Articles, Opinions & Views: My top five 'submerged' news of 2020 - 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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My top five 'submerged' news of 2020 - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, January 07, 2021


Malaysiakini : “The third world is not a reality, but an ideology.” - Hannah Arendt

COMMENT | 2020 is a prelude to the shape of things to come. If you thought that this year was crummy, what we have to look forward to is the consequences of the pandemic and of course the coup, in 2021.

My top five news has always been an annual roundup of what I thought were the most important news items that were covered by the press and more often than not, what I consider “important” are news stories that are submerged in the news cycle but points to the dysfunctionality of the system.

I do think that 2020 is the culmination of the old maverick’s vision. The seeds he planted a long time ago are now the fruits of his labour, of his wayward political offspring, the vast bureaucracy, and the deep Islamic state.

Aided by the ineptitude of the opposition, what we have witnessed are the convulsions of the mainstream Malay political apparatus heightened by the vagaries a worldwide pandemic brings.

As Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, said, “In fact, this is an acid test of every single country's quality of healthcare, standard of governance, and social capital. If any one of this tripod is weak, it will be exposed, and exposed quite unmercifully by this epidemic.”

While I depart from some of my fellow op-ed writers who claim that Malaysia failed miserably in handling the pandemic, the reality, is that this pandemic did reveal how we function as a society and the old demons which never left us. The following news stories, in no particular order, reflect the fault lines in our system that in my opinion were unmercifully exposed by this pandemic.

Ku Nan’s pocket change

Former federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s rather cavalier statement of a couple of million ringgit being pocket change to him was even more insidious now that thousands have lost their jobs and many more are living rough because of this pandemic.

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (centre)

Systemic corruption has become the desiderata for the political class and with that comes the hubris of believing that you are untouchable. Even Ku Nan’s conviction is not a sure thing and the attitude of the bankrupt political elites will continue to define policies meant to “uplift” communities. Tragically, the majority Malay community will feel the brunt of this hubris.

Since I live amongst the marginalised and “working class” communities, I have witnessed first-hand the consequences of political indifference and institutional corruption on marginalised groups.

The fact that the state took the pandemic as another opportunity to restrict the movement of NGOs handing out aid to disenfranchised communities demonstrates how out of touch these corrupt potentates are with the situation that is happening on the ground.

From my vantage point: Why is the Perikatan Nasional (PN) regime hijacking and hampering relief efforts by NGOs distributing food when it has acknowledged that there have been disruptions in the food supply chain? The PN government keeps asking the rakyat for money, but where are all the kleptocrats who have dipped into the cookie jar when the country is in need?

The war on alcohol

I have been warning of the deep Islamic state for years. What this pandemic has done is given an opportunity for the vast religious bureaucracy and power-hungry politicians to further intrude into our private and public spheres.

Under the guise of a social “good”, the state has been clamping down on alcohol licenses and joking about closing down pubs and entertainment outlets for good. The pandemic has given extremists the opportunity to carry out their agendas overtly instead of the sub rosa manner they are used to.

This means that the religious terrain has changed and that unless we have a credible opposition presenting a secular alternative, the situation will get even more dire.

What this pandemic has done is enable the religious imperatives of extremists because folks are too busy attempting to make ends meet while struggling with the reality that the pandemic is worsening and everyone seems to be waiting for the magic vaccine. There is no vaccine for religious extremism, which is what could ultimately destroy this country.

From my vantage point: What better time to weaken our public and private spheres than during a pandemic? The movement control order was the perfect opportunity to curtail commercial activities that the deep Islamic state deems to be antithetical to the concept of an authentic Islamic state.

A half-past-six emergency

We should never forget that the PN government attempted to plunge this country into an emergency which would have suspended the democratic process, most probably indefinitely.

This was a brazen attempt to subvert the democratic process and was something that even the old maverick never attempted to do, although he did subvert the democratic process in his own way. While this “emergency” was averted, what we have to realise is how desperate the PN government was and is.

Too bad we do not have an opposition which can leverage this fear in a way that helps the majority of Malaysians instead of attempting counter coups and blaming each other when the manure hits the fan.

From my vantage point: If anything, this emergency, if it was granted, would demonstrate how life in this country goes on normally because the PN state is deathly afraid that if it locks down the economy any further, the majority – and I mean the racial majority – will suffer more in this pandemic and this would lead to social, and yes, racial agitations, that the state cannot handle and which ironically would mean that we need a real darurat.

The Rohingya issue

There were some who claimed that I was on the wrong “side” of this issue. My belief has always been that whichever side you choose, you are most probably wrong. The pandemic has brought out the xenophobic attitudes of some Malaysians and the state has been using the opportunity to crack down on another convenient target. Someone has to be the scapegoat, right?

While ministers are shocked by the way employers treat their workers, all this of course, is merely pantomime, because foreign workers, or however you refer to them, are part of the tragedy that is a developing Malaysia. All the pandemic did was make this much more evident.

From my vantage point: Now, I get that this may be uncomfortable for many people to read. This piece is not meant to downplay the abuses that the Rohingya, and indeed many disenfranchised groups, receive from authoritarian states and even supposedly liberal Western democracies. The reality is that the Rohingya issue exposes our criminality as much as it dispels the victimhood card that many folks like to play on behalf of the community.

What's up with Harapan?

The only reason why I consider Pakatan Harapan an important news story is because they have turned ineptitude into an art form, and I believe this should be recognised. Do not get me wrong, I want Harapan to succeed but Harapan must want to succeed and must present meaningful choices to its base, otherwise apathy will set in and there will be no more Harapan.

From my vantage point: Harapan’s greatest strength is that it was supposedly a coalition that had no race-based parties. Now, the argument could be made that racial politics dominated the Harapan discourse in substance but in form, they were a multiracial coalition and this was a good start.

Good enough to wrest power in certain states from the Umno hegemon and good enough to make the Malay establishment fear the rise of a multiracial block because the “Malays” were split.

Merry Christmas Malaysia, whoever you are.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 6:00 AM  
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