Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How far are we from Shambhala?

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala [...]
Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala [...]
How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?

- Daniel Moore

Political analysts Ong Kian Ming and Onn Yeoh, who write regularly for Malaysiakini has followed up with their earlier advice to the Pakatan rakyat to have a shadow cabinet by discussing Possible DAP ministers.

There was one sentence in their article which disappoints me immensely, but which confirms my earlier and similar disappointments, that we Malaysians (and should I be bloody using this word to address/describe our nationality?) aren’t yet ready for non ethnic based (or biased) politics.

Bangsa Malaysia is still somewhere in Shambhala.

Everyone knows the BN component parties have adopted, either in unadulterated or subtle form, an ethnic (or racially) based approach, structure, membership, policies and action. Even the post 1972 Gerakan Party is no exception. And whoa, before anyone points out the PPP as a multiracial party, I have to say that it won’t qualify as it’s only a one-man show.

The DAP, whether it likes it or not, just or unjust, correct or otherwise, has been and still is viewed by Malays as a Chinese party with strange Chinese names like Karpal, Kulasegaran, Ramasamy Palanisamy, John Fernandez, Charles Anthony Santiago, Gobind Singh, Manogaran, and even (unfortunately unelected candidates like) Zulkifli Mohd Noor, and (this name from my uncle) the late Ahmad Che Rose, etc.

Of course today PKR claims to be, and has a right to, as a multiethnic party, but in this post I won’t go into why it has become so from its original form, KeADILan, which was nothing more than a splinter group of UMNO.

But what caught my annoyed eye was the Ong/Onn sentence stating:

“While other key ministries such as defence, foreign affairs, home affairs and education will likely stay in Malay hands, with most going to PKR, at least one of these portfolios would probably be allocated to PAS and perhaps to a bumiputera party from East Malaysia.”

my underlining


Why must only a Malay (even from PAS or a bumiputera party from East Malaysia, eg. previously Tun Mustapha and Tun Rahman Yaacob) be entrusted with certain key ministries?

Why can’t a Chinese or Indian Malaysian (OK, say only from PKR) be the Home Affairs, Education or Foreign Affairs Minister?

And the Defence Minister?

As I wrote in Malay 'sacrifice', Chinese 'sacrifice' about those young tebuan-heads waving keris-es:

And just where were these young punks when Chinese servicemen were serving the nation on the fields of combat, and recognized for their sacrifice (the real type) by being awarded Malaysia’s highest gallantry honour, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP)* – people like Superintendent Paul Kiong and Deputy Superintendent Sia Boon Chee, whom the nation owes incredible debts for their sheer and unsurpassed bravery in infiltrating and living for years with the communist terrorists in order to break the insurgents apart.

Then there were those awarded the Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB)* - the late Lt Choo Yoke Boo (awarded posthumously), late Lt Chang Tatt Min (awarded posthumously) of the RMAF, and 2nd Lt David Fu Chee Ming of the Rangers.

* Indian Malaysians had also been awarded the SP and PGB for combat

This was the citation for David Fu.

was the Platoon Commander of 8th Platoon of C Company, 4th Battalion Royal Rangers. He was tasked and placed in the Tanah Hitam area of Perak to track and destroy the enemy in his sector of operation.

On the 27th August 1970, his platoon of 24 men made contact with a group of about 70 enemy combatants. The enemy unknowingly had entered his sector. Thus started a heavy and intensive battle lasting 7 hours. Under his unwavering leadership, the men fought on, successfully killed 4 of the enemy. His patrol did not suffer any casualties.

For his outstanding gallantry and bravery in the finest traditions of the Ranger Corps he was bestowed with the Pingat Gagah Berani, by the King. He left after exemplary service as a Captain.

Yet … a Chinese or Indian Malaysian cannot be entrusted with either the Defence or Home Ministries.

It's obvious that even political analysts like Ong and Onn have obviously recognised there are limits or barriers to acceptability of non-Malays in Malaysian political position.

This ethnic discrimination, distrust or disrespect is not new as we have seen the difficulties of the new coalition wrestling with the MBs' positions for the States of Perak and Selangor. We saw the PKR Malay leadership falling straight into cautious conservative conformity, as if they were adhering to an UMNO policy, formula or directive.

Even the Sultans were not receptive towards having a non-Malay as a State premier to the extreme extent that in Selangor the coalition avoided appointing Teresa Kok as the Deputy MB because she was Chinese, Christian and a Charbor (female), a triple whammy to poor Teresa, whilst the Perak Regent came up with his tango-formula.

How many more years will it take us to drop those kulit-fication? How far are we still from Shambhala?


  1. This is a real problem in Malaysia. So far, the main role to eradicate racism in guise ‘ketuanan melayu’ is played actively by some journalist or bloggers and selected NGOs.

    We need more participation from the civil society and our intellectuals. One group that is conspicuously missing is the local academicians. The teachers are at the highest level, particularly those from the social sciences have not been playing an active role in researching, publishing and creating awareness on social realities of Malaysian mosaic. If we would want to analyse why this is so, than the main reason they attributed is ‘aku janji’ (statutory declaration) and fear of retribution from government.

    Is this the only reason? I think the problem is much larger than this. The most basic problem is the lack of quality training as a research scholar. Most of our researches are not trained by the best schools or scholars neither by valid scholarly tradition. More than majority of sociologist and anthropologist (or political scientist) in Malaysian public universities never conducted a fieldwork after their initial PhD exercise. How can than we expect them to provide the needful insight on our race relations situation.

    Just read the ethnic Module prepared by a professor from UPM that created controversy in 2005 for factual errors and serious misreading of ethnicity. Than to rectify that another was prepared by Profesor Shamsul from Malay Studies UKM. One bound to ask, where is the difference? Yes, the extreme statements are not there, there is inclusion of Islam Hadhari ect, but where is the intellectual content? Is absent of extreme statement equal to good race relations? The most the module serves is journalistic rhetoric (with due respect for journalist who are true to their profession, as we except different presentation from scholars). The problem here is these scholars are not experts in the subject. The have not done any research or fieldwork after their PhD. A good scholar is judged by his fieldwork and publication (in world class journals, not in the Third World Quota journals). This is sad for the race relations in Malaysia. Until such time we have decent social scientist, our fellow non-academicians have to shoulder the burden.

  2. Yes, how far are we away? How many more years have we to wait? But to look back at what happened on the night of March 8,my spirits lifted, maybe we don't have to wait too long. I'm emboldened when I recall 'man can propose but it is God who disposes'. All the evil men and women in the nation may scheme, plan, and connive but at the end, it is God who will dispose.

  3. Why so poetic?
    The poem doesn't gel-lah with the piece.
    Shambhala is an ideal like Utopia.
    From Wiki
    The word comes from Greek: οὐ, "not", and τόπος, "place", indicating that More was utilizing the concept as allegory and did not consider such an ideal place to be realistically possible. It is worth noting that the homophone Eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ, "good" or "well", and τόπος, "place", signifies a double meaning that was probably intended. Most modern usage of the term "Utopia" incorrectly assumes this latter meaning.

    Life will never be Utopia or Shambhala. It's reality. Even if race and religion cease to be issues, other things will surface. But I guess it's a matter of degree and what type of society Malaysia wants to build.

  4. Jed, "Life will never be Utopia or Shambhala. It's reality. Even if race and religion cease to be issues, other things will surface. But I guess it's a matter of degree and what type of society Malaysia wants to build."

    Very true lass. Life will not be a Shambhala, yet if we are to move a few centimetres in that direction, we need to understand a little why that's so difficult.

    First and formost it's racism here and racism mostly unameliorated because of the given lousy ethos promoted by the BN Gomen.

    Then there is little effort to help create a thinking society via its abject educational system that instead drowns creativity and suppressed individuality. No thinking means easy succumbing to the base and narrow parochial inclination. No criticism, so much sensitivities...ending in deadset mental insolvency. Too much idiotic pride, so little thinking and willingness to be open minded.

    Hey, even our mullah KT is so deadset with his 3 regular and favourite Derangements wat. LOL!

  5. "No criticism, so much sensitivities...ending in deadset mental insolvency. Too much idiotic pride, so little thinking and willingness to be open minded."

    Agree. Mullah. What to do. Anwar may be PM soon.

  6. "How far are we still from Shambhala?"

    If interpreted in the context of Shambhala being an ideal or "no place", the above actually questions whether malaysian politics can indeed be free from race and religion (as alluded by the Shambhala metaphor).

    So KT is saying that's just an ideal that will never become reality.


  7. That the problem when they started the ketuanan melayu in the armed forces, by side lining the serving officers by transferring them to dead ends, and making it bumiputra only, by 1977 the communists had blown up our tugu kebangsaan, yes folks, it was blown up, but you don't see it in the books now do you.Than when these tuans were basically floundering about, they decided to bring the thais in on cross border pressure campaigns, I remember going up to Gap AND GRIK IN PERAK, whole mountain rangers were logged for trees and laid bare so the communists COULDNT MOVE ABOUT, in the end they offered amnesty and money, you notice for bn it is the only way they think they can solve problems, money. so they paid off the communists. they never beat them, they actually surrendered by buying them out. and when the commies came out of the jungles, who were they, old men who kicked the asses of two military nations with standing armies. thats Malaysia and that the incompetance of umno.

  8. I'm not waiting for Shambhala or Utopia to happen.
    Meanwhile, PR is making real, concrete steps to reduce the institutionalised racism that has been growing worse in the last 50 years.

    Teresa Kok's 3C's may be a bridge too far for the moment, but she IS the Senior Exco in Selangor, together with a far less racialistic mix in the state government. Ditto for Penang and Perak.

    Realistically, I think it will take a couple of generations, at least to get to a true Bangsa Malaysia. But doesn't mean we give up at the starting blocks.

    Neighbouring Singapore prides itself with meritocracy. But the last time I checked, the were no Malay Generals in the Singapore Armed Forces, hardly any Malay senior executives in its stable of Government linked as well as public listed companies.
    Do you think 15% of Singapore's population doesn't produce any capable leaders ?

    So you see, racialist policies can exist whether in a Malay or Chinese dominated administration.

    Lets work to break down barriers and build a true Bangsa Malaysia. But a few steps at a time, we'll get there somehow.

    My baby a number of months to learn to walk. A few times she tried to run before she was steady enough, with painful results. There's a lesson there somewhere.

  9. Jed seems to have turned you into a literally Shamble-lah! state. O mullah KT, gee, have you not already arrived at(in) Shambles-lah with this one? What you can expect when you assume carelessly the Ayrab's style of indulging in superlatives with expression!

  10. Hello KK, Haven't seen u for some time. Busy cleaning up PKR's books. ;)

    Re Spore. I think most Spore Malays can say they have a better deal than the Chinese in Malaysia. Most also identify themselves as Sporeans. But you are right, the snr posts in government and GLCs are dominated by non-Malays, for security reasons. ;)

    Wits, Haiyah. You know how KT inteprets the Bible and events in the Middle East, so misreading a poem out of context and in isolation from other works and ideas is expected lah.

  11. asked a similar question in jed's blog. will non-bumi's fight for the country when they don't get discount for houses, amanah saham shares, scholarships for their children, different schooling systems, etc..? thankfully we have not seen uprisings or military coup d'etat or have been threatened with invasion.

  12. O Jed, mullah KT is strong on pathos and (misplaced)bathos but deficient in logic and fairness ler. His emotions are misplaced and unbalanced so often that when he speaks of things sensibly, one can't be sure it is not also somewhat secretly contrived. Hahaha!

  13. KT, may I add in one more person to your list of non-Malays who sacrificed his life for this country. His name, the late Captain Hardev Singh, of the Rangers who was killed near the Thai border in 1974 while leading a convoy of soldiers to track down a group of CTs who ambushed another convoy the week before. I believe he was posthumously awarded the PGB a year after his death. Captain Hardev Singh was an old classmate of mine and a very dear friend.