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Thread: The rat race part v - the malaysian rat race

  1. #41
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    Many East Malaysians have been clamouring around August every year for Sept 16 to be made a National Day without knowing or understanding the vagaries of history and the issues and complexities surrounding the formation of Malaysia.

    Let me, as an amateur historian, go back to first principles.

    In July 1955, the Alliance, comprising Umno, MCA and MIC won 51 out of the 52 seats of the Malayan Federal Legislative Assembly and effectively attained 'self-rule' in colonial Malaya.

    On Aug 31, 1955, at the Umno General Assembly following the Alliance's electoral triumph, a resolution was proposed to urge the party leaders to seek political independence from the British colonial power "within two years".

    Another delegate was reported to have amended the resolution by the addition of 'insyallah' (God willing) at the end of the resolution as according to him, to demand independence within a strict time frame was arrogant and not in keeping with the psyche of the humble Malays.

    With great amusement, the amendment was accepted and the resolution passed by acclaim.

    And so it was that the Merdeka Mission set sail for London in December 1955. That mission was a success and Tunku Abdul Rahman (right)came back in January 1956 and fittingly announced the "end to more than 400 years of foreign subjection" (in Melaka, where in 1511, the country first fell to foreign domination) on Aug 31, 1957, in accordance with the Umno General Assembly resolution.

    The tonal significance of that date was soon explained to Tunku by his Chinese friends to be sang yet fatt (Cantonese pronunciation for 31 which could be homophonous with prosper from birth. That fact was never lost on the Tunku.

    When the concept of an enlarged Federation of Malaya was publicly mooted (actually forced by the British, effete after a debilitating global conflict called WWII, wanting to shed its responsibilities for far-flung territories that were not of strategic importance) by Tunku in a speech in Singapore in May 1961 to the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southeast Asia, it was very readily accepted by Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew (left), who, without Malaysia, would have had his fragile PAP government overthrown by Lim Chin Siong's Barisan Sosialis.

    Popular misconception by East Malaysians

    With the British twisting his arms, Tunku was forced to accede to many demands including the 18/20 safeguards, which were to have been transitional provisions to protect the more backward East Malaysians from the more advanced and aggressive people from Singapore and Semananjong.

    This gave rise to the popular misconception by many East Malaysians that during those negotiations, the Federation of Malaya was of standing as equal partners of the Crown Colony of Singapore, the State of Sarawak, the State of North Borneo and that the four equal entities joined to form the Federation of Malaysia.

    These East Malaysians failed to distinguish substance from form. In substance and in effect, the Federation of Malaya was to take on three new member states to add to the 11 it already had. The 11-point star on the flag was amended to 14. The 11 stripes were raised to 14.

    It was synonymous with the growth of the USA from the original 13 states, culminating in the joining of the 50th state of Hawaii in 1959. When that happened, the number of stars on the US flag was increased to 50.

    The slight name change from Malaya to Malaysia has also been erroneously cited to bolster the notion that four equal parties, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and the Federation of Malaya came together to form a new political entity.

    Whilst the first three were then colonial possessions of the British Government, the Federation of Malaya was already an independent nation with membership in the United Nations Organisation (UNO).

    Many East Malaysians still harbour the misconception that Tunku, a prince and the Prime Minister of an independent country was talking to Lee Kuan Yew and the community leaders in Sarawak and North Borneo as equals.

    He was simply and plainly coerced (by the British for its defence) to make Malaysia happen even if it meant acceding to demands and conditions (which became part of the 18/20 points in the Malaysia Agreement).

    Threat from Indonesians

    The various background paperwork and enabling acts and ordinances in the legislatures of Britain, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo to bring about the establishment of Malaysia were all dated Aug 31, 1963 (Tunku never wavered in his love for the sang yet fatt homophone).

    Don't take my word for it ... go to the archives and see for yourselves.

    Alas, trouble beckoned from next door. Indonesia's Sukarno, wishing to avert attention from the ill-effects of his rule, started ranting about neo-colonialism and questioned the verity of the new enlarged entity called Malaysia.

    To appease a close neighbour, Tunku agreed to a fact-finding mission to be sent by U Thant, then secretary-general of the UNO to ascertain the wishes of the people of Sarawak and North Borneo.

    In the event, due to problems such as transport and the far-flung nature of these two huge states, U Thant's mission could not issue its report in time for the Aug 31 deadline and reluctantly, Tunku had to postpone the proclamation of Malaysia to a later date some two weeks after the scheduled Aug 31.

    Throughout the history of modern Malaysia, the Sept 16 date has been treated as an unintended aberration and in future years, the annual celebration date reverted to Aug 31.

    Be that as it may that Sept 16, 1963 was historically the correct date of the entry of Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo into Malaysia, it shouldn't be the case that it should now be celebrated as the Independence Day.

    When Hawaii joined the United State on Aug 21, 1959, it did not demand that henceforth the rest of USA should abandon the Fourth of July and celebrate National Day on Aug 21.

    Any Cantonese will tell you 169 sounds like yet loke kaw or 'play all along the way'. No wonder Tunku never ever wanted to celebrate Sept 16.

    I have great sympathy for the grouses of East Malaysians. Everything seems to cost more than in Semananjong. Compared to tiny Brunei, the only one of the Borneo threesome to opt out of joining Malaysia, they seem to be lagging behind.

    But the answer to their woes is definitely not getting Sept 16 recognised as National Day.

    Thus rejoicing at yet another holiday would seem to me as pandering to the irrelevant or much ado about nothing.

    Footnote: The Federation of Malaya, surrounded by a belligerent Indonesia, was most vulnerable in defence and Britain used the continued defence umbrella by itself and the Commonwealth (read as Australia and New Zealand) to coerce the Tunku to take in Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei.

    Uncle Yap is a retired Chartered Accountant who spends quite a fair bit of his time reading old newspapers in the National Archives in pursuit of his interest in Malaysian history. He also runs BeritaMalaysia, a free Internet news service catering for the happenings in Malaysia and its immediate neighbours. Malaysiakini. Subscription required.

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V - THE MALAYSIAN RAT RACE: History of the Sultans

    Sunday April 6, 2008

    Ruling the Rulers

    In the first of a two-part series, Wide Angle columnist Huzir Sulaiman looks at the challenges faced by our Sultans throughout history.

    IN 1779, the Dutch Governor of Malacca commissioned a study of Malay court ceremonies. The scribes took as their source a learned mosque official named Abdulmuhit who knew of the traditional ways of the Malacca Sultanate two centuries past. The resulting manuscript, the Adat Raja-Raja Melayu, mentions the ritualised insolence of the Prime Minister towards the Sultan.

    According to the commentary of Prof Panuti Hudjiman of the University of Indonesia, when the Sultan summons the Bendahara, or royal Prime Minister, to attend a betrothal ceremony, “the Bendahara has a peculiar way of responding to this royal summons. When the messenger approaches him for the first time, he replies, ‘Datanglah kita mengadap’ (We will come).

    “Instead of going straight away to the palace, the Bendahara takes a bath. Again a messenger is sent, only to be told by the Bendahara to return to the palace, as the Bendahara is coming. The Bendahara lets people wait for him: he gets dressed, and waits for a third summons before he obeys.?

    “This is to show his position in relation to the king: the Bendahara is chief advisor to the king and is regarded as the power behind the throne. The use of the pluralis majestatis “kita” (the royal “we”) must be an assertion of superiority or arrogance.”

    This is not just an isolated case being reported; the Bendahara repeats this ritualised show of arrogance when a new Sultan is crowned and the Bendahara is called back to serve, refusing to approach until the third summons.

    We can see from the Adat Raja-Raja Melayu that the tensions between the Malay ruler and his powerful ministers were already encoded in the culture of Malay kingship at the time of its early flowering in the Malacca Sultanate – and I would argue that we are seeing echoes of it today in the recent standoff between Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who is also Sultan of Terengganu, and the Prime Minister.

    It’s tempting to interpret the degree of interest shown by Their Highnesses the Sultans in the recent selection of Mentris Besar as a sudden flowering of royal activism, to be viewed with either glee or concern, depending on your attitude towards the Federal Government.

    Seen from a historical perspective, however, this supposedly new royal intervention in the political arena is just the latest recurrence of the natural and understandable desire of the Malay ruler to actually do a bit of ruling once in a while – a desire that in the last 100 years has been continually constrained by the demands of British imperialists and Malay nationalists alike.

    We should not be surprised that the Malay Rulers are making noise now; rather, we should be shocked that they have been quiet for so long. Much as they once had to deal with a ritually rude Bendahara, Their Highnesses have been obliged to accept as graciously as possible the interference of others.

    In the colonial period, in the years before World War II, the Unfederated Malay States of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Johor had British Advisors who in the course of their “advising” attempted with varying degrees of success to govern indirectly.

    From 1896, the Federated Malay States of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang had British Residents imposed on them by treaty, and who governed quite directly, making proclamations and decrees that began with the famously offensive formula “The British Resident is pleased to?”.

    The Japanese Occupation of Malaya saw some Sultans deposed by the new invaders, and others intimidated into cooperation. After the Japanese surrender, the British Military Administration presented itself to the Malay Rulers as the sole authority capable of recognising them as legitimate. If the Rulers were deemed to have collaborated with the Japanese or, more crucially, if they were not prepared to sign a new set of treaties turning over all their authority to Britain, they would be removed.

    Brigadier H.C. Willan’s report on the Sultans on Oct 7, 1945, is a chilling example of the cynical exercise of power:

    “In my view it would be wise to approach the Sultan of Johore first with regard to the negotiations for the new treaties. I think in his present state of mind he will sign. He is a realist and is fully aware that he is dependent on H.M.G.’s support ?

    “(The Sultan of Selangor) is a pleasant person with not a very strong character and at present is so overjoyed at the return of the British and re-recognition of himself as Sultan, that in my view, he will sign the new treaty ?’’

    “In my view the Yam Tuan of Negri Sembilan should be approached next. In his present state of mind he is somewhat depressed and appears to me to be perplexed as to how his State can recover itself and would welcome directions rather than advice?.”

    In the end, on pain of being deposed in favour of someone more accommodating, all nine Malay Rulers signed the MacMichael treaties, giving up virtually all their sovereign powers, except those relating to religion and Malay culture.

    This first step towards Britain’s planned Malayan Union angered the burgeoning Malay nationalist movement, but scholars have pointed out that it was not so much the curtailment of the Malay Rulers’ powers that affronted Datuk Onn Jaafar and his comrades, as it was the British proposal that citizenship be granted to non-Malays born in Malaya.

    It was the perceived threat to the powers of the Malay community, as opposed to the Malay Rulers, that truly galvanised the nationalists. (Indeed, Onn was arguably ambivalent about the Sultans, having in his younger days written newspaper articles critical of the Sultan of Johor.)

    On March 30, 1946, the Malay Rulers were gathered in Kuala Lumpur to attend the installation of Sir Edward Gent, the new Governor. As Harry Miller tells it in his biography of Tunku Abdul Rahman, “That afternoon Onn personally conveyed to the Rulers a message from the United Malays National Organisation that it was the ‘desire of their people’ that they should not attend the Governor’s installation, and, indeed, they should ‘desist from taking part in any function connected with the Union.’

    The message went further: If the Rulers insisted on meeting the Governor they would be disowned by the people, who were determined to boycott the Malayan Union.”

    Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the hotel where the Sultans were staying, shouting “Daulat Tuanku!” and “Hidup Melayu!”

    As Miller puts it, “The Rulers walked down to the great crowded porch to receive the obeisance of the demonstrators. This was also a touching scene, although the more unyielding of the leaders in the U.M.N.O. said later, ‘We brought them down those stairs to teach them a lesson. They were lucky we did not destroy them completely for having signed the MacMichael treaties. As it was, we told them we would support them.’”

    Caught between the “rock” of the British colonial authorities and the “hard place” of the angry Malay nationalists, the Malay Rulers complained to London that they were coerced into signing the MacMichael treaties, boycotted the Governor’s installation, and maintained a distance from him in public (while maintaining warm and cordial relations in private) until the British realised that the groundswell of opposition to the Malayan Union was too strong, and backed down.

    The Federation of Malaya, the compromise constitutional scheme reached in 1948, saw Britain appointing Advisors who were truly advisory, with the states’ executive powers passing to the Mentris Besar.

    Nonetheless, it appears clear that the Malay Rulers still feared that they would be emasculated by Umno, and Onn could not entirely reassure them.

    As Sir Malcolm MacDonald wrote to Sir Henry Gurney on Dec 15, 1949, “In my talk with him on December 12th, Dato’ Onn told me of his recent talk with the Mentris Besar ? They asked him whether he proposed that the Rulers should be ousted in the near future. He replied emphatically in the negative. He said that probably in due course at least many of the Rulers would be abolished, because the Malays themselves would wish this. But that would not happen for a long time and depended on Malay public opinion.” (Emphasis mine.)

    For Malaysians of my generation, who have grown up conditioned by the Sedition Act to not entertain the slightest republican thought, it is shocking to hear the founder of Umno coolly tell the Sultans’ ministers that he supposed Malays would one day wish for the abolition of their Rulers.

    Six decades later, that day is still unthinkable.

    But from the pre-Merdeka negotiations of the Alliance through to the events of the 1981-2003 era – when the metaphorical Bendahara was not so much ignoring the Sultan’s summons as trying to do the summoning – the Malay Rulers have had to stoically endure many more attempts to curtail their powers. I will examine this in my next column.

    Huzir Sulaiman writes for theatre, film, television, and newspapers. Part 1

    Understanding the Karpal Singh sedition trial


    Wednesday, 16 December 2009 Super Admin

    You see, his (Mahathir) whole aim is to upset the constitution and turn this country into a republic. His son was in London talking quite openly amongst the students that his father is going to be the first President of Malaya. I heard his daughter was also talking about it here. Apparently she was caught talking about it at a party not knowing that behind her was one of the Tengkus from Negri Sembilan who overheard it. She said that as soon as the constitution amendment is signed, it is finished, we can become a republic.


    Raja Petra Kamarudin

    Karpal Singh is on trial for allegedly making a seditious statement against the Sultan of Perak during a press conference at his office on 6 February this year. The trial adjourned today and will resume in March next year.

    What most Malaysians do not understand is what constitutes sedition when it comes to comments about the Rulers. One Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Ghafar Baba, already clarified this back in the 1980s when he said that criticising the Rulers is allowed as long as you do not ask that the Monarchy be abolished in favour of a Republic of Malaysia. Then it would become seditious.

    In fact, according to Abu Bakar, the First Caliph of Islam, even chopping off the heads of the Rulers is allowed, let alone just criticising with mere words. And Abu Bakar was supposed to be one of the four ‘Rightly Guided’ Caliphs, rightly guided by God, that is. And are the Malaysian Rulers above the Rightly Guided Caliphs of Islam?

    The greatest critic of the Monarchy is Umno and one-time Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It is no secret that Mahathir feels nothing but contempt for the Rulers. Umno knows this. And the Rulers know this as well. But why is it only when the opposition makes comments about the Monarchy -- and mild ones at that too -- it is seditious, but not when Umno or the Prime Minister does the same thing -- and much worse comments on top of that?

    To understand the ‘war’ between Unmo and the Rulers that resulted in the Rulers getting dragged through the mud in the 1980s, read the piece below that was published in The Star on 20 April 2008.


    The Mahathir years

    In the second segment of Ruling the Rulers (the link to part 1 below), an analysis of the challenges faced by the Malay Rulers over the years, Wide Angle examines the post-Merdeka period.

    By Huzir Sulaiman, The Star

    THE 1960s, although a tumultuous decade for many other reasons, was relatively quiet in terms of intervention by the Malay Rulers in matters of administration and politics.

    The relationship between the Sultans and the Alliance Government was still benefiting from the effort both parties had been obliged to make to find common ground in the run-up to their negotiations with the British in 1956.

    (Eventually, the Rulers had been persuaded to drop their opposition to the granting of citizenship to non-Malays born in Malaya, a provision insisted on by the British, championed, naturally, by the MIC and MCA, and accepted by Umno only with a certain amount of trauma.)

    But the honeymoon period of the new constitutional monarchy couldn’t last forever.

    By 1981, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad succeeded Hussein Onn as Prime Minister of Malaysia, the country was in the giddy throes of a surge in royal activism.

    The period from 1977 to 1983 saw several Sultans make their presence felt in the political arena to a far greater degree than had been previously seen.

    The close of Hussein Onn’s premiership saw conflicts between several Sultans and Mentris Besar erupt into the open.

    In 1977, the Sultan of Kelantan attempted to intervene in a crisis caused by the deteriorating relations between PAS and Umno (then in a short-lived alliance).

    The Sultan attempted to postpone the dissolution of the State Assembly following a vote of no confidence in the Mentri Besar, in order that a replacement MB could be found from PAS without elections being called.

    Unrest followed, which was ample pretext for the Federal Government to declare a State of Emergency in Kelantan. In the subsequent State elections, Umno came to power, a situation that the Sultan had been trying to avoid.

    Things were heating up elsewhere, too. In 1977 the Sultan of Perak ostracised his Menteri Besar to the point that he was forced to resign. In 1978, the Sultan of Pahang rejected the Umno nominee for MB and, in 1981, the Sultan of Johor forced his MB to resign after 14 years in office.

    We cannot know with any certainty what the new Prime Minister’s attitudes were towards the Malay Rulers when he assumed office in 1981 in the midst of this burgeoning atmosphere of royal assertiveness.

    However, in Paradoxes of Mahathirism: An Intellectual Biography of Mahathir Mohamad, Khoo Boo Teik argues that “Mahathir was not necessarily an out and out ‘anti-royalist’. He found heroes in strong modernising sovereigns such as Peter the Great and the Meiji Emperor but his attitude towards the Malay royalty was less admiring.”

    Khoo notes that Mahathir’s disdain for the Malay rulers had been expressed in oblique criticism before.

    “C.H.E. Det (Mahathir’s pen name in the late 1940s) had cast the 1949 conflict between the Malay royalty and the nascent Umno leadership as a conflict between ‘rulers and rakyats’. Then, C.H.E. Det stood with those who thought that the rulers had either to yield to the wishes of Umno and its supporters or to forfeit the loyalty of the Malays.”

    What is almost certain is that Dr Mahathir would have been aware that the independent-minded Sultans of Perak and Johor were the two most likely candidates to become the next Agong in 1984.

    Indeed, their Highnesses were shortly to demonstrate their autonomy in ways that led to a measure of public distress.

    In 1982, the Sultan of Perak, in his capacity as Head of Religion in his State, looked at the two permissible methods used to calculate the timing of Hari Raya Puasa, and chose the one different from that used in the rest of the country.

    That year the fasting month ended a day earlier in Perak, disrupting travel plans and inadvertently making it a rather stressful holiday for the Malay community.

    The following year, both the Sultans of Perak and Johor used the alternate method, and their two States celebrated Hari Raya a day earlier than the rest of Malaysia.

    Some commentators have suggested that the distress of the “variant Hari Raya” prompted Dr Mahathir’s subsequent desire to concentrate administrative power in the Federal Government.

    But R.S. Milne and Diane K. Mauzy, in Malaysian Politics Under Mahathir, citing interviews with Umno ministers, suggest that what became known as the 1983 constitutional crisis “was precipitated by reports, received by Mahathir, that the Sultan of Johor stated at a gathering that when he was elected Agong he would unilaterally declare a state of emergency, and with the aid of the army, throw out all the politicians.”

    “Compounding this were stories that the Sultan was close to certain key military men, and that the army chief, General Tan Sri Mohd Zain Hashim, had criticised Mahathir’s approach and had questioned where the army’s loyalty rested.”

    Whatever the case may be, on Aug 1, the Government brought the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1983 before both houses of Parliament, and it was quickly passed.

    The bill put forward 22 amendments to the Federal Constitution, including three very significant changes to the position of the Malay Rulers.

    First, it removed the need for the Agong to give his Royal Assent to a piece of legislation before it could be gazetted as law. Instead, it stipulated that if the Agong did not give his Assent within 15 days, he was deemed to have done so, and the law could come into effect.

    Second, it introduced parallel provisions removing the need for a Sultan to give his Assent to State laws.

    Third, it transferred the power to declare an Emergency from the Agong (who was, in any case, supposed to act on the advice of Cabinet in this regard) directly to the Prime Minister, who was not obliged to act on anyone’s advice.

    The Prime Minister’s Department had ordered a press blackout on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1983 and, so, while the fact of the bill’s passing was mentioned, its significance was downplayed, and the debate – including an impassioned speech in opposition to it by DAP’s Lim Kit Siang – did not appear in local media.

    For the following two months, nothing appeared. But a right royal storm was brewing.

    Immediately, the liberal intelligentsia opposed the provision that allowed the Prime Minister to unilaterally declare an Emergency.

    On Aug 2, 1983, Aliran issued a statement condemning the Bill, claiming the proposed amendment “opens the way to political abuse. For the Prime Minister is, in the ultimate analysis, a political personality very much involved in the conflicts and compromises of party politics. There is no constitutional mechanism for ensuring that he will not use his emergency powers against his political foes from any quarter.”

    “It is simply not possible to prevent an ambitious Prime Minister in the future from emerging as a ‘supremo’ after the proclamation of an emergency.”

    But, under the strict press blackout, it was not reported.

    Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the public, the Agong, under pressure from his fellow Rulers, refused to give his Assent to the Bill.

    The Rulers maintained that the Bill contravened Article 38(4) of the Constitution, which states that “No law directly affecting the privileges, position, honours or dignities of the Rulers shall be passed without the consent of the Conference of Rulers.”

    The Rulers had also come to understand the full legal implications of removing the need for Royal Assent to legislation. It meant that if Parliament voted to abolish the monarchy, the Rulers would be powerless to stop them.

    Tensions continued to build behind the scenes. It was only in October, when Senu Abdul Rahman circulated a letter condemning the amendments, followed by Tunku Abdul Rahman defying the gag order by writing about them in the pages of this newspaper (The Star), that Malaysians woke up to the crisis.

    There were also disagreements within Umno -- as Gordon P. Means notes in Malaysian Politics: the Second Generation -- many in the ruling coalition were distressed by the contents of the amendments and the confrontational style of Dr Mahathir towards the Malay Rulers.”

    Some establishment figures believed the Prime Minister had far-reaching aims. In a 1988 interview transcribed in K. Das & The Tunku Tapes, Tunku Abdul Rahman and the veteran journalist discuss the constitutional crisis.

    If one can look past the bitchy, surat layang (poison pen letter) tone of their stories about Dr Mahathir’s children, one can get a snapshot of the groundswell of suspicion.

    Tunku: “You see, the Malays have a cause for adat, resam and so on. Tradition, I have a respect for it but he has none. He dislikes it. You see, his whole aim is to upset the constitution and turn this country into a republic. His son was in London talking quite openly amongst the students that his father is going to be the first President of Malaya.”

    Das: “I heard his daughter was also talking about it here. Apparently she was caught talking about it at a party not knowing that behind her was one of the Tengkus from Negri Sembilan who overheard it. She said that as soon as the constitution amendment is signed, it is finished, we can become a republic.”

    Against this background of suspicion, the 1983 constitutional crisis spilled out into the open, and the conflict grew even more intense.

    In the next instalment of Ruling the Rulers, Wide Angle will look at the propaganda war and the resolution of the crisis. And, the other crises that lay in wait for Dr Mahathir and the Malay Rulers. Malaysiatoday....

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V -THE MALAYSIAN RAT RACE 3.5 UMNO sold out to the British

    Quote Originally Posted by pywong
    Chapter 3.5: 1945 to 1957 How UMNO Sold Out to the British.
    1955 Baling Talks between Tengku Abdul Rahman of Malaya, David Marshall, Chief Minister of Singapore, and Chin Peng, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM): The purpose of the talks were to discuss the cessation of hostilities between the Govt of Malaya and the CPM.

    This is a part of history that we have missed out in our series and we need to beef up. Details can be read in Chin Peng's book - My side of history, and in the interview of Said Zahari in the Merdeka Review here.

    Two points stood out clearly:
    1. David Marshall was determined to scuttle the talks.
    2. The Tengku had no intention to settle with Chin Peng, using the Baling Talks merely to demonstrate to the British that he could be tough with the Communists and could be trusted to talk over Malaya.

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V - Ku Li: Malaysia is in need of fundamental reform

    What does Tengku Razaleigh's speech tells us? The people of Malaya, including UMNO, opposed the British when they tried to set up the Malayan Union in 1946. That was a system of a unitary state with the British Governor ruling the country. Today, UMNO has succeeded where the British failed. Malaysia has become a unitary state with UMNO's President as the de-facto dictator.

    if we read George Orwell’s Animal Farm we learn how a group of animals led by the pigs overthrew their human oppressors. Eventually, the pigs got crazy with power and became the oppressors themselves. This is what has happened to Malaysia. We thought we drove the British colonialists out. Instead we have exchanged a white-skinned colonialist for a brown-skinned one, which is even more corrupt and incompetent than the original.

    When Tengku Razaleigh in his otherwise excellent speech below claimed that Malaysia is in need of fundamental reform, he has got it wrong. Malaysia need to kick out the cancer called UMNO so that we can rebuild the nation.

    Ku Li: Malaysia is in need of fundamental reform

    The speech delivered by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at the ISEAS Regional Outlook Forum 2010 at the Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore on January 7, is a good reminder of the many challenges that needs to be addressed by a responsible Malaysian leadership. I have taken the liberty to highlight in bold, the pertinent parts of the speech that resonate with me.

    The centre of gravity of global economic activity has been moving eastwards towards Asia for quite some time now. The present global financial crisis has accelerated that process.

    Asian economies, led by China, seek to spur domestic demand and increase intra-regional trade. As the global appetite for treasuries and US equities decreases, it is likely that large flows of risk capital will start moving to emerging markets again over the next six months. The main destinations will be India and China, but the countries of Southeast Asia are also set to benefit from these flows of global capital to the extent that they have an economic story to tell. The two top performers are going to be Indonesia and Vietnam. Indonesia, the new “i” in BRIIC, has a market-size, natural resources and liberalisation story while Vietnam has a large and industrious labour force that is skilling upwards rapidly. The Philippines and Thailand, despite political worries, remain relevant for their large domestic markets while Singapore, as the financial hub of the region, benefits from any increase in regional economic activity. This year also sees the full implementation of AFTA and the signing of more regional FTAs. We can be cautiously optimistic about the basis for growth in trade and investment.

    I mentioned the major Asean countries but not Malaysia in my list of investment destinations. That is because Malaysia has fallen off the map for much foreign investment. With neither the cost and scale advantages of Vietnam and Indonesia nor the advanced capabilities of Singapore, Malaysia is firmly caught in a middle-income trap and appears to have fallen off the radar screen of foreign investors. It might seem puzzling that this country, sitting at the heart of Southeast Asia, blessed with extraordinary natural, cultural and human capital, and once a beacon in the developing world, has become irrelevant.

    I want to discuss how this happened, and reflect on what this story might teach about larger issues of common concern. Other members of Asean might be concerned that a country that was once at the forefront in spearheading regional initiatives is at a crossroads over its own future.

    The general election of March 2008 was a watershed in Malaysian politics. The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost its accustomed two-thirds majority in the Parliament, and lost five states to the opposition, including the economic backbone states of Selangor, Perak and Penang. Compared to the ebb and flow of power in other parliamentary democracies, you might not find this a remarkable development. Against the backdrop of Malaysia’s political history, however, the entire political landscape had changed overnight. Gone was the invincibility of Umno, the Malay-based party that has dominated Malaysian politics since independence. The political credibility of Umno/BN had been more than just a set of racially-based political parties. Over its decades of ascendancy, history had been re-written, mythology created, and the party abolished and reinvented to reinforce the necessity and inevitability of a government led by Umno.

    The formula of communal power-sharing that the Barisan Nasional and its predecessor were built on had started life as a political accommodation, a nation-building compromise, a way-station on the road to a fuller union of our citizens. Fifty years later it had ossified into the appearance of an eternal racial contract, a model replicated at every level of national life. The election results plunged this model, and the regime built upon it, into crisis.

    The people are often ahead of their government. They are interested in more things than identity politics. Unable to respond to the reality that the BN formula is broken and the people want more than ethno-religious politics, the ruling party appears to be reacting by digging itself deeper into narrow racial causes with no future in them. This desperate response is self-defeating in a cumulative way. As Umno is rejected by the voters, party members pursue racial issues more stridently. They think this will shore up their “base”. They are mistaken about the nature of that base. As they do so, they become more extreme and out of touch with ordinary voters of every race and religion whose major concerns are not racial or religious identity but matters such as corruption, security, the economy and education.

    Umno’s position in the present controversy over the use of the term “Allah” by non-Muslims is an example. In a milestone moment, PAS, the Islamic party, is holding onto the more plural and moderate position while Umno is digging itself into an intolerant hardline position that has no parallel that I know of in the Muslim world. Umno is fanning communal sentiment, and the government it leads is taking up policy lines based on “sensitivities” rather than principle. The issue appears to be more about racial sentiment than religious, let alone constitutional principles.

    In a complex multiracial society a party and a government whose primary response to a public issue is sunk in the elastic goo of “sensitivities” rather than founded on principle, drawn from sentiment rather than from the Constitution, is already short of leadership and moral fibre. Public life is about behaving and choosing on principle rather than sentiment. Islam, in particular, demands that our actions be guided by an absolute commitment to justice for all rather than by looking inward at vague “sensitivities” of particular groups, however politically significant. It is about doing what is right rather than protecting arbitrary feelings. If feelings diverge from what is right and just, then it’s time to show some leadership.

    “Sensitivities” is the favoured resort of the gutter politician. With it he raises a mob, fans its resentment and helps it discover a growing list of other sensitivities. This is a road to ruin. A nation is made up of citizens bound by a shared conception of justice and not of mobs extracting satisfaction for politicised emotional states.

    As a mark of our decline, at some point in our recent history the government itself began to speak the language of sensitivities. In the controversy over whether Christians are allowed to use the term “Allah” the government talks about managing sentiment when it should be talking about what is the right thing to do. This is what government sounds like when a political system and its leadership have come unstuck from the rule of law. It goes from issue to issue, hostage to the brinksmanship of sensitivities. Small matters threaten to erupt into racial conflict. The government of a multiracial society that cannot rise above sentiment is clearly too weak or too self-interested to hold the country together. It has lost credibility and legitimacy. The regime is in crisis.

    The deterioration of our political order did not happen overnight or in isolation. It is part of a more general pattern of the decline of democracy and the rule of law in many newer democracies. Many post-colonial societies that began with democratic institutions saw democracy collapse afterwards into dictatorship. I can think of Nigeria, Pakistan and Kenya, for example. What has not been said is that underneath the appearance of continuity, and over two decades, Malaysia has quietly undergone the same process. There has been, beneath the surface, a decisive rupture with the federal, constitutional and democratic system upon which we were founded, and which alone confers legitimacy. What replaced it was an authoritarianism based on personality. Policy was set according to personal whims of the leader, which is to say that in areas such as the economy and foreign affairs, the country was run according to the personal enthusiasms and pet peeves of individual leaders.

    Power was consolidated and constitutional government turned back. The result was a recession to authoritarianism and the centralisation of power, abetted by the corruption of the ruling party. The ideology of the ruling party, which had combined Malay nationalism with an overriding national concern, was vulgarised into an easily manipulated politics of group resentment.

    Umno started in 1946 as a grassroots-based party that commanded the idealism of my generation. After 1987 it was transformed into a top-down patronage machine. Party membership became a ticket to personal gain. The party attracted opportunists and ne’er do wells while good people stayed away in droves. For any organisation this is a death spiral.

    The challenge of Umno and of Malaysia today is not simply reform but restoration, not simply democratisation but re-democratisation. This is because we are not building from scratch but trying to recover from the decline of once-excellent core institutions.

    There are regional implications to Malaysia’s crisis. The formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 precipitated a regional conflict to which, in part, the formation of Asean in 1967 was meant to be a solution. Now in a clear sign of the erosion of the rule of law, agreements that structured state-federal relations over matters such as the distribution of the petroleum revenue are casually ignored. Malaysia is a federation of sovereign entities, but one of the consequences of authoritarianism has been that it has come to be run habitually as a unitary state. We have to learn again how to be a federation.

    Let me try to draw some conclusions:

    Shortcuts in governance may appear to work for awhile, but they wreak long-term havoc on the institutional capability of a nation. Short-term boosts to the economy are difficult to evaluate when 40 per cent of the national budget come from a single source which does not report financial details either to the public or to Parliament.

    What is clear is that there is no secure basis for long-term growth without a return to strong institutions, transparency and good government. The challenges of economic development, nation-building and institutional integrity are linked, more so in a complex country like Malaysia.

    The success of Asean collaborative measures depends on the core countries taking a lead, and it is in everyone’s interest that these countries have strong democratic institutions and the rule of law. When countries lack good governance and transparency, domestic economies falter, domestic politics goes from crisis to crisis, and the country turns inwards and away from engaging constructively with the real world and with their neighbours.

    The economic success of Asean economies up to the Nineties was based in part on the superiority of their institutional frameworks to those of Eastern Europe and South America. In the early days, Malaysia and Singapore played leading roles in Asean. Of late, Malaysia’s role has diminished, while that of Indonesia has grown. It is no accident that this is the result of successful reform and democratisation in Indonesia and the failure so far of any such process in Malaysia. Over the longer term, reform and democratisation must go hand in hand for there to be sustained economic development.

    The present Prime Minister has made some helpful gestures towards liberalising the economy and pursuing more multiracial policies. These initiatives, however, must do more than skim the surface of what must be done. Malaysia is in need of fundamental reform. The reforms we need include, at minimum:

    a. An overhaul of the party system which rules out racially exclusive parties from facing directly contesting elections. This will inaugurate a new era of post-racial politics.

    b. The restoration of the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the media.

    c. An all-out war on corruption, the root of all the evils in nation-building and economic development.

    The greater economic collaboration we aspire to in Asean requires that we pay attention to the internal conditions in each country that make it possible. We need to place the promotion of governance and institutional reform on the Asean agenda. I hope this is a matter you see fit to take up. de minimis.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    Lessons from the past: UMNO will negotiate with you until they secure power over you. After that, whatever is promised is forgotten. This has been repeated over and over. If we don't learn the lessons of the past, we will be condemned to repeat it.

    Never negotiate with the Devil.

    Remember the Cobbold Commission?

    The non-Muslim communities are most insistent that there should be complete religious freedom as to worship, education, and propagation, in the Borneo territories. We recommend the insertion in the State Constitution of a specific provision to this effect.


    III. Report of the Commission of Enquiry, North Borneo and Sarawak, 1962
    Also known as the Cobbold Commission

    148 (d) Name of the Federation

    We encountered some opposition to the name “Malaysia”, particularly from a number of non-Muslim elements of the population in Sarawak. This opposition stems from the same cause as the anxieties about Religion, Language and the Head of Federation, with which we deal elsewhere in this Section. They all reflect the fears held by the non-Malays and non-Muslims that the effect of Malaysia will be to put them in a position inferior to that of the Malays and Muslims. We cannot see, however, that any other name would be appropriate in view of the geographical-historical relevance of the name of Malaysia and its wide current usage. We believe, moreover, that in fact objections to the name would not persist for long. We recommend, however, that the word “Malaysia” should be generally incorporated into the Malay language: at present it is widely translated into Malay as “Melayu Raya”.

    (e) Religion

    Feeling on this point ran much stronger. There are differences of opinion among the Commission.

    Full article:

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V - RPK: Okay, now my version of history

    UMNO has been waging propaganda warfare against the people since British times in 1948. One of the tools of the Ruling Class is the rewriting of history to put them in a favourable light. All Ruling Classes do it. It's a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), nothing unusual. The problem with UMNO is that they are so addicted to it, they can't help it even when it's obviously not true, especially since we have the internet to help in our search for and dissemination of information. It's like telling the scorpion not to sting. It will sting because it's in their DNA.

    Okay, now my version of history

    Thursday, 28 January 2010 Super Admin

    So, with due respect to Dr Mahathir, it was actually the other way around. Umno was the one that split the Malays. And now Umno grumbles that the opposition is splitting the Malays? And, worse still, Umno split the Malays to serve the British interest and as a British ‘running dog’.


    Raja Petra Kamarudin

    Dr M blames PAS, PKR for dividing Malays

    By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

    ........Then the British ‘created’ Umno. And I have also written about this, about ten years or so ago, which was published in Harakah, when I interviewed an ‘old boy’ of MCKK, Datuk Andika, who died a couple of years ago in Kuala Terengganu at the age of 100.

    Datuk Andika related how he was encouraged and financed by the British to set up the first Umno branch in the state of Terengganu, which was in Dungun.

    The British allowed Umno to campaign for Merdeka the length and breadth of Malaya. But when the KMM people did the same, the British detained them without trial.

    In short, the Malays were already united long ago. And they were united against the British. But along came the British who created Umno. And the purpose of creating Umno was to split the Malays and kill KMM........ Malaysiatoday....

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    An excellent article that supplements the history recorded in the Rat Race series. 20 pages long but a very good read that will help to fill the gaps in our history.

    1. The Malay Dilemma is actually the story of financial illiteracy.
    2. Our history has been distorted by UMNO to present themselves as the heroes who drove the British out.

    Monday, 1 February 2010
    An UNCENSORED History of Malaysia: What Our HISTORY TEXT BOOKS did NOT teach us about our EARLY Cultural Relations, MERDEKA, and the TRUE MALAY DILLEMA

    NOTE: This Article was written and published on Facebook on the 31st of August 2009, Malaysia’s Independence Day in response to an irresponsible actions caused by UMNO supporters carrying a severed ‘Cow Head’ to incite racial and religious tensions among the Hindu’s in Malaysia. It was this very incident which ‘woke me up’ as a Malay and a Malaysian who was previously politically neutral to fight against UMNO’s racism and racist policies and behaviors. And I have never stopped fighting since…


  8. #48
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V - RPK's History Lesson on Malayan Immigration

    Quote Originally Posted by pywong

    During our younger days, we found history deathly boring. We did not realize then that history was a very powerful tool used by the Ruling Class for indoctrination, manipulation, propaganda, misinformation and spreading of lies.

    George Santayana (Spanish-born American Philosopher, Poet and Humanist) said:

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    And Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels said:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Repeated Lies.
    Lesson on immigration to Malaya, Opening-up of Kuala Lumpur, how rubber came to Malaya...

    RPK: Beggars, Prostitutes, Secret Societies, Capitalists, Colonialists and Ali Babas

    Wednesday, 03 February 2010 Super Admin

    Those who seek public office must first be made to sit for a history test. Only when they pass the test should they be allowed to become ministers, political secretaries, press secretaries, etc. This will avoid them making stupid statements like what many of the Umno people are now doing.


    Raja Petra Kamarudin

    Now a new controversy has erupted. And it’s about the statement that the Indians came here as beggars and the Chinese as prostitutes. Actually, if you were to really study Malayan and Malaysian history over the last 500 years or so, you will find that this country’s history is not just about beggars and prostitutes. It is about much more than that.

    Malayan history has to be dissected into many periods. And each of these periods saw immigration involving almost all the races in Malaysia, save the Orang Asli (the Original People). In New Zealand, these Orang Asli would be the Maoris and in Australia the Aborigines. Therefore, anyone who is neither a Maori nor an Aborigine is a ‘pendatang’ or immigrant. Malaysia-today.

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V - Colonial rule, 1920's and 1930's

    Colonial rule (1): British played favourites with the various races

    Written by Cheah Boon Kheng
    Wednesday, 10 February 2010 16:59

    Introduction by CPI

    “But what began to aggravate and worsen ethnic relations in the early 1930s was a series of ‘pro-Malay’ policies, which the British initiated to help Malays cope with the economic depression and to meet the demands of rising Malay nationalism based on treaty obligations.”

    This statement extracted from the article below should lead us to ask whether our leaders are repeating history and why they are not learning from the mistakes of history.

    During the period of colonial rule in Malaya, the British favoured themselves and other whites first and foremost, and Malays second in their policies.

    As ‘protectors’ of the Malays, the British created various policies that were anti-Chinese. Most non-European residents were either workers or poor. Since the various races were in different sectors and not in direct competition with each other, ethnic conflict was kept under the lid.

    As the economic depression intensified, the British rulers found it easier to resort to race-based solutions rather than deal with the real causes and issues.

    Today, as the global economy and its fluctuations impact on us, will race-based policies again rise to the fore?

    The following essay by Dr Cheah Boon Kheng was published in the book Multiethnic Malaysia – Past, Present and Future under the title ‘Race and Ethnic relations in Colonial Malaya during the 1920s and 1930s’. CPI with permission from the author is carrying it here in two parts.

    Dr Cheah is visiting professor at the National University of Singapore. He was previously history professor at USM, and has been visiting professor at the Australian National University and ISEAS. He is also author of several books. Colonial Rule Part 1.

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: THE RAT RACE PART V - Haris Ibrahim clarifies Article 153

    The aspiration of our founding fathers was equality
    February 16, 2010

    Let’s look at two constitutional provisions to try and appreciate the difference between a constitutional conferment of a right and the ’special position’ provision of Article 153.

    Article 10. Freedom of speech, assembly and association.

    (1) Subject to Clauses (2), (3) and (4) -

    (a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression;

    (b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;

    (c) all citizens have the right to form associations.

    Article 11. Freedom of religion.

    (1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

    The constitution does not pussyfoot when it confers rights.

    It says it like it is.

    No room for guessing.

    Article 153. Reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits, etc., for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.

    (1) It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

    (2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, but subject to the provisions of Article 40 and of this Article, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences.

    No rights conferred.

    Only a duty on the Agong to reserve such proportion as he may deem reasonable of those matters highlighted in green to safeguard that special position.

    What if, in the reasonable opinion of the Agong, it is no longer necessary to reserve quotas of those matters highlighted in green for the Malays or the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and therefore no reservations are made?

    Can any of these interested parties sue to compel the making of these reservations?



    Article 153, unlike the other two Articles mentioned earlier, does not confer any enforceable right. harisibrahim.

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