Articles, Opinions & Views: National Service bunkum - 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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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.

These 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.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Defence 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 rakyat.

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

Meanwhile, 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.

Of 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.

And 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.

The state 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.

In 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.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 8:41 AM  
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