Thursday, 27 December 2007

The "Social Contract" - A Malaysian "Cold War"?

"A country that exists in a permanent state of war cannot exist as a democracy"
-Chris Hedges

There has been a lot of talk about the "social contract" that was formulated by the "Alliance" under Tun Razak, during the post 5.13 period.

Just what is this "social contract"?

To me, it appears that the deal was actually a "ceasefire of sorts", in an unofficial "war" declared by the "young turks" of UMNO, who had decided to revolt against the principles of democracy that the nation was built upon. This ceasefire, was a unilateral declaration, just as the "war" that they had declared upon the "pendatang", with their eye on the 'pot of of gold'.

It was possibly a conspiracy by an elite group of Malay leaders, who were hungry for power, and thirsting for wealth. Without a doubt - they too had legitimate grouses, just as Hindraf did when they conspired to revolt against nobody specific, refuses to condemn the leadership directly, but 'only the policies' - while setting the stage for the demise of the "old guard". The ball was set rolling, after the act of "giving independence" to Singapore, in order to weaken the "opposition" and Tunku's leadership.

The "social contract" was nothing but the "fair" distribution of the spoils of war, with the "co-conspirators", having to agree to "unwritten rules on a level playing field" , possibly while under threat. One thing is for sure - Penang grudgingly agreed to be "bought over", while some other parties did so with much gratitude, in return for being propped up by the 'conspirators'. The media then, only had to disseminate the propaganda of "cooperation" to pacify a nervous rakyat, in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

This had launched a kind of "cold war" that existed in the political circles, that depended on the "unspoken agreements", wherein each group has to take care of his own selfish interests, with or without the approval of "other parties". This had also facilitated the consolidation of power among certain groups who were until then regarded as the "underworld". There was a "war" on the (probably small-time, recalcitrant and dissenting) "triads" launched amidst much fanfare, during the aftermath of the events described. (Tun Hanif, UTK and DSP Kulasingam could probably tell us a lot of "grandfather stories" on these matters!).

A "deal" was also struck with the communist insurgents, who agreed to lay down arms - I really wonder what they got in return (other than possible economic rewards), when they were ready to kill for their beliefs just a while earlier .......

Tun Razak did his job well, when he planned and executed the development schemes which were to transform Malaysia. As a result of this "fair distribution of wealth", the initial few years had to do justice to the bloodletting of 5.13 - and it was indeed given a kind face for all to see. Dato' Hussein Onn simply carried on the policies of Tun Razak, giving due recognition to all the different branches of Government and rule of law, while Dato' Harun was "penalised". It was after the exit of DHO, that the economic policies of Tun Razak had matured, and ripened for the picking - and what a picking it was, done with total abandonment and disregard for the Law!

The Law was now an instrument to protect and enrich the elite, and not the people/ the dispossessed/ the minority. It was an instrument used to blindfold the majority, unleash tyranny upon the minority while "keeping" the elite. Any dissenting voice was considered an enemy of the state, declared to be subversive and a security threat, requiring "drastic measures" to be silenced.

All the rhetoric about the Chinese and Indian domination of the economy was nothing but hogwash of political rhetoric, as there wasn't much wealth to speak of in those days, anyway. This was only a psychological war that was unleashed in the Malay mind- a delusion, using an ideology of racism as its cornerstone, which remains to this day. The same rhetoric is played out time and again for the unthinking masses, who swallow the drivel dished out by the mainstream media and political stalwarts - lock, stock and barrel.

All this is done, while 'they' throw the peanuts that are eagerly lapped up (by those regarded as monkeys by the elite) as rewards, for their emotional outbursts in response to the "state propaganda", while the "pickings" went on. This had also created ill feeling among most of the "Nons" (and many Malays too) who were sidelined, suppressed and repressed as a result of the policies that were purportedly, "affirmative".

While this "picking" was going on, the masses were fed with more reasons to perpetuate this "psychological war" that was destroying the very fabric of the nation. To advance this siege mentality and deepen the "divide", so as to prolong the "picking", a new dimension/paradigm was added to fuel the war - Religion.

All of a sudden, there was a surge in the number of "Bumiputras" who were eligible for UMNO Baru membership, with Religion being used to perpetuate "certain policies" that undermined the rule of Law, as per the constitution. The Executive was now supreme- not the Federal Constitution and the Judiciary no longer independent. To serve the "masters", what we had now was two parallel legal systems, thus creating conflict, discord and division among the people.It had somehow transformed itself into the monster of a psychological war- of Muslims versus Kafir, to join the worldwide bandwagon of "Islamic Revivalism" (initiated by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and Palestinian conflict).

What we have seen in this beautiful nation since its formation, is a series of events that perpetuates and fuels the feeling of animosity among various groups, who then have politicians to "kowtim" in order to portray an image of "unity and cooperation" for posterity. Meanwhile, the boil festers at the back of it all, creating the need for "repressive" laws to maintain the "peace, stability and harmony" of the volatile nation. This perpetual state of "psychological war", works to the benefit of the elite who can rule with ease in a divided society, vulnerable to "destabilizing factors" of sectarian politics.

The result of all this is a fractured society, which is vulnerable to the dictates of the "iconic rulers" who act with total impunity, on a people groping for leadership. In such a society, there can be no democracy - only a Fascist dictatorship, that has to rule with an iron fist and repression, as in many a third world nation (eg Pakistan and other "whatever-stans") which would otherwise have to be ruled by primitive tribal laws.

With the current state of affairs, Malaysia will soon be governed by dictatorial regimes or dynasty, playing to the feudal mindset perpetuated by "Ketuanan Melayu". With "Ketuanan Melayu", there can be no Democracy - only a dictatorship.

The Malays have to decide, if that is what they want for their future - the ball is on their court, and UMNO Baru's. If they feel the opposition cannot run the country, the UMNO Baru stalwarts/ 'young turks' should see the need for "separation of powers" for proper governance and progress of the nation. There has to be a balance of these powers, with a visible and viable opposition within the hierarchy, if not in the opposition or parliament, to promote free speech and debate of substance.

Malaysia is today a nation in a permanent state of "cold-war with itself" - and right now, democracy is dead.
It is up to the Malays to decide if they want to revive democracy and progress, or regress into a state like Pakistan or Saddam's Iraq.


Millennium issue

Dec 23rd 1999
From The Economist print edition

After a lengthy career, the Almighty recently passed into history. Or did he?

WHEN your friends start looking for proofs of your existence, you’re heading for trouble. That was God’s situation as the millennium got into its stride.

Few ordinary folk, though they had different names for him, doubted the reality of God. He was up there somewhere (up, not down; in his long career, no one ever located him on the seabed), always had been, always would be. Yet not quite so far up, in the churches and monasteries of Europe, many of its cleverest men would soon be racking their brains for ways of proving it.

Anselm, for instance, and others centuries later, such as Descartes, reckoned if you could think of God, then there must be a God to think of. Thomas Aquinas saw everything in motion, so there must be someone to give the first push. Others felt that a universe so elegantly designed as ours plainly must have a designer. And so on, and ingeniously on.

Yet why bother with proof, if everyone knew it anyway? One, because great brains are like that; two, because not everyone did. Out there were the gentiles, Saracens and such. But did not they too say, “There is no God but God”? Yes, but they didn’t mean what good Christians meant. They must be taught better. And there God’s troubles began.

He let Hindus paint him as what, to others, looked like a blue-faced flute-player with an interest in dairy-farming

They were largely his own fault. Like many great personalities, he had countless admirers who detested each other—and he let them do so. For one of infinite knowledge, he was strangely careless how he spread what bits of it to whom. To some he dictated the Bible; to Muhammad the Koran. He was much concerned with the diet of Jews. He let Hindus paint him as what, to others, looked like a blue-faced flute-player with an interest in dairy-farming. Each set of believers had its version of what he was like and what he had said. No wonder cynics began to hint that, if believers differed so widely, belief might be a mistake.

The believers then made things worse. For soon it was not sets but sub-sets. Christians nationalised God, as Jews had long since, like some coal mine. He’s on our side, the English told the French. No, ours, Joan of Arc hit back. Next, the Reformers privatised him: unser Gott, fine, yet not the king’s or the church’s, but each man’s own. From this umpteen versions of what “he” might amount to, or think, were apt to spring, and did. Close kin could disagree. As late as 1829, a bishop warned Britain’s House of Lords of divine retribution if it granted civic rights to Jews; happily, their lordships, aware that stupidity thrived in God’s house as in their own, took the risk. In the 1840s American Methodism split, north against south, arguing whether his word condemned slavery or justified it.

Nor did the rivals seem even to believe their own versions. The Christians turned not cheeks but swords against Muslims, Jews and each other. Muslims, while averring that “in religion there is no compulsion”, did the like to them and to Hindus, and put to death apostates from Islam. For centuries, such rivalries led to torrents of blood. Was this a good God at work? Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum, the Roman poet Lucretius had written: that’s where superstition leads. It was no disproof of clerical logic, but it was a reasonable point.

And in time reason began to take a hand. God, OK, but less mumbo-jumbo, said a platoon of English “deists” in the early 18th century; we can reach him without revelation, let alone incense. This was a risky step, as French and German thinkers were soon to prove. If human reason was so powerful, did man need God? No, said Enlightened men like Diderot (to be silenced, but not convinced, when the mathematician Euler told him “a + bn over n = x, donc Dieu existe”). The French revolution buried God, albeit Napoleon soon dug him out.

Darwin did not help, blowing apart the first book of the Bible

Darwin did not help, blowing apart the first book of the Bible. Nor did critical 19th-century German micro-examination of what was left. Still less did men like Marx, who saw the close links between the ruling class and the ruling churches, and was eager to blow up both; come the 20th century, the Soviet Union did so, literally. Religion was the opium of the people, give them the adrenalin of communism instead. God was dead, as Nietzsche had announced; and even if the superman Nietzsche envisaged to replace him somehow never got born, communist man could do it.

Trouble was, communist man didn’t; the people did not agree; and the corpse just wouldn’t lie down. He popped up in the oddest places. “You don’t find many atheists in a landing-craft heading for Normandy,” recorded a padre aboard one such in June 1944; even though the Almighty was about to let many of their joint flock be turned into fish-food. A French journalist, no less, was ready in the 1960s with the best possible evidence, if it was true: a book entitled “God exists, I have met him”. (Or could it have been “her”, as even the current pope was heard to hint recently?)

And this was in the cynical, questioning, anti-authoritarian West. Ever fewer westerners share the church’s—or the synagogue’s—beliefs, and far fewer still attend their services. Yet outside the rarefied world of thinkers, remarkably few deny the possibility of a supreme being; less than 10% of Americans. In Muslim and Hindu societies, the thought is barely heard.

The test will come on Judgment Day, when man, we are told, will meet his maker. Or will it be God meeting his?