You can drag a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink, they say. Well, we not only need to drag the Malays to water, we also need to force their heads into the water and make them drink.
NO HOLDS BARRED(Malaysia Today)
Raja Petra Kamarudin
This is what the Sin Chew Daily reported yesterday:
Change Or Perish, Pak Lah Tells UMNO
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Malays have changed their old thinking and value system, only that UMNO seems to have "forgotten" that the Malays have indeed changed.
He said the Malays have changed, but if UMNO remains unwilling to change, then the party will eventually head for destruction.
"UMNO has forgotten that the Malays have changed their own thinking and perspectives. It has forgotten that the Malays have changed their value system. The Malays are no longer what they used to be. They unreservedly express themselves. They even wave the DAP flags!"
Abdullah said during an exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily at his private residence in Kuala Lumpur that during his five-year tenure as the prime minister, he has managed to change the mentality of the Malays.
He said young Malays believe they can stand on their own feet, and this is the major value that has changed the young Malays today.
"Young Malays feel that they need the opportunities, so they begin talking about DAP and PKR. They believe they have better opportunities there."
On the admission by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he had failed to change the mentality and attitude of the Malays, Abdullah said decisively, "I can change the Malays!"
On UMNO's reluctance to change in order to check money politics and racism, he said although this is a mounting task, he knows UMNO members are in the midst of changing.
"UMNO is getting more and more powerful, with some three million members. The larger the membership, the more problems will arise. We have all kinds of people among these three million members. I'm very unhappy (with money politics in UMNO), and have told (UMNO disciplinary board chairman Tan Sri Tengku Ahmad) Rithauddeen to take actions as soon as possible."
98% Malays will not touch a dog
90% Malays will not drink liquor
80% Malays will not eat un-slaughtered meat
70% Malays will not eat in a non-Muslim restaurant
60% Malays will not indulge in homosexual activities
50% Malays will no indulge in extra-marital sex
40% Malays will not take bribes
30% Malays will not wish the non-Muslims on their religious festivals (such as Merry Christmas, Kong Hee Fatt Choy or Happy Deepavali)
25% Malays will not shake hands with a member of the opposite sex
20% Malays will not celebrate the ‘Christian’ Valentine’s Day on 14 February
10% Malays will not celebrate birthdays
5% Malays will not take loans -- to avoid paying interest
Okay, the above is not a real poll. I just made it up. I don’t think anyone has ever conducted a poll to analyse this issue. But the ‘list of priorities’ is not that far off the mark although the percentages are a figment of my imagination. I just wanted to get your attention and demonstrate the priorities of the Malays.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad once cried during an Umno General Assembly because, he said, he had failed to change the Malays. When asked during an interview soon after he retired as Prime Minister on 1 November 2003 what he would consider as the greatest regret of his 22 years in office, he replied his greatest regret is that he could not change the Malays.
And that was Tun Dr Mahathir, the strongest-minded Prime Minister Malaysia ever had in 51 years of nationhood. Can Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a ‘softer’ man, achieve what someone regarded as a dictator had failed to do?
Now, before we take the word ‘dictator’ as something negative, let me stress that there are many types of dictators and sometimes we need a dictator to set things right. A benevolent dictator is not so bad for the country and is maybe just the thing the country needs to cure it of its ills. It is when we get a malevolent dictator is when things became very dicey. But then dictators can sometimes change from being benevolent to malevolent when power gets to their heads. That is the problem with having too much power in the hands of a dictator and not enough democracy.
For example, if a dictator heavy-handedly passes laws that make it a crime to perpetuate racism, even if the law is draconian and robs us of our fundamental rights, in the long term it would be good for the country. But then laws tend to get abused and ‘good’ laws eventually get used for what they were not originally intended.
Take the Internal Security Act as one example. It was a ‘good’ law when we needed to solve the problem of massacres, assassinations, bombings and terrorism in the 1960s. But once all the chaos and anarchy ends and the law is not abolished, and then it is used for other purposes, such as for stifling dissent and for curtailing criticism of those who walk in the corridors of power, what used to be ‘good’ gets transformed to bad.
So good can very rapidly become bad when wrongly applied. And good dictators can also become bad dictators when they no longer just want to end racism the ‘undemocratic’ way but start using their vast powers to do things like to put down criticism of their rule.
I suppose this is why the ends can never justify the means. If we accept undemocratic methods to achieve good, these undemocratic methods eventually come back to bite us in our sorry behinds.
Anyway, back to the issue of the day, whether Abdullah can do what Mahathir failed to do: to change the Malays.
When I was under ISA detention in September, I spent days arguing and debating with the six Special Branch officers who had been assigned to ‘take my statement’. These are basically marathon interrogation sessions where they point out to you the error of your ways and try to get you to repent so that you can again be released into society. I suppose they not only discovered they could not change me, but they were also perturbed that I passionately defended my position to the very end. I was ‘unreformable’ and there was no way they could reformat my brain and reinstall a new program.
They should have known that I am an ‘old model’, the first generation ‘hardware’, and new software can’t run on old hardware. Ever try installing Windows XP into an old 386? There is no way it would work. You would need a very old Windows program to run a 386.
So I am old hardware, a 386, and I need the Windows 3.0 to make me tick. Forget about Windows XP. That is what the Special Branch officers did not understand.
The debates we engaged in behind the barbed wire fence of the Police Remand Center (PRC), your first stop for 60 days before they either allow you to go home or you get sent to Kamunting for at least two years, was why I write what I write. I whack the Malays to kingdom come. I show no mercy. I ask for no quarter and offer none as well. Why am I so brutal with the Malays? And even the way the Malays practice Islam is not spared. I am heartless and merciless in my criticism.
My reasoning was simple. And I explained it to the Special Branch officers. The Malays will never change. Even Tun Dr Mahathir said so. (But Abdullah, though he agrees that the Malays need changing, does not share Mahathir’s view that they can’t be changed. Abdullah thinks he is able to change them).
The Malays, I explained, need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the new Millennium. You can drag a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink, they say. Well, we not only need to drag the Malays to water, we also need to force their heads into the water and make them drink. So we may end up drowning a few. So what? The end result would be we get them to drink, though against their will.
When someone is a lunatic and no drug can cure him or her, we need to use shock treatment. Sometimes shock treatment is the best cure when reasoning and medication can’t do the job. We have been Merdeka for 51 years. How long more are we going to wait before we declare that drastic times require drastic measures? Another 51 years when it would by then have already been too late?
I am third-generation Malaysian, I told the Special Branch officers. My grandfather fought for Merdeka. I, too, am now a grandfather. I have four grandchildren of my own. So my grandchildren, who in 20 years from now will be inheriting this country, are fifth generation Malaysians. Five generations is long enough. If, by now, we have not changed, then we never will.
So we are in a crisis situation. In 1960, when Malaysia was facing a crisis, we introduced the ISA. The ISA is not only draconian but unconstitutional as well. It is, in short, a downright ‘illegal’ law. But even the opposition agreed that the ends justify the means and they supported the ISA.
I, too, believe that the Malays need to be changed. Tun Dr Mahathir believed the same thing. And so does Abdullah Badawi (though he feels he can rectify what Mahathir couldn’t).
Sure, I whack the Malays, I told the Special Branch officers. I insult them. I vilify them. I make fun of the way they practice Islam. I make some Malays ashamed that they are Malays and would rather be called something else. But no good medicine tastes nice. All medicine is bitter. And I do not want to sugar-coat the medicine to hide its real taste. What you see is what you get.
But the Special Branch officers did not agree with me. They felt I was beyond redemption. They did not need 60 days with me to try to ‘turn me over’. They knew I was beyond salvage. So, after just ten days, they packed me off to Kamunting where I was supposed to spend the rest of my days on earth. And as long as I defended my views and refused to change my position, I would remain in Kamunting, be in ten years if necessary.
But I am now out again, thanks to my lawyers who did a good job getting me released. And I am back at it, whacking the Malays. I can’t help it. If I hated the Malays I would just say, “To hell with them. Why bother to try to change them?” But the English say: spare the rod and spoil the child. And the Malays say: if you love the child, you beat him or her.