Malaysia: During the Japanese Occupation, there were No UMNO Malays

October 6, 2015

Malaysia : During  the Japanese Occupation, there were No UMNO Malays

by Dr M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, Californa

M. Bakri MusaThe Japanese Occupation briefly interrupted British colonial rule. Japanese troops landed in Kota Baru in the early morning of December 8, 1941, and surrendered some 43 months later. That was only a blink in our history but to those who suffered through that terrible period, it was eternity. As brutal as it was, Malays as a culture and community survived.

There was one significant but not widely noted disruption and humiliation of Malay culture during that period. The Japanese, despite their reverence for their own Sun God Emperor, had little use or respect for Malay sultans. At least the British maintained the facade of respect even though those sultans were essentially colonial puppets.

The colonials saw in the institution of Malay sultans an effective means of indirect rule. The British knew full well the reverence Malays had for our sultans. The British must have learned a thing or two from observing kampong (village) boys herding their kerbaus (water buffaloes). Pierce a ring through the lead buffalo’s nose and then even a toddler could effectively control the herd by pulling on the rope tied to that lead beast’s ring.

That essentially was the British approach to controlling the Malay herd; pierce a ring through their sultan’s nose. The rope may be of silk and the ring of gold, but the underlying dynamics are the same.

The Japanese on the other hand totally ignored the sultans. They did not even bother going through a formal ceremony of “de-recognizing” the sultans. The surprise was not how quickly and easily the sultans ceded their power, rather how unceremoniously those sultans lost their honor and prestige among their own subjects.

I once saw a documentary shown in the village by the Information Department about the royal installation of the first Agong. He happened to be the Yang di Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, my state. The next morning I overheard a group of Malay women chatting with my mother. They were making fun of the pompous ceremony depicted in that film.

Those villagers did not see a Queen as the rest of the country did. Instead they saw their former fishing mate made pretty and regal. They remembered her only as a woman wrapped in her wet tattered sarong arguing over a fishing spot in the river during the Occupation. Neither pretty nor regal! My mother remembered her as particularly inept with her tanggok (fishing net). If not for the generosity of fellow villagers, the future queen and her husband would have starved during the Occupation.

Najib Tipu MelayuThe No 1 UMNO Malay

There was something else amazing about those shared fishing trips my mother and the other villagers had with the future queen, and that was the obvious absence of royal fuss or protocol. Only a few months before the Japanese invasion, those members of the royalty could with a click of their fingers command a villager to do their bidding. He would then have to stop whatever he was doing, stoop low, crawl towards the raja and express what a great honor it was to be a slave of the sultan! And if he were to inadvertently make eye contact with the sultan, may Allah have mercy on him for the sultan certainly would not.

All that royal pomp and ceremony together with other elaborate palace rituals vanished overnight under the Japanese. The remarkable thing was, and the villagers did not fail to notice this, how quickly those former royals adapted to their new plebian status! They were not above bickering over a coconut or their favorite fishing hole.

The Japanese also had a profound effect on the behavior of ordinary Malays, especially the youths. Once as a youngster a few years after the war, my father and I were strolling in the village when we encountered a bunch of unemployed Malay boys hanging around and making a nuisance of themselves. Behind them was an abandoned field covered with overgrown brush.

My father commented that such a scene would have been unthinkable during the war. Those idle youths would have been conscripted and sent to work on the infamous Death Railway in Burma, never to return. So everyone, especially able-bodied young men, knew better than to loiter. Likewise the owners of idle but otherwise tillable land; they risked being punished and their land confiscated.

Yes, the Japanese did all those terrible things, scaring young men to go into hiding. However, boys will be boys; they will defy authorities despite the cruelty of the punishments. Indeed if you keep the young repressed for too long, they will eventually blow up, as we saw in Egypt and Tunisia recently, and what Malaysia is now experiencing.

The Japanese were smart enough to go beyond simply meting out cruel punishments. They set up many vocational training centers and those youths eagerly enrolled. Whether that was out of passion for learning and acquiring useful skills or merely fear of being caught idle, I know not. Perhaps both! Whatever it was, they became highly skilled.

My cousin, an unemployed teacher during the war, took up carpentry. He became sufficiently accomplished to build for his family a fairly decent house. Another villager became a tailor, and he continued his business after the war. Yet a third became a radio repairman and later expanded into heavy equipment, a skill he learned from the Japanese. All those young men became productive, each with their own enterprises. There were no GLCs or a benevolent government ready to employ them; they started their own businesses.

UMNO MalayThe Fun Loving Malay

As revealed in a recent History Channel documentary, P. Ramlee’s talent was first discovered and honed while attending a Japanese Naval College in Penang. To “catch” these young men, the Japanese used the ruse of giving out free movie tickets. After the movie those young Malays were then led to waiting trucks to be sorted according to their abilities. Young Ramlee was fortunate not to be sent to work on the Death Railway. That was a tribute to the Japanese skill in spotting talent.

During the Japanese Occupation every square inch of tillable land was cultivated. Even poor soil was tilled, to grow the hardy ubi kayu (tapioca), a cheap but not very good source of starch and calorie. Consumed too much and you would get beri-beri from Vitamin B deficiency. Similarly, every inch of the rice field was cultivated. Had the Japanese discovered short-season rice then, there would have been double and triple plantings per year.

Malays worked very hard then; there were no “lazy natives” despite all the produce going to the Japanese. The consequences of being idle were too horrendous to contemplate.

Even my father, who always complained of how difficult it was for him to learn English, quickly became facile with Japanese and proficient with kanji. The reason for my father and other Malays becoming fast learners was clear; the very effective Japanese teaching technique – learn, or else! That “or else” was the most powerful motivator!

As for our cultural values during that terrible period, I refer readers to that wonderful movie “A Town Like Alice,” based on Nevil Shute’s novel of the same title. It is the story of a group of British women who were abandoned by their husbands in the rush to escape the onslaught of the Japanese. Those women later found refuge in a Malay village and were subsequently adopted en mass by the villagers.

Earlier I mentioned my Chinese-looking friend. In the villages today there are plenty of such individuals of my vintage, especially women. Their parents had given them up during those trying times. Those were the lucky ones.

The Chinese were not the only ones to do that; so did some Europeans. They willingly gave up their babies and young ones to escape the Japanese unencumbered. There was the spectacular case (spectacular because she triggered a deadly riot in Singapore after the war) of Maria Hertogh or Nadra Binte Ma’arof, depending upon your biases and sympathies.

Tan-Sri-Mohd Ali Rastam

Ahmad Maslan at Red Shirt eventThe Malay Racists

Her Dutch mother gave her up for adoption to a Malay family during the war. When it was over she tried to reclaim her child who by now had become fully attached to her adopted family. The ensuing ugly court battle spilled into the community, pitting the natives against the ruling colonials. In the end the ruling colonial trial judge followed his tribal instinct instead of the evidence presented, and awarded custody to the biological mother. In so doing the judge ignored the now important sociological concept of parenthood.

Han Suyin’s gripping novella Cast But One Shadow, though under a different setting, re-chronicles that drama.

The Japanese Occupation, terrible though it was, offered many useful lessons. It also revealed many positive and resilient aspects of Malay culture. For one, as mentioned earlier, there were no lazy Malays then; we were all very productive. For another, as can be seen from the movie “A Town Like Alice,” even during times of severe deprivation we maintained our values and willingly shared whatever little blessings we had with others, including those who were once our oppressors.

There is one other significant aspect to the Japanese Occupation now forgotten but nonetheless bears highlighting. That is, the Japanese effortlessly destroyed a significant part of Malay culture – our institutions of royalty. The Japanese did not purposely do so; they simply found no significance to the sultans and simply ignored them. Yet our culture and society survived. That should tell us something of the value and utility of these sultans.

Today when I see these sultans and other members of the royal family lording it over the rest of us, I wish someone would kindly remind them of their fathers’ and grandfathers’ fate during the Occupation. If that could happen then, it could happen again. Such a reminder might just curb some of their excesses.

Going soft on Light, Raffles, Swettenham and the Lot

September 30, 2015

Going soft on Light, Raffles, Swettenham and the Lot

by Dr. M Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

francis-light-monument-25826140Sir Francis Light of Penang

The British later replaced the Iberians (Portuguese and Spaniards)  and Dutch in Malaysia. Those colonialists carved up the Malay world among themselves, with Malaysia fortunately falling under the British while the larger archipelago going to the Dutch and the Philippines to the Spaniards.

I say “fortunately” considering the fate of the Indonesians and Filipinos. For whatever reason the British were much more benign, or less malevolent. Among the consequential differences, while our Indonesian brethren had to fight for their independence, Malaysians opted for the more civilized and considerably less traumatic route of negotiations. While Malays still harbor fond memories of their former colonial masters, with more than a few being unabashed anglophiles, no such sentiment exists among the Indonesians for the Dutch, or the Filipinos for the Spaniards.

Raffles Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore

The British legacies in Malaysia were significant, among them a first class civil service, an independent judiciary, and an school system that later proved fortuitous with English becoming the language of science and commerce. The British also introduced rubber plantations. The country is still reaping the economic bonanza from that initiative.

Again here, the credit for the positive consequences for this particular colonial encounter cannot go entirely to the British or the Malays, anymore than the blame for the fiasco in Indonesia could be heaped upon the Dutch or the Indonesians. Instead the answer lies with the unique dynamics of the interactions.

While Malays had plenty of derogatory caricatures of the Dutch, no such epithets existed for the British. Perhaps the British had perfected the art of indirect rule while still maintaining their tight and uncompromising grip.

Whereas with the earlier encounter with the Muslim traders our acceptance of and integration with them were both “down-up” (from the peasants and rising up to the aristocrats and sultans) and “up-down” (from the rulers downwards), with the British it was strictly up-down, from the sultans to the rakyats.  Because of the feudal nature of Malay society, the transformation was rapid.

It could be that the British found kinship with our Malay system of nobility and felt compelled to preserve it. Granted, our Orang Kaya Di Hilir Perak (Wealthy Lord) is not quite on par socially, intellectually or wealth-wise (despite what the title implies) with the Earl of Lancashire, nonetheless the social pattern and dynamics remain the same.

Frank SwettenhamSir Frank Swettenham

The British were wise to appreciate that a system of subtle indirect rule was more in tune with the halus (refine) ways of our culture than brute occupation a la the Dutch or Japanese. The British charade was greatly eased by their heaping honors on our sultans, such as the Knighthoods of some ancient British Order or the occasional invitations to Buckingham Palace.

This was the same insight that General MacArthur effectively used in postwar Japan, except that he did not feel compelled to honor the Japanese Emperor with a Presidential Medal of any sort.

The British must have learned a thing or two from observing how our grandfathers controlled their buffaloes.  Tie a rope to the ring through the nose of the lead bull, then even a toddler could control the herd. The ring may be of gold and the rope spun of silk, but the underlying dynamics remain the same.

Although the Malay masses did not embrace the British colonials with as much enthusiasm as we did the earlier Muslim traders, we were not entirely hostile either, at least not to the level the Indonesians had for the Dutch. There were scattered armed insurrections and a few colonial advisors assassinated, but for the most part we were quite docile under the British. The British not interfering in matters pertaining to our faith (leaving that entirely and exclusively to the sultans) may have had something to do with our resigned acceptance of their rule. We did not protest much even when the British inundated the country with immigrant laborers from China and India.

Of course the British had to justify bringing in those hordes of indentured laborers; thus was born the myth of the lazy native. To put things in perspective, this unwillingness of the natives to take on dirty scud jobs in their own country is not unique to Malays. How else to explain the glut of Indians in Britain, Turks in Germany, and Mexicans in America?

It was only after the children of those tin mine laborers and rubber tappers became lawyers and doctors, having benefited from the superior education afforded by the colonials, did Malays become concerned that their country would soon be taken over by these immigrants.

Some would argue that those same superior colonial educational facilities were also available to Malays. This myth, like others, had just a tinge of truth to it to be accepted by many as the all-encompassing explanation for Malay educational laggardness during colonial rule.

penang-free-schoolYes, there were schools. The first was Penang Free School (PFS) that despite its name was not free. In addition to tuition fees there were other substantial ancillary fees. Being located in the city, for rural Malay students there would also be the additional and substantial costs for transportation. Urban-dwelling immigrants were spared such expenses. In my case back in the 1950s, nearly 150 years after the setting of PFS, bus fare was the single biggest cost for my schooling, far exceeding the cost of tuition, books, and uniforms.

It did not help that the British built just enough schools to sooth their social conscience after raking in obscene profits from the country. It would have helped entice Malays to enroll in these English schools if they had been named after our heroes and sultans, or in any way pay homage to our cultural sensitivity. Instead those schools had names like King George V School and Victoria Institution.

Just to make sure that Malays got the message that they were not welcomed, there were the Anglo-Chinese Schools. It was not coincidental that there were no Anglo-Malay Schools.

st-michael-institutionMost were not government schools but set up by missionaries expelled from China. They were eager to continue their evangelical mission among the Chinese, only this time in Malaysia. Such schools sported names like Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. The surprise was that there were still Malay parents who willingly enrolled their children in such schools, as with the parents of the wives of the second and third prime ministers

Then there was the colonial mindset that fervently believed that the best education for Malays would be one that would allow us to continue with our subsistence living as peasant farmers and fishermen

If all of those were not enough, then there was the attitude of Malay parents who thought that sending their children to English schools was tantamount to turning them into brown Mat Salleh (White Man) and, horror of horrors, Christians. They would then sport such names as Matthew and Thomas instead of Mahmud and Tahir.

Those conditions created the perfect storm that prevented Malays from partaking in modern Western education. Later, when we realized that our children and community were left far behind, we suddenly became aware of our precarious situation in our own country. Then we started looking at those immigrants who hitherto had been content confining themselves to the tin mines and rubber estates in a radically different light.

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor Sultan Ibrahim of Johor

The Malay reaction to British colonialists could best be described as grudging accommodation, in marked contrast to our earlier enthusiastic embrace of Muslim traders. Our pseudo or resigned acceptance of British colonial rule was smoothed over by the willing co-operation (or more correctly, co-optation) of our elite, especially our sultans. The most unabashedly anglophile was the late Sultan Ibrahim of Johore (above). He must have loved the English very much; he married at least two of them.

If there were to be any segment of the Malaysian community that unabashedly embraced British colonialism it would be the so-called Queen’s Chinese. That term today sounds odd and quaint. They were the early Chinese immigrants who settled in the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. They easily assimilated into British colonial society, complete with their billiard playing and brandy swirling which seemed so out of place with their mandarin dresses, conical hats, and black pigtails.

Like the Sultans, these “Queen’s Chinese” were opposed to Malaysia’s independence. Unlike the sultans who kept their opposition silent, those Chinese were very vocal. There were also many Malays who were similarly not too enthused about independence, in particular Dato’ Onn Jaafar. His opposition however, was not with the principle but the timing, feeling that the country was not as yet ready.

In many ways the Queen’s Chinese embrace of colonialism was akin to the earlier Malay acceptance of Islam. Those Chinese successfully integrated into colonial life while maintaining at least outwardly their Chinese traditions. Consequently they were among the most successful communities at the time of independence.

We can only speculate as to the reasons for the muted Malay reaction to British colonialism. Perhaps our earlier enthusiastic embrace of Islam “immunized” us against the subsequent influences of similar monotheistic faiths. Or perhaps after our earlier sour experiences with the Portuguese and Dutch (typified by the expression “Dutch deal”) the British looked so much more tolerable in comparison.

At any rate it was enough for a critical commentator at the time, Munshi Abdullah, to lament what it was that made Malays not in the least curious and eager to learn from a society that was so far ahead of us. We were not even in awe at how British minds could build such wonderful things as a steel warship. They could make steel float! This lack of curiosity prevented Malays from taking advantage of what the colonials had to offer. And they had a lot!  We would subsequently pay dearly for that neglect.

Crass Racism on Malaysia Day

September 18, 2015

Crass Racism displayed before the world on Malaysia Day

by Azrul Mohd Khalib

As we have seen this past Malaysia Day, the disease of racism is very much alive and well in this country.

WARUNG01The Red Shirts Hooligans

Ahmad Maslan at Red Shirt eventAhmad Maslan–The Politician from Johor

Dato Jamal Md Yunos,The Ikan Bakar Racist

Najib and Rosmah2The Mute Najib and his Boss Rosmah

Obama and Michelle Bersih 4.0Obama’s Parody

We have seen how bad the malignancy has been and how it continues to be kept alive and spread over generations despite more than 50 years of nationhood.

What was promised during the formation of Malaysia and encapsulated in both the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara, was that as a people, we would be free to be what we could be. We would live together in harmony and in fair partnership. Together we would succeed as opposed to being separate states. That we would be unified as one people with a shared future, as Malaysians.

Tunku Abdul Rahman laid out this promise: “We are all Malaysians. This is the bond that unites us. Let us always remember that unity is our fundamental strength as a people and a nation.” He would have cried if he had seen what we all saw during the rally of the red T-shirts.

In different parts of the world, both in developed and developing countries, people struggle to throw off the yoke of racism. In Malaysia, as we have seen, there are some among us who not only embrace it but also seek to celebrate and justify the unjustifiable, doing all that they can, including misusing religion, to do so.

Not too long ago, Malaysia stood proudly among the coalition of nations which boycotted and sanctioned South Africa in opposition to legalised racial discrimination or apartheid. This country was in fact at the forefront and played a significant role in the anti-apatheid campaign. In 1990, Nelson Mandela came to Malaysia and thanked the Malaysian people for their support to end racial segregation in South Africa. Have we forgotten that part of our proud history?

The freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia does not include hate speech designed to incite racial hatred. Hate speech is speech which offends, threatens, or insults individuals or groups, based on race, ethnicity, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits. Hate speech is not free speech.

Much of what was said in speeches by speakers at Jalan Conlay, Padang Merbok and Petaling Street, screamed out by demonstrators and written on banners and placards shown throughout the Himpunan Maruah Melayu/ Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu/ #Merah169 was hate speech. Hate speech clothed in the words of racial supremacy, dominance, violence and discrimination.

How much longer should we be slaves to racism? Because that is what racism is: slavery. Chains which the penjajah or our former colonial masters saw fit to fashion around the different peoples of this country with the intent to divide and rule. It has been 58 years since independence and rather than casting aside the yoke of bondage, those in power have renewed and sought to cast more shackles aimed to widen the racial divide and exploit social and economic disparity.

Decades of economic practices based on race has bred an irrational sense of entitlement. Enough of this attitude of entitlement from people who would seek to benefit or expect preferential treatment simply due to their race or religion rather than through merit and hard work. The insolent demands that the profits from Petaling Street be shared with Malays for no other reason than that was “Tanah Melayu” exposed one of real motives behind #Merah169 which was greed. Let’s be clear about that.

We have serious problems to solve in this country, and we need serious people to solve them.Those who stood on that stage and incited and hurled abuses on the KL streets that day are not the least bit interested in solving them. They are interested in only two things, namely making you afraid of those problems, both real and imagined, and telling you who’s to blame for it.

KJ and NajibUMNO Racists

To date, we have heard nothing from the leadership of this country condemning the blatant racism, bigotry and naked hatred on display during the #Merah169 demonstration. Why?

If UMNO continues to justify the existence and practice of race-based politics in this manner, through threats, fear mongering and intimidation, then I would argue that this is a party that has ceased to be relevant for the future of this country.

For the future of this nation cannot and must not continue to be shaped and determined by race and the struggle for racial superiority and dominance. It must be based on a common vision and purpose of how we see ourselves as Malaysians.

But honestly, it is too easy to shift blame onto our elected leaders when most of the responsibility really lies with us. After all, our leaders are representative of our respective communities.

Building a better society and nation begins with us. For too long we have allowed and tolerated slurs and arrogant statements such as “ini Tanah Melayu, bumi Melayu”, “we allow them to live and work here, they should be thankful to us”, “kamu kaum pendatang/ penumpang”, “Cina babi” to be directed to fellow Malaysians. We have also allowed racial discrimination to be a way of life. For example, the requirement for applicants to be “Chinese only” is a common line in job advertisements.

Meanwhile those who would take advantage of such tensions are continuously inventing and playing out non-existent racial issues, and instilling fear, hatred and anger against others of different ethnicity.

This must stop. After all, we reap what we sow. If this vicious cycle is to stop, we must play our part.

It does no one any good for us to keep our heads down and hope that the racists and bigots do not notice or disturb us. On Malaysia Day and the days before that, too many saw the gathering of racists and bigots and were intimidated, frightened or terrorised into silence and inaction. They kept their heads down and stayed home.

But not all did so. In Shah Alam, more than one thousand Malaysians from different ethnicities and religions walked together in a show of unity. In the KLCC park, a small group of people braved the red tide and had a picnic to celebrate the country’s birthday. In Bangsar, a few hundred people came together to rediscover Malaysian cultural traditions, ethnic food and dances in a festival of colours and music. Across the country, people defied the racists in their own way.

If we are to build a better society and a country for all, we must stand up and speak out for each other and contribute to a new narrative. A narrative shaped by our voices and not those that are shrill with hatred, bigotry and prejudice. We must deny the cynics who tell us to settle for what we have and not aspire for anything more. That nothing can change.

Last Wednesday, we saw how ugly racism can look like. But we have also seen some of the best of the Malaysian people. Stand up and speak out against racism.


Philosophy Course 605 at The University of Cambodia–Readings on Plato and The Greeks

September 17, 2015

For Philosophy Course 605 at The University of Cambodia-Readings  on Plato and The Greeks –led by Adjunct Professor Din Merican, Tech Sen School

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

 by Geoff Haselhurst, Karene Howie

This is the latest Plato introduction – based on two principles for writing on the internet – truth and simplicity!

Read the Plato quotes – Plato was brilliant, astute, charming, amusing, profound, practical, sensible, logical, enquiring, seeking, exploring by considering the simple and obvious.

Plato Quotes on Philosophy Truth and Reality

And isn’t it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. (Plato)

The philosopher is in love with truth, that is, not with the changing world of sensation, which is the object of opinion, but with the unchanging reality which is the object of knowledge. (Plato)

Truthfulness. He will never willingly tolerate an untruth, but will hate it as much as he loves truth. … And is there anything more closely connected with wisdom than truth? (Plato)

What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth, that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy. (Plato)

The object of knowledge is what exists and its function to know about reality. (Plato)

One trait in the philosopher’s character we can assume is his love of the knowledge that reveals eternal reality, the realm unaffected by change and decay. He is in love with the whole of that reality, and will not willingly be deprived even of the most insignificant fragment of it – just like the lovers and men of ambition we described earlier on. (Plato)

Plato the Philosopher - And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. Plato the Philosopher

I have great affection for Plato, who is without doubt one of the greatest philosophers of the past 2,500 years. Thus it is unfortunate that many people imagine our post-modern society to have gained such knowledge that the Ancient Greek Philosophers are now irrelevant. In fact the opposite is true. As Bertrand Russell observed (History of Western Philosophy), it was the Ancient Greek Philosophers who first discovered and discussed the fundamental Principles of Philosophy, and most significantly, little has been added to their knowledge since. As Einstein wrote:

Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

It is therefore both interesting and important to consider the foundations which caused the blossoming of Ancient Greek Philosophy. First and foremost was the realisation that ALL IS ONE, as Nietzsche writes:

Greek philosophy seems to begin with a preposterous fancy, with the proposition that water is the origin and mother-womb of all things. Is it really necessary to stop there and become serious? Yes, and for three reasons: firstly, because the preposition does enunciate something about the origin of things; secondly, because it does so without figure and fable; thirdly and lastly, because it contained, although only in the chrysalis state, the idea :everything is one. … That which drove him (Thales) to this generalization was a metaphysical dogma, which had its origin in a mystic intuition and which together with the ever renewed endeavors to express it better, we find in all philosophies- the proposition: everything is one! (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Greeks)

Further, the Ancient Greeks realised that Motion (Flux / Activity / Change) was central to existence and reality, as Aristotle writes:

The first philosophy (Metaphysics) is universal and is exclusively concerned with primary substance. … And here we will have the science to study that which is just as that which is, both in its essence and in the properties which, just as a thing that is, it has. (Aristotle, 340BC)
The entire preoccupation of the physicist is with things that contain within themselves a principle of movement and rest. And to seek for this is to seek for the second kind of principle, that from which comes the beginning of the change. (Aristotle, 340BC)

Only recently (Wolff, 1986 – Haselhurst, 1997) has it been possible, with the discovery of the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM), to unite these ideas with modern Physics, Philosophy and Metaphysics. And let me first say that it is ironic that the main problem for human knowledge also came from the Ancient Greeks, with their conception of matter as discrete Atoms (Democritus, Lucretius). Unfortunately, Physics took the path of the atomists (Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Lorentz) and this led to the creation of ‘Forces / Fields’ (generated by particles) to explain how matter interacted with other discrete matter at-a-distance in Space.

It seems that many people believe that Reality / Physics is too complex for them to possibly understand (and I suspect that Physicists enjoy this reputation as being the ‘high priests’ who comprehend such complex things). In fact the opposite is true – Truth is ultimately simple because Truth comes from Reality (as Plato correctly realised) which must be founded on One thing. And there is nothing more simple than One Thing. (This explains why Philosophy is also known as the discovery of the obvious!)

When you read the quotes from Plato below, you will also find Plato’s ideas to be very simple. This reflects his greatness as a philosopher, and partly explains why his work has endured for thousands of years. To me, it is his realisation that philosophy is fundamentally important to humanity, that without philosophy, without truth, there can be no wisdom – which leaves humanity blind and the future treacherous. Reason tells me that Reality has been discovered, that the source of all truth and wisdom has finally been found. And in our currently troubled times there is no more important knowledge than true knowledge of reality – of what it truly means to ‘Know Thyself’ as the foundation for living wisely and ensuring survival.

Plato - I don't know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. Plato ‘The Republic’ Quotes

I don’t know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. But when it comes to ordinary conversation, such as the stuff you talk about financiers and the money market, well, I find it pretty tiresome personally, and I feel sorry that my friends should think they’re being very busy when they’re really doing absolutely nothing. Of course, I know your idea of me: you think I’m just a poor unfortunate, and I shouldn’t wonder if your right. But then I don’t THINK that you’re unfortunate – I know you are. (Plato)

Plato is an astute and important philosopher, who writes beautifully and with great power and elegance on Truth and Reality. His work is still profoundly important in today’s Postmodern world, and can be easily understood due to its simplicity of language and engaging style of dialogue. The following quotes are taken from Plato’s great work The Republic, and speak grandly for themselves, thus I largely leave them as they are, with little commentary or analysis (though I of course hope that you will read them with the Wave Structure of Matter in mind).

Ancient Greek Philosophy - Plato the philosopher Plato Quotes on the Understanding of New Ideas

We are like people looking for something they have in their hands all the time; we’re looking in all directions except at the thing we want, which is probably why we haven’t found it.(Plato, 380BC)

‘That is the story. Do you think there is any way of making them believe it?” Not in the first generation’, he said, ‘but you might succeed with the second and later generations.’ (Plato, 380BC)

‘We will ask the critics to be serious for once, and remind them that it was not so long ago that the Greeks thought – as most of the barbarians still think – that it was shocking and ridiculous for men to be seen naked. When the Cretans, and later the Spartans, first began to take exercise naked, wasn’t there plenty of material for the wit of the comedians of the day?’
‘There was indeed’

‘But when experience showed them that it was better to strip than wrap themselves up, what reason had proved best ceased to look absurd to the eye. Which shows how idle it is to think anything ridiculous except what is wrong.’ (Plato, 380BC)

Plato the Philosopher - And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. Plato on Truth and Reality

And isn’t it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. (Plato, 380BC)

The philosopher is in love with truth, that is, not with the changing world of sensation, which is the object of opinion, but with the unchanging reality which is the object of knowledge. (Plato, 380BC)

Truthfulness. He will never willingly tolerate an untruth, but will hate it as much as he loves truth… And is there anything more closely connected with wisdom than truth? (Plato, 380BC)

Then may we not fairly plead in reply that our true lover of knowledge naturally strives for truth, and is not content with common opinion, but soars with undimmed and unwearied passion till he grasps the essential nature of things with the mental faculty fitted to do so, that is, with the faculty which is akin to reality, and which approaches and unites with it, and begets intelligence and truth as children, and is only released from travail when it has thus reached knowledge and true life and satisfaction? (Plato, 380BC)

What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth, that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy. (Plato, 380BC)

The object of knowledge is what exists and its function to know about reality. (Plato, 380BC)

And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. (Plato, 380BC)

When the mind’s eye rests on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and comprehends them, and functions intelligently; but when it turns to the twilight world of change and decay, it can only form opinions, its vision is confused and its beliefs shifting, and it seems to lack intelligence. (Plato, 380BC)

‘But surely “blind” is just how you would describe men who have no true knowledge of reality, and no clear standard in their mind to refer to, as a painter refers to his model, and which they can study closely before they start laying down rules about what is fair or right or good where they are needed, or maintaining, as Guardians, any rules that already exist.’ ‘Yes, blind is just about what they are’ (Plato, 380BC)

One trait in the philosopher’s character we can assume is his love of the knowledge that reveals eternal reality, the realm unaffected by change and decay. He is in love with the whole of that reality, and will not willingly be deprived even of the most insignificant fragment of it – just like the lovers and men of ambition we described earlier on. (Plato, 380BC)

Ancient Greek Philosophy - Plato the philosopher Plato Education Quotes

…for the object of education is to teach us to love beauty. (Plato, 380BC)

And once we have given our community a good start, the process will be cumulative. By maintaining a sound system of education you produce citizens of good character, and citizens of sound character, with the advantage of a good education, produce in turn children better than themselves and better able to produce still better children in their turn, as can be seen with animals. (Plato, 380BC)

‘.. It is in education that bad discipline can most easily creep in unobserved,’ he replied.

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘ because people don’t treat it seriously there, and think no harm can come of it.’

‘It only does harm,’ he said, ‘because it makes itself at home and gradually undermines morals and manners; from them it invades business dealings generally, and then spreads into the laws and constitution without any restraint, until it has made complete havoc of private and public life.’

‘ And when men who aren’t fit to be educated get an education they don’t deserve, are not the thoughts and opinions they produce fairly called sophistry, without a legitimate idea or any trace of true wisdom among them?’

‘ The first thing our artist must do,’ I replied, ‘ – and it’s not easy – is to take human society and human habits and wipe them clean out, to give himself a clean canvas. For our philosophic artist differs from all others in being unwilling to start work on an individual or a city, or draw out laws, until he is given, or has made himself, a clean canvas.’ (Plato, 380BC)

‘ Because a free man ought not to learn anything under duress. Compulsory physical exercise does no harm to the body, but compulsory learning never sticks to the mind.’


‘Then don’t use compulsion,’ I said to him, ‘ but let your children’s lessons take the form of play. You will learn more about their natural abilities that way.’ (Plato, 380BC)

For we soon reap the fruits of literature in life, and prolonged indulgence in any form of literature in life leaves its mark on the moral nature of man, affecting not only the mind but physical poise and intonation. (p134 R)

‘It is not only to the poets therefore that we must issue orders requiring them to represent good character in their poems or not to write at all; we must issue similar orders to all artists and prevent them from portraying bad character, ill discipline, meanness, or ugliness in painting, sculpture, architecture, or any work of art, and if they are unable to comply they must be forbidden to practice their art. We shall thus prevent our guardians being brought up among representations of what is evil, and so day by day and little by little, by feeding as it were in an unhealthy pasture, insensibly doing themselves grave psychological damage. Our artists and craftsmen must be capable of perceiving the real nature of what is beautiful, and then our young men, living as it were in a good climate, will benefit because all the works of art they see and hear influence them for good, like the breezes from some healthy country with what is rational and right.’

‘That would indeed be the best way to bring them up.’

‘And that, my dear Glaucon,’ I said,’ is why this stage of education is crucial. For rhythm and harmony penetrate deeply into the mind and have a most powerful effect on it, and if education is good, bring balance and fairness, if it is bad, the reverse. (p142, 401 R)

‘Then I must surely be right in saying that we shall not be properly educated ourselves, nor will the guardians whom we are training, until we can recognise the qualities of discipline, courage, generosity, greatness of mind, and others akin to them, as well as their opposites in all their manifestations’. (p143, 402 R)

Plato - I don't know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. Plato on the Mind

Do we learn with one part of us, feel angry with another, and desire the pleasures of eating and sex with another? Or do we employ our mind as a whole when our energies are employed in any of these ways? (Plato, 380BC)

We can call the reflective element in the mind the reason, and the element with which it feels hunger and thirst, and the agitations of sex and other desires, the irrational appetite – an element closely connected with pleasure and satisfaction. (Plato, 380BC)

‘So the reason ought to rule, having the ability and foresight to act for the whole, and the spirit ought to obey and support it. And this concord between them is effected, as we said, by a combination of intellectual and physical training, which tunes up the reason by intellectual training and tones down the crudeness of natural high spirits by harmony and rhythm.’


‘When these two elements have been brought up and trained to their proper function, they must be put in charge of appetite, which forms the greater part of each man’s make-up and is naturally insatiable. They must prevent taking its fill of the so-called physical pleasures, for otherwise it will get too large and strong to mind its own business and will try to subject and control the other elements, which it has no right to do, and so wreck life entirely.’ (Plato, 380BC)

Then let us be content with the terms we used earlier on for the four divisions of our line – knowledge, reason, belief and illusion. The last two we class together as opinion, the first two as intelligence, opinion being concerned with the world of becoming, knowledge with the world of reality. Knowledge stands to opinion as the world of reality does to that of becoming, and intelligence stands to belief and reason to illusion as knowledge stands to opinion. (Plato, 380BC)

Plato the Philosopher - On Illusion Quotations from Plato on Illusion

In the analogy of The Cave, Plato shows the ascent of the mind from illusion to truth and pure philosophy, and the difficulties which accompany its progress.

‘Then think what would happen to them if they were released from their bonds and cured of their delusions. Suppose one of them were let loose, and suddenly compelled to stand up and turn his head and look and walk towards the fire; all actions would be painful and he would be too dazzled to see properly the objects of which he used to see the shadows. So if he was told that what he used to see was mere illusion and that he was now nearer reality and seeing more correctly, because he was turned towards objects that were more real, and if on top of that he were compelled to say what each of the passing objects was when it was pointed out to him, don’t you think he would be at a loss, and think that what he used to see was more real than the objects now being pointed out to him?’

‘ Because he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave. First he would find it easiest to look at shadows, next at the reflections of men and other objects in water, and later on at the objects themselves. After that he would find it easier to observe the heavenly bodies and the sky at night than by day, and to look at the light of the moon and stars, rather than at the sun and its light.’

‘ But anyone with any sense,’ I said, ‘will remember that the eyes may be unsighted in two ways, by a transition either from light to darkness or from darkness to light, and that the same distinction applies to the mind. So when he sees a mind confused and unable to see clearly he will not laugh without thinking, but will ask himself whether it has come from a cleaner world and is confused by the unaccustomed darkness, or whether it is dazzled by the stronger light of the clearer world to which it has escaped from its previous ignorance.’

‘ If this is true,’ I continued, ‘ we must reject the conception of education professed by those who say that they can put into the mind knowledge that was not there before – rather as if they could put sight into blind eyes.’

‘It is a claim that is certainly made,’ he said

‘But our argument indicates that this is a capacity which is innate in each man’s mind, and that the faculty by which he learns is like an eye that cannot be turned from darkness to light unless the whole body is turned; in the same way the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until its eyes can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities which we call the Good. Isn’t that so?’ (Plato, 380BC)

Ancient Greek Philosophy - Plato the philosopher Plato on the Importance of Philosophy

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands, while the many natures now content to follow either to the exclusion of the other are forcibly debarred from doing so. This is what I have hesitated to say so long, knowing what a paradox it would sound; for it is not easy to see that there is no other road to happiness, either for society or the individual. (Plato, 380BC)

…there are some who are naturally fitted for philosophy and political leadership, while the rest should follow their lead and let philosophy alone. (Plato, 380BC)

‘But the man who is ready to taste every form of knowledge, is glad to learn and never satisfied – he’s the man who deserves to be called a philosopher, isn’t he?’ (Plato, 380BC)

‘Then who are the true philosophers?’, he asked

‘Those whose passion is to see the truth.’

‘Suppose the following to be the state of affairs on board a ship or ships. The captain is larger and stronger than any of the crew, but a bit deaf and short-sighted, and doesn’t know much about navigation. The crew is quarreling with each other about how to navigate the ship, each thinking he ought to be at the helm; they know no navigation and cannot say that anyone ever taught it them, or that they spent any time studying it; indeed they say it can’t be taught and are ready to murder any one who says it can. They spend all their time milling around the captain and trying to get him to give them the wheel. If one faction is more successful than another, their rivals may kill them and throw them overboard, lay out the honest captain with drugs and drink, take control of the ship, help themselves to what’s on board, and behave as if they were on a drunken pleasure-cruise. Finally, they reserve their admiration for the man who knows how to lend a hand in controlling the captain by force or fraud; they praise his seamanship and navigation and knowledge of the sea and condemn everyone else as useless. They have no idea that the true navigator must study the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds and other professional subjects, if he is really fit to control a ship; and they think that it’s quite impossible to acquire professional skill in navigation (quite apart from whether they want it exercised) and that there is no such thing as an art of navigation. In these circumstances aren’t the sailors on any ship bound to regard the true navigator as a gossip and a star-gazer, of no use to them at all?’

‘Yes, they are,’ Adeimantus agreed

‘I think you probably understand, without any explanation, that my illustration is intended to show the present attitude of society towards the true philosopher’ (Plato, 380BC)

And tell him it’s quite true that the best of the philosophers are of no use to their fellows; but that he should blame, not the philosophers, but those who fail to make use of them. (Plato, 380BC)

I feel like standing and applauding when I read Plato, for he is one of the true greats. The early Greeks were exceedingly smart and aware, and they created the system that then led to Aristotle, and his most profound work, ‘The Metaphysics’. Their knowledge lies at the very heart of the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter.

Plato the Philosopher - And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. Links / Plato, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Philosophers

Metaphysics: Problem of One and the Many – Brief History of Metaphysics and Solutions to the Fundamental Problems of Uniting the; One and the Many, Infinite and the Finite, Eternal and the Temporal, Absolute and Relative, Continuous and Discrete, Simple and Complex, Matter and Universe.

Philosophy: Greek Philosophers – All is One (Space) and Active-Flux (Wave Motion). Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Atomists (Democritus, Lucretius), Socrates, Plato, Epicurus.

Aristotle – On Philosopher Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Physics (Motion). (Aristotle was one of the greatest of the famous philosophers and should be read by all people interested in philosophy and wisdom.)

Socrates – ‘Know Thyself’ – Condemned to death for educating the youth to Philosophy and arguing that people are ignorant of the Truth. Information, Biography – On the Life and Death of Socrates (The Last Days of Socrates by Plato).

Challenges in Nation Building–TR Hamzah

September 17, 2015

Message to My Man of the Moment: Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

The easy part is to talk about our problems and challenges. What we need now is a political leader with strong decision making skills backed by a very professional team of competent and honest people to deal with them. For that to happen, we require a leader who dares to risk it all to take on the corrupt Najib regime in UMNO and wrestle power for the rakyat’s sake.

Enough of talk. Tengku Razaleigh must walk the talk and take the risk. So Tengku, just do it because nobody in UMNO will voluntarily hand over the job on a silver platter to you. UMNO is the problem and also the means to get the job done.  Make history. The question is, will you do it? –Din Merican

Challenges in Nation Building

by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. MP

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
I am singularly honoured to have been invited to deliver the keynote address to signal the start of the National Unity Youth Fellowship Conference jointly organised by IDEAS and Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research. The theme – Nation Building, Unity and the Malaysian Dream: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – is apt; apt because it summarises the reason for being of politicians of whom I am one. I also think that this conference provides the appropriate forum for a meeting of minds to address the socio-economic dysfunctionality afflicting our beloved country today.

At the same time it offers you the opportunity to explore the ways and means of overcoming it. The significance of this proposition is not lost upon us; for you, being of Gen Y, are arguably among the more important stakeholders of Malaysia. Your finding ways to rectify the sorry mess that we are in and putting the country back on an even keel in accordance with what our founding fathers had in mind would most certainly not be lost upon the powers that be. If nothing else, it would register your legitimate position to offer your views – critical or otherwise – of how the Malaysia of tomorrow should shape up as she takes her place within the community of nations.

It is timely for us to remind ourselves that Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, our founding father, had wanted a multiracial, united democratic sovereign state when he held the Merdeka talks with Lennox-Boyd in London in January, 1956. This was reflected by the composition of his team which had representatives of the MCA, MIC and the Malay Rulers. It did not matter to him that the country was a Malay state. He accepted the plurality of our society and the multiracial facet of the country. He was very focused in wanting a democratic nation that guaranteed human rights such as freedom of speech and free, peaceful life as its cornerstone.

He cherished peace very much and was willing to negotiate for an end to the insurgency by the militant Malayan Communist Party which started after the Second World War and dragged into 1960, even though the economic cost of that insurrection was high. The Tunku had wanted to leverage on the country’s potential wealth to wipe out this menace and the people rallied around him. All the communities rejected the brand of government being touted by the MCP which had shown that it would use violence as a tool of governance.

The Tunku had wanted to build a nation that used its wealth to create a happy people in his own image as, to use his own words, the happiest prime minister in the world. Being tutored in law as a barrister, he had wanted a country where the separation of powers between the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature are honoured and practised in the true spirit of democracy, thereby providing the checks and balance against each other. He had wanted the instruments of state such as the civil service and security enforcement bodies to operate professionally as policy implementers.

Red Shirt PosterThis is Our National Failure and Shame

The sad reality is that we have been badly let down by both the three branches of government and the government bodies. The Executive has, once too often, been known to be brow beaten by the head of government. Our Judiciary had been weakened in the past and is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as less than effective. And in regard to the Legislature, it is not unknown that matters which are within the purview of the Dewan Rakyat had often been discussed by the executive committee of the ranking party within the coalition forming the government of the day. This amounts to usurping the power of the Lower House of Parliament. At the same time, one or two government bodies are becoming political forces unto themselves. Apart from these abuses, politics in our country has long been colluding with business which has led to unbridled corruption. It would seem that honour has deserted our leaders and insatiable greed for wealth has taken over its place.

Apart from the abject state of our governance, our effort to build a nation is nothing to shout about either. Our political leaders keep on parroting in a mantra-like manner that Malaysia is a nation. We are not; and that is the sad truth. We are polite to each other in public but there is, at times, a lack of sincerity in it. In group interactions, we are not above breaking into a language not being understood by everybody in our effort to not share our inner thoughts on whatever we have in mind with everyone. In the privacy of our homes we can be scathing in running down, for instance, cultural traits of other Malaysians that we are not familiar with.

Much as we hate to admit it, we live a compartmentalised life. This is compounded by the pluralistic nature of our society and our lackadaisical attitude towards the ethos and worldview of Malaysians who are not of the same ethnicity as us. In the end, unless we come from a family background that includes the presence of interracial marriage, we will not be able to understand their philosophy of life or their world view or their attitudes and aspirations. We will not be able to come as one and develop a Malaysian culture made up of the cultural traits of our various and diverse racial make-up. Our inability to evolve a Malaysian culture has a negative effect on nation building for culture is a key element in such a process.

Ahmad Maslan at Red Shirt eventA Blinkered and Idiotic Ahmad Maslan

Much as I hate to say this, I think the Malays must admit that they have a blinkered view regarding other Malaysian communities. As Malays we are proud to think of ourselves as democrats; but we forget the very essence of democracy which promises equality to everyone. We forget that democracy is government by the people as a whole rather than by any section, class or interest within it.

In our desire to remain on top of things, we conveniently forget that our other Malaysians have contributed more than their fair share in the service of the country. We choose to forget that there are other Malaysians who, upon coming to these fair shores, adapted and assimilated themselves into the dominant native culture. We choose to forget that there are other Malaysians who accepted the Malay hierarchical stacking order with the ruler at the apex; and that this harmony had convinced the British that we were ready for independence.

But the Malays, to my mind, are short on confidence and this makes us a scared lot especially in our relationship and interaction with other Malaysians. We are even given to jealousy and are not above harbouring ill will among ourselves. This has become a marked characteristic of the Malay psyche which unfortunately has found its way into politics.

It is quite normal for religion to be used in Malay politics in an effort to attract mass support. Given that Malay values are generally derived from Islamic values, this is not unusual. The sad thing is that a religious issue is sometimes given different explanations by ulamas to suit their political leanings. These, more often than not, lead to confusion. It does not help that these religious scholars sometimes do not fully explain the backgrounds to such issues which leave those who are not familiar with the intricacy of the religion having wrong ideas about it. It is therefore time that the ulamas addressed issues of religious concern with clarity and avoid the confusion that befuddles the people. More importantly, these ulamas cannot, willy-nilly, make religious pronouncements which are in effect fatwas. Such an authoritative ruling of Islamic law can only be made with the assent of the Sultan who is the head of Islam for his state.

We can conclude from the foregoing that we are still muddling through 58 years after 1957. We make believe and delude ourselves that we are a nation. The reality is that we are not. We justify our watered down democracy by rationalising that there are democracies and then there are democracies. But we are never told by what yardstick our democracy is measured.

The gloomy picture that was painted notwithstanding, you – of Gen Y who will be in the proverbial driving seat within the next few years – can brighten and change it. You must shoulder the task, for you are the inheritors of this rich and beautiful land. You should and must be at every level of decision-making in government and politics. In this way, you do away with the cynicism of being consulted by politicians only during the hustings once every five years. You will be able to build a Malaysia that your children will be proud to inherit – a confident and united nation whose sons and daughters are equal in her eyes, a proud nation admired and respected by the global community.

As a gentle reminder of the dire straits we are in, the rapid decline of our quality of life and the serious attention that you need to give to the ever sagging Malaysian morale, allow me to draw your attention to two emotive areas that are close to our heart. In the recent past our national football XI was given a 10-0 drubbing by a side not known for their footballing prowess. That is sad, tragic even; for we used to defeat the likes of South Korea and Japan which have now progressed far beyond us to find parity with European and Latin American football. Our mismanagement of the sport has led to the drying up of talents. Gone are the days when such idols as Chandran, Mat Che Su, Soh Chin Aun, Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh and Ghani Minhat struck fear in our opponents. The same goes for our field hockey. We used to be in the top four in the sport, but now our hockey performances are just as lackadaisical as many other sports that we involve ourselves in. Given that sports are an effective tool to cultivate unity and, by extension, to build nations, this regression is a blow we can do without.

The other negative development that is sagging our morale is the indifferent economic performance and in particular, the value of the Ringgit that continues to drop. Countries that used to lag behind us such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are now beginning to draw away foreign investments from our country. On the other hand the floundering Ringgit is drawing sighs of frustration from traders and importers. The same is the case with parents who have to grimace and bear the pain of underwriting their children’s tertiary education outside the country.

*Keynote Address at The Institute For Democracy And Economic Affairs (IDEAS) Conference On Nation Building, Unity And The Malaysian Dream: Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow At The Institut Integriti Malaysia, Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur–September 16, 2015

Message to the Mahathirs–what goes around comes around

September 16, 2015

COMMENT: Tun Dr. Mahathir is learning his lessons the hard way. I din-merican-and-dr-kamsiah1recall some years ago at a luncheon speech he gave at a function organised by MIGHT (a government unit in the Prime Minister’s Department) which he created to spearhead technology and innovation, he said that he needed power because he wanted to get things done. Indeed, he got a lot of things done.

By sheer determination and ruthlessness, he broke barriers along the way  to become the most powerful Prime Minister in our country’s history. He was the top honcho who could not be questioned or challenged. Woe betide those who dare. Anwar Ibrahim can attest to that fact.

The good Bomoh, as his close associates would label him, knew it all. He had a cure for everything from pins and paper clips to The Malay Dilemma and Vision 2020. As a man in a hurry, he would not tolerate contrarian or dissenting views. He had no time for small talk. You were for or against him.

How was he able to cling to power for 22+ years? He achieved his goal by amending the constitution to create a powerful Executive Branch, subjugating all institutions of governance including Parliament, the Judiciary and the civil service and creating a culture of fear and intimidation. He answered to no one. Malaysia was his fiefdom.

Recall Ops Lalang (1987), the indignities suffered by Lord President Tun Salleh Abas (1988) and the removal of Tun Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh  Hamzah. He also created UMNO Baru with a powerful UMNO President who could not be challenged so that he could remain in power for as long as he pleased.

Today, at 90 years, he is a tragic figure seeking to remain relevant and yet trapped in a system of his own making. There is nothing he can do now. His fight to remove Najib Razak from office has failed because his erstwhile mentee has the power while he is just an ordinary citizen like you and I acting singlehandedly without much influence on the course of Malaysian politics. We can make all the noises we want–we must continue to do that– but we must accept the reality that unless UMNO acts, Prime Minister Najib remains in power.

Our options are limited. Even a smoking gun like the rm2.6 billion scandal can be brushed aside by the new Attorney-General, Apandi Ali and others.  Yes, indeed, what goes around comes around. Power is not permanent, and usually it comes at a price. Allow me to quote William Shakespeare.–Din Merican

They That Have Power to Hurt and Will Do None
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

THEY that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband Nature’s riches from expense:
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.

The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed out braves his dignity:
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

Message to the Mahathirs–what goes around comes around

by Tajuddin Rosli

(Tun) Mahathir Mohamad is at his wits’ end. He appears to have played all his aces but nothing seems to move Prime Minister Najib Razak. Even members of UMNO have started to desert him. This is all eating into his ego.

Mahathir’s special appearance at the Bersih rally was the act of a politically desperate man whose ambition of seeing his son become Prime Minister was fast vanishing. Previously, he referred to Bersih demonstrators as mules and fools. He even said the Malays were stupid for joining the rallies. It now looks like the Malays have become intelligent enough not to turn up in huge numbers for Bersih 4.0 and Mahathir has become stupid for being among the demonstrators.

Is this a case of what goes around comes around?Members of the Mahathir family are resorting to all sorts of ploys to stay relevant. In 2009, Mukhriz Mahathir said that constitutionally, a non-Malay or non-Bumiputera could become Prime Minister and that the Malays should not have a problem with that if the chosen person was a true leader and could take care of the interests of everyone. While it was definitely a commendable stand, did Mukhriz really mean it?

Consider Mukhriz’s statement in the light of his father’s continuing attempt to scare the Malays into thinking they would lose power if the Opposition were to form the government. The former Prime Minister has also claimed that nothing good would come from Chinese dominance in politics and the economy. Are father and son playing good cop and bad cop as they fumble about to stay relevant?

Marina Mahathir, one of Malaysia’s most prominent human rights activists, has never questioned her father’s dictatorship, but is now talking about Najib’s alleged crimes. She should dig deep into the history books and read about the formation of UMNO Baru. She should also study how it came to be that such immense power has come to be vested in the UMNO President.

Recently, Dr Siti Hasmah voiced her concerns over the current political scenario. It was probably the first time that she talked politics. As a concerned mother, she definitely could not remain silent in the face of the threat Mukhriz is facing in his political career.

I have two questions for the Mahathir family. How does it feel to be helpless against the government? How does it feel to be ridiculed and mocked by the same party that once empowered you? What you’re feeling is exactly how the entire nation felt when Mahathir ruled the country for 22 years with an iron fist.

Welcome to our world.

Tajuddin Rosli is a FMT reader.