Re-colonised, yet again

January 12th, 2000

While almost all the political leaders of the world celebrated the dawning of the new millenium with messages of hope towards greater goodwill and understanding among nations, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ushered Malaysia into this new age in characteristic style. "The former colonial masters have plans to recolonise us," he declared, as the Italian Symphony Orchestra entertained New Year revelers in Kuala Lumpur that evening. "Western powers would control the economies of weak nations, own banks and businesses," he warned, almost with tears in his eyes, as an American cigarette company treated thousands of Malaysians to a massive state-approved new year street party of drinking, dancing, fashion shows, pop concerts and other nasty Western vices.

"Malaysians have forgotten the lessons of history," he said, referring to Malaysia's long periods of colonisation by the West. "Those who did not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes." A wonderful quote which, ironically, was originally written by (shock, horror, gasp) one of those nasty foreigners out to re-colonise us, American philosopher and poet George Santayana.

Mahathir was at it again just one week later in his message to Malaysia's Muslims as they celebrated the end of the holy fasting month. "We have begun to see how those who wish to be in power solicit support from our enemies to further their interests," he warned. And, pray, just who are these 'enemies'? "These foreigners are ready to help in the hope that those they support would repay them by allowing them to control the country." Aha.

Attacks on the foreigners out to re-colonise us come almost as a weekly affair now - no doubt, the item "Attack foreigners" is now regularly pencilled in the Prime Minister's official calendar. Their alleged crimes are many and varied - from gathering information, writing bad reports about the government and bankrolling the Opposition to infiltrating the ruling UMNO party, toppling the government and downright world domination.

That the foreign barbarians want to make as much money as they can from us poor natives certainly cannot be denied. You don't have to look far to see evidence of the foreign re-colonisation of Malaysia - whether it is the dozens of American fast-food restaurants lining Jalan TAR or the French chandeliers tinkling in the palatial settings of the Prime Minister's spanking new home in Putrajaya. Let's also not forget the invading army of foreign consultants, architects, contractors, designers and suppliers who helped build his multi-million dollar 'People's Palace'.

Some may even argue that a government that relies on colonial laws such as the Internal Security Act and survives on the divide-and-rule race politics of its former colonial masters has, indeed, been re-colonised - though much to its own liking rather than due to any foreign interference.

So, we have indeed been re-colonised. But to say that mysterious CIA agents in trench coats and dark glasses are walking the streets of Kuala Lumpur doling out fistfuls of US dollars to tens of thousands of eagerly-waiting anti-government demonstrators - well, that perhaps veers on the delusional.

Nevertheless, that was exactly what the government was saying since more than a year ago. Massive billboard and television campaigns warned us of 'foreign interference' and urged us to unite against 'the enemy'. It was, in fact, just a couple of months later that our beloved leaders traveled around the world trying to peddle a spectacularly unsuccessful US$1 billion Malaysian bond issue to the interfering bastards. Talk about bad marketing.

The usual lobotomized sycophants of course had to join in the chorus. A well-respected politician entertained the idea that the virus that almost wiped out the country's pig-rearing industry may have been introduced by the CIA. The Health Minister ,of course, refused to discount the theory - after all, his Ministry didn't even know what to name the virus until months later and after over a hundred human deaths.

A Member of Parliament last November accused the CIA of staging a 'Mission Impossible' type operation involving billions in covert funds to Anwar Ibrahim and the Opposition. Of course, the only 'proof' he could offer was a statement from an ex-assistant governor of Bank Negara who was himself being charged by the authorities for his own financial misdeeds. The only 'Mission Impossible' evident was how impossibly stupid anyone could be for even taking these accusations seriously.

Just as absurd was the statement from the former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Dr Abdul Hamid Othman, who accused the United States of attempting to recruit 12 Malaysians as CIA agents to infiltrate the ruling UMNO party. Many of you may also remember the mysterious plot, supported by 'foreign elements', to violently overthrow the government and assassinate the Prime Minister.

Strangely, despite the obvious seriousness of these 'crimes' to national security, absolutely nothing seems to have come out from the police investigations into these nefarious activities. Could the police have been infiltrated by the CIA too, I wonder?

It was inevitable that the foreign missions in Kuala Lumpur would sooner or later be dragged into all this xenophobic muck-racking. Just days before the General Elections last November, a senior official of the UMNO Youth wing accused the US Embassy and the High Commissions of Canada, Australia and Britain of financing and supporting the Opposition. Prime Minister Mahathir ranted on about "foreign interference in the country's internal affairs" and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi noted that "it seems that there are people who are interfering by offering support to the opposition with a view to toppling the national Front government." A disappointing statement coming from someone who was previously one of our better Foreign Ministers and should have known better.

The proof for these allegations? Some members of the diplomatic corps were seen attending Opposition rallies. Strangely, the Opposition Parties refrained from accusing the government of being running dogs of the West when these same diplomats were spotted at National Front rallies.

The accusations flew even after the Elections. International Trade and Industry Minister demonstrated her strong grasp of international relations when she vilified the US for sending a congratulatory note to National Justice Party president Datin Seri Wan Azizah for winning her first seat in Parliament. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar called up the envoys of the US, Canada, Australia and Britain to deliver protest notes reminding them "not to interfere in Malaysia's internal affairs." His main gripe? "We know that a lot of these embassies have been writing negative reports about us"!

How childish of these foreign devils! Now, why would anyone write negative reports about a government that arrests people without trial, muzzles its media, beats up peaceful demonstrators on the streets and beats up its own Deputy Prime Minister in the inner sanctum of Police Headquarters? Really, some people are just so-o-o negative.

Nevertheless, despite all this violent condemnation that is just shy of a declaration of war, not a single one of these foreign diplomats have been sent packing home, no diplomatic ties have been broken, no sanctions have been declared, no protests lodged with the UN, not a single one of our envoys have been recalled home. The dogs bark loudly but keep their tails tightly secured between their legs.

The government's paralytic inaction to this foreign threat appears unfathomable - one would have thought that attempted re-colonisation of our country should at least warrant a teeny-weeny slap on the wrist, especially since everyone seems to be implying that there is a mountain of evidence to support their claims. That not a shred of this evidence has actually appeared is unremarkable. The circus that is known as the Anwar Ibrahim trial has clearly shown the world that, when it comes to getting its way, the government considers little details such as evidence to be a petty inconvenience.

Globalisation seems to be the latest catch-word in the latest re-colonisation scare-mongering, as evident in the most recent article by Mahathir for a daily newspaper in, of all places, Japan (the most recent of our colonisers, I might add, and perhaps among the more brutal). In it, Mahathir sees globalisation as an attempt to set up worldwide monopolies by giant corporations in the West. He also castigates democracy and 'Ugly Capitalism', which he likens to communism, where "millions" have to be sacrificed before "we rise in rebellion". Strangely, he makes no mention of the giant monopolies set up by giant corporations in his own backyard, dominated by Ugly Capitalists close to the government, the ruling party and him.

That globalisation poses a threat to the weak nations of the developing world cannot be denied. In fact, Opposition Parties such as the Malaysian People's Party (PRM) have been warning of globalisation and neo-colonisation ever since the country became independent. Unfortunately, talk like that was seditious in those days and only got you very long, uncomfortable stays in prison and detention camps, as PRM President Dr Syed Husin Ali unfortunately discovered. Mahathir seemed rather less passionate on the subject at the time.

But, in his New Year message to Malaysia, Mahathir does offer a practical, hands-on solution to the looming spectre of globalisation. "If not for the demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle, maybe another part of our border will have collapsed."

This comes from a man who, in just the past one year, ordered tens of thousands of demonstrators in his own country to be water-cannoned, sprayed with chemicals, tear-gassed, baton-charged and beaten mercilessly on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. This was a man who accused demonstrators of being under the pay of the CIA, who said demonstrations were going to plunge the country into anarchy and ruin, whose laws consider any gathering of three or more people as an illegal assembly. You must agree, his sincerity is touching.

After stemming the tide of global re-colonisation almost single-handedly, Dr Mahathir has recently gone off for a well-deserved two-week vacation in Argentina and the Caribbean. No doubt, he will sympathize with the Argies for having their asses kicked in the Falklands by re-colonisers. No doubt he will remind the Caribbean states that they were former colonies and ripe for re-colonisation by the evil Westerners.

After that, he flies off to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Swizerland, where he will get the chance to rub shoulders with the best of those Evil Westerners. Then he meets up with Evil Westerner Jacque Chirac, President of that former coloniser France. No doubt he will sort out those nasty colonisers there.

Just days after he left on his noble quest, a crackdown on dissent has seen two senior Opposition politicians and a newspaper editor arrested and charged for sedition. Mahathir's deputy cooly described the arrests as "a normal matter". Five publications have been threatened with bans. His own party is being purged of "traitors".

While Mahathir struggles against the foreigners out to re-colonise us, his government is ensuring that Malaysians will remain enslaved.

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