Archive for May, 2009

29
May
09

What’s the big deal about Chin Peng?

Over the past few days, we have seen the furor and strong objections being voiced out by certain segments of the public and the government over the suggestion to allow Chin Peng, a former leader of the Malayan Communist Party, who is currently living in exile in Thailand, to return to Malaysia.

The government’s stand is that Chin Peng will never be allowed to return to Malaysia because of the atrocities that he and the communists committed during the Emergency period. In fact, Rais Yatim, the Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, is planning on digging into the Malaysian film archives and to rebroadcast documentaries showing the violence and atrocities that the Malayan Communist Party committed.

Another perspective of  Chin Peng and the Malayan Communist Party’s involvement in Malaysian history, which I believe is highly significant and which has not been publicized and emphasized enough, is the role that the Communists played in fighting the Japanese forces in Malaya during World War 2. Why do we not give them any credit for that?  And when the communists fought against the Malayan and British forces during the Emergency period, they were essentially fighting against the British colonialists of Malaya. Like the founding fathers of our independence, they too wanted freedom for our land, albeit by establishing a Communist dictatorship in Malaya.

I am in no way espousing any Communist sentiments or ideas here. All that i am wishing for is for people to view and to take into accounts both sides of the coin. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong in allowing Chin Peng to return. The Emergency period was a long time ago in our history and does not constitute part of the memory of the younger generations. If the people of Rwanda and South Africa could forgive the perpetrators of worse violence in their countries through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, why can’t we? Of course people were killed and tortured and maimed by the actions of the Malayan Communist Party during the Emergency. But it was a period of unrest and war. And people are bound to get hurt and killed in a war. Can you really blame them for shooting and killing the soldiers in the Malayan forces? Like the Malayan/British force, the communists too suffered casualties on their part. They probably experienced more casualties compared to the Malayan/British forces since in the end it was they who lost the war.  In the news a few days ago was an article about some former soldiers who had their legs amputated as a consequence of their injuries caused by the hands of the communists. I have profound pity for them of course. But it happened during the war. And that is the risk that one has to take if one decides to join the army. If a boxer is inflicted with brain injury after a KO defeat by his opponent, is it right for the injured boxer to blame his opponent? No. Because his opponent won fairly. And his injury is part and parcel of the game. Every boxer knows that. The same thing applies during a war.

Ultimately, we must be careful before passing any judgement about anything. Learn all sides of the story and keep an open mind when thinking about history. After all history is not absolute. Historical narratives are subject to interpretations and manipulations in order to put forth and to support one’s agenda.

29
May
09

Announcement

Najib Razak: In the spirit of One Malaysia, I declare Monday, 1 June 2009 as a public holiday for all Malaysians in order to celebrate Hari Gawai and Kaamatan as one big happy family.

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Ok, so Najib never said anything like that..but, Selamat Hari Gawai and Selamat Kaamatan to all Sarawakians and Sabahans!

27
May
09

And you thought gifts were meaningless?

Have you ever received a gift that you don’t quite fancy, or that you don’t really want, or that you can’t find anything good for? Before you give it away to charity or toss it in the thrash, think again. It might be key for survival. That’s what anthropologist, Pauline Wiessner, who studies the social networks among the !Kung or Bushmen of southern Africa, thinks. According to Wiessner, social networks are kept alive through the exchanging of gifts and also through elaborate and vivid stories telling about distant relations. Furthermore, gifts are “information on the status of the relationship” and function “to remind the exchange partner that they had a kind of contract to call on each other in times of need.” By keeping their social networks alive, especially important to know they have something or someone to fall back on at times of need (e.g. at times of food shortages and drought), this enabled and facilitated the expansion of prehistoric humans out of Africa all the way to Australia. And having social networks also meant that they were most likely to survive and to succeed in spreading their genes.

It is interesting to view gift-giving in this light. It is after all, what we do in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. When we shower our loved ones with gifts, we not only convey our love and appreciation, but also our hopes that they will always be there to take care of us when we fall on hard times, when we get sick or when we get old. In a twisted way, the same mechanism works when an employee sucks up to the boss with hopes of a raise or a promotion and also when people give bribes in order to get or achieve what they want.

23
May
09

The farcical political situation in Perak

The Court of Appeal has declared Zambry Kadir as the rightful MB of Perak.  Here is my two cents worth of opinion regarding this matter. The legitimacy of an MB (and also the ruling party) lies in the hands of the people i.e. the voters. The decision made by the Sultan (who by the way,only has the power to appoint and not to sack an MB), and engineered by Najib and UMNO, to sack Nizar Jamaluddin and to install Zambry as the MB of Perak was unconstitutional. And also, the recent Courts of Appeal decision is highly suspect and after all, the judicial system in Malaysia is not something that is usually revered and viewed as credible by the masses. The right solution to this political tug-of-war in Perak is to dissolve the Dewan Undangan Negeri and hold a new election. Let the people decide who the rightful MB should be, for in a democracy, the mandate and legitimacy lie in the hands of the people, and the people alone.

17
May
09

“Racial” discrimination prevails yet again in One Malaysia

Nadia Selimin, a student from Sarawak who scored 9A’s and 1 B in the recent SPM examinations, was denied entry to further her studied at a matriculation college on the basis that her mother is a Chinese, regardless of the fact that her father is an Iban. As far as I know (do correct me if I’m wrong), regarding the complicated “race” and “bumiputera” status designation in Sarawak, one’s official race (I say official because it is what is stated in one’s birth certificate and identity card) is determined by the race of one’s father. In the example of Nadia Selimin, the fact of the matter is that her father, Selimin Kring, is an Iban, and therefore, it naturally follows that Nadia is also an Iban (as arbitrarily determined by the state for all purposes of legal circumstances such as in the bestowment of Bumiputera rights). And because she is an Iban, she should also rightfully be recognized as a Bumiputera and should have all the right in the world (or Malaysia to be  precise) to be accepted into a matriculation college. And if we follow the example of the neighboring state, Sabah, this “racial” discrimination issue should not have surfaced, because a Sin0-Bumiputera is automatically considered a Bumiputera regardless of which parent is actually Chinese.

Consider another example to show you what an absurdity this case (race designation) is. If an ‘orang putih’  man marries a Malay woman and they have a child, the child would not be considered a  ‘lain-lain’  (An other. In other words, a foreigner). He or she would automatically be recognized as a Malay. But if a Chinese (Malaysian) man marries an Iban woman and they have a child, the child would not be recognized as a Bumiputera, although half the blood that runs in his or her veins is Bumiputera blood, but instead would “officially” be a Chinese, and therefore denied of all Bumiputera rights for the rest of the child’s life.

16
May
09

Politik

Politik bukan lagi amanah yang sewajibnya dijaga dan disanjung tetapi politik sudah menjadi jenis nafsu ammarah yang hanya mengejar kekuasaan untuk mengisi perut. Persoalan segan-silu dan malu-alah dan hormat-menghormati dan jujur ikhlas dengan sendirinya terhakis. Masing-masing melonjak wajah dan fiil untuk ampu konco-konconya. Dan bila jari-jari terpaut pada dahan yang agak kukuh, konco sendiri itu pun disepakterajangkan; malah segala benda yang terjangkau, termasuk maruah sendiri, dieksploitkan selicik mungkin. Waktu itu tak kita lagilah tentang amanah, tanggungjawab, keadilan atau keamanan. (Shahnon Ahmad)

08
May
09

Absurd beyond reasoning

“On Tuesday, Wong Chin Huat a voting reform activist was arrested and charged with sedition after he urged Malaysians to wear black to protest the Perak takeover.” (Al Jazeera 7/5/09)

I’ll wear black if i want to for the rest of my life for whatever reason and nobody can stop me.