Articles, Opinions & Views: 'Are we all racists?' A response - 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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'Are we all racists?' A response - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Malaysiakini : “What I want you to know is that this is not your fault, even if it is ultimately your responsibility.”  Ta-Nehisi Coates, 'Between the World and Me'
COMMENT | PSM’s S Arutchelvan makes the same mistake in the racial discourse that most people but especially political operatives make. He conflates a whole range of issues – social, economic and political – and arrives at the conclusion that all Malaysians are racists and efforts need to be made to sort out our differences through a class-based prescription.
While Arutchelvan correctly acknowledges the systemic racism of policies meant for the majority, he makes false equivalencies between those rejecting those policies and the majority who benefit from them. The matriculation quota, for instance, is a racist policy. Those objecting to such a policy are rejecting racism; not being racists themselves merely because they view such ill-treatment through their non-Malay community lens and support non-Malay political operatives who oppose such policies.
Similarly, the debate about language requirements in certain sections of the private sector is not ab initio “racist” merely because some in the Chinese community say it is. Malaysiakini columnist Zan Azlee, for instance, correctly points to the weaponisation of language and this could also be applied to the public sector of Malaysia where citizens' interaction with a bureaucracy defined by race and religion becomes a cultural battleground instead of a public service.
The racial discourse in this country is a tricky terrain to navigate. Firstly, there have been very few studies – encouraged by the government – on individual issues which are flashpoints for racial and religious agitations. Most people, when they talk of racism, can point to the political structure and bureaucracy but have a harder time defining racism beyond those structures.
S Arutchelvan
The discourse is problematic for obvious reasons or rather, reasons that should be obvious but political operatives ignore these reasons for agendas of their own. Let us take education for instance. Since public education is mired in racial and religious supremacy, non-Malays have had to resort to private education. This was not done in any sort of racial calculation but rather because of survival. This, in turn, developed two separate cultures in young people, the first based on racial and religious privilege and the second based on resentment. This feeds into the private sector which, of course, is part of the larger capitalist narrative of this country which profits from divisions in societies if left unchecked.
And even when it comes to political structures, the discourse is hampered by tunnel vision while other factors which contribute to racial hegemony are dismissed or even ignored. The always readable William Leong Jee Keen - whose series of essays for Malaysiakini is a must read – makes the same mistake when talking about Malay power structures.
In his 'Divisive politics: Strategic actions of the elites', William makes the mistake of narrowly defining the political elites. He concentrates on the Malay-Muslim political elite as exemplified by the Bersatu/Umno/PAS troika and narrows his focus on the racial and religious agenda of Malay supremacy but ignores an important point, perhaps the most important point.
William Leong Jee Keen
That point is non-Malay participation in furthering racial and religious supremacy in the power-sharing formula that is necessary for non-Malays to participate in the political process. Indeed the 'Bangsa Malaysia' propaganda which is aimed at the non-Malay communities acts as some sort of narcotising agent for non-Malay discontent, while Malays, even in multiracial coalitions, are free, nay, encouraged to display their Malayness either in defence of non-Malay political operatives or as some sort of bona fide against attacks from the Malay far-right.
Hence racial strategies of the non-Malays are complicit in maintaining divisive politics because the realpolitik of Malaysia is that if we – non-Malays – do not employ these strategies, there would be no line in the sand when it comes to racial and religious supremacy. It also means that we can never really have an honest dialogue about race because we are part of the problem.
For instance, when DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang dodges a debate that he called for because the worry is that former premier Najib Abdul Razak will spin it into a racial issue, this is wonky thinking. Of course, Najib is going to spin it into a racial issue but the worry is that someone like Kit Siang is going to have to defend Harapan's record of either supporting egalitarian policies – which the far-right would pounce on – or reaffirming egalitarian policies which the far-right would pounce on.
Never mind that Harapan's record is pitifully poor when it comes to these policies; the reality is that Kit Siang would still be demonised by the far-right for reaffirming agendas that Harapan has not carried out. The real issue is what is so wrong about egalitarian policies? The answer is that it is not politically expedient. Najib knows this and you can bet your last ringgit that most political operatives, Malay and non-Malay, know this too.
Why is it important to have multiracial parties? Well, the answer is simple. We can objectively examine their policies and compare them to the racial and religious hegemonic policies of race-based parties. This is more difficult then it sounds because, from a utilitarian calculus, the MCA, for instance, did more for the Chinese community – working in a racist system – than the policies of Umno did for the Malay community during a time when the DAP was advocating for egalitarian policies for all Malaysians.
This is why a hack from Umno can tell the citizens of this country not to fight for equal rights and be content to be "good citizens of this country". This is why people who support these multiracial parties have to hold them accountable for not carrying out their agendas. This is important because we all know what eventually happens to power structures which support racial and religious supremacy.
What really bothers me is that the real lesson of the historic Harapan win may be that people are more interested in dislodging a kleptocracy instead of reforming an ethnocracy. We can - and should - do both.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 1:36 PM  
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