Sunday, May 10, 2009

P. Uthayakumar: "Never Give In To Them"

In human history, there have been many times when people facing injustice & oppression have used nonviolent resistance to achieve social & political change.

Because of the highest moral standards needed to achieve true change, the leaders of these movements have to shoulder an enormous responsibility. Whilst all the time keeping a clear eye on their goal & inspiring & motivating people, they need to ensure that their movement never deviates from the principles of their struggle. If they sacrifice their principles
& accept that the ends justifies the means, their movement's moral standing is lost, and will soon disintegrate.

In shouldering these respon
sibilities, time and time again these leaders have had to make great personal sacrifices. Let's look at three notable examples.
  1. Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in 1908 by the racist government in South Africa for resisting the unjust Asiatic Act law. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Gandhi's most painful experience must have been when he was told that his wife, Kasturbai, was critically ill. He was given the option to pay his fine and rush to her bedside. His commitment to satyagraha would not allow him to do so." Read more here and on page 88 here.
  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. took part in protests against segregation in the town of Albany, Georgia in 1961, and was sentenced to imprisonment. The authorities offered to release him (and his colleague) if they paid a fine of US$178. Sticking to principle, they refused. Finally the police chief himself paid their fine & released them to avoid embarrasment. Read more here and here.
  3. Nelson Mandela was undergoing life imprisonment in Robben Island, a maximum security prison, when the apartheid government offered to release him in exchange for accepting the bantustan policy by recognising the independence of the Transkei and agreeing to settle there. He chose to never compromise his principles. He remained in prison until he was released unconditionally on 11 February 1990, after being imprisoned for a total of 27 years. Read more here.
To this fellowship (which includes many others, some of whom we may not know about), we can now add a Malaysian, P. Uthayakumar, who refused to accept any conditions for his release from detention under the ISA. In his own words, “If they force me (to sign the conditional release papers, which among other things would have barred him from speaking at public functions), I will not do it as I prefer going back to Kamunting prison,” (the words in brackets being mine).

Leaders like them inspire us.

They & their loved ones have suffered pain, physical & emotional, for us. Let us stand, not behind them but shoulder to shoulder with them, and work together for justice for ALL Malaysians.

Let us never forget what these brave people have shown, that truth & justice will always triumph over lies & oppression. Let us not forget either, that all that is needed for the triumph of evil
is that good people do nothing.

Finally, let us never forget these words of Uthayakumar: "Never give in to them."

May all victims of the ISA get the justice that they deserve.

Makkal Sakthi!


  1. Though I admire and applaud Uthaya's spirit but again I cannot agree with his raced based agenda. I don't see the need of another 'Ketuanan India' with various demand for Indian only. His priority seems to set up another race based political entity. I mean to fight a race based politic with another race based politic sounds like we are back to aquare one as this is a perfect recipe to provoke more race based politic.

    Since majority are against the abolishment of ISA. I wonder why the opposition leaders never give a stand on the arrest of Mas Selamat and 2 other Malaysian under ISA. If they want ALL ISA detainees to be released regardless whether they are arrested due to political reason or not(many are not), the opposition should state their stand clearly in this matter to be consistence.

  2. Don't forget South East Asia's Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar - someone who didn't give in as well.
    An excerpt from Aung San Suu Kyi's "In The Quiet Land":

    In the Quiet Land....
    In the Quiet Land, no one can hear
    what is silenced by murder
    and covered up with fear.
    But, despite what is forced, freedom's a sound
    that liars can't fake and no shouting can drown.

  3. Hi Anon 11:02,

    I respect your right to hold a different point of view, but would like to explore it a little further.

    "Ketuanan x" is generally held to mean that x is the "owner" or "landlord" of Malaysia and others are merely "guests" or "tenants", therefore x has "special rights" that others do not have, and that some of the human rights of others are denied. I'd like to ask you, where have Uthayakumar or ANY of Hindraf's leaders have made such claims. Please share that info with us. Unless it is shown that they have made such claims, your view that Hindraf proposes a "Ketuanan India" is baseless.

    That Uthayakumar & Hindraf are working to better the lives of poor Malaysian Indians only (at the moment) is because they perceive that these Indians have been marginalised & left behind. In doing so they have never asked for "special rights" for themselves or for the rights of others to be curtailed. This is compatible with PR's fight for rights for all.

    I agree with you that pursuing a race based agenda would provoke race based agendas in return. I guess we all need to come to a common understanding of where we Malaysians stand in terms of equal opportunities. If we believe that Indians are not particularly marginalized, or that there is a better way for all our interests to be met, then let's show Hindraf the facts & data. We can best do this by engaging them rationally, not by disavowing them & shouting at them through a megaphone. I strongly believe that what's needed here is calm rational understanding of each other's position. Personally, I too would prefer seeing Hindraf widen the basis of their work, but I need to be able to convince them that we have a better chance if we work together.

    On the ISA, PR (& indeed Hindraf themselves) have been very clear & consistent all the while: ISA is unjust because it allows detention without trial. They have always asked that all detainees either be charged in court & punished if found guilty, or else released. For PKR's stand on ISA please see here, for Hindraf's stand on ISA please see here. And please see here for Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)'s stand. I'd like to ask you, why do you say that the majority are against abolishing the ISA? Do you feel that the ISA should be maintained? Why?

  4. Hi Anon 13:51,

    Thanks for the beautiful excerpt. Aung San Suu Kyi most certainly belongs in that distinguished group of extraordinary leaders. May God bless her & her country.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Malaysian heart,
    civil disobidience is a very powerfull form of pressure on a government. History tells us of numerous forms of civil disobidience (violent / non-violent) that led not only to revolutions, but anarchy as well.

    In Malaysia, civil society is becoming more aware and demanding of their rights. They see BN as an authoritarian and suppressive regime. That said, assuming PR takes over the federal government in the next GE, the risk of Malaysians going full throttle on their democratic freedom and rights is very high and that would lead to only more choas and disorder.

    We must bear in mind that a functioning and fair democracy is representative and not participatory. It is the rule of the people, but not per se. In other words, we elect representatives into the government to represent us and our aspirations. We the people don't run the government

    After the revolution and the elections, the institutions of democracy are put in place and begin functioning. At this conjuncture, the people should and must take back seat and let their elected representatives do the job they were elected to do.

    I hope that i would never have to chance upon another "Never give in to them" moment after PR takes over. But that said, PR is not going to be given a blank cheque either. Check and balance must be upheld at all times.

    Just my two cents.


  6. Hi Doc, good to see you finally made it here!

    I would disagree with you though, on a number of points:

    1) Civil disobedience as defined in Wikipedia is: "the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. It is one of the primary tactics of nonviolent resistance. In its most nonviolent form (in India, known as ahimsa or satyagraha) it could be said that it is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement."

    If we stick to this definition, there will be no violence or anarchy. Similarly, "going full throttle on their democratic freedom and rights" must never become chaos & disorder, simply because while those freedoms & rights include rights to assemble & petition, they do not include the right to violence or destruction. The moment people cross the line, it becomes a crime, to be punished as per the law.

    2) Representative democracy is not the only functional & fair form of democracy. There is nothing in participatory or direct democracy that makes it inherently unfair or dysfunctional, although practicality concerns suggest that it is more suitable for local levels. Ideas from participatory democracy could benefit Malaysia greatly. Civic society groups & NGOs can enhance the effectiveness of our elected reps, and if only the recall election, a procedure from participatory democracy, was available to Malaysians, Perak wouldn't be in the mess it is in right now.

    As for this "back seat or driver's seat" question, let me put it in another way. As long as the institutions of democracy are in place and elected reps are functioning, there is no need for the people to take the wheel. Slack off (like Perak DUN has done) and the people won't wait till the next GE.

    Thanks for dropping by,

  7. SO much we are against the ISA but the greatest democratic country in the world and her president, Obama who is one of the 'greatest' leader in the world has proposed the preventive detention law:

    "preventive detention" allows indefinite imprisonment not based on proven crimes or past violations of law, but of those deemed generally "dangerous" by the Government for various reasons (such as, as Obama put it yesterday, they "expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden" or "otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans"). That's what "preventive" means: imprisoning people because the Government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future because they are alleged to be "combatants."

    Once known, the details of the proposal could -- and likely will -- make this even more extreme by extending the "preventive detention" power beyond a handful of Guantanamo detainees to anyone, anywhere in the world, alleged to be a "combatant."

    So this ISA law is not obsolete but is increasingly used by the democratic countries.

  8. Hi anonymous 1.14pm,

    Thanks for your comment. You seem to be saying that if USA does it, we should do it too. Well, USA is the biggest international supporter to Israel, support which Israel uses to oppress Palestinians. Are you suggesting that we should support Israel in oppressing Palestinians too? Surely you see why this type of logic is faulty.

    Why do you believe that Obama is the greatest leader in the world? I have to disagree strongly with you. How can we determine a leader's greatness? This proverb is very relevant: Raja adil Raja disembah, Raja zalim Raja disanggah. It is the leader who is adil (just) that is worthy of sembah (as in respect & follow, not pray), and the leader who is unjust must be corrected or opposed. So is Obama a just leader? Let's see what Al-Quran says about justice:

    "O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do." (An-Nisaa' verse 135)

    Is Obama practicing this? American citizens have human rights, right to remain silent, right to a lawyer, habeas corpus etc. But in Guantanamo & Abu Ghraib, what do they do? If you remain silent, they torture you. When the evidence of torture is discovered, Obama refuses to release it out of the interests of American lives. He has put the interests of his own citizens over justice to others. That is not the action of a just leader but the attitude of the tribal chiefs during the age of jahiliah.

    People & countries can be great economically, culturally, militarily etc., but if they do not practice justice, I wouldn't consider them great. Therefore, I believe that Obama is not a great leader, and I will not be blindly following whatever he does unless I am convinced it is just.

    I'm encouraged to see that some Americans are realizing this and are beginning to menyanggah Obama. Please read this article to see the opinions of one such person. In the comments section, you can read many views for and against preventive detention.

    And if you would like to learn more about Islam and justice, here is a good article.

    Thanks for visiting, do come back often,


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