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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still colonised after all these years

Umno-BN usurpers place themselves higher than Malaysia

This picture really sums up the state of the nation 53 years since Malaya became an independent country, and 47 years since confederation. You may think What’s the big deal, it’s just another boastful project signboard. The point is not the boast and not the project. It’s the mental attitude, the frame of mind, the kind of thinking that allowed such signboards to go up. The point is the blatantly obvious message placed there: that the Umno-BN power elite have usurped the position of the legal government of Malaysia, that they regard themselves as overlords, above everyone and everything else.

Yes as Malaysians go through the motions of celebrating Merdeka, those signboards remain to show that Malaysia is still not independent or free, and that the Malaysian people are still colonial subjects, having merely exchanged colonial masters.

Out went the original ruling class of British administrators, and out went the ruling class of British-influenced administrators in the old Umno-Alliance power elite, to be replaced by a whole new set of colonial masters, the present-day plutocratic power elite of Umno-BN and their flunkies, who use the emotional levers of race and religion and the corruption of money to keep the Malaysian people subservient.

Those signboards show that the Umno-BN power elite have entrenched themselves so firmly that they can blatantly show that they think they are superior to everything and everyone else.

That they hold themselves to be superior to the legal and constitutional federal government of Malaysia. That the Umno-BN power elite regard themselves as overlords, above the Constitution, above the monarchy, essentially above the law.

On those signboards, above everything else, is the symbol of the Dacing. Around the world, the pair of scales represents justice and the rule of law. In Umno-BN hands it is a symbol of the corrupted power where a party elite has made itself supreme.

With that corrupted symbol are the words Kerajaan Barisan Nasional — a fictional creature not provided for by law. The Constitution and the law recognise the Barisan Nasional only as a political party, not a government.

But the Umno-BN power elite have usurped to themselves the position of a government. But it is an illegal one, with no basis in law.

And where on the signboard is the legal government of Malaysia, the one created by the Constitution? No words there refer to the legal government of Malaysia.

Arms of the federation, or just a logo?Arms of the federation, or just a logo?

There is only the official coat-of-arms of the federation, the symbol of the legal government of Malaysia. But it is in a corner, in an inferior position.

It is treated like some cheap company logo or brand symbol.

And yet this is the official coat-of-arms of the federation, the symbol of legal power, the one recognised by the United Nations, all the governments of the world, the symbol on the royal standard of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong which is flown at Istana Negara and on the royal limousine, the symbol of authority that is displayed on buildings and on official documents like the Government Gazette.

But it is in a corner, diminished in size and spirit, almost an after-thought. Treated casually. Like just a brand, that’s all. Nothing important.

Forget the Constitution, that signboard says. You think the Constitution is the supreme law? We are above it all, it says. The rule of law? We are above it all, it says. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the monarchy? We are above them all, it says. You the people? We are above you all, it says.

That is the unsubtle message of all those signboards. That proclaim that they, the Umno-BN power elite, are supreme and that you the people, and your Constitution, and your Parliament, and your Judiciary, and your government, and your monarchy — you, Malaysia, you are beneath them. That they are masters and everyone and everything else merely their subjects.

What else is the hidden message of those signboards? They say, Aiyoh you people so stupid la. Because the Umno-BN power elite have usurped the power of the federation and the people have gone along with it.

And so, as the meaningless songs and dances go on through August 31st, the Umno-BN power elite — the Usurpers — will watch and smile and wave at the sight of their colonised subjects celebrating a fiction, a lie.

We are not an independent and free people and will not be until We the People return to constitutional rule of law and to our innate sense of justice and fair play, by ending the stranglehold of the power elite.

But it would be foolish to believe that independence and freedom can come by merely replacing the present power elite of Umno-BN and their hangers-on.

That will merely result in another bunch of elitist power junkies taking charge, and aspiring to become the new colonisers, the New Usurpers, and who will, inevitably, sell us all out when they, inevitably, become corrupted by power.

They, too, will aspire to be the new Usurpers, having known no other way. The corruption of power, metastasising like a cancer, has permeated all aspects of Malaysian society: it has corroded the Constitution, the monarchy, the judiciary and the legal system, the Parliament, the military, police and paramilitary, and all the branches and agencies of government; it has corrupted businesses, schools, sports, culture and entertainment. It has corrupted the press, and Malaysian journalism. The corruption is everywhere.

We the People can be independent and free only when we rid society of this corruption brought by the politico-security-business-complex, and break their stranglehold on the reins of power.

We the People must see through the wiles and guiles of the Usurpers and the would-be Usurpers; otherwise we will still be colonised after all these years.

courtesy of uppercaise

The struggle for Merdeka: what the Malaysian history books do not tell us

Yesterday, I wrote an article called Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!regarding the Selangor Royal Family’s opposition to British colonial rule. Today, I want to publish chapter 34 of the book ‘Malay Nationalism Before Umno: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain’ to show that Umno was not involved in the early moves to gain Merdeka for Malaya.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Some of you may not want to read the entire chapter of eight pages (I know Malaysians malas membaca). So allow me to summarise the main points of this chapter.

1. The fight for Merdeka in 1946 was not spearheaded by Umno (as the Malaysian history books claim). It was spearheaded by the All-Malayan Council of Joint Action (AMCJA). The AMCJA was a leftist group (what Umno would call Communist).

2. This was the second attempt to gain Merdeka. The first was in 1945 during the Japanese occupation of Malaya. In fact, Japan had already agreed toMerdeka, which was supposed to have been declared on 17 August 1945. However, Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945 (just two days before Merdeka) after the bombing of Hiroshima followed by Nagakasi. If the Americans had delayed the bombing just a few weeks, Malaya would have seen Merdeka on 15 August 1945 instead of 31 August 1957.

3. The 1945 and 1946 moves to gain Merdeka was made by a multi-racial group amongst who were nationalists, religionists and communists. It was not an all-Malay group. And Umno was certainly not in the group. Umno did not talk about Merdeka until about 10 years later.

So that is story of the struggle for Merdeka and don’t let Umno tell you otherwise. And take special note that all the races, not just the Malays, participated in the fight for Merdeka.

Of course, at that time, the British would not consider Merdeka because then Malaya would have become a socialist state (with a Constitutional Monarchy). Instead, the British arrested those calling for Merdeka. The British then promoted and backed Umno, a party of British-trained Malays, to ensure that post-Merdeka Malaya would remain pro-British.


Another attack by Umno against Guan Eng making its rounds


Another allegation involving Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the Muslim community is now making the rounds and irking PAS, who said it was meant to destroy the party's relationship with its allies in Pakatan Rakyat.

lim guan eng slaughters cow 310810 lim guang eng nizar jamaluddinFederal Territory PAS Youth chief Herman Samsudeen claimed that an Umno cybertrooper going by the moniker “PAS Beruk (monkey)” has designed and distributed via the Internet a superimposed image of Lim slaughtering a cow for the consumption of Muslims.

The image, said Herman in a statement, carried the tagline “Are we willing to see things become like this? What excuse is there to justify DAP's action?”

Herman said Umno continues to use 'malicious' tactics to destroy PAS and Pakatan's image despite it being the holy month of Ramadan.

“The action by the cybertrooper has gone overboard and was done purposely to incite religious sentiments,” he added.

Herman said the Youth wing regretted Umno's “culture of slander” and accused the latter of acting against the teachings of Islam.

He said Umno supporters were willing to create such a picture for their own political interests, where the actual person slaughtering the cow was former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, who is from PAS.

“The picture was designed to show that the cooperation between PAS and DAP will destroy Islam,” he said.

NONEIn recent weeks several allegations involving the DAP and the Islamic religion have surfaced, with the latest target being MP for Serdang Teo Nie Ching.

Teo has raised a storm among Umno figures and media over what they purport was her improper presence and actions in a surau in Serdang.

Earlier, Lim, who is also DAP national secretary-general, was accused of ordered that his name replace the Agong's in Friday sermons in Penang. Lim has vehemently denied the claim.

NONETwo days ago former Umno information chief Zainuddin Maidin had accused PAS of having called during the May 1969 riots for properties belonging to the Chinese to beseized.

He had also alleged that PAS supported Indonesia's plan to attack Malaysia during the Konfrontasi in the 60s.

“These are part of Umno's fantasy. Now they are playing with photos, similar to what they did to Zaid (Ibrahim) in Hulu Selangor, showing him drinking alcohol,” said Herman in reference to the Hulu Selangor by-election.

“This shows that Umno is bankrupt of ideas to make PAS-Pakatan look bad; we hope they will repent as the more slander they spread, the more their weaknesses are exposed,” he added.

“The more slander they spread, the rakyat becomes more disgusted with Umno and be ashamed. To the Muslim community and to Allah, the filthy act of slander is worse than that of murder,” he added, saying these actions were rejected by all communities or religions.

NONEMeanwhile, in his Merdeka message in Penang, Lim (right) lamented that the country appears more divided than ever by racial, religious and even personal hatred.

“Fomenting racial and religious intolerance and hatred is now the rule rather than the exception,” he said in a press statement.

“Penang is under constant siege and attack by extremists and political foes from BN and Umno, who use lies to create tension and division,” he added.

“It is because our opponents are bankrupt of ideas that they resort to race and religion,” he stressed.

Lim said race and religious hatred was the final weapon of the extremists who cannot win any debate based on facts and logic or find any weaknesses in Pakatan's performance.

Their desperation can be shown in the failure to show proof of the Penang Pakatan government was corrupt or had abused its power or wasted public funds, he added.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

Khalid: Water restructuring first, Langat 2 after that


The Selangor government has no qualms to proceed with Langat 2 water treatment after the water restructuring discussion with the private concessionaires and federal agencies reach an amicable solution. Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said that the state had never opposed the Langat 2 project but questions the urgency and the priority of the Federal Government.

“We said we will accept the Langat 2 Project but it does not have to be rushed into. The state will only address the project after we resolve the issue of water services restructuring in Selangor. We maintain that we must prioritise water restructuring over the Langat 2 project,” he said.

The Menteri Besar was responding to news reports quoting Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who claimed that the Selangor MB gave the consent at the 5th National Waters Resources Council yesterday.

Abdul Khalid said he does not know how the deputy prime minister had concluded that Selangor had given the go-ahead for the Langat 2 water treatment and urged Muhyiddin to refrain from making assumptions in the future.

“We will continue our negotiations to resolve the restructuring of water services industry which have been in a deadlock since last year. We want a better deal, better services and better price for the people – that is our aim,” said Abdul Khalid.

courtesy of FMT

Tunku's vision poisoned by racism


Tunku Abdul Rahman was born on Feb 8, 1903, in Alor Setar. He was the seventh prince of Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah, the 24th Kedah sultan. A robust and bright boy, Tunku received his early education at the Debsurin School, Bangkok and Penang Free School.

He then went on to study at St Catherine's College in Cambridge University on a Kedah government scholarship, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in law and history in 1925.

During his overseas studies, Tunku experienced firsthand racial discrimination at the hands of the college's administrators, which convinced him to fight for equality and to make his homeland an independent state, free from the yoke of British colonialism.

tunku abdul rahman 290809His flair for leadership unfolded in England. Realising the Malay students there were not represented by any organisation, he established the Kesatuan Melayu Great Britain (Malay Association of Great Britain) and became its first secretary.

In 1931, after returning home Tunku joined the Kedah civil service as a cadet in the Legal Advisor's Office, and then as a district officer in several Kedah districts. He proved himself unpopular among some British officials due to his outspokenness and tendency to introduce reforms in his quest to improve the living standards of the people.

His attempt to complete his law studies at the Inner Temple in England in 1938 came to a halt when the Second World War broke out. He resumed his studies only eight years later, coming home with legal qualifications in 1949.

On Aug 26, 1951, Tunku became Umno president, succeeding Onn Jaafar.

tunku abdul rahman and patrick keith 020805His first mission was to travel throughout the nation to meet people from all walks of life and various races to promote unity. His efforts in overcoming the country's political problems by way of cooperation among the various ethnic groups saw the birth of the Alliance Party in 1955.

In 1956, he led a mission to London for a discussion with the British government concerning Malaya's independence.

The meeting resulted in the signing of the Independent Treaty at Lancaster House in London on Feb 8, 1956 and, consequently, the independence of Malaya on Aug 31, 1957.

On his return from London on June 3, 1957, after finalising plans for independence with the British, Tunku in his first speech, upon landing at the Sungai Besi Airport, issued the clarion call for unity.

“The situation in this country is different from other countries in the world. Because of this, one race cannot take everything for itself. In order to set up an independent government, we must compromise and make sacrifices.”

Racial slurs

Tunku would never have thought that five decades later, things would develop to a point that national school officials would make remarks ridiculing other races. If a headmistress could make such racial slurs, what more ordinary teachers?

I know of many children who tell their parents not to raise a hue and cry over the incidents of racism they experience at school out of fear that they, the students, would be punished. There must be many cases that go unreported.

This not only goes contrary to the concept of 1Malaysia, but against the fundamental rights of human beings.

The government must call upon teachers, students and parent-teacher associations to report all cases of racist utterances and behaviour. The laws are clear and provide ample sanctions against such behaviour.

As we celebrate Merdeka today, our political landscape has worsen from what Malaya was 53 years ago when Tunku declared Independence. At that time, Malays, Chinese and Indians believed in consensus as the basis for how the nation should be ruled.

You did not hear much of non-Malays being called 'immigrants' and compared to dogs or prostitutes. No leader dared to threatenUmno presidents that they would lose Malay support, as Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali has done recently.

In this era of globalisation, we must think as citizens of the world, not as creatures living under a coconut shell. There is no room for racism.

Malays powerless

In his Independence proclamation speech, Tunku said: “We fully realise that (there are) difficulties and problems that lie ahead and are confident that, with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today's events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide.

tunku abdul rahman merdeka declaration 261004“At this solemn moment, I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty - a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world. High confidence has been reposed in us; let us be united and face the challenge of the years ahead.”

About a month before independence, July 10, 1957, at the Legislative Council, Tunku explained the feelings and aspirations of the three major component races.

On Malays, he said: “Before the First World War, the Malays accepted the intrusion of hundreds of thousands of men and women of other races because they realised that they were powerless to prevent it.

“But in those days, few people were brave enough to interest themselves in politics and our complicated treaties with Britain had given the 'protector' absolute right to do as they liked in this country.

“The Malays had the assurance that the British government would protect their interests and that they would be given time to learn the art of administration and time to develop a business sense, and so they believed in the British.”

Not an easy journey

Reflecting on the early Chinese settlers, Tunku said: “They have been in this country for many hundreds of years. In the early days, they came here to trade and later to like this country and decided to settle down, and they were absorbed by the country and followed local customs and spoke the Malay language, which at the same time retaining some of their own culture and traditions. Later, after the First World War, a large number of Chinese came into the federation to further its development.”

On the Indians, he told the Legislative Council: “The Indians also came to the federation to seek wealth in the country and they found employment in government services or in estates. They, too, have made their contribution for which we are all grateful.

“Men and women of many other races have also come to Malaya, though in smaller numbers, and I should like to make particular mention of the part played by the British people. They have admittedly devoted their lives to the advancement and development of our country. Whatever may have been their fault, they have made Malaya a prosperous and happy place today.”

The road to nationhood has not been an easy journey. Malayans then, and Malaysians now, have endured the trials and tribulations with confidence and patience, calmness and forbearance, with faith in our final goal of establishing a united Malaysia.

Tunku knew that there would be challenges for the co-existence of the various races.

A visionary, he said in his proclamation speech: “Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour - the creation of a new and sovereign state.”

Fifty-three years after, Malaysians strive to reach, with great difficulty, yet another milestone.

M KRISHNAMOORTHY is a freelance journalist and local coordinator for CNN, BBC and several other foreign television networks. He was formerly with The Star and New Straits Times and has authored four books. Courtesy of Malaysiakini

Teresa Kok blasts Hisham over 'dirty' Teo remark


Seputeh MP and DAP publicity secretary Teresa Kok has lashed out at Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein for describing fellow DAP parliamentarian Teo Nie Ching as “dirty” and her visit to surau as a “disaster” for the Muslim community.

eli wong back to work160409 teresa kok 02In a statement issued today, the senior Selangor exco (right) said Hishammuddin has sunk to “a new low” and displayed the hypocrisy of his character in the terms he used to describe Teo, who is Serdang member of parliament.

“I question where Hishamuddin received the knowledge and moral authority to judge anyone to be dirty, least of all Teo Nie Ching, who entered the surau in sincerity and with an open heart, and only because the surau leaders invited her in.

“She has already issued a humble public apology to all concerned. I shudder to think (whether) Hishammuddin considers Teo Nie Ching dirty because she is non-Muslim, or simply because she is female.

“Hishamuddin should look in the mirror to check if he himself is spotless and clean before judgement on others,” said Kok.

hishammuddin home minister, seputeh division openingHishammuddin was reported yesterday as having said he was shocked that Teo had the support of PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat over her visit to a surau, voicing concern that the incident could confuse Muslims.

“Teo had no business to be inside Surau Al-Huda as she was deemed dirty but Nik Aziz said its alright, we are modern now. What disaster can we expect next?” said the Umno vice-president.

Hishammuddin also said it was clear that DAP was adopting an extreme approach by questioning the rights and privileges defended by Malay leaders and the rulers.

First-term MP Teo drew a firestorm of criticism from Umno politicians, pro-Umno blogs and Malay dailies over her visit to the Al Huda surau in Serdang on Aug 22.

NONEHer critics claimed that she had committed a grave insult to Muslims for speaking in the prayer hall, which is considered off-limits to non-Muslims.

The Selangor Religious Council said it will issue Teo a written reprimand, while Teo said she plans to write to the Selangor sultan to apologise and explain her action.

Kok said the minister's remarks has not only betrayed his holier-than-thou attitude towards Teo and the 1Malaysia concept of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, but was fanning the flames of discount among non-Muslims.

NONE“Hishamuddin's statement smacks of a holier-than-thou hypocrisy and is truly shameful for a cabinet minister who propagates this 1Malaysia concept which supposedly espouses unity among all Malaysians.

“With that disparaging statement, Hishammuddin is once again fanning the flames of racial discontent like how he openly supported the Shah Alam cow-head protestors last September. He backtracked later only upon public uproar,” said Kok.

She called for the minister to retract immediately his statement and issue a public apology to Teo.

Failing this, said Kok, he and 1Malaysia will forever have no credibility in the eyes of the public.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

What are you really celebrating on Merdeka?


Steve Oh

"This coming Merdeka will you be writing something about our country?" the unexpected question came in an e-mail from an old friend I hadn't seen for awhile. "Do e-mail me a copy if you do," he wrote.

I feel ambivalent writing on Merdeka. Between the mainstream and online news lies the balanced truth, as Malaysians today go through the angst of political change. The one who uses the pen instead of the sword must draw blood without destroying. And like the surgeon who heals, he or she has to make the incisions.

Malaysia is a young nation. It is still a work in progress. And young nations need the discipline to focus on the vision of the founding fathers and the genesis of their existence even as they adapt to changing times. The danger of not changing is fossilization. And fossilization is the result of being regressive.

"In many counsellors there is victory," says an old proverb. The late President John F. Kennedy had the knack of tapping into the brains of those in his cabinet and committees. He always listened and weighed carefully what others said. That according to some observers was his forte.

It is something we all need to do. It is something governments need to do.

There is conventional wisdom that if you want results employ those who are smarter than you. Sadly fear makes people do the opposite. And it is fear that makes people treat their neighbours shabbily and governments take a hard approach when they should be more understanding.

A non-muslim goes to a surau with an olive branch and good intentions. But the Pharisees pick on this hapless politician. A Malaysiakini report says she is going to apologize to the Sultan. Why? What has she done wrong? This is an example of a regressive approach and political opportunism: the nit-picking and making a mountain out of a mole hill to score political points. Sadly there's too much of it.

We reflect on the past that we may be wiser now and in the future.

And as I reflect on the past I am hopeful there is a silver lining in the cloud. Sometimes people can't learn except from their mistakes. It is a painful way when prevention is better than cure. And sadly, some people never learn from past mistakes. Thus the saying 'those who don't learn from history are wont to repeat the mistakes.'

There are many lessons we can learn from our history.

The image of Bapa KeMerdekaan - Tunku Abdul Rahman - raising his first into the air to shouts of 'Merdeka' at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on that auspicious day 53 years ago has become iconic, and Merdeka and its aftermath offer valuable lessons.

We know the Tunku died a disappointed and disillusioned man - a victim of a nation's history that failed him and its true sons and daughters, and left them with a dashed hope. We can easily forget the sacrifices he and others made to gain for us our independence and freedom because history is often written not in truth but prejudice when politicians hold the historian's hand.

I still remember the day the Tunku came to his alma mater, the Penang Free School, and delivered an awespiring speech to us, mostly Chinese students, during a school assembly. We were all children of the Merdeka generation, full of hope and promise.

"You are the future leaders of the country, "the Tunku said, with a hint of a Cambridge accent, "so you must study hard, be law-abiding, and do your best to serve your country." We did study hard, furthered our studies at home and abroad, and equipped ourselves to serve the nation.

But when we were ready the Tunku was no longer there.

It was the ominous start of Merdeka lost.

What has your country done to you?

They had asked us what we can do for the nation. But we forgot to ask them what the nation would do for us. And more importantly what it would do to us. Those who demanded equity for themselves did not give equity to others. And it has been that way since.

Still in good faith we had done our utmost - for ourselves and for our country.

But they no longer needed someone like the Tunku who was the primeval Malaysian, the original 1Malaysian, the true Prince of Bangsa Malaysia, who was above all -- the leader for all -- and who promised every citizen an equal share in their country's future. He was too Malaysian!

School didn't teach us to dichotomize the nation into 'they' and 'us'. It taught us the opposite. The politicians divided us. And we didn't like it. We still loved our Malay friends and they loved us. Our lives intermingled. We were after all children of the Independence taught to live in harmony with one another.

"Call me Bapa," my Malay friend's father insisted. His family had been like my family. He was the progeny of a British education, had become a school principal, a devout Muslim later in life, and the sort of 'Merdeka Man' that epitomized the Tunku's Malaysia. But our world was changing.

My close Malay schoolfriend would be a bumiputera - a son of the soil - but me - born and bred like he in every way? They would call us non-bumiputra made to feel second-class and outcasts in our beloved country. They are still doing it today - school principals, of all people, bullying innocuous school children under their charge, and belittling them. And 'Bapa' would have been upset.

The yeast of pride and prejudice would grow like a spreading cancer.

Topics the British allowed everyone to discuss freely became taboo, unilaterally classified 'sensitive.' The virus of political racism began to spread but many children of the Merdeka generation were unaffected, protected by a sound education and vaccinated against communalism.

The children of Merdeka were ready to defend their country against Sukarno during 'Konfrontasi.' They were good enough to die but not good enough to get a job. 'For Bumiputra only - non-Bumiputras need not apply' the many job advertisements - I felt cheated and betrayed and bushwhacked.

It seemed unfair. It was unfair. What if there were advertisements that read, "For non-Bumiputra only - Bumiputra need not apply." The problem with those who cite 'offending the sensitivities' of their group often forget about other people's sensitivities as if they had none.

Why should any affirmative action deprive others of the same opportunities? After all - the British colonialists treated all citizens fairly. Whither the justice Merdeka wrought? I thought. I coped somehow like all the other children of deprivation.

Years later the Tunku himself died disappointed and disillusioned as he saw his Merdeka vision disappear and his beloved Malaysia undergo an era of unprecedented racial discrimination, repression and reprehensible double-standards, against his cherished values.

I felt his pain as I regularly signed the cheques for the company he partially owned and that published his articles. His voice was heard in his weekly column 'As I See It' in The Star, then truly a People's Paper, but the Tunku by then was no match for the man who would mesmerize the nation with his grandiose even if flawed schemes.

The people fell hook, line and sinker, and readily gravitated to what 'he' promised, what their itching ears wanted to hear. Poor fools! Today they curse the man - too late!

Tunku had reminded him of the Merdeka principles, of democracy and freedom, of not using the ISA to stifle political comment unfavorable to the government of the day, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

The acolytes of the maverick Pied Piper had sold their souls to the God of Mega Materialism and paid the mega price with their freedom. Many saw their birthright being questioned from time to time yet kept voting into power the architects and engineers of their plight. You can't be more self-destructive and idiotic than that.

But it did not begin with the maverick.

What has May 13 done to you?

Years ago, May 13, 1969 saw the country in a bloodbath. Racial violence erupted. Soldiers shot and killed innocent civilians. Mobs ran amok. And democracy went up in smoke. In his book, 'May 13', Dr Kua Kia Soong postulates the credible conspiracy theory.

It was Merdeka murdered. Merdeka lost.

In the aftermath, the country was ransomed to a narrow nationalism that sent cracks through the length and breadth of the nation to this day. It was the start of 'that' nonsense. We learned to read, write and count, the three positive 'R's' in school and we learned the negative three 'R's' - of race, religion and repression from the politicians. It was the end of innocence.

Nationhood would never succeed when a national leader thinks of his race first and the others as an afterthought. If a country leader is not leader of all, he is not leader at all. It was a mistake - to adopt any policy resembling apartheid, and history bears it out.

In the country, the government scrambled to tackle the increasing racial polarization while feeding the insidious serpent of hate simultaneously.

Vision school was the answer they said but whose vision? Who murdered the Merdeka vision? Who messed up our school system that had produced successful students of all races who though not having seen one another for decades still shared a bond of genuine friendship and camaraderie? Why did they have to reinvent the wheel?

Even as I write there is an e-mail from an old Malay school friend asking his old classmates to pray for another former Malay school friend lying in a coma from a stroke. Pray? The racists have not divided us and never will.

Tun Abdul Razak, the 'ultra Malay leader' had taken over from the Tunku but he didn't foresee the danger of giving a blank cheque to those who are untrustworthy. Good intentions aren't always sufficient in running a nation. Good people, good policies and good systems work better.

He gave birth to the New Economic Policy (NEP) - and made radical policy changes that would alter the country's social and political topography.

After May 13, 1969 the country would see a new type of racism - naked and aggressive and legitimized by emergency powers, political might and tacit militant muscle. Many saw the ominous signs. The country saw its first wave of brain drain. Students went abroad to study and never returned. But I did return and do not regret it. And when I left again, it had nothing to do with the country's politics. If it was politics I would have stayed.

What have the chauvinists done to you?

Razak did what he had to do.

The marriage with Singapore had not worked.

It was his turn to show what a chauvinist Malay leader could do after Lee Kuan Yew proved too much of a challenge to them.

The NEP became a misnomer for Malay Economic Policy in practice. In 1971, it cut a swathe through the harmonious nation of over 10 million multi-racial citizens and divided it. When 'Malaysian' would have sufficed before, everyone now had a new label except they did not put armbands on them like the Nazis did.

In fact 'Malaysian' became synonymous with Malay to the chagrin of the true believers - who felt the country was being re-colonized from within. Economically, Razak wanted the Malays to get 30% of the economy. He said it must be done in 20 years - within a generation.

But was it necessary to superimpose Malay on everything? After all, there is so much in the Malay culture that non-Malays already liked and even the Chinese will swear they are a nice people to relate with - but the ugly politicians had to spoil it. Not content to rely on osmosis, they had to use coercion. And no one likes to be forced to do something in a freed country.

Achieving the NEP was a tall but not impossible or unreasonable order. It would have been ridiculous to have a new country where old wealth dictated everything or were in the hands of a minority. In a time of rapid economic expansion it was achievable.

But that was not to be. How could it be?

Dishonest people were robbing the gravy train faster than the Bank Negara could print money and derailing the NEP. Corruption and bailouts had taken its toll on the government's development and coupled with incompetence derailed the train that would deliver 30% of the country's wealth to the Malays.

Of course, the most serious derailments did not occur during Razak's tenure but over time.

So naturally, the statisticians would cry, "Not yet 30%, only 18%". "Not so," remonstrated think-tank economist Dr Lim Teck Ghee, "already more than 30%" he disclosed, but those in power ignored the facts.

They had dug their own grave by not letting those who could help the country play more crucial roles. Instead they elevated the deadwood - they put politics ahead of national interests. They failed to employ people smarter than them.

So today they are still talking about the prolongation of a flawed national policy that spawns corruption, wastage and racism like a blocked dirty drain breeds mosquitoes. The strengthened opposition Pakatan Rakyat promises to remedy the shortcomings if given the chance and indeed they should. It is kicking against the goad when politicians refuse to accept the reality that Malaysia is best served when the best players are in the team.

Ketuanan Melayu - the anti-thesis of the Tunku's Merdeka vision and of true nationhood - became a de facto unwritten law, as if part of the country's constitution. The 'Young Turks' were on the ascendancy and 'The Malay Dilemma' written ironically by the half-Indian new country leader became the manifesto of the nation as Mein Kampf was to the Germans.

Razak died in office five years after the NEP's inception. He wanted to achieve the noble two-fold aim of "eradicating poverty and eradicating economic function with race." He had not intended that the NEP would divide the nation, only its wealth. It is a lesson for all that if a policy is not intrinsically sound and just, it is likely to turn into an uncontrollable beast.

However many Malays got more than their 30% share in the mayhem of the turbulent times long after Razak was gone. Many Malays also got nothing and struggled together with the non-Malays. Their eyes began to open and their whimper rose to a crescendo when in later years tens of thousands of marginalized Indians took to the streets in peaceful protests.

The truth is it never was or is a Malay versus non-Malay contest in the country. This is a lie fabricated by the ugly politicians. It was never part of the Merdeka formula. It had always been a problem of human failing and greed, when those given the onerous public trust of administration short-changed the country and their own people.

The absence of solid good governance stymied Razak's NEP and quenched its spirit as much as any race-based policy would inevitably quench the Merdeka spirit.

Ketuanan Melayu is a flawed and failed doctrine that used race as a pretext to carry out an own selfish agenda. In years to come when demography will make the nation almost entirely Malay, Ketuanan Melayu would stick out like a sore thumb. Again it is a pretext for the corrupt to keep the Malays on a leash so they can elevate themselves as self-appointed champions of race and religion -- a cruel and costly charade.

Secret of our neighbour's success
If you think I am wrong, how then does the well-governed Singapore do it with its own multiracial mix? How does it maintain peace and order and harmony and take care of its minorities? And give every Singaporean a decent chance at life?

This year they will record the highest GDP growth in the world of at least 13%. And when I talk to Malay Singaporeans they don't have any hangups about the way they are treated. Sadly the same can't be said for the non-Malays in Malaysia and an increasing number of Malays. Behind the veil of anonymity, the Internet offers some revealing insights of the pervasive disgruntlement.

The Singaporeans just don't talk about zero-tolerance of extremism and divisiveness - they act - they punish the culprits without fear or favour. Racism is the opium of the brain dead, so they banned it. They want to be a clever country and they are. Meanwhile Malaysia exports its talents and now desperately tries to import them back but in futility.

Today Pakistan a Muslim country appeals to the world to help its citizens in distress. Will the advocates of non-interference still think it is a Muslim problem and only Muslims need bother? Will any government in hardship still think no one should intervene in its internal affairs?

The Pakistani President does not think so and unashamedly appeals for intervention, and rightly so. We are our brothers' keepers and it takes a disaster to remind us. When we learn from one another and help one another we all benefit. But those who use race or religion to divide the country are the Merdeka-wreckers.

Despite the recent Allah controversy it was never a Christian versus Muslim problem either. In fact, remove the political instigation and gratuitous un-Islamic policies and one finds muslims and Christians and followers of other religions share many similar concerns and possess a common desire to live in a moral and upright state. Before and after Merdeka there was religious harmony until the politicians and recently the lying mufti began to stir the hornets' nest.

After Razak corruption had changed the NEP from being the nation's radical economic equalizer into the golden goose that laid the eggs for the dishonest ones. Unchecked power enabled the more ruthless politicians to hold power for decades. They bought mansions overseas while the natives lost their rainforests, homes and way of life.

Merdeka or the Maverick's vision?

The political warlords became self-vested and the nation suffered - especially the underprivileged Malays who joined the Chinese in the community of the deprived. The recent compensation of Felda farmers is symptomatic of the rip-offs.

If Razak were alive today, would he be upset at what happened to his NEP agenda?

Probably yes judging from his own youngest son's recent remarks since politics is also family business in Malaysia. Nazir Razak, CEO of the CIMB group lamented the 'bastardization of the NEP' in a Malaysiakini report. With the Approved Permits (APs), he said the government might as well give them the money. That's what happened and they got more than the APs.

And not long ago during a by-election, elder brother PM Najib Razak reminded the nation that he had to stay true to his late father's NEP vision. Such filial piety is rare these days. But politicians are good at talking not showing. And none more so than the Maverick.

When he was king, the Midas-wannabe wanted what the Chinese had - money, prestige, mansions, posh cars - the lot and more. He wanted them for himself, his family and his cronies - without the sweat and toil and what took a lifetime of sacrifice to achieve. They got it. They lost it. The people paid for it, again and again.

And Barry Wain in his excellent book 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohammed in Turbulent Times' which every Malaysian should read because it provides a useful history of Malaysia you won't find in school textbooks, mentions the 'lost 100 billion ringgit' - enough to make many Malays, not only the cronies, millionaires overnight.

Money is not everything. But losing the Merdeka spirit of cohesiveness and unity is more costly than the lost billions. This is the greater loss.

Traitorous - spelt with a capital Tee

It is a joke that Malaysians are charged with sedition over their inconsequential acts when the nation was rendered asunder by far more serious acts that have destroyed the independence of all its public institutions and the one responsible is not held to account.

That anyone can become untouchable or any issue be brushed under the carpet in the name of national security shows the country's immaturity, and that a caveat is placed on the country's rule of law.

The Tunku was unique, the Merdeka spirit is priceless, and it behooves every Malaysian to defend this intangible and cardinal national heritage that is under siege. The Merdeka ethos - every citizen is equal - is the nation's lifeblood; it is the wellspring of all national policies and if people lose sight of it the nation will lose its direction.

Even 1Malaysia and Bangsa Malaysia - pale imitations of the real thing cannot remove themselves from the foundational fact.

If Malaysians are in conflict, it will spell the end for the nation. Yet to an extent conflict is needed to prove who cares for the country and who cares for themselves. But the common thread that binds Malaysians together is their Merdeka legacy. If the lies and brainwashing are stemmed, the truth will set people free.

Many capable Malays are angry because they are unfairly stigmatized and don't need crutches. A discriminatory policy can hurt those it is meant to help. Tun Razak did not intend for the NEP to be a Never Ending Pot of gold for the Malays.

Some anti-Merdeka elements now resort to religion to create disunity and the lying mufti will sell his sullied soul for '30 pieces of silver' like a Judas. But all religionists who believe there is God will not lie because in every religion it is a sin.

How can anyone serve God but act for the devil -- the Father of Lies? Does God teach us to tell lies and act unjustly? Even atheists think it is wrong. Rid the nation of these hypocrites and troublemakers and there will be peace. The corrupt do not care if they hurt their religion, their race, their nation.

Politicians with untold wealth should be asked to share their money-making secrets with their poor and struggling citizens. Why pay tens of millions to foreign consultants when the politicians who have a flair for making money are in our backyard?

Should they not be passing on their knowledge to us all? Their books like "How I Became A Billionaire on a Government Salary" will be instant bestsellers. Even Singapore's million-dollar salaried politicians will be lining up to snap a copy.

Merdeka suffers when some Chinese carry the Ugly Chinaman bug - the sickness that the late Taiwanese author Bo Yang described in his book of the same name. He said that specimens of the minority Chinese in a community had a tendency to betray their own people to ingratiate themselves among the majority rulers - in short- they can be traitorous - spelt with a capital Tee.

A dog knows its master but when you forget your own race and speak ill of your own people without justification even my dead dog thinks it is dastardly insane and despicable. Self-criticism is good but not when it is flagrantly destructive and offensive.

And the political eunuchs don't do better either.

Fortunately the trail of blood of the Chinese martyrs tells a different story because while the royal colour of their bygone emperors in ancient history is yellow, they are not. Those who mistake their forbearance for cowardice are wont to rue their mistake.

Today it's turbulent times all over again

'Woe is the nation,' seems to be the rakyat's cry among the many aggrieved.

The country is still wilting under the same 'rotten administration' and 'police state' that came with the 'Islamic state' - the legacies of a former leader whose condemnation of his successor was an unwitting display of self-incrimination.

PM Najib tries his best but how do you repair a boat with so many leaks and you are not sure you can turn your back to those you count on to help you? When you are trying hard to push your 1Malaysia agenda and your right-hand man says, no, "I am Malay first", why worry about the Opposition? Even Brutus wasn't so brutally obvious.

The real enemy of the Malay race is not the Chinese race and vice versa but the depraved, covetous, corrupt and conniving politicians and their cronies and the culpable 'Gestapo' policemen who abet them. The ruthless and desperate will crush all who stand in their way and we have seen the evidence.

Anwar 'black eye' Ibrahim - the renaissance Malay - is the prime living proof. And there are more of their victims. The former chief graft buster was 'scolded' for doing his job properly, and another crime investigator was charged but acquitted for exposing criminal activity.

In many ways it is ironic that the Malays who have so much power also have less freedom compared to their non-Malay neighbours. That was never part of the Tunku's Merdeka plan. It was never his vision to see innocent Malays shot down by the police like dogs, and to add insult to injury, have the police fabricate the stories.

The state decides their religion. The state decides how they are to live. The state is their nanny from cradle to grave. How do you raise towering Malays when you treat them like babies? And the towering ones are cut down to size because they refuse to join the gang?

Much is not well in Merdekaland, the land we love -- our birthplace and the land of our ancestors and Merdeka's children. Let's not pretend all is well and wave the flags if we are not free. But indeed we should fly a billion flags when the nation is truly free. With the diagnosis of the sickness must come the bitter medicine but so far the patient refuses to take it.

The administration is like an old rickety machine with faulty parts and in desperate need of repair and change. It is not delivering the nation what Merdeka and even what Razak's NEP promised. It is a sick machine. It is time for a new model and the country needs one and can afford it.

It is a moral crisis that cannot be resolved with more acts of wanton corruption and selective prosecution and more cosmetic surgery and politicking. It is a rainforest tree besieged by termites whose voracious appetite cannot be satiated. It is a nation in the throes of a struggle for its survival and facing the risk of descending into the abyss of moral anarchy. These are not the rantings of a partisan politician but a saddened son of the Merdeka generation.

But more importantly what are people going to do about it?

Only fools continue blighting their future

What will they do with the the corrupt neo-colonialists - those who strangle the country in the pernicious bondage and curtailment of liberty that Merdeka was supposed to have removed. They not only bully 'lain-lain' but their own. It is simplistic to blame just those in power for the people's plight because where does power come from in a constitutional democracy?

The voters and citizens who prop up the political warlords and pseudo-nationalists must share the blame. They must redeem themselves if they have not done the right thing.

They must stop empowering those who are hijacking their nation. They are guilty of the same crime because they offer and receive the bribes. The corrupt can be found across the political divide. Let us not just heed what people say but judge what they do.

There is a painful lesson to learn. The corrupt have already showed their hand and sabotaged the reform. Their dishonesty will be their downfall.

Our mothers and daughters are already toiling abroad as illegal workers so that they can save for their families and send their kids to finish their studies. Qualified Malays are working abroad because they don't want to be stigmatized or have their freedom curtailed in their homeland. It is not a race problem, never has been, otherwise the mixed-race administration for 53 years has been a fraud.

Everyone has the right to pick their leaders. One man's leader may be another's rogue. But only fools do not know the difference between a corrupt leader and an honest one. Only fools will continue to vote for the corrupt. And only fools give the power to servants to make them masters over them.

A middling and politically mangled Malaysia is the price of blind loyalty, ignorance and obvious folly.

The real relevance of Merdeka today is its reminder to all Malaysians what the Tunku fought for - the right to self-government and individual freedom, the right to a 'clean, efficient and trustworthy' government, and a fair one at that, not hypocrisy and hype, and more corruption that results in hardships for the rakyat.

I dare say every Malaysian will be better off if the leaking boat is allowed to sink with no passengers on board. It is too risky to place your future in the hands of those who promise but don't deliver and have a poor track record, enough to make everyone skeptical. It is far too dangerous to travel in a leaky boat heading toward inevitable shipwreck.

This is what Merdeka is about - our freedom.

Today the advent of an alternative government raises the nation's hopes again. March 2008 proved it can be done but the Perak subversion proves it can be undone. Only the voters can ensure their own decisive future and save themselves. Politicians are impotent without popular support.

Still there is hope for a Merdeka renaissance, a Merdeka resurrection and Merdeka regained - when people put nation before self and reflect on the road they travel. You can't have political reform without personal reform. Those who want to replace the corrupt, are they incorruptible?

Politicians may be good at politicking but can they govern? They may be good at gaining power but do they know how to use it? That is why we need checks and balances. We need free and truthful media to keep the executive honest. Every Malaysian who is not involved in shaping his or her nation is a Merdeka dropout.

Every Malaysian who is not registered to vote is utterly irresponsible and does not deserve to live in a democracy.

A two-party system as many have suggested may be the first step toward the democracy that Merdeka intended. After all that is how the Westminster system works. And a stint in the political wilderness may benefit those who think political hegemony is their birthright.

So what are Malaysians really celebrating on Merdeka Day?

Remembering the late Tunku

The truth is there is only one God, one king, one constitution, one nation for Malaysia. It was decided in the Merdeka Declaration on 31 August 1957 with a written constitution as proof.

If you are not celebrating this watershed historic event that is evident in your country today then what are you celebrating? A mirage? A meaningless ritual?

Without the fruit of Merdeka, all is hypocrisy. In Merdeka is embedded the crucial DNA of the nation. The constitution defining the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of the rulers, politicians and citizens are plain to see. Anything more or less is an abuse of power. What the people have lost they must regain.

Merdeka lost or Merdeka regained, the people must choose.

If in practice we do not see the evidence of the Merdeka declaration, what are we celebrating on Merdeka Day? After all there is Malaysia Day but that is a different story. Empire building is vastly distinct from unshackling your country from one. Merdeka is something else, something special.

A nation riven by race and religion cannot gel as one nation - it is not the Merdeka declaration. Until we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, we may fall prey to those who entice and incite us to hate. It may not be explicit but implicit in the Merdeka declaration is the commitment to 'unity in diversity.'

Is there a better way? Do we have a choice?

On Merdeka Day, I will raise a toast to the memory of the one who fought to give us a free nation, a nation of hope and justice, a nation of truth that 'unity is strength' and that diversity is a gift of God and bigotry is the curse.

I will remember the late Tunku and all those who shared his Merdeka vision, the gallant ones that sacrificed their lives for their nation, the civil servants, the judges, policemen, politicians, ordinary Malaysians who lost their jobs for doing them and who lost their freedom but left us a legacy of hope for a better and brighter tomorrow - they - the children of Merdeka - are the unsung heroes.

I will say a prayer for the government and the opposition and every Malaysian unfairly jailed under the ISA and all those who still cherish the Merdeka dream for their nation and work toward its eventual success.

We are after all, together, children of Merdeka and we are everywhere. Soon our sun will rise and we will sing'Negaraku' with a clear conscience and a combined voice.

Merdeka! God bless Merdekaland.