Articles, Opinions & Views: Rashid's strategy is so wrong, but it is all right - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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“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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Rashid's strategy is so wrong, but it is all right - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Malaysiakini : “You have the army of mediocrities followed by the multitude of fools. As the mediocrities and the fools always form the immense majority, it is impossible for them to elect an intelligent government.” – Guy de Maupassant
COMMENT | Many people have been emailing me asking me what I thought of Bersatu's vice-president and former Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s “by hook or by crook” election strategy.

Apparently, this kind of thinking is verboten (forbidden by the authority) in this New Malaysia. Maybe I’m wrong, but maybe Rashid knows more about Malay politics, the Umno base, and how to win in dodgy elections than his critics give him credit for.

I read everything Nathaniel Tan writes, but arguing that Umno did not fail because of a few bad apples, but instead from a culture that corrupted every level of the party’s leadership is misguided. The reality is that Umno did not fail because of some systemic meltdown; it failed because Najib Abdul Razak did not play nice with current Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Furthermore, the leadership was in denial of how unpopular Najib was among the base. If the Umno leaders had paid attention to the grassroots, they would have understood that a certain segment would be more than happy to shift to Mahathir because they viewed the autocracy of Najib and his family detrimental to the ‘Malay’ community. If Umno had rejected Najib instead of propping him up, I doubt we would be having this discussion.

Speaking the truth

Rashid was just saying what most Bersatu political operatives are thinking. He was not saying anything controversial. He was merely speaking for the leadership and the base, even though the narrative is that he was just speaking in his personal capacity.

You really think that someone like Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has a finger on the pulse of the agitated Malay electorate, or the guts to acknowledge the Umno system without resorting to the kind of euphemisms that people like Rashid have no time for or, to be honest, understand?

In questioning Rashid’s appointment as a vice-president, lifetime Bersatu member Zaeinal Abidin Omar asked: “Some of us members have gone through the forest and bushes in our struggle for religion, race and country, is Rashid prepared to do that?”

Think about that line for a moment. What the hell does "struggle for religion, race and country" mean, anyway? Well, it means perpetuating a system of privilege and discrimination to maintain hegemonic racial, political, social and economic power. There has never been a struggle of emancipation from government handouts and religious orthodoxy. In fact, the struggle has been to ensure that both are sustained – even if it means a change of government, just not ‘Malay’ politics.

Umno did not fail the Malays. It never intended for them to succeed. This is why when Malay power structures talk about reform, they never consider egalitarian ideas that could generate a level of sophistication and independence among the base, but rather fall back on protectionist strategies that perpetuate the theme that the community can only be saved by political parties formed to address their specific needs.

This is why lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim (photo, below), for instance, points out – rightly – the “Nazi” aspects of these religion- or race-based parties, because both are in direct opposition to democratic principles.

Rashid is an insider who knows how to win over the base in a political environment that was created and nurtured by the Young Turks of Umno, of which the Najib regime was the logical outcome. Read the propaganda coming out of Pakatan Harapan and it is all ahistorical, concentrating on Najib, but never addressing the basis of the corruption of the political elite.

Look, Umno members are jumping ship. Special Affairs Department (Jasa) members are welcomed into Bersatu. The appointments of Bersatu members to key positions in GLCs. The polemics of Bersatu Youth in wanting the resignation of a coalition minister. All these are vintage moves known and supported by the Umno base.

Winning strategy

Bersatu political operatives and propagandists have been sending me materials that demonstrate how well-received Rashid’s “by hook or by crook” strategy is within the corridors of Malay power coalescing around Bersatu.

One political operative reminded me that Bersatu has enemies everywhere. “Look, Commander, not only do have we to deal with Umno and PAS, but we also have to worry about the situation in Sabah and Sarawak. We do not have the luxury of time. We need to establish Bersatu as the face of Malay power or Harapan could be in serious trouble.”

And here’s the thing. Nearly every Bersatu political operative who speaks to me sincerely seems to have the best interests of Harapan at heart. Sure, they may cause trouble with the other Malay power structures, backtrack on election promises, and engage in the very behaviour and tactics that defined Umno, but all this is in the service of ensuring that Harapan does not fail.

Similarly, the people I have spoken to view what Rashid said as a viable strategy – perhaps the only strategy – to ensure the success of not just Bersatu, but also Harapan.

A Bersatu grassroots activist, who I usually call on because she gives it to me straight, told me that it is easy for the other Harapan components to criticise Rashid. It gets them good press and makes them seem like heroes, like young Syed Saddiq. But, the “beloved” (and she means it when she says this) prime minister not only has to ensure that Bersatu is a viable party, but also that “Harapan does not mampus (die)”.

She continues: “What Rashid said was not about corruption. What he meant was that unlike Umno, Bersatu would ensure that whatever funds are used will be used properly and not just stolen by the divisions' heads. This also is a kind of reform, right?

“Please lah, see how all the ministers are going to Cameron Highlands now, making all sorts of promises. This is what he (Rashid) is talking about when he said using government resources.”

Okay, I said, if your rural heartland base needs to be better informed, then why not begin the process of dismantling the system – political tactics included – which separates them from the urban Malay voter? “You want us to win or you want PAS or Umno to win?” she replied.

Think of it this way. When a young leader like Syed Saddiq talks about helping out the poor Malays, what does anyone really think this means? Does it mean that the government wants to help these so-called poor Malays become independent from the system? Are they going to see that these so-called disenfranchised Malays from the Umno system are informed and make decisions which have nothing to do with race and religion, but instead think of themselves as part of a greater cultural whole? I do not think so.
As long as the government does not change direction when it comes to the systemic dysfunction of race and religion, winning “by hook or by crook” will be the strategy of choice for Malay power structures and their non-Malay enablers.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:48 AM  
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