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FAC: The Once Colonised Are Now Colonial Masters
By Martin Jalleh

13/11/2001 2:57 pm Tue

[At a time like this, when tragic and tumultuous events of world shattering scale have suddenly altered the political and economic landscapes everywhere, when cruel and corrupt tyrants have suddenly looked like decent guardians of peace and security, the following article is an apt reminder to all that Malaysia has yet to emerge from its darkest moments of political oppressions, perpetuated by its current Ruler.

This article, which was written by Martin Jalleh and appeared in, is a masterful and truthful portrayal of the great political tragedy that has befallen this beloved Country. - Kim Quek.]

Monday, 05-Nov-2001 11:45 AM

The Once-Colonised Are Now the Colonial Masters

44 years and more ago, British dominance ensured that the political representation of the people, in the local and central administration of this country, was limited to the lower administrative levels, with little or no decision-making power.

Today, Executive dominance has reduced the political representation of the people, as embodied in Parliament, to nothing more than a rubber stamp, a symbol shorn of substance, stripped of essence, sidelined and side-stepped by the Executive...without significance.

44 years ago, the British carefully selected and instructed locals to exercise power on behalf of the regime. The power of these locals were largely contingent on their loyalty and subservience. They functioned as vehicles of indirect colonial rule.

Today, the local Colonial Master selects those who are very "useful" -- those, who, for power, privilege, position, profit and/or political expediency -- pliantly do his bidding, allowing themselves to be figureheads and footstools...pathetic puppets and parrots.....

44 years ago, the British claimed they acted "in the interest of the people". They determined the nature and content of those interests. Their justification was that the people lacked the education and expertise required for the determination of their own interests.

Today, the local Colonial Master and his cohorts mouth the same. Development is pushed and imposed on the people -- and it benefits mainly "dominant interests" -- who, very often, are the elites and the unscrupulous cronies of the powers that be.

Once, we suffered under a White Supremacy manifested in arrogance, now we have a Executive Supremacy synonymous with contempt for the people. Those who rule, believe that once elected they have the prerogative to pontificate and decide for all -- and do what they like.

British "propaganda" is now replaced by a powerful "brain-washing" machine -- the broadcast media, owned by the Government and allied companies, and regulated by the Broadcasting Act, 1987, which gives the Information Minister vast powers of control and manipulation.

44 years and more ago, the all-powerful British Colonialist was lord of the land. It was his playground. He plundered it as he pleased, for pleasure, and for profit. What he gained were not the fruits of "his" labour, but by the "cheap labour" of the "natives" of the land.

Today, the all-powerful local Colonialist uses the Land Acquisition Act (Amended, 1991) to "grab" land from poor farmers and land pioneers -- for a "public purpose" such as tiger prawn farms, luxury housing, highways, golf courses, playgrounds for the rich...

Yesterday, the well-being of the Orang Asli and other indigenous peoples, the Indian rubber estate worker and other minority groups in the country, did not matter at all to the British Colonialist-- they were shortchanged and marginalised.

Today, they are displaced, deprived, disempowered and dislodged from their social environment and natural resource support system. Disillusioned with the promises of their leaders and the local Colonial Master, they, especially their young, often end up dysfunctional.

The British who once repatriated profits or raw materials from this country to the Empire, are now replaced by locals in power or position, who stash their bags of money in secret bank accounts overseas, and are ever ready to "repatriate" themselves.

Resistance to British colonial rule was met with strategies to eliminate dissent. Reprisals resulted in local activists being incarcerated, journals banned and burned, groups kept under close surveillance and individuals dismissed from service.

Resistance to today's Colonial Master is met with a gamut of harsh executive powers. Laws left behind by the British, are amended and made even more draconian -- to contain, cripple and crush legitimate dissent by the citizens of this country.

The Sedition Act (1948) was a British law used to stifle Malay nationalists (especially those in UMNO, which was born two years before the Act came to be). Today, the Act has been amended for selective prosecution of political opponents and to protect UMNO.

The Internal Security Act (1960), a relic of colonialism, meant to combat the then communists, has been amended 20 times. It is more repressive than the original, and its powers have been abused to protect the "security" of the present Colonial power.

The Printing Presses and Publications Act (1984) originated from the Printing Press Act (1948). Amended in 1987 to exclude judicial review of the Executive's action vis-a-vis publications, it serves as a stranglehold on the press and opposition publications.

The Official Secrets Act (1972) was based on the British OSA of 1911. Amended in 1986 to provide for mandatory jail sentences, it is used to reinforce the cult of secrecy and to hide the misdeeds of leaders. It has also resulted in self-censorship by the press.

The Police Act (1963) was amended in 1967, 1981 and 1987 to further enhance the wide array of police powers, thus making the constitutional right of assembly quite "irrelevant". It caused the late Tunku Abdul Rahman to call this country a "Police State".

Even the Special Branch was a creation of Britain in 1887. It was meant as a direct response to Irish anarchist terrorism. Today it is perfected by the Royal Malaysian Police to "trace", threaten, torture and "turn over" political dissidents.

Every trick by the local Colonialist -- "divide-and-rule", purveying a "culture of fear" or a "siege mentality", manipulating ethnic fears, trotting out a bogey, e.g. "Communist" (remember Suqui?) (watch out for the "Militant"/"Terrorist" bogey) -- are tools of British Colonialism.

Just as Colonial rule created British Residents whose arrogance made them Frankensteins beyond control, the present Colonial Master has created and unleased monsters like Tan Sri Rahim Noor who beat a handcuffed and blind-folded former Deputy Prime Minster to near-death.

Just as the British changed what they did not like, today's Colonialist has made many constitutional amendments (40 since Merdeka -- most made during the last 20 years) -- not to strengthen rule of law and basic rights -- but to erode and erase constitutional checks and balances.

Just as there was hardly any separation between the judiciary and the Executive in early colonial days, the present Colonial Master not only made the Judiciary subservient to the Executive but sacked the judiciary in 1998 and continues with his vile verbal attacks to date.

There is nothing more hypocritical than a Government which professes to believe in the "democracy" that comes with Independence, but in truth practices and perpetuates authoritarian rule -- which is deeply and undeniably derivative of authoritarian colonialism.

There is nothing more ironic than a Government so deeply indebted to its Western Colonial Master - for its plethora of repressive legal instruments and institutions -- and yet has the audacity to accuse its National Human Rights Commission of being "Western-influenced".

There is nothing more shameful than a Government that preaches the need of having "our own system" and "Asian values" and "our own kind of democracy" and yet in reality dons the mantle of its former Colonial Master and monkeys the West.

There is nothing more tragic than citizens of a country being "colonised" by their very own leaders whose political survival is very dependent on an array of repressive laws borrowed and honed to perfection, from the very Colonial Master which these leaders once fought against and detested.

Just as the sun set on the supposedly all-powerful British Empire, today's all-dominant and repressive local Colonial power will also meet its day of reckoning. Those who believe that justice will have her day need not faint, flinch nor falter.

(Written in honour of, in solidarity with and in appreciation for, the many brave men and women, who, together with their families, went through undescribable suffering for the sake of truth and justice, as a result of Operation Lallang, 14 years ago.)

Martin Jalleh, 26 October 2001