Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Rebutting Letters to the Malaysiakini Editor

Written by johnleemk on 10:48:36 am May 12, 2005.
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Unfortunately, I seem not to have the financial capability to subscribe to Malaysiakini. Nevertheless, it is most entertaining to read the letters the editor receives, because it is a joyous and indeed hilarious occasion to be able to partake of the idiocy otherwise known as bitching/complaining/whining/retardation. For my own benefit, I have decided to try to rebutt and perhaps echo a letter or two.

Let's start with this one. Zainab makes an excellent point in noting that there are people who just are freaked out by Islam. Nevertheless, Zainab misses the point that Catholic schools were then, and Muslim schools are now. Last time we were subservient to the colonial culture. Furthermore, missionary schools actually provided a decent education (for Malaysian standards, anyhow), so they were considered well worth the risk of having your child converted.

The same can hardly be said for national schools today (and I know; I attended a national school for four years of my primary school life). It's not that I was uncomfortable with the reading of prayers or how mentions of Islam would be frequently strewn across the text of teachers' speeches. Rather, it was the fact that these national schools often are forced to play to the demands of fundamentalist Muslims; my primary school, although one of the less religious ones, had verses from the Quran painted on the canteen walls. That was still tolerable by my standards, but I can see why that would be enough to scare some parents away.

There is a palpable fear of being assimilated into the Malay culture. The problem is, these national schools are, for the most part, composed of Malay teachers and students. Thusly, there is a very real sense of being a lone non-Muslim in an Islamic school when you enter a national school. This situation has bred a culture of mistrust and misunderstanding between the two races; it's a chicken and egg situation. If the Chinese and Indians won't enter the national schools, the Malays won't bother making their teaching and behaviour more congruous with that of the other races. If the Malays don't bother making their teaching and behaviour more congruous with that of the other races, Chinese and Indians won't enter the national schools. This cycle has to be broken.

Now, let's deal with this piece of shit. Apparently, "Fed Up Rakyat" has not bothered to understand that subsidies make you weak and uncompetitive. Fess up, Malaysians. If not for oil money, we'd be nowhere on the world stage. Half our budget comes from oil revenue, and a good deal of that revenue is spent subsidising, you guessed it, oil. Prices may fluctuate, but as cooler heads prevail, they will come down. I would have written more, but I stumbled on a really excellent letter that answers this better than I could.

That letter basically boils down to John Kennedy's famous quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." If more Malaysians put this into practice, we'd have been a developed nation by now. But as long as we rely on subsidies and oil money to keep us ahead of the pack, forget it. Our country can't keep mollycoddling us. The retards who bitch about the government may not like it, but Pak Lah is indeed right: if we don't stop using crutches, we'll end up in a wheelchair. This doesn't just apply to the Malays and their quotas/privileges, but ordinary Malaysians too. We're all pampered brats. We need to grow up.

A letter that actually spoke in a reasonable tone of voice with an understandable point of view was this one. I found myself agreeing with the author all the way until the last paragraph when he used his argument to declare that vernacular schools are for the good of the country. Personally, I find the separate but equal idea not very compelling.

True, those from other races may join Chinese schools, but how often does this happen? Not enough if you ask me. What we should be doing is uniting behind national schools and kicking the government's ass hard enough to do something about the retarded standards of national schools. Just force them to buck up, and our national primary schools will be a force to be reckoned with. You don't need to interact predominantly with Chinese and learn predominantly in Chinese to absorb the culture. If you ask me, all that does is homogenise you. Mix with other cultures, and learn your language at the same time through the mother tongue classes in national schools. That's how things should be run.

Finally, I close with commending the author of this letter. Truly brilliant stuff. As Lim Kit Siang has argued, Pak Lah is a prisoner of the political system. A brief anecdote: While lepaking in a real estate office not too long ago, I overheard the developer casually pointing out on a map to a client of his the apartments and bungalows he would be giving to the various ministers. Conspicuously, one official's name was missing: Pak Lah. Pak Lah's problem is that Najib and the other corrupt officials dominate UMNO. Give him a chance to build his power base and he will get tremendous things done. He has the vision and skill to carry out hard jobs; his attack on fuel subsidies has proven that. It's the support he lacks. Let's unite behind him and show UMNO politicians what democracy is all about.

Addendum:
I was going to publish a sequel to this on May 14 (today, as of this writing), but all the letters I could find were ones I either did not have interest to argue with or those so intelligently produced, it would be impossible to argue with them. I am of course referring to this, this and this letters.


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