NCC2–Another Committee won’t do it

October 24, 2016

NCC2–Another Committee won’t do it

by Boo Su-Lyn

There have been calls for the formation of a second National Consultative Council (NCC2) to push for harmony and to resolve a whole laundry list of problems from the fractured education system to religious issues, corruption, broken institutions, and ugly politics.

There have been calls for the formation of a second National Consultative Council (NCC2) to push for harmony and to resolve a whole laundry list of problems from the fractured education system to religious issues, corruption, broken institutions, and ugly politics.

The original NCC, led by the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, was set up in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 race riots. It came up with the Rukunegara, while the National Operations Council (NOC) formulated the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971, ostensibly to eradicate poverty “irrespective of race” and to “eventually eliminate the identification of race with economic functions”, according to the Second Malaysia Plan (1971-1975).

Despite the apparently noble objectives of the NEP to reduce economic inequality, it has been abused to enrich the Malay elite while the poor across all ethnic groups remain poor. The Bumiputera in Sarawak for example, such as the Bidayuh, still lack tarred roads, schools and basic healthcare in their villages in Padawan in this day and age.

The Rukunegara may have helped with laying down a set of principles for all Malaysians, but it’s regrettable that current government leaders violate the Rukunegara’s exhortation of “a liberal approach“ to the country’s diverse cultural traditions by demonising liberalism.

Image result for rukun negara malaysia

So why do we want NCC2, when the achievements of the NCC are questionable and the NEP has contributed to most of our problems today i.e. racial discrimination and ethnic tensions? I understand the frustrations of those calling for NCC2.

There is a sense of hopelessness and even despair. We still struggle with racism and religious conflicts. Our rights are eroded every day as people get arrested for the slightest expression of dissent, while thugs get free rein to spark chaos.

The government is blind to corruption while the Opposition doesn’t seem keen to change the system, only the players. Civil society, which we used to pin our hopes on to represent our voices for reform, turned partisan along the way and alienated many of us.

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But NCC2 is not the answer. We don’t need yet another committee or task force making recommendations that will only end up in the bin.

Look at what happened to the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC). They suggested brilliant legislation to criminalise hate speech and discrimination, but their proposals were dumped as the government decided to retain the Sedition Act. They supposedly have some ”national unity blueprint“, but we don’t know what it’s really about.

We rely too much on politicians, prominent figures and movements to “save Malaysia”, failing to realise our immense powers as ordinary citizens to change the system.

In my story on how a block of low-cost flats in Petaling Jaya became liveable, the Desa Mentari Block 3 residents (mostly Malay and Indian) showed me how they overcame their differences and built a tight-knit community, akin to a kampung.

Image result for MP Wong Chen

They enjoy a crime-free environment and the feeling of safety, which is something even I don’t have in my upper middle-class neighbourhood of Taman Tun. They did it on their own, without any big-shot politician or NGO leader. Their MP Wong Chen (pic) told me that he just let them run things the way they saw fit.

Malaysia may be falling to pieces, but we can’t push our individual and collective responsibility to fix the country to someone else. We have to stop standing behind those who do all the speaking up and summon up the courage to stand with them.

It’s not that Malaysia needs saving. If the country is messed up, it’s because we are, too. We’re content with letting someone else do the fighting.

Even with all the corruption going on, the most that we do is make snarky jokes on social media, the kinds that are outwardly funny, but with underlying tones of depression and helplessness.

We aren’t angry enough, which means we don’t care enough, to go out to the streets ourselves in droves and demand change regardless of the consequences.

A friend told me that one of the root problems is that Malaysia as a whole lacks an identity, compared to Sabah for example.

I think that we Malaysians do have one; we just haven’t found a way to articulate it. We want Malaysia to be a kind of “Promised Land” of racial diversity with a “Muhibbah” spirit, where we can point to others across race and be proud to say that ”they” are one of us. We want a reason to stay instead of emigrating to developed countries or even just down south.

But we sometimes let our insecurities get the better of us and when the going gets tough, we give up and ask other people to do the fighting for us. We need to stop doing that.







Time to reject race-based socio- economic policies

October 23, 2016

Time to reject race-based socio- economic policies

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO IDEAS

Image result for Tun Razak and The New Economic Policy

Tun Razak was wrong, Najib made it racist and utterly corrupt, so time to go back to Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Vision of Small but Pro-Business Government

The philosophy guiding how a government relates with the people is something that not many Malaysians talk about these days. But if we go back to the early days of this country, ideology used to matter.

In a speech delivered at IDEAS Annual Dinner on February 20, 2016, Tun Musa Hitam, Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister who started his political career under Tunku Abdul Rahman, said, “In those early days of our history, politics was more ideological than material. There were indeed, yes, indeed, two camps in UMNO: the Tunku camp and the Razak camp.

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“The Tunku camp was clearly and unapologetically right-wing, pro-west and pro-business. The Razak camp was allegedly socialist-communist inclined, a brand enough to scare and scuttle people away all the way in those days when communist terrorists were the biggest threat to our independence.”

This was a telling statement, because Musa was suggesting that the liberal administration of the Tunku was eventually replaced by a socialist-communist inclined administration of Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister.

If we analyse history carefully, indeed we could see how Razak was leaning in a leftist direction. Among the most significant foreign relations built by Razak was with Mao’s communist China, when he visited the country in May 1974. Razak was also the one who introduced huge government intervention into Malaysia’s socioeconomic system when he introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971.

Government domination of the economy is an important feature of a leftist ideology, and this naturally led to the government imposed ethnic-based affirmative action, and all its related policies, that plague our country until today.

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Razak’s ideology was almost completely opposite to the market economy envisioned by the Tunku when he said that Malaysia is a country that believes “in the system of free enterprise”.

We must acknowledge that government intervention has existed since the time of the Tunku. Several times the Tunku too used government powers to stifle dissent. But government interventionism grew much bigger and was formalised under Razak’s administration.

It was Razak’s desire effort to create an ill-defined “social justice” that gave birth to the New Economic Policy (NEP). As a result of their wrong definition of social justice, the NEP was implemented is such a way that nudged us to live our lives along communal lines until today.

Even worse, today we can’t even discuss this supposed temporary policy in rational way anymore. Today we live in a country where if you speak honestly on difficult and sensitive issues, you risk being accused of disloyalty to the country, or worse, being seditious.

It will take a lot more time to change this situation. But it is important for those of us who dream of a more liberal future for the country to persist. We cannot allow the country to continue on the trajectory of big government paved by, as Musa Hitam puts it, Razak’s “socialist-communist inclined” thinking. Instead of a big government philosophy, I propose that we should return to the philosophy of a liberal, small and limited government as originally envisioned by the Tunku for this country.

The liberal belief stems from a commitment to the principle of liberty, which is commonly described as the right to live our lives in any way we want to so long as we do not do any harm to others. It is important to stress the second part of the description: “as long as we do no harm to others”.

A liberal way of life a highly responsible one. We take it as our responsibility to do no harm to others and we acknowledge that we will have to account for any harm that we do. Yes we want to live our lives how we wish. But we also undertake not to harm others. Tunku Abdul Rahman puts it nicely when he said that “Life in this world is short. Let us make use of our lives in the pursuit of happiness and not trouble.”

In fact, the Tunku even put in the Proclamation of Independence that one of the roles of government is “ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people”. It is not the role of government to stop us from enjoying our happiness in the way we want. Instead the role of government is to help and to allow us to seek our own happiness in our own ways.

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The By-Product of Malaysia’s NEP

As I said above, it will take time before we can truly enjoy the fruits of the Tunku’s vision for liberty for this country. The liberal journey of this country was disrupted in 1970 and that disruption continues until today.

We need to realign the country back to the right trajectory. And the realignment process needs to start with us appreciating the importance of having a philosophy based on freedom and liberty to guide all our policies.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is the chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, (IDEAS)


Nazir Razak and Promoters of National Consultative Council 2 (NCC 2)–Don’t be Naive

October 19, 2016

Message for Nazir Razak and Promoters of  National Consultative Council 2 (NCC 2)–Don’t be Naive

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong

Image result for Malaysia's Red Shirts

Image result for Malaysia's Red Shirts

My Advice to Nazir Razak and G-25–Remove this Toxicity First–Din Merican

…as long as pro-Bumiputera policies remain useful in winning Bumiputera votes, it is unlikely that the ruling class in UMNO will want to dispense with this method of rule. Racism has been thoroughly infused in all the national institutions, including racist indoctrination of Bumiputeras in state institutions such as the BTN that recently came to light.

Since Najib introduced the slogan “1Malaysia” to try to woo the disaffected non-Bumiputera voters after the 2008 fiasco, strident racism often associated with UMNO Youth has now been outsourced to the far-right Malay supremacist groups. They continue to play the role of storm troopers and disrupt activities organised by civil society to promote social justice, democracy and human rights. UMNO’s competition with PAS has also heightened Islamic populism in the country, with dire consequences for ethnic relations. Above all, racial discrimination facilitates crony capitalism that is essential to UMNO’s monopoly of power. This has not changed since the Mahathir era.–Dr Kua Kia Soong

I understand the sentiments of “moderates” who are rightly alarmed at the increasing racism, religious bigotry and corruption in Malaysia and are proposing the establishment of a new ‘National Consultative Council’ (NCC2) like the one set up after May 13, 1969. But are they harbouring naïve views about how an NCC type approach can meaningfully address such concerns?

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The presupposition behind those who call for unity and good sense and a rational way ahead for the nation is that “racial” discord in our society and the present slide into a banana republic can be solved through a council of eminent persons who will plot the path forward for the nation. But was that what was actually achieved by the NCC after the May 13 riots in 1969?

Who were behind the May 13 incident?

The official version of Malaysian history places the cause of May 13 on an inevitable clash between the “races” because of intractable inequalities between the ethnic communities. ‘Tanda Putera’, the official film goes even further by imputing blame on “provocation of the Malays” by the Opposition after the 1969 general election.

What did the NCC actually achieve?

The National Consultative Council was headed by Tun Abdul Razak who became the new Prime Minister after Tunku stepped down. It formulated the Rukun Negara that was intended to create harmony and unity among the various races in Malaysia. Although the Rukun Negara has often been touted as the panacea for our current problems in the country, I demur on two grounds: First, this so-called “national philosophy” was crafted and promulgated under a state of emergency and not passed through the democratic processes afforded by the Federal Parliament; second, the ‘eminent persons’ responsible for it were not inclusive enough for they left out groups such as our indigenous peoples and Buddhists among others when they insisted on “belief in God” as one of the pillars of this state ideology.

The NEP was the game changer

Thereafter, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was launched in 1971. The NEP was aimed at “creating unity among the various races in Malaysia through reducing the economic gap between the Malays and Bumiputera on the one hand, and the non-Malays on the other”. It was a social re-engineering action programme formulated by the National Operation Council (NOC) formed in the aftermath of May 13, 1969 riots. This policy was intended to be implemented for a period of 20 years but it has since, under different guises, become a Never Ending Policy.

It is important to note that the New Economic Policy that has transformed Malaysian society and also institutionalised racial discrimination all these years was the prerogative of the National Operation Council (NOC) and not the NCC. The NOC was the preserve of the Minister of Home Affairs, the leaders of UMNO, MCA & MIC, Chief of Armed Forces Staff and Inspector-General of Police. The council of eminent persons in the NCC only dealt with the formulation of the Rukun Negara. The National Cultural Policy was announced also in 1971 after a conference at which a token number of non-Malay academics were invited.

So let us be clear about what the NCC actually achieved after May 13. The NCC certainly failed to prevent the numerous amendments to the Constitution which have entrenched inequality since 1971, the most serious of which has been Amendment 8A to Article 153 in 1971, allowing more racial discrimination through the “quota system”. Nor did it prevent the amendment to Article 121 in 1988 that made provisions for the recognition of Islamic shariah courts/laws – since then, the Judiciary has tended to defer its powers to the shariah courts whenever there are disputes in conversion cases.

A fine mess you’ve got us into

So how did we end up in the mess we find ourselves in at present that is troubling the “moderates” and corporate players?

First, we have to thank Dr Mahathir Mohamad for privatising most of our state assets when he came to office in 1981 right up to 2003. These were assets that we all owned that were sold for a song to private capitalists. By 1989, the contribution of the private sector to economic growth exceeded that of the public sector and Mahathir’s mission to transfer state capital to private Malay capitalist hands was well on target. During Mahathir’s tenure as Prime Minister, three main UMNO officials focused their attention on building “Bumiputera capitalists”. This was facilitated after Umno was declared illegal in 1988 and its assets were required to be sold off. The three were Mahathir himself, crafty Daim Zainuddin who was his finance minister during two phases in Mahathir’s term and thirdly, Anwar Ibrahim who, before his downfall in September 1998, was second in power to Mahathir. All three had their respective corporate connections.

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During the financial crisis of 1997, the state provided support for favoured firms linked to “Bumiputera capitalists” after the imposition of capital controls, such as reflationary measures that included cutting interest rates and making credit more readily available to these fledgling firms. Banks were also encouraged to lend more, and to bail out troubled firms – including that of Mahathir’s son – and a new expansionary budget was introduced in October 1998.

Apart from his historic creation of Malay private capital through privatisation of state assets and his grandiose projects, Mahathir left a racist legacy that was the result of his populist intention to win over the Bumiputera votes. The racial discrimination implicit in the NEP was continued without any public debate; poverty was racialised as mainly a Bumiputera phenomenon; “Bumiputeras only” institutions were expanded, and racial discrimination was extended to discounts and quotas for housing, access to investment funds, loans and scholarships. This racist legacy included a chauvinistic National Cultural Policy that tried to pander to Malay-centrism with dire consequences for ethnic relations, especially in 1987.

Mahathir’s term in office was marked by sensational financial scandals that were not unexpected of an authoritarian populist who did not pay much heed to accountability and good governance. No one knows about all these scandals better than the leader of the Opposition who must declare if Mahathir can get away with impunity.

Mahathir’s racist paradigm was translated across the board to incorporate political, economic, educational, social and cultural policies and he left a racist legacy that has today been latched upon by a far-right Malay supremacist group of which he is the patron. This Malay-centric ideology they purvey has become increasingly infused with extreme Islamic populism, leaving even “moderate” Malays worried for the future.

Najib has merely extended Mahathir’s methods of rule

At the 13th general election (GE13) held on May 5, 2013, the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition won 133 of the 222 seats in Parliament, preserving its majority, despite the fact that it only received 47.38 per cent of the popular vote against 50.87 for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. Soon after GE13, UMNO decided to punish the non-Malays for their support of the opposition PR by giving only 19 per cent of places in public universities to Chinese students and 4 per cent to Indian students even though the two ethnic groups together make up about 30 per cent of the student population. Mahathir castigated Prime Minister Najib Razak for wasting election funds on Chinese voters.

Image result for Najib and Rosmah Mansor

The GE13 results signalled a return to Mahathir’s strident racial politics and a U-turn on Najib’s pre-election attempt to reach out to the other races through his slogan “1Malaysia”. As noted above, Umno’s erstwhile Malay chauvinist credentials have since been farmed out to Malay far-right organisations like Perkasa and other groups. The latter will seek to prolong pro-Malay discriminatory policies and Najib’s pre-election attempts to cut back on ethnic Malay privileges in the NEP now seem politically futile.

While it is the growing trend of many countries to reduce their civil service, Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s Department in particular, has done the opposite. It has more than doubled its number of civil servants from 21,000 to 43,554. In stark contrast, the White House employs only 1,888 staff! To date, there are ten “Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department” alone, on top of other important agencies or governmental bodies that fall within the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. These include, among others, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commission of Malaysia, Department of Islamic Development, Public Service Department, Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, the Judicial Appointments Commission, Economic Planning Unit and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Image result for The Malaysian civil service

Image result for The Malaysian civil service

The oversized bureaucracy and the Bumiputera-ist populism have, in turn, created massive leakages in the economy. In 2010, Cuepacs President Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41 per cent of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were suspected to be involved in corruption. The 2009 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report revealed that Malaysians generally consider political parties and civil service to be the most corrupt groups, and the government’s anti-corruption drive to be ineffective.

Thus, instead of focussing on remedying the particular needs of the various poor classes in Malaysian society, the state has chosen to blame the plight of the Malay peasantry on “Chinese dominance of the economy”. At the same time, the state’s populist Bumiputera policy is intended to win over the allegiance of the whole Malay community while mainly benefiting the wealthier strata most of all.

The NEP and the state’s authoritarian populism

The state has subverted the democratic process through the proscription of so-called “sensitive” issues that include questioning the special position of the Malays, the national language and the rulers’ privileges. These proscriptions have been implemented through the use of detention without trial laws as well as the Sedition Act. Thus, the demands of workers and peasants, educational, religious and cultural organisations, indigenous peoples and regional minorities have been summarily dealt with through the cynical use of such repressive laws.

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The NEP has served to institutionalise racial discrimination and its continuation is crucial to the authoritarian populism of the Malaysian state. This is blatantly practiced in the armed and civil services, education and economic sectors. Communalism, which is an intrinsic part of the state’s ideology, continues to produce tension in Malaysian society today and even more so after the challenge to the status quo at the 2008 general election. Even while Malaysia has been experiencing healthy economic growth rates since the seventies, the Malaysian state has had to rely on continued repression and communalist policies to divide the people.

The movement for genuine reforms

To conclude, as long as pro-Bumiputera policies remain useful in winning Bumiputera votes, it is unlikely that the ruling class in Umno will want to dispense with this method of rule. Racism has been thoroughly infused in all the national institutions, including racist indoctrination of Bumiputeras in state institutions such as the BTN that recently came to light. Since Najib introduced the slogan “1Malaysia” to try to woo the disaffected non-Bumiputera voters after the 2008 fiasco, strident racism often associated with Umno Youth has now been outsourced to the far-right Malay supremacist groups. They continue to play the role of storm troopers and disrupt activities organised by civil society to promote social justice, democracy and human rights. UMNO’s competition with PAS has also heightened Islamic populism in the country, with dire consequences for ethnic relations. Above all, racial discrimination facilitates crony capitalism that is essential to UMNO’s monopoly of power. This has not changed since the Mahathir era.

The ethnic Indian working class and the indigenous peoples in both East and West Malaysia are the poorest communities in Malaysia; the former and the Orang Asli cannot rely on “Bumiputera” privileges, while the indigenous peoples of East Malaysia do not enjoy the same amount of state largesse as the Malays in West Malaysia even though they are categorised as Bumiputeras.

So, if there is going to be an NCC2, will the new council of “eminent persons” be prepared to face this reality and join the movement for genuine reforms in order to progress into the future. The road toward uniting the Malaysian peoples is through a concerted effort for greater democracy not only in the political realm but also in economic, educational, social and cultural policies. The state’s ideological view of “national unity” through one language and one culture and the dissolution of Chinese and Tamil schools are intended to fuel Malay chauvinism. The basis of unity rests fundamentally on the recognition of the equality of all nationalities. The imposition of one language and one culture on all the communities will produce only a hollow unity.

The basis for unity among the people has also to embody a commitment to democracy and policies that will improve the living standards of workers and farmers of all communities and at the same time unite them. These components involve the lifting of restrictions on legitimate political organisation and activity, as well as the encouragement of social and political institutions that ensure genuine popular control.

Thus, the task for all Malaysians is to build a solidarity movement for democracy, fully cognisant of the need to improve the livelihood of the masses and build a society that is progressive, inclusive and truly equal.

Kua Kia Soong is the advisor of Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia).

Malaysia: There is no place for bigotry

October 16, 2016

Malaysia: There is no place for bigotry

by Wong Chun Wai

Image result for Racist Jamal Md Yunos

The Racist Jamal Md Yunus

RED Shirts leader Dato’ Md Jamal Yunus had yet to be born when the racial riots of May 13, 1969 broke out.

And that means the ikan bakar restaurant owner and privileged beneficiary of approved permits to import luxury cars has no idea of the inflammatory fire he is now playing with. Ignorance isn’t bliss in this case.

The Sungai Besar UMNO division chief, you see, was born only in 1970 – a year after the black blot in the nation’s history and it would have been impossible for him to remember the scars of the tragedy that continue to haunt the nation.

Together with his supporters, they make it worse when they attempt to resurrect the ghost of May 13 each time there is a Bersih protest, with the Red Shirts responding with racial overtones. The spectre of May 13 should remain buried. These young thugs in red get involved in such scare tactics when they did not even exist, in any form, in 1969.

As we would say, forgive them for they know not what they are saying or doing. Malaysians are pretty sick and tired of people like Jamal and his racist counterpart Ali Tinju whose only talent is organising protests which smack of racism and are a threat to others.

Jamal has, by his own admission, not done too badly in life despite failing badly in the SPM examination. Claims of being “suppressed and oppressed” ring hollow each time he makes his racist rants.

Presumably thanks to his political connections, he is in a trade that lots of other Malaysians, including many Malays, would never be able to enjoy.

We don’t suppose that he is now driving a Lamborghini because of his grilled fish business and many of us don’t think it is due to his financial or economic ingenuity either.

He has now found himself in hot water because of a May 13 threat he has been linked to on Facebook. However, he has denied vehemently, saying it was a fake account, and he is also not tweeting now.

Let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt, but surely, he cannot deny that he is a serial racist rabble-rouser with his constant insane ranting, which has caused much unhappiness and anxiety among Malaysians.

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Mr Wong, isn’t he the Bigot-in-Chief?

His acts of hooliganism and gangsterism, to put it mildly, should, by right, be condemned by all. It is a credit to UMNO leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin and Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz that they have come out to make it clear that such threats will not be condoned and that the violent acts by Jamal and his supporters are “unacceptable”. The Police have been urged to take action.

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Depending on where the Najib wind blows, Nazri and Khairy can be bigots too

While many of us are also not in favour of the Bersih protests, surely there could be a more effective way of dealing with Bersih? The brutish methods of the Red Shirts are not going to endear rational and moderate Malaysians to their cause.

It won’t help UMNO win votes, especially the fence-sitter voters, and surely there is a need for serious thought on the effects of these Red Shirts to other Barisan Nasional component parties.

Jamal, who admitted that many of the Red Shirts were UMNO members, however, insisted that he was not representing his party and had acted in his capacity as the Red Shirts movement’s leader.

It is the bigoted and offensive actions of Jamal that have alienated urban voters. Politicians like Jamal should not assume that playing the Malay card will automatically win them the Malay votes.

Rowdy behaviour such as filling up Gurney Drive with hundreds of motorcyclists is also hardly commendable in civil society practices. We will be surprised if thuggery and intimidation are now the most effective way of winning elections. Tell us something we don’t know.

Jamal, for example, has bewildered us by blatantly defending the actions of his supporters in yelling “Cina babi” (Chinese pigs) as they chase away journalists who appeared to be Chinese and warning traders of Chinatown for purportedly selling fake goods.

He had put on a straight face and actually asked why the Chinese would be so sensitive about it because “from what I hear, pigs are food to the Chinese generally”.

We will remember that subsequently, the police had to use water cannons to break up his goons from entering Petaling Street in the capital last year. Traders in that area had to shut down businesses for fear of a possible riot despite assurances of security. Of course, we also recall that he denied his involvement.

Malaysia has moved on since 1969, although race and religion continue to be used by politicians. The changing racial demographics have made it clear, and the argument that the Malays are the oppressed majority no longer holds water when the Chinese population has shrunk dramatically.

The future of the Chinese who harbour political ambitions nationwide, except perhaps in Penang, must be viewed at a realistic level. It is mathematically impossible to influence the outcome of the elections, let alone have a Chinese become Prime Minister.

The likes of Jamal would love it if the Malays were to believe that such a scenario is possible.

The continuous play of the Chinese community as the bogeyman for the ills affecting the country is no longer believable nor realistic. The bumiputra community is well and dominantly represented in all spheres of public life, from the civil service to government-linked companies, public universities, the judiciary, police and army.

The continuous use of the May 13 threat to supposedly paint them as a community under threat seems shallow and hollow.

The electorate is now more educated and more exposed to information via social media.Surely, the old way to stir racial dissatisfaction no longer works.

For the participants of Bersih, the absence of the Malays in the 2015 rally is surely disturbing. The absence of PAS from Bersih 4 showed the inability of PKR to marshal Malay participation.The test this time is whether PKR, Parti Amanah and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia can ensure that Bersih 5 is multi-racial and not another Chinese protest against the Government.

If the Red Shirts are Malays, then the Yellow Shirts should not be predominantly Chinese, as that would sharpen the racial angle.

The lessons to learn is that any head-on conflict will not help Malaysia. No one wins. It is far more important that Malaysia and Malaysians win.

Voices of Moderation

The voices of moderation must prevail and must be louder now. There is no place for Malay or Chinese extremists or any other bigots from other races. Malaysia was founded by leaders who believed in moderation, consensus and power-sharing. It has been a successful formula and certainly that kind of sanity must prevail for Malaysia to move on.

UMNO has built on its brand of being a moderate party since its inception. It has a proven track record with its form of coalition government as the Alliance and now the Barisan is being used as a model even by the Opposition.

UMNO doesn’t need the likes of Perkasa, Isma and the Red Shirts to shore up support because in the long run, they are a liability.

Malaysia cannot be spending time on issues that have long been resolved as that serves little purpose. Whipping up racial or religious hatred for sure, whether by the Reds or Yellows or Greens, is pathetic and desperate in 2016 – 47 years after the 1969 tragedy. It is a tragedy that such a script is still used, or worse, to give reasons for such an act to be carried out.


Violence is in UMNO’s DNA–An Addiction to May 13

October 14, 2016

Violence is in UMNO’s DNA–An Addiction to May 13

by  Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” 

– Isaac Asimov, ‘Foundation’

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Red Shirt Commander-in-Chief

I have no idea if Sungai Besar UMNO chief Jamal Md Yunos made the alleged seditious Facebook post warning of a repeat May 13 on November 19 but I could care less if he did. Part of my apathy is because all this fall under the free speech which I support but more importantly, I see no reason to get upset or make police reports because (1) establishment politicians have issued similar warnings, and (2) it is not as if the police are going to investigate this latest incitement by an UMNO political operative.

As for (2), a good example would be when Sabak Bernam district police chief Nor Azmi Isa said there was no reason to investigate the egg pelting of a Bersih supporter because nobody was hurt. Silly me, I thought it was assault but maybe Bukit Aman should send out a memo that the police would only investigate cases were somebody was hurt. By the way, the definition of “hurt” will be defined shortly (forget the Penal Code) after the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have arrested all those who take to Twitter and Facebook and “hurt” the feelings of those the state deemed worthy of protection.

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The Ikan Bakar Man

After all, the leader of the red shirts has publicly stated that more aggressive responses would be meted out to Bersih, not to mention threats of vehicular manslaughter against the protestors exercising their democratic rights. Either Jamal has watched far too many ‘Fast and Furious’ movies – one is excessively many except if the person is a Jason Statham fan, then any ‘Furious’ movie with him in it is worth a watch – or he does not understand physics.

However, threatening Malaysians with violence, especially racial violence associated with May 13, is what UMNO does best. Anyone interested in a brief summary with links to pro-opposition and pro-establishment narratives should refer to Greg Lopez excellent summary in the ‘New Mandala’. I quote this paragraph of his piece to make a point:

“However, one thing became very clear after May 13. Any attempt to challenge UMNO would be met with the strongest response – legitimately or illegitimately. May 13 established the concept of Malay supremacy through the blood of hundreds if not thousands of Malaysians, especially of Chinese heritage. This led to most non-Malays having no options but to accept UMNO hegemony (ketuanan Melayu/Malay supremacy) or leave Malaysia. Many choose to migrate – a trend which has continued as a result of systematic discrimination against the non-Malays.”

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The Buffoon UMNO Information Chief

Six years ago, Penang opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim in a spat with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng not only referenced May 13 but also “saying UMNO has three million members, that he could call in the Malay ‘Tiga Line gang’ and asking the army to take over the duties of the police.” Of course, calling in outsourced thugs to secure political victory or usurp political power is a threat many in UMNO have no problem making.

Indeed, in my piece ‘In defence of our realm’, I took an exception to the police report filed by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) against Perak opposition leader Nizar Jamaluddin because he claimed that Prime Minister Najib Razak was having secret backroom talks with the security apparatus of this country.

The issue was this: “In 2010, Azhar Ibrahim was suspended for six months from the Penang state assembly for making ‘references to the May 13 incident and inviting the Armed Forces to take over the government’, not to mention his threat that Malay triad organisation ‘Tiga Line’ would be called in to teach the state government a lesson.”

“So, why no report against the UMNO assemblyperson? UMNO distanced itself from these inflammatory remarks, but my question is, why didn’t MAF chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin lodge a police report alleging sedition against UMNO’s Azhar?”

Political violence is new norm

Meanwhile, with UMNO potentates distancing themselves from the red shirts, the idea that political violence is the new norm is taking root in a political landscape dominated by an incompetent opposition and a kleptocratic regime riddled with internal schisms. And while a few members of UMNO make the appropriate noises about rejecting political violence, the reality is that because of the way UMNO is run, the line between being a UMNO member and outsourced thug is non-existent.

Remember what UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said about the establishment – “(Bagaimanapun) jangan memandang rendah kepada kerajaan kerana mereka ada kuasa, ada televisyen, radio, duit dan media. Mereka juga ada alat-alat risikan dan sebagainya. Media dia lebih tahu pada kita. Dia tahu kita belum tahu lagi. Sama ada dengan kekuasaan itu, parti yang berkuasa akan kalah saya tidak tahu.”

So this idea that the criminal underclass and political power – some would argue that there is no difference – within UMNO is not something new except that these days the latter legitimises the former. This is why an organisation like the red shirts have a free reign. They do not answer to anyone except UMNO potentates and they fear no repercussions from the security apparatus because as Razaleigh said, “jangan memandang rendah kepada kerajaan kerana mereka ada kuasa”

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The UMNO Mafia(on extreme left IGP Khalid Ashburn)

And how does the establishment shape the narrative? As recent as three years ago, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed friendship with a so-called secret society like Tiga Line even though it was outlawed by his own Home Ministry earlier in the year.

He said, “The 6,171 Malays, they are not real thugs (samseng), they were Pekida members and were part of the Tiga Line group, Gang 30, Gang 7 – these are festivities (kenduri-kendara) gangsters,” Furthermore he added, “I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done.”

And what exactly should these groups be doing? I would argue that if three years ago you made the claim that Tiga Line was disrupting Bersih activities, you would get UMNO members saying that these thugs are only doing what needs to be done.

Just to add a bit of nuance to this idea of political violence. Some folks would disagree with me for making this link but since I think it is a legitimate point to make, here goes, the current Deputy Prime Minster also made these statements with regards to the ‘shoot first’ policy of the PDRM:

“He was also reported to have advocated a ‘shoot first’ policy for the police at the same event, in dealing with suspected gang members in the wake of a violent crime spree that has resulted in, according to him, Malays making up the majority of the victims.

“He reportedly said there was nothing wrong with arresting the over 40,000 known gangsters in the country, half of whom are Indians.

“‘What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays. Most of them are our race,’ he was quoted as saying.

“‘I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If (we) get the evidence, (we) shoot first.’”

Therefore, while certain UMNO members are distancing themselves from the red shirts, I would argue that separating the red shirt DNA from UMNO is impossible. UMNO does not speak softly and carry a big stick. UMNO is the big stick.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Malaysia: Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunus–an UMNO-sponsored thug

October 13, 2016


Malaysia: The Untouchable Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos–an UMNO-sponsored thug

The damage brought on by Jamal Yunos will haunt Barisan Nasional.

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Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos–UMNO sponsored Trouble Maker and Law Flouter

As America twists and turns in an upheaval brought on by the Republicans’ championing of their great orange hope, a parallel can be drawn here in Malaysia. Trump is the ultimate provocateur, the stereotype of White Male Privilege rolled into a xenophobic, nativist populist demagogue who embraces sexism as an acceptable facet of dealing with him and his money.

Many have tried to find find someone in Malaysia who is analogous to Trump, and it has become clear that that person is none other than the flavour of the week, Jamal Yunos.

Jamal plays a role similar to Trump’s. He is associated with Malaysia’s own Grand Old Party, UMNO, one that is increasingly unappealing to young and minority voters, and certainly to women voters. Trump has his Tea Party and Jamal his Red Shirts, factions which share a nativist, conservative and fundamentalist view of the world and harbour a deep suspicion of the Other.

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The Tea Party steadfastly refuses to believe that Barack Obama, the first black President of the United States, was even born in America despite his release of his long form birth certificate, and the Red Shirts gather around the notion that Malay sovereignty or right to rule is being challenged, especially by the Chinese-majority DAP.

Perhaps we must be thankful that Jamal is not running for the highest office in the land. However, his actions and the actions of his followers have riled up moderates and conservatives alike and is scorned universally by Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sarawakians, and Sabahans, making him perhaps the most unpopular petty politician in Malaysia. Even now, the Barisan Nasional parties are scrambling to distance themselves from him in light of a posting on a Facebook page in his name that threatened a repeat of the national shame called May 13. He has denied that the page is his, but we’ll see.

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What Najib  will do to survive

His crass behaviour is unacceptable to the spirit of humility and respect that is prized in Malay culture, and his claims of being a champion of race and religion are met with derision. The longer UMNO is associated with him and the more the Deputy Prime Minister defends him, the deeper the belief among members of the general public that Jamal is given carte blanche by the UMNO leadership to throw the country into chaos.

We might add that the familiar “I have Chinese and Indian friends” excuse is false equivalence, reminiscent of the way Trump supporters like to say they have “black friends” to excuse the worst of their racist and nativist tendencies and to diffuse the notion that they are, deep in their hearts, indeed cruel little men.

This issue is no longer just Bersih versus the Red Shirts. It is now a battle to assert the true nature of the Malaysian character and it is fought between the vast majority of rakyat and the ilk of Jamal. It is a struggle for the face of Malaysia.

It now looks like the 14th general election (if it is held) will be a referendum on the increasingly xenophobic nativism of some quarters in UMNO, the state of the economy, and the common Malaysian’s wallet. Bread and circuses may be the name of the game, but the game is quickly going out of hand. One shudders to imagine the natural resolution of Jamal’s current terrorising of the public.

If no action is taken by the authorities, it seems violence is inevitable, even if Bersih agrees to stand docile at its rally, with the participants never chanting slogans or displaying placards, never raising a hand. But perhaps that is for the best. After all, the world took notice of Gandhi only when his peaceful protest contrasted with the barbaric behaviour of those who hounded him.