Articles, Opinions & Views: The Orang Asli and the Palestinians by Mariam Mokhtar


 
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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.”

“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 Orang Asli and the Palestinians by Mariam Mokhtar
Friday, May 21, 2021

Quo Vadis Malaysia : I wrote elsewhere that should the orang asli retaliate, they end up in jail. Yet we say that the Palestinians have a right to their land and can launch rockets at the aggressors. How hypocritical is this?

Malaysiakini : COMMENT | I had a school friend who came from Beirut, an Arab girl called Nadine, who wore her crucifix with pride. Today, I still have trouble convincing some Malays that not all Arabs are Muslims.

I experience the same difficulty trying to persuade other Malays that the word "Allah" has been used by Arab Christians for centuries, even before the advent of Islam.

According to Nadine, Beirut city was both sophisticated and cosmopolitan, a melting pot of cultures, where East met West, where an influx of foreigners enriched the city's cultural and social life.

The local population of predominantly Muslim and Christian Arabs lived happily side by side. It was a city of tolerance. The people of Beirut could swim in the Mediterranean, then take a two-hour drive to ski on the slopes of the mountains overlooking the city.

She described Beirut as heaven on earth, until she and her family had to flee when civil war erupted. Other friends blamed Palestinian resistance groups for Beirut's fall.

Malaysia wants to be seen to be doing something for the Palestinians, but it can't even choose a respected person, to its special envoy to the Middle East. Abdul Hadi Awang is not fit for the purpose. As a man of the cloth, he has failed to embrace the diversity of the Malaysian people or attempt to unite us by emphasising our similarities.

He was not part of Muhyiddin Yassin's entourage to the Middle East because the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), of which Hadi was once vice president, is considered a terrorist group by the "Anti-Terror Quartet" of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The regional players in the Arab-Israeli conflict need to talk. Iran wants the complete destruction of Israel and funds and arms Hamas. Other interested parties are the Syrians, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt which shares a border with Gaza. These key players need to sit down and engage. Malaysia is irrelevant.

Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, May 19

Our attempt at power broking is just tinkering with words. Any Malaysian who uses the word 'militant' or 'radical' to describe Hamas will be investigated by the authorities. How pathetic is that?

We dare not voice our concerns about other disputed territories in the world such as Tibet, Taiwan, Cyprus, Crimea, Gibraltar or Kashmir. We flex our muscles in the Middle East just because some of the Arabs in the conflict are Muslim. 

Dr Mahathir Mohamad broached the subject of Kashmir and India retaliated by reducing imports of palm oil1. Fearful of upsetting "Big Brother" and dismantling the accompanying economic benefits, we keep quiet about Tibet and Taiwan.

The Israeli “occupation” generally refers to the lands captured by Israel during the 1967 war that remain under Israeli military control including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gaza.

Everyone wants to protect "their" land. We don't need to go to the Middle East to find land disputes or occupied territories.

Political tool

The conflict between the Orang Asli and the state has politicised every part of Orang Asli life from their existence to their burial grounds. The Orang Asli depend on the forest. They only take what they can use and trade in certain jungle produce to buy the things that they cannot make like tools and certain food items.

When new Jewish settlers occupy Palestinian lands, olive trees that are hundreds of years old and which have provided income for Palestinian farmers are cut down. Olives are a political tool in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Oil palm is our government's political tool.

Working hand in glove with private companies, the authorities want to reduce the landmass on which the Orang Asli can survive. Companies want to flatten the land and convert it to palm oil plantations or tourist resorts. The jungle is the most powerful symbol of the Orang Asli's attachment to the land.

They get their main source of protein from hunting wild boar, deer and monkey. Monoculture will drive these animals deeper into the jungle and deprive them of their food sources. Pollution from timber and refinery activities will pollute rivers and would cause skin infections if the Orang Asli were to bathe in the rivers. Fish cannot survive in polluted water, so another source of protein would be lost.

An Orang Asl abode in Kelantan without electricty

The Israelis retaliate against the rockets that Hamas shoots at Tel Aviv with firepower. Our government may not use missiles against the Orang Asli but work in a similar fashion. They dismantle Orang Asli blockades, charge and arrest protestors and use lorries and heavy logging equipment to tear down the forests. This is as good as destroying the Orang Asli livelihood.

The Orang Asli are forced to relocate, if dams are to be built, thus obliterating the burial grounds and sacred landmarks of their ancestors. This is an attempt to erase their history.

It is alleged that the authorities withhold aid unless the Orang Asli convert to Islam. Aid is in the form of infrastructure or connection to the electrical grid or access to piped water.

So, before we want to play the gallant saviour of the Palestinian people and intervene in their complicated conflict on the other side of the world, why not make it a priority to look after those in our own backyard?

We have failed our Orang Asli, invaded their ancestral lands and deprived them of their own culture, existence and constitutional rights.

Charity should begin at home.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:00 PM  
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