Articles, Opinions & Views: The pandemic puts spirit of M'sian solidarity to the test - 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

Photobucket
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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The pandemic puts spirit of M'sian solidarity to the test - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Malaysiakini : "This is the defining global health crisis of our time 'which will test' the amazing spirit of human solidarity." - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general
COMMENT | The Covid-19 pandemic and the latest movement control order should be a time when Malaysians come together instead of engaging in petty partisan bickering. Instead, social media is awash with negative spiels about the state’s reaction to the pandemic.
The rakyat, meanwhile, has to give this new government the benefit of the doubt. Ordinarily, this would be difficult, especially since the way that this government was formed and the underlying ideology behind it. 
The recent meeting where five pro-Pakatan Harapan state governments were excluded from a Perikatan Nasional (PN) government meeting of how to coordinate enforcement of the movement control order is an example of how not to handle a pandemic and is indicative of why a certain section of Malaysia is distrustful of this present government. In typical Malaysian fashion, a segment of the polity, as well as the political apparatus, have been racialising this pandemic and the government’s response to it. This is not the time to indulge in such posturing but instead, find ways in which the rakyat can contribute productively to flattening the curve and assisting the state in coming to grips with this pandemic.
While some argue that Malaysia is not doing enough, some are arguing about the efficacy of the methods taken so far. While Europe is going into a partial shutdown and the US is bracing for further more intrusive – in daily life – methods of containing the virus, Malaysia’s “game plan” is not as extreme. This should not be dismissed as ineffective.
Keep in mind that this is also a test run for further stringent methods that could come into play depending on how this pandemic develops. I would hope the government and the public use this opportunity as a means to develop trust by asking and transparently answering questions in case more extreme measures need to be considered. How PN is going to develop trust when it behaves in a partisan manner is the big question and most probably going to exacerbate the situation further.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the most effective way to contain the virus and save lives is by testing and that: "Once again, our key message is - test, test, test. This is a serious disease.
"We have seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and cancelling sporting events and other gatherings. But we haven't seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the Covid-19 response."
Hence, the state should aggressively carry on with its testing and attempt to heed the experience of countries like China and Korea who have managed to – for the time at least – to contain this pandemic.
Constructive criticism in the form of Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N Ganabaskaran (photo) on the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) is the kind of feedback that the public and the state need.
He had said that Nadma could do more with its broad powers, including roping in the security forces, to help the Health Ministry, which had limited powers. Other ministries also did not seem to know their roles in managing the health crisis, and certain ministries continued to hold large gatherings despite a directive by the prime minister against doing so.
Ganabaskaran said Nadma should assist the Health Ministry to screen the 14,500 Malaysians who participated in a mass mosque gathering that has been linked to numerous cases now, “even if it is to mobilise the army”.
What rational Malaysians should be doing is seeing how they can adapt to such measures instead of continuously finding ways to demonstrate their displeasure at the current government.
For the next two weeks, there will be disruptions. There will be questions that need to be answered about the scope of this order and how this movement control order affects various industries and services. Therefore, it makes no sense that the federal government would exclude stakeholders from a high-level meeting. Most damaging is that it confirms the negative perception a certain segment of the population has of this government.
Kudos to former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad (photo) who said: "This is nothing like a lockdown at all. A lockdown is when you can't leave your home, there's a total curfew, you can't go out to buy food." This is a direct refutation of claims that the movement control order is a lockdown or a complete shutdown which have been making the rounds on social media and the press and scaring people in the process.
While the government has a major role to play, the most important role, and one that should demonstrate who we are as a country, is how the rakyat reacts to these measures. We should not use this time to further retreat into our communal preoccupations. If the PN government wants to play politics, then it is incumbent on the rakyat to look out for each other.
This means acting responsibility while also displaying concern for your fellow citizens. I was watching a news broadcast online, and the two presenters were discussing the “panic buying” that was going on. They made valid points that grocery outlets would still be open and that people should not hoard food supplies and staples but more importantly, to think about their fellow citizens who do not have the means of stocking up and hoarding food.
Furthermore, some people do not have the access, for whatever reasons, to online shopping and hence, grocery establishments remaining open and well-stocked are vital to their survival during this period.
This should not be an opportunity to highlight how Malaysians, despite trumpeting our "Asian values" at every opportunity, are shallow and selfish but rather an opportunity for Malaysians to demonstrate that we are a mature society which places the welfare of the community over "I got mine" attitudes in times of crisis. And of course, also indulging in rumour-mongering.
A very important way to demonstrate this is to stop spreading false or unverified news on social media. There is ample evidence that fake news, malicious news or unverified news cause civil disorder and generally amps up feelings of desperation and paranoia. People should be extremely circumspect in forwarding unverified news items, and this is the time to practice self-control and check news items you receive or pass on.
Also important is that this is not the time to indulge in the worst excesses of anonymous postings. If you disagree with a policy of the state, factually articulate this instead of using your objections to score cheap political points and indulge in racist or bigoted language.
Meanwhile, the state should caution their operatives from making inflammatory remarks which appeals to their political base. This is extremely important because in times of crisis everyone needs to trust the state and not merely your political base. If there is no trust, what we will see is civil unrest fueled by fake news, the inflammatory words of political operatives (from both sides of the divide) and the callousness that permeates social media.
If the state is going to present measures that will cause disruption, they should clearly articulate their plans with plenty of opportunities for follow-up questions. What the rakyat needs are transparency and the opportunity to discover how such measures will affect their everyday lives, instead of living in uncertainty and hearsay.
This is why it is important for the state to inform the rakyat with constant updates and not merely make “big announcements” which rattle an already uneasy public. The reality is that there are people who will use this opportunity to cause mischief just for the sake of causing mischief. What the state needs to do is to constantly remind the rakyat that official sources are the best way to get information for their health security. The state does this by making routine statements and being transparent in their policies.
This is the time when hopefully everyone realises that we are all in this together. We are not simply the sum of our racial and religious identity but rather, we are members of society which is facing a pandemic which does not recognise race, class or creed.
At times like this, we should be especially mindful of how we treat our fellow citizens. The state needs to make every effort to ensure that the most marginalised of communities gets the help it needs while ensuring that those of us, who are in a better position, have access to information and supplies which would make us less dependent on the state. This way, the state medical infrastructure is not overburdened.
If ever there was a time to test the "Bangsa Malaysia" hypothesis, it is now.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:41 AM  
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