Najib, our security apparatus not an Umno division

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.”

― Lysander Spooner

COMMENT | What I despise more than religious extremism – the existential threat to our country – is the way in which politicians propagandise the military. Check that. What I despise more is when the military top brass canoodles up to politicians. Nowhere is this more evident when armed forces chief Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor urged our security apparatus to be loyal to the government headed by the Umno grand poobah.

The government does not pay for all those “entitlements” that the state security apparatus gets. Those are paid for by our tax ringgit. We live in a country where non-Malays are routinely demonised for not showing loyalty, but the reality is that the security apparatus in this country is a bastion of racial dysfunction by design. It was not always so. Read the public comments of retired brigadier-general Mohamed Arshad Raji as to the “issues” non-Malays face in the armed forces.

In the West, politicians go on bended knee and proclaim how they are grateful for the military service men and women do for their country. Civilians of a certain political persuasion or those who feel the need to burnish their patriotic credentials make asinine statements of how they are grateful to the service these men and women provide to their country.

All of it is just a load of horse manure. Politicians in the West do not give a damn about the men and women in the security service. What they give a damn about is the military industrial complex and using the security apparatus as a means to instil toxic patriotism, but more importantly, as a means to extend empire. Citizens who go about how grateful they are really do not care that social programmes that these men and women rely on after service are often whittled away in political games.

Here in Malaysia, it is the opposite. The state security apparatus is told to be grateful to the government. Public institutions are deemed “Malay” institutions even though they are funded by our tax ringgit, and so non-Malays are wary of the state security apparatus, especially when the Umno state uses it to sanction citizens who are just exercising their democratic rights.

The Terengganu top cop, for instance, gets to claim that Terengganu is gangster-free because of its Malay majority, and the deputy prime minister gets to say that a shoot-to-kill policy is what is needed because most victims of violent crimes are Malay, hence the community needs to be protected. This of course does not take into account the numerous corruption scandals, deaths in custody and the host of other issues that make it impossible for the average citizen, no matter his or her “race”, to have any faith in the state security apparatus.

What of our military? Six years ago, when the military voting fiasco first surfaced, I was shocked and deeply embarrassed by the antics of then armed forces chief, Zulkifeli Mohd Zin (photo), and so in a piece which directly touched upon a whole host of issues plaguing the military, I wrote – “Do not believe anyone who tells you that the security apparatus of a state, or any state anywhere in the world, is ‘apolitical’? The armed forces do the bidding of its elected civilian masters. But what they don't do is engage in the political process on behalf of their political masters.”

Have you ever noticed that it’s the top brass that makes all these ridiculous statements? The upper echelons of the state security apparatus are always currying favour with Umno potentates for obvious reasons. The reality is that the rank and file indoctrinated by years of government propaganda are slowly beginning to realise that they are merely pawns in a game that they do not understand but realise they are on the losing end of.

Marginalising the opposition

So while the Umno grand poobah talks about how the opposition, or more accurately the DAP, is going to bring ruination to those scared military and police institutions, the average service man or woman is desperately trying to survive in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape which has a direct impact on their lives.

Umno thinks that by marginalising the opposition when it comes to the military and the police force, they can secure their claim over these people. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality that a number of ex-service personnel have joined the opposition. The reality is that more and more retired personnel are talking about the issue faced by the state security personnel to still serving men and women in the state security apparatus and lay the blame on Umno’s doorstep.

They do not do this because they unpatriotic or are in cahoots with the opposition but because they genuinely feel that after decades of Umno rule, the state security apparatus and the numerous other outfits connected with it are in dire need of reform.

If Umno’s tactics were really that effective, there would not be a chorus of voices emanating from the military and state security establishment wanting not only a change of administration but a reform of the system so that our state security apparatus could face the challenges which is about to confront our country.

Honestly, what I find really troubling is the number of state security apparatus people who are involved in terrorist activities, not to mention criminal enterprises. Who knows how many military and police personnel owe their allegiance to elements other than the Umno regime?

There is no point strutting around in military drag and proclaiming that we are the best in the world when recent events have demonstrated that we are woefully ill-prepared to deal with incursions and we have got by with luck and service people who are still committed to their jobs.

While some state security personnel are power-hungry petty tyrants who want to play the system, there are far more honest people who can’t wait to get out of service and use whatever opportunities they have coming to them and start anew. I know because I speak to far too many young people in our armed services who can’t wait to get out.

And that is the problem with institutional corruption. Sooner or later, people realise that they do not owe any allegiance to institutions or traditions which has been corrupted.

It’s a sad day when someone like Lim Kit Siang has to say that the DAP will defend the Royal Malay Regimen, because the only thing the state security apparatus needs defending from is the machinations of the Umno state.

The quest to save Malaysia should start by reforming our state security apparatus. As luck would have it, you have in a young Bersatu member – Wan Saiful Wan Jan – someone who may have some ideas on how to do it.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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