Friday, May 15, 2009

Yes, let’s move on

Yes, let’s move on
15 May, 2009

But burying the spectre of May 13 can’t be done just like that, even if we stop talking about it. 40 years is a long time. People can forgive. People can even forget. But to forgive and forget there must first be remorse.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I know ‘Dollah Kok Lanas’, as he is fondly known back in his home state of Kelantan, pretty well. You can read his piece on ‘May 13’ below.

Dollah was once detained under the Internal Security Act during the time of Hussein Onn. He was also sacked as the Editor-in-Chief of the New Straits Times in 2003 at the request of Umno for the ‘crime’ of criticising Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia had earlier retaliated against this criticism by reducing Malaysia’s Haj quota. So the only way to pacify the Saudi government was to remove Dollah as head of the Umno-owned newspaper. (Who says Umno can’t be pressured?).

Dollah, for all intents and purposes, is a classic example of a loose cannon. I heard this is what Dr Wan Azizah also calls me. Other loose cannons -- or close to loose cannons even if they are not quite fully-fledged loose cannons -- would probably be Shahrir Samad (no need to say much about him), Mokhtar Hashim (the Minister indicted for murder), Anwar Ibrahim (yes, Wan Azizah has one in her own bed even though she may not realise it), Sallehuddin Hashim (if you don’t know him then I can’t help you), Haniff Omar (ex-IGP and Genting Chairman who said he did not find anywhere in the Quran a verse that forbids Muslims from being Chairmen of gambling companies), Yassin Malek (deceased but a ‘live wire’ till the very end), Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah (late Agong who married a girl younger than his granddaughter), Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang (phew, what can I say about him that no one already knows?), Tun Razak (Najib’s father, architect of May 13, and engineer of the NEP) Razali Ismail (diplomat and Malaysian Ambassador to the UN who the Burmese opposition party wants nothing to do with), Hani Mohsin (actor and deceased at a very young age), Effendi Norwawi (the Sarawakian tycoon who founded NTV7 and stole Hani’s wife), Justice Azmi Kamaruddin (deceased and one of the judges sacked by Mahathir), Hishamuddin Hussein (President of the Gay Club), Nazri Aziz (the man Mahathir can’t stand hearing his name mentioned), Dr. Hatta Ramli and Kamaruddin Jaafar (both of PAS), Rehman Rashid (either you hate him or you love him: nothing in between), Halim Saad (the man behind the PLUS Highway), Yahaya Ahmad (the ‘Car Czar’ of Malaysia who died in a helicopter explosion), Hishamuddin Rais (Malaysia’s first NGI: Non-Governmental Individual), Onn Jaafar (the man who left Umno in a huff because the party would not open its doors to non-Malays), the Semangat 46 crowd (Tengku Razaleigh, Manan Othman, Salleh ‘Speaker’, Tengku Paduka, and all those other ‘colourful’ characters), etc.

And what do all those loose cannons mentioned above have in common? Okay, they are all Malays and they are all men. But the one thing that ‘binds’ them, and the thing that probably turned them into loose cannons in the first place, is that they are all ‘Old Boys’ of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK).

The names of all the 5,000 or so Old Boys -- dead, still living, or are better off dead than alive -- would be just impossible to list here. Take it from me, though, that most, if not all, are loose cannons in one way or another. In short, anyone who can be considered ‘a problem’ would most likely be an Old Boy of MCKK.

At one time, during the time of Tun Razak, half the Cabinet were Old Boys. Cabinet meetings, until today, are held on Wednesdays. And Wednesday is also the day that the Old Boys wear their old school ties -- by coincidence rather than by design.

On the first Cabinet meeting that Hussein Onn chaired, after he took over as Prime Minister on the death of Tun Razak, he commented about this, disapprovingly of course. And in the next Cabinet meeting all the ties disappeared. You see, Hussein went to the English College in Johor Bahru, so he was not about to sit there staring at those red-striped College ties which must have been an eyesore as far as he was concerned.

Many of the founding members of Umno were Old Boys. At the time of Merdeka, most of the Rulers were also Old Boys. You would not find many who walked in the corridors of power who was not an Old Boy. Malay Nationalism would have never happened if not for the Old Boys. Maybe even Merdeka would have been delayed like what happened to Hong Kong.

Old Boys consider themselves unique. Non-Old Boys, however, would, consider Old Boys as weird. I mean, which group of Malays would go to the mosque on Thursday night, play poker on Friday night, and consume crates and crates of beer on Saturday night?

They say the term ‘Ipoh lai’ was invented by Old Boys. As you may be aware, Kuala Kangsar is not far from Ipoh. And when Old Boys disappear for the day, you can certainly assume they have sneaked off to Ipoh to taste the delights of that once upon a time thriving mining town.

The word around Ipoh is that if you throw a stone into the air, chances are it would land on a massage parlour. There were certainly more massage parlours than mosques back in the days when I went to MCKK. I heard that, nowadays, there are not that many massage parlours in Ipoh any longer. Is it because of the collapse of Perak’s tin mining industry or because the Old Boys have, unfortunately, become more religious and spend more time in the mosque than in massage parlours?

Anyway, Ipoh is no longer what it used to be. Today, you can get arrested just for minding your own business while eating in a coffee shop wearing a black shirt. And it is very hard to find prostitutes in the massage parlours. Most of them are gainfully employed and can only be found in the Perak State Assembly.

I prefer the old days when RM30 could buy you a good time with a sweet young thing from Bidor, Tapah, Sungai Siput, or wherever they happened to have come from. I never remembered meeting anyone from Jelapang though. I was told they did have girls from Jelapang but that they are so ugly you would never pay them to sleep with you. They would have to pay you instead.

Anyway, the going price for these Perak girls would never exceed a few hundred Ringgit -- even if you made promises your body can’t keep and booked a girl for the entire night. It would be best, however, you try the ‘one-shot’ package first and see how it goes. After all, in sex, just like in the banking business, you lose interest after you make the withdrawal.

Okay, let’s get to the serious business now. Yes, we must put May 13 behind us and move on. It is time we buried the spectre of May 13. But that can only happen if we do not constantly resurrect it time and time again. Umno, however, keeps reminding us of what happened in May 1969 when the non-Malays kurang ajar. Is it a reminder or a threat? Whatever it may be, picking on the scab will not only never allow the wound to heal, but even if it does it will leave a permanent scar that will remain till the end of our life.

But burying the spectre of May 13 can’t be done just like that, even if we stop talking about it. 40 years is a long time. People can forgive. People can even forget. But to forgive and forget there must first be remorse.

We need a national reconciliation program. Those who aggressed need to apologise to those who were oppressed. You can’t just say let’s forgive and forget. You also need to say sorry.

Is sorry really the hardest word as Elton John said? Would saying sorry give an impression that you are weak? Only the strong can say sorry. The weak will try to justify the wrong with all sorts of excuses and arguments.

The world over, governments are admitting the error of their ways. Sometimes it came three hundred years too late. But better late than never, they always say. Malaysia can demonstrate sincerity. And the mark of sincerity is first to admit your mistake, and then apologise for it. And only after that can we ask all Malaysians to bury the past and move on to build a better Malaysia, a One Malaysia, as Najib Tun Razak said.


May 13 tragedy, we should move on
By Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad

While we remember the 40th anniversary of the May 13 tragedy, we should move on. It’s time for closure of the sad, very sad incident.

The tragic and vicious incident need not have happened had Tun Razak’s message to Dato’ Harun Idris, the menteri besar of Selangor, reached him 30-minutes earlier or had Tan Sri David Tan Chee Khoon and Tun Lim Chong Eu spoken to Tun Razak 30 minutes earlier relaying their decision not to cooperate with DAP to form the state government of Selangor nor worked together in Perak and elsewhere. I was beside Tun Razak when he took the calls from them late past tea time on the fateful evening of 13 May. I recall clearly what Tun Razak told Harun “…the good news is you will continue to run Selangor. Chee Khoon and Chong Eu had just spoken to me that they want status quo preserved. So tell the people gathering at your house to disperse.” Harun thanked Tun and asked him to convey his gratitude to the two statesmen. Between five-to-ten minutes after that Harun rang Tun Razak to say that it was too late. As he was persuading them to disperse news reached the crowd that clashes had begun in Chow Kit Road and surroundings and beyond.

Tun Razak asked Harun to calm the gathering and urged him, in strong terms, to attempt his best to stop the clashes from escalating. The rest, as they say, is history. Though Harun and I were not on good political terms I must be fair. I think he did try, but by then, to no avail.

I left for home about maghrib. Informed Musa Hitam what happened and he asked his family to rush to my house. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Musa and his family spent the night at my house in Jalan Bukit Bintang, a very Chinese area, and there was no trouble. I assured my Chinese neighbours and they, in turn, assured me we would together maintain peace and confront whoever the outside troublemakers would be. Thank God, the troubles were localised.

This is just speculation: Had communications then were as good and advanced as today, I think two things could have occurred: race riots would not have started or they could have become more brutal and widespread.

When the Pakatan Rakyat coalition unseated the BN governments in Selangor, Perak, Penang and Kedah last March (08) there were no tensions, perhaps because every one was in a state of shock but plausibly, too, the incoming governments of PKR, DAP and PAS like the defeated ones, were also interracial. The PKR, DAP and PAS alliance should be preserved. The PKR is about the nearest thing to being a genuine multi-racial party. There shall not be another May 13 like-incident if the ruling party coalition and the Pakatan share power or perceived to be sharing power fairly and the government, whether Federal or State, observes the constitution scrupulously, government policy implemented justly without fear or favour where talent is not only recognized but rewarded irrespective of race or religion. The public as well as the private sector must display and reflect that of the society we live in, not what we want it to be. The Bumiputra must accept unequivocally the others are co-owners of this country as much as the others must also accept, recognise and acknowledge unequivocally the Bumiputra is the biggest demographic group and growing, therefore deserves some entitlements, though not at the expense of fairplay.

I am not a soothsayer nor a prophet of doom. I strive to tell what I perceive to be the truth. It does seem the future of democracy in our nation is bright. A genuine two-party system is at last evolving after five decades of Merdeka. If the Pakatan Rakyat state governments deliver what they promised and the alliance stay cohesive and the rakyat see the bond or linkage is sustained the alliance can be potentially potent. However, having said that, please make no mistake of misjudging Najib. He is no Badawi; different educational and social background. Najib is Tun Razak’s son, he is more familiar with the wiles of Malaysian voters; he is positively more Machiavellian, positively more able and aware than his predecessor who was badly advised by his family, cronies and toadies in government and the media.

If Najib performs well and the economy recovers he is a tough nut to crack. His 1Malaysia is good and if he is not distracted, and properly advised, you all will face a tough time. You must at least be well-prepared and ready. Najib may falter, which I think is not impossible, for he is not infallible. I am also very conscious how fallible I can be.

In politics, a week is a long time and logic doesn’t always work. Always work hard and one must always do what one feels is right. The correct and sensible thing to do is to ensure that all Malaysians are treated justly in the public as well as in the private sector. Our democracy can only flourish if we have a strong, free and independent media.

Our future is very bright if Najib can deliver what he promises and the Pakatan its pledges. We aren’t going to achieve what we desire. Worse if a nation is perceived to be untransparent, unjust and draconian. I repeat a strong, free and independent media is critical for the future of Malaysian democracy.

The future of 1Malaysia looks well if the PM can deliver what he promises and if the economy thrives. This can be done if we can reconcile the past which none should forget with the present we must face, and the future we cannot avoid.

Whatever, the electoral test will be in the next general election.


The makings of an Umno politician

An old kampung imam had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession.

Like many young men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects.

1. The Holy Quran.
2. A fifty ringgit note.
3. A bottle of whiskey.
4. And a Playboy magazine.

'I'll just hide behind the door," the old imam said to himself. "When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up."

"If it's the holy book, he's going to be an imam like me, and what a blessing that would be!"

"If he picks up the fifty ringgit note, he's going to be a businessman, and that would be okay, too."

"But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and God, what a shame that would be."

"And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing womaniser."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's footsteps as he entered the house whistling and heading for his room.

The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them. Finally, he picked up the Holy Book and placed it under his arm. He picked up the fifty ringgit note and dropped into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired the magazine's centerfold.

"God have mercy," the old imam disgustedly whispered. "He's going to be an Umno politician!"

Author unknown

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