MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, November 30, 2018

Riots and racial bias - A reply

“And how easy it is to recognise the revenant shapes that the old unchanging enemies – racism, leader worship, superstition – assume when they reappear amongst us (often bodyguarded by their new apologists).”
– Christopher Hitchens, Arguably
I just do not get it. PKR leader Rafizi Ramli in his opinion piece "Riots and racial bias" claims whenever racially tinged events happen, we must embrace objectivity and learn to see from the other’s groups perspective. 
Unfortunately, being objective and empathetic – which is what, I suppose, Rafizi was aiming for – are mutually exclusive.
Rafizi says that whenever incidents like the Seafield riots crop up, we see them through a racial lens. But this bias is a convenient distraction from the institutional racism that is far more damaging to this country, that also defines mainstream Malaysian politics. 
It is difficult to tell people to embrace the other and be empathetic of our differences when the majority race is defined in the Federal Constitution and accorded privileges that when questioned is met with threats of violence.
Seriously, this is country where some schools decide that there should be separate canteens for Muslim and non-Muslim students. And politicians wonder why people view things through a racial lens?
Going beyond this recent case, Rafizi is right though when it comes to non-Malay racism. 
There are those online who claim that Malays, when it comes to intelligence – hidden behind whatever euphemism they think smart – are genetically inferior. This of course is but just one example of the scintillating discourse when it comes to race and politics in the alternative media.
The Seafield riots were, in reality, a defence against the invasion of sacred ground. Take away the temple politics, corporate interests, a compromised security apparatus and partisan political correctness, what happened was that hired Malay thugs invaded the sacred place of Hindus, and violence erupted.
Racially charged
Veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin, for instance, think that the rioters should be punished. If Malays are caught, then so should the Hindu rioters. 
He uses racially charged language – "gelap (dark)"– and wonders why the state security did not have torchlights when questioning why no Hindus were arrested at the time. 
He then goes on to “school” Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P Waythaymoorthy for attempting to shine a light on the false narrative of the state security apparatus. 
And to think, his views are praised by some as being the voice of reason in this mess. 
Think about this way. There have been many temple 'relocations' before and while there have been protests – and let's face facts, people can dredge up worse cases than these Seafield riots – the incidents have been relatively violence-free.
Whenever there are threats of racial violence, are the non-Malays making those threats? Has a non-Malay politician ever threatened violence in furtherance of his or her political agenda? Have non-Malay activists ever threatened violence if the state does not conform to its agenda?
I will go further. It is incumbent on non-Malay political operatives to pacify the threats of violence thrown their way. It is incumbent on them to temper their political ideologies, and in some cases, subsume their agendas to appease mainstream Malay politics. 
This is why we have DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang walking back his stance on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd), saying that it is not worth ratifying it if it means there will be another May 13.
This is why we get non-Malay political pundits, activists and propagandists for the Pakatan Harapan regime, claiming that Icerd is not such a big deal and essentially pushing the “social contract – in spirit if not in substance – as a means of racial and religious compromise.
No threat
The non-Malays are a zero threat when it comes to the safety of Malays. Revise history however you want, but we do not control the state security apparatus, we do not control the bureaucratic processes in place in case there are riots, and we certainly do not control the royal institutions.
Ever since May 13, 1969, non-Malays have learnt to keep their mouths shut. Non-Malays political operatives who want political power have to attach themselves to Malay power structures, which peddle narratives that the Malay community are under threat. 
And when Malays pose a threat to these narratives, they are labelled deviants, liberals or worse. So when someone like Zan Azlee writes about throwing away the crutches, he is vilified.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim writes about our hard-won peace. What peace are we talking about here? Urban centres power the engine of economic progress in this country, but urban Malays and non-Malays who are are somewhat progressive in their views are reminded that the sensitivities of the rural electorate have to be taken into account. And these are normally racial and religious sensitivities. 
This, I suppose, is the hard-won peace that Anwar is talking about.
But is this really hard-won? We compromise, because to do otherwise would be suicide. The non-Malays have a good life in this country as long as we play by Malay rules. Partisan allegiance does not translate to patriotism. What is good for political parties does not mean that it is good for this country.
Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris or 'Papagomo' gets arrested and people are happy. But what has he said that most mainstream Umno politicians have not said before? 
Meanwhile, Umno are jumping up and down because Waythaymoorthy has not been arrested. But what has Waythaymoorthy said that most Indian activists have not said before, or even non-Malays online who go on about the 'apartheid' system here in Malaysia?
Every time a situation like the Seafield riot happens, some folks say do not make the situation worse by writing about it. Or at least, writing about it in a way that goes against pleasant narratives about how we earned this blessed peace. 
No, I think every time a situation like this happens, it reminds us of who we really are.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. - Mkini

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