June 9, 2018
Chris Hedges socks it to Trump
A Scumbag has risen to the highest office in the Land–Chris Hedges
June 9, 2018
May 5, 2018
Malaysia’s GE-14 marks the end of Malaysian Chinese politics after 60 years of dwindling and divisive outcomes.
The political issues the Chinese community face at the 14th general elections (GE14) hasn’t changed much for the past 40 years. Since the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971, what the Malaysian Chinese community wants can be easily summarised in a single sentence: the community wants political equality and equal treatment, and a free hand in the economy. And an UMNO-led government will never grant these two wishes, now or ever.
By almost every political measure, the Malaysian Chinese community’s political interests are systematically pushed aside in the name of a ‘Malay Agenda’, or to be blunt, in the name of the Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) ideology. It’s taken for granted that if a Malaysian Chinese company wants government business or to grow bigger, it needs one or two influential Malay partners, preferably one with a direct connection to UMNO. The gold standard is to have Malay royalty as your business partner.
UMNO President Najib Razak has lowered his harsh rhetoric against the Chinese Community as he needs their support for GE-14
Politically marginalised by government policies, Malaysian Chinese sometimes call themselves ‘second class’ citizens. From the annual distribution of university scholarships and placements to business opportunities, being a Bumiputera Malay means you have the first bite. In the economic arena, big government projects are usually granted first to Malay-majority companies or joint-ventures between Bumiputera Malay and Malaysian Chinese business people. Many government projects and procurements require the bidder to be Bumiputera-majority companies. In practice, non-Bumiputera companies are simply not allowed to take part in the tenders.
This is the reason why the Chinese-based parties in the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN), the most prominent being the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Gerakan, do not substantially discuss public policies of national importance. They accept initiating important public policies are the purview of UMNO. The MCA and Gerakan’s roles are to react to the policies after they have been adopted by the government, and political success is measured by their ability to tone down or blunt the policies that often hurt Malaysian Chinese interests.
Both the MCA and Gerakan have defended their legitimacy over the past four decades through “service politics” rather than advocating political equality. The MCA and Gerakan systematically established ‘service centres’ to help constituents with day-to-day problems rather than dealing with policy issues. Constituents can seek assistance in their dealings with government departments, or welfare assistance such as applications for the government’s BR1M cash handouts. This model has proven effective for the BN Chinese parties at a local level as municipal councillors are directly appointed by the BN government.
At the same time, the BN Chinese parties also engage in ‘fear politics’. They insist that without their presence in the federal cabinet and state governments, the implementation of Ketuanan Melayu will be even more severe for the Malaysian Chinese community. By claiming to blunt or modify the sharper aspects of pro-Bumiputera policies, these parties defend their relevance in the BN coalition.
MCA President, Liow Tiong Lai
THIS METHOD HOWEVER fell apart in 2013. At the 13th general elections (GE13) in 2013, then MCA President Dr Chua Soi Lek took a political risk by declaring to the Malaysian Chinese community that MCA would not join the UMNO-led government if it failed to win the support of the community. This desperate move backfired and the MCA suffered heavy losses at GE13, ending up with only seven parliamentary seats and 11 state seats. Chua kept his promise and the MCA declined all appointments to the federal cabinet. Within a year however, Dr Chua was defeated in a party election by Liow Tiong Lai, who stood on a platform of “returning to cabinet to represent” Chinese interests. To UMNO’s credit, it stood by its oldest ally, probably knowing that the MCA’s losses were due to UMNO’s aggressive Malay agenda. The MCA was duly given two cabinet posts in the federal government plus other positions after Liow’s party victory.
This was a watershed episode in Malaysian Chinese politics. The Chinese community learnt that life goes on without any MCA representatives in the cabinet. The MCA, or for that matter, any Chinese representation in the federal cabinet, did not alter their daily lives. The Malaysian Chinese business class could not care less as they have been directly doing business with UMNO proxies for decades. The stark truth is that the Malaysian Chinese community does not count politically at the highest level of BN government.
While the MCA “in and out” saga was going on, the Malaysian Chinese community could see that Penang’s DAP-led state government, and DAP representatives in the PKR-led Selangor state government (elected in 2008), were doing a good job in ensuring that anti-Chinese policies at the state level were kept to a minimum. While affirmative action policies were still being pursued, the Chinese community could see that more resources were being channeled into Malaysian Chinese-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), and the Chinese schools sector. In other words, it was possible to pursue both Malay interests and Chinese interests in most areas. The general perception among Malaysian Chinese was of an UMNO-led government pursuing Malay interests at the expense of Malaysian Chinese interests.
Blatant attacks and insults against the Malaysian Chinese community by Malay and Islamists right-wing groups in the past few years have only hardened the attitude against UMNO. It does not help that senior UMNO officials come out regularly with blatantly anti-Chinese statements. An infamous incident was a senior UMNO minister telling Malays to only shop from a Malay-owned shop, which he later followed up with a government-funded project to build a Mara digital mall where only Malays could rent the stores.
Is it any surprise that UMNO is seen by most in the Chinese community as the purveyor of anti-Chinese racism? On top of this, most in the Chinese community believe that Prime Minister Najib Razak was involved in the 1MDB corruption scandal. Not only is UMNO allegedly racist, but its leader is an alleged kleptocrat as well.
At GE-14, the MCA has modified its ‘participation in government’ rhetoric with a new twist. Rather than just saying that the Malaysian Chinese ‘voice’ will be missing if they are not elected into any federal cabinet, the MCA has trumped up its role as a bridge between Malaysia and China’s One-Road-One-Belt (OBOR) project. In MCA contested constituencies, there are prominent billboards of MCA leaders meeting President Xi Jinping and other China leaders. The message can not be clearer –the MCA is gaining importance in the UMNO-led government because the massive investments in the Malaysia-leg of the OBOR projects. And this will require the MCA’s expertise and links with China. UMNO needs the MCA as UMNO needs the OBOR-linked investments. With China’s rise as the regional power, UMNO will have little choice but to take the MCA and Malaysian Chinese more seriously.
WILL THE MALAYSIAN Chinese community heed the MCA’s new approach? The short answer is ‘no’. The MCA (and Gerakan) do not seem to realise that the Malaysian Chinese community has moved beyond these parties’ style of ‘service and fear’ politics. Because of their inability to rollback alleged anti-Malaysian Chinese policies of the past decades, they will not buy the argument that China’s rise will lead to a similar rise in the MCA’s reputation for UMNO. They see the MCA as a party of opportunists who are getting personal benefits by agreeing to be UMNO’s Uncle Tom. This view is so ingrained in the Malaysian Chinese community since 2008 that only a mass hallucination will alter this view.
Most of the parliamentary seats won by the MCA and Gerakan are in constituencies where there is a high percentage of Malay voters. The incumbent MCA President Liow Tiong Lai is standing in Bentong where 47% of voters are Malay, while Gerakan’s president is standing in Teluk Intan, a constituency where 41% of its voters are Malays. UMNO delivers the Malay voters to the MCA and Gerakan, thus enabling the incumbent to win the seats with only 10 to 15% of Chinese votes. In constituencies where there is a clear Chinese majority, the winner in almost all cases is the DAP.
Former MCA President Ong Tee Keat
I will leave the last word to Ong Tee Keat, another former MCA President. In a confidential remark to US embassy officials, he said “there was once a day in Malaysia when the MCA would get the leftovers, but now we are just hoping to get some crumbs from the UMNO table.”
*This was the notorious headline run by UMNO-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia in the aftermath of GE13, scolding the Malaysian Chinese for the party’s poor results.
March 17, 2018
Prime Minister Najib Razak met Mel at Taxpayers’ Expense
COMMENT | “When you know someone is a thief, you stay away from him,” Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Beverley O’Connor, host of “The World” programme by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday.
Mahathir, of course, was referring to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is spending a long-weekend junket in Sydney at the ASEAN Heads of Government hot-air talk-shop – again at the expense of Malaysian taxpayers.
Thief isn’t the only label Mahathir used to describe Najib. He also called him a “monster”. There are far better labels for Najib and for UMNO-BN members. “Monster” is an appropriate enough metaphor. But beyond labels, Malaysia has a serious international image problem.
There was a time when Malaysia was known to the world for Mahathir’s neo-nationalist Malay brand of loud-mouthness. That’s whenever he railed against, say, Singapore, his racist rants against Jews and Malaysia’s British colonial masters – the very lot who taught him how to “divide-and-rule” his own multiracial citizens. Mahathir single-handedly made the term ‘citizen’ a profoundly dirty word.
Malaysia became even more famous after Mahathir cooked up “facts” to jail his then protégé Anwar Ibrahim and chucked him in prison. When top cop Abdul Rahim Noor black-eyed Anwar in jail, Mahathir merely shrugged in the “saya tidak peduli” manner.
Now Anwar and Mahathir have become bosom buddies in a double-act to exorcise from Malaysia’s ripped-asunder soul Najib.
The Mahathir hypocrisy hasn’t gone unnoticed, as O’Connor reminded Mahathir. Mahathir responded sheepishly, with the tiniest regret. He said it is more important to look forward to the future to overthrow the great big thief in their midst and an Umno that has moved so far to the right of its 1946 “objectives” that both the party and its president are rotten to its core.
Mahathir said UMNO has been destroying itself from within, that Najib “has destroyed” the original UMNO and that the party exists solely to support its President and an authoritarian regime.
Note that Mahathir never mentioned any of UMNO’s coalition partners-in-crime. Nonetheless, the mission now, as everybody knows, is for the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan cavalry to lead the charge and rout UMNO before Najib and his band of crooks rob the country blind.
Nothing new in all this. The lineage and the so-called discourse (whatever discourse means) and the battle-cries go right back to 1969 – the year democracy in Malaysia died after a long-simmering brain snap.
My friend S Thayaparan, a Malaysiakini columnist – whom I’ve never met – has been at great pains recently to make the case that “Malaysian voters” must stand up and save the country. If there’s a certain urgency in Mahathir’s determination, there’s equal stridency in Thayaparan.
But there’s also a problem. In fact more than one problem. First, the electoral system, run by the Election Commission, is not chartered to ensure full and fair elections; it remains chartered to ensure fully foul elections.
It’s also chartered not to uphold democracy, even democracy with Malaysian characteristics, but to maintain a Malay-led kleptocratic authoritarian regime that thinks it is above the constitution, therefore above the law. The regime is the law since rule of law has ceased to exist for nearly half a century.
Second, Mahathir had for 22+ years presided over just such a regime when he led it. He – more than Abdul Razak, Hussein Onn and Mahathir’s successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – had every time turned a blind eye to every skin-flake of known or rumoured corruption within his UMNO, his regime, his Malay-dominated bureaucracy and Police, and among the coterie of Malay, Chinese and Indian cronies or oligarchs he’d nurtured.
Those accused or nabbed, like Perwaja Steel’s Eric Chia, “somehow” managed to get off scot-free. It doesn’t take a genius to work out how.
Not when the separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary, as a democracy would like to have it, disappeared virtually overnight under Mahathir. Yet here he is crying that Najib has violated everything decent and, worse, he’s getting away with it.
‘Muhibbah’ only in name
Something else is worth remembering. What Najib is doing – centralising structural and institutional power in his hands through what I’ve called the UMNO-Leninist state – is very much the same thing Mahathir was doing when he ran the place like a dictator. Or close enough to one. The hypocrisy is stunning.
Third, the desperation among “Malaysians” opposed to the regime is perfectly understandable. The desperation for the coalition of opposition parties, Pakatan Harapan, is also perfectly understandable.
To go as far as enlisting Mahathir is one thing; to make him the leader of the pack and, more, Prime Minister if Harapan should win, is unthinkable.
The man who created the 21st century monster of Malaysia, among the many other monsters who clutter the regime from across the ruling coalition, was Mahathir. He gave each one of them long enough rope to enrich themselves, heeding Deng Xiaoping’s dictum. Najib too embraced the licence. Najib’s “living the good life,” Mahathir put it on television. So are Mahathir’s cronies and nepotists.
Mahathir can’t have it both ways. He needs to own up to the past wrongs when the rot started to really set in. Mahathir now says Malaysia needs to reset good governance by ridding the country of Najib et al. Fine.
But (a) what good governance did Mahathir bring to Malaysia when he was Prime Minister? And (b) he must not become Prime Minister a second time, not even as a seat-warmer for Anwar.
The King of Malaysia has a duty to the country. All the Sultans do. The King knows Najib has been ripping off Malaysia; he cannot continue to sit on his hands and wait for ridiculously pointless protocols before pardoning Anwar – if he dares to pardon Anwar at all. But he must if he does not want his country monster-ised further.
Anwar at the helm gives Harapan the legitimacy it needs to fight the elections. This is not to suggest Anwar (photo) is unproblematic. Even with Anwar at the tiller isn’t a sufficient condition to rule.
Thayaparan says “all Malaysians” must vote, that they must do their bit. I would agree if I knew just who “all Malaysians” were – another point Thayaparan missed in my letter. Show me one “all Malaysian”.
Here’s what I see. Here’s what I’ve always seen. And on my last visit to Malaysia very recently I saw this much more clearly.
There’s no “all Malaysian”. There are no “all Malaysians”. There are Malays, Chinese, Indians and so on – discrete ethno-tribal, sociological, economic and political units separated by competition between race, religion and ideology.
The old story. I don’t need to tell you this. The ruling coalition is also dominated by similar units separated by race and religion. So, too, Pakatan Harapan.As we do in primary math addition, this will be carried over into the future.
Therein lies Malaysia’s core problem. The country might be able to solve some of the economic divisions that rift the people, but it can’t and it won’t solve every one of them or every other accompanying problem until competition between race, religion and ideology is resolved.
“Muhibbah” exists but only in name. Always has since 1969. Najib, UMNO and their BN clan know this and they’ll play this up to the hilt, no matter what the fallout.
There are many other problems that will inevitably be brought into general election No 14 from GE13. Many are beholden to UMNO-BN. Some are also evident, again, in the opposition.
Like it or not, Harapan is divisive because it is itself divided. In fact – and I agree with Thayaparan – Harapan looks woefully inadequate. It hasn’t learnt from its mistakes from GE-13. Those mistakes were fundamental, starting with its rather lame manifesto.
Harapan may have done better than expected in that election but it can’t hope for the same lucky streak in GE-14 to break the proverbial UMNO-BN camel’s back once and for all.
It would be wonderful if it does but UMNO has some things on its side, and a certain important – no, critical – momentum that Harapan would wish it has too. It won’t if it keeps carrying on like it has. But Mahathir isn’t the answer.
MANJIT BHATIA, an Australian, is a US-based academic, researcher and analyst specialising in Asian and international economics, political economy and international relations. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
March 15, 2018
by Ambassador (rtd) Dennis Ignatius
Last week, the Interdisciplinary Research and International Strategy Institute launched its latest publication, Pen’China’an Malaysia: Tergadaikah Tanah Kedaulatan Bangsa? [The Sinicisation of Malaysia: Is Malay sovereignty being mortgaged?, according to one translation].
It turned out to be yet another Malay supremacist gathering masquerading as an academic event.
Bogeymen and brothers
Interestingly, the book itself opens with a chapter on the influence of the Jewish diaspora, a hint perhaps that there is a parallel between the Jewish diaspora and the Chinese diaspora. Linking two of the Malay world’s favourite bogeymen – Jews and Chinese – strengthens, I suppose, the siege mentality necessary for bigotry to thrive.
Going by press reports, the panelists who were assembled to discuss the book used the opportunity to censure Malaysian Chinese, with speaker after speaker questioning their loyalty and commitment.
PERKASA’s Deputy President, for example, warned that the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia posed a threat to the Malays. Noting that “we have seven million Chinese here, four million in Singapore, six to seven million in Thailand,” he went on to argue, rather absurdly, that “the thinking of the Chinese is stereotyped…the Chinese in China and those here all think the same.”
The implications were clear enough: the Chinese diaspora are potential fifth columnists for a resurgent China.
Other speakers seemed to readily agree. “All the Chinese in the world are brothers…so they will fall along with Beijing,” a lecturer from the Islamic Science University was quoted as saying.
ISMA’s Deputy President also questioned the allegiance of Malaysian Chinese while suggesting that their contributions during the Emergency were exaggerated.
Bigotry and Ignorance
The fabricated and racist narrative that Malaysian Chinese cannot be trusted, that they are ungrateful, that they remain an existential threat to the nation, that their contributions to national development are overblown, is now so ingrained among certain segments of our society that it has become an article of faith.
It does not help, of course, that UMNO itself regularly reinforces this narrative as it did recently with its outrageous attacks against Robert Kuok.
I suppose there is some truth to the dictum of Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister) that, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it and you will even come to believe it yourself.”
As might be expected, the panelists offered no real evidence to back up their arguments, including the contention that “all Chinese think the same;” they, however, offered plenty of evidence that all bigots are cut from the same cloth.
In the end, one is left with the unmistakable conclusion that all this palaver is simply about Malay supremacy; the Chinese are mere convenient scapegoats.
China and Chinese
To be sure, there are legitimate concerns about the growing influence of China in the wake of burgeoning bilateral political, economic and military ties.
Clearly, there is a pressing need for a rational debate about our relations with China to ensure that it serves our national interests above all else and that it is driven by national priorities rather than political expediency or the interests of a few well-connected Malay cronies.
Now we know why: UMNO is a Malay supremacist political party
Like it or not, China is a neighbour, a global power and a major trading partner. Good relations are not an option but a necessity. Building a national consensus on the issue is, therefore, essential if we are to develop stable and mutually-beneficial relations with China.
And integral to this effort is the need for a clear distinction between China and Malaysian Chinese. China is a foreign country, we may agree or disagree with its policies; Malaysian Chinese are fellow “sons and daughters of Malaysia” (to quote from Prime Minister Najib’s Lunar New Year message) and should never be treated with suspicion or contempt simply by virtue of their ethnicity.
Hounds and hares
In any case, it is ironic that a Malay supremacist political party (UMNO) spearheads the push for closer strategic ties with China and the loyalty of Malaysian Chinese are questioned. Well-connected cronies get the contracts and local Chinese get the blame.
UMNO and its fellow travelers are clearly running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, extolling the benefits of good relations with China (and profiting from it) while exploiting the insecurity it generates among unthinking followers.
Our nation might be better served if all those who are zealous for its honour look a little closer to home – at the theft of public funds, the abuse of power, the betrayal of trust, the violation of our constitution – instead of focusing on superficial and self-serving definitions of loyalty that divide and diminish our nation and unjustifiably alienate so much of our citizenry.
Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 14th March 2018
March 8, 2018
By Kua Kia Soong
I believe young Malaysians like Wan Saiful Wan Jan should have a go at the political game, which is like a merry-go-round at a fun fair, and that the ageing politicians who have been hogging the horses for nearly half a century should get off and let other youngsters have a go.
Having said that, I expected young intellectuals like Wan Saiful would at least have some intellectual honesty to avoid the discredited road of race-based parties which have been the bane of Malaysian society since independence. He has joined the “Pribumi” party which is not only closed to “non-Pribumis” like myself, but is led by Malaysia’s most well-known autocrat and father of crony capitalism.
Now why does an erstwhile “liberal” like Wan Saiful want to exclude a fellow Malaysian and human being from his party? After all, isn’t liberalism a political philosophy founded on ideas of liberty and equality? So, what has happened to his liberal thinking?
Furthermore, he now states that the Malay agenda remains relevant and any change will come slowly. That is great for the Malay crony capitalists who have been milking the country all these years since May 13, 1969. It is also a very effective populist ideology to get “Pribumi” votes in elections.
Looks like PH still wants Malay agenda
This is all bad news for those who have been dreaming the Malaysian dream of equality, justice and democracy.
I have been monitoring Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) statements and I have observed a loud silence on the extension of the New Economic Policy.
Now with PH having embraced the leader of PPBM as the prospective Prime Minister, I can bet anybody that there will be no mention of an end to the NEP in PH’s 14th general election (GE14) manifesto when it is announced.
This is indeed bad news for those who had hopes of a more liberal economic policy and for all who have criticised the government for its racially discriminatory economic and educational policies.
Wan Saiful, who is supposed to be their policy maker, has already said as much: “But now, having entered party politics, I am more or less resigned to the fact that the (Malaysian Agenda) you are talking about is not going to happen in my lifetime as this is in the constitutional provision.”
Wan Saiful said while PH must maintain its idealism, it also needs to prioritise the reforms that it can push through.
First, as a policy maker, Wan Saiful should be reminded that the so-called “Malay Agenda” was twisted from its 1957 form to a different “Bumiputera” form in 1971 with amendment 8A to Article 153 which allowed the quota system and all the other excesses of racial discrimination.
Apart from anything else, the term “Bumiputera” is not even in our independence constitution. Does Wan Saiful not remember that the 1971 NEP had an expiry date of 1990? Can the Malay elite keep changing the rules as they go along?
So how does the ‘Malay Agenda’ operate?
The Bumiputera/immigrant differentiation to justify racial discrimination against non-Bumiputeras continues to be peddled by the ruling Malay elite right up to the present day.
By some conceptual trick, these favoured people are defined as strictly “Malays” no matter where they come from (even Kerala or the Middle East) and therefore qualify as “Bumiputeras” who are entitled to special “rights”. PPBM may have another conceptual trick up its sleeve; we don’t know yet.
It is astounding that the bugbear that was thrown into the independence struggle to put the anti-colonial forces on the defensive – viz who are the “pribumi” (indigenous people) and who are the “pendatang” (immigrants)? – continues to be thrown at Malaysians in order to divide our nation to the present day.
The keepers of the pribumi estate overlooked an elementary point of logic – namely, how could a “non-pribumi” become a “pribumi” simply by assimilating when the latter is strictly a historical category?
Isn’t it amazing that with all the current hype about the “1Malaysia” slogan, this reference to non-Malay Malaysians as immigrants continues unabated?
These Malay elites are obsessed with race which is not surprising when there is so much at stake for them in terms of economic gain. Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Malay Dilemma” is rooted in that paradigm.
This obsession with race has little currency in the anthropology or sociology disciplines, not to speak of human rights in the international community.
Roland Braddel, former President of the Council of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and once legal adviser to Umno has pointed out: “There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as the Malay race; there are Malay people, the Malay culture and the Malay language, etc.”
A liberal intellectual should know that.
Needs-based, not race-based policies
It still amazes me that intellectuals in the government cannot conceive of ways to help the poor and marginalised without raising the issue of race.
With all those years of training in the UK, is Wan Saiful really incapable of proposing policies that are not race-based? Admit that the so-called “Malay Agenda” is really a populist agenda to secure votes in the elections and not because there is no other choice.
Sixty years of racially-based policies have divided us while enriching the well-connected crony capitalists linked to the political elite.
It is time to replace race-based policies with needs-based measures that target the lower-income and marginalised sectors.
The NEP was scheduled to end in 1990 but has become a populist, never-ending policy to win over the Bumiputeras while benefiting mainly the political elite.
It is common sense that poor rural Malaysians should be assisted based on their needs according to the particular economic sectors in which they live and work.
Today, with the lack of ethnic diversity in the civil and armed forces, it is high time that recruitment and promotion in these services are based on merit.
As a policy maker, Wan Saiful will no doubt be familiar with international reports that point to a compelling need for Malaysia to shift from a race-based to a needs-based policy in order to address imbalances in society and improve the democratic process to ensure good governance and rule of law.
With the “Malay Agenda”, Malaysia’s economic progress continues to be plagued by a lack of innovation and skills, a low level of investments in technology, declining standards in education, relatively high labour costs and sluggish growth in productivity.
The cost and consequences of the racially discriminatory policy in Malaysia have been immense especially since the NEP in 1971. It has caused a crippling polarisation of Malaysian society and a costly brain drain.
According to the World Bank: “The diaspora likely reached about one million people in 2010, compared to about 750,000 in 2000… the brain drain is estimated at a third of the total diaspora. This translates into a number of 335,000 in 2010, which is up from 217,000 in 2000.”
While the Chinese middle class in Malaysia has largely adapted to this public-sector discrimination by finding ways to make a living in the private sector, this has not been so easy for working-class Indians, Chinese and other marginalised communities including the Orang Asli.
More potentially dangerous and insidious is the effect this widespread racial discrimination has had on ethnic relations in this country. Unity can only be promoted through an affirmative action policy based on need, sector or class, never on race.
Kua Kia Soong is the adviser for Suaram.
January 16, 2018
by Anith Adilah
Ethnic Chinese army veterans have railed against Malay-Muslim coalition Ummah today over the latter’s erroneous claim that only Malays had resisted British colonists, Japanese occupiers and Communist insurgents.
At a press conference today, Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association (Macva) President Major (Rtd) Tan Pau Son said cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad’s remarks were not only historically and factually wrong, but had belittled the contributions of the non-Malay veterans including the Ibans, Indians, Sikhs.
“We participated in defending our country and some of us still have scars to show that we were there — risking our lives,” Tan told a press conference at Mavca headquarters at Midvalley Boulevard here.
Tan said Mavca, with a membership close to 1,000 veterans since inception on August 31, 2016, and thousands who have passed on before them is a true testimony of a large group of Chinese veterans who had served loyally in military campaigns.
“Needless to say there were also Chinese veterans who sadly lost their lives and limbs in the defence of the nation. All Malaysians should rebutt all these inaccurate and irresponsible assertions made by Ismail,” he said.
Tan also pointed out that there were six Chinese members of the armed forces who were bestowed with the Panglima Gagah Berani medals for their extreme bravery: Colonel Maurice Lam Shye Choon, Major (Rtd) Lee Ah Pow, Second Lieutenant (Rtd) David Fu Chee Ming, Sergeant (Rtd) Choo Woh Soon, Sergeant Cheng Eng Chin, and Ranger Mat Isa Hassan.
Meanwhile, three others, Lieutenant Colonel Chong Kheng Ley, Lieutenant Colonel Leong Fook Cheong, and Captain Tien Sen An, were awarded Pingat Tentera Udara for their valour.
“We have Chinese veterans who receive gallantry awards and this alone is a testament that the Malays were not the only ones who protected the nation,” he said.
On Saturday, Ismail who is the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, also asserted that only the Malays had battled the Communists, which he claimed made the community a target of the predominantly-Chinese Insurgency that lasted for forty years.
One particular war veteran who narrowly escaped death while fighting a battle in Southern Thailand in 1978, said he was hurt and angered by Ismail’s remarks in the convention outlining the demands of the Muslim lobby.
Warrant Officer Patrick Lee Kai Tong said Ismail’s statement was not only ignorant but hurtful to armed forces who had witnessed countless deaths and suffered various injuries in the name of the country.
Lee, now 71, walks around with a hole in his left arm after being shot by the communists who had zeroed in on the Nuri helicopter he was in while landing to provide ammunition supply to his own troop.
“Does he even know what it is like to be in a warzone? He can say what he want but do not hurt people’s feelings,” Lee said.
“Maybe this scar from an M-16 is not enough for me to prove that I was there fighting for the country but know that every memory, every death — even the smell of it stays with me.”
Tan also chided Ismail for conveniently forgetting that there were many Malay members among the Communist insurgents.
“In Ismail’s speech, he failed to mention that the 10th Regiment Malayan Communist Party was predominantly a Malay regiment unit operating in the jungles of Northern Malaysia and Southern Thailand. The leader was Abdullah CD and his followers Suriani Abdullah, Shamsiah Fakeh, Abu Samah Mohamad Kassim and Rashid Maidin,” Tan said.