Hope lives on in Malaysia: The Hassan Mat Yaacob story.

By Augustine Anthony

Rural folks have many land problems. The safest way to find lasting and meaningful solutions to their problems is to first eliminate all the politicians, bureaucrats and even the office boys who behave like lords of the lands, lording over many of these rural folks who lack confidence to confront them.

Those who had abused the existing laws, particularly the land acquisition legislations with utter disregard for the welfare of the affected people must never forget that their tryst with insidious tyranny has a half life that will soon end.

I say this with confidence not because of the many stirring speeches of great leaders and orators but inspired by the display of resilience by ordinary village folks who are now awakening to a belief system that they can stand up for their rights even as they journey to free themselves from a state of mind that had been shackled by a long train of abuses and usurpations.

One such inspiration is Hassan Mat Yaacob, a padi farmer who refuses to take ‘no for an answer’ to reclaim what was legitimately his.

This padi farmer had only one possession in his life. His padi field. It was cultivated with “padi tabur”. He had the original land title to prove ownership of the padi field. Unknown to him a new land title was issued to a third party even though the original land title is still in valid existence. Soon this “new land owner” prevented Hassan from cultivating padi in his own land.

Hassan believed in the system within the government so much that he thought that it will resolve his weighty problem and bring justice to him but little did he realize that it is this very system that will cause grave injustice to him.

Hassan had lost his land and his one source of income. He confronts the “new land owner” who in turn taunts him because the “new land owner” is well connected. He meets up with the employees of the land office and they ridicule him that he is a kampung man who does not understand law. He makes a police report because someone had “stolen” his land but the department does little or nothing to determine the possible culprits who are responsible for the predicament of Hassan.

Hassan complains to the Anti Corruption Agency (now MACC) but they too display inaction. He thinks his elected representative will help but he is too busy with other matters. Hassan is such a simple man and without the slightest show of anger, says that he can only see the elected representative during election time.

Hassan had lost his land but not hope.

Rural folks are such simple people. Some of them think that meeting the Menteri Besar is like dropping by at the neighbors’ orchard. With this mindset, Hassan goes to the Menteri Besar’s office and personally meets up with the Menteri Besar and pleads for help but the door slams hard on his face.

Next he dares himself to meet the Prime Minister but could only reach as far as the then Biro Pengaduan Awam (Public Complaints Bureau) with no positive outcome. His hopes are near destroyed. Heartbroken it finally hits Hassan that the system within the public sector had failed him miserably.

While this is only a simplified account of his struggle, only Hassan and a few others know how many strange places and how many strange stairs and lifts and corridors this poor farmer had to pass through just to reclaim what was legitimately his. How many lonely nights and how many anxious days, all were his and his alone to shoulder.

Fresh out of the betrayal that he had suffered in the hands of the public sector, he now looks for other avenues with his critically asphyxiated hope. He looks to the private sector now. He had by now heard of the “noble” profession called the legal profession.

But here lies the problem with the legal profession.

It was the 1990’s and a boom time for the private sector including the legal profession. This noble profession was fast turning into a money making ‘business’. Employees from the public sector and a good number of people from other professions including retirees were lured by the sweet songs in the streets that there is plenty of money to be made in the legal profession.

Ridiculous land acquisitions that displaced farmers, fishermen, plantation workers and poor rural folks who lived and toiled in these lands and that were subsequently replaced with luxury hotels, private gated communities, villas and golf courses required lawyers among others to do the job.

The country has turn into a corporation. Profit driven and all else secondary or irrelevant. It is now a Malaysia Incorporated. People who stood in the way of profit driven entities were trampled in this glorious stampede for a photo finish to Vision 2020.

The country was preparing for glory with a perfect vision in 2020. Every man in the street had a vision, so the saying goes. From the tallest building to the longest national flag ( you can even see one concrete flag along the road to Batu Ferringhi), to growing padi on roof tops that would cost 50 sen a grain, to bringing Masai warriors to act as cover for the barren lands carved out from our depleted forests, all things were possible in Malaysia.

Thus, the birth of the catchword, Malaysia Boleh! or the Boleh land.

Hassan Mat Yaacob an innocent rural farmer was caught in this quagmire.

A bitter and heart broken Hassan now readied himself to take on the very system he had trusted all his life. He is now prepared to battle the government in court.
Hassan now turns to lawyers for help. But it requires money, sometimes it takes a lot of money to engage a lawyer. Even if people like Hassan are ready with whatever money that they have to fight on, they need to overcome the next hurdle. The hurdle of whether the lawyer is part of the very system, where he is dependent on the government and quasi government bodies, banks, insurance companies and a whole lot of entities with government interests for the lawyer’s personal survival. Hassan had experienced a good number of lawyers declining to act for him on the basis of conflict of interests.

Do not antagonize the guys who control the system or you will not have enough to maintain your lifestyle, such is the warning.

An insidious tyranny veneered as a guided democracy is now cleverly in place. Its various tentacles of power are ever ready to immobilize unacceptable dissent.
Having crossed the hurdle of engaging a lawyer, Hassan is now in court to take on the government and its well entrenched system that suffocates many ordinary people like him.

Now here lies a strange and interesting twist to the system of governance that had seen much condemnation as being unfriendly and corrupt to the point of its near collapse.

Within this system there are still people who are honest, courageous and dedicated in service to the nation. With a system that is still scattered with good people, there is redemption.

Those witnesses, men in service within the system who took the stand in court and spoke the truth, the witness who courageously announced his faith in Islam and boldly uttered that Islam teaches him to speak against oppression and help the oppressed in a brotherhood, the senior federal counsel who proudly addressed the court that he is in court not to win at all costs but to ascertain the truth, the brave judge who stayed true to his oath of office and pronounced a judgment against the government, are part of this system too.

Hassan has won!

News travelled fast in places where rural folks lived that Hassan had beaten the mighty system in its own killing field. His hope that flickered in all the dark days had now spread across the rural land as a beacon of light bringing optimistic tidings that the end is near for the insidious tyranny masked by sly smile of those thick faced people within the system of governance.

It is this once flickering hope of many people like Hassan that is now the fire that burns in the younger and incisive generation that is demanding change in our decaying system of governance.

Seasons come and go, people live and die but hope lives on in Malaysia and ordinary people like Hassan and the good souls within the system of governance bear testimony that the chain of hope will forever be unbroken and that this nation will one day see the coming of better times.

(NB: In the year 2006 I wrote an article titled Freedom in Midheaven seeing Malaysia in the future and spoke of Sdr Lim Guan Eng, Tunku Abdul Aziz, and the Seenivasagam Brothers etc. It was published in The Malaysian Lawyers at Yahoo Group Forum. Some harbored hope while others ridiculed it by saying there is no hope in this country. Then, the 12th General Election in March 2008, the new Chief Minister of Penang and the many changes that are taking place now).

  1. #1 by k1980 on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 11:17 am

    For every Hassan who won, there are thousands of Ah Chongs, Bakars and Chandras who lost to the system in Bolehland

  2. #2 by taiking on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 12:03 pm

    This is a part of what the author said:

    “Within this system there are still people who are honest, courageous and dedicated in service to the nation.”

    And by this statement he rather aptly put into words umno’s unwritten definition of traitors, dissidents and opposition members.

  3. #3 by TTDI_KL on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 1:32 pm

    Yes it is good to tell heroic and inspiring stories. But the issue is why has our system and bureaucracy become so screwed? Why has the system allowed blatant cheating and manipulation with those who inflicted it bear almost no ill consequences.

  4. #4 by GreenBug on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 3:40 pm

    “Within this system there are still people who are honest, courageous and dedicated in service to the nation.”

    That is why we need a legislation to also protect the ‘whistle-blowers’ like the ones who passed the recent Cabinet papers to RPK on the PKFZ fiasco.

    There are many good, kindhearted and God-fearing men still within the system, not all are corrupted by UMNO and BN, yet!

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 3:57 pm

    What’s the central point of the writer, Augustine Anthony? That a padi farmer Hassan Mat Yaacob beat the system and won and hence his case evinces hope, without which there cannot be a collective push for change for the better of the country and its people??? As a panacea of the country’s ills, banking on hope alone, citing the case of a powerless padi farmer’s triumph over the system may be too simplistic. Why?

    First, as pointed out by k1980 in comment #1, for “every Hassan who won, there are thousands of Ah Chongs, Bakars and Chandras (not to mention families of TBH or those of the sacked judges in 1988) who lost to the system in Bolehland”.

    Maybe if one does the arithmetic of cases of hope and those of despair, there may be actually more of the latter (despair), and if true what happens next? Would the writer still denounce despair and eulogize hope as catalyst of change? Of course human nature would naturally incline to hope than despair because hope relieves suffering and pain, despair aggravates it, and we tend to recoil from despair. However Hope alone can make us complacent; despair too could drive us to change: one notes in last election people voted for Opposition’s novices or even a monkey if it were contesting a BN candidate, that led to some progress in direction of change. Was that (change) driven by hope or despair?

    To treat hope and despair as opposites – we either embrace the first or sink under the latter – is counterproductive & needless choice. We need both as intertwined partners in the dance of desire. As politicians on both sides of political divide have strong interests in fostering hope and reducing despair to secure votes, as voters we have to make it clear what we’re hopeful as well as what we are despaired, and how they should proceed to foster the first and mitigate the second.

    The more basic problem is whether there is a consensus amongst Malaysians of what copnstitutes hope and despair for which change is fought? In a multiracial/cultural/religious society like ours this is the difficult part. Yes we can all agree that there should not be abuse of power; and that ordinary and powerless men like padi farmer should not have their rights overridden by powerful government, non-independent judges, corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, bias law enforcement agencies and generally the rich, powerful and well connected. But it has to be more than that.

    Before we bank on hope or despair as a collective emotional force to press for change of political system, can we amongst ourselves forge a consensus on what to change towards?

    Can we work towards a society of rights recognition – a culture of fair dealing amongst citizens of different races, religions, interests and views; away from a socio/economic culture where a segment of people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work? (A nation cannot multiply wealth by dividing and redistributing along lines without rational differentia). We know democracy is based on the majority principle but that does not mean minorities should have majority’s values and culture foisted upon them by those who ostensibly represent or speak for the majority! Or as a certain political party constructed on religious platform would have the majority embrace, a state enforced conformity militating against individual freedom of expression including how to dress and behave in public.

    Is there a consensus on what to change towards amongst different groups of this country clamoring for change before we even talk of hope or despair in relation to change? If Pakatan Rakat wants to spearhead change, would it be towards what’s stated above or something else? This is where the hope and despair hinge.

  6. #6 by mendela on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 4:26 pm

    To side track, on toll and highway,


  7. #7 by Make A Difference on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 5:06 pm

    Dear YB Lim, I would like to offer a suggestion. What don’t you translate your articles into bahasa as well. Higher are translator if you don’t have the time. You will get a wider readership if you do this.

  8. #8 by Make A Difference on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 5:07 pm

    sorry spelling mistake. Hire a translator

  9. #9 by Loh on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 5:16 pm

    In the history of mankind, the success story of Hassan was reported too, perhaps a thousand years ago, when the change of regime was through bloodsheds. Bolehland is said to practice parliamentary democracy, and the change of government should be through ballot boxes. It is a sad story that the success of Hassan is celebrated. Are Malaysians fools?

  10. #10 by Joshua on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 7:43 pm

    It is really rotten system as my 30 Police Reports that have gone every door including MACC, Suhakam, PCB, Agung, including two GE 2004 and GE 2008 to the High Courts are still ignored.

    My 30 Police Reports worth RM30 trillions would implicate the doom of the nation as profligacy is endless..

    So lets have IGGG to be helmed by Joshua Kong now.

    pw: macerate th

  11. #11 by vsp on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 8:53 pm

    Augustine Anthony:

    Is this a true story, or is it a mere story of hope?

  12. #12 by johnnypok on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 10:55 pm

    We must also eliminate all the terrorists like what we did to the communists before!

    Previously, Chinese = Communist

    Now, even a terrorist is treated like a “HERO”!

  13. #13 by Voter on Friday, 25 September 2009 - 11:11 pm

    jeff ooi should be shut up. his statement bring alots discomfortable and bad image to PR.
    CM should take action against him !

  14. #14 by monsterball on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 12:19 am

    Hassan’s determinations….patience with the good luck to have a fair and just trial….broke the mighty corrupted bullies.
    Farmers are smarter now…play the game and determine to vote UMNO out too.
    If Hassan can be treated like that….all farmers are at the mercy of UMNO…who planned golf course…house estates…and twist laws to make legal owners leave with no choice….and one UMNO man became an instant multi millionaire.
    i have a strange feeling….UMNO knew Hassan is a PAS member or supports Pas.

  15. #15 by boh-liao on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 12:45 am

    Yup, hope lives on for NR n Umno
    The Parti Makkal Sakti Malaysia n R S Thanenthiran love n trust them
    They promised to deliver Indian votes to NR

  16. #16 by Taxidriver on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 1:22 am


    ‘Makkal Sakti’ – Isn’t this the battle cry of HINDRAF against the unfair UMNO Baru led government ? They and UMNO Baru now buddy-buddy again? Dogs going back to their own vomit! Traitors to the Indian Cause!

  17. #17 by Joshua on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 7:56 am

    What hope really for a single case like Hassan in a rotten system going more and more decade and decline and soon gone?

    Even once mighty US and its US$ is going to lose its world currency role, when the UN and the world cannot accept the rottenness of USA in its credibility of honouring its foreign debts of more than US$100 trillions as accumulated.

    Malaysia accumulates all sort of social ills caused by corruption and abuses of power of greedy and illegal leaders for decades especially 22 years of socalled lopsided boom years and now bust years to follow.

    pw: facile mation

  18. #18 by cemerlang on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 10:14 am

    In the hands of people desiring for righteousness, the laws are useful. In the hands of people who actually do not take things for serious, the laws are useless. All the akta akta are made just to talk about but do not need to put into action. That is why people go away with the thought that nothing is serious in Malaysia and you can just manipulate all the government officers and make them do what you want them to do. Afterall, why want to be so serious ? You spoil your health. You get depressed over nothing. Why not make yourself happy ? If you have these kind of bosses, Malaysia will just be old Malaysia. All the talk about fighting corruption, fighting for justice, fighting for this and fighting for that comes back to square one. What change ? There is no change if the people with the power just laugh at the word ” change “. Change comes from within. Change is not about changing what fashion you follow. Change is not cosmetic surgery. What is the point looking good outside but inside rotting away ? That is why you have good lawyers and you have the other end of a group of lawyers. Change comes with a price. Are you willing to pay for the price ? Look at history. So many examples of people who want a change and for that, they have to sacrifice so much. In many religions, the teaching is when you do good and have a good heart, you will be blessed. Only God knows how good is good.

  19. #19 by singhjebat on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 10:26 am

    The point is that all is not lost though we acknowledge the path is full of challenges.

  20. #20 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 11:59 am

    When mobsters and ‘greedsters’ fight for the reins of government whilst the nice and gentle majority bask in the comfort of their homes and offices, corruption and decadence will grip the nation. Then those nice homes and offices will not be able to hold all those bawls and wailing that goes on.

    It is never too late for nice, peace-loving, honest and hardworking ordinary Malaysians to stand up and be counted in the next GE. We must do this or perish the nation!

    You! The man on the street, hawking your wares; you, the man on the bus, LRT or motorbike; you, the man stooping to work overtime to put bread and an education for your children; and ALL of YOU that makes up the vast faceless MALAYSIANS – YOU must ACT!

  21. #21 by monsterball on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 1:24 pm

    We acted by cursing and complaining..and are accused by some…..no class..that’s not the way..they say.
    These educated guys tell us to change and listen to like them…talk with class and softly.
    They say…UMNO will listen to such style and complaints.
    LKS always started to talk in Parliament softly..like a gentleman..putting his points out..all the time ..and what did he get?
    Scoldings..insults and even the Mr.Speaker is supporting one side. Which side? All know,
    So how not to curse and complaint?
    That curses and complains get into deaf ears….with responds that kills..arrests and counter fight Malaysians…..by instigating..provocations…hoping the whole country will be unmanageable….and you know..what come next..don’t you?
    They try with cow head….failed.
    What’s next?
    Stop cursing and complaint..and all will be well and good?

  22. #22 by monsterball on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 1:49 pm

    The legal council met and presented their suggestions to UMNO.. what happen?
    NOTHING!! Any thing against UMNO..all thrown to the waste paper basket.
    Let PR Forums…meetings ..gatherings…be the most important to support..in spirit and with self attendance…if you have the time.
    Activists or NGOs…go choose your path to vote for or against.
    It will be nice to see keDAILan ….and DAP invite people like Haris Ibrahim to talk…but I guess Haris will turn down the offer and have it .his own way.
    OK la…..so Haris should let.. kopitiam fellas have their ways too…no?
    There is a touch of dictatorship by activists …if ever powers are given to them.

  23. #23 by k1980 on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 1:55 pm

    I believe there are many inside and outside this country who are astounded by the fact that a murder suspect is leading the country,
    that a porn actor and a freeloader are fighting tooth and nail over the post of “leader” of the malaysian chinese,
    and that the malaysian indians (who incidentally are less in numbers compared to Indon illegals) are being split into half a dozen indian-based parties.
    And they have the nerve to call this “1malaysia”

  24. #24 by Godfather on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 2:50 pm

    Don’t be too sure about the positive effects of this true story. UMNO has placed one of its nominees in the highest judicial post in Bolehland, and he in turn is sprinklying the next echelon of judges with UMNO sympathisers.

    Brave judges will soon be cowed, demoted or transferred to hear traffic cases somewhere else. Until and unless the choice of judges is put under parliamentary scrutiny with public hearings, cases such as the one mentioned above will continue to be the exception rather than the norm.

  25. #25 by OrangRojak on Saturday, 26 September 2009 - 4:22 pm

    Perhaps only obliquely on the subject of hope: Tunku Abdul Aziz sometimes writes some odd stuff. His article at The Malaysian Insider today:


    Appears to be about active participation in democracy, but then he concludes he is “not Najib’s keeper”.

    I liked the tension between ’emasculator’ and ‘constrictor’ in his paragraph where he is talking about human rights and popular democratic involvement. For farm animals in the UK, it’s common to avoid the stress of sudden surgical castration by placing a tight elastic band around the scrotum. The problematic part is starved of blood, dries, shrivels and eventually drops off a week or so later. The animal is typically blissfully unaware of their loss.

    Wikipedia has an article at ‘Elastration’:

  26. #26 by boh-liao on Sunday, 27 September 2009 - 9:06 am

    What about ‘The Hasan Mohamed Ali story’?
    Hasan (PAS), LKS’s bedfellow, strange or not strange
    Got ‘Hopes live on in M’sia’ aah?

  27. #27 by Hugos on Sunday, 27 September 2009 - 9:49 pm

    where got??

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