Last night, I was at a wedding reception of the daughter of a retired colleague, Lt Gen Dato Abdul Aziz Hassan whom I had befriended since my days as an army cadet. He was my senior though, and our friendship was to last till our final days in the army. Interestingly, he was to become my boss when he was promoted to a three star general to assume the post of the Army Field Commander, and I as his Chief of Staff Operations.
I remembered that on his first day in office, he called me up and the first thing he said to me was, “Arshad, you are still my friend”. I never thought that he would say such a thing because, I had always taken him as close friend, and never doubted that he would dismiss me, now that he was my boss. How else could I response, but to say that I appreciate his acceptance of me as a friend, and that I will truly serve him as my boss. Unfortunately, my tenure as his Chief of Staff was short, because I was due to go on retirement, and had willingly shorten my pre-retirement leave to only three months, instead of a six months accumulated leave, at the request of my boss.
The wedding reception was a reunion of retirees of sorts. I guess a majority of the guests were military retirees, a few serving military officers and close civilian associates of the General. But what amazed me is the mixed of the various Malaysian races; Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabi's, Caucasian and a number of Europeans.
I am struck by the harmonious excitement and friendliness of the guests that showed little to associate themselves with the on-going squabble among politicians concerning the issue of race, and the much talked about supremacy of one race over another. The guests that was at the wedding reception that evening have shown what Malaysians are truly like, and I would say without any inhibition that it is the military that has always been practicing the One Malaysia that PM Najib is now propagating. For those not in the military service will never understand what I have said, and we do not play a racial card in our service to King and country. All races are treated as one. We adorn one uniform, and we only speak one common language i.e the military language.
Having left the military service that I adore, it saddens me to witness how much the Malaysian society is so divided, and I attribute this to the narrow mindedness and self centered thinking of some selfish politicians who only think of themselves, perpetuating the needs of their own race, and never wanting to think that others are equally a part of a greater society, in which they are also a part of.
Honestly, I have little faith in the success of the One Malaysia that we now talk about, unless and until we break the 'taboo' that no one race is superior to another, and that all races begin to talk about wanting to help one another, live among one another and learn to respect each others racial and religious sensitivities.
At a time when I am already in my twilight years, it is the fear of my grandchildren more, that they will all suffer the consequence of the bickering of our politicians today, that will make them be part of a society that is constantly divided, and in endless squabble over the issue of race.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION