Saturday, 30 August 2008

"Merdeka" & The Haunting Spectre of May 13.


"A good constitution is infinitely better than the best despot."
- Thomas B. Macaulay

If the Constitution is worth anything, if the Declaration of Independence is worth anything, if the boys who died on the field of battle did not die in vain, fair employment practices are correct and necessary."
-Dennis Chavez (1888-1962)


Somehow, watching the video clip above
, didn't quite get me "all misty eyed".
It actually gave me goose-bumps!

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Declaration of Malayan Independence - "Merdeka" was shouted out seven times by The Tunku, along with the crowds at Stadium Merdeka. It was an "independent" Malaya - at least, that's what it was supposed to mean.
At that time, Sabah & Sarawak didn't fit in the equation, and didn't matter at all. Six years on - on 16 September, 1963, Malaysia came to be, with the incorporation of Sabah & Sarawak.
It is rather odd that this day, when the nation came to exist isn't a National Holiday, but Merdeka Day or some other festivals are - I wonder why .....

Could it be becos Umno/BN wouldn't be able to take total credit for it, and indulge in its shameless narcissism? The absence of Parliamentary Opposition members in the "celebrations", despite being partners in nation building, is quite telling .....
Anyway, I do wish there would be more information about the pre-Malaysia Sabah/Sarawak politics and leadership, and terms of agreement with their counterparts in the Peninsular, is made available to the public to enhance national integration.

Although Tunku helmed the leadership, he was just the compassionate face of Umno. Tunku was the "happiest Prime Minister in the world" oblivious to the workings of Razak's Umno - just as required by the powers that be at the time.
The Malay leadership was however quite discontented with the lack of 'progress' on the part of the Alliance leadership (read, Tunku), which was made to be seen as "bourgeoisie".
Razak on the other hand, had decided that the time was ripe for 'change' - and what is perceived by many as a political coup.

He may have been (relatively) right to do what he did, considering the circumstances at that time - so as to realize the vision which he had for the future - although the foundation upon which he built, was flawed.
He possibly had to "trim" the divisive "chauvinism" that existed among certain quarters at that time.
He needed to prevent the perception that the "Malay identity" of Malaya would be lost, had Umno not asserted their "dominance" in Malaysian polity and Razak wasn't entirely wrong, nor was he to be blamed entirely for this scenario.
Without a doubt, there were "pirates" within Umno, who saw a "pie" in the hegemony. But then again, there were "capitalistic" elements in other parties as well which sought to disregard/look down upon the Malays (as being "Kampung/backward"), and dominate the economic sphere - they never really cared for the Malay sentiments or "nationhood", being absorbed in their immigrant industry and mindset of "survival/progress".

It resulted it May 13, 1969 - the day that lives in infamy in our minds and hearts.This was the "foundation" upon which Razak built, to reshape/re engineer society using the affirmative action of NEP, which was meant to be one of "compassion" (although discriminatory to a certain extent).It was meant to be an instrument to reassure the Malay stake in nation building - and not as an instrument of arrogance and pride.

It was why he always had learned men of calibre around him, who were by and large quite liberal by today's standards. The cabinet had many lawyers (I remember Tan Sri Kadir ...) who understood the law, unlike the many spin doctors and imbeciles of today. Razak himself made efforts to be called to the bar, despite being in power - couldn't say the same for anybody in the post-Hussein Onn era, though .... and at one time, we even had a Medical Doctor telling people he knew the law better than the best legal minds!

This "May 13" is however, used time and again by certain quarters to intimidate, threaten and rule, like it is a "feather in the Cap", an "achievement" to be proud of - when it should be a day of shame - to rally their unthinking followers into "asserting their rights" (which are actuality, only 'privileges' with an expiry date).
Merdeka Day as we know it, is "celebrated" as the achievement of one party, the BN/Umno/MCA/MIC - and not that of the people, which includes the Opposition.

I have my doubts that Tun Razak intended the politics of Malaysia to evolve into one, that is as today, dominated and corrupted by Pride, Arrogance, Piracy, Racism and Religiosity - under the guise of NEP. It is my belief, that although the NEP was well intentioned, in that it sought to "restructure society" towards a more equitable distribution of wealth and knowledge. It was never intended to go beyond what it was designed to do - i.e. to give the Malay populace a foothold in the economic sphere, beyond which they were expected to hold their own, and rise to the challenge of competition.

Beyond it's expiry date, although it was renamed by Mahathir (MDP, was it?), it set the stage for chauvinism, greed, corruption and "money politics". Umno Baru survived on the premise of its "Fascistic" ideas, although the idea of a "Bangsa Malaysia" as per wawasan 2020, was used to pull wool over our eyes.

A recent 'idealistic' post ("Affirmative Action") on made lots of sense - which I'm sure he knew during his time as a "political animal". It is sad that it was not put into practice, as it would have cost him plenty of "mileage", considering the hegemony that was perpetuated in his era.
Dr. Mahathir said, "There is a tendency among Malays to regard the discrimination in their favour as a privilege,
as a recognition of their superior status.
I think this is wrong....".

Well Dr. Mahathir, I've got news for you, Sir - You Think Wrong!
At best, it's an "inaccurate" description of the Umno Baru members' conviction/ psyche. It definitely was a privilege the Malays were accorded in the post-May 13 policies - but not a "right", as claimed by many an Umnoputra, Racist and crony capitalist.
For the truth of the matter, allow me to rephrase it -
"Many Malays do regard the discrimination in their favour as a RIGHT
("HAK bumiputra" , mind you - and not a "privilege"),
as a recognition of their superior status.
I think this is wrong...."

There's a big difference between what is claimed and what Mahathir says - privileges can be taken away, unlike "rights".

These are the ideas we see blooming today, and it has led to the destruction of all sense of righteousness and goodwill among the Umno community.
It has stripped them of all conscience, and the sense of right and wrong.
Money is all that matters. Umno believes that it is their right to "close one eye" to the corruption that has been eating the party from within.
It is apparently their right to award contracts to the highest bidders with inflated prices, so as to enrich themselves - not the most competitive prices. They believe that it is their right to be Ali Babas!

To question it, is to "question Malay Rights"! They do not see it as corruption or "haram".
Religion has to be observed, though - and they'd be quick to ban meetings of other faiths on their campuses in the IPTA, lest it doesn't reflect well on their religious credentials.
On the other end of the spectrum, we get the clueless who seek out antidotes in religion/"Arabism" and fascistic ideas, like as if, it is the panacea to cure all the ills brought on by the post May 13 politics, laws/justice & NEP crony-capitalism.

The post May 13 Laws are meant to be passed only if they are beneficial to the "crony" list of a "strong government" with a two-third majority in parliament, or if it serves to suppress dissent in a "strong, but toothless opposition" or the people.
Ali Baba's are unblushingly "advised" year-in year-out by drooling politicians, not to "sell their licences/APs", but are never prevented from doing so via legislation.
Such laws "aren't practical", as they don't give leaders any political mileage - so they never come to be.
The concept of "separation of powers" is scorned upon - instruments of state are meant to be used by the executive - so say the the wise leaders.
Instruments of state are used to deprive the people of their right to voice out opinions or have civil discussions.
That's why MCMC (SKMM) can pull the plug on Malaysia Today, "as and when it sees fit" under the governing Act, without explicit instructions from the Mr. Shaziman - they are now experts at ICT laws and have the right to do as they please ...... they are the cyber police, I guess (read ‘SKMM not ordered to block access to website’).

The Auditor General comes out with reports to show the level of corruption, for the sake of drama & hype, while bureaucrats laugh their way to the bank, or go on "lawatan sambil belajar" to Switzerland.
The Election Commission tells the contesting parties about the laws that govern elections - but who cares - "they" just see it as an opportunity to spend on "goodies", "scrap-metal licences", set a stage to demonize the opposition, and pocket monies with impunity at the same time.
The ACA goes on the occasional spurt of activity to justify their "role" in keeping the country free of corruption, but nothing really happens (unless of course, you've "crossed somebody's path") ..... everything is about "enriching yourself", and everything can be "Kowtim-ed" with an "envelope".

Come what may, it's business as usual, while the cost of living escalates exponentially for the common man, and the Govt get's to play the role of the "Good Samaritan" by dishing out 'goodies'.
Is it any wonder that we have record budgets year after year, which is praised ad nauseaum by every unthinking member of the ruling elite, as "compassionate" and a "people's budget"?

For what it is worth, "Happy Merdeka" to all West Malaysians.
No offense intended- but I shall include our Sabahan & Sarawakian brothers in my "Happy Malaysia Day" wishes, come 16 September.

This is the shadow of May 13, under which we live.
It is the flawed foundation/philosophy upon which our politics, economy and country was built, for the past 38 years.
If the foundations be flawed, is it too surprising to see Umno and its core BN allies become the schizophrenic Frankensteins that they are today?
I guess not.

I have little doubt that tomorrow, we would have been celebrating Merdeka for Malaya, and not Malaysia - had we engaged Sabah & Sarawak in 1963 with policies in existence today.

This is the "Merdeka" we celebrate - or is it actually "May 13" that we celebrate?


You do not win races with money in your pocket but you win it with courage in your heart and a dream in your head.
Emil Zatopek, Czech 3 time gold-medallist at Helsinki Olympics

-Petronas Merdeka Ad

-Spirit of Merdeka Movement Declaration on Restoring Democracy and Advancing Freedom in Malaysia

Where is the Spirit of Merdeka?

-Jalur Gemilang or Stars and Stripes?