Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 23. September 24, 1969
In Salient 22 a certain Mr. Sharifudin alleges that the Malaysian Students Association has never been consulted in any of the matters recently arising both locally and at NZUSA councils concerning Malaysian Students.
May I point out that all matters that have arisen this year and especially those relating to councils have been discussed at International Affairs sub-committee at which the president of the MSA and/or the secretary have been present as representatives of the MSA.
If the president and secretary of the association cannot speak for the group they represent or if there is a singular lack of communication of the outcome of the meeting I cannot say but the blame must lie there and nowhere else.
If Mr. Sharifudin has any complaints on what has been done let him tell me and I will in consultation with my sub-committee take whatever actions seems appropriate.
International Affairs Officer.
David Shand's article in Salient 22 on Malaysia must be commended for its highly perceptive content. He has understood us in many ways.
There is one slight technical error in describing Lee Kuan Yeu's party as the People's Progressive Party (PPP). Actually, its the Peoples' Action Party (PAP). The DAP was originally PAP. viz., when Singapore was in Malaysia. But after eviction, it had to change its name owing to legal technicalities.
New Zealanders were quite right in believing that Malaysia was a democracy before the present development. We were a democracy in many senses of the world. Shand's main argument was that (1) there was gerrymandering, (2) there were special privileges for the Malays, (3) the Internal Security Act gives initially absolute power to the government.
Gerrymandering is not uncommon even in the U.S. though not so in New Zealand. The special privileges were supposed to creat a more democratic society and it was agreed that in due course these privileges would go. When there are elements in a society which try to undermine the very basis of that society by soliciting (often successfully) loyally to Mao and "great" China and even preparing for armed revolt, can one help but to contain them?
This is not to say that there is an absence of a "competitive struggle for the peoples' vote". The last election clearly showed a return of a considerable number of opposition leaders.
I for one, would not like to harbour the grim view that "there does not seem to be any middle way for Malaysia". Granted that the degree of polarisation of the races are at the moment acute, still I would like to think that under a "wise" and "benevolent" government a process of integration (not assimilation) would be possible.
The irony of the situation is that we were so close to a workable democracy and yet we lost it through our intolerance (perhaps?)
As the new president of the Malaysia-Singapore Students' Association. I would like to make the following statement:—
The Committee and I intend to place emphasis on the following three issues during our term in office:
• Welfare: Aiding, supporting and helping our members in their studies or in other personal matters.
• Social: Ensuring that members achieve a balanced medium between studies and social activities.
• Cultural: To promote our culture throughout the community and to encourage closer contact with other students and members of the community.
Our programme will be oriented towards these three factors in which we invite any interested parlies to participate. We would also like to express our best wishes to our readers in their forthcoming examinations.
Pak Yoong, M.Sc.
President, Malaysia-Singapore Students' Association.
In reply to your reply to my comments on your published reaction to events connected with the Malaysian Students' Association (M.S.A.), the Malaysian-Singapore Students' Association (M.S.S.A.) and the Student Action Committee for a Multi-Racial Malaysia (S.A.C.M.R.M.) I should like to make some preliminary points:
•My letter in Salient 22 was not intended as either a personal attack on you or or an attack on the way you run your newspaper but a pea that some efforts be made to assess the views of the supporters as well as opponents of the M.S.A. on its formation last year and continued existence. So far we have read many reports of criticism and expression of "concern" not only from certain Malaysian students but also from the New Zealand Students' bodies including V.U.W. S.A. (only last week were M.S.A. members invited to express their views).
• Though I have been secretary of the M.S.A. for the past financial year till 14 September, the views I expressed in my letter were not necessarily official M.S.A. views.
• The tone of the majority of New Zealand's newspapers' articles on recent happenings in Malaysia that I have read have been sensational. I assure you that those who, by their nationality, are involved in these events (some of whom are at this university and elsewhere in this country) find them slightly less entertaining than "Westerns". To these people, and in the face of daunting political, socio-economic, religious, geographic and racial obstacles, the stressing of, and the opportunity of blame for, setbacks are not really very helpful.
And five points in conclusion:
• There was No pressure from the Malaysian Government for the formation of the M.S.A. But when a group of Malaysian students, including myself, decided (admittedly belatedly) that when Singapore ceased to be part of Malaysia, that it would be for our country's sake to establish the M.S.A. since it would afford the best means of liaison with our Government. And this would enable Singapore students to form their own association of they so wish. This fitted in with the Malaysian Government's reluctance to subsidise a "Malaysian House" which was shared by students from Singapore whose Government did not share in the subsidy. Furthermore these two governments do not see eye to eye, and for the nationals of these countris to ignore this is to be unreasonably perverse and dissident, especially in view of the need for a strong central control in Malaysia, much less homogeneous and stable than New Zealand.
• Whether the majority of members of the M.S.A. are covertly racialistic is extremely hard to establish objectively. Uniformed generalisations are childish, surely. But overtly, both numerically and vocally, if there was any racial domination of the M.S.A. Committee or recent, well-attended, multiracial general meeting, it was certainly not by Malays.
• The photo you published in Salient 20 next to the front page story on the S.A.C.M.R.M. is very striking. As far as I can remember that photograph was not taken during the recent riots. One can only wonder what impression of Malaysia it was intended to concoct.
• Again the formation of M.S.A. was felt necessary last year for, (though it was to be basically a social association, it would help to promote the idea of our national identity and to foster the spirit of co-operation among fellow-Malaysians lacking in the M.S.S.A.
• And finally, in my view, some of these Malaysians who prefer the M.S.S.A. to the M.S.A. are inspired more by a type of anti-patriotism than by any high-minded internationalism.
James G. Entika.