Articles, Opinions & Views: This Deepavali, a tale of two mothers - Panchalai and Rosmah - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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Hindu King
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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This Deepavali, a tale of two mothers - Panchalai and Rosmah - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, November 04, 2021

Panchalai Supermaniam

Malaysiakini :He doesn’t really get what is happening. He has some vague idea that something is going to happen to him on the 10th of November but he thinks he is going to go to a beautiful garden and be happy there. It’s beyond words.” - N Surendran

COMMENT | This Deepavali, two mothers will be in Singapore to visit their offspring. 

Panchalai Supermaniam who works as a cleaner will visit her intellectually challenged son in prison who is to be executed on Nov 10 and Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is currently on trial for receiving bribes, will be visiting her pregnant daughter, no doubt in more luxurious circumstances.

One child will be executed and the other will give birth. One mother will know the anguish of loss and the other will greet a new life with joy. While Panchalai has to rely on the goodwill of strangers to raise money for her final trip to see her son, the other faces no such obstacles.

Indeed, while the alleged crimes of Rosmah amount to millions, the son of Panchalai is going to be executed for strapping a couple of grams of diamorphine to his thighs.

If this does not tell us something about the justice system, here and in Singapore, well there is nothing more to say. 

This Deepavali, two mothers will have very different conversations with their children. Panchalai child belongs to a class of children - of any race - which has felt the brunt of the failed policies of successive governments.

Panchalai Supermaniam at a press conference.

These “children of Malaysia” are the forgotten children; those children that the state has deemed transgressed against the state. 

While politicians and their cronies steal money from public coffers and practise divisive politics, these children - drug mules to capitalists of the black economy who bribe and conspire with state actors - face the ultimate punishment.

I have no idea how Panchalai will react to seeing her son. As someone who has witnessed final moments of visits in situations like these, I can tell you, it normally does not go well. 

You are at the mercy of an uncaring system that only seeks to carry out a mandate efficiently without any remorse or understanding.

Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam apparently has only a vague idea of his fate so perhaps, this may be a blessing of some kind, or maybe it won't be because he would no doubt see his mother in so much distress. 

What final words can you say to your child? What final comfort can you give your child who you know is going to his or her death?

Real masterminds

I have always had a problem with executing drug mules. Most people who are hung for this offence are so low down the criminal food chain, their effects on society are minimal at best. 

The real drug entrepreneurs are living in luxury. Most of them are politically connected. Most of them launder their money through institutions that good god-fearing people use.

When not busy corrupting the state security apparatus, they are corrupting the political process. Does the death penalty really seem appropriate for those people who are so low down the food chain while the real masterminds are probably propping up the banking institutions and the economy of the country?

However, most people do not care about the fate of a convicted drug mule facing the death penalty in Singapore. 

Indeed, when it comes to human rights, drugs and the death penalty, most people couldn’t care less about these people, believing they deserve what they get. Indeed as a human rights issue, it does not move people because ultimately nobody cares about the fate of criminals.

To understand the process in Singapore and the happy ending (sort of ) of another young Malaysian, please refer to freelance journalist and activist Kristen Han’s piece here.

Rosmah Mansor

Meanwhile, Rosmah, who belongs to a class of political elite whose lifestyle is public knowledge and documented in the press, is going to be having a very different kind of conversation with her daughter this Deepavali.

No doubt some pregnancies are complicated but the conversations that happen between mother and expectant mother will revolve around new life and the possibilities that come with it. 

A new life in a wealthy family and the innumerable possibilities that come with it. A new life of privilege and resources, which places some people far from the reality of what the Nagaethran family is going through.

No victory in sight

And this is what it is, isn't it? Doesn’t matter if you are Malay, Chinese or Indian. If you are poor and you make bad choices, the consequences are different for you. Your crimes are different. The justice system is different.

I know there will be tears. I know both mothers will probably cry. One out of sorrow and the other out of joy. I recall how Rosmah cried at her hearing. Describing how she was maliciously and unfairly prosecuted.

I wonder if Pancahalai feels the same way of how her son was treated. I can imagine her tears at the prospect of her intellectually challenged son being executed by a system that somehow always finds ways to make the consequences of bad choices different based on wealth and privilege.

They say Deepavali symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. This tale of two mothers demonstrates that there is no victory in sight.

Happy Deepavali, Malaysia, whoever you are.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:29 AM  
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