Negarasawan

Back in 1998 after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from UMNO and the rakyat rose against Mahathir, I used to tell friends who were in UMNO that it was wrong to burn your house down just because you quarrel with a sibling.  Instead, you should sit down with that sibling and other family members and work out the differences and find a middle ground.  Last night, Najib Razak who is UMNO’s President made the same call through his Facebook posting asking UMNO members to work differences out amicably. As members of a large family there is bound to be disagreements but this could be solved through discussions as UMNO members are brethren.

This is of utmost importance.  UMNO has gone through many trials and tribulations from the days of Dato Onn Jaafar who left the party to form another back in the 1950s, to the attacks on UMNO by a nonagenarian of Kerala-descent that the party faces now.  It has been the unity of UMNO members that has stopped all attempts to break it apart.  The UMNO members have to realise this.

UMNO is not just being attacked by its trditional enemies and former members.  It is also being threatened by colleagues from component parties for showing ‘support’ to the amendments to the Syariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965 sought by PAS President Haji Hadi Awang.  It was last revised in 1988 and since its passing 51 years ago, not a single non-Muslim person has ever been charged in a Syariah court for not fasting during the month of Ramadhan nor has there been any case of a non-Muslim being charged in court for fornication.  So why should it be any different now?

Talking about unity, someone caused disunity in ASEAN 19 years ago when he fought to have Myanmar admitted as a member. Yes, Myanmar became a member of ASEAN despite concerns regarding the military junta’s treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the oppression of minorities.

Mahathir said:  “I fought hard for Myanmar to be admitted into ASEAN.”  Yes, it was his idea.  According to his now-bosom-buddy Lim Kit Siang in June 2005, it is Mahathir who must bear the greatest responsibility for the ASEAN admission of Myanmar in the 1997 ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur despite strong regional and international reservations and opposition. It was Mahathir who was a staunch supporter of ASEAN’s founding principle of non-interference, a principle that has allowed the group to develop economic ties without being pulled into each other’s domestic problems, that has caused this policy to be severely tested when Myanmar entered into ASEAN in July 1997.

In June of last year he tried to push the buck back to the present government.  For those who said that Najib Razak has done nothing to help the Rohingyas, due to the ASEAN principle of non-interference, the most the government could do is to get Myanmar to be committed in dialogues with other neighbours on this issue. Despite that, this present government shipped 480 tonnes of food, neccessities to the Rohingyas in Myanmar in September 2012 through the port of Sittwe, Myanmar. And last year, Najib Razak announced that Malaysia will give assistance to the Rohingya boat people. The Royal Malaysian Navy led the effort to give assistance to the boat people.

Since Mahathir is jobless, can’t afford to hire cooks, can’t afford to buy flight tickets that he needed a private jet to take him everywhere, and his Vision 2020 to have his son as the Prime Minister is now in tatters, Mahathir should now organise a series of demonstrations in Yangon.  I am pretty certain his DAP friends would be willing to finance his trip there.

Let us see if he would take up this challenge and prove that he is still a negarawan and not the negarasawan that he has turned into.

Pathetic. Go sit in a mosque and repent!
Pathetic. Go sit in a mosque and repent!

The Plight Of The Rohingyas: A Test Of Moral Conscience

As thousands of Rohingyas turn up in the waters off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, thousands more die in the high seas never to find the refuge they sought. Myanmar meanwhile continues to turn a blind eye on the issue. These boat people are no longer in Myanmar waters, therefore they are no longer Myanmar’s problem. Hundreds have been slaughtered by unscrupulous human traffickers in “camps” in areas in Southern Thailand. Even the highly-celebrated champion of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, has admitted that she is a politician and “not a moral organisation or anything like that.” Disgusting is the only way I could describe her reaction, for a lack of better word.

I do not envy the position of the Malaysian government. Myanmar is part of the ASEAN brethren. Thousands of Rohingyas have already sought refuge in Malaysia in the past, and Malaysia has always been the country preferred by boat people to land at.  After the fall of Saigon in April 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees appeared on the shores of Malaysia.  Those in their 50s might remember the plight of thousands of refugees on board the MV Hai Hong and how Bidong island, off Terengganu’s idyllic village of Merang, housed thousands of Vietnamese. Very few countries agreed to accept some of these refugees. Thousands more were stranded in Sungai Besi, forgotten if not by all, and became a problem for Malaysia up until the early 1990s.

Finally, Prime Minister Najib Razak came out with a statement of concern on his blog. And I wondered how would Malaysia start with helping these refugees, I found this on an acquaintance’s Twitter post:

  
May God bless Malaysia and continue to guide the leadership to continue to make the correct decisions.

Meanwhile, all other ASEAN nations should take a hardline stand on Myanmar and compel its government to put a stop to the persecution of the Rohingyas. This is to be a test on ASEAN’s members’ moral conscience, jointly and severally.