Articles, Opinions & Views: Al Jazeera crackdown – PN’s Trumpian gambit - 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.”

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“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."
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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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Al Jazeera crackdown – PN’s Trumpian gambit - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, July 27, 2020
Malaysiakini : We want to exclaim “O my God, poor fellow”, or “so sad”, or perhaps maybe even a “this is not right”, but the question that follows through is, ‘Do we really care?’– Irene Fernandez
COMMENT | The Perikatan Nasional (PN)government's crackdown on Al Jazeera is as logical in its Trumpian strategy of deflection as it is dire in its consequences. Think about it this way, the PN government claims that Al Jazeera was presenting a false narrative with their piece, "Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown", that a Bangladeshi migrant worker was lying when he was interviewed, and that all this is an effort to “tarnish” the reputation of Malaysia.
Apparently, going after a news organisation, deporting a source, making ridiculous statements on the use of social media, Finas licensing and questioning foreign journalists would only enhance the reputation of Malaysia as a moderate, Islamic country. Is this really the strategy of the PN government?
That it is better to be thought of as a fascist government that hounds the press, instead of being accused of mistreating migrant workers? Unfortunately, this strategy works. What the PN government has done is make this about defending the reputation of Malaysia, instead of countering the narrative put forward by Al Jazeera.
Just as US President Donald Trump has dubbed certain press organisations as an “enemy of the people” - his people, and has incessantly decried "fake news" - which he defines, as well as targeted "immigrants" and damaged the credibility of government institutions, PN is doing more or less the same thing. However, PN has the added benefit of having no independent oversight and already pernicious legislation.
It is pointless drawing attention to Singapore’s regressive laws as a means to distract from our own because, ironically, Malaysia’s press freedom, or “freedoms” of any kind for that matter, are “better” than that of the island state.
If the claim is that all those statements made by those interviewed by Al Jazeera were lies, then the Malaysian government should have no problem debunking those lies. They should offer tours of detention facilities, testimonies by former inmates, allow relevant government officials to be interviewed by Al Jazeera in an “equal time” segment. In other words, the PN government would offer an official narrative to dispute the contents of the Al Jazeera documentary.
Defending the reputation of Malaysia becomes the focus, instead of the content of the documentary, because right now PN has no political causes belli beyond attempting to maintain its rule by any means necessary. The media and other personalities are soft targets because of the partisan nature of politics and the biases in editorial rooms and activist organisations.
As it stands, there is a vicious online campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its reporters, but more importantly, defending a nativist’s narrative. Defending the “reputation” of the country becomes a sort of communal experience that would hopefully translate to votes.
Whatever the government thinks is so damaging to the reputation of this country pales in comparison to what someone like the late Irene Fernandez (photo, below) has seen, together with those who continue to carry on the work of documenting the horrendous treatment that is meted out to “migrant “ workers in this country.
Five years ago, Tenanganita produced a short documentary about a Bangladeshi migrant worker named Babul. The piece titled "Ochena - The Unknown" is merely a snapshot of the thousands of unknown stories of migrant workers that live and die under the Malaysian sun.
In the words of Irene: "In 2014, Tenaganita managed and handled 624 new cases consisting of 2,407 migrant workers, refugees, women and children, who were predominantly victims of labour trafficking. Each case brought by a migrant worker revealed multiple forms of violations by employers, outsourcing agents, recruitment agents or different government agencies. As such, each of the violations was handled separately as they were offences under different laws, different agencies and required different forms of investigations."
Back in the day when “false” news was the “fake” news of its day, Irene was hounded by the state for publishing information on the deaths of Semenyih camp detainees provided by Steven Gan when he worked for The Sun, which had refused to carry out his team’s investigative piece out of fear of state reprisals.
It is funny when Irene was sentenced to a year in jail, this was what the judge said: "The offence committed cannot be regarded lightly as it had tarnished the country’s image."
Keep in mind the Pakatan Harapan government reviewed a 2016 deal made by the previous government to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers – “All policies pertaining to foreign workers will be reviewed, including the plan by the defeated BN administration to import 1.5 million Bangladeshi nationals, Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran said today.”
As is usually the case, this is about big money but more importantly, big government.
I have no idea why the government’s knickers are in a twist merely because a foreign news agency pointed out what local news agencies, activists, and politicians have known for years. Just recently, K Sudhagaran Stanley, an activist with the Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center) described his ordeal when he was detained by the state security apparatus.
“I had to literally stand and eat my lunch close to the lock-up grill, facing outwards to avoid the filthy smell emanating from the cell. In fact, during the whole time I was awake, I was standing or sitting close to the lock-up grill to avoid the foul smell. It was a nightmare for me. It did not matter that I was innocent until proven guilty, but I had to first go through this horrible experience in the cell.”
If this is the squalid conditions that a citizen of this country faces when he is detained by the state security apparatus, what do you think happens when the same happens to “foreigners”?
What happens to them, who have no access to the media, to legal representation, to political support or any kind of aid when he or she is detained by a state security apparatus which does not seem to care, that the way how it detains people does not fit into any kind of democratic standards?
At this moment, the far right is targeting another migrant group – the Rohingyas – and "defending the reputation of Malaysia" is an easier sound bite than defending decades of political and social malfeasances against migrant workers in this country.
This deflection tactic enables the PN government to beef up existing repressive laws to crack down on news portals which it claims are propagating fake news, and of course, resorting to racial and religious narratives to distract from fundamental problems that have plagued this country for years.
It is an old trick, but an effective trick played on a polity groomed to believe their way of life is always under threat.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:33 PM  
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