Articles, Opinions & Views: My reply to Bersatu’s Rais Hussin - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

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

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

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

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

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

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

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

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

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

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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My reply to Bersatu’s Rais Hussin - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Turkey’s Christians are facing increasing persecution. We cannot forget them
Malaysiakini : “But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.” ― Patrick O'Brian, ‘Master and Commander’
COMMENT | In responding to my piece critical of his piece, Rais Hussin makes a couple of fundamental errors regarding my position on the issue of the Uyghur Muslims. The first is his claim that I wrote that Malaysia is still practising some sort of "apartheid” system. This is objectively false. In fact, I argued the opposite.
Here is what I wrote: “People have stopped using the term 'apartheid' when they talk to me about the institutionalised discrimination because they understand that I go a bit bonkers. The last person who used it got testimonials from a South African friend of mine, which he submitted in one of the truth and reconciliation committees. But I digress.”
Indeed, in numerous other articles pre and post-May 9, I have made it clear that use of the word “apartheid” to describe the systemic discrimination that non-Malays face in this country is morally reprehensible. This is a matter of public record and, of course, there are many readers of Malaysiakini who disseminate my articles elsewhere who disagree with me.
The second error Rais makes is claiming that I do not think it is in “the ambit of Malaysia to speak out against the atrocities of the Rohingyas nor Uyghurs.” This again is a willful misreading of my piece.
Here is what I wrote: “We could argue about the means they take to ensure their security but is this really a productive discussion since we cannot fall back on any first principles that would legitimise our criticism against the PRC?”
In other words, I am of the opinion that China has every right to defend itself against what it views as “internal” threats and if we do criticise them, our criticism would carry more weight if we relied on first principles, a history of rejecting extremism and a contemporary commitment of ensuring an egalitarian Malaysia.
I have no idea why Rais would bring up the New Economic Policy (NEP) and the narrative of correcting whatever perceived “imbalance” between the various ethnic groups in this country. In my piece, I made it very clear that the alleged systemic discrimination that the Uyghurs face was not the same as “bumiputera” rights or the manifestations of those rights through state power.
I was very clear that only people in Malaysia who face the kind of discrimination that the Uyghurs allegedly face are the Orang Asal and I reminded my Chinese and Indian brethren of this reality:
“Malaysians should educate themselves on the realities of these people when it comes to how the majority deals with minority ethnic communities - beyond the Chinese/Indian dialectic. Then you will discover the real horrors of what some communities go through.”
This is the reason why I highlighted the issue of the systemic discrimination faced by the Orang Asal, which is far more severe than anything the “other” minorities face in this country. You see, we have, for the most part, a political apparatus which deals which our grievances, whereas the Orang Asal are most often left to the mercy of the state and whoever that controls it. So there’s that.
Now, Rais further claims that it is “shocking” that a retired naval commander whose “first moral duty” must include rushing to the aid of sinking vessels, would go against any attempt to highlight the plight of the Rohingyas and Uyghurs.
This is a straw man argument. I have never been against highlighting the plight of any marginalised communities, foreign or domestic, but I have always been critical of those who “champion” certain causes because of the hypocrisy of their conduct.
Cruel, inhumane treatment
With the Rohingyas for instance, I questioned the motives of PAS and Umno for holding that convenient solidarity rally. I discussed this here: “For example, where was the large-scale demonstration when the bodies of five Orang Asli children were discovered in the jungle when they ran away from school fearing abuse? Where was the large-scale Muslim outrage to this tragedy?”
Then, of course, there is the double speak when it comes to domestic security and Muslim solidarity, which I discussed here: “Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed explained that Malaysia was willing to accept more refugees but was concerned of the possible influx of 'sympathisers to the militants'.
“This kind of doublespeak is mendacious; on the one hand, we have state-sanctioned operatives wanting the Umno state to expel Myanmar’s diplomats and citizens and on the other, the acknowledgement (by the state) that armed resistance against the Myanmar regime is something that the Umno regime is concerned about.
“This kind of balancing act is what emboldens extremists who have always viewed Malaysia as a transit point for regional and global terrorism.” Furthermore, in various pieces, I have not only highlighted the way the state mistreats various refugee groups but also highlighted the contributions of NGOs (like Tenaganita), various political operatives and journalists who write about these "refugee" stories that most Malaysians have very little interest in.
As far as I am concerned, it is these people who highlight the plight of refugees like the kind Rais mentions and the indifference of the state. It is they who do the hard, thankless work of genuinely attracting public interest to the plight of these disposed peoples. When I talk of people who have been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, I do not have to look to other countries to feel outraged. I only have to look at what is happening in the dark places of our homeland.
For instance, how many people like the Rohingyas and Uyghurs have been trafficked or killed in this country? How many minorities from other countries have vanished in this country? Would it matter what religion they believed in?
This is why, as someone who was attached to the state security apparatus, I want the Pakatan Harapan regime to unearth the Wang Kelian tragedy:
“The Harapan regime should expose the slavers and killers of Wang Kelian, discover what happened there and inform the public of the real nature of the corruption of our state security apparatus. They should expose how deep the rot goes when it comes to the abuse suffered by disenfranchised people, migrant workers and the rest under the boot of those colluding with crime syndicates.”
Talking about these unwanted minorities on our shores is far more important than replaying the current prime minister's greatest hits or going on about a foreign dictator beloved by Islamic reformers in this country or even mentioning the Roma. I am a simple sailor whose first moral duty when serving the state security apparatus was to ensure the safety and welfare of the men under his command.
I would like to think that I did not abandon that professional credo when I retired.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 5:37 PM  
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