A Most Irresponsible Cerpen By Chamil Wariya in Mingguan Malaysia
This brand of despicable and irresponsible journalism could lead to racial tensions and incite violence.
YB J’s NEW POLITICS
A SHORT STORY By Chamil Wariya published in Mingguan Malaysia 12th Oct 2008
Translated by Y W Yeoh, Press Secretary
Restless morning. YB Josephine, who is more fondly known as YB J was fidgety. All along the journey to the Cha People’s Assembly Hall in the capital city, her thoughts were troubled. The accusations that she was anti-Islam and anti-Malay really haunt her from the previous night. Why only now she was like this, she herself did not know. She was also not sure whether her driver, Ahmad, was aware of her of her troubled spirits at the time. Even if he knew, so what?, she whispered to herself.
The driver was already aware of her political stand regarding her ethnic community’s interests vis-a-vis the Malays. And she knew Ahmad respected her views, even if anti-Islam and anti-Malay, as basic rights of living in a democratic nation. Were not fundamental freedoms guaranteed by Article 5 to Article 13 of the Federal Constitution? However YB J acknowledged that the democracy was less than perfect and often abused by the authorities. However this fact did not hamper the people giving the opposition a place in the Dewan Rakyat. YB Josephine was one of them.
Ah, the accusations that she was anti-Islam, anti-Malay were pointed and reckless, and appeared to consume her. The accusations were also baseless, her inner voice told her. She was convinced that the statements that she made in the name of diverse ethnic communities to champion the interests of her own community, were not racist. Amnesty International, the international human rights organisation would agree. Also with the United Nations. The Opposition Leader, in Parliament also never viewed her as racist. Those who viewed her as racist were only the Malays in the Malay People’s Party (POM).
“I am also not anti-Islam. I am not anti-Malay” the two-term YB who represented the People’s Action Party felt. She had been a party member since being a student even though the Universities and Unversity-Colleges Act forbade students from being involved directly in any political organisation. In any event, the enforcement of the law was inconsistent. Moreover, this was an archaic law, YB J said.
She felt “I am only championing the interests of my ethnic community, just as the Malay leaders in POM fought for the interests of their community, the same way the leaders of the Muslim People’s Party (POI) fought for their community using the cover of religion.
Indeed, YB J felt her boldness in championing the interests of her community had help her win her parliamentary seat for the second time. This time with a bigger majority. What made her prouder was her cause which was viewed as anti-Malay and anti-Islam now was supported by Malay voters in that electoral constituency. Initially, she herself was surprised when told that a large portion of the Malay voters who represent 20 percent overall of the registered voters in the Alam Maya parliamentary constituency had voted for her.
“This was an extraordinary development. It is not possible that they supported me”, she felt. But when she was informed by her party workers that the Malay voters of all ballot boxes had switched to supporting her, she accepted this with an open mind. Very good if the Malays supported her ‘New Malaysia’ struggle.
Not content with the monologue with her own feelings, YB J spontaneously turned towards Ahmad, her driver who was all along focussing on his work.
“You think I am anti-Islam, anti-Malay?
Ahmad who was approaching retirement did not answer, as if he did not hear the question. His eyes were fixed on the road. His job was to ensure that YB J got safely to the gathering that she wanted to attend. And punctually. This gathering was important as YB J would dialogue with the younger generation of her ethnic community who were studying overseas but happened to be in the country on vacation. Ahmad himself was unsure if the student who had ridiculed the anthem Negara Ku while studying in an overseas university was in the group. Even if he was, YB J’s driver was not bothered. The boy was rude. Was it right that Negara Ku was deemed Negara Kuku (cuckoo in English) meaning mad? His rude action was rationalised with creativity. Only Ahmad felt that if everyone was allowed to debase the National Anthem with lyrics that ridiculed the lives of Muslims in the name of creativity, there will be a negative impact on race relations.
Ahmad did not know what really bothered his boss from earlier on. She was rarely like this. Ahmad could sense that YB J was different that morning. He could read the restlessness and listlessness of YB J. As if there was something not right although he was unsure what was churning within YB J. As far as Ahmad remembered, YB J had never discussed politics with him, much less current issues – other than giving instructions relating to a trip or work schedule. YB J also did not ask if he voted for POM or whichever party in the recent elections.
Usually, all along a journey, whether to the office or to other official or unofficial functions, YB J would spend her time reading the newspapers or study files. But that morning, YB J was just different. She look listless. Restless. Her thoughts seemed clouded. Whatever she did seemed not right. Now, she would study the key address to be delivered shortly, analysing the ‘New Malaysia, New Politics’ plan that she pioneered. Then, she would read the newspapers that as a rule, accompanied YB J wherever she went.
Ahmad tried to guess at the possibility that YB J’s restlessness was connected with the national political temperature that was heating up. The heat was felt everywhere. POM itself was faced with a serious leadership crisis. Different party factions were struggling. If not for the weakened government political position after the loss of the two-thirds majority, likely an Operasi Lalang such as that of 1987. would long ago have been carried out. Possibly, under the present leadership, the government took a more liberal view of its critics.
Ahmad also thought of the possibility that YB J’s feelings were disturbed by the action of unknown persons in throwing petrol bombs into the family home of the Member of Parlimen of Sepohon Beringin, Su Lan. Maybe, Ahmad thought, YB J was worried that a similar incident may happen to her or her family.
Who knows, his boss, YB J could be the victim, after Su Lan’s family. And what were thrown were really bombs. Even exploded. Isn’t YB J doomed? Suddenly, Ahmad thought of the suicide bombing incident that occurred at Damascus, Syria that he watched on the TV3 Prime Bulletin a few days ago. If the incidents that were a daily occurrence in Iraq, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza or Afganistan spread to this country, how unfortunate this blessed counrty would be. We need the protection of 44 angels, Ahmad felt in his heart.
But Ahmad thought, it is dangerous if the warning was not heeded. He remembered the story of what happened on 13th May 1969. His father told the story of the tragedy after the 10th May elections how Malays and Chinese killed each other. The fight to deny the Malays and other Bumiputra races their special rights as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, was unacceptable to them. The inappropriate and insulting words used by the supporters of the opposition parties while having their huge victory celebration processions in Kuala Lumpur and other major towns after the 1969 elections could not be stomached by the Malays anymore. Machetes that had been left blunt all these years were sharpened. In this terrible scenario, strife broke out that resulted in Parliament being suspended and emergency rule declared. The country was placed under curfew. Ahmad himself was not born yet. Not long after, power was transferred from Tunku Abdul Rahman to his deputy, Tun Abdul Razak.
“Mat, am I anti-Malay and anti-Islam?,” YB J abruptly repeated her question when there was no answer from her driver.
Ahmad, who thus far had been silent answered impassively: “Perhaps not, YB.” He gave a veiled answer. His meaning: Perhaps so, perhaps not, depending on the beholder.
“What do you meant perhaps not?”
“This is a question of perception, YB”. That’s the perception. The fact is YB does not hate Malays nor hate Islam. YB is merely fighting for the interests of YB’s community. It is not wrong for YB to do that. If YB did not fight for the interests of YB’s community, then for whom? But YB’s ways are perhaps misunderstood”.
“You mean …?” asked YB who was still unclear.
“Yes, this depends who’s evaluating. Not only amongst Malays but also amongst non-Malays. YB should remember that even amongst non-Malays, not all accept YB’s ‘New Malaysia’ politics. If not, how is it that a monoethnic party such as the Chinese People’s Party (POC) is still sustaining?”
“What do you mean… I am not so clear?”
“Yes, to YB, your fight is for all ethnic communities. However, by YB’s actions, it is not obvious that you are fighting for all. YB wants to eradicate the Jawi script and replace that with Chinese characters. To others, this is not a fighting for all ethnic communities. This is fighting for one ethnic community. If it is true that YB is fighting for all, YB should defend the Jawi script”, Ahmad answered, emboldened.
Sensing that his boss wanted to hear more of his views, Ahmad said: “If YB really wanted to fight for all ethnic communities, the interests of Malays should not be cast aside while YB is focussing on the interests of the Chinese community. YB should fight for both ethnic communities at the same time. I am sure the response would be different. YB would be seen as wanting to protect the interests of YB’s ethnic community but at the same time without denying the rights of the Malays.
That was the fight of the POM and POC, YB J “grunted” in her heart. I am fed up with this Ahmad, she told herself. I am pioneering new politics and do not want to be bound to an old political framework, she told herself.
YB J’s conversation with her driver ended there. She did not wished to hear her driver’s nonsensical views anymore. She wanted to pander to her feelings. I believe in the ‘New Politics’, the ‘New Malaysia’, she reiterated to herself. Every citizen, regardless of origin, should be given equal rights under the law. No ethnic community should be given special treatment. No citizen should be given second class status. We are all Malaysian people.
YB J did not want to entertain Ahmad anymore. Instead she studied the Utusan Malaysia newspaper which was officially boycotted by her party. Her attention focussed on an article entitled “Don’t Erase the National Legacy” that was written by a younger generation Chinese who rejected the ‘New Politics, New Malaysia’ thesis.
Ah, another propaganda to despise my ethnic community, YB J felt. Perhaps this article was written by a Malay. They still consider my community as immigrants. The new generation is “useless’, YB J felt. Her heart told her: It is true. My forebears travelled to this blessed land to seek their fortune, to free themselves from poverty and miseries of life in China. That was then. Present generation Chinese were Malaysian citizens and they should be treated as Malaysian citizens.
As YB J was immersed in her daydreaming, she was aroused by her driver’s voice that said, “We have arrived, YB”
Waiting outside for her were the organisers of the dialogue that would soon commence. One of them opened YB J’s car door, greeted her and introduced her to other members of the organising committee. Accompanied by them, YB J proceeded to the stage. According to her estimate, there were about 500 people in the hall that morning. She was proud that there were so many people of her ethnic community who were keen to meet her. It was a source of great pride to YB J that these people studied overseas on their own funds, not with government aid.
After the welcome speeches were over, YB J was invited to give her speech. This was the moment that YB J had waited for. Her ‘New Politics, New Malaysia’ plan would be announced to the world. She remembered Kee Thuan Chye’s book entitled “March 8th – The Day Malaysia Awoke”. The momentum of the Malaysian people or more correctly, the non-Malay Malaysian citizens who had awoken must be enhanced. That morning, she was determined to do so.
But, unbeknownst to YB J, amongst the 500 younger generation people, there were some who did not agree with her political views. One of them was determined to correct YB J’s political deviation in his own way.
When YB J stood up to go to the speaker’s rostrum, a young person from backstage walked calmly towards her direction. YB J smiled at the youth. She thought the young person of her ethnic community wanted to accompany her to to the rostrum or to greet her.
YB J extended her hand. All of a sudden, YB J was bewildered and stood frozen. She could not believe what she was seeing. Gripped tightly in the hands of the youth who appeared be intent on embracing her outstretched hand was a pistol of the Revolver type that was aimed directly at YB J’s chest.
Without uttering a word, the youth released a few shots. One of the shots hit YB J’s heart exactly. She collapsed to the floor.
The audience started to panic. Those on the stage were also bewildered to see what had happened. The situation became confused and chaotic. The organisers who had not expected this unfortunate incident did not know what to do. A few police personnel in civilian clothes, who were uninvited guests at the function, dashed towards the stage. Their uniformed colleagues who were on duty outside rushed into hall.
But before they could do anything, a few more gunshots were heard. This time, it was the youth who collapsed.
When the police arrived at the place of the incident, both of them – YB J and the neatly-dressed youth were dead.
While the body of the unknown youth was being examined, found hidden on the body was a note, neatly typed in the national language.
It read: YB Josephine is a threat to harmony. Better that her life be ended so that the multi-ethnic people can live in peace in this blessed land. I sacrifice for the future.
‘YB Josephine assassination story worse than ISA’
The short story penned by Malaysia Press Institute CEO Chamil Wariya and published by Utusan Malaysia is ‘worse’ than the Internal Security Act, according to DAP Youth deputy chief Chong Chieng Jen.
He told this to reporters after filing a police report at the Dang Wangi police headquarters against the writer and the Malay daily in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.
He claimed that the story entitled, ‘Politik baru YB J’ was “insinuating and instigated people to take action into their own hands.”
“I regard the Internal Security Act as a very bad law but this is even worse than ISA… (influencing people) to take the law into their own hands,” he said.
It has been alleged that the story penned by Chamil and published over the weekend was fashioned around DAP parliamentarian Teresa Kok.
The story relates how a female Chinese parliamentarian is killed by a youth for promoting a new brand of non-race-based politics which he felt could disrupt the country’s harmony.
Chong, who was accompanied by Serdang DAP MP Teo Nie Ching and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, also read out the last paragraph of the story to reporters.
The paragraph reads: “YB Josephine adalah ancaman terhadap keharmonian. Lebih baik riwayatnya ditamatkan supaya masyarakat berbilang kaum boleh tinggal aman damai di negara bertuah ini. Saya berkorban untuk masa depan.”
(YB Josephine is a threat to harmony. It is better her life is ended so that the people of various races can live in peace in this country. I have sacrificed for the future)
In his police report, Chong had stated: “The said short story contains a seditious message and is aimed at instigating and inciting its readers to commit political assassination against the Member of Parliament for Seputeh Teresa Kok Suh Sim.”
He reiterated that the story was an act of “literary terrorism” which is unacceptable and undemocratic.
Moreover, Chong said the story was embedded with a “political message – a propaganda disguised as a fiction”.
He said the story cannot be taken simply as a work of fiction because Utusan Malaysia has a track record of antagonism against Kok.
“All the narration that is produce here we can easily associate with our domestic political scenario and I don’t think you need an expert in politics to identify the YB J referred here (in the story) as Teresa Kok (right),” he said.
Chong furthered said that the story was “an abuse of the writer’s intellectual creativity, rights and a form of political terrorism.”
The opposition MP said that he was “sickened” by the tangential responses giving by government MPs in Parliament yesterday and stated that they were “unfit to be leaders”.
“We also condemn all political parties that resort to such agenda and propaganda to try to consolidate their powers,” he said.
In addition, Chong said the story reflected “a form of criminal intimidation” and urged the authorities to act speedily on the matter.
(Bravo Terence of the Sun, the first journalist to speak up against the irresponsible incitement for a culture of hatred, violence and terrorism in Malaysian politics – Chamil Wariya’s inexcusable, intolerable and unacceptable attack on MP for Seputeh and Selangor Senior Exco Teresa Kok in Chamil’s cerpen Politik baru YB J published in Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday. Terence has given me hope that all is not lost among Malaysian journalists, that there are still many honest and honourable newspaper men and women in the country)
Friday October 17 2008
by Terence Fernandez
IT IS uncommon for newspapers, media organisations as well as their journalists to criticise one another’s editorial policies or reports. Call it journalistic etiquette if you want.
However, there are the few but significant times when this decorum is disregarded. And this usually occurs when a member of the Fourth Estate breaches the norms and values of responsible journalism and risks bringing acceptable standards of reporting down to the recesses of gutter journalism. Thus when this happens, it is incumbent upon the press fraternity to speak up.
If we don’t do our house-cleaning, we are seen as condoning and even supporting the words and writings of those who use “freedom of the press” and their media tag as a façade to incite, provoke and inflame.
It does not take a heart surgeon to draw parallels between the main character in Chamil Wariya’s short story in Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday to a very real and sitting Member of Parliament. He wrote about a fictional controversial Member of Parliament who meets her end at the hand of an assassin. The events leading to her murder is eye-brow-raising similar to those experienced by the real MP. The similarities are too uncanny not to be deliberate. If anyone denies this, it is just a pitiable and cowardly attempt to hide from the truth.
The story depicts one YB J (Josephine), second term MP for the fictional constituency of Alam Maya and her push for non-race based politics which makes her out to be a chauvinist and racist who is against a certain community.
While being driven to a function where she is to meet 500 fellow young countrymen who had studied abroad, she has a monologue on the perception that she is a racist and seeks clarification from her driver Ahmad. He tells her that she “may or may not” be one, leaving her even more confused. Ahmad has his own monologue, which are imbued with images of suicide bombers and angels.
At the function, YB J is approached by a participant who assassinates her and takes his own life. On the assassin’s body is a note that reads it is better to end YB J’s life to ensure that this multiracial country continues to experience the peace and harmony it has enjoyed for so long.
Drawing parallels again, the story mentions the ruling coalition losing its two-thirds majority, ISA detentions, Molotov cocktail attacks and changing of street signs. Sheer coincidence? You’ve got to be kidding!
While we are all allowed (and in some cases guilty of using) creative licence, there are boundaries to observe – what with sedition laws, defamation suits and show-cause letters. Even so, I have yet to come across a journalist who in all sense of the word incites murder! This is definitely deliberate and deserves the highest condemnation from all members of the press and decent Malaysians who strive for peace and harmony.
And to think that this comes from someone with more than 35 years in the media business, having held key positions in media organisations and press groups is a stain on the journalistic community.
If Chamil Wariya wants to use his position to curry favour with certain individuals or groups or to push a certain agenda, that is his business. But when one uses his pen to even suggest taking a life, this brings us to a whole new level of sewer journalism – the likes which we have not yet seen in this country.
The biggest tragedy of all is that he is the CEO of the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) – an organisation which among others preaches responsible journalism as an integral component of press freedom.
Apart from awarding the nation’s highest annual journalism honours, it also conducts courses for journalists young and old. So is this the kind of journalism espoused by the MPI to cadet reporters other media organisations entrust it to train and develop?
The MPI has often been accused of being partisan and a retirement home for out-of-work editors.
It is thus incumbent on the institute to ensure the reputation it has built (and salvaged) is not further tarnished by one of its highest office-bearers. What it should do now is to deliberate on Chamil Wariya’s association with the MPI. Turning a deaf ear or blind eye is merely sending the message that the country’s highest media establishment condones incitement to murder.
(Terence, who has just taken down his MPI award from the mantlepiece, hopes he will once again be able to display it proudly
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