Malaysiakini received some frank comments from a Gerakan veteran, outgoing Pulau Pinang State Executive Council Dr Toh Kin Woon.
Dr Toh said that it was Tough to change BN - hmmm, I wonder why I am not surprised.
Dr Toh said that “Somehow race consciousness has taken such deep roots in the Malaysian political psyche that to uproot it is not an easy task at all.”
"You’re talking about such a mammoth political structure with its own framework and a value system that have been so firmly entrenched. I think it would be a Don Quixote to think you could go in, barge in there and say I want to affect his change and that change.”
Unfortunately that’s true to the extent that there is now an unbridgeable deep division within our community. Disagreements, dislikes and disputes are no longer confined to the political or policy plane but have unfortunately seep down to personal levels and personalities.
Take for example, Malaysia’s first cosmonaut, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.
Like Lee Lam Thye he has been lambasted for accepting the opportunity to be the first Malaysian to blast off into space.
Why? Yadda yadda yadda ... yes, the ride is seen as a wasteful expedition – I agree that such expenses could be better spent on many needy projects – but why take it out on poor Muszaphar?
Same argument used against Lee Lam Thye – he should have rejected the opportunity. To be frank, if I was given the opportunity to be the cosmonaut,I would have have been there like a Soyuz rocket. Imagine "Baikonour Kontrol, kaytee has a problem. I forgot my tangkai"
Muszaphar suffered from two handicaps:
(1) He is a Melayu (Malay), hence his candidature has been (and still is) immediately a suspect! Whether he was the best candidate is totally irrelevant - he would automatically be seen by many hostile to the BN as someone picked because the colour of his skin or his political affiliation or connections.
(2) He hops on what has been seen as a BN rather than Malaysian effort to introduce space flights, admittedly at a ludicrous fee, into our span of activities - bad boy!
What if the Malaysian cosmonaut that just blasted on board the Soyuz rocket into space for a rendezvous with the ISS was Vanajah Sivasubramaniam? Would the reception be less or even not hostile? Would that have made the flight a more acceptable occasion with more Malaysians rejoicing?
Vanajah was a finalist but unfortunately an unsuccessful one for a seat in only two positions to go into space with the Russians?
To be true, everyone except the most naïve would imagine that the first Malaysian would be other than a Malay. Yes, unfortunately for us, we haven’t reached that stage yet when we are all Malaysians, which may explain why Dr Toh Kin Woon has been fairly frustrated.
I gather that when Dr Mahathir was PM, he had quietly (and at times vocally too) lamented the lack of self esteem among the Malays – whether this was an objective assessment or not is left up to you to judge.
Hence he encouraged a program of esteem-building ‘exercises’ with a motivating reward system (meant more for the Malays than other ethnic groups), which might have been seen by many of us to be damn wasteful – eg. rewarding a Malay kid who swam across the English Channel with a Datukship while the Chinese lad was not (Muszaphar will also get one when he returns), dropping a Proton at the North Pole or something silly like that, Mt Everest climb, sail round the world, Malaysian Book of Records, etc etc and of course the space flight - the 'Boleh' (can do) doctrine.
As with all Malaysian projects that might have started with a sincere or even noble motive, very soon the usual parasites latch on to the associated reward system or freebies and start to abuse it.
Without knowing Dr Mahathir’s motive (and how many would bother to anyway), there’s hell of a lot of resentment against Malays being the favoured ones in this scheme.
Take for example the case of the unsuccessful cosmonaut Vanajah Sivasubramaniam – read her interview with Malaysiakini Kabilan in my last year’s post Sad tale of Bolehnaut left behind.
Read it to see why I wasn’t impressed at all with Kabilan, but which may support my suggestion that there’s a lot of resentment in our very divided nation, especially when there is a perception that the wrong candidate had been blasted off into space as the first Malaysian to do so.
I feel sad for Muszaphar, I feel sad for Vanajah Sivasubramaniam, but most of all I feel sad for myself ;-)