On 26 June, two month ago to the day, I hosted HERE an article by Commander (Rtd S Thayaparan, Royal Malaysian Navy. It generated good coverage and was featured amongst other blogs by Centre for Policy Initiative and Lim Kit Siang.
This morning I got a call from Commander Thaya……it went like this: Remember the reply Anas posted on his blog? I prepared a rebuttal, you know, but I held it back. However, when he took on Pak Sako’s article in MI, I decided that enough is enough….you don’t take on the revered and much loved Pak Sako.
I told him that I can host his article (as I too am familiar with Pak Sako’s piece and Anas talking down to Pak Sako) HERE and HERE.
So here is this former gunnery officer doing what he does best – SHOOT!
Pity our Nation* or A Delayed Rebuttal to Anas Zubedy
Thank you for your letter. It is nice to see that you started your letter with a salam, although in zorro-unmasked.blogspot.com, they took out the earlier parts of your letter.
Dear Mr. Zubedy, thank you for your civil response. Let me assure you that there was no ulterior on Zorro’s part or mine with regards to the missing opening paragraphs of my letter. We were aiming for brevity and nothing more. I have been getting acquainted with your blog postings and hopefully my response here reflects an understanding of your position
I would like to make a few comments.
1. Like you, I am not for race-based political parties. I have, on many occasions, in my blog, full page ads, and talks, proposed that BN and PR slowly but surely work to make themselves one big party each which is non-race or religion based.
Let’s be clear. I am not opposed to political parties based on Religion per se but am wary from experience of Religion being used as a tool to manipulate and control populations towards fascistic ends. A fine example would be the Shiv Sena party in India.
3. I also agree that truth has been manipulated by people in power and some have used race wrongly to divide our country for the purpose of clinging onto power. I see this in both in BN and in the opposition.
I suppose this is evidence of your centrist’s credentials. Honestly, Mr.Zubedy I am under no illusions that political parties manipulate the truth. My concern here is that the truth is being manipulated by people who have power not people who want it. Our history books are not myopic, they are distorted, manufactured, fabricated, that is what I meant by the “truth being distorted” and by all means if you can demonstrate that the “Opposition” has had as much influence in the truth in this context, as the Barisan National, please share. Also, please refer to comments by sacked Utusan editor Hata Wahari on the dissemination of biased information by the mainstream press to the rural Malay folk in Malaysia.
On your question if I have forgotten YB Karpal Singh and the other races in DAP, I have not. Perhaps it was my mistake not to clearly state that my letter was a response to the DAP’s specific endeavor to focus and attract Malay membership. That is why in the letter I only focus on the DAP and the Malays.
A few weeks ago, the respected Tunku Abd Aziz lamented that he has failed to bring in Malay support. The DAP also launched Roketkini.com with the purpose of engaging the Malay segment. Thus my letter was a response on how the DAP can get Malay support and become multiracial.
For your information, YB Karpal Singh is one of my favourite politicians. I admire his stance on anti-frogging. If you browse through my blog, on many occasions I have supported him.
And as I keep saying, the DAP is not a stand in for the Chinese community. You say you admire Karpal Sigh and how he has served his country through the DAP, then why is it, your letter sounds like an admonishment to the Chinese community Vis –a-Vis the DAPwith nary a mention of the multicultural aspects of the party? Read the last line of the paragraph where you reference Tunku Abdul Aziz - “how the DAP can get Malay support and become multiracial”.
The DAP is already multiracial, something you continue to fail to grasp. As I mentioned in my original letter, your Open letter was overflowing with the old canards perpetuated by the likes of Utusan Malaysia and the ethnocentric venom of certain Barisan National politicians. But if you really want to want to help DAP attract more Malay support here are a few suggestions.
A) Discover what principles the DAP and the Malay community have in common and then write about them.
B) Get like minded Malays and join the party, making as much noise as possible in the process
C) Influence the party from within and make sure your perspective on the Malay community is heard.
6. I have to respectfully disagree with you that the only legitimate natives are the Orang Asli and the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak. The Malay stock is an entity that includes the inhabitants of the whole Malay Archipelago, including the Phillipines and Indonesia. A biography of Jose Rizal by Rafael Palma lauded him as ‘The Pride of the Malay Race’, though he had Chinese blood and was a Christian.
The early inhabitants of the Malay Archipelago came in waves of migration between about 3000 to 1500 years ago. The first theory is that they originated from Indochina, flowed down the Peninsula and then crossed to the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and the Phillipines. The second theory is they originated from South China and moved across to Borneo and the Phillipines. These theories are based on archaeological evidence. This you can read from former PKR deputy president Dr. Syed Husin Ali’s book, ‘The Malays – Their Problems and Future’. He writes that the people living in the Peninsula for thousands of years are undoubtedly the true ancestors of the present-day Malays, the Neolithic groups often being described as Proto-Malays.
The book ‘The Malay Archipelago’ was published by Alfred Russel Wallace in 1869. Wallace was a naturalist who is best known for independently proposing the theory of evolution that Charles Darwin later published. ‘The Malay Archipelago’ is an account of Wallace’s scientific exploration through the archipelago from 1854-1862, where he found more than a thousand species new to science in the zoogeographical boundary now known as the Wallace line. It was this exploration that gave him his insight on natural selection. ‘The Malay Archipelago’ was one of the most popular journals of scientific experiment in the 19th century.
I am familiar with both Wallace’s and Ali’s (on a totally unrelated note, I think Syed Hussein Ali’s book, Two Faces: Detention Without Trial, should be required reading for secondary school children and by anyone interested in the Realpolitik of this country) books or should I say theories on the Malay race – even saying “Malay” and “race” I fear will lead us into an etymological debate which is beyond the scope of this reply. I am also familiar with the criticisms that both theories have received. But let’s just say for arguments sake, I am persuaded by their theories on the origins and migration of these so called Malays. My question then is, were these “Malays”, Muslims?
My point is the historical importance of religions like Hinduism and Buddhism which is made to seem foreign at present is in reality part of the fabric of who the Malays are today. In your open letter to Mr. Guan Eng you wrote “Without an iota of doubt, make it clear that you completely accept history that this country is sired from a Malay polity; with a history, religion and way of life that are from the Malay-Islamic tradition.” But the fact is, that it really wasn’t only a Malay-Islamic tradition, that this country was sired in, was it? The fact is that Malay history, culture and religion is intimately entwined with the cultures of the Chinese and Indians. Can the same be said of the Orang Asli and the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak?
I understand that by pointing out these inconvenient facts, people who are predisposed to your line of thinking will take offense and suddenly claim that people like me are calling you bigoted and racist especially if you have stood up for the rights of the non-Malays. I know of one former Prime Minister, who weeps that when a Malay stands up for his rights, he is called a racist. But what exactly are these Malay rights?
Why is it I never see a proponent of “Malay rights”, campaigning against the corruption that has infected the party that supposedly represents the Malay community? Why is it I never see a proponent of Malay rights, campaigning against religious bodies that seek to segregate the Muslim community from the rest of society? (See the JAIS posting on attending NonMuslim religious celebrations). Why is it I never see a proponent of Malay rights campaigning against the disenfraichement of the rural community? Why is it I never see a proponent of Malay rights demanding that Malays be exposed to the English language so they can compete in this globalized world?
I know of political parties made up of Malays that seek to tackle some these issues but I have never seen a proponent of Malay rights tackle any of these issues. What I have seen is the ruling UMNO and their franchise holders, who have defined Malay rights solely as a matter of master and serf and the greatest irony is that more Malays make up the latter than the former.
Presumably when you or people like you have stood up for the rights of the Non Malays it concerned the disparity of treatment they received from a system predicated on ensuring that the various races of this country are divided. You were standing up for a belief that people should be treated as equals. But when it comes to Malay rights, it’s a question of the majority being the true people of this land and how all others should be grateful for being allowed to dwell here. How does one reconcile these two positions or more importantly how do “centrists” like you reconcile these positions?
The answer is you can’t. When my Malay friends talk about my rights they are also talking about their rights because our rights are the same.
However, in no way I will condone anyone who says that the non-Malays after 1957 are ‘pendatang’. Those are bigots and we cannot allow them to hurt the non-Malays like that.
If you truly believed this, why in your message to the marchers of the Bersih 2.0 did you wish a safe journey to PERKASA? I am all for free speech. I believe PERKASA and UMNO Youth have every right to march but I am appalled that you would dishonor those BERSIH marchers who marched as Malaysians by equating their objectives with those of PERKASA.
PERKASA an organization which threatened the Chinese community. PERKASA, an organization which demonized the Chairman of Bersih 2.0. PERKASA an organization which continues to harass any organization or individual who attempts any reasoned argument on justice and equality.
Even mentioning them in the same sentence of this is outsourced bigoted arm of UMNO (with members comprised of current UMNO members and a patron who was a former Prime Minister) is something which warrants an apology on your part to every Malaysian who felt the batons, smoke and chemically laced water of those meant to protect us - PDRM.
Have you ever stopped to think that what you say about Malay rights is very similar if more palatable to what PERKASA says about Malay rights? Have you noticed how some non-Malays are given Bumiputra status and they in turn refer to themselves as Malay defenders while denigrating the non-Malays who have been here for generations as “pendatangs”?
I agree with you that our history text books are myopic. They do not highlight all the great contributions of the non-Malays towards this wonderful land of ours. I am glad that there is a group of people who are now remedying this.
As I said, the history of our land has been fabricated and mangled beyond belief. From renaming roads to fit the ethnocentric narrative to expunging historical figures and incidents, to covering up diversity in the name of Malay patriotism, it truly is as Polly Toynbee said that bogus history fuels present day national delusion. There are no people remedying this. Remedying this would mean that the history taught to our young would be reinstated to reflect reality but what we have are a few courageous people shouting at the top of their lungs and their voices being drowned out by the bigots and racists who are desperate to preserve the status quo and the imagined glories of a manufactured past.
7. I also respectfully do not agree with you that the Malays did not have any other choice in sharing Tanah Melayu. They could have decided to go to war but they did not. That is because by nature, they are gracious. By saying the Malays are gracious, in no way do I mean that other cultures are not. I believe those who have lived among Malays would understand what I mean by the Malays being gracious.
I did not say the Malays never had a choice. I said the Orang Asli and indigenous peoples never had a choice. Why would the Malays go to war? Malay culture was already historically influenced by non Malay cultures. You make it seem that we appeared at your doorstep with a bowl in our hands. The British already had a firmly entrenched a class/race system within Malaya and no doubt laid the foundation for the racial strata’s that the present day powers that be eagerly latched on to for their own purposes. But do you really think there was no sense of unity between the various races? Do you really think that all Malays thought of their fellow Malayans as foreigners? I suggest you acquaint yourself with history of the Left. Read up the archives (if one exists) of what the British termed that “pinko newspaper” (Please refer to Said Zahari’s book, Dark Clouds before Dawn), Utusan Melayu to get an idea of the state of politics and what Tanah Melayu actually meant. The Malays were not gracious; their survival depended on the non Malays as much as the survival of the non Malays depended on them.
8. On the point of who is the one to have disrespected Malay rulers, I am not going to debate whether it is UMNO or not. I am not from UMNO; you may want to deal with them directly.
Mr.Zubedy, you brought up the point of respecting the Malay rulers and respecting Islam. Have the courage of your centrists convictions and simply state what you believe is true. After all you believe what is “right is right and what is wrong is wrong no matter who does it”. Who has disrespected the Malay Rulers?
9. On the point that DAP has to say thank you to the Malays, please understand that the purpose of this suggestion is to help DAP win the hearts of the Malays. You need to understand that in Malay culture, when you say sorry and thank you, it is the Malay culture to return it. I have strong convictions that if the DAP says thank you, the Malays will say thank you in return.
In no way would I suggest that we should not say thank you to all Malaysians, especially those who pay taxes. In my open letter I was talking specifically to DAP and addressing their endeavour to attract Malays into their fold.
How is saying “thank you” going to win the hearts of the Malays? Let’s forget about what exactly the DAP has to be thankful for, since members of their party have been imprisoned, the party itself vilified all in the name of national security and stability, even though all they have done is exercise their democratic right to participate in the political process. How is this going to win the hearts of the Malays? You do realize that the Malays have been manipulated into believing they are under siege. You do understand that these days, the average Malay is powerless and at the mercy of a system that supposedly favors him or her but in reality serves the elite of the Malay ruling class. You do understand that there are two rules, one for the privileged Malay and one for the underclass. How exactly is an apology and a thank you from a perceived racist Chinese party which has been painted as chauvinistic and anti Malay going to attract more Malays when in reality all it would probably do is reinforce the stereotype already being perpetuated?
10. Personally I do not know if YB Lim Guan Eng understands the Malays, but it is obvious that the DAP does not understand Malay sentiments. The recent refusal of Sarawak DAP to use the songkok in the Sarawak assembly is a case in point. I also do not think the DAP understands that for the Malays, even if you give them food, shelter, money and everything else, it counts for nothing unless you respect their adat. It counts for nothing unless you respect their culture. The Malay pepatah – ‘biar mati anak, jangan mati adat’ explains the position of the core Malay group.
The recent refusal of wearing the songkok is juvenile but understandable in the context of the political reality in Sarawak. Understand now, that I think the money being channeled into pomp and ceremony could be better used to serve the community. I also realize that it is this insignificant slight which is being used as another example of the chauvinism of the DAP when in reality if one looks deeper perhaps he will discover how the DAP has actually helped the Malay community. I read Zairil Khir Johari’s comment piece and although find his analysis compelling, I still don’t see this as a slight that warrants an apology to the Malay community, as you would have us believe. Certainly not in the light of some of the vitriol not to mention lopsided law enforcement that the DAP and other opposition parties have to face.
As for the Malay pepatah, “biar mati anak, jangan mati adapt” I find myself in agreement (one of the few occasions, I assure you) with our former Prime Minister Tun Dr.Mahatir Mohammad who said “'Biar mati anak jangan mati adat sudah tak boleh dipakai. Kalau anak dibiar mati, siapalah lagi yang hendak menyambung adat?”
It is people like you Anas, who should be harping on what the DAP has done for the Malay community instead of enabling the more ethnocentric members of your community into believing that some slight has been committed on them. Malay culture like most others I suppose is filled with hypocrisy. Those who claim their sensibilities have been offended have no qualms about hurting the feelings of others. The only difference is, in the context of Malaysia, they are protected by the powers that be.
11. Your comments on not understanding what I meant in my letter by practicing Malay adat and peribahasa shows that you do not really understand what is important to the Malays. At the same time however, I agree it is of course good to concentrate on the social needs of the community.
Mr.Zubedy, I have trained Malay officers. I have served with them during the Indonesian confrontation. I served with them during the harrowing days of 69’. I have fasted (on three occasions) with my junior officers during Ramadan and complied with the government regulation of granting unrecorded leave for Muslims for the now nonexistent practice of Mandi Safar. I can assure you one learns very quickly how to interact with the “other” within the close confines of a ship. I know what is important to the Malays and believe it or not what is important to them is the same as what is important to the non Malays. If you actually believe that the Malays are as prone to emotional outbursts as you imply, Ibrahim Ali and his ilk would have far more support than they have now.
12. Again it seems that you do not understand Malay adat. When I urged the DAP to apologize, it is not the kind of apology that has to be warranted which you are talking about. Malays will apologize without asking why. They will just apologize. If you do not understand this, read my letter again – I wrote that the Malays will say sorry even if they did no wrong. For the fact that you asked this question on the reasons behind saying sorry, you do not truly understand the Malays.
Since you say that the Malays will apologize without asking, what exactly has the dominant Malay party, that bastion of Malayness apologized for lately? After all if this is a cherished adat, what has UMNO the champion of Malay rights, apologized for lately without being asked to? What has PAS apologized for? Does not Umno and PAS understand Malay adat ? After all UMNO is losing Chinese and Indian support. Maybe they should take your advice and apologize to the non Malays. I will make it easy for you, Mr. Zubedy, here are a few reasons why UMNO should apologize, since I am being schooled in Malay adat perhaps being led by example is the way to go:
A) Apologize for briefly imprisoning Therese Kwok
B) Apologize for sitting with the cow head protestors
I could go on but I look forward to hearing how you don’t represent UMNO even though they supposedly represent the majority of Malays yet they don’t seem to display the proper adapt that you claim the Malay community cherishes. My point here is that you make grand statements of how the Malays are a gracious community, deeply entrenched in their reverence for adat but yet the most influential Malay party demonstrates none of these traits.
13. I did not advocate Malay supremacy. I advocated the historical understanding of the transformation of this land. In no way do I consider the Malays as more supreme than any other culture. All cultures are equal in the eyes of God. But in Malaysia I will put pre-eminence to the Malay and native cultures of Sabah and Sarawak. But in no way would I like to live without the Chinese and Indian cultures around me. My love for these cultures perhaps surpasses many of the people from the cultures themselves.
You do not advocate Malay supremacy yet you seem to think us non Malays should be grateful for being allowed to dwell on your land. If you truly understood the historical transformation of this land, you would have no need for an acknowledgement or gratitude from the non Malays. If you truly believed that all cultures were equal you would not put pre-eminence on the Malay and native cultures of Sabah and Sarawak. I have no idea how one could love the Indian and Chinese cultures yet expect gratitude and acknowledgement from them or at the very least not realize that acknowledgement and gratitude is a two way street.
14. On YB Lim Kit Siang, my suggestion that YB Lim Kit Siang resigns is in context of DAP seriously wanting to attract the Malays. I apologize, I’m in a hurry to help create a non-race based political party, and I see YB Lim Kit Siang’s current active involvement in the DAP as a stumbling block. In no way did I mean disrespect. It is just politics. The Malays will not throng into the DAP as long as YB Lim Kit Siang is still actively involved. That is the Malay sentiment.
And my issue with this is that you have not given any valid reason why Lim Kit Siang should go. Believe me when I say that I too have issues with the DAP. It is not a perfect party. No party is but if you are calling for one of its members who has devoted his life to the party to resign, I would appreciate some constructive reasons. Simply saying that this is the Malay sentiment does not count. You may think you know the Malay mind but I too have a wealth of experience to draw from and the Malays are hardly the irrational ‘natives’ prone to emotional outbursts that they are often painted out to be.
15. The reason why I suggested a merger between the DAP and PKR and not DAP and PAS is simple. Both DAP and PKR have a multiracial make up. PAS is Islamist. Until they change their stance, a merger would be very difficult. As I stated earlier, I for one would jump for joy if two main parties would dissolve internal sub-parties and merge together.
Fair enough but my point is that what Pakatan has going for it, is its true diversity in terms of ideological perspectives. I value PAS’s religious take on things as much as the DAP’s and PKR’s more secular perspective. Any form of merger would diminish the vibrant if boisterous discourse or at worst fracture an already fragile alliance.
Alas, my letter to YB Lim Guan Eng is a respond to DAP’s own endeavor in engaging the Malay segment of the population. Tunku Aziz seems to not have an answer to the problem. I am providing some possibilities. If the DAP is serious and smart (which I do think they are, judging by what they are doing in Penang) , they should test my ideas with the Malay market. Ask the core Malay group that they have failed to attract if this chap Anas got it right.
Although I do not speak for the DAP but will defend or criticize the party, when circumstance warrants, I am sure they have duly noted your suggestions. I think you should seriously consider my suggestions as an active member of the voting public if you sincerely believe that the DAP needs to change its course. It may be cold comfort to be a centrist in any political party but I think your efforts would not be in vain. Furthermore I think the DAP should seriously consider the analysis put forward by Mr. Johari and value his contributions to the DAP. I believe comments such as his will be extremely helpful to the party in this new found terrain they find themselves in.
Once they have the feedback, they can adjust their policies and actions to their own benefit. Failing which, DAP will remain as a party that is dependent on the pendulum swings on Malaysian politics. DAP cannot rule the country with their fixed deposit voters mainly from the Chinese segment of the Malaysian rakyat.
While I think all parties have their fixed deposits, I think what is more important is that they continue building consensus with other like minded parties and sustain a platform which appeals to diverse range of voters. I don’t think creating a monolithic two party system is the way to go and would much prefer a diverse range of voices competing for votes and building consensus to govern the country.
Lastly, Brother Commander (Rtd) S. Thayaparan, I would like to thank you for engaging and disagreeing with my letter in a most empathetic manner. You did not resort to demonizing me, name-calling, or playing God, pretending to know what is in my heart. For that I respect you. It is people like you that we need more of, to make this country a better place - people who know how to agree to disagree; people with care and love; people with the consciousness of God in their hearts. I would love to have teh tarik with you and discuss more on how we can make this country a better place.
I have no idea how to make this country a better place. The future of this country rests in the hands of the Malay community. There is no need for self described centrists like you to “fight for Malay rights”. The BTN courses already do a good job in ensuring that the Malay community is infected by such nonsense. You bemoan the fact that Malaysians seem to view everything through a “racial lens” but you yourself are guilty of this “mental sickness” with your obsession with the distorted history of Malaysia, your pompous advice of how the Non-Malays could learn from the Malays (even though historically and presently there is a healthy transfusion of cross cultural practices despite the efforts of a regime which attempts to separate us along racial lines) and your partisan views of the current UMNO regime (although you claim neutrality on matters of politics) The feel good propaganda of who the “real Malaysians” are that are perpetuated by blogs like yours and the mainstream media has reached Goebbelsian heights. The realpolitik is that if this country is to be a ‘better place” the majority of Malays will have to decide which political alliance best reflects what they think of as “Malaysian”.
Commander (Rtd) S. Thayaparan
Royal Malaysian Navy