Friday, June 02, 2017

Mean feral nasty national character?

MM Online - ‘Bullied’ navy cadet dies, police investigate case as murder (extracts):

Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — A Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) student died at the Serdang Hospital near here yesterday.

Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat said there were bruises and scalding marks on his body.

He said Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, died at the hospital 10pm.

“The victim was sent to the hospital for treatment by his friends. He had scalding injuries and bruises,” he said in a statement here today.

He said that 36 UPNM and Universiti Tenaga Nasional students, aged between 20 and 21 years, have been detained in connection with the case.

In Malaysia, there have been far too many military cadets or novice officers ragged (hazed) to death, though this one has been at a university.

The RMAF has been particularly notorious in such ragging but this time I wonder which service cadets or officers have been involved?

Ragging (Hazing or as universities call it, 'Orientation') has been and is a regular feature in institutions of learning, whether military or civilian. But the aim is not to hurt, harm, humiliate or de-humanize victims.

In Indonesia, more than 30 people had died from such ‘ragging’ in their public institutions over the last 15 years [obviously ‘ragging, as we would see, is not just a university program for newly admitted undergraduates]. Due to similar fatalities in Indian universities, the Indian High Court has pronounced ragging as a criminal activity.

A commonly expressed sentiment by those who had undergone ragging (for example, my uncles and cousins who served in the military and police), that with the advantage of hindsight they believe it was enjoyable with some beneficial outcomes, though of course the lamentable occurrence of deaths would pose an embarrassing question on the rationality of their conclusions, and thus curtailed any open support of the ragging or civilian ‘orientation’ programs.

In the armed forces, ragging at military academies/colleges is in actuality an unofficial but quietly condoned activity for new cadets, with the so-called 'orientation' program run by senior cadets (but never instructors), because military history-culture believes the following benefits could be achieved:

(a) to ‘break the ice’ for the new cadets, as well as project equal treatment of all newcomers regardless of their backgrounds, rich or poor, urban or rural, creed, colour, etc. Though the overt message of ragging seems to be “new cadets are all worthless shit!” wakakaka, the more important underlying text is that all (potential) officers, regardless of their backgrounds, will be treated equally - basically military shock treatment, especially for those from rich pampered backgrounds.

(b) to encourage team spirit and what the military loves, espirit de corp. If carefully and cleverly managed by senior cadets (and advised by instructors) the new cadets could be tasked to perform almost apparently impossible tasks if performed alone, but which with cooperation among themselves (a la teamwork), could be achieved.

(c) to encourage ‘initiative’, the military’s fave phrase for new officers.

(d) most important of all, to ‘break up’ the original make-up of the cadet (rich, poor, arrogant, shy, etc) and ‘rebuild’ him/her into the person the military wants to see in its officer.

Alas, unfortunately sometimes things went wrong because of an individual’s lack of judgement, alcoholic haze (maybe that’s how the Yanks came by that 'hazing' word instead of ‘ragging’) or the raggers having lost the plot (the intended objectives of ragging/orientation), and consequently some new cadets were hurt and/or brutalized.

In 2007, Muhammad Hazim Ahmad Azman, an air force cadet at the RMAF base in Alor Setar, was repeatedly abused, physically and mentality. This was considered bullying rather than ragging though the illegal authority and facility for the bullies to do so were under the mantle of ‘orientating’ junior cadets. They were charged and three years later fined by the courts.

But a far more serious case resulting in death occurred in 1982 at RMAF Kuching when Leftenant Muda (Udara) [2nd Lieutenant (Air)] Sugudev Dass died as a consequence of ragging. Apparently there was some ‘rough house’ actions involved during the ragging and he suffered from slow internal bleeding caused by a kick to his side. No one including the victim himself knew about the bleeding, and when the ragging was over he went back to his room to sleep but the bleeding continued and caused his death. Sadly, he didn't wake up again.

His father wrote a letter directly to HM the Agong appealing for justice. My uncles weren’t too sure what subsequently happened.

Now, you may wonder why ragging occurred after military college at an operational base like TUDM Kuching?

According to my uncles this was a carry-over from Konfrontasi days when RMAF officers (mostly from Peninsula) serving in the ‘frontier’ bases of Kuching and Labuan, ‘away from civilization’ so to speak, had their rough & tumble ways of inducting new comers (of ranks up to Major or, in those early days, Squadron Leaders) into their ‘wild & woolly’ company.

But then, after such a night of comradeship-constructive ragging, that was that. Just one night and no more.

The 'ragging' were rites of passage or ceremonies that mark important transitional periods in a person's life, such as becoming a full fledged member of a fraternity, like an air force or university group.

Thus rites of passage usually involve ritual activities (ragging) and teachings designed to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles.

As I mentioned above, one of the desired/expected and most important objectives of ragging, namely, to ‘break up’ the original make-up of the cadet (rich, poor, arrogant, shy, etc) and ‘rebuild’ him/her into the person the military wants to see in its officer.

As the years went by, the induction program transformed gradually into a more abusive version of ‘military academy-style’ ragging but with the ranks of the inductee being reduced down to only leftenant muda (2nd lieutenant) and leftenant (lieutenant).

Is it in our national character to want to hurt, humiliate and de-humanize our 'juniors' and/or subordinates so as, to wit, to satisfy an animal/feral need within ourselves to brutalize victims so as to realize stupid (imagined) powers?


  1. so long post n no name calling like maddy n cow? u r full of surprises.

    1. Need breathing space to re-strategize topic approaches mah.

      Pending new directives from atas, perhaps?

      Otherwise will keep flocking a death horse with no new tales!

    2. aiseh, what a spinner (Maddy's dedak-rised freelancer?), wakakaka