Malaysia is a Garrison State–Fijian soldiers died in Vain



A few days ago I sent an old friend and a Ph. D colleague – Dr. James Anthony who now lives in Hawaii – a copy of a forum article on the sources of UMNO’s hegemony in the country. The article was written for Sahabat Rakyat, an NGO on the occasion of its 15th anniversary. See

Jim worked on urban politics in Malaysia for his dissertation and has kept up a keen interest in Malaysia. This is his sharp and chastening reply reproduced with his permission.Ending on a dismal note, Jim is among many foreign friends who are concerned about the train wreck happening to our beloved country.–Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Malaysia is a Garrison State–Fijian soldiers died in Vain

by James Anthony

Hegemony of this kind–or indeed any kind–is hard to dislodge with logic and appeals to reason.

In Malaysia there is a hardened (ossified is a better word), foundation of hegemonic systemic units in place and have been in place for close to six decades. That a while. Besides, consider the contextual political situation: For all intents and purposes UMNO’s long-standing position is that Malaysia is a Muslim country — all of the disinformation and blather and lip service to “democratic ideals” aside.

The Federal Treasury is UMNO’s piggy bank (bad metaphor for a so-called Muslim country). Deep pocket is a more value neutral metaphor. Old law of politics: Those who control the purse strings are effectively in control of the country. UMNO is not going to voluntarily give up on its stranglehold. In all likelihood UMNO will do whatever it can get away with to strengthen its stranglehold. People in power do not just give their power away to be nice and gracious. That is not the way the world works. You know that.

So what to do?

1.You keep talking about it as you are now doing and have been doing. Not much happens.

2. In a vague way reformers HOPE that something will happen to change things. HOPE IS NOT A PLAN

3. Any type of structural reform is not in the cards. You have a domestic army, stitched together from top to bottom with members of one ethnic group in control. Well armed and well-trained.

4. The Malaysian version of Islam is part of an Pan-Islamic movement very much on the move world-wide.

5. Push too much and what? –back to 1969?

6. If you expect too much from the Opposition you are headed for heartbreak. The Opposition is tied to the “system” — jobs, bread, money, some crumbs to distribute to followers.

Image result for Malay racists

You are on site, in the belly of the beast. Do you sense that the walls of Jericho are beginning to develop cracks, fissures? I do not sense that. The Malaysian elite is dug in. UMNO is dug in? The Judiciary is toothless, I think. There is no evidence from 1948 till now of the UMNO Malays giving in to anything–they are in power and intend to remain in power. I think they know that the Opposition, such as it is, –for want of a better term – is a limp penis.

Can Malaysia Be a Mature Democracy?

Malaysia does not act in its own best self interest by tenaciously clinging to anti human rights legislation that has been on its books since 1948. Malaysia needs to grow up and cast aside old myths and face new realities.

Malaysia’s repressive legislation, including the latest, does not enhance its standing in the world and — and this is of great importance — it also left-handedly taints Islam’s standing in the world. From the years of the ‘Emergency’ through the immediate post Emergency period when local government in both Kuala Lumpur and Penang were eviscerated by the then UMNO-MCA-MIC government (I know. I wrote a PhD dissertation on the subject based on CONFIDENTIAL files I pored over for more than a year). This slippery slide continued well into the tragic events of 1969 and on into the 21st century, Malaysia seems to be governed by sleight of hand and by double talk, worse than anything that Orwell could ever imagine.

Image result for Malay racists

Malaysia has become more of a Garrison State papered thinly over by paper-thin democratic forms which are symbolic and not much more.

Sad. Very sad. Malaysia’s assault on the human rights of its citizens makes it look shabby, cheap and unworthy of Islam’s great truths. Malaysia’s record of anti human rights legislation demeans and diminishes the best and the brightest of its citizens (and many others) and in that process demeans, diminishes and belittles its own image in the eyes of the world.

Image result for fijian soldiers british army

Hundreds of soldiers from the land of my birth (Fiji) fought in Malaysia’s jungles against freedom fighters dubbed “Communists” by the foreign regime which had been unceremoniously driven out by the Japanese at the outbreak of World War II. Fijians were told that they would be fighting to establish democracy in what was still then Malaya. Fijian soldiers fought and died for an empty promise. What they fought for was a lie. What you have in Malaysia today is anything but democracy. The big lie of the late 1940s is still a lie, a cancerous growth that has grown … and grown … and grown.

It is reasonable and plausible to argue that Malaysia has long been in the tightening grip of a religio-political-ethnic elite deeply committed to xenophobic religio-cultural–ethnic parochialism.

Image result for Najib and his kleptocrats

UMNO has the national government on a very short leash that has grown shorter over the years. Instruments that have had the net effect of diminishing human rights have been on the rise and continue to rise. Under these circumstances it appears that the national government can neither rule fairly nor govern in a way that remotely resembles democracy.

The instruments of accountability are weak, anemic might be a better word.. It might even be argued to good effect that the national government is running out of time. The national government might be well advised to do what train crossings advice: ‘Stop, Look, Listen.” There’s a train coming.

11 thoughts on “Malaysia is a Garrison State–Fijian soldiers died in Vain

  1. Political philosophy flies out the proverbial window when you are facing another very real window with very strong iron bars.

    For all our faults, Dr. Anthony, we like to think that democracy, (the genuine kind), in Malaysia is now in transition, a work in progress. When the forces of hegemony rear it’s purposeful ugly head, you can be sure the beneficiaries are loosing their grip.

    We have, ironically, pinned our national hopes for recovery on, (another irony), an old medical doctor to cure us of the very cancerous growth which he gave us in the first place. Puts a new meaning on Malaysia, (or rather its citizens), being a laughing stock. We truly deserve it.

    If only those dead Fijian soldiers could rise up and fight once more, to right the wrong of their cheated sacrifice.

  2. Well, not only the Fijians but youthful troops from Commonwealth countries were here during the height of the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960) and Confrontation with Indonesia (1962 to 1965). They too died without really knowing why and what they were fighting for. Some were in the teens.

    Local regiments consisting of Malays, Chinese and Indians soldiers had their fair share of fighting the terrorists and many died while some were maimed for life. Looks like their sacrifices were in vain after all.

    We are now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

  3. Absolutely, Tok Cik.. A very bad title, indeed. Didn’t quaff enough tuak, methinks.

    What exactly is the point of this piece?
    Dr Lim has a Fijian fren with a PhD – who repeats what we all know and experience daily..

    Exceptional Hubris. Of so called Dualistic intelligentsia.

    In the end – everyone dies in vain, no matter how many pre or post-nominal titles – except if you are able to contribute a new scientific/political/economic truism, start a new mainline religion or else display great literary or artistic genius. Then, it is not in vain but gain for humanity. Dying is never seen as a gain for anyone especially the deceased, ya?

  4. // Exceptional Hubris.
    Hubris or not, Layu-layu Melayu would continue to layu-layu until the following has been rectified.

    // Malaysia does not act in its own best self interest by tenaciously clinging to anti human rights legislation that has been on its books since 1948. Malaysia needs to grow up and cast aside old myths and face new realities.

    New reality:
    Until the term pendatang could carry a different meaning in Malaysia, it is of no interest for pendatang to align interest with the general economy, after being put into a bad light for half a century. This is not for pendatang’s sake, but really for the very survival of the nation. Bersatu/Pakatan/PAS/Amanah/DAP would fail to bring out any change to revert the Layulayu Melayu course.

  5. Swiss AG says the Saudi donation story is a lie. In most countries, developed or most developing ones, it would force a resignation much less the series of theft an subsequent power abuse.

    In fact, Najib do not rule by force or power, it’s by divide caused by Hadi’s PAS. This is why there is no deal possible for the opposition. Hadi’s PAS do not know the difference playing god and being men. There is no compromise with their dysfunctionality.

  6. Excellent overview. Thanks Dr. Anthony. Limp p____ can be revived with Indian kamagra. But need exceptional dosage for Malaysia. Malaysians are very thin skinned when it comes to criticism by foreigners. Another reason why we are so f_____-up!

  7. Malaysian Armed Forces Staff college has the distincition{ dubious?} of having Sitiveni Rabuka of Fiji, and Bashir of Sudan as their foriegn students. also had a few sups with them at the officers mess.
    Never forget the Fijian athletes and their rugby players …late Joe Lavula

  8. The title of the article is “Malaysia is a Garrison State….” What is a garrison state?

    “Garrison state means a state preserved by military power and where the military matters dominate the social, economic and political matters. It primarily serves its own need for military security and is formed mainly for preventing violence as opposed to other purposes.” (

    The UMNO government is preserved by “…a domestic army, stitched together from top to bottom with members of one ethnic group in control….” What about the private army of UMNO, the Malay gangsters? Isn’t it obvious why UMNO resisted all these years from drafting a “national army” to reflect the population composition of the nation? When push comes to shove, UMNO will not hesitate to repeat 1969. They own all the guns.

    And power starts from the barrel of the gun – the saying makes famous by Mao.

  9. //When push comes to shove, UMNO will not hesitate to repeat 1969. They own all the guns.

    Hopefully, the layu-layu Melayu would not forget that MO1 and UMNOb owns the economy also that a repeat of 1969 would only spill their rice bowl.

    Alas.. layu-layu sama-sama Melayu Bersih wanna waste a perfect opportunity to stay at home instead of getting sun burned.
    Stay at home and lepak on a working day is the modern day of salt march in today’s layu-sia.

    Stop giving MO1 a chance of self-coup lah.

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