Sin Chew Daily
General Douglas MacArthur said in his April 19, 1951 farewell address to the US Congress: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
The “Old soldiers never die” speech not only won the applause of Congress, but also brought tears to millions of Americans – Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans – listening to his speech over the radio.
The Gettysburg Address by the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln is an unfadable, time-honored classic, while the 1961 inauguration speech by the 35th President John F. Kennedy is a spirit-lifting call on humanity to unite against autocracy, poverty, illnesses and wars. In the speech, Kennedy famously uttered, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Not every retiring man or woman is qualified to say something like “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. A misquote of it could be humiliating at worst. Talking about eligibility, perhaps in Malaysia only the warrior of Chinese education Lim Lian Geok and the Tiger of Jelutong Karpal Singh could come close to it.
By right, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should have great opportunity to make this heart-warming quote on behalf of the Malays in this country.
For example, he could have seized the opportunity to say something like this to his compatriots of all races in a timely farewell speech as he were to hand over the baton to his named successor after the 2018 change of federal government: “The nation has been liberated from the shackles of corruption and we have rebuilt a nation where all Malaysians are equal, a modern-day Utopia for all.”
Or perhaps Tun Mahathir might even want to emulate Abraham Lincoln to proclaim that “all men are created equal” as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, in the latter’s Gettysburg Address, in a bid to bring true equality to all in this country, and then round up his speech with “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”.
All politicians want to leave behind some commendable legacies to the future generations to serve as a role model they will look up to. Unfortunately Tun Mahathir has missed the golden opportunity to bow out with grace and have his good name indelibly etched in the nation’s history.
Mahathir’s latest book “Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues for a New Malaysia” could as well be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back for the former PM’s personal image.
In the book, he keeps hitting out at his allies and political rivals alike, arguing that the Chinese have failed to assimilate into the Malay society out of sheer reluctance.
As a matter of fact, Malaysians from all ethnic backgrounds have been living harmoniously in this country for decades. None of our Malay friends have ever proposed to us that we should eat with our hands and not chopsticks, and none has said we should not speak Mandarin.
This only illustrates a very important point that Tun M downright has no idea how to be a real “Malaysian” in the first place!
It is highly recommended that Tun Mahathir go through the open letter by Sin Chew Daily editor-in-chief Kuik Cheng Kang. We are sure you have plenty of young Malays who can read and write Chinese. Please get them to read out every word clearly to you and hopefully you will pick up a lesson or two from it.
Tun, you have led this country for 24 years in total, and by right you should know what true “Malaysians” want.
Today, Malaysians down to the street level have remained as united as ever. Only politicians like you are so engrossed in dividing the people.
Racist issues have become a convenient consumable regularly brought up in each election season to advance the politicians’ wicked motives.
No leaders of developed countries would ever attribute their countries’ rise or fall to any specific community. Before you talk in public, please go through the speeches made by great men like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Sir Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur.
And before you write a book, read the biographies of these great people, and be a respected old man!
For your age, you should have seen the world thoroughly enough, but unfortunately all we see is that you keep reverting to your old stupid ways.
By reading the books about Winston Churchill, we will come to learn how an ordinary flawed man became an extraordinary leader. But what about you, Tun M? We have hoped that you would be a truly exemplary “statesman” we all could take pride in, not just another opportunistic “politician”.
“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is a story about an ordinary woman Eva Perón who left behind a legacy of fond memories and respect for millions of Argentinians. Born an illegitimate child, she worked very hard from being an actress to eventually become the First Lady of Argentina. She was actively involved in community activities and helping the underprivileged while advocating political participation of women, building schools, orphanages and more. She never had opulent jewelries all over her body, but support and love kept pouring onto her from the Argentine masses.
Although she only lived for 33 short years, she became, and remains very much so today, an undying pride of her country.
Tun M, one doesn’t have to live long enough to have made any remarkable contribution towards his or her country!
You have dearly missed the eligibility to loudly chant out “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. We nevertheless hope that you can stop finding fault with the Malaysian Chinese community, or “Malaysians” for that matter, in the remaining days or years that you may still have.