Articles, Opinions & Views: ‘Are you really Chinese? Why is your skin dark?’ - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

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

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

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

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

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

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

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

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

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

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

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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‘Are you really Chinese? Why is your skin dark?’ - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 20, 2018

Malaysiakini : “How I wished during those sleepless hours that I belonged to a different nation, or better still, to none at all.” – WG Sebald, Vertigo
COMMENT | When my friend P Uthayakumar said this – “That could have been done just merely by a stroke of the pen… but they did not do it” – about the current Pakatan Harapan regime solving the issue of stateless Indians, he is right, of course. M Kula Segaran, on the other hand, is also correct to point out that citizenship status would be granted not only to the Indian community but to all races. Both statements demonstrate how easy it would be for the government to correct this injustice if there is political will to do so.
When Harapan came into power, unlike most people, I was (and still am) not obsessed about 1MDB. This country was a kleptocracy long before Najib Abdul Razak’s excesses sealed the regime's fate on May 9. What interests me is how the state during the long Umno watch reshaped the demographics of this country. And what really bothers me is that there are people who have been living in a state of limbo for decades, while foreign nationals have been granted not just citizenship but the privileges that come with being of a certain race.
Now I do not want to sound like some sort of ethno-nationalist – I could not even if I wanted to, because of the racial politics at play here – but isn’t anyone else curious as to why we have a stateless persons issue when it seems that every other person of a particular religious persuasion got citizenship under Umno rule? Will the situation change?
When I read about this stateless issue, I become obsessed with the flip side – those granted citizenship with a stroke of the pen. The people who become part of the majority community, while Indians, Chinese, maybe even other Malays and the Orang Asal were denied their rights as citizens of this country.
This, of course, is not solely the crime of the Najib regime; it goes back a long time. What I want the Harapan regime to expose is how deep the rot in the system is. While stateless Malaysians are involved in a bureaucratic nightmare of achieving citizenship, how many foreign nationals have become citizens with a stroke of a pen, and – let’s face facts – not just changed the demographics in certain areas, but also the balance of political power?
Racial engineering
There was a system in place designed to expedite the granting of citizenship to certain individuals while hampering the legitimate aspirations and rights of others. While I can offer no proof of this, there have been far too many political operatives of the former regime, state security personnel currently serving and retired, who have made similar claims.
This kind of racial engineering, whether as alleged to have happened in Sabah or other parts of the country, is something that poses an existential threat to the real pendatang of this country. Sounds funny, but it’s true.
One question I get from activists, lawyers and other people who have been on this stateless issue for decades, is whether there will be more bureaucratic hassles when it comes to getting citizenship for those born here.
This of course brings us to the issue of stateless children or young adults, which trumps whatever curiosity I may have of the racial engineering of regimes past. Maybe letting those secrets remain buried serves a greater purpose. Would you really want to know how your government screwed you over by wilfully by systemically changing the demographics of your country while calling you pendatang?
The real victims, the stateless children for instance, have been left in limbo. While constitutionally created citizens go about their lives, these stateless children have to eke out an existence – if they are lucky – or become part of an undocumented and ignored subculture open to the predation of political and corporate enterprises.
Let me be very clear. What these lawyers and activists question is whether those below 60 granted citizenship if they can prove they were born here and with one Malaysian parent is whether there will any bureaucratic hassle when it comes to a non-Malay parent who is a citizen of this country? Well, that is one dimension of the problem.
A Malaysian issue
Current opposition leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was pretty cavalier on this issue. As reported in Malaysiakini when questioned in Parliament in 2016, he said - “There are 290,437 children who are between one and 18 years old who were born in Malaysia but are not given Malaysian citizenship.
“These are foreigners and they are born not according to the country's racial lines, but based on the country of origin of their parents. The bulk of these stateless children have parents from Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar.” That is one part of the story. There is another.
I have often singled out DAP’s Teo Nie Ching for keeping this issue in the public eye. To understand more of this issue, and the fact that the number of stateless children exceeds the population of Perlis, readers are encouraged to read this article where DAP’s P Kasthuriraani Patto reminds us that this is not solely an Indian issue but a Malaysian one. This is important because children should not have to pay for the sins of the state and of their parents. This last part is axiomatic:
“Through our documentary today we can safely say it’s a Malaysian problem as all races are involved.” Kasthuriraani also expressed disappointment that the foreign spouses of certain VIPs had an easy time obtaining citizenship, with the National Registration Department ignoring those who actually needed it the most.
“According to the Federal Constitution, those born to at least one Malaysian parent can obtain citizenship… Why was the foreigner wife of a former chief minister granted citizenship and even allowed to vote twice in elections?” The Star ran an interesting article on this issue in April of this year. The curious case of Wong Kueng Hui, who was born to a Malaysian father and Indonesian mother, is worth considering. Reading about his experience surely falls under the definition of Kafkaesque.
“‘They said my application was not complete even though I have my father’s papers and a birth certificate stating him as my father, and his family vouching for me. They only look at my mother’s nationality and the lack of marriage certificate,’ he says, adding that he was even queried about his dark complexion.
“‘They asked me, are you really Chinese? Why is your skin dark? “The delay, he says, has even caused a rift between him and his stepbrother as travelling back and forth from Keningau to Kota Kinabalu and ‘going up and down the Jabatan’ took a toll on him. ‘Now, they tell me my application has been forwarded to Putrajaya’.” Well, Putrajaya? I sincerely hope there was a happy ending to his case.
Because if there is political will to resolve this issue, it really is as easy as a stroke of a pen.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 3:05 PM  
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