Hornbill Unleashed

November 15, 2014

Taking a leaf from the colonial masters!

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
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Ahmad Mustapha Hassan

The curbing on civil liberties, human rights and freedom of thought by the Umno Baru government is worse than what was done by the British colonialists. In facing the tide of nationalism that was rising in all its colonies after the Pacific War, the British introduced various draconian acts to curb this phenomenon. They failed miserably.

Nationalism was on the rise then and all colonial subjects demanded that the British grant them political freedom. So was it in the case of then British Malaya.

The fear of completely losing their political and economic interests prompted the British to imprison and ban all writings by leftist elements in the country. Political parties like the Malay Nationalist Party were banned. All those organisations that supported this particular party, like the women’s movement AWAS, the youth movement API and the peasant movement Barisan Tani were proscribed and their leaders imprisoned.

The Malayan Communist Party took up arms to fight British imperialism and the British government in retaliation imposed the emergency enactment in 1948. Thus the British came to face insurrection in the country. Emergency laws were introduced to curb all civil liberties, freedom of thought and human rights.

The rural population who were thought to have supported the communists were bundled into barb-wired villages.

The Malay left was completely smashed. Thus, arose the aristocratic Malay group to fill in the vacuum and to be guided by the British colonialists on the path to achieve independence. The whole Malay population which had for centuries been subjected to feudal political culture came out to support this aristocratic movement. Umno was thus given a royal birth in Johore.

The emergency ordinances were never applied to the leaders of this party and to ensure that British colonial interests were preserved, the British encouraged the formation of ethnic parties. Each was imbued with the sense of preserving the so called ethnic interests of each community. Racial politics, therefore, took root.

Power thus passed to this elite group.

Democratic principles were never encouraged by the British and this too became the tradition of the new elite that took political power from the British.

The youths and students then ardently supported this elite group as this group would be bringing freedom and change to the country. Also there were no other alternatives.

In India, it was the Indian Congress Party that came into power. Again it was an elitist group led by Jawaharlal Nehru.
Like all elite political groups, they were never very close to the people. They remained in power by using various political and economic means. In India, the Congress Party could not hold the reign as long as what Umno and now Umno Baru has managed to do.

The recent Indian elections finally saw the Congress Party losing complete control of power in India to the Opposition BJP, the party helmed by Narendra Modi.

Now Umno Baru is feeling the heat. Since the British colonial government had already enacted ordinances to control human rights, freedom of thought and civil liberties, it was most convenient for the Umno Baru government to unilaterally apply all these enactments to silence all opposition.

Freedom was achieved but change, socially, politically and economically did not take place.

Nothing can remain static and calm forever. Realisation of the misrule by the power that be, has created uneasiness especially among the youths.

The British at least allowed the only university then, the University of Malaya, to have political clubs and other organisations. There were no unnecessary curbs on student activities. The University Socialist Club was at liberty to organise functions as it wished. There were no restrictions on personalities invited to give talks or to take part in the club’s activities.

The club even had the leader of the Praja Socialist Party of India, Mukh Raj Anan to give a talk to the students at the campus. There was no banning by the university authorities.

But later, the independent Federation of Malaya placed restrictions on the activities of students in higher institutions of learning.

In this respect, the British colonial power was more liberal in their attitude towards students. The Singapore Chinese Middle school students were able to organise demonstrations to confront the British colonial authority.

The colonial administration only used the various draconian laws to silence the left and therefore, they were very selectively used. Once the British had identified the group that they would hand power to, the various emergency and draconian enactments were abandoned.
It was left to the Umno Baru government to again use all these enactments to serve their interest.

Umno Baru knows very well that their days are numbered just like the British colonialists after the Pacific War. They can prolong their tenure but they cannot stop the tide that will be pushing them out of office.

The students and youths of today must take the lead and initiate change to the country which had gone from democracy to autocracy. 



1 Comment »

  1. At least the British knew that their days were numbered and left without much fuss. Umno baru knows their days are numbered and is counting on ib ali,jais,jakim,ag,zul nordin,tee abdul,zaik,isma and the sedition act to prolong their hold on power.

    Comment by brian — November 16, 2014 @ 11:08 AM | Reply

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