helped Johnny Ritchie secured a job in the Chinese protectorate.

The starting salary was $75 so my father gave up is clerical job. As a “boarding officer” he had to board Chinese immigrant ships with health and immigration officers deal with about 6,000 deck passengers. He said: “It was the duty of the boarding officer to keep all women and girls on the ship. “The job of the Protector was to prevent girls being brought into the country for prostitution or for sale as mui tsai (slave girls).

One of the lady inspectors was Ivy Brown later the wife of police assistant commissioner Charles Brodie. Recalling an incident when he was on duty when a woman fell overboard. “On that day the sea was particularly choppy and the steps from the ship swayed putting the passengers using the gangway in a precarious and dangerous position of falling overboard. “I saw what had happened (when the woman fell) and rushed down to the gangway and jumped into the sea to save her.

The incident of the quick rescue passed without comment.” I recall a similar incident sometime in 1964 when I encountered a similar rescue incident when my family and that of DSP B. Munusamy, my father’s aid de camp, went for vacation at Songkhla in Southern Thailand.

My older Dicky brother and I were frolicking in the pool of a hotel when Munusamy’s 12-year-old son Suria Kumar (later a medical doctor) jumped into the deep end of the pool even though he didn’t know how to swim He leapt from the springboard of the pool directly on top of me and dragged me down with him in a life and death struggle.

To save myself I had to break free from Kumar and left him struggling on his own as there were no lifeguards. After swimming to safety, I turned back and realized that Kumar was drowning, and had to save him because I would be deep trouble with my parents. As Kumar thrashed in the pool, I managed to pull him to the bottom of the pool and pushed him to the ledge of where my brother Georgie was helplessly waiting.

Luckily, he was pulled out safely and the incident was quickly forgotten. It was a lucky escape that went without notice as our parents had gone out shopping. In retrospect, if my mother had found out I would have a good thrashing!

Roots 3

A Eurasian “Scotsman” who spoke and wrote MANDARIN ----------------------

On February 15, 1942 the Allied Command surrendered and days later the Japanese arrived in Singapore. My father recalls that he was saved because of his Anglo-Asian features when the Japanese segregated the European policemen from the Asian. He wrote: “The British were put on one side while the Asian officers (known as Asiatics) were gathered in another group.

“The Japanese were not sure which group I had to be placed. They did not know at that time what a Eurasian was, you were either Asian or British. “The Japanese settled the issued by asking me whether I had arrested any Japanese. I said I had not and that I was escorting Mrs Rowell (an English woman to Changi prison so I was not interned.”

” Lily and I continued to live at the Central Police Station. One day at Smith Street when some Japanese trucks turned up and arrested the Chinese who panicked and ran helter-skelter. The Japanese said they were taking these Chinese men away as to work as laborers but in reality, it was the beginning of the “Sook Ching” massacre. After the war the Japanese government said that "no more than 6,000 Chinese" had been killed but Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew it was at least 70,000.

Even though it was illegal to leave Singapore, my father obtained a permit to travel in a goods train wagon to Penang. Even though he was a trained police officer, he had to reapply to become a police officer to an old Singapore friend—Chief Inspector Abdul Rahman bin Embi. Even though his salary of $100 as an Inspector was insufficient, the depreciation of the Japanese “banana notes” forced my mother to raise extra money by cycling 30 miles a day to collect tapioca leaves, potato leaves and other greens.

Ritchie wrote: ““She also used to smuggle small fish into Penang by putting them inside hollowed out banana stalks and then selling them on the black market.” My father bought a goat for my sickly eldest brother Richard who was born in November 1942. Father added: “Every day I had to collect leaves and grass to feed the goat at night. This would enable it to have more milk.

The daily routine at the Police Headquarters at Penang Road, was facing East and bowing in obeisance to Tenno-Heika (the Japanese Emperor). On one occasion, my father forgot to salute a Japanese military policeman and he was summoned to the military police headquarters. In retribution for his "crime" he had to supply the names of people who listened to BBC broadcasts or spoke disparagingly of the Japanese.

He was given one week in which to produce the names or be sacked or reprimanded. “I told Lily what had happened and asked her if she could manage on her own if I were to leave Penang and disappear into the jungle. “Lily said she could manage but told me not to tell her of my escape plans because if the Japanese were to torture her for information she would not be able to give them any information.”

Fortunately, after a week the Japanese he had "insulted" was transferred to a different town and the entire incident was immediately forgotten. Another close call was in an inter-departmental athletics competition where my father score most of the point for his winning the 100 yards, 220 yards, the high jump and 120-yards hurdles.

But in the last event was the 4x100 yards relay which would decide on the champion department, disaster struck. He reminisced: “I was the last runner and was expected to win. But lo and behold, as I got the baton, my fingers got caught in my shorts (we ran in our uniform shorts) and, as a result, we lost the championship as the baton fell. “I was really in hot soup.

I was berated by my Japanese boss who was very angry at what had taken place.” On that fateful day the Japanese boss said Ritchie was a British spy and was only waiting for the return of the white men. My father said: “I was asked who recruited me into the Police. I pointed at Abdul Rahman, my superior officer.

The Japanese boss then got up from his chair, walked round the table up to Abdul Rahman and slapped him three times. “The boss continued to berate me and was in a fearful rage. I was told that I was dismissed and to take off my badges of rank.” Just before lunch a message came that I was to report to the Headquarters. “With trepidation, I returned to the office. I saw the boss and was told that through the intervention of Ogawa-san, the Secretary of the Japanese Club in Singapore, I was spared and so I kept my job.”

In another incident a Taiwanese officer under the payroll of the Japanese accused him of stopping a propaganda show and slapped him. Having been a boxer, Ritchie reacted by slapping him back and stunned the Taiwanese who then assaulted my father with a series of punches. The next day my father was called up by the Special Branch head Hashimoto who asked why he had slapped a Japanese officer.

My father said he thought the man who slapped him a local Chinese and countered with a slap. “I was not going to run away…he could have been a communist.” His reply won praise from Hashimoto who said my father had the bushido spirit---the Japanese spirit of valor. Hashimoto reprimanded the Taiwanese by a barrage of kicks, slaps and punches thus the honor of the bunshocho was restored On Armistice Day born on November 11, 1942, my oldest sibling Richard “Dicky” was born followed by Cynthia a year later on December 28, 1943 .

However, March 24, 1945 the Allied forces were gaining ground and my family were interned at the Sime Road civilians camp in Singapore. During this time Cynthia and father contracted dysentery but miraculously survived; my father’s weight dropped from 150 lbs to 108 lbs. On September 15, 1945 when Singapore was liberated the British troops and by December, the family had returned to Penang.

Roots 4

Post-War Years and Malayan Insurgency


In January 1946 my father was reinstated by the British Military Administration (BMA) and sent back to Penang in charge of the Crime Branch. At this time, the crime rate in Penang, and other parts of Malaya was very high as pro-communist supporters took the law into their own hands. In 1948 Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) under Chin People war of terror instigated the declaration of the Malayan Emergency. My father wrote:

“At this time the communist elements within the MPAJA were going all out to topple the British civil administration. “They were also spreading a lot of anti-British propaganda and this included telling the people that it was they, the communists and not the British, who had defeated the Japanese and liberated Malaya.”

After the War Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) organized a protest group of about 10,000 people in Macalister Road. My father and ten policemen who were sent to disperse the group warned the protesters if they did not break up, he would call for more policemen to enforce the law. By this time, a fire brigade unit had arrived and my father ordered the officer in charge to turn their hoses on the speakers.

He said: “The firemen did this knocking the speakers off the benches. I then moved in and arrested three of them.” On June 17, 1948 the communists went on a killing spree of British planters, forcing the government to declare an emergency rebranded MPAJA who were now called MPABA or Malayan Peoples' Anti-British Army.

That night, raids were carried out throughout in the country; in Penang State - both the island and Province Wellesley on the mainland - about 200 communist sympathizers were rounded up. Six months after the state of Emergency had been declared the communists stepped up its activities. The first activities undertaken by the communists in Penang were mainly of a "nuisance" as they put up communist flags and painted slogans on the walls.

This created the impression among the general population that the communists were a strong and powerful force. Soon the communists became bolder in their approach and began to burn down telephone boxes on various parts of the island. In order to prevent the communists from gaining psychological victories policemen kept a watch over all telephone boxes in Penang.

On one occasion, three CTs turned up at a telephone box and started a fire inside it. The policemen who were hiding and nearby, promptly rushed out from their ambush positions and fired several shots at three CTs who got away. Within the town, several murders were committed and this created a great deal of alarm among the population.

During the Emergency the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) devised various means of obtaining firearms to strengthen their armaments. In his memoir my father said: “The communist party also formed the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA) – and began attacking rubber plantations, mines and police stations, derailing trains and burning workers' houses.

“The armed wing of the MCP, the MNLA were jungle based and supported by the impoverished Chinese population.” Although many Chinese lived in the cities, others - known as 'squatters' - lived at the fringes of the jungle and could aid the guerrillas. To further frustrate the police, the CTs singled out lone policemen on foot patrol to rob them of their revolvers.

Their modus operandi was as such; two communists on bicycles would wait in ambush for the patrolman while two others would follow from behind. Once the policeman was isolated by the group, the four men rob him of his revolve at gunpoint. To prevent such incidents, the CID put more men on foot patrols was thus frustrating the CTs “hit and run” Scheme.

In one incident, a Pathan policeman who was alone the center of Penang as suddenly confronted by three armed men. Ritchie said: “One of the three pulled out a revolver and, pointing it at the policeman, ordered him to hand over his revolver. “The policeman dismounted from his bicycle, took out his gun and promptly opened fire at them.

During the gunfight all three men panicked and fled. Other policemen in the vicinity rushed to the scene to assist their colleague. They cornered one gunman who ran into a primary school on the first floor of the building, ready to shoot the first policeman to appear in his sight. Just as the police were about to charge up the stairs, a school teacher calmly walked out of a classroom and told both parties to stop shooting as he had a classroom full of young children.

Recalling the incident, my father said: “Strange as it may seem, both the armed youth and the police party agreed to a cease-fire until the children could be evacuated from the building. “The school teacher then returned to his classroom and calmly herded his pupils out of the building and sent home.” At this very time, my father was on his way to Court to prosecute a case, but on hearing the commotion went to the scene to give any assistance.

He added: “When I arrived the gunman fire a warning shot. I crept into the building and was about to crawl up the stairs while the other policemen were waiting below of the policemen below. “Several policemen then joined my father as they burst and found the gunman lying dead on the floor. “Finding his position hopeless he had shot himself in the head.”

The gunman was a member of a communist killer squad operating in Penang. The conduct of the school teacher, who had so bravely led his pupils from the school, earned him a great deal of praise and he was presented with a letter of appreciation by the police. The Pathan policeman who had refused to surrender his gun also received a letter of appreciation for his fearless reaction.

Roots 5

Cat and Mouse game of Survival


The Communist violence reached its the height with the assassination of Malayan High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney on October 6, 1951. He was replaced by British army chief Sir Gerald Templer who continued to implement a 'hearts and minds' strategy to win over the people. But the communists knew it was a ploy to watch monitor the movements of their sympathisers.

Known as the “smiling Tiger”, Templer continued building “new villages” which in effect were Chinese internment camps of almost one million people in 500 locations. This represented a third of the 3.1 million Chinese population of Malaya. By then Chin Peng had formed assassination squads using elements from the jungle-based MLNA (Malayan Liberation National Army) to form assassination squads.

During the Emergency from 1948-1960, the CTs killed 500 British planters and miners and 1,200 policemen, a large number from the Special Branch. In Penang they killed one my father’s loyal officers who did not heed my father’s advice. Ritchie added: “There was one incident in which one of my detectives, a man of whom I was particularly fond, was murdered in cold blood.

“One morning, I led a group of policemen to a squatter area in Perak Road to make some enquiries. We stopped to have coffee at a shop within the squatter area. “I sat with my back towards a window but almost immediately, I began to feel very uncomfortable. “The feeling was so strong inside me that I told my detective to make a check around the outside of the building to make sure there was no one hanging around outside.” “But the man replied there was nothing to fear, as he was born in the area and all the people there were his friends.”

Ritchie warned the Chinese detective he should not allow himself to be lulled by complacency because the enemy could be anywhere. However, the detective continued visited a shop where regularly played billiards “I told the detective it was best to avoid the place because the enemy could be anywhere and waiting to strike.

But took no notice of what my father said and continued to visit the shop. “One day, as he was stooping over the billiards table and about to play a shot, when he was shot in the back and killed,” my father added. My father who spoke several Chinese dialects, was continually threatened by members of the Secret Society (triads or Chinese -based organized) although he was well-known gentleman Eurasian officer.

One of his favorite recreational spots was Tanjong Bungah where he used to go with my family every weekend. However, one weekend six men visited Tanjung Bunga and were determined to eliminate him My father said: “The men approached one of my aunts asked her if I was in her house and she said I wasn’t.

“Fortunately, I had gone to a different beach and after waiting for about four hours the men left.” The next weekend, Ritchie returned to Tanjong Bungah but this time with a squad of policemen. He wanted to set myself up as "bait" for the six men hoping the show up. But lucky for both parties, the men did not turn up because there could have been a major confrontation.

Johnny Ritchie was popular with people of all races because he was friendly, generous and mingled freely with people of all races. On one occasion an Indian hawker and where he often had his breakfast, saved his life. Reminiscing Inspector Johnny Ritchie said: “One night, the stall owner Indian came to my house panting for breath after running distance of two miles to warn me that several strangers who had coffee shop near his stall had asked for me.

“I immediately took a party of policemen and went to the coffee shop in search of the men but they had already left. “However, I was touched by stall owner’s concern the hawker had shown for my safety and I was grateful to him.” This little episode showed that sometimes the life of the policemen is in the hands of pubic and good heartedness of ordinary folk. Although the police often took precaution against danger, we could never make ourselves completely immune to attacks on our lives.

Imagine his surprise when he later found that a band of five assassins that had been assigned to kill him were responsible for four murders, four robberies of firearms from policemen and three cases of attempted murder. It was discovered he group which was also involved in violent crimes in Penang the CT’s "Killer Corps."

Among the four murders was one of a prominent popular and well -respected headmaster of a Chinese school. The anti-communist headmaster had exerted a strong influence over the schoolboys and discouraged in subversive activities. His murder created a sensation and many outstanding citizens condemned his killing. One day in February 1952, the headmaster, accompanied by a school teacher, left in his car to attend a Teachers' Association meeting.

When they arrived at the location of the meeting, the headmaster’s companion got out from the car and began walking towards the building. Suddenly he heard an explosion and thinking the car types had punctured so he and turned back and noticed the headmaster slumped at the wheel. The shooting had occurred in broad quite a number of people in the vicinity, including customers in a nearby coffee shop. But nobody came forward as witnesses.

Roots 6

Double agents and Assassins


At the height of the Malayan Emergency, Penang’s secret societies ruled supreme. In the olden days China-based Secret Societies were organized socio-economic groups with noble ideals and were protectors of the ordinary folk. But it was a matter of time before the Secret Societies came under the influence of the criminal elements “Triads”. A great influx of “Nanyang” Chinese to the Malayan peninsula came in the 19th century when business was booming in the Straits settlements of Singapore and Penang.

However, during the Japanese occupation the Society’s activities were almost wiped; the Japanese launched an anti-Chinese putsch which included that the infamous Sook Ching massacres of 80,000 (Feb 18-March 4 1942) in Singapore. After the war it was “business usual” where Penang boasted of 22 secret societies. Its “mafia” was controlled by underworld chief Ooi Ah Sow who was a legendary Robin Hood.

Dato Sri John Ritchie who was a young officer at that time said: “We received information that Ooi was hiding in one of the squatter huts and guarded by armed terrorists and sten-guns and grenades. He joked: “But it was a botched operation because instead of confronting Ooi in a gunfight, we ran into a cow shed.

“It was pitch dark and their sudden appearance of policemen in uniforms and weapons frightened the cattle causing a stampede. “Next thing we knew was our leading party running out at breakneck speed with a herd of cows behind. “Those of us providing backup had difficulty in suppressing our laughter in the presence of our boss the head of CID.”

Ooi who lived in the Penang hills was fled to a secret society enclave of Semeling in Sungei Petani in Kedah where he was arrested. After a banishment enquiry, my father was tasked to escort him to Singapore before he was banished to China. Another interesting incident was the “body in a sack” murder where a taxi driver with arms tied behind his back was shot in the head, put in a sack, and thrown in the river.

Known as “death by submarine ride” he was involved in a love affair with a secret society “double” agent. Initially, there were no clues as to the killer except for a photograph of an attractive woman in my father’s possession. Interrogating the suspect, Ritchie wanted to catch the double-agent by surprise when he suddenly produced the woman’s picture.

“When I whipped out the photo and thrust it before the eyes of the informer and asked him who she was, he promptly (not suspecting he was incriminating himself) answered “My wife.” Further investigating led to the man’s confession! In the meantime, my father had to deal with increasing influence of the communists on the Penang Chinese.

In his memoir “The Adventures of Johnny Ritchie (1999)” published by Pelanduk Publications, he said a group of about 60 communist terrorists were operating in the Penang hills. “When the Emergency started in 1948, the government did not have a jungle force such as the Police Field Force of Sarawak and we had no real effective group to fight these terrorists.

“To counter this situation, I formed the first ten-man police units comprising police regulars and detectives, to comb, control and dominate the hills as much as possible.” As soon as the terrorists heard of these jungle police squads, they took immediate counter-measures and seized a number of shot guns from the civilian population, protect their interests.

Consequently, these jungle squads, commanded by British police lieutenants began to curb the activities of the terrorists. But they were ineffective because the CTs initiated a “reign of terror” with the murdered two informers at the village market at Balik Pulau about 20 miles from Georgetown. Once my father’s jungle squads were fully operational, they went on long missions in the jungle.

On one strange occasion, a squad of men spend the night in the remote jungle were sleeping when there apparently translocated by “spirits”. “Next morning when the men woke up, they found were no longer in their hammocks. Some were lying in bushes while others found sleeping on the surroundings valleys. “None of the men were able to explain what had happened so they decided it could have been a supernatural experience.”

Later the police learnt that the communist had also avoided visiting this particular haunted location. As the Penang jungle squad became more experienced, they were able to curb CT activities. Constantly on the run and always short of food supplies, they found supporters deserting the societies. In another episode, Inspector Johnny Ritchie was told of that the secret society “boss” wanted to meet him on his own.

As a rule, Ritchie always refused to meet the enemy alone but since this was urgent had another police office to replace him. Fortunately, my father did not turn up; the “mafia” boss had set up a trap to kill two people at one go—Ritchie and a suspected double agent named “Ah Lee” working as with the police. Unfortunately, “Ah Lee” turned up at the scene thinking he was meeting Ritchie, was detained and taken to Penang Hills and buried alive.

In the 1950s murder, robbery and burnings in Penang continued to give the impression that police were ineffective, incompetent and weak. There was the sensational murder of prominent Chinese school headmaster creating fear because it was carried out in broad daylight. As it transpired, two gunmen on bicycles had waited at a coffee shop for the headmaster to arrive in his car at a meeting.

As soon as the car pulled up at a kerb, one of the gunmen calmly walked across the road to the car and shot him in the head. The case remained unsolved because there wasn’t a scrap of information on the killers! However, a "breakthrough came when a CT surrendered and was questioned about the shooting of the headmaster.

Slim as the information was, it gave the police something to work on. In December 1952, one of the suspects we were looking for, and who turned out to be one of the murderers, was arrested at his house and from information gleaned from him another arrest was made in Bukit Mertajam.

Eventually, we arrested four men who were found to have been involved in a number of murders and other acts of terrorism. Another case closed!
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 12:38 PM   0 comments

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