Tengku Razaleigh: We were once ‘Malaysians’

August 1, 2010


Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah: We were once ‘Malaysians’

The following keynote speech was given by Gua Musang (Kelantan) Parliamentarian and former Malaysian Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at the 4th Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit (MSLS) on July 30, 2010.

I have played some small role in the life of this nation, but having been on the wrong side of one or two political fights with the powers-that-be, I am not as close to the young people of this country as I would hope to be.

History and the 8 o’clock news are written by the victors. In recent years, the government’s monopoly of the media has been destroyed by the technology revolution.

You could say I was also a member of the United Kingdom and Eire Council for Malaysian Students (UKEC). Well I was, except that I belonged to the predecessor of the UKEC, by more than 50 years, the Malayan Students Union of the UK and Eire. I led this organisation in 1958/59.

asli forum tengku razaleigh economy 150109 02I was then a student of Queen’s University at Belfast, as well as at Lincoln’s Inn. In a rather cooler climate than Kota Bharu’s, we campaigned for decolonisation. We demonstrated in Trafalgar Square and even in Paris. We made posters and participated in British elections.

Your invitation to participate in the MSLS was prefaced by an essay that calls for an intellectually informed activism. I congratulate you on this. The youth of today, you note, “will chart the future of Malaysia.” You say you “no longer want to be ignored and leave the future of our Malaysia at the hands of the current generation.” You “want to grab the bull by the horns… and have a say in where we go as a society and as a nation.”

I feel the same, actually. A lot of Malaysians feel the same. They are tired of being ignored and talked down to. You are right. The present generation in power has let Malaysia down. But also you cite two things as testimony of the importance of youth and of student activism to this country, the election results of 2008 and “the prime minister’s acknowledgement of the role of youth in the development of the country.”

So perhaps you are a little way yet from thinking for yourselves. The first step in “grabbing the bull by the horns” is not to require the endorsement of the prime minister, or any minister, for your activism. Politicians are not your parents. They are your servants. You don’t need a government slogan coined by a foreign PR agency to wrap your project in. You just go ahead and do it.

When I was a student, our newly independent country was already a leader in the post-colonial world. We were sought out as a leader in the Afro-Asian Conference that inaugurated the Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77.

The Afro-Asian movement was led by such luminaries as Zhou En Lai, Nehru, Kwame Nkrumah and Soekarno. Malaysians were seen as moderate leaders capable of mediating between the more radical leaders and the West. We were known for our moderation, good sense and reliability.

We were a leader in the Islamic world, as ourselves and as we were, without our leaders having to put up false displays of piety. His memory has been scrubbed out quite systematically from our national consciousness, so you might not know this or much else about him, but it was Tunku Abdul Rahman who established our leadership in the Islamic world by coming up with the idea of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) and making it happen.

tunku abdul rahmanUnder his leadership, Malaysia led the way in taking up the anti-apartheid cause in the Commonwealth and in the United Nations, resulting in South Africa’s expulsion from these bodies.

Tunku Abdul Rahman: His great integrity in service was clear to all

Here was a man at ease with himself, made it a policy goal that Malaysia be “a happy country”. He loved sport and encouraged sporting achievement among Malaysians. He was owner of many a fine race horses. He called a press conference with his stewards when his horse won at the Melbourne Cup.

He had nothing to hide because his great integrity in service was clear to all. Now we have religious and moral hypocrites who cheat, lie and steal in office, who propagate an ideology that shackled the education system for all Malaysians, while they send their own kids to elite academies in the West.

Days when we were on top

Speaking of football – you’re too young to have experienced the Merdeka Cup in the 60s and 70s. Teams from across Asia would come to play in Kuala Lumpur: teams such as South Korea and Japan, whom we defeated routinely.

We were one of the better sides in Asia. We won the bronze medal at the Asian Games in 1974 and qualified for the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Today our FIFA ranking is 157 out of 203 countries.

That puts us in the lowest quartile, below Maldives (149), the smallest country in Asia, with just 400,000 people living about 1.5 metres above sea level who have to worry that their country may soon be swallowed up by climate change. Here in Asean we are behind Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, whom we used to dominate, and now only one spot above basketball-playing Philippines.

The captain of our illustrious 1970’s side was Soh Chin Aun and we had R Arumugam, Isa Bakar, Santokh Singh, James Wong and Mokhtar Dahari. They were heroes whose names rolled off the tongues of our schoolchildren as they copied them on the school field. It wasn’t about being the best in the world, but about being passionate and united and devoted to the game.

It was the same in badminton, except at one time we were the best in the world. I remember Wong Peng Soon, the first Asian to win the All-England Championship, and then just dominated it throughout the 1950. Back home every kid who played badminton in every little kampung wanted to call himself Wong Peng Soon.

There was no tinge of anybody identifying themselves exclusively as Chinese, Malays or Indian. Peng Soon was a Malayan hero. Just like each of our football heroes. Now we do not have an iota of that feeling. Where has it all gone?

Capital flight troubling

I don’t think it’s mere nostalgia that makes us think there was a time when the sun shone more brightly upon Malaysia. I bring up sport because it has been a mirror of our more general performance as a nation.

When we were at ease with who we were and didn’t need slogans to do our best together, we did well. When race and money entered our game, we declined. The same applies to our political and economic life.

Soon after independence, we were already a highly successful developing country. We had begun the infrastructure building and diversification of our economy that would be the foundation for further growth. We carried out an import-substitution programme that stimulated local productive capacity.

From there, we started an infrastructure build-up that enabled a diversification of the economy leading to rapid industrialisation. We carried out effective programmes to raise rural income and help the landless with programmes such as Felda.

Our achievements in achieving growth with equity were recognised around the world. Our peer group in economic development were South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and we led the pack. I remember we used to send technical consultants to advise the South Koreans.

Bmalaysia stock exchange market klse 141008 05y the late 90s, however, we had fallen far behind this group and were competing with Thailand and Indonesia. Today, according to the latest World Investment Report, FDI into Malaysia is at a 20-year low.

We are entering the peer group of Cambodia, Burma and the Philippines as an investment destination. Thailand, despite a month-long siege of the capital, attracted more FDI than we did last year. Indonesia and Vietnam far outperform us, not as a statistical blip but consistently. Soon we shall have difficulty keeping up with the Philippines.

This, I believe, is called relegation. If we take into account FDI outflow, the picture is even more depressing. Last year, we received US$1.38 billion in investments but US$8.04 billion flowed out. We are the only country in Southeast Asia that has suffered net FDI outflow.

I am not against outward investment. It can be a good thing for the country. But an imbalance on this scale indicates capital flight, not mere investment overseas.

Time to wake up

Without a doubt, Malaysia is slipping. Billions have been looted from this country, and billions more are being siphoned out as our entire political structure crumbles. Yet we are gathered here in comfort, in a country that still seems to ‘work’ – most of the time. This is due less to good management than to the extraordinary wealth of this country.

You were born into a country of immense resources, both natural, cultural and social. We have been wearing down this advantage with mismanagement and corruption. With lies, tall tales and theft. We have a political class unwilling or unable to address the central issue of the day because they have grown fat and comfortable with a system built on lies and theft.

It is time to wake up. That waking up can begin here, right here, at this conference. Not tomorrow or the day after but today. So let me, as I have the honour of opening this conference, suggest the following:

1) Overcome the urge to have our hopes for the future endorsed by the prime minister. He will have retired, and I’ll be long gone, when your future arrives. The shape of your future is being determined now.

2) Resist the temptation to say “in line with” when we do something. Your projects, believe it or not, don’t have to be in line with any government campaign for them to be meaningful. You don’t need to polish anyone’s apple. Just get on with what you plan to do.

3) Do not put a lid on certain issues as ‘sensitive’ just because someone said they are. Or it is against the ‘social contract’. Or it is ‘politicisation’.

You don’t need to have your conversation delimited by the hyper-sensitive among us. Sensitivity is often a club people use to hit each other with. Reasoned discussion of contentious issues builds understanding and trust. Stress test your ideas.

4) It’s not ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ to ask for an end to having politics, economic policy, education policy and everything and the kitchen sink determined by race. It’s called growing up.

5) Don’t let the politicians you have invited here talk down to you.

Don’t let them

Don’t let them tell you how bright and ‘exuberant’ you are, that you are the future of the nation, etc. If you close your eyes and flow with their flattery, you have safely joined the caravan, a caravan taking the nation down a sink hole.

If they tell you the future is in your hands, kindly request that they hand that future over first. Ask them how come the youngest member of our cabinet is 45? Our Merdeka cabinet had an average age below 30.

You’re not the first generation to be bright. Mine wasn’t too stupid. But you could be the first generation of students and young graduates in 50 years to push this nation through a major transformation. And it is a transformation we need desperately.

You will be told that much is expected of you, much has been given to you and so forth. This is all true. Actually much has also been stolen from you. Over the last twenty five years, much of the immense wealth generated by our productive people and our vast resources has been looted. This was supposed to have been your patrimony.

The uncomplicated sense of belonging fully, wholeheartedly, unreservedly, to this country, in all its diversity, that has been taken from you. Our sense of ourselves as Malaysians, a free and united people, has been replaced by a tale of racial strife and resentment that continues to haunt us. The thing is, this tale is false.

Reclaim your history

The most precious thing you have been deprived of has been your history. Someone of my generation finds it hard to describe what must seem like a completely different country to you now. Malaysia was not born in strife but in unity. Our independence was achieved through a demonstration of unity by the people in supporting a multiracial government led by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

That show of unity, demonstrated first through the municipal elections of 1952 and then through the Alliance’s landslide victory in the elections of 1955, showed that the people of Malaya were united in wanting their freedom. We surprised the British, who thought we could not do this.

Today we are no longer as united as we were then. We are also less free. I don’t think this is a coincidence. It takes free people to have the psychological strength to overcome the confines of a racialised worldview. It takes free people to overcome those politicians bent on hanging on to power gained by racialising every feature of our life including our football teams.

Hence while you are at this conference, let me argue, that as an absolute minimum, we should call for the repeal of unjust and much abused Acts of Parliament which are reversals of freedoms that we won at Merdeka.

I ask you in joining me in calling for the repeal of the ISA (Internal Security Act) and the OSA (Official Secrets Act). These draconian laws have been used, more often than not, as political tools rather than instruments of national security. They create a climate of fear.

I ask you to join me in calling for the repeal of the Printing and Publications Act, and above all, the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA). I don’t see how you can pursue your student activism with such freedom and support in the UK and Eire while forgetting that your brethren at home are deprived of their basic rights of association and expression by the UUCA. The UUCA has done immense harm in dumbing down our universities.

We must have freedom as guaranteed under our constitution. Freedom to assemble, associate, speak, write, move. This is basic. Even on matters of race and even on religious matters we should be able to speak freely, and we shall educate each other.

Make BN multiracial

It is time to realise the dream of Hussein Onn and the spirit of the Alliance and of Tunku Abdul Rahman. That dream was one of unity and a single Malaysian people. They went as far as they could with it in their time. Instead of taking on the torch, we have reversed course. The next step for us as a country is to move beyond the infancy of race-based parties to a non-racial party system.

Our race-based party system is the key political reason why we are a sick country, declining before our own eyes, with money fleeing and people telling their children not to come home after their studies.

So let us try to take 1Malaysia seriously. Millions have been spent putting up billboards and adding the term to every conceivable thing. We even have ‘Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia’. Can’t take a normal holiday anymore. This is all fine.

Now let us see if it means anything. Let us see the government of the day lead by example. 1Malaysia is empty because it is propagated by a government supported by a racially-based party system that is the chief cause of our inability to grow up in our race relations.

Our inability to grow up in our race relations is the chief reason why investors, and we ourselves, no longer have confidence in our economy. The reasons why we are behind Maldives in football, and behind the Philippines in FDI, are linked.

So let us take 1Malaysia seriously, and convert Barisan Nasional into a party open to all citizens. Let it be a multiracial party open to direct membership. Pakatan Rakyat will be forced to do the same or be left behind the times. Then we shall have the vehicles for a two party, non-race-based system.

If UMNO, MIC or MCA are afraid of losing supporters, let them get their members to join this new multiracial party. Pakatan Rakyat should do the same. Nobody need feel left out. UMNO members can join en masse. The Hainanese Kopitiam Owners’ Association can join whichever party they want, or both parties en masse if they like.

We can maintain our cherished civil associations, however we choose to associate. But we drop all communalism when we compete for the ballot. When our candidates stand for elections, let them ever after stand only as Malaysians, for better or worse.


36 thoughts on “Tengku Razaleigh: We were once ‘Malaysians’

  1. I read his speech twice and watched it on malaysiakini TV. I think his message is great. I can’t believe that he said all these things — thank you, Ku Li.

    But there is one thing that I disagree with, that I think will never happen. The way things are going today, I can’t believe that UMNO will ever become multi-racial. With Perkasa and Muhyiddin out there — and with Hisham meeting with people who cut off cow heads and throw them on Hindu temples — and the Government telling Christians that they can’t use the word Allah — I can’t believe that UMNO will become a multi-racial party. And I also can’t believe that people from other races and religions will want to join UMNO — except for a handful who see it as a money-making opportunity.

    The UMNO that Ku Li remembers from the good old days does not exist anymore. And I really don’t believe that it can become that way in the future. So I wonder why this grand old gentleman continues to hope and dream, and to stay with UMNO?

  2. Why Ku Li still stays with UMNO is beyond my imagination. Is he seriously thinking that he alone can transform UMNO? Why all these big talks when he himself knows that nothing will ever happen? My sympathy and best wishes to him.

    How can one change UMNO? How can one change DAP? Malaysia is so divided between races that in my own humble opinion, I think it’ll take many many years before malaysians will start trusting each other again. Of course everything has to start somewhere but as long as we have groups like Perkasa which is like a thorn in the flesh, we’ll never reach the trust and harmony point. My grandfather who was a chinese muslim had been a really ardent supporter of UMNO. The old UMNO that is. He had always held Tunku Abdul Rahman in high esteem because of his respect to people of other races. Those days of UMNO had gone during the days of Dr M. Now high ranking officials can just get away after making offensive racist remarks.


  3. Ambassador Malott,

    I know this man. We used to drink and dine together. His private is different from his public persona. He is a good man. He is intelligent, very hard working and a visionary leader. Malaysians across a broad spectrum could identify with him. He would have made a good Prime Minister.

    When the economy dipped in 1984, I left for England and while there I learned he and Musa Hitam (another friend and mentor) came together (an unlikely duo because they were political rivals) to take on Mahathir – and lost. That was a real turning point in his career from which he never really recovered. Had Mahathir not been the vindictive person he always is Tengku Razaleigh would have made a return. As it turned out his ‘return’ was short lived; and I believe he knew fate had dealt him a final blow.

    I just do not see him leaving UMNO and joining another party. It speaks well to his integrity. Not the kind of man to leave a sinking ship just because it is sinking.

  4. All that TRH can do is to pass on the torch… It is now up to the current generation to take on the torch and correct the mistakes of his generation…

  5. It’s just a privilaged person doing another round of “feel good ” empty talk. The real problem in Malaysian society is the increasing income gap between the elites and marginalised masses. The feudal Malays/ Bumiputra elites will always try to find a way to strike a deal with entrenched non-Malay business interest groups to maintain their respective pre-eminent positions in society. Malaysia still is a developing society and still a long way to go to developed status with a more equitable social system. Till then the masses will continue to be given doses of feel good platitudes from elites .!!

  6. Ambassador Malott,

    I had lunch twice recently with Tengku Razaleigh, one at his White House with Dominic Puthucheary and the other at the Millennium Hotel with Azmi Khalid and Tengku Azlan Shah. I confirm Mongkut Bean’s view that it would take some herculean effort to persuade the Tengku to quit UMNO. He is trying to be the voice of reason and probity within UMNO and still believes that reform is possible because UMNO realises that its business as usual model is not sustainable.

    Let us look at the alternative Pakatan Rakyat. I got the impression from the Tengku himself that like many Malaysians, he felt that PR especially PKR is not ready to take over Putrajaya but he recognises that the people want change and may give PR a shot at governing the entire government.

    As far as he concerned, I think the Tengku will stick with the party, although he will be in UMNO Baru (which was created by Mahathir after the courts declared the original UMNO to be illegal in 1987). I respect him for his position he has taken as of now. But remember everything is possible in politics.–Din Merican

  7. As long as Ku Li stays in UMNO, he can entertain the dreams of becoming party President and PM.
    So stay put he will.
    He’s realistic enough to know there’s no place for him in PKR.
    Even if there is, he also knows PKR will not be the ruling party. not in many years to come or in his life-time.

  8. Ku Li has characters, intelligent and material to be come PM of Malaysia. But luck is not with him. He loves UMNO too much.

  9. If the BN coalition had been allowed to evolve “naturally”, we would now have had a country fully ready for real multi-racial institutions especially political parties. But because UMNO has stunted this growth, we now have to face the fact that. politically speaking at least, we are back to square one, i.e. we shall need separate parties (for quite a longish period) in an old-style Alliance system and start from scratch with shared power.

    The opposition has, as one of its pillars, let the view be put out that it will bring in a multi-racial Malaysia almost immediately they enter Putra Jaya. Now the Tengku seems to be saying the same thing. Both are mistaken. Good intentions do not equate workability.

    Power sharing is still the only option available if we wish continued political stability.

  10. In my heart, I hope that Ku Li stubborn remains in UMNO to ‘change it from within’ or whatever crap excuse they come up with, but in reality I can see through it that he believes in this ‘ketuanan Melayu’ bullshit which means that non-Malays will forever be subservient to the tyranny of the (small) majority simply because they have the gun (read, the Army & Police). We don’t judge a person by his mere (cheap) words, but by his actions. Enough said.

  11. Imagine a dog with maggots wound on her head. Jumping into the deepest river or climbing the highest mountain will not cure the pain.

    Clean up the wound and removed all the maggots, that’s the solution for her to up and running again.

    Think about it?

  12. Tean…Can a racial group constrained by so many feudal/ pseudo religious strictures provide leadership to a country in a fast changing world ?. Is this the head full of maggots you are refering to ? Perhaps this is part of the reason Singapore Malays are doing well..no maggots and no hang -ups !!

  13. and we are still Malaysians today and forever unless one want to denounce oneself of being Malaysians and becomes…..maybe Din Merican want to become a Singaporean….

  14. Ilham..we are all Malaysians but Malay leadership need to adept to the fast changing world and stop hoodwinking the Malay masses in order for the country to continue to progess .!!

  15. Give a shot at PR? Yup! Of course, we ‘the people’, gonna suffer for a while, while these opposition clowns get their act (pubertal pains and all that) together. A bicaremal system no matter what – that’s evolution! Can’t afford to to go back to a divisive, hopeless governance since the Alliance has long been supplanted by pirates, carpetbaggers and maggots.

    Tean – absolutely right! We call that festering wound excision! It cuts deep. Walter, i think tean is looking at the bigger picture – it’s not Be-end that is the maggoty mutt (actually they are less) – the whole of Malaysia is howling! Investor confidence is at an all time low, especially with our own local boys.

  16. Tengku Razaleigh, a desperate “poltica; pariah” who is irrelavant now.
    Tengku Razaleigh is a confuse man.
    You dreamt of becoming UMNO president and subsequently PM of Malaysia is a pipe dream.

    Tengku Razaleigh was a Malaysian before but not “anymore” now.

    Good attempt Tengku for trying confuse Malaysians and a futile attempt to win over the non-Malays trust before joining PKR.

    Finally Tengku Razaleigh is a man without principle like Din Merican, Anwar Ibrahim, Zaid Ibrahim and the likes….

  17. Dear oh dear, it does get a bit tiring and boring to read and hear of the memories of the past. How there was no race distinctions or differences and “We must have freedom as guaranteed under our constitution. Freedom to assemble, associate, speak, write, move” blah blah.. Didn’t Rais Yatim get his Quack degree talking about freedom of speech. Sometimes I feel that the opportunity the Blogs have given us is futile in that all that happens is we get it of our chest

    Why now? these people who now champion these causes’ were in the seats of power who could have made a point at that time so that this country would not be in the position we are in today. Its easy to champion the cause now when one is out of the mainstream of power.

    The test is when the people who champion this cause and if they come int power will they effect the necessary changes or will they then give excuses and assign reasons why it cant be done.

    I am quite disillusioned of the PR opposition and loosing faith in them Any way the 13 GE shortly due either late this year or next year will be the 13the election and one where the unheard will give rise to be heard. Let the Almighty have his say, come the 13th GE.

  18. There was a time when we were all Malaysians . That was the time when people like General Tok Cik would assemble the best team possible for a mission , without even thinking of their race.

    But in the circumstances of Mahathir’s legacy , i think the generals we have today , are not even capable of assembling the ” best team “. Instead they are more likely to sacrifice the non malays or sarawakians or sabahans under their command in the name of ketuanan melayu and islam. This is want scares me the most .

  19. salmiah hassan

    Wasn’t it Anwar Ibrahim who made us less Malaysians.
    He’s the one who tore us asunder. Pitting Malays against Malays and Malays against non-Malays.
    I fault Mahathir for taking him into UMNO.
    Anwar shold be left to languish as Abim supremo and principal of Yayasan Anda.
    Days when he wore chapal and kurta dan not Zegna suits like now.
    Then at least he stood for sometihing. Now……hmmm.

  20. “We must have freedom as guaranteed under our constitution. Freedom to assemble, associate, speak, write, move” blah blah.. ”

    If you are a student of the country’s Constitution, you’d know that our Constitution guarantees no such thing. Otherwise subsidiary legislation introduced since Independence would have been declared null and void as being ultra vires the Constitution.

  21. “Didn’t Rais Yatim get his Quack degree talking about freedom of speech.”

    Quack degree? He graduated in law from the University of Singapore in the late 60s.

  22. Thanks, Salmiah for your thoughts. Yeah, I could assemble the best fighting men for a mission then but today it’s a different ball game. Unfortunately, many of these generals were my subordinates and students once upon a time.

  23. It is unfortunate the Tengku did not see the need for integration when he was at the helm of Petronas, when he had the authority and power to do the right things at Petronas.

    Neither did Anwar, when he was the Education Minister.

    Now that they are on the losing side, integration seems important, but the racial virus is already ingrained in our education system.

    Our entire government is one bent in ensuring everything goes Malay.

    The only solution is either a transformation of PR or a new political party. The Tengku can help Malaysians integrate politically by forming such a new party. But clearly the Tengku’s loyalty to UMNO is more important than Malaysia. Or perhaps the need to be a leader than just an alsoran is the barrier to the Tengku in joining PR.

    Political is the seed for the true independence of our country from the corrupt.

    Raja Petra has fled the country. Saudara Anwar is going back to jail. People like Bean has given up on the future our country. Kathy, Din Merican and the notable intellectuals here are those that could help to ensure the planting of this seed, so that its fruits will be enjoyed by our children and future Malaysians. This is a Malay seed that would free the Malays from the shackles of corruption, racism, patronage and islamic extremism.

    Sadly, our aspirations WILL remain a dream, like a seed that could never be planted. No fruits will come of it. Our future is still a divided country destined to be the Zimbabwe of Asia. Perhaps Malaysia is meant for people like Sayang Bangsa, and I should just accept the facts like many of the Malaysian disporia in Singapore, Australia, England, etc.; it is better to be a stranger in a strange land that to be a stranger in his homeland.

    After all, even a Black American President has decided that it is better to be in good terms with the racist government than it is to support an idealist opposition leader. Who are we, the pawns to make any noise about it?

  24. James do you see the mindset of Ilham and Sayang Bangsa. These are the people I faced in Malaysia.Since I was in school. How do we change them? How? They are convinced the big bad wolf is out there and by changing government their ‘priveleged way of life” will be taken away from them. Their “priveleged way of life” is a big european mercedes but the roads have pot holes in them. So how do we change this phenomena? Their privelege way of life is the Twin towers whilst children in Kuantan still play in the drains where there is also toilets over them straight into the drain but no one sees this. Their privelege way of life is the biggest ,the longest, more shopping complexes . How do we change this. Dont you see they need to go down before they can come up again. People like Anwar Ibrahim had the chance to change things in Government but they didnt only after a tragedy they realise these things. I asked him why didnt he do anything when he was in power, his answer was if you vote for me now I will change it(?)Now after so long,the cleansing of Malaysia will need to go through before they can change.

  25. “You will be told that much is expected of you, much has been given to you and so forth. This is all true. Actually much has also been stolen from you. Over the last twenty five years, much of the immense wealth generated by our productive people and our vast resources has been looted. This was supposed to have been your patrimony.”

    YM Tengku Razaleigh

    Which part of this sentence dont we understand or disagree with?

  26. Kathy,
    I place no great sentimental value on Anwar Ibrahim, but I see in him a great Malay leader who seems to be genuinely interested in fostering a united Malaysia which is inclusive of all races and religions. Now whether I am a fool for believing in him is still to be seen, but at least I give him the benefit of the doubt, for after all, he has gone through some of the worst treatments any one of us could even dare to think of in our nightmares.

  27. Dear James

    “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” as political philosopher Antonio Gramsci said.

    You wrote:
    “Raja Petra has fled the country. Saudara Anwar is going back to jail. People like Bean has given up on the future our country. Kathy, Din Merican and the notable intellectuals here are those that could help to ensure the planting of this seed, so that its fruits will be enjoyed by our children and future Malaysians. This is a Malay seed that would free the Malays from the shackles of corruption, racism, patronage and islamic extremism.
    Sadly, our aspirations WILL remain a dream, like a seed that could never be planted. No fruits will come of it. Our future is still a divided country destined to be the Zimbabwe of Asia. Perhaps Malaysia is meant for people like Sayang Bangsa, and I should just accept the facts like many of the Malaysian disporia in Singapore, Australia, England, etc.; it is better to be a stranger in a strange land that to be a stranger in his homeland”.

    This is why a knowledge of history is important! Change has occurred even in the (seemingly) most hopeless of situations e.g.
    apartheid South Africa, East European police states that fell like nine pins in the late 1980s and early 1990s, South Korean military dictatorship, etc

    If enough ordinary people say “No! No more of this!”, even repressive regimes will find it difficult to survive.

    Raja Petra has fled the country — he may not be physically present but his voice is as influential as ever!
    Saudara Anwar is going back to jail — but travesties of justice will upset fair-minded people and get more and more of us to join the movement for reform and change. Other leaders will also spring up to take his place.

    About 50% of Malays have rejected UMNO/BN’s corruption and opportunistic stoking of racism as shown by voting patterns. Is this not cause for optimism?

    Malaysian diaspora — history reminds us of how political exiles and emigrants have influenced the destinies of their countries of birth e.g. Overseas Chinese, Sun Yat Sen and the demise of the Ching dynasty; overseas-educated anti-colonial leaders and successful decolonization of Asia and Africa; Chilean & Argentine political exiles and the ending of military dictatorships/return of democracy; ANC political exiles and the end of apartheid in South Africa; etc

    In other words, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic!

  28. Yes Barry, I dont disagree that he is perhaps a way out from the present system indeed the nation deserves at least to try. We must not stop fighting for our lives, our very existence.Against the grain should be a way of life. I am observing that ommission to act has led another 20 years added on to the recovery of the nation.

  29. “I should just accept the facts like many of the Malaysian disporia in Singapore, Australia, England, etc.; it is better to be a stranger in a strange land that to be a stranger in his homeland” – james – August 2, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Yes, like some who would say
    “It is better to be a 2nd class citizen in a strange land by your choice but at least you are accorded almost equal rights than to be a 2nd class citizen in your own tanah ayer yet be treated like ‘beggar and prostitute’ just by accident of birth that you are not in the same colour as those in UMNO”

  30. Our children and our Adults more so should learn of our History going way back to over 2000 years. Not the one concocted for the school children abnd hand fed of a history that was supposed to have begun when the Hindi Prince ran away from the Indonesian archipelago to set up a kampong unit in then some forested land on a peninsula jutting out of Asia.

    Our children should know the history of nearly every country in the world just like we knew them at school fifty years ago although the versions were a bit British polished to our present taste. But at least we knew of the Romans, the Persians, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Bactrians, the Indians, the Chinese Empires, the Huns, the Mongols, the Moors, the Ottomans, Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Pericles, Darius, Xerxes, the Prophets in the Old Testament, the Gita, the Mahabharata, I’Chien, Confucius, Lao Tze, Taoism, Zorasterism, Mithraism, Suleiman the Great, Sallehuddin or Saladin and King Richard the Lion Heart, Baghdad and Aladdin and the Magic Carpet, the Illiad, Perseus and the Golden Fleece, the Imperial Guptas, Ashoka the Great, Suriavarman of Cambodia, the Majapahits, etc. by the time we left school at Form Five.

    History broadens the mind and brings us into the proper perspective of things and on how the world and Man operate. Without them, our children become fodder to the religious fanatics and their political masters.

    Where does our present school children stand? Led by the hand and made to pass examinations diluted to the taste with Lecturers being coerced to pass everyone.

    The recent abominable treatment of the Law Lecturer who refused to pass more than 100 law students is evidence in itself that there are still Malays in this land who have their heads straight and have not stuck it into the sand like Ostritches..

  31. I said earlier that Malaysia appears to be a failed experiment in democracy and one that has its roots in the 50s. To that I would like to add a caveat.

    In the 50s the political situation facing Southeast Asian countries was very different. We were facing the threat of communism and the fear was that countries in this south eastern corner of Asia would fall like dominoes to communism. The country’s leadership under Tunku embraced the western form of democracy with the enthusiasm of a child who found himself suddenly in a candy store. But there was also a will to make it work. And for a while the experiment seems to be working. That will seems to dissipate as the years go by as the model we chose for ourselves was like no other. Our critics said we would never survive an experiment in nation building and that we would go the way India went. They were proven wrong mostly. But in a very convoluted sense perhaps they were right as Singapore became an independent republic. And after the fourth prime minister, we are left with the only the trimmings of parliamentary democracy but not its substance. Whither goes the will?

    Today through a policy of attrition, the country is losing its middle class, a process starting with the young and the talented and the resourceful looking for governments other than their own which best appreciates the fruits of their labor. Now any student of democracy and the emergence of nation states would know that no democracy could thrive without a strong middle class. Strength here being measured in numbers. It is politically destabilizing as the struggle that would emerge is a class one between the rich and the poor. Now throw in race as you would a monkey wrench to see if the machinery would grind to a halt. That is how volatile it is.

    The jury is still out.

  32. Ku Li, Thank you for such great words and thoughts. But tak guna lah Ku Li tulis ayat ayat ni dalam bahasa orang putih dan hanya pos kat internet…How about having your views printed in Utusan and Berita Harian and all the other media whereby they get read (hipefully understood) by 60% of the population?

    Failing which, its akin to shouting to the heavily logged hills in Ulu kelantan lah.

  33. Tengku Razaleigh was the finance minister who succeeded Tun Tan Siew Sin in the portfolio in the aftermath of May 13 1969.

    This I remember as much as a six year old bot. His responsibilities were heavy, because the Malaysian economy was simply yanked out its normal course, and shunted towards an uncertain future in the madness the two NEPs. It could have collapsed, if not handled competently. It did not, and the boat sailed on.

    If one regards the late Tun Tan Siew Sin, as the naval architect that drew up financial plans for the Malaysian boat, then it is only logical to see Tengku Razaleigh as the boat builder and launching the boat on its maiden voyage. Today, we see a patchy and leaking overcrowded noisy boat, and for a long time it has sailed on without Tengku Razaleigh. Stranded on the shore he is, he safe on dry land.

    It is completely opposite for the boat. Whilst the Tengku is safe ashore, he can see the ‘Malaysian’ boat wobbling perilously in the high seas, but his shouts of warning are always drowned by louder bigger voices. Nevertheless, he still shouts though he knows nobody from the boat listens, particularly the crew.

    Now, the boat in once again nearing shore, and is just as wobbly as ever, making all sorts of signal. The occupants of the boat is signalling to Tengku Razaleigh for help and advice. The question is “why now?” and should the Tengku help the passengers and crew of the boat? Maybe, he would like to help the people, but not the crew and there is no guarantee that the crew will not abandon ‘boat’ before the innocent passengers do. Must Razaleigh save the passengers first, and inevitably rescue the crew too which is not his main concern.

    The coming by-election for a vacant Kelantan state seat will bring forth the answer. How can Tengku Razaleigh do his ‘magic’ this time? It is no secret that Tengku Razaleigh has a big axe to grind with current federal government over the oil revenues from Kelantan – a state controlled by PAS. Tengku Razaleigh officially belongs to UMNO and BN, but is relatively independent of the BN or UMNO whip in parliament.
    Tengku Razaleigh is the best Finance Minister of that period; he was young, intelligent and dynamic, but politically naive. He allowed Mahathir to outwit and checkmate him. I met him recently at his place for lunch, and we were together at ISEAS Regional Economic Forum in January, 2010 where he delivered an excellent speech (go to the archive in this blog and you will find it). He believes that it is possible to reform UMNO. It is this belief that keeps him going. –Din Merican

    Tengku Razaleigh has the best of both worlds, and there is no reason for him to jeoperdise his current position. Therefore, it implies he should just stand aside, and let the mallee spew its fury in the small Kelantan town’s by-election. On the other hand, this is his grand chance to make an extensive repair of the boat, and maybe this time, it will sail with him in it.

    If Tengku Razaleigh choses not to participate on BN’s side, he will be very endeared by PAS, and maybe he will be hailed as a hero to most of Kelantan’s Malay population on the basis of righteousness. It would be well to remember that Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali won his MP seat on a PAS ticket, and this ever since has been an embarrassment of sorts for PAS when Ibrahim Ali went independent. The Kelantan PAS cannot stand another embarassment.

    It seems time has come to redeem the loss-of-face for PAS if PAS can convince Tengku Razaleigh to remain neutral in the up-and-coming storm.

    This time, it is not Robinson Crusoe that needs help for he is safe and dry though stranded on an island. The “Pirates of the Carribean” are in serious trouble because their leaky boat is in the middle of a hurricane.

    Should Robison Crusoe allow the “Pirates of the Carribean” land on his beautiful island, and by sheer number and youth may one day overrule Crusoe in the name of democracy?

    I do not think Crusoe will be interested in the jewels and gold pieces in the hold of the boat. Maybe the “Pirates of the Carribean” should jettison the jewels and gold pieces into the tumultuous waters, and their boat will float more easily, and then they may not need to go ashore to seek Crusoe’s help.

  34. Yes, he may have been but at what costs? He may have saved the country from disaster and was so busy that he did not have much degree of freedom or time for his political future.

    Mahathir may have been smarter to avoid the difficult financial portfolio when he was on the way up.

    I read the news an hour ago that he will be heading the by-election campaign in Kelantan. I must assume this is true.

    It may the last chance for UMNO or BN, as if Tengku Razaleign wishes to pay his final morsel of gratitude to his commrades in the BN – like they say for old time sake.

    This does not guarantee come the next GE, he will stick with the BN for he has finished redeeming his debt with the Kelantan by-election. BN and UMNO should take his agreeing to lead the campaign as panacea to their problems.

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