Saturday, May 30, 2009

Double take on Malaysians

This is an interesting piece in the NST, exposing the hypocrisy and double standards in all of us.

KOH LAY CHIN: Malaysia a land of irony and incongruity

IT'S a tragic but fascinating story that is now showcasing the ironies and contractions of politics and public opinion. When former South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide recently over a broadening corruption scandal, he was transformed overnight from leader tainted by graft to honourable man wronged by political enemies. Videos of his funeral have the overwhelming sound of South Koreans weeping loudly in crowds, the outpouring of grief unmistakable.

We see the nation mourning and grappling with the confusion and ironies over justice, corruption and public image.

Malaysia has its fair share of contradictions too.

Are we staunchly against the Internal Security Act, calling for its abolition or are we more agreeable to it when a Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist named Mas Selamat is put under its fangs? There was hardly a peep from any quarter protesting his arrest under the draconian law, so it must have been deemed publicly justifiable.

It must have been galling for pro-Nizar supporters when the Kuala Lumpur High Court had decided he was the rightful Perak menteri besar, and they went about celebrating the rule of law, only to have it turned around by the Court of Appeal. But do we only knock court decisions and government policies when they do not favour us?

Cynics and oppositionists would probably argue that anything to do with the ruling power or perceived to be linked to it "never favours us".

So if people say "Run RPK, Run", telling blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (who had been twice detained under ISA) to stand up for justice by running away from our courts, would we also be supportive if Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo's supporters, for example, tell the former Selangor menteri besar to run from inquiries into the disbursement of Selangor funds?

There would be the expected arguments, of course, over their personalities and character, over who is actually doing the judging, and who is "truly" right and wrong. But how does anyone really know what is truth, what is fiction, or a mishmash of both?

Do we suffer from selective criticism and combativeness?

Perhaps it is that we have become so clouded in partisanship, and used to people labelling us as either black or white. As to our principles and the stands we take, sometimes it would seem we are at twos about what we want as well.

We don't want foreign workers crowding our shores but we know we still want them at our mamak stalls and taking care of our children. We hate the traffic and environmental degradation but give us more cars, and make them cheap.

We hate corruption, but try to find jalan keluar atau masuk (a way out or in) when it comes to roadblocks or business transactions. We want to obey our royalty, but we don't. We want the best brains to lead our administrations and corporations but woe betide them if they are from Cambridge or Oxford. We want to be recognised in order of merit first, but if lineage or family ties come in the picture we want you out. On the argument of needs versus merit, what reactions await if a rich kid who scores all 17 1As gets the scholarship, rather than the poor student who scores 13 1As.

During his tenure as Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said he really saw how difficult and divisive a subject like education could be to Malaysians. Even as people were crying out for one unitary school system, communalists were fighting for their own schools and rights.

Even the most 1Malaysia-minded and progressive friend I know, a Chinese, paused when asked if he would be okay if we were to abolish all Chinese schools.

"Just Mandarin classes in the national schools, how about that? We make it all the same for everyone," I suggested.

There were a few seconds of confusion on his face, before carefully answering, "Well I guess, that would have to be the case." But, he continued, "Not many will like that."

Those five words are an understatement.

The Education Ministry throughout the decades has failed us, many Malaysians are quick to lambast. But if put in the hot seat, would they face the Malay nationalists, the Chinese educationists, the Hindraf-minded Indian activists and tell them "No more communal demands and battles?"

We love the "salad bowl" side of our Malaysian life, so how do we become more "melting pot"? What do we actually want?

Navigating through these thorny issues is what Malaysia has been doing for decades, and we have had our steady wins and losses. If Malaysians can even argue about 1Malaysia and what it means, it just seems that as we are putting out small fires all over the place we are now as confused and quarrelsome as ever about the bigger picture. There is only one thing that remains consistent throughout: that Malaysia is a land of irony and incongruity. But we sure do keep trying.


Anonymous said...


Mas Selamat is a Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist la, as compared to some of those ppl that were locked-up under ISA. Ppl like RPK and Anwar have not even held a bomb in their hands la! What sort of reporting are you doing?

Unknown said...

This is just a rubbish!

Sentinel said...

This is called democracy. It's a little chaotic; a little messy; a little confusing at times. But do you want to give up these freedoms; especially freedom of speech and action?

The question one need to ask is whether you want Malaysia to evolve "naturally" via the myriad public debates or you'd prefer public policies decided centrally by an autocratic government?

Which is more beneficial to growth and maturiuty of its citizenry in the long run? Which is just a simple deference-to- convenience management style for those in power?

The answers should in turn answer the question whether you want a government by the people for the people or you want a management like those in a commercial golf club where the memebrs hae no say?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 1:56pm
True Anwar and RPK have never held a bomb before but what about those 'series of hasutan' in the form of speeches, rallies and writings? All these things are more explosive than a bomb in a multiracial country like ours. I say ISA is necessary for those who threaten our security even though the only thing they have ever held is a pen (or lap top nowadays).

Anonymous said...

Get it right KLC : People wearng black shirt,reporter writing the truth,blogger and charismatic politician CANNOT be grouped together with a wannabe bomber who enjoyed you now see the clear difference why many of us ok ISA on Mat selamat? You are wasting your writing talent by penning such confusing article,it did not add value to anybody's life.

Anonymous said...

WCW, this is really a very fucked up article, and shows your skil; at twisting things to favour BN.
You are really comparing apples and oranges. As for the ISA, we are really all angry that the ISA has been used by the government to imprison dissidents and opposition members. They are not terrorists by any measure. They don't go around with guns and bombs.
The example by NST of the Korean ex-President is also screwed up. Of course any unpopular leader will also have his share of admirers. While many Malaysians are happy that MM retired, of course there are others who cried, especially those that benefited from his rule. I didn't cry when MM retired, nor will I cry when Najib steps down. But of course there will be people who will cry when Najib steps down. This is not hypocrisy because we are talking about different people with different reactions.

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...


When there's any nation with multiple standards
Let's pray that none qualifies as a 'bastard'
Though some may be easily identified as 'retards'
Let's hope all can sit down and still enjoy their tarts of custard

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 310509
Sun. 31st May 2009.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoh Datuk, don't lah compare Mas Selamat with RPK. RPK does not even know how to kill a mosquito whereas Mas Selamat is a killer on the rampage. Apa punya comparison ini Datuk?

charis14 said...

KLC appears to be living in an ideal world. Unfortunately, most Malaysians are not.

Just consider the 1School alone. With a national school just walking distance away from our home, I walked the talk by sending 2 of my children there. Unfortunately, the horror stories of indiscipline and non-performing teachers led to our eventual decision of sending our third child to a Chinese school - despite the traffic jam and linguistic difficulty (since we are not Mandarin educated).

We will be happy to switch back or advocate 1School when the national leaders (a) lead the way by sending their own children there and (b) allow those who are running the vernacular schools to take over the 1School administration.

Anak Malaysia said...

Sometimes its not about black and white. They tend to agree or disagree actually on the same thing. Some will say that the glass is half full while others might say that the glass is half empty. The safest way is still to work on what we agree first and sort out our differences through time. If we agree on seven out of ten issues, lets progress with the seven issues and slowly thrash out the other three issues without failing and falling on what we can agree on the seven issues because of the three unresolved issues. There is a saying that do not burn the net because of one mosquito.

Anak Malaysia.

Alice In Wonderland said...

As for all these mumbo jumbo about Chinese schools.. we all have to agree that Chinese schools are doing tremendously well not so much for the fact that people are so in love with everything Chinese. Parents primary concern is the quality of education and teaching and frankly, as a parent myself, I dont really care if it is Chinese, Indian or Malay school as long as the quality and attitude are excellent. Given such, if we are to compare, I must say that Chinese schools are excellent when compared to Sekolah Kebangsaan and as parents, it is not wrong or evil to want the best for our children.

As for integrating children into a school with Chinese subject being taught as a subject.. we all know that cannot happen. Chinese is an extremely hard to master and having 1 or 2 or even 3 lessons a day is not going to yeild the same desired results like in all chinese school where all lessons are taught in Chinese except for English and Bahasa. It is the constant use of the language that helps one master it. It is also the discpline instill in the language that helps one to have better atittude.

For another, given the big difference in attitude, teaching methods and discipline, how does one integrate heaven and hell? We all know how strict, tedious and discipline chinese teachers are and will we lose such excellent qualities when we integrate with Kebangsaan school teachers? Let's not be diplomatic here, our children's future is at risk! We all know how laidback these Kebangsaan school teachers are... as laid back as any given lazy Sunday! So, is it right to lose something good for something "bad'?

Another thorny issue I suspect, on this subject is the fact that all Chinese schools are on private land usually valued at any King's ransom and donations from people are generous. What will happened if there is any integration? Who will benefit? Will there be acknowledgement now and years down the line, conveniently, quietly taken away and some more years down the line, lost and certain quarters turn around and accuse the chinese as PENDATANG and sucking them dry!?

So, Koh Lay Chin, is not that we, Malaysians are a bunch of contradicting fools. We are simply a bunch of people who has learnt many lessons along the way in life and can differentiate right from wrong and not afraid to speak up when wrong are shove into our face and down our throats!

Last, I am quite sure if any of our leaders commit suicide over a broadening corruption scandal, nobody, opposition or governing will be able to transform him into anything honourable! Does this tell you anything?!

Thom Yorke said...

selvarajasomiah sai! Ho do u know RPK does not even know how to kill a mosquito? To RPK, talk the talk walk the walk laa... show the fxxxking proof not just cakap cakap kosong je..

I totally agree with this article. One Malaysian for all :)

steve said...

hi Datuk Wong

please do not try to confuse your readers and justify why our gov should keep ISA by using Mas Selamat's case as a championing cause for ISA.

RPK and Teresa Kok are respectable Malaysians, unlike Mas Selamat. If one day Pakatan becomes the government and you're arrested under ISA just because you are a mouthpiece of BN, I'll lend you my support as well.

please ask yourself if you want detention without trial for you and your family and friends.

i hope you can become a respectable blogger by not trying to spin-doctor any more important national issues.

Anonymous said...

Koh Lay Chin is a young upstart who I believe writes from inexperience. Let us forgive her but not without giving her a brief history lesson. I am shocked at Chun wai's idea of using this article to illustrate his PR-BN stand. I believe the writer will be give a huge reward for this piece. But that'sup to her.

Ms or Mr Koh,

You comparisons were hopeless. RPK has run away, has broken the law. He has admitted that and he is doing it to show how hopeless our courts can be if they choose to. You have to be in Anwar's shoes to know how Mahathir, his cronies, newspapers and TV station all worked against him. You, ny friend, willnever know injustice. Perhaps you will never know how the mainstram media persecuted the opposition leaders for the last 30 years. Kit Siang was ISA-ed twice, Karpal was also detained, Guan Eng was jailed and ISA-ed too, Anwar was ISA-ed, jailed and humiliated using the government agencies and institutions, he was assaulted in the lock-up by the then IGP, and the list of power abuses goes on. Altantuya was murdered under mysterious circumstances but the court/prosevutor is not bothered to find out who ordered the killing. This are strange circumstaces, Koh

When it came to Zambri's appeal, it was heard immediately and within 2 hours, a decision favouring him was made. But Nizar's appeal is still pending.

The corruption case of the two ex-PKR scums who stood on the same stage with najib, and other Umno leaders is being tried so slowly now compared to when they were in PKR. They were hauled up during Permatang Pauh by-election and charged during that time. Such irny, stupidity and blatant pro-BN actions by prosectors and police officers has opened the eyes of all Malaysians.

For example, the media and TV3 especially was blatantly showing clips of Aminah's so-called revelations of PKR corruption day in day out during the Penanti campaign.

If the people had been stupid and believed the propaganda, PKR would have definitely lost the seat. But why did 6,000 people still vote for PKR? Simple - they are fed up with the propaganda, they don't believe the local media anymore.

Talking about the media, let me tell you why we are so divided in our political stand now. It's because the media under the control of Mahathir for 22 years had done nothing but carried the views of Barisan/Umno/MCA everyday without fail. Oppositon views were blacked out. They were attacked mercilessly but their replies were blacked out.

It was all one-sided and as time went on, the people who accessed the net and read party organs stopped beliving what the government says in the mainstream media. They became disgusted and did not believe stories in the papers and TV even if they were true. This group of people just hated the media and started believing all the things the opposition said in tehir ceramhs and party organs. And now the internet.

As time went on, the number of non-believers began to gorow as the younger generation started reading the net more than the papers which were continuously spewing rubbish.

So the line which is splitting Malaysians down the middle politically is very clear now.

Those who believe the spins in the mainstream media are pro-BN. Others who don't believe the government controlled media are on one side and others on the other side.

So my dear Koh, the mainstream media is solely responsible for creating this dichotomy. Stop blaming the people please. It's so unintelligent to do so. You reap what you sow. The media reaped hatred for the opposition but the people started hating the media and indirectly the BN.

Let me remind you and your editors that the latter number is growing very fast. The sad part is the media is helping to destroy BN with its spin. Barisan is already on life support (like the courts, police, MACC and loads of money). The media is going to bury it with its current style.

I hope you would not resort to writing platonic pieces in future as it makes all your other work look so unintelligent.

Old Fart said...

To even attempt to compare Mas Selamat's incarceration under ISA with RPK's or Theresa Kok's, you got to have a huge piles sticking up your arse and which was a lot more inconvenient than attempting that comparison. So I shall excuse the NST writer for attempting to make me feel guilty when I did not protest over Mas Selamat's ISA incarceration. My only reservation over Mas Selamat is why not just hand him over to Singapore.

He could have introduced the government's and the people's admiration of Mandela and South Africa's treatment of all those who executed the vile policies of the Aparthied government. But he failed to. Why, I wonder! Would it be because it would show us up for the hypocrites we are? If we are in admiration of Mandela and he is supposed to be a hero to us, then the least we can do is do as he did. Remember South Africa's Truth Commission? But just see how we are dealing with Chin Peng? How can we deal with Chin Peng the way we are and yet in the same breath think what a great man Mandela is? The correct attitude we should take for all the hate and anger that seems to still fill our hearts over Chin Peng's campaign of killings and suffering should be to call Mandela an idiot for not hauling up all those thugs of the apartheid era and stuffing them in an ISA kind of holding!!

We cannot be good Malaysians and yet give priority for the hate, anger, bitterness and fear of decades ago guide our thinking today. It would seem like it is those negative emotions that take priority over positive and good emotions.

On Chin Peng, it is not about granting an old dying man his last wish. But when we don't do right than we have to live with the fact that we continue to host in ourselves negative emotions to which we pander and give predominance to. We inculcate in our children the idea that it is quite alright to hold on in our hearts hate, anger, bitterness, vengence and that these are valid factors in determining decisions to be made.

Koh Lay Chin tried to make me feel guilty about my reaction to the high court decison on the Perak MB and the negative feeling I got from the decision of the appealate court. And why wouldn't I? After all my negative feeling has been vindicated. One high court judge could provide his written grounds of judgement immediately upon delivering his verdict. 3 Appleate judges after almost 3 weeks are still yet to produce their grounds of judgement. Remember, all they did in delivering their verdict was deliver their verdict. There was hardly any grounds of judgement that I found any inspiration in. I could give my middle finger for their verdict if that verdict is not going to soon be supported by their grounds for it. And make sure those grounds include why they would dismiss any article that supports a different position.

Chun Wai, I think you got to ask a lot more questions and think a little more broadly before validating someone else's thoughts or ideas. You see, many of us make the darnest mistake of falling in love with a pretty face. Only to regret later that the baggage it fronts up for may be rather horrendous.