Rakyat who have made Bangsa Malaysia a reality…

by SK Chua

As a true blue Malaysian born and bred here all my 55 years, I have no doubt that this is the country for me and for my kids.

I was 17 years old and in the hometown of Pontian, Johor when the May 13 incident happened. Our parents’ only concern at that time was my elder brother’s safety in Ceras at the Technical Teachers’ Training College (fondly known as T3C).

Back then there was no email and our parents had to wait for him to call back the next day to tell us he was safe. He told us there was no problem at all at the dormitory and that all students, Malays, Indian and Chinese were like a family to one another and he could not assure us enough that whatever was happening out there was not going to affect their closeness under the same roof.

We believed him. Even in Pontian, we had neighbours and friends of different race and faith living next to each other but we never looked at one another as adversary.

Such spirit of co-existing as one citizen of the land existed back then. And I am convinced that it still exists today.

It is the politicians and the Umnoputras who are undermining these strong fundamentals which we, the Raykat have striven so hard to achieve after so many years.

It is the greedy politician who, after having tasted the sweetness of “success” and material enrichments that they are prepared to undermine the peace and the understanding among the races, to achieve their goal and wealth accumulation.

I was from the service industry. I had Malay partners and staff. Everyone worked hard to ensure the company remained profitable.

Then the politicians got greedy. They “robbed” us all of our income. They started imposing draconian rules that made it difficult or impossible for us to carry on.

We had to stop the partnership and go separate ways. But we remained as friends even till this day. We visited each other during Hari Raya or Lunar New Year, we attended our children’s wedding, we comforted each other during bereavement. We never forget that we are all colleagues and most of all, Malaysians.

These so called Yang Berhormats are the cause of all the renewed hatred among the races.

They might not be able to influence us, the older generation, but they are affecting the mindset of the young ones.

Unable to comprehend the old situation, our youths are hating one another due to the slanted reporting by the mainstream media. They look at one another with suspicion now. They regard the opposing race a threat to their well being.

It is the “Raykat” who have made Bangsa Malaysia a reality, not any of these hotshot politicians. They could continue to plunder the country and there’s nothing much the “Raykat” could do about it. But they must STOP this sowing of the seeds of hatred among us because in no time, there won’t be anything to plunder from!

(SK Chua penned the above in response to Dr. Azmi Sharom’s column in The Star, as follows:)

Of silly rules and a Bung-ling jester


It would be nice to take politicians down a peg or two every now and then to remind them that they are where they are because of us.

LIFE, as M. Nasir once sang, is like a rollercoaster. You have your ups and you have your downs. Sometimes you cry and sometimes you laugh like a loon. Just ask Sheffield United and West Ham United supporters. The past couple of weeks have been a little like that.

Maybank’s instructions that all the law firms working for them must have a bumiputra component in their make-up made me pretty annoyed.

Yes, it is fundamentally unfair to the lawyers who happen to be born non-Malay; yes, it is doubtful that they have the authority to make such a request; but what really irritated me is that this is the very sort of thing that undermines affirmative action.

Affirmative action is meant to give a leg up to those who need it. No one can deny that thirty years ago there were very few Malay lawyers around. The NEP has done a lot to fix that. We can debate the rightness of the NEP some other time.

My point is that there are plenty of Malay lawyers now, and many of them got to where they are because they got government scholarships to go abroad or they were let into local universities under the quota system.

Bung: Had incurred the wrath of women’s groups by making an off-colour ‘joke’ about a fellow MP’s menstrual cycle
What Maybank tried to do is in fact saying that despite all the help that these men and women obtained, they still need help now. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes people mad. Just how much of a leg up does one need?

You are already qualified lawyers, for goodness’ sake. Act like one. Work hard and go out there and prove that you are just as good as any other lawyer.

It is true that Maybank made a hasty withdrawal from their position because of the public outcry (which goes to show that public outcries do work).

But the damage has been done.

This episode has shown that a major Malaysian institution was set on having a race-based affirmative action policy in a situation where it is totally uncalled for.

This does not bode well for us either in terms of race relations, or for the economic well-being of the country.

When are they ever going to understand that without a merit-based system as a genuine aspiration we will all suffer, because when the best are not doing the best work, we get nothing but mediocrity.

But life is about balance, and before the froth started to drip on my T-shirt something really amusing happened.

Now, a lot has been written about the MPs who think that making jokes about a fellow parliamentarian’s menstrual cycle is the height of Dewan Rakyat wit. Those pieces have been very, very angry. That is perfectly understandable.

I, on the other hand, think that what Bung (oh, how apt a name) did — although not what he said — was great.

All right, before I get furious e-mails from women (and sensitive men in touch with their feminine side), please let me explain myself. I am one of those people who think that politicians are given far too much respect.

After all, they are only where they are because of us. It would be nice therefore to take them down a peg or two every now and then to remind them of this fact.

This would normally be the job of satirists and the like and could take the form of the written word or stand-up comedy or even television puppet shows. Unfortunately, we don’t have very much of that in these parts.

In Shakespearean plays, the fool plays an important role. As he frolics and clowns around, underneath the silliness he is actually the voice of reason.

By virtue of his being seen as merely a joker, he gets away with saying truths that others may not dare to. In this way, the King’s shortcomings are oft exposed and he is shown to be a fool himself.

We don’t have many people who can play the Shakespearean fool in Malaysia, someone who can show up those in power. But with clowns like Bung in our Parliament, we don’t really need to, as they are more than capable of being fools themselves.

And what wonderful comedic support he has, too.

When one of their fellows said a totally despicable thing and then gets off scot-free, many cheered. Oh, how they cheered.

Hurrah, one of us has made a “joke” that we would be ashamed to make in front of our mothers, but never mind, he got let off. Hip, hip, hurrah!

Or what about the woman MP who defended this jester Bung? I simply must remember my best period joke to tell her if we were ever to meet. I am sure she will find it humorous and in the best possible taste.

Indeed, Bung the fool has plenty of supporting players to make that comedy stage we call our Parliament a truly funny place indeed.

How I laughed. And I think I can hear the world laughing along with me.

Dr Azmi Sharom is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.

  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 6:26 am

    I read a book on holocaust, called Triumph of Hope. The author was from a Jewish family who has been doing well in Germany, and the shop also hired a German worker. The business was very good and the family was happy. When Hilter roused to power, the wealth of the Jewish was robbed gradually. Hilter getting close to this town. One day, this German worker suddenly stood up and asked the boss to go. Now the shop belonged to his…

    1. Who are the Germans in Malaysia?
    2. Who are the Jewish in Malaysia?
    3. Who is the Hilter in Malaysia?

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 8:53 am

    Yes, there is nothing wrong – indeed there is much good – in poking fun at and satirizing politicians, especially the top ones. It reminds them that they are humans; that they are there because of us. To deflate their pomposity so that they are never too arrogant to ignore the people whose trust places them in their present position.

    However the likes of Pak Bung is not a comic stand up playing that kind of role of a Shakespearean fool or court jester in the theatre of Parliament.

    He was not making fun of those in power. He was not, for example, directing his reference of menstrual cycle to any of his BN women Minister to ask why they tolerated the leaks in the roof of Parliament. He was not deflating any oversized egos of politicians of power so that they were brought down to size to be reminded that they were never too high to forget the people whom they were supposed to serve.

    Dear Professor Azmi, this is NOT a metaphor case on all 4(s) with Jerry Farwell versus The Hustler (where the US Supreme Court accepted that it was not libel for ‘Porn’ Publisher Hustler to parody and satirize public figures like respected clergy men Jerry Farwell).

    Instead Pak Buung/Mohd said were targeting his jibes, insults and off colour broadsides at those outside the circle of power; at the Opposition, the youngest member of female gender at that, and reveling in his so called wit supported by thumping and cheering of his comrades within that circle of power.

    Pak Bung made it very clear that “the words were uttered following provocation in the House. …..and we just defended the government and our leader. I cannot avoid defending the government, there’s no compromise for that.” And Pak Said declared that he was defending Barisan Nasional (BN) when the opposition hurled unreasonable allegations against the government. “When the government is insulted, it is every parliamentarian’s duty to defend the government and its leader,” he said.

    There lies the big difference, Dr Azmi Sharom. It is not humourous when our parliamentarian jesters are not trying to be witty, crack a wit to expound a truth, or to satirize and poke fun at Power or at those who hold power and their pomposity and arrogance But Quite On The Contrary to protect the shenanigans of those in power – to curry the favour of, buttress and reinforce the pomposity and arrogance of Power – to vilify and demoralise instead the Opposition and distract their legitimate queries of why Parliament ceiling could leak by diverting the issue to that of the questioner’s other leaking!

    I don’t see the humour in this context. It is wit attempted, as an arrogant exercise of power, to show how any kind of statements, even crass and insulting statements, could be made, heedless of common courtesy and human sensitivity, by one within the circle of power against those powerless outside it, without fear of being held accountable!

  3. #3 by Libra2 on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 9:05 am

    1. Malays
    2. Chinese/Indians
    3. UMNO

  4. #4 by WFH on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 10:13 am

    I think you may have interpreted wrongly Dr. Azmi’s direction – what Bung said was “great”, to the effect that the “greatness” of his poor “wit” (call it great stupidity, if one will) led to confirmatory proof, and the exposure, again, of matching equivalent great stupidity of those BN MPs who had thumped their tables in support of Bung.

    That the significant number of the Malays themselves are continually (and successfully, mind you) manipulated by UMNO unceasingly using the fear of non-Malay Malaysians usurping the entitlements of the Malays in economic. education etc.. to keep their grip on the minds of the Malay masses is the other great mystery – how can this go on for so long, in my own mind, for something like 3 generations now. Yet their support base among both the many urban, supposedly informed Malays, as well as the rural Malays, seem never to diminish.

    What an Amazing Race…!!

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 10:42 am

    On re-reading, I think you’re right. Thanks for the pointer. Dr Azmi Sharom says there’s always a place for a satirist who taking a role of a fool jester “gets away with saying truths that others may not dare to. In this way, the King’s shortcomings are oft exposed and he is shown to be a fool himself”- that “we don’t have many people who can play the Shakespearean fool in Malaysia, someone who can show up those in power” because “with clowns like Bung in our Parliament, we don’t really need to, as they are more than capable of being fools themselves”. In that process and getting those in power to give excuses for them, they also help expose the former to be fools.

  6. #6 by kurakura on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 10:44 am

    there is a certain degree of truth that the race cards is played by UMNOputras for thir own gain.

    Do they care about racial harmony?NO!
    They are only selfish pple.

    They will go to hell.

  7. #7 by Lee Wang Yen on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 2:46 pm

    Dear Jeffrey and WFH,

    I still think that Jeffrey’s first interpretation is more plausible in the light of what Dr. Sharom does say in the article. I understand that WFH is trying to provide a charitable interpretation of Dr. Sharom’s words. But I think interpretation has to be constrained by text. Of course, we may think that the author did not intent to say what he says, but we can only infer an author’s intent from what he says and what can be most plausibly inferred from the context of the text.
    But I could also see why WFH was led to his interpretation (though I do not think that that interpretation is plausible). Perhaps the main problem is Dr. Sharom’s unclarity. He might have indeed intended to say what WFH interpreted him as saying, but has actually said something different (i.e. what Jeffrey interpreted initially) in his actual words. If WFH’s interpretation were to be plausible, then the Shakespearean fool Dr. Sharom refers to would have to do something foolish in a way that would show that his (the fool’s) boss (i.e. the king) is foolish. But a fool’s foolish action can only bring shame to the king if he is linked to the king in some way (e.g. he is the king’s most trusted assistant) or what he did has something to do with the king (e.g. he is announcing a poorly drawn up plan, which has been seen and approved by the king). Without these, what the fool did cannot bring shame to the king. If what Dr. Sharom intended to say is that Bung-Said’s bocor remarks brought shame to BN or the government just like the Shakespearean fool’s action brought shame to the king, then I must say that the point was not very well expressed given that the parallel between the former and the latter is quite stretched. In the shakespearean fool’s case, it is unclear whether what the fool did should bring shame to the king. If he is not a trusted assistant of the king or did something foolish which reveals some responsibility on the part of the king, then his foolish action would not bring shame to the king. Given the lack of reference to the link between the fool and his action on the one hand and the king on the other, I don’t think this interpretation can be plausibly inferred from the text (even if this is what Dr. Sharom intended to say).

    In Jeffrey’s first interpretation, he takes Dr. Sharom’s Shakespearean fool as someone who said something foolish and satirical to tease the king, exposing the shortcomings of the king and his (the fool’s) own foolishness as he did so (i.e. when he said that foolish and/or satirical thing). I think this interpretation is supported by the immediate context of the text. In the paragraph prior to the mention of the Shakespearean fool, Dr. Sharom says that ‘This would normally be the job of satirists and the like and could take the form of the written word or stand-up comedy or even television puppet shows. Unfortunately, we don’t have very much of that in these parts.’ And then he says ‘In Shakespearean plays, the fool plays an important role.’ This seems to indicate that the Shakesperean fool plays the part of the satirists – he says something foolish to tease the king, and thus exposing the king’s wrongdoing (and his [i.e. the fool’s] own foolishness). Given that this interpretation seems to be what is suggested by the text, Jeffrey’s points expressed in his response to the first interpretation of Dr. Sharom’s article are well-justified.

    But I’m glad that we have people like WFH and Jeffrey who conduct discussion with such admirable civility and humility. These qualities are what we don’t see in our leaders. By the way, as a PhD student, my experience tells me that many scholars in the humanities (especially those influenced by the literary subjects, e.g. continental philosophers [but not analytic philosophers, who hope to emulate the mathematicians/scientists’ precision and clarity of thought]) do not prize clarity of expressions. But clarity of thought is very important, and I think Dr. Sharom should work harder in this respect.

  8. #8 by ipohfly on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 5:06 pm

    Yes, jokers like Bung/Said does “help” by exposing the weaknesses of the BN’s MP in the House. But will this episode, like the others before hand, be closed and ignored soon? I just hope that we won’t need more comedic episode from the Parliament to keep reminding the Rakyat about the quality of the BN’s MP in it.

    By the way, “provocation in the House” ? “… defending our government and leader” ? I’d watched for a few times the furore in youtube and what i see is the opposition is being robbed the chance to voice out their concerns. Someone please remind our dear Pak Bung that the one he needs to defend the most is the Rakyat…

  9. #9 by Winston on Sunday, 20 May 2007 - 7:46 pm

    In the midst of all these remarks, the responsibility of one person seemed to have
    been overlooked; that is our PM.
    He has taken a very silent attitude regarding the whole episode.
    Although his underlings in the BN have mostly taken a very lenient view of the whole thing (with some even supporting the offenders), he could have taken stern disciplinary action against these offenders but he has chosen to ignore the matter.
    I have also frequently read in the letters, submitted by readers, to the various newspapers complaining about the problems faced by them. Many of them wrote about the grand visions of the PM and lament the action of his underlings that thwart these visions.
    Now, let me ask this question. If these people did anything to prevent the PM’s visions to be implemented, what is the PM doing about them?
    Shouldn’t he ensure that his visions are implemented, both in action and in spirit?
    Shouldn’t the PM, if he is really interested in the welfare of the country, boot such people out of the government – nothing and nobody must come between the interest of the country and the citizens of this country.
    It’s time Malaysians must stop being so naive and continue to absolve the top man for the failings of his subordinates.
    As the CEO of Malaysia Inc. he is responsible!

  10. #10 by sotong on Monday, 21 May 2007 - 7:02 am

    Decades of bad leadership and administration had done enormous damage to the country.

  11. #11 by crosstalk on Monday, 21 May 2007 - 10:55 am

    These thickskinned liars and morons claimed that they had been provoked into making insulting, derogatory n sexist remarks.How could they be provoked?Being so many times outnumbered,the miserable 12 DAP members are always and incessantly fighting an uphill battle in parliamentary debates.Facing these brute arrogant bullies,they are always the underdogs in tabling motions and putting up any arguments.So who would believe the lame excuse given by the two idiots?If they are ‘jantan’,they should apologise to the target of their insult,YB Fong PK.

  12. #12 by Godamn Singh on Monday, 21 May 2007 - 11:02 am

    “As the CEO of Malaysia Inc. he is responsible!”

    As CEO he is irresponsible. As a leader he is without leadership skills. As a spokesman he is dumb. As a listener he is deaf. As a teacher he needs to be taught.

    He is a sailor without his boat. He is a writer without the ability to write, without his pen. He is a singer without his voice box, who cannot speak let alone sing. He is a licker without his tongue. He is a footballer without his ball.

    He is a carpenter only with the carpenter’s daughter. Figure that one out!

  13. #13 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 22 May 2007 - 12:52 am

    “He is a carpenter only with the carpenter’s daughter. Figure that one out!” – Godamn Singh. What do you mean – that he is a carpenter with only a carpenter’s tool? :)

  14. #14 by burn on Tuesday, 22 May 2007 - 2:04 am

    it is true what sotong say…

    all boils down to leadership!
    when leaders are elected, they should always think of all malaysians. instead, each time they shout,
    they shout “hidup melayu”, not “hidup malaysia”!
    all malaysians, regardless skin colors, should be treated equally and fairly. not all malaysians are born rich!

  15. #15 by forglory on Wednesday, 23 May 2007 - 11:58 am

    Alamak! Apa dia mahu bilang ini pasal Yang Berhormat punya salah? Tiap tahun election datang, rakyat yang mengundi mereka masuk Parliamen. Jadi siapa yang salah? Sekarang mahu salahkan Yang Berhormat pulak. Aduhai, fikirlah baik-baik sebelum mengeluarkan keluhan kamu.

  16. #16 by good coolie on Wednesday, 23 May 2007 - 1:24 pm

    Time to ask what happened to the racial integration that existed at the time of Independence and lasting about thirty years after that. If the leaders of the country desire the same spirit of unity, let them take concrete steps to bring it about. It is not easy to see the remedy. To our racialistic leaders, let me say, “Walk the walk, men; don’t just talk the talk”!
    Again, as for the poor coolies of Malaysia, they are not the racialists. Poverty has a way uniting fellow sufferers. It is the rich fellows, fighting for bigger shares of the cake: racialism is created and fed by them.

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