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MGG: A fascist society in the making, if it is not already
By M.G.G. Pillai

23/1/2002 5:55 pm Wed

Civil servants are required to sign "Aku Janji" ("I agree") declarations before they could continue in office; UMNO Youth encourages undergraduates to report those of their lecturers who they deem to be anti-government; anyone who brings to public notice government shortcomings and its political chicanery, even if by the opposition, is treachery. The list goes on. The Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed, thinks it a good idea so his 21 year governance would carry on for ever. But this reveals not strength but weakness. And a rebellion in the making against a decaying monolithic collossus which remains in office by threats and wose.

The "Aku Janji" does not have the force of law; Dr Mahathir thinks this would make it all but impossible for them to defy him and his administration. It would not. The civil servants signed something more severe under the Government Orders when they took their jobs, which has a section so strict and so pervasive, and with penal sanctions for its breach. So, why does the government make it an issue which only reveals the divisions in society that it fights against? Because civil servants, collectively, are disinclined to back the UMNO-led government in power than at any time in the past.

Their actions reflect not treachery or a deliberate move to confront but of the schisms in Malay society which Dr Mahathir encouraged -- the deliberate split which made UMNO illegal forced the first fissure; the humiliation of Dato' Seri Anwar the second, and more dangerous, since it questioned Dr Mahathir's leadership for humiliating a chief. Instead of resolving this, UMNO insists its view is the only one. But the Malay challenges it, and reveals the schism UMNO cannot handle on its own.

The more UMNO -- more than the National Front (BN) it controls -- insists upon it, the more fascist Malaysia becomes. There is only one view allowed for civil servants and all who are paid by the government. This is enforced in schools, colleges and universities. There is nothing but anecdotal evidence to prove that teachers and lecturers spout anti-government propaganda. There is no inquiry or investigation to suggest it. But the evidence the government accepts usually comes from UMNO Youth, whose word is accepted as the gospel by the authorities.

Now it has compiled a list of anti-government lecturers who, according to the UMNO Youth education bureau head, Dr Adham Baba, "spead anti-Government messages and campaigns to influence staff and students". And the insidious assumption, which is clear from his statement, that university lecturers are allowed to be members of political parties only if in BN parties. There are several in government -- at the centre and in the states -- who went by this route. I know of several who were lobbying for parliament and state seats while lecturing at universities.

On the principle that the only political view allowed is to back the government, UMNO Youth is shocked at these displays of political independence and the candour which reveals to undergraduates the importance of critical thinking; that this is impossible when students are encouraged to censure their lecturers anonymously for not being politically correct. This was rife in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia and China, and parents sent their parents to their deaths on these complaints.

So how did Dr Adham and his men investigate this breach of political correctness? They got undergraduates to inform them of "deviations" from the norm amongst lecturers. Since undergraduates are not allowed to be involved in politics, why is this allowed? The education ministry, he says, would investigations, but his quislings would not come forth until they are protected from harm, possibly by their lecturers. How could it when it should look at this breach of the undergraduate undertaking not to be involved in politics?

In any case, why did the ministry agree to investigate complaints from the youth wing of a political party? What standing does it have to go off on its own and demand redress, when it should first have directed their complaints to the UMNO supreme council for further action. Or is it now the norm t can? If so, then one can understand why the civil servant is fed up with this attempt to bring them under UMNO. There are already dangerous signs: scholarships are, in practice, given only to those who can furnish proof their parents are members of a BN party.

It reveals a dangerous trend which divides the country between those who support UMNO and BN, to whom go the perks of government, and those who do not who should be treated as harshly as possible, and their children damned for their parents' less than enthusiastic support of the government or who, in principle, would not join a political party or would rather remain neutral. These decisions are made so casually and callously that it reflects not just the fascism this suggests, but a breakdown of what we know, and honour, as Malaysia.

M.G.G. Pillai