Pity the Stateless Children

I make this post in the wake of the recent policy reversal by the Malaysian government that requires adopted stateless children to the present of a passport in order to register for schooling. The specific issue of adopted children, cogent though it is in itself, brings forth the more general and much more important question of the state’s moral obligation to provide education to all children, stateless or otherwise, who live within its borders.

I ask the following questions, as an Indian and as a Malaysian –

First I ask, in the context if the statelessness of many Indians in our country, how can any person of Indian identity, holding Malaysian citizenship, fight for equality for themselves, without first embracing the fundamental struggle of our fellows who were brought to British Malaya as indentured laborers in the colonial political economy and then abandoned as the nation achieved independence? Do Indian Malaysians not have to fight for a parity of citizenship amongst out own people before we have the moral standing to question the injustices purportedly meted out to us in a Malaysia dominated by Malays who have, no doubt set their own postcolonial colonial reclamations and interests above all else in the nation.

According to the current UNHCR website ” the Malaysian Indian Community has faced challenges related to identity documentation and confirmation of Malaysian citizenship for many years” and in the estimation of Malaysian NGO, the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (DHRRA), there were 12,400 established stateless persons residing in West Malaysia as of the end of December 2017. The UNHCR notes that the documentation problems faced by stateless communities that might best be addressed by the Malaysian government at a policy level. (As an aside, the Pakatan Harapan GE 14 election campaign seems to have been hollow and hypocritical, if not downright dishonest in this its claims and promises on this matter)

Secondly, acknowledging that by no measure is the Indian community the only one facing the curse of statelessness, I ask, can any Malaysian meaningfully strive for anything else of moral worth in our nation, while accepting this denial of access to education to innocent children who are caught within its boarders, trapped in the administrative limbo of statelessness? Shame on Malaysian Indians when we cry louder about a lost Thaipusam holiday! Shame on all of us Malaysians who accept this situation!

Image: https://www.unhcr.org/ending-statelessness-in-malaysia.html

https://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/stateless-children-still-denied-access-015100401.html

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/01/21/mic-puts-heat-on-kedah-mb-over-cancelled-thaipusam-holiday/

It’s Time to be Clear 6

Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’ Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia are the 7 regimes that Laurence W. Britt analyzed to develop his set of fascistic characteristics. Like Umberto Eco before him, he came up with 14 key characteristics, which he construed as fascist and proto-fascist means of obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. He presented this list in an Op-Ed titled Fascism Anyone? in Volume 23, No. 2 Spring 2003 of ‘Free Inquiry’ as follows –
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism.
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.

While, as Daniel Malmer notes this list was not intended to be used to diagnose fascism in present governments, but rather characterize historical fascist governments, it is nevertheless interesting to see how many of these fascistic characteristic apply to the purported democracies of the world.

As a Malaysian, I find that the polity of my country seems to exhibit a good 11 of the Britt’s 14 traits. If this were not worrying enough for the long view, we have just joined a list of dysfunctional nations that have suspended parliamentary rule and instituted emergency powers in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic. This is the first such declaration of emergency since the aftermath of the race riots of May 13th 1969.

According to Bloomberg, the state of emergency was declared soon after some key leaders in the ruling coalition’s largest partner, United Malays National Organisation had called for a fresh election. They also report that the Pakatan Harapan opposition has admonished the Prime Minister for burdening the people with a declaration of emergency for the sake of saving himself. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs has described the emergency as “totally unnecessary” and that “If you’re not careful, we will slip from parliamentary democracy into a rule by diktat.”

https://secularhumanism.org/2003/03/fascism-anyone/

https://medium.com/@danielmalmer/the-long-complicated-history-of-the-14-defining-characteristics-of-fascism-e366412932f

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2021-01-12/malaysia-pm-says-it-s-not-a-coup-but-critics-see-a-power-grab

Harapan 9

A is for Anwar! Make or break Anwar has called the scene … leaving others to fall in line … or not … Some might see this a an expression of a sense of entitlement but which leader achieved anything, even the position of leadership to begin with, without such a sense of rightness in him or herself … the outcome of course is always uncertain … we have to wait and see!

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/544432

Politik Ulangan (1993 -2020)

After Lat, 1995 re-presented in The Mahathir Years blog.

1993 – Anwar Ibrahim is appointed Deputy Prime Minister and presumptive heir to Mahathir as Prime Minister of Malaysia.
2020 – Mahathir resigns as Prime Minister of Malaysia for the second time, dashing, once again, Anwar’s expectations as his air-apparent.

Nampaknya hubungan Anwar/ Mahathir memberi contoh bagi teori Pulangan Abadi yang dibentangkan oleh Friedrich Nietzsche.


Source image: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~teh20y/classweb/worldpolitics/Anwar.html

https://mimirbook.com/ms/6e703bd2114

Politik Identiti (1996 -2020)

After cover of a book by Lat titled Dr.Who?!, 2020 from a thesis fragment found online.

1996 – Pop star M. Nasir gets boycotted by state owned media for being kurang ajar or kasar towards the sitting Prime Minister in asking, audaciously, “Siapa Mahathir?”

2004 – Esteemed Malaysian cartoonist Lat launches his 27th book titled titled Dr Who?!: Capturing the Life and Times of a Leader in Cartoons. Epitomizing the notion of halus, Lat was able to get Mahathir himself to launch the book. Surely, the latent reference to M. Nasir’s earlier question was heard by Malaysians even at the time!

2020 – M. Nasir’s alleged insult has now become a genuine question on every Malaysian’s mind! Who is he really? What does he stand for … does he stand for anything beyond Machiavellian self-interest?

Source Image: Click to access Pages_from_nor_amriah.TGB050030.part2(Chapter_4).pdf

https://www.malaysiakini.com/hiburan/405711

Politik Wangsa Baru (1978 – 2020)

After a print by Ismail Zain titled ‘Al Kesah’ 1988 re-presented in essay on Researchgate.

1978 – The CBS prime-time TV series ‘Dallas’ started screening.

1981 – Mahathir Mohamad became Prime Minister of Malaysia for the first time.

1988 – Ismail Zain presents ‘Digital Collage’ at the National Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

2006 – Mahathir said “I didn’t want to give the impression that I’m creating a dynasty”.

2020 – Mahathir floated a political scenario in which Mukhriz would become deputy PM.

Source Image: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Al-Kesah-1988-Computer-print-20cm-x-21cm_fig6_268055501

https://dallas.fandom.com/wiki/Dallas_(first_series)

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/51484

http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/155577/mahathir-allies-break-away-from-ph-over-choice-of-anwar-as-pm/

Politik Harapan (2017 – 2020)

After a cartoon from the Wak Ketok series by Ali Sanat in Utusan Melayu, 1930’s, re-presented in the Komik Melayu Malaysia Blog.

2017 – Mahathir’s BERSATU officially joined Pakatan Harapan.

Context of the original cartoon is not know to me … mungkinkah kuda itu melambangkan seseorang/sesuatu yang tertentu?

Source Image: https://rudimahmood.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/mencari-susur-galur-sejarah-di-manakah-jejaknya/

Nenek Sudah Tua!

Twice former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is reported, in Singapore’s Straits Times, to have sarcastically said that he would like to form a new party for Malays who are keen to enrich themselves quickly. The beauty of Dr M’s political style has always been the efficaciously ironic rhetoric that he has been able to cast so very precisely in the gap between falsehood and truth. The ultimate irony of his situation today is that, by force his own trajectory, he has caused that very space of irony to evaporate! Although I still think he is the coolest politician in the sadly depleted Malay (read Malaysian) leadership of the day, I would be remiss were I not to say … Cukup lah bapak … Nenek sudah Tua!

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/dr-mahathir-says-might-form-a-what-can-i-get-party-to-buy-support-in-dig-at-pm

Antara Saudara Mara 6

Mahathir rejected a proposal that PKR president Anwar Ibrahim become the deputy prime minister if Mahathir succeeded in forming the new government. This is according to Malaysiakini, who further reported that Mahathir explained his decision to another news carrier thus, “Anwar is more in tune with politicking rather than as an administrator.” What then of the mandate of the people, given on the basis of his agreement to transfer the Prime Ministership to Anwar? Indeed, it seems that the Pakatan Coalition was built on a false promise! A hollow pact (pakatan) if there ever was one!

Kebenaran

Ayam rakyat disambar helang,
Sawah jelata di rosak lalang;
Wahai Tun yang moyangnya Mamak,
lidah mu Keling, jelas ternampak!

Pantun ‘pascha tradisi’ merujuk kepada bunga bunga bahasa Melayu asli –
1. Ayam ditambat disambar helang, Sawah ditanam tumbuh lalang
2. Lidah Keling

Image https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/513803