National Service bunkum - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Malaysiakini : “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” – Edward Abbey
COMMENT | Readers of my column understand that I despise any kind of state initiatives to foster “patriotism” in young people. What
the state attempts to do has nothing to do with “patriotism”, which is
an odious concept to begin with, but to instil propaganda in young
people so that they would support systems which maintain the political
class of the country.
Of course, the Perikatan Nasional (PN)
government would want to revive “national service”, which was the most
hair-brained scheme of the government that came up with it. It is
pointless going over the deaths, mismanagement, cronyism and corruption
scandals that mired this government experiment in its original
iteration because this would mean we would also have to wade through the
various other state propaganda organs that hamper the intellectual and
emotional development of young people in this country.
programmes exist to brainwash young people into thinking that the
government is a benign entity that should be supported because –
depending on the quality and efficacy of said programmes – governments
bring some sort of benefit to their lives. Whatever they receive in
terms of experience or skill sets is built upon a foundation of
propaganda. This propaganda worms its way into young people and
they conflate political parties with the independent institutions of
government. They do not think of government institutions as independent,
but rather as an extension of political parties. They may not
articulate it as such, but it is all there in how they express what they
think of the government and its role.
Every time you hurl some
invective against the system anonymously online, using racial insults or
religious bigotry, it is because of the national narratives of the
state – either BN, Pakatan Harapan or now, PN. Every time you
think not as a multiracial and religious community but rather consider
how issues play out in the majority Malay polity, you have been touched
by mainstream propaganda. The aim is to normalise the racialist policies
that have failed us.
Do you cheer when you read articles telling
it like it is to the Malay community by other Malays? All this is part
of the propaganda, the culture that is really part of what it means to
be a non-Malay Malaysian and this is the function of the state
propaganda. Propaganda not only taught Malays how to hate and who to direct it against, it also taught the non-Malays how to react.
Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob offered no empirical evidence of “the
positive impact effect in the development of patriotism in the youths” –
but really, how could he? How does one evaluate nebulous
concepts objectively? Ismail Sabri stood a better chance of
demonstrating how some folks made money off this programme and at least,
from an economic standpoint, someone was benefiting, just not the
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who heads a youth-centric
political party, claimed that money spent on this nonsense could fund
other entitlements like scholarships, for instance. While he
accurately pointed out that the Umno hangers-on benefited from direct
negotiations, what he failed to mention was that the then Harapan
government had its own hair-brained scheme for some sort of youth leadership programme.
in June of this year, former women, family and community development
minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail highlighted the problem of baby
dumping – you know, when 64 percent of these infants are found dead, why
don’t we just call it baby killing? – and various media were dissecting the problem and the possible solutions to this issue.
course, the state has weird focuses when it comes to issues affecting
young people and the state always comes down hard on young people with
either sanctions or religious/cultural solutions, instead of providing
youths with access to information and a space to talk about their
problems and discover secular solutions.
when it comes to hot button issues, it is not as if we do not have
young people who are expressing their opinions against mainstream
acceptable political conventions. Human rights lawyer Fadiah
Nadwa Fikri earned the ire of the state – BN and Harapan – and to me,
this is an example of allegiance to people of the land and holding the
political class to account.
What of student activist Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi,
who claimed that only cruel rulers are afraid of the International
Criminal Court? Remember how this became a hot button issue? All these
young political operatives, who had the imprimatur of sleazy older
political stamped on them, were as quiet as church mouses. They
obviously put party before country.
The state always targets young
people, because it wants to brainwash them into subscribing to the
status quo. Now, this would not be delirious to the body politic if the
status quo had, at least, the appearances of egalitarianism. However, in
this country, where racial and religious politics override everything
else, the propaganda methods become overt and crippling.
cannot leave young people alone, because it understands that they are a
threat to its survival. To be honest, with the amount of racial and
religious propaganda that goes on in this country, it is amazing that
for the most part, young people have generally found an equilibrium.
fact, with young leaders who in their early adulthood were activists,
like former Umany leader Wong Yan Ke, Edict executive director Khalid
Ismath, PSM’s Bavani KS and Soh Sook Hwa, for example, it would seem
that the folks who need a lesson in patriotism are the denizens who
skulk about in Putrajaya.
I would like to have a national service for these old geezers.