State should not cavalierly normalise military presence

S Thayaparan

Modified 22 Mar 2020, 11:49 pm

“Emergencies have always been used to expand authoritarian powers. Pay attention to history. We cannot afford to suspend critical thinking in these dangerous times.”

- Fadiah Nadwa Fikri

COMMENT | Before I begin, I would like to remind readers that I am one of those military types who are on record despising the propagandisation of the military. When I was serving the state, my primary concerns were the objectives of the mission and the welfare of the men under my command.

I have very little patience for “civilians” who fetishise patriotism and militarism as if the military operates in a vacuum without political or commercial interests or interference. To understand where I am coming from, read my article here.

Having received many texts, emails and phone calls about the government’s use of the army to assist the police in enforcing the movement control order (MCO), all I can say that this is a question of trust more than anything else. Let me be very clear. A certain segment of the polity does not trust this government. This segment is partisan in nature. They are not wrong to believe as they do.

The military establishment when I was a part of it was different then it is now. I have witnessed firsthand the kind of expansion of authoritarian rule – in neighbouring countries and here – which Fadiah alludes to in her Facebook post...

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