LETTER

Perhaps non-Malays just don't have the Hang Tuah psyche

K Temoc

Published
Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

Wow!

I can only but start my letter with such an exclamation. A whole letter dedicated to me and my ilk by Maidin Bacha . I don't know whether to be flattered or devastated. But I believe apologies are in order. Let me get it out the way before I ruminate with you on other aspects brought out by the 'Bhatia Legionnaires'.

Here goes - I apologise to those Chinese and Indian Malaysians who served their nation in sterling fashion but now have to suffer the shotgun ire of Maidin Bacha, all because of me. Yes, I apologise to, say, those officers in the police Special Branch who played a big part in winning the war against the insurgents during the Emergency for us, especially those who were decorated with the 'Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa' award and those other officers of the Armed Forces who were awarded the 'Pingat Gagah Berani,' either when alive or posthumously.

Their good names have now been darkened under a cloud of opprobrium due to thoughtless me. Perhaps I shouldn't have criticised pin-up boy, whom Bacha informed us is 'the only person who offers the faintest hope of preventing women from being regularly raped, robbed and killed, young men from being mysteriously and regularly killed in police custody and children from having to desperately seek overseas universities to get their higher education'.

Considering Bacha's revelation of him (Anwar) being our children's education messiah, maybe I ought not to have pointed out Anwar Ibrahim's role as education minister in his erstwhile Umno-life. And I am glad that in my previous letter I didn't reveal he was acting prime minister when young Umno hoodlums brought shame to our nation by disrupting the Apcet II conference at a Kuala Lumpur hotel. I suppose I better keep my mouth shut about 'someone' declaring that Umno disruption of Apcet II was: 'Our mission was to stop the conference and we did just that'.

Another Bhatia legionnaire, Pensioner , pointed out that what I had written on Anwar touched on only a small part of Manjit Bhatia's article . I wonder whether I ought to say that 'small part' was the very core element that gave some 'body' or supportive evidence to Bhatia's host of opinions. In posting that letter, I had unwittingly yanked that away from him.

Pensioner then asked a hypothetical question, stating: 'Temoc does not want to say whether if it was any other person, would the Chinese and Indians take to the street as the Malays had done for Anwar?' Because it's a hypothetical question, it can only be answered with a hypothetical answer, which is hardly worth the effort.

But in reality, the situation hypothesised by Pensioner won't or is most unlikely to exist for one simple reason - non-Malay leaders don't usually unleash their followers on to the streets to protest for and in their interest. That tactic seemed to be the exclusive propensity of some Umno leaders, whether it was demonstrated in 1998 or 1969 in the streets of Kuala Lumpur, or in 1996 in a hotel conference hall.

From his article it would appear that Bhatia doesn't believe in the useless Malaysian ballot box and that he perceives young radicalised Malay victims of police brutality as thinking, conscionable Malays who went out on a limb to fight a corrupt, elitist Malay injustice. That's what those selfish gutless non-Malays lack, in his considered opinion!

Sorry Bhatia and Bacha, we non-Malays or even non-Umno-ites aren't for that sort of violence; after all, one Tian Chua is already one martyr too many. Yes, you can assume the May 13 scars could be etched in our subconscious, or on the other hand, perhaps we just don't have the Hang Tuah psyche.

You know Tuah, don't you? He was that bloke who killed his best mate and blood brother, Jebat, the very man who defended his (Tuah's) name and honour against the tyrannical sultan. And all it needed was the leader (sultan) to instruct Tuah to 'take to the streets' and 'restore his royal rights to him'. Monarchists would tell you not to look on that as an inexplicable dumb senseless act of fratricide. Instead, according to them, it was a display of the higher principle of fealty to a leader.

In that same vein, another Bhatia legionnaire, Tan Chee Yoon lambasted me as a 'kiasu' ostrich for my nerve in classifying Anwar Ibrahim's expulsion from Umno as an internal tussle between two avaricious Umno factions. He believed that supporting Anwar through street protestations would have been a demonstration of the higher principle of resisting an assault on the basic rights of a citizen, like Anwar.

We could go on arguing about my views on Anwar or even Bhatia's solution for the opposition movement, namely for Anwar to consider the 'amalgamation of class factions fused across race'. I am still undecided on whether Bhatia's proposed solution is profound or simplistic. Maybe profoundness appears simplistic, or could it be that 'simplisism' appears profound.

Let me end this letter by providing two examples of Malaysian politicians for comparison, to illustrate more pointedly my cynicism that I alluded to in my previous letter:

One we have Anwar Ibrahim, ousted from Umno, when he then metamorphosed overnight into a political reformer, who was sent to prison allegedly on a matter of party power struggle - an issue concerning his personal interest.

Then we have Lim Guan Eng, from the DAP, a party trapped, according to Bhatia, in racially motivated enclaves, who was sent to prison on a matter of human rights principle - an issue concerning the interest of an underage Malay girl.

Food for thoughts!

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