Lo and behold, PM Najib’s Emergency rule By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Quintus: People should know when they are conquered.
Maximus: Would you, Quintus? Would I?”- ‘Gladiator’
COMMENT | De facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that if BN loses by a small margin, “The bullies in BN would be ready to create instability.”
Let us get something out of the way first. The only political party
in BN that has the means and ways of creating instability is Umno and
Umno has never been shy of playing the bully in Malaysian politics.
Therefore, if any political party is going to declare emergency rule it
is not going to be the BN alliance but rather Umno.
The former Umno strongman does not make flippant comments. He does
not just throw things out there to get a rise. Everything he says or
does is carefully considered and made with the intention of fulfilling
I have made it clear that I do not consider the recent corruption
allegations the existential threat facing Malaysia. I wager that if
“bangsa” and “agama” did not corrupt the Malaysian system, most
Malaysians would give someone like Prime Minister Najib Razak a free
pass. He would be given this pass because in the words of Malaysiakini columnist Josh Hong reminding us that naysaying is not enough, “for all its flaws, Malaysia remains a prosperous, relatively efficient and economically vibrant country.”
Mahathir makes the case with his examples of voter fraud, compromised
electoral system and vote buying, that even if the opposition wins by a
small margin, they would eventually lose, because the Umno hegemon has
no intention of ceding the political battlefield to the victors.
In any other civilised country, when a former prime minister makes
such an extraordinary claim, the current prime minister, his cabinet and
political allies would rebut the claim. They would assure the citizens
of their country, that they would abide by the democratic process and
that the rule of law and principles of democracy would ensure a smooth
transition of power.
This is not the case in Malaysia. The Najib regime has made no
comment and indeed the racial and religious rhetoric has escalated to
the point that the Umno establishment has enacted laws that would give
them legal authority to rule in emergency until such time that they feel
confident enough to resume the facade of democracy in this country.
There is no point talking about the 1MDB scandal as if the current
regime has any intention of conforming to democratic norms because
scandals such as these depend on institutional integrity and voting
demographics that, regardless of partisanship, hold politicians
accountable for their deeds in office.
In my piece ‘Malaysian Official 1 should resign but won’t’,
I wrote - “Najib loyalists are wallowing in the fact that Najib’s
authoritarian measures ensure his political stability because there are
no democratic or legitimate means to oust him from office. What is left
is the internal mechanism of Umno which has been greased by the ‘cash is
While I have argued that we are a state in failing, what the former
prime minister makes clear is that ultimately our votes really do not
matter. I suppose we are a fascist state in making. In fact, I made this
argument last year - ‘Umno and the fascist state’
- inspired by a piece by Peter Bergen who in looks to Robert Paxton’s
‘The anatomy of fascism’ to find out if the newly-minted US president
had fascist tendencies.
To recap, here are the five points from the Paxton model that I used to describe the fascist Najib/Umno regime -
1) “A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of traditional solutions.” 2) “The superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason.” 3) “The belief of one group that it is the victim, justifying any action.” 4) “The need for authority by natural leaders (always male)
culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the
group's destiny.” 5) “The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will when they are devoted to the group's success.”
‘The end is near’
So yes, in all probability if by some miracle - and I say “miracle”
because I do think the Najib regime will “win” in this upcoming general
election - if the opposition does manage to take Putrajaya, Umno will
not concede and most probably fulfil the former prime minister’s
prophecy. It is not as if this regime has not been laying the groundwork
for such an eventuality.
The reality is that late last year, the current Umno grand poohbah
introduced himself as Chairman Najib with the National Security Council
(NSC) Act and nobody seemed too concerned. While I argued
that the NSC Act would have far deeper implications for the future of
this country than the 1MDB scandal, the opposition in this country were
extremely indifferent towards this new law. Beyond the usual outrage
pieces by a few opposition politicians and the usual pieces by
“activists” like myself, those people who marched on the streets for
Bersih elections, did not seem too concerned with it.
I had expected that people would be organised, political and activist
groups mobilised to march on the streets protesting this bill, like we
see in many South American countries, but instead it was business as
usual in oppositional political discourse. Indeed, something of this
magnitude, where the current Umno president “shrugged “off a request by
the Conference of Rulers for it to be refined”, was not even a major
I remember urging people to read the Act and consider what the state
was imposing on us. I remember talking to oppositional political
operatives and questioning them as to why this was not a major issue for
them. Most of the time, they answered that the average citizen was not
interested in this issue.
Whenever I write articles like these, I feel like those old deranged
coots you see in American movies with signboards claiming, “The end is
near”. Waving a bell around, as people look aghast at such displays of
PKR’s Tian Chua rightly claimed that the bill would not be passed if
there was no intention to use it and this is exactly why a law such as
this is a safety net for the Najib regime and why the outcome of this
election may finally seal our fate as a failed state.
So, either the opposition loses but hopefully maintains the status
quo in terms of their composition in Parliament and the running of
certain states or the opposition wins and loses everything when the
hegemon decides to play by the rules that it created with laws such as
PM Najib, will our luck hold out? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.”
- Abraham Lincoln
COMMENT | The prime minister has again made this extraordinary claim
- “In the end, 10 people died because we had no loyalty. All there was
is a readiness to betray who? Our rakyat” - with regards to the “Sulu
incursion” while reminding uniformed personnel to be loyal in preserving
the country’s security.
I will repeat the same questions I had in an article
I wrote when the prime minister first made this claim of betrayal -
“This, of course, brings us to the next set of questions. Who were those
covert agents? What sort of investigations and which agencies were
involved in routing out these ‘covert enemies’? Why weren't the press
and the people of Malaysia notified that our soldiers were killed
because of leaked information? Were the families of the soldiers who
were ‘sacrificed’ notified that their deaths were the result of an
ambush because of leaked intelligence?”
I expect no answer, of course. A few friends have written to me
“explaining” that “civilians” may have compromised troop movements and
that is what our prime minister meant by “betrayal”. If you believe that
civilians had compromised troop movement, I suggest we have a far
greater problem than most people believe.
Of course, in this particular rejoinder the prime minister claims -
“When our own people betrayed their comrades, when they fed information
to our enemies, our enemies surrounded and ambushed…” - which implies
that our men were betrayed by their “comrades”, in other words, by
security personnel, which is worse but yet again no explanation will be
Were those families of the 10 people who died told that their loved
ones perished because they were betrayed by their “comrades”? Was there
an investigation into these treasonous acts? Was there accountability?
It does not matter, does it?
And are the Malaysian uniformed services "Muslim" uniformed services?
I get that the majority who serve are Muslims but why does the prime
minister feel the need to draw on Islam to remind the uniformed services
to be loyal for the security of the country? The answer to this, of
course, is obvious. Non-Muslims are constantly told that we are not
patriotic enough, that we shelter under the security provided by brave
Muslims and most importantly, there have been far too many Umno
politicians and “activists” who remind us that government institutions
are in reality “Malay/Muslim” institutions.
So yes, the Arabisation process being what it is, the professional
standards of our uniformed services at the level it is, and this
constant need to remind Muslims that loyalty to country means loyalty to
the political establishment, it is no surprise that religion would be
used to bolster support. Of course, if you are a non-Muslim in the
uniformed services, you could either learn from this Islamic analogy
thrust upon you or tune out.
I have said it before and I will say it again. I despise the
propagandising of the state security apparatus. This happens all over
the world. The prime minister’s rejoinder was delivered at a function
organised by Wanita Umno - a wing of a political party - so this was a
political event and not a government event.
Of course, in this country, the lines are willfully blurred so I
wonder what would happen if Pakatan Harapan, or god forbid the DAP,
organised a Ramadan event to honour the sacrifices of our uniformed
services. Would these service people who embraced the “gifts” doled out
at this Umno event be accepting to gifts offered by the opposition? Or
would they be told by a government flunky not to intrude where they are
I will just regurgitate what I wrote when another organisation was advocating loyalty to the establishment -
“Ultimately when we pledged to serve the king and country, our oath
goes far beyond loyalty to the government. We are really serving the
people of this country and our loyalty is with them. It does not matter
if you support the establishment or the opposition, your loyalty should
be with the people and not with political elites, especially when they
dishonour the institutions you pledged to serve and protect.”
‘We have been lucky’
The prime minister is right when he claims that peace does not happen
by accident, but because of the work done by the security services of
the state. However, he should be aware that peace happens because of
luck, too. We have been lucky. While pre-emptive action is a necessary
component of national security, the element of luck also plays an
With all the propaganda spewed against non-Muslims, we have been
lucky that external forces have far more insidious designs that merely
slaughtering non-Muslims in this region. These designs target Muslims
and is about a specific Islamic ideology and a war against Islamic
I have talked about this briefly in my piece cautioning against snuggling up to the House of Saud
but as far as domestic policy is concerned, I wrote about the corrosive
effects of Islam as propagated by the state on the security of the
If even Najib is not safe from Islamic enemies, two points need to be
considered when it comes to our “luck” in avoiding the kind of carnage
that other countries have faced from their home-grown Islamic
When it comes to propaganda against the non-Muslims -
1) “Just recently, instead of sanctioning the genocidal rhetoric of
the Pahang mufti, Najib, who portrays himself as a PM for the people,
said, ‘we cannot compromise on the Islamic struggle in this blessed
land. We reject those who dislike Islam and know who they are and their
collaborators.’” And when it comes to the enemies within, who would destabilise the security of the state and the state security apparatus. 2) “The Umno state security apparatuses have acknowledged that IS
(Islamic State) sympathisers could emerge from anywhere, even from
Umno’s bureaucracy, which has for years sustained an anti-non-Muslim
sentiment for political reasons.”
Islamic extremism and terrorism do not happen in a vacuum. It happens
in environments which are conducive to the kind of extremism that
groups like IS propagate. You can have all the pre-emptive action that you want but as long as
there are citizens willingly to carry out terrorist acts, work with
foreign agents to destabilise the government and have cover to spout
their nonsense because it is extremely difficult to tell the difference
between state-sanctioned propaganda and that which is advocated by
foreign Islamic extremists, this is the environment that will eventually
lead us to be another statistic in mass Islamic violence.
Now as far as foreign Islamic extremists are concerned, I doubt they
would collaborate with non-Muslims, simply because they consider
non-Muslims as filthy infidels - although the narrative has always been
that non-Muslims corrupt Muslims, so perhaps there may be some
non-Muslims who are susceptible to the money that these Islamic
extremists get from the most mainstream of sources - so the obvious
potential collaborators are those who are disenfranchised and been fed
on a diet that Islam is under siege in this country.
Think about it this way. If there are people who are willing to
betray their comrades in an incursion by foreign participants, how long
do you think our luck will hold against the dark foreign Islamic cults
aligned against us and their local proxies who are willing to betray the
rakyat of Malaysia?
The day will come when we’re all ‘Kelings’ By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Malaysiakini : “I did not tell you it would be okay because I never believed it would be okay.”
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
COMMENT | Before I begin, does anybody question why Watsons would think that such a video advertisement
would be acceptable to Malaysians? It is a good strategy to claim that
the ad was based on folklore - the myth itself is somewhat racist if you
think about it - but really, the ad is merely a reflection of the
When PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang says, "Report and leave the
problems to the authorities,” does he mean the very same authorities
that behave in a manner which defines the “samseng”
culture which he decries?
Does he mean the authorities that have a
problem carrying out their duties when it comes to choosing between
“secular” laws - which they are obligated to follow - and edicts coming
from the syariah courts?
Nathaniel Tan’s piece
on the ongoing Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) hearing
into the death in custody of S Balamurugan is riveting, not only because
it is lucidly written but also because it clearly articulates the
silence of police officers who choose to do nothing where their actions
would vindicate those of us who have said that the state security
apparatus is not only staffed by violent thugs but also honourable men
and women who would do the right thing.
The Balamurugan case is also evidence that some security personnel do
not protect their sources. If a police officer does not protect his or
her source from other police personnel, how then do they protect their
sources from other criminal elements?
When inspector Mohd Noor Husri Johari says, “If I bring him to the
hospital and he escapes or dies while en route, I would be held
responsible," does this mean that he is not responsible for the death of
Balamurugan when he eventually brought the prisoner to the destination
he was ordered to?
If the police released the prisoner as was ordered instead of
“rearrested”, then all this may have been avoided. As it is, there was a
conspiracy to detain the deceased on “different” charges, police
personnel who are ignorant of SOP (standard operating procedure),
unquestioning in their obedience to superior officers, racist and only
interested in safeguarding their positions even when the life of a
prisoner is at stake. Only in Malaysia would an Islamic politician tell
us to put our faith in people like these.
This is not an aberration in which the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM)
normally operates. I would argue that this is common practice in the
manner in which the PDRM operates, and what is most damaging is that
there has never been an outcry from the general public as there has been
with corruption cases. There are, of course, many reasons for this.
The most important one is that marginalised communities face the
brunt of police brutality and while there have been lawyers, activists
and politicians who have been doing the hard work of representing these
marginalised folks, there apparently is no room in urban middle politics
for this kind of issue. In the beginning of the year, referencing another great piece by Tan
and the work of Aliran’s Perma Devaraj, I argued that the PDRM was a ‘service to some and a force to others’.
Quoting Prema’s piece on the findings of the EAIC, I summarised a few key points, which I will reproduce here - • The use of brutal violence on a detainee during interrogation; • False entries in the station diary of lock-up D9, including tampering of times in the entries; • False information in a police report about the death of the deceased; • Serious misconduct in ordering the re-arrest of the deceased
without justification (the deceased should have been released at the end
of the first remand); • An eight-day delay in allowing the right of the deceased to contact and have access to his family; • The CCTV in lock-up D9 not being in working order since 2009; • A lack of knowledge or awareness of standard operating procedures among officers and police personnel; and • Overcrowding in the lock-up (more than four people). At times, there were between six and 16 people in the lock-up.
Why is this tolerated?
The problem here is that this so-called “samseng” culture that Hadi
worries about so much is, in reality, the culture of the state security
apparatus. It is public knowledge that the PDRM has been resistant to
independent oversight and anyone following these deaths-in-custody cases
can see why. Not to mention that corruption is part of the culture of
the PDRM by their own admission.
If you speak to marginalised Indians and Indians from the criminal
underclass, they would tell you that the most brutal of security
personnel are Indians officers who have no problem working for racist
superiors. This, of course, is an uncomfortable truth that many
activists, lawyers and politicians understand but racial politics,
political correctness and the argument that it is not productive to
“racialise” police brutality, and thus it is not part of the national
In nearly every piece I have written about the state security
apparatus, I have talked about that nexus between criminal enterprise
and the security personnel of the state. It is difficult for me or
anyone to make the case that there are “good” police officers out there
when we have the “only following orders” police officers in these
Are there good and true police officers in the force? I am sure there
are. They talk to me about their frustrations very often, especially
when cases like these come up. But what use is frustration? What use is anything without action? The
state security apparatus, if they were serious about cleaning up their
image and correcting the systemic violence and corruption in the force,
should be demanding independent oversight and not claiming in emails
that independent oversight would restrict their normal operating
CID chief ASP Norsanizam Nordin said that referring to an Indian as
“keling” was inappropriate in a workgroup chat and that he took
immediate action after seeing them, which basically means it would be
appropriate in a social setting? Didn’t a former prime minister use the word too and he was subsequently endorsed by certain parties (including me) as the only viable candidate for PM for Pakatan Harapan.
A Kugan, Aminulrasyid Amzah and Teoh Beng Hock, they were all
“kelings”, except Malaysians never really saw them as such. Each death
was politicised in its own way but they were not even Bangsa Malaysia in
their deaths. Each death was ghettoised to fit a particular ethnic
narrative instead of a Malaysian one.
You can say that I am generalising, that they are good people in the
force, but then why are there so many deaths in custody. Why is this
tolerated? It is tolerated because Malaysians do not really care that this is
happening. Our apathy makes it easier for them to get away with it.
Testimony like the kind we are reading about would cause violent
demonstrations in other parts of the civilised world and these
demonstrations would be warranted. Here, it’s just another excuse to hammer the kleptocracy.
The day will come when we are all “kelings”, when our economic and
social standing will not shield us from the jackboot of the state.
What can MCA do for BN? By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Malaysiakini : “... By disarming, you at once give offense, since you show your
subjects that you distrust them, either as doubting their courage, or as
doubting their fidelity, each of which imputations begets hatred
against you.” - Niccolò Machiavelli, ‘The Prince’
COMMENT | The answer to that is
MCA obviously cannot do anything much for the ruling BN coalition
anymore. How do you remain relevant when you have lost your voting base?
Umno does not need MCA to win elections. The dodgy meme that the
current Umno prime minster is a “minority” prime minster is as
fallacious as the so-called “Chinese tsunami”.
It is pointless talking about the other communities here in Malaysia
because this has always been about the Malay-Chinese dialectic. How this
regime demonises the Chinese community when the hegemon is in trouble
or relies on it - former prime minister and now de facto opposition
leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad actually at one time thanked the Chinese
community for sustaining his power - in times of plenty demonstrates the
symbiotic relationship between economic power, race and political
If the Malay community was not in a perceived state of agitation,
there really would be no need for anyone to question the relevancy of
MCA because Umno would have no problem allowing the plutocrats, who
actually run this Chinese-based party, to coast on former glories to
sustain the charade that a multi-ethnic government runs Malaysia for the
betterment of all.
I say “perceived” because the more I look beyond the spin and talk to
people on the ground who actually have a pulse on what is going on, the
reality is that the odds favour Umno in this coming election.
The “Malay” heartland, which the opposition has been unable to
influence beyond coming up with dodgy data on how the heartland is not
as secure as Umno believes, remains the key to Putrajaya. That most
strategically adroit of political operatives - Mahathir - realises that
if he can destabilise Umno in the peninsula to the point that Umno has
to rely on Sabah and Sarawak for power, it would be game over for the
current Umno potentate.
All of this merely means that as far as remaining relevant, MCA has very little to do now. By its own admission it has lost
its Chinese voting base. The problem is, what does MCA think the
Chinese community really wants? What exactly has MCA done wrong that has
made the community lose trust, not in the BN coalition but rather in
Five years ago, in the MCA’s long journey into night, I wrote
- “What is really destroying MCA is not the propaganda of DAP but the
acceptance by a large voting demographic of the Chinese community that
no representation in the government is better than MCA representation.”
So, this idea that representation in the federal government is the
holy grail of the basis of “Chinese” support is mistaken. As far as
anyone can tell, and most political insiders, establishment and
opposition will tell you - most often off the record - is that all the
opposition has to do is remain relevant on a state level and the
majority of the Chinese vote will always go to the opposition. There is this hypocritical stance that opposition types, especially
DAP political operatives, take when it comes to this issue of
representation and “Chinese rights”. Here are my comments regarding what an assistant to a DAP MP wrote about representation and Chinese rights:-
“Kelvin Yii, an assistant to a DAP MP, asked, ‘So, would the Chinese
want to have a say in the government, or stay out there in angry
isolation?’ All I can say is that if you were a truly multi-racial party
with a race-blind agenda, this type of question would not need to be
“But since this is still a thing, why doesn’t Yii define the ‘rights’
of the Chinese community, which he thinks are lacking under the Umno
regime, and demonstrate how Pakatan Rakyat has secured these rights on a
state level, or even made it an issue on a federal level. In other
words, Yii, you don’t get to berate MCA for playing the race card when
you have no problem playing it yourself.”
Impotency of Chinese politicians
While I get that most opposition supporters think the coming general
election will be a referendum on Prime Minister Najib Razak, the reality
is that career opposition politicians - establishment and opposition -
have only one goal in mind. That is, a win is defined as keeping the
game going by maintaining the status quo. Hence the Chinese voting base,
who have grown used to the impotency of “Chinese” political operatives
on a federal level, see more gain in state-level operatives looking
after their interests and keeping the federal government in check,
however ineffective that may be.
Moreover, since I have never allowed partisan group-think to
influence my position on issues, I can honestly say that MCA has
actually done a good job in attempting to restore some of the trust that
they lost over the years. The problem is that no matter what it does,
MCA will never be the go-to party for communal interests, even though
their positions have been far more morally and intellectually
sustainable than DAP and the opposition.
The most recent example is the MCA’s position on PAS president Abdul
Hadi Awang’s bill on syariah amendments. I wrote that the MCA had a
clear position and that their criticism against the DAP, although flawed
in their execution, was far more honest than the position of the
opposition. And yet this did not mean anything to the Chinese community,
at least to those who voiced their opinion online.
In fact, this clarity of position caused MCA to be vilified by
members of their own coalition and created another set of tensions that
demonstrated the impotency of MCA within the ruling hegemon. Meanwhile,
DAP as a “Chinese- based” alternative, no matter what opposition
partisans claim, remains a potent force within the “Malay-dominated”
Not only is this used by the Umno hegemon in their propaganda, it is
also confirmed by the statements made by DAP political operatives on a
range of issues that they are powerbrokers within the opposition instead
of political eunuchs who service the Umno machine.
Therefore, there is really nothing MCA can do. Every corruption
scandal the MCA unearths pales in comparison to the excesses of this
Umno regime. Even when the MCA articulates a clear moral position, they
are vilified by establishment and opposition partisans. Goal posts are
shifted, tolerance is raised on many issues because the goal of removing
Najib is the only thing that matters.
The race discourse in this country means that the Bangsa Malaysia
kool aid makes it seem that the MCA is the “racial” party and not that
the foundation of Malaysians politics is threatened by racial fault
In other words, in this break-up with the Chinese community, it’s not you (MCA), it’s the Chinese community.
Much to lose as an ‘authentic’ Islamic nation By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, June 05, 2017
Malaysiakini : “You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters
they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their
fishing is good; in the same way it's only in troublous times that you
line your pockets.”
- Aristophanes, The Knights
COMMENT | Saudi Arabia
recognising us as an authentic Islamic nation is not something Muslims
should rejoice. Indeed, any recognition by the House of Saud is fraught
with danger. In these perilous times when the Muslim world is reeling
from the belated realisation that the genie is out of the bottle when it
comes to extremism and geopolitics, Malaysia as a stable moderate
Muslim country should be careful who it chooses to get into bed with.
In the ‘Kingdom in Malaysia’,
I articulated what I thought about this whole idea that we can benefit
from the House of Saud - “I contend there is nothing we can and should
take from the Saudi kingdom. I would argue that the reason why Malaysia
is a so-called moderate state is because however dismally we have
managed to resist the excesses of the House of Saud, we still have a
multi-ethnic population whose contribution in politics, economics and
culture has maintained a fast fading line between what the Wahhabis and
their ilk want and what is rational.”
This idea that a small relatively stable Muslim country like Malaysia
is running to embrace a failing kingdom locked in a life and death
struggle with not only various Islamic extremist groups that they helped
fund but also another nation - Iran - is troubling for more than just
the absurdity of thinking that there are any real privileges of being
considered an “authentic” Islamic state.
Prime Minister Najib Razak asks why King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud
picked Malaysia and then goes on to claim because we are “recognised as
authentic Islam and for our moderate approach. Those are what he (King
Salman) views highly”. This, of course, is total horse manure because if
King Salman really viewed “moderate” Islam highly, he would practice
that in Saudi Arabia instead of giving Wahhabi clerics free reign to
practice a regressive form of Islam.
Najib also claimed that he got a “positive response” to build “two
haj complexes in Makkah and Madinah”, which means very little because we
all know how the House of Saud takes to Muslim interlopers attempting
to profit from Islam in their country. The House of Saud, of course, is
the only one who can benefit from Islam.
I have argued that our prime minister is in a better position than
the monarch from Saudi Arabia is. So why then does King Salman bestow
such largesse upon a small Muslim Southeast Asian nation. You can
believe what our prime minister claims, that the House of Saud thinks
that we are a moderate Muslim nation that he views highly or you can
believe that we are part of a greater Sunni/House of Saud struggle
against the nation that the Saudis believe is a threat to their hegemony
There is a reason why US President Donald Trump chose to make his
grand speech to a host of Muslim potentates in Saudi Arabia. There was a
reason why there was a host of Sunni-dominated heads of state in Saudi
Arabia where Trump made it clear that Iran was the big bad wolf in world
geopolitics and that what was needed was the Muslim world to fight
against “terrorism” and recognise that Iran was meddling in the business
of other Muslim countries, and as such part of that ‘terrorist’
The Saudi kingdom is always furthering the narrative than Iran is
causing confusion and sectarianism in the Muslim world. Beyond regional
(Middle East) geopolitics, this goes to the heart of Islamic dogma and
this notion by the House of Saud that they are the true and only keepers
of the faith. Statements condemning Iran like the one from the
Trump-Muslim/House of Saud summit is a constant reminder that Islamic
elites are embroiled in a worldwide struggle.
A tangled web
When the Saudi king paid (in more ways than one) Malaysia a visit, he
took the opportunity to spit a little venom at Iran. What was most
unfortunate was that Malaysia become part of the story. Point 15 in a
joint statement by the two potentates is as follows - “15. The two sides expressed serious concerns over the Iranian
interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region,
stressed the need for Iran’s commitment to the principle of good
neighbourliness and the need to respect the sovereignty of States.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Bahram Ghasemi, response was a mixture of authentic bafflement and subtle warning (Middle East Monitor)
- “He called on the Kuala Lumpur government to avoid involvement in
‘dangerous’ scenarios that are aimed at undermining Muslim unity and
supporting Takfiri terrorist groups, particularly Daesh, through
financial cooperation with certain countries.
“Malaysian government is expected to review, as wisely as before, the
foreign policy of the Islamic Republic and avoid suspicious areas and
deteriorating issues by deep and long-term considerations,” This, of course, is all part of the balancing act or so Putrajaya
thinks. Only a year ago when sanctions were lifted against Iran, Najib
was waxing lyrical of the new trade deals between Iran and Malaysia -
"We can belong to different schools of taught, but we have the same
desired objectives and goals. So, the closer we work together, the
better it will be for the Muslim world.
"During the two meetings, we had the opportunity to exchange views
and opinion in an open manner on how both countries can elevate
relations to a higher level.” This is part of the tangled web this government is weaving. China, of
course, has always had close ties with Iran going so far as to complain
of the new round of sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies
linked to either Iran or North Korea's nuclear or missile programmes.
As reported in Reuters - "China is opposed to the blind use of
unilateral sanctions particularly when it damages the interests of third
parties. I think the sanctions are unhelpful in enhancing mutual trust
and unhelpful for international efforts on this issue."
Malaysia could have a moderating influence on the Islamic world, but
for whatever reasons has chosen to overtly side with the Saudi kingdom.
While Shia crackdowns are common in Malaysia, there will come a time
very soon when Malaysia will be lumped with the rest of the Saudi allies
as a possible target of retaliation.
We have to keep in mind that Muslims have massacred their
co-religionists in greater numbers than colonialism or the machinations
of Western hegemons. With a world economy in shambles, Washington under a
weak leader, old cold warriors China and Russia resurrecting the great
game - or as I call it, the neo-great game - this is not the time for
Malaysia to embroil itself in Islamic intrigue. Malaysia now has to balance the strategic interests of a regional
superpower like China against whatever Islamic hegemonic goals of the
Saudi kingdom. If we had a strong stable government this would be
business as usual but when it comes to mixing Islam and regional
geopolitics things get much trickier, especially when local Islamic
imperatives are mixed with foreign [Islamic] intelligence operations.
Since there is very little transparency in how the Najib regime
handles the business of government and since religious dogma influences
foreign policy, what we are left with is hostile Islamic interests in
the region competing against the sole hegemon in the region.
Malaysia becoming a hotbed of Islamic intrigue by rushing into
alliances because of the weakened state of the ruling coalition is a
dangerous position to be in. History has shown us that situations like
this do not end in a whimper. They end with a bang. Most probably, a
series of bangs.
The manufactured outrage against The Star By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Malaysiakini : “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
- Oscar Wilde
COMMENT | From the New York Times
archives (Oct 29, 1987) - Malaysia shuts down 3 papers: “The Malaysian
government, saying it feared a racial explosion, closed three newspapers
today, including the country's liveliest English-language daily, The Star.
“In the last two days, 63 politicians and leaders of citizens groups
have been detained in a sweep against critics of the administration of
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Among them is Lim Kit Siang, leader of
the main opposition party, Democratic Action Party.”
Back then journalist friends of mine told me to think about the
families of employees that were affected by this clampdown, the
uncertainty, financial and otherwise, they faced because of the actions
of the government of the day. My response was, why should there be any
uncertainty when the Star has a rich sugar daddy - the MCA - to
cover the expenses of those involved for actions taken by their
partners in the ruling coalition?
As a member of good standing - at least I think I was a member in
good standing - with the establishment, I knew how things worked. We all
did. Back in the good old days where the mainstream propaganda organs
of the establishment were the only source of information, the Star every
now and then profited from its reputation as the problem child of the
state. This enabled it to command by virtue of luck more than any sense
of journalistic integrity, the respect of a compliant citizenry.
Let's not forget that Utusan Malaysia kicked out former
National Union of Journalists president Hata Wahari for pointing out the
fact that the mainstream press was indeed biased in favour of the
establishment when reporting the news, or to quote Hata, "all mainstream
journalists, especially of Utusan Malaysia, New Straits Times, Berita Harian and The Star
should return to their true function as deliverers of objective
information to the public, and not as tools of propaganda for the
government, or any political party or individual, for their personal
What is the appropriate reaction for journalists and members of the
public when a propaganda organ of the state is sanctioned not for its
reporting but because of a “mistake” which the state it serves, deems
Let us just unpack this mess. 1) The supposed “confusing headline and picture” which apparently could be seditious. I am not going to sugar coat this. If this was any other religion,
would this picture be considered seditious and would the concerns of
believers of that religion be taken into consideration? The home
minister claimed that - “It is highly inappropriate for the picture and
the headline to be published on the same page, and it has caused
confusion, misunderstanding and prejudice against Muslims, which could
imply a connection with terrorism.”
Really? What “causes prejudice against Muslims” is when a university
lecturer accuses an established opposition party of having a Christian
agenda without offering any proof. What cause prejudice to Muslims is
when the state organises an essay contest on an opposition politician
which entails libelling the politician as racist and anti-Islam.
What causes prejudice is when Muslim politicians object to a chief
minister of a state attending a buka puasa event and claiming he should
embrace Islam if he wants to attend. What causes prejudice are
unilateral conversions, smear campaigns by “Malay” propaganda organs,
disappearances of religious figures, and unequal treatment before the
Why the suspensions?
This is not genuine outrage. This is a manufactured outrage. What
this has done is allow opposition partisans to lash out at an
establishment propaganda organ and certain Muslims to engage in some
good old fashioned victimhood. Non-Muslims over the years had to develop
a thick skin. We had to do this because nobody cares if we are
offended. Hindus are offended that Indian preacher Zakir Naik has
sanctuary in this country but the state could care less how they feel.
2) The Star suspending its editor-in-chief and executive editor. Okay. Let me get this straight. The Star apologised for this
mistake. As far as I can tell and as reported in the media, nobody from
the state has asked for suspensions but the big shots over at The Star (and maybe the sugar daddies) have decided to censure their own pending an internal investigation.
What would this internal investigation reveal? The Star has already claimed that it was a mistake. Would the investigation reveal “radicals” within The Star
who did this because they thought it would be an ironic commentary on
the state of Islam. Would the investigations reveal that those suspended
were part of a plot to ridicule Islam?
The only thing these suspensions demonstrate is that The Star
will always bend over backwards to appease their master. It is not
even; as if they ask how high when asked to jump, it is more as if they
are jumping about on the spot whenever the gaze of their master is upon
3) What is offensive? Malaysians, or maybe that should be non-Malay Malaysians, could give
you a list of things they find offensive but somehow manages to escape
the scrutiny of the state and the police chief, but what I really find
offensive are comments by “public officials” who ask women reporters, “What are you wearing to bed?”
But that is the way how the establishment views the mainstream press,
right? As objects to fulfill whatever particular needs the state
desires. In this case, it is the dissemination of information they view
as appropriate even though most often that information is offensive to
rational Malaysians all over the country.
This whole charade of a show-cause letter is pathetic. What could The Star say in its defence? The propaganda organ has already apologised. Perhaps what could be done is give control of The Star over to Umno. This way as defenders of ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’, those easily offended Muslims readers of The Star are assured that their sensitivities would be the main priority of the owners of The Star.
Should we be concerned about what is going on with The Star? Yes. Although this manufactured outrage is merely a distraction that The Star
for whatever reason unwittingly played into, this is a taste of what is
to come. Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon and unless something
changes, all independent (as in not state controlled) media will be
Put Islamophobia on ice By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Malaysiakini : “We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called ‘Islamophobia’ in
submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they
violate human reason or rights.”
- The St Petersburg Declaration (March 2007), quoted in Paul Cliteur's ‘The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism’ (2010), p 276.
COMMENT | There is no such thing
as “Islamophobia”. There are of course racists, bigots and other cretins
who disparage Muslims and Islam around the world but unfortunately, the
world is filled with racists and bigoted people who disparage all sorts
of people, their religion and culture. This is not solely a Muslim
What is solely a Muslim issue is this idea that any criticisms of
Muslims is an attack on Islam or that acknowledging empirical evidence
of the way how “Islamic” states operate is anathema to freedoms and
rights enjoyed in the progressive world is verboten in "civilised"
company. That any contrary narratives to the acceptable
politically-correct discourse is an attack on a peaceful, peace-loving
people who have always been at the mercy of colonialism or other forms
of “Western” imperial ambitions. This is Islamophobia in a nutshell.
So, these Malaysian students in the United Kingdom gave out ice lollies
in exchange for messages of peace. Apparently, they did this because
they were deeply affected by the Manchester attack and wanted people not
to hate Muslims. In other words, people had to sign messages of peace
on their boards to show how there was no animosity towards Muslims
instead of these Muslim students demonstrating that they disavowed the
violent Islamists who preach hate against anything Western, secular or
Christian. Muslim victimhood became the focus of the tragedy instead of
the carnage of children and women who were the victims of violent
University of Essex student Muhammad Fariq Bukhari Samsudin said that
he planned “to introduce Ramadan to his non-Muslim friends so they can
break fast together”, which is really painful to read because I wonder
how Fariq would react if his Christian friends introduced him to Lent
and perhaps together they could appreciate the spiritual harmony that
religious observances supposedly bring. Fariq also claimed that "I think the root of the problem is that most
of the people don't even understand Islam”, which is again something of
a misdirection because some Muslims are always deflecting and saying
that they would leave the interpretation of dogma to religious scholars
1) When it suits their purposes to educate people on their religion. 2) When attacking critics, especially when said critics abandon the
Abrahamic theological discourse in favour of rationality and empiricism.
Religious discourse that revolves around dogma is self-serving. I made this point in another piece
- “Intelligent discourse in the Abrahamic faith revolves around the
concept of doubt. They revolve around this concept because of the
influence of the secular world. Rational Christians, Jews and Muslims
who have shed their religion’s extremist impulses engage in conversation
and not dogma. They attempt to reconcile their doubt with what the
secular world has to offer.”
Whenever someone makes the claim that people do not understand their
religion, it most often means that their religion has a lot to answer
for. All religions have commonalities. Those positive commonalities make
it possible for people of diverse religious faiths to play well with
others. Call it evolutionary or spiritual but the result is the same,
the receding of religious dogma and the acceptance of plurality of
However, when people insist on pontificating about their faith or
when the state defines religion, that is when the trouble starts. That
is when people start claiming that their faith is misunderstood or that
god made them the person to lead the faithful or there is some divine
plan for all of us, even those who do not want to be subjected to any
plan from up above.
This last part is made worse by the fact that those mortals who claim
to understand god’s plan make the worst administrators on earth, not to
mention the most bigoted, petty and hypocritical messengers that any
divine being would be unlucky to have. This is, again, not solely a
Muslim issue. More importantly, is the claim that people do not understand Islam.
Here is a fact. People who live in Muslim-majority countries understand
Islam very well. Muslims who live in Western secular countries do not
have to worry about people not understanding Islam. The importance of
understanding a religion only comes into play when the religion has an
overt impact on the social and political landscape of a country.
While demagogues will of course use Islam and Muslims as scapegoats,
Muslims in Western secular countries have more institutional protections
than religious minorities in Muslim-dominated countries. Non-Muslim
minorities in Muslim-dominated countries are told to be followers. Here
is PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang’s variation of this theme - “Islam has to
be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam must be followers (pak turut).”
I helpfully defined
what it meant by “followers” - "And this is the crux of the matter.
Non-Muslims must be ‘followers’. Followers who do not believe. Followers
who are forced to submit. Followers who can never lead because they are
not Muslims. Followers who have to submit to the religious observances
of Muslims even though they have their own religious beliefs, which are
not observed by Muslims but in some cases restricted because they cause
offence to Muslims.”
Which brings me to what DAP leader Lim Kit Siang recently said,
“(We can succeed if) Malaysians adhere to the Constitution and
Rukunegara principles to be good Malaysians by being good Muslims, good
Buddhists, good Christians, good Hindus, good Sikhs and good Taoists.
Hannah's journey as a good Christian cannot threaten, but only fulfil,
her journey as a good Malaysian, just as how adherents of other
religions aspire to be good Malaysians."
Concerning Yeoh’s journey as a "good Malaysian", I am curious. Does
Yeoh consider herself a Malaysian first or a Christian first? You see,
this is the type of questions that arise, when people pontificate about
their faith and make a fresh batch of Bangsa Malaysia kool aid whenever
the need arises. We do not need more faith in this country. What we need
is people who want to create an egalitarian system that people will
have faith in.
We can only succeed as a multicultural/religious society if we have
politicians who check their religion at the door and commit themselves
to secular principles and policies all the while keeping their faith
private. Who defines what a “good” Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu,
Sikh or Taoist, is?
The state and its actors should not be in the business of defining
religion, what they should be doing is ensuring that religion does not
define the business of the state.
PSM and saving Malaysia from a kakistocracy By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the
people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost
- Thomas Love Peacock
COMMENT | Some of you may be wondering what “kakistocracy”
means and I humbly suggest googling the word. Apparently, we are intent
on saving the country from a kleptocracy but still have not figured out
that mainstream politics - establishment and opposition - is intent on
maintaining a kakistocracy. Nowhere is this more evident in the
disrespectful and malicious manner PSM is treated by the opposition who
supposedly want to bring about change.
I have seen opposition politicians attack PSM while making excuses
for other opposition political parties and their own parties who have
engaged in behaviour which is corrupt, mendacious and which betrays the
principles that the opposition insists they have. I have read opposition
supporters engage in the most malicious of propaganda attacking PSM
political operatives, who have actually put in the hard grassroots level
work of building communities among marginalised people.
Catchy political bromides are the currency and while a party like PSM
goes about attempting to build consensus far away from the
preoccupations of urban polities who mock in racial and religious terms
the rural folk, mainstream opposition politics is dominated by issues
far removed from the realities that would ultimately determine this
Whenever I read of how anonymous apparatchiks who accuse the PSM of
being “greedy”, I realise why “the knaves will always benefit at the
cost of fools”. Is it any wonder in attempting to explain why Umno
always has the advantage, I drew upon the work of PSM’s Jeyakumar
Devaraj (and the Penang state government-aligned Dr Wong Chin Huat) in
attempt to offer a strategy in dealing with the hegemon.
The DAP's Sungkai state assemblyperson A Sivanesan's attack against
the character and reputation of Jeyakumar is the kind of gutter politics
that the opposition engages in. Folks who read my articles will recall
how national president Mohd Nasir Hashim described the backstabbing by Pakatan (this time PAS) in the past election - “…he
(Mohd Nasir) emailed me a list of underhanded tricks that would make
Carl Rove proud and commented: ‘PAS' crude campaign surpassed Umno-BN's
So unbecoming of PAS. “‘We were literally on our own and got help from NGO friends. We were
not prepared to fight PAS because they are not our principal enemy and
our actions were construed as being weak,’ he said, reflecting on the
recently concluded elections.”
against the libel hurled against him by Sivanesan demonstrates the kind
of politician Jeyakumar is. While he rightly threatens a lawsuit, he
acknowledges the different backgrounds they come from but more
importantly, acknowledges the privilege that his background affords him.
Having said that, I will say (and this will no doubt embarrass the good
country doctor) talk to the “old Penang people” and you would hear
tales told in messianic fervour of this politician. I have this running joke with Jeyakumar that he is too nuanced for
People have short attention spans. They want you to scream
“kleptocracy” and then they pat you on the back. When Jeyakumar talks
about corruption, he talks about the corruptive aspects of politics that
democracy nurtures. He talks about how expectations from his
constituents makes it harder for him to fulfill his obligations which
goes far beyond merely satisfying their pecuniary needs.
What he says here- “‘I asked them, ‘do you want me to be clean or not?’’ he recalled. “‘You want your YB to be Santa Claus, a feudal lord giving away
money... But at the same time, you want your YB to be clean. It doesn't
jive,’ he stressed, adding that the role of politicians goes beyond just
providing cash handouts or immediate assistance” - is something that
many political operatives have said to me.
Exhibit no 1
Here is an excerpt of an interview
I did with the Sungai Siput member of parliament after his arrest for
allegedly carrying out “communist activities”. This part is useful
because to demonstrate the kind of tensions that exists on the ground
between people who need assistance and how their loyalties are
constantly under siege. It is also an articulation of democracy in
action - “It depends. Some communities have scolded the BN types who
admonished them. Sometimes their overt support for us decreases for a
bit, but if their main grievances are not handled by the BN, then it's a
matter of time before they come back to us for assistance.
“So, in this game, timing is crucial. Sometimes we have to give them
room to explore the options offered by the other side, and not try to
hold them back by threats or ‘emotional blackmail’. But we must maintain
contact so that we know when there is a need to mobilise them to
protest some blatantly unfair decision of the government.”
I have made this argument before. The best way to deal with those
marginalised groups who seem cut off from mainstream oppositional
politics is to make an alliance with political parties like PSM. Grand
national narratives do not get any traction with the voting groups that
PSM engages with. This is another world and it is this way because the
Umno hegemon set it up this way and the opposition has never had a
genuine agenda to bridge this world and mainstream oppositional
politics. Exhibit number one of never having a genuine agenda is the way in
which it treats PSM. PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan said that there
was no choice of stepping on toes but he is mistaken.
There is always a
choice for both parties. I believe PSM could give a coalition like
Pakatan, which has credibility issues and only partisans who have no
clue as to what people think in the world outside the confines of their
preferred echo chambers, long lasting value that would go beyond this
election. Pakatan should make an electoral pact with PSM but more importantly,
help them win those seats they are aiming because a grassroots-level
caucus in Pakatan Harapan would be the first step in breaking into those
secure Umno vote banks.
If this means sacrificing seats so be it
because this caucus could be the means of destabilising the hegemon and
returning democracy to the people. Jeyakumar warns the opposition not to “too confident, cocksure and
arrogant," because he is better at reading the political tea leaves than
the elites with their numerous flawed polls and their cunning
strategies. He understands the nature of the political beast after years
of struggling against it with comrades who did not rage against the
Umno machine for personal gain.
However, I know nothing I say will change minds. While I do not agree
with the ideological foundations of PSM, there is nothing in their
manifesto which makes them at odds with the opposition. Even their stand
on religion is clear and unequivocal which probably means that there
could be an issue with Muslims in Pakatan who do not seem to have any
trouble getting support from the so-called secular types in the
If you really support change, then you must come to the realisation
that PSM is vital part of that change. However, if you think that they
are just a distraction, then go on supporting political groups that have
no incentive to genuinely carry out the reforms that Malaysia
desperately needs. They assume they have your vote against a hegemon who
unfortunately shapes the way how the opposition thinks and ultimately
the direction of this country.
Even if you despise what I wrote here, go over to their website
and see how you can contribute. Even if PSM comes out the loser in this
election, you can be assured that their long hard work goes on and that
PSM would ensure that your contributions reach the people that really
Ultimately military loyalty is to the people of M’sia By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Malaysiakini : “If you feel that strongly about something, you have an obligation to try and change my mind.”
- Aaron Sorkin
COMMENT | While some armed forces personnel - active and retired - have nothing but vitriol for my writings for Malaysiakini,
I am glad to report on an anecdotal level at least, there has been far
more support - most often qualified - for what I write amongst serving
and retired members of our security services.
Anecdotal levels are of course cold comfort when the reality is that
most people would rather not say anything unless cloaked in anonymity
and people often confuse the echo chambers they live in as the “real
world”, which is unfortunately far more complicated and diverse than
what they read online.
I have always disliked the propagandising of the security services
and while I believe that there are many people who do the hard work of
keeping our country safe, they are hampered by the petty fiefdoms of
their immediate superiors and hobbled by a self-serving political
apparatus. The latter is more interested in maintaining political
hegemony than by ensuring that these institutions are independent and
serve the people of Malaysia.
The former meanwhile hampers the legitimacy of these institutions by
eroding public confidence by its official statements, but more
damagingly by engaging in practices that apes the accepted political
culture that has resulted in our country being categorised as a
Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Association (PVATM) deputy president Sharuddin Omar’s rejoinder
to old soldiers, or in my case old sailors, “to the principle that we
are always loyal to the current government” misses the point about
loyalty, obligation and serving the country. On a professional level, while I have always observed the chain of
command, truth be told my duty - however, you define it - was always to
the men and women under my charge. This of course is old school military
thinking but one shared by many old timers who put the welfare of the
men and women under their charge ahead of politics, racial or religious.
Times have changed, of course.
While many would dismiss this veteran’s association as just another government appendage, I was impressed that they disavowed
former soldier Mohd Ali Baharom’s (aka Ali Tinju) racist actions in the
strongest possible terms. As reported in the media - “His actions are
contradictory and incompatible with the principles and practices of all
armed forces veterans in the country. "In the future, we also hope that the media will only relate the
actions of Ali Tinju as that of an individual and a Malaysian civilian,
and not that of a Malaysian armed forces veteran," said the association.
Quoting the Malay proverb "kerana nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga”
(one bad apple spoils the whole barrel), the association expressed hope
that its reputation and that of all armed forces veterans would not be
ruined by the actions of one man.
Many retired armed forces veterans make a distinction between loyalty
to the institution and the people who make up those institutions. While
I get that principle, I have never been unable to separate the office
from the individual. To me, if the person in the office is corrupt then
why bother defending the institution? I would much rather channel my
energies in advocating change rather than spend my time defending the
Honestly, what really bothers me is not that the “gomen is corrupt”
but rather that our security apparatus is riddled with the kind of
scandals that should make every retired armed forces personnel hang
their heads in shame. To list the numerous corruption scandals
perpetrated by service people is disheartening and we cannot solely
blame the hegemon for that. But what does loyalty to the government mean?
Does it extend to postal vote fraud? Remember in 2011, when four
retired military personnel admitted they were marking postal ballots on
order from higher up? To recap
- "The four - Major (Rtd) Risman Mastor, Kamarulzaman Ibrahim, Mohamed
Nasir Ahmad and Mohd Kamil Omar - said they were ordered by their
commanding officers to mark postal votes for the hundreds and thousands
of personnel who were out in the field.
“Their expose today is the second after an ex-army man came forward
earlier this month, making a similar claim that he was ordered to mark
postal votes for other personnel.”
The problem with advocating loyalty to compromised institutions is
that armed forces personnel who have served with distinction and honour
are tarnished by those who would dishonour the codes they claim to hold
in service of their political masters. Besides the existential threat
that a certain religion poses, this has been one of my main themes that I
have revisited - unfortunately - over the years. I wrote
about how the armed forces was sinking in Umno’s quagmire - “(Navy
chief) Abdul Aziz (Jaafar), if you remember was one of the service
chiefs lined up behind (looking rather sheepish) Armed Forces chief
General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin when he made an emotional appeal, which also
included subtle threats and comments which were unacceptable, not to
mention unprofessional, for an officer holding the highest rank in the
military to make. He made this appeal when confronted with accusations
by retired service personnel of vote/voter manipulation in the armed
Another example is when the current prime minister had a sit down with retired personnel to discuss the Lahad Datu incident. As reported
to me by concerned retired service personnel - “The whole atmosphere
seemed surreal to some who attended. When the prime minister walked in,
‘Negaraku' was sung and the armed forces marching song ‘Barisan Kita'
(which one general quipped ‘Has the song been annexed by Barisan
National?’) also got an airing. Apparently, it got quite comical when
one retired air force general was frothing at the mouth that stern
disciplinary action should be taken against generals who showed support
for the opposition, the PM was chuffed up of and reminded those who
attended that ‘spirit of this general’ was what was needed.”
These days many young people are speaking up. I am not talking about
mainstream oppositional politics. I am talking about young people who
rightly feel that current establishment politics is nothing but the same
manure but with a different shovel.
What veterans should be doing, and this applies to anyone who has
worked in the civil or security services, is to encourage these young
people in their efforts to change the paradigm. We had it our way and we
should encourage and support those people who truly believe in what
this country could be.
Ultimately when we pledged to serve this country, our oath goes far
beyond loyalty to the government. We are really serving the people of
this country and our loyalty is with them. It does not matter if you
support the establishment or the opposition, your loyalty should be with
the people and not with political elites, especially when they
dishonour the institutions you pledged to serve and protect.
COMMENT | There is a whole lot of
dumb going around now. Since the hegemon is making every card in the
deck a racial one, aggrieved Malay supremacists have been tripping over
themselves attempting to remain relevant at a time when the Malay
community is divided and Malay political parties are wondering who
exactly a majority of the Malay community - in the peninsula - will vote
for. A decisive majority is needed for the winner to claim that the
party is the only one that can defend “bangsa” and “maruah”.
Perkasa has been wondering around like a headless chicken attempting
to please many Malay masters but only managing to further expose the
scam that the BN is anything but a vehicle for a kleptocratic racial
hegemon. While Perkasa comes out sounding like the village idiot, groups
such as Isma (Malaysian Muslim Solidarity) have a strong consistent
message of racial and religious supremacy, bolstered by a cadre of
Muslim professionals who engage in sophisticated rhetorical legerdemain
to subvert the democratic process in favour of Umno, although they claim
the mantle of “independent” Malay/Muslim opinion shapers.
Perkasa meanwhile is waging a muddled war on two fronts, the first
with MIC and the second, with MCA. While certain Umno personalities
rightly point out that Perkasa is a joke, the reality is that much of
what Perkasa advocates is in line with mainstream Malay thought even
though the community is fractured and not along ideological lines but
along party (political) lines.
Perkasa’s war against the MIC is based on the MIC’s Vell Paari
statement that Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik - who apparently is an
honorary member of Perkasa - should be investigated for allegedly being
an Islamic State (IS) recruiter here in Malaysia. Apparently, such a
claim makes someone a threat Islam.
While I have no idea what Zakir Naik is doing here, the reality is
that Malaysia has always been a transit point for Islamic terrorism. The
New Mandala ran a piece in 2013 – ‘Extremism in the name of Islam and Malaysian Muslims’
- which I think is still relevant today. Indeed, I think the climate
has become more tense with recent geopolitical conflicts and regional
ratcheting of Islamic fervour by hegemons fearful of loss of power.
While I thought the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project
was a flawed endeavour, I do think that the thrust of the piece - an
examination of how the state creates an environment either willing or
unwittingly for these types of extremists to thrive - is an important
The article references prominent experts and the work of two I am
most familiar with - Joseph Chinyong Liow and Gordon P Means - and
points to the reality that when the state makes the environment
conducive to radical ideologies then we can expect more trouble from
foreign devils waiting to use Malaysia as a transit point and staging
area for terrorist acts. Anyone here remember the Kuala Lumpur ‘al-Qaeda summit’?
Land of opportunity
The following passage from the article should describe why I am
really not concerned with Perkasa’s bleating that Vell Paari’s words
were an affront to Perkasa - “For jihadi militants, Malaysia was a land of opportunity but not
where militants could enjoy tacit government sponsorship or a safe
sanctuary. What Malaysia had to offer the al-Qaeda network was its
climate of politicised Islam within a Muslim-majority population, its
visa-free immigration to citizens of Islamic countries, its excellent
worldwide communication linkages, and its advanced banking system that
included a well-developed sector of Islamic banks.
“Both Liow and Means have shown that the Umno-led government has
played an important role in enabling, though not outright and formally
encouraging, extremism in the country by way of sanctioning religious
revivalism and Islamisation.”
Honestly, when you have a father of two
pleading guilty and jailed for “giving support to a terrorist group and
supported terrorist act involving the use of explosives” and if you are
a rational person, you do not really have time to worry if Islam is
under siege but rather if explosives are being set off in the name of
Then, of course, there is Perkasa’s concern that the MCA will be a conduit
for communist China with the “cooperation deal” that the MCA inked with
the ruling party. Unlike many other of my pundit brethren, this whole
China relationship is not something that concerns me. I have more
concern with the anti-China rhetoric from the opposition fuelling the
anti-Chinese Malaysian sentiment that is the refuge of racists that
should be of worry for any rational person.
As usual, these so-called defenders of ‘Malay’ rights are missing the
bigger picture. Which is more dangerous - China attempting though
commerce to spread its influence or Islamic jihadism attempting to
subvert imperfect democracies in the region?
Perkasa deputy president Sirajuddin H Salleh asked, “Has BN, Umno and
Malay NGO leaders forgotten the thousands of Malay soldiers and their
families who suffered and died while fighting the communists who saw
Beijing and Mao Zedong as their guide during the emergency? And my question to Sirajuddin is, is Perkasa forgetting the thousands
of Muslims who have died all over the world because of Islamic
Understand this. I am not too concerned about the communist threat or
that MCA is sending party members to be possibly indoctrinated by the
Communist Party of China. What I am worried about are the thousands of
young Malays who are sent to the Middle East and come back with beliefs
and ideas that are anathema to our way of life, and this seems perfectly
fine with the Umno hegemon.
Why apply a different standard to the Chinese component party of BN? I
suppose that being Malay and a communist is a pardonable offence, but
being Chinese means that you and the generation after is always a
threat.What is Perkasa actually worried about? That these MCA cadres would
return and turn the Malays into unthinking, unquestioning drones who
support an ideology that is promulgated by the state? Oh wait…
Actually, what Perkasa should be worried about is the rhetoric of the
grand Umno poohbah concerning China. I doubt there has ever been a
Malay leader who is so unabashedly pro-China and who does not miss an
opportunity to demonstrate to China that Malaysia - Tanah Melayu - would
make an ideal playground for Chinese business. A Malay leader who has
no problem cosying up to China whose ambassador to Malaysia angered
Malay rights types with his overt rejoinders of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
If I were a Perkasa member, I would worry about the current grand Umno poohbah being a Manchurian candidate.
Lt Col Idris Hassan's letter to Royal Malay Regiment's Officers Club on the misuse of Military Ranks
Monday, May 15, 2017
I like many others do understand your anger and frustration with regards the misuse of military ranks and unauthorised use of military accoutrements. And also your extreme disappointment with those among us who have the seniority and clout and who could help our cause but just refuse to join the chorus and stand up and be counted. As retirees all we have left is the exclusivity of our military rank, and now that too is now being eroded with with RELA being recognised as a para military unit with the same rank structure of our Armed Forces. (Now every one including the Parking Attendants and Taxi Drivers can be called 'Tuan' )
That was when Colonel Malik Alwi then President of Kelab Pegawai-Pegawai RAMD together with support of FAFOC wrote an extremely well written and passionate letter to YAB. Prime Minister venomously expressing our objections and displeasure at the RELA using military type rank structure.
We were overjoyed when the then Minister of Defence YB Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made an official announcement that RELA will not be using the rank structure of the Malaysian Armed Forces.
However our joy was short lived when the same minister now heading the Home Ministry made a 180% U turn and allowed RELA to use the rank structure of the MAF. The rest of course is history. As if that is not enough, now almost every other government enforcement agencies have got on to the act and decked themselves with similar rank structure as the Armed Forces and the Police.
I remember at the club meet a few weeks ago how angry and frustrated you were at this turn of events and it was at your behest and also that of Colonel Malik that I took it upon my self this time to express our frustrations in a public domain.
Some of us had opined that the letter written by Colonel Malik was the best presented 'vocal' paper ever written to the highest authorities and if that did not work nothing else possibly would, implying it's a waste of time writing further like what I was doing .
Making statements like " Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu " " Balik Assal ". " We are just burning calories " " Such writing is seasonal like the durian and fruit season and soon will die down to nothing" " I just smiled when I follow the views and comments on using the rank by other agencies"
First and for most I must categorically state that my writing can never be compared to that of my learned friend Colonel Malik Alwi who is an institution by himself.
I will openly admit to all and sundry that compared to Colonel Malik's writing skills I am just a novice . But what Colonel Malik had written was privately and exclusively about RELA in his appeal to the authorities. My writing was more general in nature about all 'offending' government agencies to creat some sort of ground-swell so that the public and our serving and retired Pak Generals and will be better informed of our frustration and sympathise with our cause.
Even if nothing else we would have made our voice heard. Believe me if the entire armed forces personnel both serving and retired come up in 'arms' against this erosion of our dignity, you bet our voice will definitely be heard and taken seriously. But alas ........!
And as you rightly posted this on our watsup " Col Idris, keep a sustaining fire through the media every now and again .....the attack should be maintained." It's fighting words like this that fire up your sprit to want to fight on . I am also thankful to the many senior officers who wrote in support of my writing. It's always easy to be critical of others and make snide remarks like the what I have highlighted.
The difficult part is to collect our thoughts in a shortest possible time and write something worthy of publication that can reach as many people as possible.
Never mind if we cannot change the world but that does not mean we should stop trying. I liken it to a baton run where we pass it on to the next runner with the crowd egging us on.
And lastly Engku , I have observed that over the last five decades that I had known you, you have lost none of the fire that burns in your belly. Warm Regards