Khamis, 19 September 2013

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I came here to bury Chin Peng, not to praise him

Posted: 18 Sep 2013 01:33 PM PDT 

In time, along this trajectory, Malaysia will become an ignorant nation growing in arrogance. Then no war in the past or its actors matter anymore. 

Praba Ganesan, The Malay Mail 

Funerals are always for the living. The dead don't derive value from the exercise, irrespective of whether the remains are of obsessive atheists or deeply reflective monotheists. 

The dead are dead, which is why body-grabbing episodes by your local cheerful Islamic department  amuses me —  and upsetting only as far as the act excludes the deceased's family and presupposed values in the eventual rites.

The dead themselves can't mind.

I say this upfront because I would prefer a zero-cost funeral for myself using recycled plastic, or roadside grass. I say this now because Chin Peng died and a slew of willing citizens are raving and ranting like a mob around a giant plastic doughnut, without actually wanting doughnuts.

The raves and rants are inappropriate because there is no widespread lobby at home for Chin Peng. Nor are protest rallies forthcoming.

And they distract from what reasonable people prefer: A meaningful discourse with full view of the facts and space for all opinions, and a common opinion representing the maturity of a society that is not silly enough to be caught up by jingoism and empty rhetoric.

I am not advocating for Chin Peng's remains to be brought to Malaysia, or even for the outlandish request of putting up a memorial, but seriously, when Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said that he was upping border security so that Chin Peng's body — a bit like "Weekend at Bernie's" — never makes it past our border north, I grow weary.

But not before sniggering, for everything and anything traverses the whole border especially at the checkpoints; whether the 15 odd Bangladeshis in a sedan booth making their way to blissful economic exploitation in Balakong, diesel and petroleum by the tankers heading back to Thailand effectively stealing our subsidies, bored Alor Setar husbands riding shotgun with Penang technicians for a weekend jaunt and almost overstaying ASEAN pub girls prancing over to stamp their passports and getting a cheap manicure before boarding their bus returning to Kuala Lumpur. All witnessed by this lady selling steamed corn two metres from the no-man's land zone and before Thai immigration.

I rather the IGP focussing on keeping my 61-year-old widowed mother's travels to the city temple using the bus safe. Her husband was a serviceman, but she'd prefer the security not protection from dead 89-year-old men. Snatch thieves not greying zombies, I fear.

It's the inordinate concern for the inane which gets me weary. We appear petty, as a nation.

Accounts to be settled

There are families affected by the period of Emergency (1948-1960) and thereafter isolated communists acts leading to the 1989 Haadyai Agreement officially ending any hostilities between Malaysian security forces and remnants of the communists 41 years after the killing of a planter in Sungai Siput.

But the killings were on both sides and the years of serious all-out fighting until 1955 were between British security forces — which had a substantial number of Malayans — and the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) which was exclusively Malayans.

There were cruel exactions on both sides and half a million of rural folks, mostly Chinese, were forcibly evacuated to fringes of cities to live in new villages which were in actuality camps. The social cost of that is still being felt till today, who's to pay for that?

My friend, a wonderful well-meaning chap, says he would have fought on the side of the British against the Communists back then because he would have been picking the "lesser evil."

It is a slippery-slope when beliefs are mounted on who did less wicked things, for people are only fed by those on their side of the divide. It compounds when that side won and wrote the history texts.

Neither do these remarks discount most of what is written.



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