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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Raising issues on extremism not the same as condoning them

After more than 60 years of political independence, we are unable to move beyond race or religion.
COMMENT
ramasamy-canteen-1
By P Ramasamy
Despite the unwarranted attacks against me for the past few days, I still think that Gobi Krishnan, the former canteen operator at Politeknik Seberang Perai (PSP), Penang, was an unfortunate victim of racial discrimination.
However, those who sought to support the PSP inclusive of two deputy federal ministers (Reezal Merican and P. Kamalanathan), the Penang MIC Youth and the two Malay-Muslim NGOs have yet to prove that the decision to terminate the Indian trader was not ethnic in nature.
But unfortunately, we are yet to hear from the “horse’s” mouth, that is, from the responsible persons in the PSP as to what exactly transpired over the matter of the Indian trader.
I might have organized the press meet in Komtar last Thursday, but the person who gave his side of the story was none other than then victim himself, Gobi Krishnan. In the meet, he carefully narrated the events that led to his ouster from the PSP.
I merely concluded on the basis of what was narrated that the matter surrounding the trader’s expulsion suggested racial and religious discrimination.
Now rather than rationally refuting Gobi Krishnan, or me the PSP sought to rely on the two deputy federal ministers, the Penang MIC Youth and two NGOs to present their side of the story.
However, unfortunately those who came to the “rescue” of the PSP made the situation worse. It revealed among other things that the PSP had something serious to hide and this was the reason why the director Zulfikli Ariffin stayed in the background allowing others to do the talking.
If the PSP officials had “taken the bull by its horns” and explained the matter to the public, things might have been different. They made the whole thing “political” by getting the support of two deputy federal ministers, a political party and two racist NGOs.
To date, the PSP or its die-hard supporters have not proven me wrong. There is no need to apologize simply because the way events moved, I feel that I am vindicated.
By the way, raising issues relating to racism or religious extremism is not the same thing as condoning them. I raised the issue of racial discrimination to point why public institutions including polytechnics funded by taxpayers’ money are engaging in these primordial sentiments.
How can I be condemned for racism or inciting racial tensions when my real intention was to urge the authorities to move away from such considerations?
It is not mainly about the affected Indian trader, it is about the sad state of race relations in the country. Sad to know that after more than 60 years of political independence, we are unable to move beyond race or religion.
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister, Penang. -FMT

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