By S Thayaparan, 29 May
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” – Bertrand Russell
Malaysiakini’s interview with Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu demonstrates why this country is going to go down the manure hole.
While people may mock Faizal deservedly for anything that comes out of his mouth, the reality is that for the people who vote for Perikatan Nasional, Faizal is exactly the kind of leader they think his country needs.
The interview is also indicative of how Pas is in control of Perikatan Nasional, and Bersatu is merely the fig leaf of moderation that Pas president Hadi Awang really has no use for. This is why Bersatu and Gerakan for instance always attempt to downplay the green wave.
The fact is that Hadi, who is adept at using propaganda more than his coalition partners, has no problem claiming that all these progressive Muslims are going to be swept away by the green wave.
Of course, Hadi knows that progressive Muslims in this country do not really have a platform or much political power, to begin with, but as long as there are non-Muslims in the political arena, and they are capable of forming coalitions with recalcitrant (in Hadi’s view) Malay parties, the Islamic state project would be a little (but not much) harder to achieve.
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Faizal said Bersatu is not playing second fiddle to Pas but Bersatu scrambling for funds and Pas claiming that they will help them out is demonstrative of how powerful Pas and its money are within PN.
“Pas has a lot of money. If Bersatu has no money, we will give them money. The fact is, Pas does not need a lot of money (to contest in polls). I personally used only a few thousand ringgit of my own money when contesting in the election. The rest were contributed by Pas members. So, what can we say?”
Lim Kit Siang and a host of other DAP leaders take umbrage at Faizal’s revisionism when it comes to the Sheraton Move, but this is exactly the kind of wacko theory that the base eats up.
Never mind that Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has said many contradictory things about his role in the Sheraton Move, said this about the party that Faizal is a part of:
“The effect of Bersatu supporting Pas and Umno is that parties that have lost will form a government. This government will be dominated by Umno, as it is the biggest party. I am willing to accept Umno members who left Umno and joined other parties. But if Umno joins this unity government as a party, this I am unable to accept. Therefore, I was compelled to resign.”
Faizal said that “for ‘statesmen’ like Mahathir and Kit Siang. When they made such statements, you really have to read into what they are saying.”
Fair enough then, Faizal should understand that the old maverick admitted complicity in the Sheraton Move but it backfired on him when his minions decided to make a play for the throne of Putrajaya: “At the time, I did not object as I thought this would strengthen my position and enable Bersatu to become a stronger member of Pakatan Harapan.
“Much later, I realised that what was actually taking place was a stealth campaign to separate me from the rest of the Harapan government.”
Now, of course, Faizal is part of another coalition where Bersatu is playing handmaiden again. The fact is that while Faizal may think he is a “nobody”, he is exactly the kind of cunning but folksy political operative that the theocratic state needs. The fact that he could backstab his own partners is a feature not a flaw for these people.
Of course, Faizal would defend Hadi’s rants against the DAP. He has made it very clear what he thought of the DAP.
From reportage: “In Perak, I am fighting a desperate battle alone against ‘puak-puak’ (factions of) DAP.”
“I want to defend the land of the Malays, I want to champion our religion,” he tells a group of people during an informal discussion.
“(But) I do it, slowly. Alhamdulillah (thank God), my Umno friends (in Perak) do not scold me like this,” he added.
Faizal claims he was taken out of context but the reality is that these ketuanan (supremacist) types really do not like to share power with the non-Malays, especially the Chinese.
The weltanschauung (worldview) of mainstream political operators like Hadi and Faizal are not worlds apart.
Both seek to use the DAP as a proxy for the Chinese community. Both seek to reinforce racial and religious narratives that seek to confine the role of non-Malay political structures to that of the handmaid of Malay powerbrokers.
What mainstream Malay power structures and the far right have done so effectively is to define egalitarianism and secularism as uniquely non-Malay “rights”, thus in direct opposition to whatever Malay “rights” are peddled by factotums from the political elites.
Folks like to say that the Umno base abandoned Umno because of corruption but the reality is that who they voted for were all Umno people (Bersatu) and what the hardcore base wanted was a makeover.
It is easy to make fun of Faizal because this is exactly what he wants you to see. He understands that as an apparatchik of an Islamic state, he would reap the benefits of racial and religious privilege.
These are exciting times for political operatives like Faizal. He is still young enough to hang on to the coat-tails of older political operatives, but he understands that he would inherit the system they are attempting to redefine.
Some folks like to think that Khairy Jamaluddin could be a barometer of change. But the reality is that people like KJ (who I said people should vote for – hey what can I say, I have no trouble admitting I was wrong) will probably end up as talking heads for people like Faizal in an Islamic state articulately justifying the malfeasances of political operatives while the mullahs suppress democratic norms and inclinations of the populace.
These people are the shape of things to come. – Malaysiakini
S Thayaparan is a retired Commander of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
Ahmad Faizal’s response to Thayaparan
Your writing seems to have a lot of anger, and the need to sound imperious perhaps skewers your overall narrative.
For instance, your blanket condemnation of Perikatan Nasional voters and why they voted PN.
To revile the choice of any voter betrays a contempt towards the plurality of society.
Implying that one has intellectual supremacy over another just because of their voting choices is insulting and not constructive.
Ridiculing politicians like me is fair play. But anyone mocking swathes of the populace as intellectually challenged is snobbish, elitist and lacks empathy.
I am sure the Pakatan Harapan support base is aghast that a man with 47 corruption charges in court is now the deputy prime minister.
Would it be fair to mirror your comments and say that this is the kind of leader Pakatan Harapan supporters think the country needs? Of course not.
You also speak erroneously about revisionism.
A simple Google search will show you enough examples of DAP’s (my coalition partner) attempts to overthrow me as the menteri besar in 2019.
These seeds led to the eventual collapse of the PH federal government as the clamour for position and power surpassed the need for good governance.
Let us also not forget that 92 lawmakers from the DAP, PKR and Amanah abandoned Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he first attempted to prove his numbers in the palace after his resignation.
This isn’t revisionism; it’s the truth, as I experienced it.
Unfortunately, political dialogue in Malaysia often ends in a ‘us-versus-them’ zero-sum game, which I believe must be improved.
The country needs solutions today, not more antagonism.
Perhaps we can sit and chat over a cup of coffee. I would love to hear your thoughts on what can be done to manage our ever-increasing cost of living and to fix the economy.
These are the fundamental topics that need urgent resolution. – Malaysiakini
Ahmad Faizal Azumu is Bersatu’s deputy president, a former youth and sports minister, and ex-Perak menteri besar
Thayaparan’s rejoinder to Ahmad Faizal
“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.” – Booker T Washington
The only thing Bersatu deputy president, former youth and sports minister, and ex-Perak menteri besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu got right in his response to my piece about him, is this. Yes, my writing has a lot of anger.
But why is my writing fuelled by anger?
Well, I am angry because, by virtue of my ethnicity and status as a minority, I do not have the same privileges (rights) as the majority in this country. This extends to educational, housing and economic opportunities.
I am angry because I am banned from using certain words because the majority claim usage all for themselves. I am angry that minorities are told who can and cannot enter their sacred places of worship.
I am angry about unilateral conversions and how the state security apparatus, which is supposed to protect everyone regardless of ethnicity and religion, is doing nothing to stop religious kidnapping in this country but instead colludes with the perpetrators with the aid of the religious bureaucracy.
I am angry that the Islamisation process has seeped into every facet of this country and this has ruined our education system and everything else it touches.
I am angry that a theocratic party leads the opposition and its religious leader believes that non-Muslims must be pak turut (followers).
I am angry that Pas president Hadi Awang and Muhyiddin Yassin, the president of Bersatu, have openly defied the royal institution but there has been no sanction from the state.
I am angry that leaders of Bersatu and Pas have resorted to downright racist and bigoted language and policies but there has been no sanction from the state.
I am angry that state-sanctioned racial and religious programmes indoctrinate the majority into at best being fearful of the minority and at worst, hating us.
I am angry that every utilitarian policy in this country (and no matter what people say, a utilitarian calculation is the best of the worst kind of calculation to make) has to be tempered because we are told not to spook the Malays.
I am angry because political operatives have to sublimate their democratic impulses (especially non-Malay political operatives) in favour of racial and religious supremacy because political operatives like Faizal would just attack them and claim they are attacking the “Malays” and Islam in this country.
Faizal does not get to claim that I am somehow against the plurality of society when everything the mainstream political establishment does (and Faizal belongs to the most virulent of anti-democratic forces in this country) is predicated on homogenising the majority community and sidelining the minority communities.
Faizal dares say that working with the DAP is difficult because they appear to champion a specific community and he says this while belonging to a race-based party which is determined to erode the rights of citizens of a plural society in the name of race and religion.
Racial and religious superiority
Faizal’s coalition is the definition of plurality hate in the Malaysian political and social landscape. The main goal of this fascist coalition is to destroy plurality, especially in the Malay community.
I most certainly revile the choice of voters who would choose to reject the plurality of society and believe that non-Muslims/Malays in this country should be pak turut. My survival depends on people who vote against this fascist coalition.
I do not believe that anyone who votes for Pakatan Harapan has intellectual superiority over those who vote for Perikatan Nasional for instance. Their vote is based on fear. Fear that the racial and religious superiority of the majority would be worse under PN, and I do not blame them.
Look at what Faizal’s comrade, the menteri besar of Kedah, has been doing. Not only has he been questioning the status of Penang but he has made it clear that his racial and religious obligations trump the democratic norms of this country. And he tells the non-Malays/Muslims to understand.
Faizal wrote: “I am sure the Pakatan Harapan support base is aghast that a man with 47 corruption charges in court is now the deputy prime minister. Would it be fair to mirror your comments and say that this is the kind of leader Harapan supporters think the country needs? Of course not.”
PH supporters make their compromises for what they believe is the greater evil if PN comes into power, which is the same as PN supporters who have no problem with the corruption charges against Muhyiddin, who is the president of Bersatu.
Indeed when it comes to corruption, it was Hadi who also claimed (Dr Zakir Naik has said the same thing) that it would be better for Muslims to be led by corrupt tyrannical Muslim leaders rather than honest non-Muslims. So do not play this card with me.
Do not ask me to Google whatever defence you think is out there in support of your argument. You were the menteri besar and as you say, “experienced it”. Name names and detail how the DAP attempted to oust you from your position.
Of course, PH would abandon Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the Sheraton Move. By Mahathir’s admission, he was making moves to consolidate his power and was betrayed by the very minions he tasked to secure him more power.
If Bersatu was really interested in Mahathir’s political welfare, you would have come to his defence. Instead seeing how the political winds were blowing, every one of his minions abandoned him.
Faizal claimed that the ‘us-versus-them’ discussion is deleterious for Malaysia, but the whole narrative of PN is based on ‘us versus them’, Malays versus the non-Malays. What PN hopes to achieve by playing the race-and-religion card, is that this unity government does its work for them.
If Faizal was really interested in pursuing any other narrative, he would offer it up. Instead, he continues demonising the DAP and trolling this unity government.
And no Faizal, there is no need for us to chat over a cup of coffee on the fundamental issue affecting this country. If you really had the interests of the rakyat at heart, you would cease the racial and religious trolling, sit down with Anwar Ibrahim and use your grassroots activists to support policies this unity government comes up with (with your input) to better the lives of all Malaysians.
But you won’t do that because ultimately PN believes that an unstable government makes political sense and the suffering of the citizens, especially the majority, could be used as racial and religious propaganda.
I stand by everything I wrote. – Malaysiakini
S Thayaparan is a retired Commander of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”