It is Malaysia’s greatest tragedy that despite being home to people
of diverse faiths, mutual respect for one another’s religious beliefs is
increasingly being compromised.
The culprits who engage in racial disrespect are none other than the
country’s politicians, the very people who had assured to look after the
To a great extent, the damage done by these politicians has become
irreversible, with racial harmony once enjoyed by Malaysians now
becoming a thing of the past.
One would have thought the bloodshed from the May 13, 1969 racial
riots was enough to teach Malaysians a lesson or two about unity and
But that is not the case. Racial politicking has often led to Malaysians ending up at loggerheads with one another.
Forty-four years after the country was shocked by racial riots, the scenario has not quite changed.
For example, when the ruling party Barisan Nasional failed to record a
two-third victory in the May 5, 2013 general election, its chief Najib
Tun Razak very quickly assigned blame on the Chinese community, saying
it was a ‘Chinese tsunami’ that was responsible for BN’s failure in the
13th general election.
Suddenly, the Chinese community became the ‘black sheep of the
family’, with irresponsible people taking the liberty of condemning the
Chinese for lending support to the opposition pact under Pakatan Rakyat.
Soon after the 13 general election, the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia
lambasted the Chinese community in its front-page article, asking “Apa
lagi Cina mahu” or “What more do the Chinese want”?
The Chinese community have been termed as “ungrateful” for ditching BN during a time so crucial like the general election.
A week after the 13th general election, a retired Court of Appeal
judge, Mohd Noor Abdullah revealed his racist side when he chided the
Chinese community saying they must be prepared for a backlash from the
Malays for their ‘betrayal” in the general election.
Mohd Noor also accused the Chinese of plotting to seize political power despite having economic power in the country.
Najib remains mum
While prime minister Najib chooses to ignore the danger presented by a
deep-rooted racism, Mohd Noor’s racial slur might end up placing him in
hot soup, thanks to DAP national chaiperson Karpal Singh who on May 15
lodged a report against the former judge.
Karpal is urging the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to
investigate Noor’s remarks under Sedition Act 1948 as it could
jeopardise the racial harmony existing in the country.
“In what way the Chinese were trying to seize political power?
“The statement is very insidious and can cause serious problems. Noor should retract and clarify his statement,” Karpal said.
Three days prior to Karpal’s police report, another DAP leader, M Kulasegaran also lodged a report against Mohd Noor.
While racial discord continues to grow unhealthily in the country, premier Najib continues to be non-committal on this issue.
When BN failed to make waves in the May 5 general election, Najib
announced that the Barisan Nasional government would embark on a
national reconciliation process – the aim being to heal the racial and
political divisions that cropped up post- the 13th general election.
Najib’s idea of a reconciliation was to address the rise in extremist sentiment that has affected the country’s unity.
However, the premier’s claim of rejecting political and racial
extremism and inculcating a more moderate environment is unbelievable.
Najib seems to have forgotten very easily that he is the ‘perpetrator
of such a situation, when instead of listening to the rakyat, he
decided to weigh his chances at the polls by supporting candidates
notorious for their racial slurs.
Had Najib been sincere about maintaining racial harmony via
moderation, he would have taken the likes of Zulkifli Noordin and
Malay-group Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali and his cabinet colleagues
like Hishammuddin Hussein and Mohd Nazri Aziz to task for continuously
inciting the non-Malays against the Malays.
Incidentally, Najib has decided to ‘keep’ both Hishammuddin and Mohd
Nazri in the new cabinet lineup post-the 13th general election.
Hishammuddin is now the Defence Minister while Mohd Nazri heads the
Tourism and Culture Minister.
Unity, if it had meant anything to Najib, would have seen him coming
down hard on Utusan Malaysia, Mohd Noor and all those who have no qualms
condemning the other faiths, issuing the ultimatum that no racially
motivated sentiments would be tolerated in this country.
Before any such ‘reconciliation’s takes place, Najib as the people’s
leader has to address the bigger picture that has led to racial
extremism in Malaysia.
From racist advertisements to racist politicians/authorities to
racial outbursts at the National Service training camps, none should
escape punishment for widening the racial rift among the rakyat.
With the general election over, it is time that politicians, be they
from the BN or Pakatan camp, did some real thinking to diffuse the
racially charged up scene in Malaysia.
For starters, politicians must stop their racial politicking and join
forces for the sake of the nation and her people’s well-being and
harmony – if this is difficult, then ‘reconciliation’ in the true sense
of the word remains impossible.