Friday, September 17, 2010

Dr Mahathir's Futile Rebuttal To MM Lee's Take On Racial Issues

Clash of the titans of the old guards between the 'supposedly retired for good' Dr M and our dear MM Lee. Credits to the both of them for their contributions to their respective countries as PM. MM Lee was recently interviewed by New York Times to speak on race relations between the two countries which garnered international audience, whereas Dr M's futile rebuttal of sorts could only attract some domestic listeners. Dr M, if he still remains effective (that is), should seek New York Times for a slot to be interviewed too. Below is another nonsensical article of his taken from his blog. Give it to this old fella for his unwavering spirit in trying to match up with MM Lee on the international arena and let outsiders, not Singaporeans or Malaysians form their own judgment.

1. Mr Lee Kwan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore is three years my senior. That means he and I practically grew up in the same period of time. That also means that I have been able to watch the progress of Mr Lee, and in fact to interact with him on various occasions.

2. His assertion in his interview with the New York Times that "Race relations (would be) better if Singapore (had) not (been) "turfed out" (of Malaysia) is worth studying. Is it true or is it fantasy?

3. Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia. In 1955 the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

4. The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.

5. In the 1959 elections the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won easily though Kelantan was lost. PAS with only Malays as members was rejected. Racialism even when implied failed.

6. In 1963 Singapore became a part of Malaysia. Despite having promised that the PAP will not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics, Kwan Yew reneged and the PAP tried to displace the MCA in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular. Of course the slogan was "Malaysian Malaysia" which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial.

7. But the Peninsular Chinese favoured working with the Malays in UMNO. They totally rejected PAP in 1964.

8. Following the Malaysian Malaysia campaign a few UMNO leaders tried to rouse Singapore Malay sentiments. There were demonstrations in Singapore where before there were none. Kwan Yew accused Jaafar Albar for instigating the Singapore Malays. Although I never went to Singapore, nor met the Malays there, I was labelled a Malay-ultra by Kwan Yew himself.

9. By 1965 racism had taken hold and the Tunku was forced to end Singapore's membership of Malaysia. But the seed of Chinese racialism had been sown, so that even after the PAP left, the "Malaysian Malaysia" war cry was picked up by the DAP, an offspring of the PAP.

10. With the background of Singapore's activities in Malaysia in the short three years of its membership, can we really believe that if it had not been "turfed out" race relations would be better in Malaysia?

11. But proof of what would have happened was shown by the politics leading up to the 1969 Election. The MCA began to criticise the Sino/Malay cooperation especially on so-called special rights and demanded for a Chinese University. UMNO then began to clamour for a greater share of the economy of the country. The UMNO/MCA conflict resulted in the Alliance faring very badly in the 1969 Elections.

12. DAP and Gerakan, a new party largely made up of MCA dissidents made gains. The Alliance were shocked and rattled.

13. Then the Gerakan and DAP held their victory parade near the Malay settlement of Kampung Baru, hurling racist insults at the Malays. The result was the 13th May race riots.

14. Till today the racist slogan "Malaysian Malaysia" is the war-cry of the DAP. Racism in Malaysia is clearly the result of Singapore's membership of the country for just three years. Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been "turfed out" Malaysia would have no racial problem.

15. While Kwan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that "once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority".

16. Singapore's population is made up of 75 per cent Chinese and they own 95 per cent of the economy. It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer.

17. In Singapore dissent is not allowed, People who contest against the PAP would be hauled up in court for libel and if they win elections would not be allowed to take their places in Parliament. Whereas in Malaysia opposition parties invariably win seats in Parliament and even set up State Governments (today five out of the 13 States are ruled by the opposition parties) the PAP in Singapore has to appoint PAP members to represent the opposition.

18. Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.

19. If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country.

20. Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been "turfed out" for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history.

21. Lee Kwan Yew and I saw the same things and know the reasons why.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marathon Du Medoc 2010, France

This year was the 26th edition of Medoc Marathon, a proud tradition of the southern French which is second to the Paris Marathon in term of international popularity and participation level in France. Held on 11 Sep, Sunday in this wine growing town called Pauillac, which is about two hours ride from the historical city, Bordeaux where my accommodation is located.

Capped at no more than 8,000 runners, all participants practically had to fight hard for a place based on first-come-first-served only. Over in Singapore, this year our Stanchart Marathon boosts of some 60,000 runners in varied categories, an Asia record but in this Medoc event, quality stuff counts much. Almost every runner dressed to the occasion - the theme this year was 'Comic Hero', though many were not in sync with the given theme but really, who bothered much. I'd never witnessed an event like this in Singapore, so much alive and the supports from the ground, simply blew me away. For the record, this Medoc event actually attracted some 37 nationalities from around the globe excluding the French runners, of course. Our highly paid STB personnel should learn a lesson or two from them on how to internationalise our big-name marathons, the likes of Stanchart Marathon & Adidas Sundown Marathon luring the foreign runners and to cultivate/motivate local supports to the fullest. This is much more healthier and wholesome than relying on capital intensive IRs to bring in gaming tourists to our shore, rightly or wrongly. Without doubt, it will inspire more Singaporeans to appreciate sports.

From our little red dot, we had six participants (me & Yaw Heng included) and we are proud to say Singapore is the only country hailing from Southeast Asia. However, I lament I did not get to meet any of our Singaporean counterparts though I did chance upon some oriental faces along the way. Japanese runners form the bulk from Asia, some 165 of them to say the least.

I have to say it is indeed my greatest honour to be running this Medoc event, my second 42km marathon where I did my first at last year's Stanchart run. All this was only made possible with sponsorship by France Tourist Office in Singapore and AirFrance, the latter for the air passage. Thanks once again, to my sponsors for their kind generosity.

On the day of event, I got up early at 0545hrs and by 0630hrs, Yaw Heng and I were waiting at a designated pick-up point near our hotel for the 2-hour coach ride to Pauillac. We had runners hailing from the U.S.A., Canada, U.K., Mexico and Japan taking the same coach with us - a motley group of people indeed.

We arrived at about 0830 hrs in Pauillac. It was a sunny morning to start off and the morning weather was cool, something we can never get to experience in our humid Singapore. Everyone was getting ready with their own costumes and raring to go. I put on my 'self-made' Flintstones tee while Yaw Heng drew out his 'Lao Fu Zi' costume. I then put on the water-based tattooes, two Singapore flags on both sides of my face (patriotic, right?) and the logos of AirFrance and France Tourism on both my arms (to thank my sponsors). Yaw Heng had a Singapore flag on one side of his face and a Malaysia flag on the other (He is a PR, having best of both world). I saw one participant in his Flintstones costume and gestured to him which he responded with a thumbs-up. In fact, there were quite a number decked in Flintstones costumes. Hordes of participants arrived and we slowly made our way to the start-off point.

The announcer was simply energetic though I couldn't understand a word of French utterred out. We swayed with the music, danced & clapped in unison and at 0930hrs sharp, we were finally flagged-off - the race had begun. Though it was sunny, the weather was still cool much to my delight.

For the first 10km, we were running on tared road or gravel path but it was generally flat. I was doing fine, keeping pace with many front runners. At almost every turn, there were some supporters rooting us on. The clock showed 59mins plus at 11km mark which was a fast pace for me, considering it was a 42km run. I must say I was pleasantly pleased with the timing thus far, hoping to clock under 5 hours if I can maintain this pace to the end. However, I felt muscle strain on one my legs at about 15km mark which I normally do not encounter in my training and past long events. Disregarding it, I pressed on but moved on slower pace. We ran past long stretch of vineyard, there no shade to shield from the sorching sun which was getting fiercer and fiercer as the clock ticked on. There were no toilets anywhere around, we had to relieve in the vineyard or by the bushes and ladies too - modesty seemed to be secondary. As we moved further, the path was mostly undulating and that was the challenging part when our legs began to tire down. At some point, we had to run through a stretch of sandy path too. The supports from the residents were simply amazing. They were rooting us on, calling up our names (I had my name on my tag) which was certainly morale booster for me. Save for the vineyard, at every corner we can find residents offering us an assortment of items from water, wine, food, fruits, medical assistance and even live band.

The clocked showed 3 hrs 15 mins at 30km mark and by then I wondered to myself, "I had to finish at least 1 hr 30 mins in the last 12 km in order to come under 5 hrs which was own my personal target." Heart willing but my own body did not seem to want me to fight on. The cramp on both calves and thighs was building up fast. I had to stop, did some stretching and then walked & ran intermittently. At one stop, I had to sought the assistance of the medical helper who massaged on my legs which did help greatly.

Admittedly, the last 12km was indeed punishing for every 1km seemed like eternity when both my legs were aching like hell. Under that condition, there was no difference between running or walking, I had to straggle between running and walking. Many runners shot past me, even some much older men and women. At some point, an old lady who had an Alsatian dog in tow got past me too. Somehow, I managed to overtake her again and from there on, I did not see her in front of me anymore, phew!

The sun whether it is in Singapore or France is equally torturing. Imagine running under the sorching sun for 4 to 5 hours and for some, 6 hours or longer, without shade in the entire journey, I can feel I was being roasted alive.

Slowly but surely, I inched past 39km, then 40km and then 41km. I decided to quicken my pace in the last 1km despite the severe pain in my legs. Just ahead, I saw the grand stands holding the crowd at the finish line and I mustered my last and raced down the last 100 metres to the applause of the crowd. The clock showed 5 hours 9 mins 40 seconds when I ran underneath it and by my reckoning, my net finish should be 5 hours 7 mins plus. Though I couldn't clock under 5 hours in this event (well, will live another day to achieve my personal best in the near future, this is my target) but on whole, I enjoyed this event thoroughly.

Admittedly, none of our event in Singapore can come even near to that. Fantastic is the word to describe the occasion. To the organisers of Medoc Marathon, kudos to you guys for the great job.