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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

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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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Jerusalem - don’t expect Muslim potentates to really care - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, December 11, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | ‘Nobody wants peace in Middle East because peace is disruptive to entrenched interests.’ “I was only the more anxious to make Jerusalem a city like the others, where several races and several beliefs could live in peace; but I was wrong to forget that in any combat between fanaticism and common sense, the latter has rarely the upper hand.” ― Marguerite Yourcenar, ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’
This outrage of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from Muslim leaders the world over is manufactured at best. They are thumping their chest (or so it seems) and their misguided allies are warning of dire consequences of peace talks in the Middle East coming to a halt. Nobody wants peace in the Middle East because peace is disruptive to entrenched interests. The Trump administration (or maybe just Trump) had dispatched son-in-law Jared Kushner (who looks and behaves like an extra from the science fiction movie ‘Gattaca’) to broker a deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. In typical Trump hyperbole, it was touted as the deal of the century. 
Jewish Wars
In an interview, Trump (photo) gave to Israeli media as reported in the Washington Post, he said - “We are currently in a process that has been going on for a long time. Decades. A lot of people think that it can’t be done. And a lot of smart people around me claim that you can’t reach an agreement. I don’t agree. I think we can reach an agreement and that we need to reach an agreement.”
As usual, reality hit the Trump administration and if the report in the New York Times is credible, this deal of the century included the possibility of “direct payment to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president [which he declined]” and of course, Saudi threats of pressing for his resignation and replacement of someone who would accept the lopsided deal favouring the Israelis and promoted by the House of Saud.
The most convincing rationale for this turn in US foreign policy comes from Shibley Telhami writing for the Brookings Institute – ‘Why is Trump undoing decades of US policy on Jerusalem?’ - in a nutshell - “That the Trump administration has already given up on its ‘deal of the century’ and is looking for ways to pin the blame on someone else.”

About the only thing that Bersatu supreme council member Rais Hussin gets right in his article is that the House of Saud is close with the Trump administration and that the Umno grand poohbah has again put himself in a compromising position with US foreign and domestic policy. Too bad the demographic that matters most to Umno will never be aware of this and any other of his missteps.
Shadi Hamid another Brookings writer, writing for the Atlantic – ‘The Jerusalem announcement won't really hurt America's Arab alliances’ - accurately points out that the House of Saud could have drawn a red line for this but chose not to. The House of Saud, like every other Islamic front in the Middle East, is too busy making deals of their own with Trump Inc and the reality is that the Palestinian issue, which at one time always gained traction with mobs chaffing under Islamic rule, is slowly becoming irrelevant because Muslim populations everywhere are straining under the yoke of theocratic rule.
Nothing to lose
Two points from the Atlantic article are worth considering:
1. “Why would an Islamic state (Saudi Arabia) - one still governed by a strict interpretation of Islamic law - be so seemingly at ease with such an openly Islamophobic government (US)? Wouldn’t Trump’s incitement against Muslims in early morning tweets give them pause? Thinking as much would make the mistake of assuming that Muslim-majority countries, even ones historically associated with Islam, are in any real sense ‘pro-Muslim’. They aren’t.”
2. “If only there were Arab governments that were confident, cared about actual Muslims, and could reflect and convey the frustration that no doubt many Arabs will be feeling in the days and weeks ahead. That Arab world, as we’ve been reminded this week, does not exist.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians who actually live in the tragedy that various power groups attempt to exploit, have a dispirited view of this move. To get a better understanding of how some Palestinians who actually live there think, read the article in Haaretz – ‘Palestinians voice despair over Trump’s Jerusalem decision:
Nothing left to lose’ - "For most Palestinians living in Jerusalem, Trump’s words pose little to no threat, as they’ve got nothing left to lose: It’s not as if before Trump delivered his speech, there were plans to set up a real Palestine with Al Quds, as Jerusalem is called in Arabic, as its capital. Over the years, despair at the prospect of a viable peace solution and the feeling of abandonment by the Palestinian leadership, Arab world and international community have become ingrained in the residents of East Jerusalem."
Muslim potentates always use issues like these to divert the attention of their subjects from the very real issues they face. Nowhere is this clearer than in a relatively stable Muslim democracy like Malaysia, where the Jerusalem issue has become another flash point for opposition Muslim leaders to clash with the current Umno regime in an attempt to burnish their Islamic credentials.

PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang called on all Muslims despite their divergent views to protest outside the US embassy because Jerusalem was apparently the focal point of Muslim unity and in typical Muslim Malaysian fashion called the act a “provocation”. The real question is, why hasn’t Hadi Awang called on all Muslims despite their divergent views to protest against a culture of corruption that has become the norm in Malaysia?
Meanwhile, DAP leader Lim Guan Eng wants Prime Minister Najib Razak to convey “the Malaysian people’s concerns over Trump’s actions to the US government.” Really? Malaysian people’s? I get that pandering to the Muslim vote is important, but please do not lump all Malaysians in this charade. There are many different perspectives on this issue even within the Muslim community here in Malaysia. The plight of the Palestinians is more than just a religious issue, and to further official narratives just to appease people who probably subscribe to racial and religious supremacist values is hypocrisy at its finest. I do not subscribe to the idea that we become “Malaysians” when foreign Muslim problems are played up locally to galvanise the Muslim communities and to project a facade of religious and ethnic solidarity.
The Jerusalem issue is just another way for Muslim potentates to tell their subjects to look here when they should be looking anywhere but where they are directed.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:42 AM   0 comments
Zaid Ibrahim and the perils of speaking one’s mind - - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Malaysiakini : The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has - from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.” - Christopher Hitchens, ‘Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left’
COMMENT | I have no idea how this saga with former minister Zaid Ibrahim and his persecutors will end. When the last principled politician spoke truth to power, he made two statements that sum up the mess we are in now:
1. "I hope the royalty will not delve in politics. If it does, then it must be prepared to be criticised for whatever they say."
2. "The question of being anti-royalty does not arise. The Tengku Mahkota of Kelantan saw it fit to descend into the political arena by making a statement early this month that the non-Malays should not ask for equal rights."
These are two powerful statements of principles from the late Karpal Singh.

The irony is, of course, Zaid said more or less the same thing when he responded to the Selangor sultan (photo). For his defence of the former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he invited the usual charges of being anti-Malay and anti-royalty. He also discovered that he had no “friends” in the opposition who were willing to stand with him in his time of need.
When Tony Pua claims that Selangor DAP has “no position” on this issue, it is complete horse manure. A member of your political party makes a provocative statement and DAP has no stand on this issue, and going so far as to declare that his statement does not reflect on the party in any way because he is not an office bearer. Does this make any sense?
Either you disagree with the statements Zaid made and make it clear that DAP does not condone engagement with the royalty this way – which would be strange - or, you delicately phrase a response which does not make you sound like an arrogant political operative who just wants to save the party's skin. It does not matter if Bersatu Youth wants Zaid to apologise, which is at least a position taken but rather that Zaid is from your party and has defended DAP numerous times against the assaults of the establishment and their proxies.

Partisans claim that getting involved in this dispute is just falling into an Umno trap, but the reality is that, Umno will always use provocations to paint the DAP as anti-Malay. Pua’s statement is more damaging than anything Umno can do because it makes those Malays who stick their neck out realise that they will not receive any support for their efforts. They will only be used as window dressing when it suits the purposes of oppositional political elites and thrown to the hounds when they make statements that most feel are right but are politically sensitive.
In addition, what does “would have to deal with whatever repercussions that come” mean? Zaid is being vilified by the outsourced thugs of Umno. He has been threatened by establishment figures and harassed by the same people who claim that DAP is anti-Malay and wish to destroy Malay institutions, and the best DAP can come up with is to cut Zaid loose?
Speaking truth to power
Imagine if Zaid had said the same thing when DAP political operatives incurred the wrath of establishment figures for making provocative – in the Malaysian context – statements. Imagine if he played the game like Amanah, Bersatu and PAS instead of clearly articulating his stand on issues such as race and religion, which many Malays actually subscribe to but are afraid to voice out. Come on, anytime there were religious and racial provocations, Zaid was the first in the fight defending the secular and constitutional rights of all Malaysians.

When I interviewed Zaid (photo), he said – “I always believe it's better to state the right positions clearly and unambiguously on core delicate issues even if it means we have to ‘lose’ some support in the beginning. Politics is not just winning; but about doing the right thing. Long-term goals are equally important.”
The problem here is that people think that by cutting Zaid loose, it absolves them from this fiasco. But the real problem is that every Malaysian who wants to save Malaysia is part of this problem. We were part of this problem when Karpal spoke truth to power and we are a part of it now.
Yes, the establishment is going to vilify you. They are doing it already. But now every Malay who understands that he or she needs to speak truth to power will understand that if they belong to DAP, they are on their own. This is far more damaging than anything the establishment can do.
And for establishment types, the narrative will be that Zaid got what he deserved by joining the “Chinese” dominated DAP, who only used him to run down the Malay community. Right now, they are shovelling great huge dollops of schadenfreude down their mouths. I know, because some of them call me gloatingly about Zaid’s latest “blunder”.
If I were DAP, I would have just issued a statement along these lines making three important points:
1. DAP prays for the safety of Zaid and his family.
2. DAP does not believe that Zaid is anti-royalty or a traitor to the Malay race.
3. DAP respects the royal institutions of this country.
This would have been the honourable thing to do. I have no idea what Zaid will do now. Seeking protection from the man who advocates kenduri kendara gangsters seems tragic but understandable under the circumstances. In this climate, Malay opposition personalities get it worse and Zaid has done enough for the opposition. An Umno friend told me, even though there may be no evidence that Umno is still strong, but Umno can still take down the opposition.
The coming days will see changes in the narrative. Zaid will either become a symbol of saving Malaysia or an object of derision. Either way, he is still not going to have any friends in the political elite.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 8:10 PM   0 comments
No evidence that Umno is still strong - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Friday, December 08, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Some creatures are weak, but they survive because they're being protected by the strong for one reason or another. You may think that, because of the circles you move in or whatever, that you're one of the strong creatures, but you're not, you're one of the weak ones. That's nothing against you, you're just weak because you're young. But you've survived because you've been protected by the strong. But they're not strong anymore, and they're certainly not able to protect you.” – Animal Kingdom (Australian crime drama)
COMMENT | "Do not take lightly the challenges posed by that Umno splinter party. Though we are certain Umno is stronger and greater, do not forget that this 'flower' party will dip our supporters. So let there be more no more cracks and fissures in Umno. The more fractured we are, the more supporters we will lose to them (PPBM)," sagely intones Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin in the ongoing Umno general assembly.
The problem is that Umno is not “stronger or greater” than how it was during the Mahathir era. This is why it has to make uncomfortable alliances with its sworn enemy PAS. This is why new laws such as the National Security Council Act has to be introduced. This is why outsourced thugs like the red shirts have to roam the political landscape threatening and intimidating all and sundry, especially Malay opposition figures. This is why the royalty has to make overt political statements condemning Malay oppositional figures and reminding them not to destroy the Malay community or burn the country.
This is why millions of ringgit have to be pumped into the electorate and electoral delineation exercise have to be carried out. This is why Sabah and Sarawak have to be threatened with severe punishments if they step out of line. This is why the Chinese community has to be vilified and condemned as harbingers of doom to Malay institutions like the royal houses and the sanctity of Islam. If a political party were strong, they would not have to resort to such measures.
My first two columns or thereabouts for Malaysiakini was about the fracturing of the Malay community. It was a response to Khairy’s badgering of the DAP on the actual numbers of Malays joining the political party and generally about the race politics of this country. Khairy has at one time or another attempted to redefine the concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” to “Kepimipinan Melayu” but the reality is that you cannot rationally redefine a racist concept into something logical and benign.
As I have argued before, “The concept of Malay has changed so dramatically over the years through the social engineering agenda of Umno, these days it would be easier for the divergent forms of political and religious ideologies which manifest in the Malay community to further fracture the concept of ‘Ketuanan Melayu' and in the end, the Umno choke hold.” Umno began its slow descent when charismatic political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim redefined the political landscape after he was ejected from Umno paradise, but more importantly, when the opposition realised that regime change was a group effort that involved the sublimation of political egos and good-faith compromises.
While the current Umno grand poohbah can dream that Umno will survive 1,000 years, the reality is that Umno people are wondering if it can survive the next election. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s fear that the Malays will be “bangsat” in their own land is a self-fulfilling prophecy of his own making. The reason why the Malay polity is fractured is because for decades, Umno ignored the simmering class tensions within the Malay community.
No, that is incorrect. For decades, Umno exploited the simmering class tensions within the Malay community. This idea that the Malays will lose power is slowly wearing thin because if anything, the Malays already realise that they are becoming foreigners in their own lands. While rural Malay enclaves are for the moment safe from foreigners, the high cost of living, social problems and the numerous other institutional failures that urban polities can withstand, are slowly but surely agitating the rural Malay underclass.
Diminishing returns
It is pointless pushing the “Malay” rights line because it is an idea of diminishing returns, much like the antics of the red shirts - “It is also important to note that these red shirts are the dying embers caught up in a fast-changing geopolitical struggle that will ultimately undermine whatever notions of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ privilege they think is owed. The corrupt regime that they choose to defend, that colony of thieves and plunderers will soon pay homage to a regional power, or maybe regional powers, whose influence will change the Malay community in ways that one could never fathom.” I have no idea how on one hand, you can claim that your political party is not “anti-Chinese” and on the other, claim that the Malays will lose their privileges and institutions if the “Chinese” dominated DAP comes into power with its Malay proxies. It is this kind of delusions that has fractured the Malay community and weakened Umno.
Realpolitik demands that the expectations of the various communities here in Malaysia be addressed in a way that ensures some sort of equilibrium. However, because Umno is in a weakened state, the desire to maintain hegemony in a fractured polity means that you have to say and do things, or you think you have to say and do things, which could burn this country down. When people realise that being Malay does not necessarily mean you have a better life, and that being in Umno means you are entitled to ride on the gravy train, people will naturally get angry and disruptive.
This is why Umno demonises everyone from politicians to jazz queens for pointing out that the system is failing the average citizens of this country. It is pointless attacking the messengers because ultimately the messengers are not the ones the ordinary rakyat will blame when they can’t buy food, or lose out on jobs and realise that their way of life is in danger because of debts they had nothing to do with.
The irony is that what made Umno strong in the past - religion, race and certainly, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad - is what is making Umno weak now.
Umno people should wrap their minds around that.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 11:51 AM   0 comments
Muslim students, too, should learn from other religions - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
A open Bible.
Jesus’ specific warning: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5, King James Version)
Malaysiakini : “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” - Joseph Nye Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Welch was chief counsel for the US Army while it was under investigation for communist activities by McCarthy's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

COMMENT | This is the state of Malay/Muslim politics now. We have one Malay potentate accusing another of being a kleptocrat and in return, the alleged kleptocrat accuses his accuser of concealing, cheating and abetting in a financial scandal that occurred decades ago. With this in mind, what can we make of Pahang Umno chief’s contention that non-Muslim students “are aware of Islamic teachings that emphasise on building character in every aspect of life.”

Apparently, Pahang Umno condemns any quarters who attempt to politicise this issue of schools in Kuantan compelled to hold after-school prayers before Muslim students can go home. Well, if non-Muslim students are not allowed to leave school until after these prayers, then you bet your last ringgit that someone like me, and hopefully the parents of those non-Muslims students caught in this ruling, would speak up.
We do not politicise religion in this country. Political elites politicise religion in order to maintain hegemony. Religion is politicised when the state claims that it is the sole arbiter of what defines Islam in this country. Religion is politicised when schools are compelled to hold after-school prayers. Religion is politicised when the state sanctions Muslims who offer different interpretations from state-sanctioned dogma. Religion is politicised when non-Muslims are banned from using certain words deemed sacred to Muslims (only) in Malaysia. Religion is politicised when non-Muslims are warned not to interfere in Islamic affairs when it intrudes in their lives.
Forcing non-Muslim students (if this is the case) of staying in school while their Muslim contemporaries recite their prayers does not foster mutual understanding and tolerance. Instead what it demonstrates yet again, non-Muslims have to abide by Islamic dictates in public spaces.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dasuki (photo) reminds us (again) that “good moral values”, not a comprehensive legal system, will curb corruption. Here is the thing. He is only half-correct and where he is wrong he is very wrong.
What will curb corruption are independent systems of enforcement and an electorate which believes that independent branches of government will save Malaysia. What will not curb corruption is a majority of the electorate that believes that their religion and race are under threat and politicians who assure them that that belief is justified to ensure that the cookie jar will not snap shut on their hands. Asyraf reminds Malaysians that although there are issues of “weaknesses and leakage” - why not just say corruption - that Malaysia is not a failed state. Really?
A few months ago, 21 children died in a religious school fire in a safety hazard set ablaze by other young people and this was the response of the government – “The Umno establishment response to the problem is to throw more money at these religious schools, some of which are undocumented. How much money - our tax ringgit - has been lost because of leakages over the long Umno watch? How much money has been lost because religious confidence men and women have played the system and profited from it?”

With a straight face, we are told that the government wants to produce a generation of Muslims who are balanced in the matters of the world and hereafter. With a straight face, we are told that this generation would be better suited to developing this country in a balanced manner. Who does the deputy minister think he is talking to when he makes these claims? I could hazard a guess, but what would be the point?
Khalwat at Umno AGMs
When we have a former Puteri Umno member now turned PAS acolyte reminding us that incidents of khalwat are rife in Umno general assemblies, this is something that has been an open secret for years.  Say what you want about PAS but either they are better at hiding their illicit activities during their general assemblies or maybe they are just too busy plotting how to turn this country into an Islamic paradise, but incidents of illicit behaviour are not as overt as they are in Umno shindigs. Indeed, she is absolutely correct. Why are the state religious departments suddenly quiet? The answer is in our voyage to become an Islamic paradise – “Muslims are at the mercy of state religious departments. Muslims are subjected to the whims of the syariah courts. Of course, this is also class dialectic. Muslims elites do not face the kind of Islamic music that their average, less economically advantaged brethren get.”

What politicians (opposition and establishment) should understand is this. Using religion because you are ethically bankrupt or intellectually incapable of formulating policies that would actually save Malaysia is not something that is productive in the long term. If the establishment thinks that is fooling their rural vote banks, they are mistaken. What it is really doing is making them resentful and filled with righteous belligerence that the state has failed them and only retreating to an austere form of Islam will save Malaysia.
Meanwhile, urban Muslims caught in the crossfires of racial hegemons vying for power are left voiceless and stranded by the wayside. Coupled with Islamic agitators carrying grievances from who knows where, the result is a tinderbox of clashing expectations and economic anxieties which is fertile ground for non-state sponsored Islamic extremism.
Maybe Muslim students can learn something about the religions of non-Muslim students. Maybe this could help save Malaysia since mainstream interpretations of the state-sponsored religion have brought us to two men defining the other as traitor to their race and religion.
Surely there is something in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism that Muslim students could discover that emphasises character building? Certainly, there must be something is those religions and our communities that makes non-Muslims economically successful and not dependent on state welfare and in a better socio-economic position than the privileged majority of this country.
This last part, of course, is a source of tension for the “Malay” community or so political rhetoric from mainstream Umno politicians would have us believe. Better yet, why not just leave religion out of our public educational institutions because this is supposed to be a place of education, not faith.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:42 AM   0 comments
UM's bully tactics will not bear fruit - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, December 04, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | "You should embrace your culture. You should be proud of who you are and your background. And how you worship God is going to be different, and those are things that you should be proud of. But it shouldn’t be a tool to look down on somebody else. It shouldn’t be a reason to discriminate." – Barack Obama, in speech delivered at Universiti Malaya
I received this email from a young university student asking me to write about the recent suspension of the Chinese Language Society of Universiti Malaysia. I also received an email about the “gag order” from UM prohibiting students and staff from making verbal or written statements that would have “negative implications” on the government or the university, from another student who wanted me to write about this too.
To be honest, I am not into this Chinese language or Indian language or whatever other kinds of cultural societies that always seem to crop up in Malaysia. I get why Malaysians join them, especially in educational establishments where young people are discovering themselves and each other, but I have never been interested in joining cultural groups just because it is assumed that people in such societies are simpatico with one another.
However, this young student really impressed me with the honesty in her rambling email about what it means to be Chinese and Malaysian and how the two were not mutually exclusive, and I was really surprised that this young Malaysian was interested in her country, despite the systemic inequalities she faces because of her ethnicity and gender.
The young student wrote eloquently about what the society meant to her. While she did not elaborate on what dialect she was referring to when she wrote about the society, what she did make clear was how much she learnt about her culture and community and how it enriched her life. She was adamant that the society did not intentionally skirt whatever regulations they were in breach of, and she was extremely upset that the society was suspended.
Meanwhile, the other young student who wrote to me was concerned that his activism off campus would conflict with this gag order – as I was typing this sentence, I actually mistakenly typed “gaga” order – and that his academic pursuits would be jeopardised. This is why both wanted to remain anonymous. I thought it was somewhat funny actually. Here the university wants to cut down on bad press, but issues orders that invite the very thing it wants to avoid.

I read the reasons why the Chinese Language Society was suspended, and the only reasonable conclusion any rational person could come to is that the university is being unreasonable, petty and engaging in bullying tactics. The same applies to the gag order, which Azmi Sharom (photo) rightly points out is “repulsive and obtuse.”
The reality is that while there is a section of young people who are apathetic about the democratic process, there is a young demographic who are engaged with it, and these young people are studying in public universities. Now, I am not saying that the UM Chinese Language Society is a political society, but by curtailing its activities for no good reason, the university and the government are just making clear how pernicious they are when it comes to enforcing rules and regulations on young people who are supposed to be acquiring an education, and all that that entails.
What exactly has the Chinese Language Society done which warrants a suspension? Have they made any statements or participated in political activities outside the confines of the university? Have they engaged in any kind of “anti-establishment” activities? Have they rallied students to engage in the democratic process? Anyone reading this would, of course, ask: so what if they did this? Apparently, here in Malaysia, young people in universities are not allowed to be politically active. Go figure.
Just a bunch of kids exploring their culture
They are just a bunch of kids exploring their culture and language, but what does that get them in an environment where racial and religious politics seep through everything? Do not blame me or anyone else who thinks that this is a racial issue because Malay university students have defended “Malay-only” institutions as a right, and nothing has happened to them. I am not talking about Malay students who have been victimized because of their political views, but rather, students who have been involved in activities that any rational person would realise would bring disrepute to the university. Indeed, politicians and activists have joined them in rejecting any kind of egalitarianism that would disrupt Umno norms in this country. So, when I read that the heinous crime they committed was that there was no Malay or English translations on some sign the society put up, I can only laugh and think this is just another way the authorities are sticking it to the non-Malays.
In addition, concerning that gag order. In 2008, University Teknologi Mara (UiTM) students marched to then Selangor menteri besar Khalid Ibrahim’s office because he dared moot the idea of opening that particular educational institution to non-Malays. This is serious “political activism” and it would bring negative implications to the university and government – if the university and government were not conspiring with the students, that is. No wonder public universities are their own little fiefdoms, where behaviour which is anathema in one university is embraced in another.
Azly Rahman, in writing of that fiasco, correctly pointed out that it is the systemic dysfunction that fuels this kind of backward thinking. “But these students are not entirely at fault. It is the ideology and perpetrators of the ideology of undur (retreat) itself that's at fault. It is the leaders implementing the retrogressive ideology that is at fault… It is the systematic indoctrination programme of ketuanan Melayu run over the decades that are advancing this UiTM philosophy of retreat.”

Then, of course, in 2002, there was that whole Akujanji loyalty pledge that faculties all over the country decided was something beneficial to sign because of “economic” implications. Lim Kit Siang (at his best) rightly claimed –“ the Akujanji for civil servants and academicians raises the question on whether the government has lost sight of ‘core’ civil service values with selection and promotion based on merit, political impartiality and giving the best independent advice to government… The pledge is even more inappropriate for public universities as it threatens their freedom to teach, research, publish and to speak extramurally.”
These bullying tactics are not new. It is the same old bull manure, recycled every few years when the regime is in trouble and easy targets are needed to demonstrate that the regime is in control. What have these measures done for the government? If anything, it has made young people who do vote and who do go to public universities more anti-establishment. They have made academicians cautious about putting forth ideas that would have a negative impact on their economic well-being, which means that the government does not get to hear the ideas that would improve the lives of people because academicians are afraid to unpack the baggage that weighs the government down.
Ultimately, what these bullying tactics do is make Malaysians more divided and distrustful of the establishment. Incidents like these make people more likely to resort to emotional arguments instead of rational ones because the government has demonstrated that it does not behave rationally.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:13 AM   0 comments
You’re only corrupt once you leave Umno - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, December 02, 2017
Malaysiakini : Paris, Thursday July 29, 1830 ... The city was gripped by rioting and armed insurrection as the people rose in revolt against the king of six years, Charles X. Veteran diplomat Count Talleyrand looked out of the window of his home at the Place de la Concorde. In the distance, church bells were being rung, and the tricolour was being raised from the top of a building nearby. "We're winning!" he remarked to his secretary. "Who is 'we', mon Prince?" came the reply. Talleyrand held a finger to his lips. "Not a word!" he said. "I will tell you tomorrow." ― Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
COMMENT | The speed in which the current Umno regime has lodged a report with the state security apparatus to investigate the “recommendations” of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Forex losses is the apogee of the hubris and lack of morality of the current government. The main targets of this report are political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim and more importantly – he who must be neutralised at all costs – the de facto leader of the opposition and father (for good or bad) of modern Malaysia, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Despite what proponents of this RCI may claim, this was the very definition of a witch-hunt and the conclusions of this commission were no doubt agreed upon before its very first sitting. It is seditious to say this. What other conclusions can we draw from this? Indeed, what other conclusions can we come to, when the heist of the century in the form of the 1MDB fiasco remains clouded in bureaucratic denial and political malfeasance.
If the ordinary rakyat have no faith in our democracy or public institutions, it is because of the manner in which the political elite use both to hunt down and destroy political dissent by any means necessary. The cynical use of the state security apparatus to “investigate” political adversaries for alleged crimes carried out decades ago, while the country is mired in corruption, religious provocations and crimes that destroy the fabric of our society points to the reality that the current administration has no interests beyond sustaining its hegemony.
There are two important points in the persecution of Mahathir or as I referred to it as the “Malaysian dilemma”. "Of course, the regime may actually incarcerate the former prime minister. This is why all this talk about Mahathir’s financial scandals are brought up by Umno minions and various state investigative bodies, determined to find out ‘what exactly happened’. Umno does this because they can lay the blame completely on Mahathir's door even though it takes a hegemon to build a kleptocracy.
“If this happens, it is game over for Mahathir but more importantly, it is game over for Malay oppositional forces in this country. If the regime manages to silence Mahathir, they would effectively have managed to silence that part of the Malay community that could affect regime change and if they do this, they effectively destroy the opposition. This, unfortunately, is the Malaysian dilemma."

We are living at a time when a high-ranking veteran Umno member can do business with North Korea and claim ignorance of international sanctions against that country and nobody in Umno bats an eyelid. What we are witness to is a possible criminal enterprise linked with possible foreign intelligence services. This, of course, does not even take into consideration the possible links between North Korean intelligence services which does business here and possible collusion with China operatives plying their trade in this country. Here is what I wrote earlier on this issue – “Now let us look at the Umno veteran Mustapha Ya'akub’s defence of facilitating what amounts to a North Korean spy/criminal enterprise here in Malaysia. He claims –
“1. He was unaware of the international sanctions against North Korea.
“2. That it was strictly business after his interaction with North Korean embassy officials.
“3. A business was set up with two ‘madams’ and then later run by a man from North Korea and that IGS (International Global System, which is linked to Glocom) was closed down after he learnt there were sanctions in place.
“4. He started another business with the same North Korean but it did not work out.” To me, the corruption and bureaucratic negligence when it comes to this type of issue is far more important, then what happened decades ago. To be honest, if the current Umno regime could find a way to blame Mahathir and Anwar for everything wrong in this country today, they probably would. And yes, I see the irony in this statement.
Then and now
Meanwhile, the rest of the opposition is squeaking about like headless chickens because this was an epochal corruption scandal of this country and the most ardent voices of dissent against the Forex scandal are now aligned with alleged masterminds of the sandal and who now fight alongside them for regime change.
By far, this has been the most effective strategy in demonstrating how the opposition is one of political convenience and while I am disgusted by it, there is something to admire in the way how Umno has managed – through no creativeness on their part – to throw the opposition into disarray once again.

The idea of ‘who knew what and when’ it a load of horse manure. This is politics Malaysian-style and it would be absurd to make the claim that Umno potentates were in the dark of financial shenanigans on their watch. Similarly, if the former prime minister and then finance minister were in the know or misled or withheld information on that scandal, are we to assume that all has changed in Umno culture in the intervening years?
Would it not be logical - nay, it is the only sane conclusion that we could arrive at - that the current Umno grand poohbah and his deputy are complicit in the current 1MDB scandal? Can we not assume that the prima facie evidence of political corruption and bureaucratic malfeasance in the 1MDB issue ultimately lands at the feet of the current Umno masters of the universe? Do we need a RCI commission to tell us this?
What I would really like to know is which other current Umno members were involved in the forex losses. Of course, nobody in the establishment is interested in that because people only seem to be guilty of something when they leave Umno. It is as if as long as you are in Umno, your sins are camouflaged with religious piety and racial supremacy, which means you operate without consequences.
We survived the Forex scandal and indeed Umno thrived with huge electoral wins. This is the cruellest twist of the blade in the sad history of Malaysia. You could argue that the Forex scandal was the 1MDB scandal of its day. The only thing we can learn from this is that you are only corrupt once you leave Umno.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 2:45 PM   0 comments
The kingdom and Hadi Awang - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Malaysiakini : "We are returning to what we were before - a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world." - Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
COMMENT | It should surprise no one that when Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman makes the claim that he wants to return the kingdom to its “moderate” roots, it is greeted with overt scepticism.
Amanat Hadi
The Washington Post did a good overview of said scepticism some of which sounds achingly familiar – “If those reforms fail, Saudi Arabia could eventually run out of money, which would constitute a major political risk to the leadership of a kingdom in which many are employed by the state, or rely on de facto state subsidies. After decades of reluctance to embrace societal or economic changes, Saudi Arabia now appears to be pursuing both - at least rhetorically.”
While I fall into the “wait and see” camp, there are signs that something is happening in the way how Saudi Arabia is reacting to the way how it has enabled Islamic extremism the world over. Sure, the prince has a Vision 2030 for the kingdom that includes the creation of a sovereign wealth fund - read here - that no doubt raises a few eyebrows here in Malaysia. The reality (for the time being at least) is that Islamists the world over, who for years were coddled by the House of Saud, are in a state of confusion, which is preferable than the state of toxicity they create everywhere they are.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang may be quivering with rage over the announcement that certain Gulf states including the once cherished kingdom has placed the organisation he is vice-president - the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) - on a terror list, but the reality is that Islamists all over the world who once looked at the kingdom as that bright shining exemplar of Islamic supremacy, have been caught with their pants down by the moves of the young prince.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed writing for Arab News described IUMS thusly – “Since its inception, which coincided with the rise of Al-Qaeda, the IUMS has represented a threat to Islamic societies and moderate Islam worldwide. The IUMS was established in Qatar in 2004 while Al-Qaeda was carrying out bombings and killing people in the name of Islam. They share the same extremist ideology.
"IUMS members justified violence and started an intellectual war with muftis and traditional Islamic scholars, undermining them in their home countries and ridiculing their religious edicts.”
This is important, of course, because the kingdom for years was tweaking the English version of the Quran to demonise the Jewish and Christian communities, which is why the first line of offence as Hadi Awang demonstrated is to claim that all this is “…driven by their belief and admiration for the Zionist Jewish powers-that-be, more than to trust in God, Islam and their fellow Muslims."

While political and religious opportunists attempt to make Malaysia an “Islamic state” and make syariah law mainstream, it must be disconcerting when the young prince of the kingdom reforms the religious police - the bane of many Saudi women’s lives. They have been “steadily stripped of their roles over the past year, losing powers to arrest and to define what is right or wrong. Last week, a decree was signed to absorb them into the interior ministry – a death knell for an organisation central to generations of social and religious austerity in a kingdom resistant to change.”
A holy war against the holy land?
Now some Islamists would say that news organisations like Arab News, are propaganda organs for the House of Saud (having read much of what Al-Rashed has written, I would never mistake him for a propagandist even if I disagree with some of his views) but this would be missing the point. The real point is that this is the message that the kingdom and its allies wish to disseminate to the Islamic world. This, of course, is of great concern to the Islamists who are used to the usual handouts from the kingdom to sustain their own little jihads they wage against secular or moderate societies (including Muslims) across the globe.
Kamel Daoud, the Algerian journalist, in a translated article for the New York Times writes of his country’s experience – ‘If Saudi Arabia reforms, what happens to Islamists elsewhere?’ - claims, “And so all manner of Islamists are feeling the anxiety of being orphaned. The moderate camp, blindsided, may try to play catch-up with the prince. But the fundamentalist camp, bereft of its familiar markers, may turn against the Saudi kingdom to claim a new kind of legitimacy — and wage a sort of holy war against the holy land.”
All this, of course, makes Hadi Awang's claim that the kingdom (and the others) “believed more in Zionists than in Allah and Islam”, a little strange because what does this say of PM Najib Razak’s close ties with the kingdom? What does this say about the donations and business deals coming from the kingdom? What does this say about the religious donations for educational purposes coming from the kingdom? What does this say about Muslim Malaysians going for their religious pilgrimages to the kingdom? What does this say about the whole “Arabisation” process that has supplanted Malay culture?

Inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun (photo) says that Malaysia is not concerned with Hadi Awang’s links to this particular group which is all fine and dandy, but this begs the question, when will the Malaysian authorities be concerned of a group labelled as a terror group? I get it that a Muslim country would ignore the warnings of Western allies on religious and ideological grounds, but when an ally like the kingdom puts an Islamic group on its terror list, what is the excuse beyond Hadi Awang’s Zionist-Masonic conspiracy angle for not doing anything? Surely, this is not a case of Muslim solidarity? Unless, of course, the Malaysian state security apparatus thinks that the House of Saud is really part of some vast conspiracy to make the kingdom a vassal state to the Jewish hegemon, which apparently includes Hollywood?
The rhetoric from the Saudi prince is sure to rile up “conservatives” like when he says that Saudi Arabia will “eradicate promoters of extremist thoughts", saying the country was not like this in the past.” For progressives, all this talk may not be enough but Islamists in countries such as Indonesia for instance, are making plans to send religious scholars to other countries if the kingdom becomes to “moderate”.
I hope Malaysia is paying attention because pandering to the Islamists is only sliding backwards. The irony is that Malaysia with its diversity should be the vanguard, but the Islamists here want us to ape what the kingdom is showing signs that it is tiring off.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 8:14 PM   0 comments
The real problem of the Malay community - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, November 27, 2017
Malaysiakini : “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” - Karl Marx
COMMENT | I do not think that the problems of the Malays are that they are not unified; I think the problem of the Malays is that they have no real choices when it comes to “Malay” leadership. Race and religion is the basis for all “Malay” political parties and Malay politicians are hampered by these two imperatives – or so they say – which makes it impossible to have a greater Malay polity that is progressive and egalitarian.
The opposition has defined this upcoming election as the election that could save Malaysia from becoming a failed state. Opposition political parties are blindly chasing the Malay vote hoping for regime change. Meanwhile, the rhetoric from the Malay establishment is indecisive and cautious because of the Malay political players involved.
This is why we get Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor hectoring Malay youths, asking them what Umno had done wrong? It is true that Umno has provided a lot but the problem is what Umno has provided is not worth anything next to what the non-Malays have acquired by themselves, in most cases. Malay youths are not angry with the other communities - at least a significant majority of them are not - what they are angry about is that Umno gives them enough to survive and does not give them the tools to exist independently of Umno.
Mainstream Malay leadership has blamed everyone (in no particular order) from the Jews, the Chinese, the United States of America, the opposition, music, alcohol, drugs, Christians, handphones, pornography, television shows, Hindus, Buddhist, Western culture, Asian culture, Indians, the CIA, the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China, multiculturalism and excessive laughter for all that is wrong or they think is wrong with the Malay community.
A few “Malay” rights activists I have spoken to say that because the Chinese are “united” in opposing Umno and because the urban Malay vote is split, Malay vote banks in the rural heartlands have to be guarded zealously, less Malay hegemony is compromised by weak Malay leadership beholden to Chinese (DAP) interests. These folks did not laugh when I pointed out that this is exactly what the Najib refuseniks are saying about the current Umno regime and Chinese (PRC) interests. Even in a major corruption scandal like the 1MDB case, race becomes an issue. Establishment propaganda organs define the scandal as economic sabotage by rebellious Malay leaders aligned with Chinese usurpers, all the while shifting the blame to a “fat Chinese” hanger-on who bilked the country of millions.
This is the kind of self-reflection that happens in mainstream Malay politics. Remember how Ibrahim Ali, defined the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal? I wrote in an earlier column - “It has of course gone to ridiculous extremes as in the recent National Feedlot Corporation fiasco, where Ibrahim Ali and his ilk (bolstered by the right-wing state-controlled Malay mainstream press) suggest that an issue of corruption is really an issue of race and a racial provocation against the Malay community. The fact that the alleged whistleblower has been identified as a non-Malay is par for the course in this country’s national political debate.”
Whenever a struggle emerges within the ranks of Malay leadership that is when the issue of “Malayness” becomes all-consuming in the political landscape. For a long time, the only opposition to Umno was PAS and nobody certainly not the majority of the Malay community ever thought that PAS was an alternative to Umno.
Co-dependent relationship
This is why Umno never really considered PAS a threat. I remember in the early days of the reformasi movement when Anwar Ibrahim aligned with PAS and this co-dependent relationship emerged from the Anwar/PAS pact. It was no secret even then that the religious folks within PAS were uneasy with the alliance with someone who was branded by the state as a sexual deviant. Before the PAS for all days, PAS friends of mine were behaving as though they were in the midst of some sort of Stockholm syndrome when it came to their dealings with Anwar.
Examine closely mainstream Malay politics and it is not about the problems social and economic problems facing the Malay community but how the Malay community is losing its relevance because mainstream Malay power structures are beholden to “other” interests because the Malay community is not unified. In many ways, Anwar changed this kind of thinking by challenging the Umno regime on issues such as good governance and wide-scale corruption but he was always hampered by the religious imperatives of his political allies.
While the Chinese and Indian community had the (mainstream) option over the years of embracing the DAP over the MCA and MIC, the Malays only had PAS, until the ejection of political prisoner Anwar from Umno paradise. Does anyone really believe that the average establishment supporter can tell the difference between Umno and Bersatu beyond the fact that the former can be, depending on how close an election is, gratify them with short-term goodies?
Over the years, I have had many Malay people come up and tell me that the problem with this country is that people do not get along. Well, I think that people do get along but the problem is that the government keeps introducing measures that make it very clear that they do not want us to get along. These measures then become sacred cows, which needs to be defended by any politician claiming to have the interest of the Malay community at heart. How is any other community a threat, when every institution and mechanism of power is controlled by the political elite of the majoritarian community?
I have asked these questions before – “What would happen if a majority of Muslims in this country decide that they have had enough with state religious authorities intruding in their lives? They have had enough of money going into religious organisations while essential services that benefit their community are underfunded and mired in bureaucratic corruption? What would happen if they grew tired of the hypocrisy of the state where Muslim elites were immune from the harsh glare of Islam but the rest of the polity was not?”
Of course, if ever there was a conclave of Malay leadership these types of questions would not be asked. Instead, the main objective of the meeting would probably be to discuss how power could be shared while maintaining the facade of unity which is all important to a racial and religious hegemon.
This is why Malay youths will continue to be unhappy with Umno and this unhappiness will eventually erupt in rage and Malaysia will not have to be saved anymore.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 1:25 PM   0 comments
No one is free from religion in Malaysia - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Malaysiakini : “To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition.” - Woody Allen
COMMENT | The last time I wrote about Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, he was busy informing the Malaysian public that BN was committed to making Malaysia an Islamic state. As usual, I was irate that our glorious opposition was waffling as they normally do when it comes to anything “Islamic” that confronts them.
“Meanwhile, the opposition is doing nothing about this. Nobody in the opposition has ever made statements that reaffirm the primacy of the Constitution or the opposition’s agenda of ending the Islamisation process. We do not even know if this is one of the reforms that would ‘save Malaysia’ that the opposition intends to carry out.”
This time, it is even worse. Why on god’s good green earth would an Amanah parliamentarian bring up the non-issue of atheism in Malaysia? Check that. If some “moderate” Muslims make the claim that there is no compulsion in Islam, and Amanah is marketing itself as a moderate Muslim political entity, why would this issue be of importance to “saving Malaysia”? Aren't these types of questions the province of religious thugs who would clamp down on anything remotely egalitarian in this country?
Remember when the Islamists expressed concern over the atheist plague and one provocateur claimed that the reason why some Muslims left their religion was because they wanted to experience pleasure, I had to remind him that this was not the case here in Malaysia. “If anything, what the official narratives of Islam in this country have demonstrated are that Muslims have to be prevented from seeking ‘illicit’ sex, alcohol, smoking, music videos, movies, books, pornography, the company of the opposite sex and of course, excessive laughter. Now the reality is that many Muslims have sex, drink alcohol, smoke, watch music videos, movies and pornography (online), mingle with the opposite sex, and laugh a lot.
"Hence as Muslims, they already experience pleasure but what prevents them from openly experiencing pleasure are the religious police who are paid to ensure that they stop having pleasure. Of course, if you are a rich Muslim, then you are exempt from the overt policing that your average Muslim is subjected to.”
It seems to me that Amanah does not believe in free speech or expression. Amanah merely continues the Umno/PAS narratives that Muslims are at risk from ideas other than from their holy book. No evidence is tendered as to how youths are influenced by atheists, only ab initio this is a bad thing. Is this the kind of "moderate" Islam we can expect from the opposition?
When Asyraf claims that there is no freedom from religion in this country - which is religious fascism by the way – what does the opposition think about this? Is this one of those situations where the opposition claims that it an Umno trap to distract from the larger issues? Well, it was an opposition member that brought it up. Is this another situation where the opposition ignores the issue hoping it would go away until the next time issues like these crop up?
A placebo
Pundits who claim that Muslims are not free from religion in this country are missing the point. Muslims are bound to Islam and they can embrace no other religion or no religion at all, even if they wanted. They are not free from religion, they are not free from Islam. Apostasy laws, rehabilitation camps, state sanctions against Muslims who attempt to leave Islam is evidence of this. This is not a provocative statement, this is a fact, acknowledged by politicians, the state security apparatus, the law and Muslim activists. In other words, they are not free from religion. Specifically, they are not free from Islam. All other religions are irrelevant.
As reported in the Diplomat in August, Dr Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College who focuses on Southeast Asian politics and security issues, said, “Malaysia has become steadily more intolerant, and this has been a top-down government policy.” Abuza described the clergy as state-sponsored with vetted sermons.
“The people most at risk are clearly the ethnic minorities, atheists, and Christian Malays, which is actually unconstitutional. I was just in Malaysia, and the intolerance displayed by Malays is growing. I don’t know one Chinese or Indian that is not alarmed at where this is headed.” Constitutional experts have come out strongly against Ashraf’s “no freedom from religion” statement but the reality is that this is not a general declaration about religion. This is about Islam. What the deputy minister really means is that in Malaysia there is no freedom from Islam. The former inspector-general of police (IGP) warned atheists not to cause unease amongst Muslims. Hindus, Christians and Buddhists have shown no interest in stopping people from leaving their faith.
Religious provocations like threats to burn holy texts, disrespecting religious symbols or icons, investigations into possible proselytising, claims against other religions, banning of words, imposing dress codes in public institutions, unilateral conversions, religious kidnapping in custody cases, rehabilitation centres, seditious comments against specific religions, unlawful conversions of minors, and the host of other provocations comes from the practitioners of the state-sponsored religion and not from minority belief systems.
When I made my case that the Rukunegara was nothing but a placebo, the first line in the piece was “what if you had no belief in God?”, which is the first line in the Rukunegara. If non-Muslims think they are free from religion in this country, they are mistaken. They are bound by Islamic dictates just like their Muslim brethren, but all this is lost in the fog of partisan politics and political expediency. As usual, folks think that this is a joke. This is not about forcing you to have belief in god. This is about forcing you to accept that belief in god means that you are subjected to the same dictates of people who have no choice when it comes to their religious beliefs. Nobody in the establishment cares if you believe in god.
The underlying theme is that you must be mindful of the fact that the majority’s belief in their god trumps your individual religious beliefs or lack thereof. Atheism is merely a convenient scapegoat to co-opt the beliefs of others into a state-sanctioned belief system where the state sanctions behaviour or ideas it considers deviant in the name of the state-sanctioned religion, in this case Islam.
It really does not matter if, in fact and law, there is no basis for the claim that there is no freedom from religion in this country. The reality is that so long as the state controls a specific religion and how it is promulgated in this country, all of us are not free from religion, no matter how we choose to self-identify when it comes to our religious beliefs or lack thereof.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 10:39 AM   0 comments
The difference between discrimination and dress codes - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | "I have always thought that if women's hair posed so many problems, God would certainly have made us bald." - Marjane Satrapi, "Persepolis"
Muslim-only launderettes and banning frontline staff from wearing headscarves are not the same thing. It is not hypocritical to object to the former and have no opinion of the latter or even not object to it at all. There is a big difference between discriminating against a person based on race or religion and having a dress code that may – may – affect some people because of how they identify with their religion.
Some Muslim women wear headscarves. Some Muslim women do not. There is enough empirical evidence to suggest that many Muslim women face pressure to wear the headscarf, indeed one Malaysiakini columnist related how her college-going daughter was pressured by her female contemporaries to “cover up” but chose to deal with it in her own way.

This idea that there is freedom of religion in this country for the majority, with apostasy laws, with rehabilitation camps for those who deviate, with verboten words for non-Muslims and the constant threats not to interfere with Islam, makes a mockery of the principle of freedom of religion. The incidents of unilateral conversions, forced conversion by state agencies and the countless court cases involving the trespass of the religion of the state into our private and public domains, is also evidence that freedom of religion is more word than deed in this country. This is the context some people are choosing to ignore.  Furthermore, this is not a question of religious beliefs. Nobody is discriminating against Muslims in this instance. This is more to do with freedom of expression. Some – some – Muslim women choose to express their religious beliefs by covering up.
Now if they have a choice in this, then surely they can make a choice as to what kind of work environment they desire: a work environment which is flexible about religious expressions, or one which has a stricter dress code which limits their religious expression.

The last thing I want to know about anyone in the service industry, or any industry for that matter, is what religion they subscribe to. It does not matter if you are a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or Muslim. What has displaying your religious affiliation have to do with the job you were hired to do? Do you know what is discrimination? If the hotel chooses not to entertain customers who wear headscarves. This is discrimination. If the hotel chooses not to entertain customers who express their religious beliefs overtly. This is discrimination.
Some Muslim women do not think it is an obligation to cover up. Liberals are always telling us that covering up is a choice and not an obligation as some Muslims claim. So why is this an issue?
Believe me, you could be discriminated based solely on race and there isn’t anything you can do about it except rage on internet message boards and support political parties that claim they are egalitarian, when most often they make idealistic claims to stoke the base.
Dress codes for civil servants
Some people have linked this situation with overzealous civil servants enforcing a dress code when entering public service premises. It is not for civil servants to enforce a dress code. They do not have a mandate but more importantly, they work for the public. While government agencies may have a uniform dress code for their staff and this may take into account religious observances (for whatever reasons), this does not mean that the private sector should do the same.
Some workplaces are flexible when it comes to this issue, some are not. People have a choice as to where they want to work. They do not have a choice when it comes to dealing with a bureaucracy they are paying for.

PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli (photo) claims it is time for an equal opportunity law. Unfortunately, these types of laws work both ways. The rules apply to the private and public sector. This is why so many Malay rights groups have always had a problem whenever this act has been mooted.
Apparently for some Malay rights groups, equal opportunity laws go against the Federal Constitution. By this I mean, they go against the legal and social contract concepts of Malay privileges. Unless we are talking about an equal opportunity law which does not apply to the public sector. Then it is not really an equal opportunity law, but rather another law to justify the importance of political parties to their political and racial base.
A place of work is not the avenue for the expression of your religious beliefs. Your religious beliefs have nothing to do with your professionalism. So to suggest that practising a dress code applicable to everyone is discriminatory is dubious and honestly mendacious.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 6:30 PM   0 comments
Peaceful Malays and gangster ‘pendatangs’ - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Malaysiakini : “A society gets the criminals it deserves.” – Val McDermid, “Killing the Shadows”
Red Shirts
COMMENT | I never really understood this whole idea of “gangsterism” bandied about in the press. I get that crimes are gang related, or that there is organised crime – with the specifics of both not being mutually exclusive – but this shorthand of “gangsterism,” which normally points to a specific race, is really rather juvenile.
Not because it is not true, but rather because in a country where non-Malay citizens are told to be mindful of their place, of course the most marginalised communities would reflect the inequalities of the ruling hegemon.
To be honest I was a little bit disappointed that Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy was the one who demanded an apology from the Terengganu police chief Aidi Ismail (photo) for his “race and crime” remarks.
Although the Terengganu top cop implied that the majority-Malay communities were exempt from “gangsterism” – in Terengganu, anyway –he did not mention a specific non-Malay community.
I mean, I get it. You mention “gangsterism” and you immediately think of the Indian community. This is why I was a little disappointed that an Indian opposition politician responded. Mess with their heads a little. It would have confused the establishment bigots if a Malay opposition politician was the one demanding an apology from the Terengganu top cop for racial profiling.
That would have blown their minds and maybe offered a short respite from the usual horse manure that flows freely from establishment types. Some folks have been sending me statistics and PDFs about race and crime in this country, and as far as official statistics are concerned, I am of the opinion that the statistics are skewered towards political motives, and to reflect progress in whatever KPIs the civil and security services are encumbered with.
More importantly, this is not really about racial profiling. This is really about how a majority of the Malay community, be it urban or rural, view non-Malays – Indians in this case – and the belief systems foisted on them through years of indoctrination and partisan politics, that they are a peaceful community, whose way of life – courteous, religious and sedate – is always at risk because of non-Malay presence on Tanah Melayu.
When inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun (photo) says that Aidi did not have any intention of making a racial remark, what he was getting at was that Aidi was merely promulgating the greater narrative that Malays are a peaceful religious people, who would be living in religious harmony were it not for the influence of the “other” races.
I mean look at how some Malay-Muslim activists keeping reminding people who live in Malay-Muslim majority areas to respect the sensitivities of the majority in the way they behave and dress in public. Do you get non-Muslims who are the majority in a specific area ever telling Muslims to respect their sensitivities?
It also points to the mindset of the state security apparatus. This belief that the Malay community is peaceful and that crimes are what “others” do, reflects the operating procedures which has resulted in deaths in custody, the refusal to carry out the orders from civil courts, and an unwillingness to submit to independent bodies when it comes to the way how they operate.
Will this change anytime soon? I doubt it. The reality is that mainstream politics in this country is race-based, and while many people, especially those who support the opposition, use this in an extremely cavalier manner, the reality is that the rot goes much deeper.
A reader sent me this snippet of a past article I wrote when she read what the Terengganu top cop said. “The police force has become a culture of its own succoured by religion, racialism and handouts, riddled with corruption and sharing a symbiotic relationship with the criminal underclass of Malaysian society and beholden to political masters who have always been engaged in protracted internal power struggles.
But yet I can say without hesitation that there are still those within the ranks of the PDRM, and those who have retired, who are honourable and understand the value of a functional police force but whose ranks are slowly dwindling over the long Umno-BN watch.”
Well yes, I did write that. However this is also not just an Umno thing. Umno may profit from this narrative, but I really believe that this is what a vast slice of the Malay community, especially those without access to information and do not interact with non-Malays in their daily lives, actually feel.
Take away the “gangsterism” meme and you have the stereotype of the honest Malay civil servant bribed by the unscrupulous Chinese businessman. This narrative of how the Malays were gracious enough to share their lands with interlopers and are now in a state of chaos because of different cultures fighting for space in this beautiful country is rehashed in so many variations that it has become part of the emotional make-up of a large slice of the voting demographic.
And these odious memes are needed, because how else to explain the quagmire the Malay community finds itself in. Writing of the futility of Malay privilege, I said, “Those other communities who seem to profit from this land, although they do not have but more importantly, do not need those special rights and privileges which were supposed to elevate the Malay community but instead has left them trailing in the wake of the progress of the non-Malay communities.”
What’s the point of demanding an apology form this particular police officer? Forget about messing with the crime statistics, or redefining crime, or even that the state is mired in financial corruption. What we are really talking about here is an idea. The idea that if only they were not these pendatangs, holding back our religion, corrupting our race, attempting to take our power, we as a nation and people would be better. This is propaganda that money can't buy.
Nobody, certainly not proponents of mainstream Malay politics, will ever apologise for that.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 7:59 PM   1 comments
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