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Date: 26 Nov 1999
[the-malaysian] The MALAYSIAN - 251199
The Foreign Growth In Our Midst
The BN's advertisement blitz is as offensive, frontal and blatant an assault upon our sense of decency, fair play, and moderation as can be.
It shows up their sense of Asian values, not the people's.
Theirs are the values of arrogance and power, without compassion, without human feeling. Theirs is the view that nothing is immoral, nothing indecent, nothing unacceptable if it serves to keep them in power.
To them, the people are dogs, to be disciplined, kept on a leash, thrown some bones, even meat, now and then, and to be beaten if they try and tug on the leash.
The fact that they are not embarrassed by the full-page advertisements by the leaders of some Sikh groups pledging loyalty and support to Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional, declaring: "We don't bite the hand that feeds us" says it all.
In the great Asian tradition, the hand that feeds us is our own hand; we are not dogs to be fed. In the same great Asian tradition, quiet pride and dignity is of prime value; a quiet pride and dignity we call "face".
For the people, for us, Asian values means gentleness, humility, compassion, justice and fair play. In our traditions, whether Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist or animistic, the enduring image of respect is the fair, compassionate, incorruptible judge. Our stories are of such a judge done in by those whose greed and pursuit of naked power knows no bounds. They are of the wife who stands by a husband through thick and thin, never wavering, never giving up.
Theirs would try to set wife against husband, to throw dirt at her, to frame her, to demolish her; for naked arrogant power cannot stand such selflessness, cannot tolerate such steadfastness. Why? Because against such steadfastness and selflessness, bribery and fear are powerless.
Wan Azizah represents such a wife. Quiet, gentle, unassuming -- her strength and our respect lies in her steadfastness.
Thursday's advertisement, even more than the threats of violence, is a total denial of all that we hold to be sacred, to be decent, to be fair, indeed, to be human -- even if true, which it isn't. It is a foreign cancer that is being imported into our blitz.
The persons who thought up the blitz are so out of touch with our sense of Asian values that we might suspect they are foreigners, such as the company of Saatchi and Saatchi, once used by Britain’s Thatcher and Mahathir to run their election campaigns.
But no, they are not foreigners. They are supposedly one of us. They are an advertising agency called ISCB Sdn Bhd. The chairman of the company is Mukhriz Mahathir.
They might as well be. For they are a foreign growth, a cancer, eating away at the base of all those values we hold dear.
We know what to do with cancers. We remove them, and we remove them as early as possible, before they spread throughout the body.
Stop the cancer. Stand up for dignity and pride, for decency and fair play. Say "No". Say "No More".
Daim Is Lying, Or Is It Khalil?
On Wednesday, Daim Zainuddin, caretaker First Finance Minister and Umno Treasurer, proudly claimed BN ownership of the advertisements. He has become so distant from Malaysians that he can no longer understand how those ads offend our sense of decency and fair play.
On Thursday, Khalil Yaacob, caretaker information minister and Umno Secretary-General, declared that they were not BN advertisements, but were put up by supporters and sponsors.
One of them has to be lying. That's the BN leadership, said to be so honest and capable.
Whether the BN itself, or its sponsors and corporate supporters, both clearly are not in touch with our sense of values. They are only in touch with their wallets, their profits and their power. The only ‘checks and balances’ they know are the bank’s.
The Inter-Religious Council Supports The BN?
According to our sources, there was no meeting of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism. How can there be a unanimous statement? Or is this the unanimity that Mahathir claims, the unanimity of one?
The council has previously studiously avoided taking sides in elections, only advising their followers to think and to reflect according to the teachings of their faiths and to follow their conscience.
The fact is the statement of support was unilaterally issued by the general secretary R. Thiagaraja without authorisation by the council.
Worse, the statement of support is full of lies. Does religion teach us to lie?
PAS has stated clearly that Islamic law will not be imposed on non-Muslims. It cannot, not by the teachings of Islam.
As for the allegedly "liberal" policy of the BN, will Thiagaraja kindly inform the public what are the restrictions on the building of churches and temples? Will Thiagaraja kindly explain why is it that services have to be held in converted shop-houses? Will Thiagaraja explain why it is that it took a PAS government in Kelantan to approve the construction of a sleeping Buddha there?
Beware Of "Gifts"
The BN candidate for Lembah Pantai has been generously giving out RM50 for sarees in Kg Pantai Dalam.
This is only one instance of such personal inducements.
Otherwise, it is being done in grand style -- using government funds, our money, to suddenly provide for a school extension, or a drain improvement, even a hospital or two.
Such as at Sg Siput, a stone's throw from Ipoh. In a fit of generosity, Sg Siput was not only provided with a hospital, but also an operating theatre. In order to use it, doctors and anaesthetists have to go down from Ipoh to Sg Siput once a week. At other times, it is there as a symbol of the power of the former MP, Samy Vellu, to deliver the goods! Never mind the waste. Never mind that the funds could have been used to provide for a small hospital or polyclinic in a needy place.
This is capability? Or is it abuse of power for the sole purpose of keeping oneself in power? Is this what we want to continue supporting? Can we afford it anymore?
The politics of the BN is truly longkang politics -- both in moral tone and in actual fact. The moral tone we can see with the threats, the bribes, the total lack of decency and sense of fair play; that nothing is unacceptable in the attempt to remain in power.
On the ground, it is the politics of drainage, licences, hawker complexes, schools. All of it, bribery of the public, an attempt to buy off the voters with sweets, or is it bait? This is truly longkang politics, turning what should be duty into favours - for which we are supposed to feel eternally grateful.
Are we dogs? Or are we humans? Have we forgotten what Independence was supposed to mean?