Tuesday, August 31, 2010
In a rare move, the Selangor palace has temporarily stopped Dr Ling Liong Sik and Phang Oil Chooi from using the honorary 'Dato' title bestowed on them by the sultan.
This is because the two are facing criminal charges.
A statement from the state secretariat this morning said the decision was made by Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in consultation with the state royal council which met on Aug 19.
The palace will review their use of the title once they have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, the statement added.
Ling, the former transport minister, had been awarded the Dato' Paduka Mahkota Selangor title in 1992.
Phang, the former general manager of the Port Klang Authority, was accorded the 'Datin Paduka' title in 2001.
[More to follow]
Namewee, the Malaysian rapper who shot to fame three years ago for satirizing the national anthem, personifies the inaptness of the stodgy ruling BN government that has failed to keep up with the times and now appears clueless on how to handle dissent from Generation Y, which sadly for it is poised to form a significant portion of the electorate.
“If I see racism, I'll say it out loud. I love my country. It doesn't mean I'm anti-Malaysia. I am against racism. And I support 1Malaysia. I'm a film director, artist and musician, but it doesn't mean that if there is something wrong, I keep quiet,” Namewee told reporters on Sunday night.
The 27-year old, who has a large cult following, was making his way into a police station where he had been summoned to lodge a statement. Namewee’s three-minute video clip which he has since withdrawn from Youtube was about a school headmistress in Kulai, Johor, in which he had lambasted her for hurling racial slurs at her non-Malay pupils.
The headmistress, Siti Inshah, had told her Chinese pupils to go back to China and likened the Indian ones to dogs. Her action sparked a public furore and drew calls for her sacking earlier this month. Several police reports were lodged but despite establishing a task force to probe the allegations, Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has stonewalled on taking further action.
Namewee's clip a godsend for the Umno hawks
The Siti Inshah attracted enormous negative publicity for Muhyiddin and his Umno party, in particular the hawks within who have been using ultra-Malay nationalism to rally support against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s multiracial 1Malaysia plan. Indeed the power tussle at Umno between Najib and his deputy, who draws support from former premier Mahathir Mohamad, has been intensifying.
The second biggest Malay-based political party, PAS has been gaining favor over Umno with a more principled and level-headed approach.
“The situation can go out of control. When racial sentiments are being purposely stirred up to achieve a political outcome, it is very dangerous and you can’t tell who the angels are and who the devils are,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
“But 1Malaysia is at threat and it is also an obvious attempt to show the Malays that PAS has sold out on the community and only the hawks in Umno are left to defend the Malays. But what are they defending the Malays from, that is the mystery. If anything all Malaysians especially the Malays need to be defended from these ultra and racist groups - not the other way round.”
Will Gen Y buy the Umno spin
Nonetheless, despite growing public weariness for Umno’s incessant racial rowing and religious bigotry, the going can be expected to get even tougher as the next national polls near. The latest that Najib can call for general elections is 2013, but speculation is rife Parliament will be dissolved and snaps polls held next year.
Of Malay’s 28 million-population, Malays form the largest ethnic group at 55 percent and Chinese the next at 26 percent. But almost 32 percent of the entire population is under 14 years of age, while 63 percent are aged between 15 to 63.
The median age for Malaysians is 24.6 years and this means that youths like Namewee will become a greater influencing political force in the years to come. Social and political scientists have warned of the advent of Generation Y Malaysians, usually classified as those born between 1982 and 2000.
Like Namewee, most of the Gen Y were born in financially-improved circumstances and received the best education their parents could afford. They also grew up with the latest technology and have a special affinity with the Internet. As a result, they have a world view, attitude and savvy that goes beyond their age.
Indeed, chances are high that even though Namewee is Chinese, his persecution will spark a domino effect of resentment among his peers in the other ethnic groups, already fed up with the bullying ways of the aging Umno politicians.
“The Police should explain the purpose of sending three patrol cars to Wee’s house in Muar just before midnight last night – was it to arrest Wee, to get a statement from Wee or just to create an atmosphere of fear?” said DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang on his blog.
“Wee can be faulted for being crude, vulgar, abusive and even obscene. (But) just because Umno Puteri chief Rosnan Rashid Shirlin is offended does not automatically make the rap seditious and an offence under the Sedition Act. Are the youth wings of Barisan Nasional parties, particularly from Umno, MCA, Gerakan and MIC and all the BN ministers prepared to take a stand that Wee’s latest video clip may be guilty of being crude, vulgar and abusive but definitely not sedition?”
The Umno-dominated government stubbornly sticks to the same old tricks to try to sink the Opposition. One such stale attempt is to label as “traitors” those who refuse to suck up to its spent elite leaders.
And so Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid (AZ) who apparently ran out of steam to shut the Opposition up on the Scorpene submarines scandal, resorted to calling Nurul Izzah a “traitor”.
It seems that the Member of Parliament (MP) has stained the nation's image by revealing on 4 Aug. 2010 in an interview with Kompas, a newspaper in Indonesia, that the country’s first submarine cannot dive.
Below are his comments (in bold) followed by a response which when added up points to the ironic conclusion that it is the Defence Minister and Umno who could be the real traitors after all!
AZ: “The statement has damaged the country’s image in the eyes of the world.”
Strange, since when did the supremacists in Umno really bother about world opinion?
AZ: “She has undermined the country’s reputation.”
Bolehland already has such a bad reputation for her buckling economy, brain drain numbers, a “bunch of idiots” in the judiciary (N H Chan), bowed media and biased and brutal Police Force.
Added to that is the burgeoning bigotry, “bloody racists”, brute-majority parliament, buffoons in the MACC and a badly “screwed-up” AG Chambers! What is left of our “reputation” that Nurul can do more harm to?
AZ: “It is an act as that of a "penderhaka" (traitor).”
What about Umno’s self-serving sycophants who deceive, deny and deprive the poor Malays of what has been due to them, like the RM52 billion worth of shares allocated to the Malay community since 1971?
The Umnoputras betray their own race by bleeding this country dry and siphoning and stashing their ill-gotten gains overseas whilst making the non-Malays the scapegoat for the “failure” of the NEP!
AZ: “As a member of parliament, she should have been more ethical.”
Does AZ mean “ethical” as in a trumped up sodomy case without penetration, a life blown up by a C4 explosion, a tragic death by “self-strangulation” and a colossal RM12.5 billion case of daylight corruption?
AZ: “The manner in which she disparages the Malaysian armed forces is disgraceful.”
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) does not need to be so defensive, for Nurul does not need to disparage the Armed Forces. With the help of greedy Umno cronies they often end up disgracing themselves.
Take for example, in 1985 Mindef bought 88 A4 Skyhawks from the US (which she used during the Vietnam War) and then left 35 of them parked in the Arizona desert. No one knows where they are now!
A defence attaché in the 80’s commented on the purchase of certain tanks and armoured personnel carriers: “I hope to God Malaysia never gets into a war. They couldn’t get out of their own footprints.”
It was an utter disgrace when PSC-Naval Dockyard, owned by UMNO crony Amin Shah Omar, failed to fulfill its 1998 contract to build naval vessels. Yet, the Finance Ministry overpaid it about RM1 billion!
In fact, Najib, as Defence Minister, left a “disgraceful” legacy of financial mismanagement, irregularities in procurement, wastage and even grave allegations of kickbacks, bribery and corruption.
In the 2002 acquisition of two Scorpene submarines for one billion euros (RM4.7 billion), the commission of 114 million euros was allegedly paid to Perimekar, a company of Razak Baginda (a close ally of Najib).
In 2003, Malaysia bought 18 Sukhoi fighter jets worth US$900 million. A commission of US$108 million was allegedly given to Umno stalwart Adib Adam the chairman of the local company handling the deal.
AZ must have found the disappearance of two F5-E jet engines worth RM50 million each from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Sungai Besi rather embarrassing and disgraceful.
Over the past 23 years, RM180 billion of the rakyat’s money has been spent on national defence! Yet our military capability is still in such a scandalous state today. Can anything be more disgraceful than this?
AZ: “She has put the security of the nation at risk.”
The real enemy is within. The country is at its greatest risk with Umno’s rogues, racists, religious fanatics and rabble rousing newspapers – all of whom are allowed to roam and run riot!
AZ: “Politicians should stop politicising national defence issues.”
Yes AZ, it is disgraceful for Umno to use national defence spending as a surefire money-spinner!
AZ: "Although we may have differences in opinion, we should stick to the truth…”
The truth is that Nurul was only reiterating what AZ had revealed in Parliament on March 17 that one of the submarines was not being able to dive because of technical problems. Surely AZ is not a traitor?
Nurul nipped the Minister’s nonsense (that her statement had threatened national security) in the bud by arguing that
· the problems regarding the submarine were common knowledge
· AZ had himself said that such technical problems were also faced by many other countries
· information on the dive status of any submarine in the world was easily available.
She pointed out to the defensive minister: “If it is true that the minister is a patriot, why then is he not supporting the MACC’s probe on the commission paid to Perimekar Sdn Bhd…?”
She added that the navy’s revelation that it was only conducting its integrated navy exercise once, instead of three times a year in order to save cost (Bernama, 6 Aug.) was even a greater security threat!
Harebrained Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein Onn jumped on to AZ’s bandwagon and added that Nurul’s criticism of Malaysia abroad “proved that PKR’s struggles were not accepted in this country”.
The Umno vice-president added that “the opposition pact clearly failed to win the hearts of the people to the extent that it had to go abroad to explain their struggles pertaining to national issues”.
Why then did the PM have to go to the US to explain his policies to Obama and why pay RM50,000 in an attempt to get his opinion-editorial article published in one of the major newspapers in the US?
In inferring that Nurul was a traitor, he forgot that his grandfather was a “good traitor” who had formed two parties to fight against Umno and so was his father who refused to join Umno Baru until his death!
Minister in the PM's Department Jamil Khir Baharom said that Nurul had “sinned” by tarnishing the country’s image. The ambitious Umno man forgot he had majored in many sins as a young major!
Alas, Nurul Izzah is a young MP who, by her own merit, is daring enough to dive deep in search for the truth and in spite of the uncertain implications. She just happens to be the daughter of Anwar Ibrahim.
In contrast, we have Umno’s “old” men whose statements betray their shallowness and who, in trying to keep Umno afloat, are bent on using their silly scare tactics, sabre-rattling tricks and sinister theatrics.
"The suggestion that the item was dropped due to political pressure is untrue," said the BBC to Malaysiakini in an emailed statement early this morning.
The broadcaster's statement came hot in the heels of speculations that the Malaysian government has exerted pressure to snuff out the interview with the controversial member of the Selangor royal family who is in self-imposed exile in London.
The Malaysian blogosphere was rife with talks that the station had dropped the interview with Raja Petra with some suggesting that this may be done in order to appease Putrajaya.
This was following astatement postedon Malaysia Todayon Aug 29, a website owned and operated by Raja Petra, announcing that the much anticipated interview was cancelled.
In the statement, HARDtalk producer Bridget Osborne was quoted as saying that "questions they would delve into, which would be very sensitive in nature and critical of the government, would run foul of the Malaysian government."
Raja Petra also posted a screen capture of a Facebook conversation he had with Nicholas David Blakemore, a BBC planning editor detailing the broadcaster's suggestion for an interview as proof that he was indeed approached by the British broadcaster in the bid to quash accusations that he had lied about the HARDtalk interview.
According to the BBC Global News senior press officer Peter Connors, the BBC regularly researched many stories for its programmes, one of which was an interview with Raja Petra on HARDtalk, though not all eventually went to air.
"It is the normal process of news and current affairs throughout the media that not all make it to air for a variety of editorial reasons," the BBC representative explained in the statement.
'Issues of defamation'
In the Raja Petra case, Connors conceded that they cancelled the interview because of legal concerns:
"It became clear in our research any comprehensive interview with former Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra would prominently feature issues that are currently the subject of a current court case in Malaysia, which raise issues of defamation."
Rather than the fear of running afoul of the Malaysian government, the BBC is contending that to report the details on an ongoing court case may be construed as subjudice, which could lead to contempt of court.
Connors also maintained that all BBC programmes adhere to the same strict editorial guidelines which ensure complete editorial independence and impartiality.
HARDtalk, a 30-minute talk show, prides itself on no-holds-barred interviews with controversial newsmakers around the world.
Notable Malaysians who have made it to the show's line-up included former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his arch-nemesis, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The cancellation of the Raja Petra interview raised eyebrows as it is very rare for the relatively independent BBC to axe controversial content, especially for HARDtalk, which was widely hailed as a hard-hitting news programme.
Reaching the Taman Tun Dr Ismail police station in Kuala Lumpur about 9.15pm this evening, the popular rapper (right, in green) - who goes by the name 'Namewee' - gave a brief press conference before heading into the police station to have his statement recorded.
Referring cheekily to the alleged suicide of the late DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock after being interrogated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Wee told reporters he wanted to make it clear that he was in no state of mind to kill himself.
"I am mentally healthy, I have no injury and I am not going to commit suicide," said Wee, who was accompanied by his lawyer Ravin Singh (above, in black).
Wee also said he believes he has done nothing wrong.
'I support 1Malaysia'
"I'm a film director, artist and musician, but it doesn't mean that if there is something wrong, I keep quiet.
"It doesn't mean I'm anti-Malaysia. I am against racism. And I support 1Malaysia. If I see racism, I'll say it out loud. I love my country," he said.
Ravin later told reporters that the police merely want to record his statement, not arrest the Muar-native Wee, who is now permanently based in Kuala Lumpur.
Coming out of the police station at 12.25am, Wee told reporters that the police officers with him merely listened to his side of the story and took his statement.
"I explained everything to them already, and I think everything is okay now. They just listened to me.
Asked whether he was warned at all against stirring up any more controversy, Wee answered in the negative: "They didn't give me any warning. They just took my statement. Everything seems fine."
Late last night, 27-year-old Wee shocked his fans when he posted on his Facebook page: 'Three police cars have finally come to my Muar home to arrest me' just before midnight.'
'This happened 15 minutes before our 53rd National Day Celebration', the message continued ending in bold, capital letters with: 'This is
not a joke'.
'Yes, I'm still here but for how long more, I don't know ... my
beloved Malaysia, where is our justice system?" Wee lamented before the end.
At about 1am, Wee updated his message in Chinese stating: 'The police 15 minutes before the National Day countdown came to arrest me but I was not home, I knew I would be taken away at any time, this may be my last message...I wish you all a Happy National Day'.
The following day, the police denied that they had arrested the Taiwan-educated artiste and that they were pursuing him at all.
Rumours circulated today, however, that Namewee was about the 'surrender' to the police.
It was only late in the afternoon that he posted on his Facebook: "I will be making my way to TTDI (Taman Tun Dr Ismail) police station in Kuala Lumpur tonight at 8.45PM."
This followed calls by Umno leaders and government ministers for action to be taken against Wee for what they alleged were seditious remarks in 'Nah'.
The video, which has since been taken downhis blog, showcased a three-minute rap song in which Wee raged - in colourful, expletives-filled language - against incidences of racism in Malaysia.
Malay-daily Utusan Malaysia, Puteri Umno, Information Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim and MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek were among the more prominent BN leaders who have called for Wee to be investigated for sedition.
Where's the sedition?
Earlier today, however, DAP veteran politician Lim Kit Siang (right) questioned why the police were investigating Wee for sedition when there was nothing particularly seditious in his diatribe against the Kulai secondary school principal for making racist slurs against non-Malay students.
"Wee can be faulted for being crude, vulgar, abusive and even obscene," said the Ipoh Timor parliamentarian in a statement.
But none of the above warrant action being taken against Wee under the Sedition Act, he noted.
"Are the youth wings of Barisan Nasional parties, particularly from Umno, MCA, Gerakan and MIC and all the BN Ministers prepared to take a stand that Wee's latest video clip may be guilty of being crude, vulgar and abusive but definitely not sedition?" he asked.
Video on him at Police Station:
courtesy of Malaysiakini
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.
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
Federal 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.
In 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.
Two 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.
Meanwhile, 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
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.
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.
His 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.
His 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.”
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.
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.
“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