BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
February 17, 2014
Malaysians learnt a few things over a rather hot weekend, from opposition leaders who reached out to all, to ordinary Malaysians preaching harmony and the few troublemakers who appear to incite trouble.
Some might still think opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a political chameleon but his visit to a Kajang church yesterday proved one thing – he was willing to take the bull by the horns and reach out to all Malaysians irrespective of their faith.
Perhaps he was just there for their votes, those less charitable of him would say.
But the PKR de facto leader did something that no Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders has done in a long time – meet Malaysians outside their community and be the leader of all Malaysians, not just their own race or co-religionists.
Have we seen any BN leader face a crowd of ordinary Malaysians, not from their party or race or religion, and answer their blunt questions? In most cases, it is stage-managed events filled with either a pliant media or those paid to tweet photographs of these leaders.
Anwar is not alone, of course. PAS leaders such as Khalid Abdul Samad and Mujahid Yusof Rawa have also gone to meet and reach out to people from different faiths over the years.
These men have kept their faith, and have no fear of being seen in a church with a crucifix in the background or speaking to Christians warmly and openly. But for BN leaders, most prefer the company of their own community, whose cause they champion to the detriment of the larger Malaysian dream.
One would expect Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to do the same, reach out to all. After all, he spoke of his 1Malaysia, echoing the words of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Bangsa Malaysia that was first mentioned in 1991.
But the prime minister has been silent. Instead, his Umno-owned daily, Utusan Malaysia, has taken the cudgels to fight for race and religion, with one editor warning non-Malays not to overstep limits and to know who is the country’s master race.
Add to that potent statement is the curious incidents that only happen in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) states – provocative acts that could set off a religious clash.
Which Malaysian is stupid enough to distribute Bibles outside national schools or throw a slab of pork into a mosque? And why does it only happen in Penang and not anywhere else?
This comes on the heels of provocative buntings and a Molotov cocktail attack on a church in the island state. So, who in their right frame of mind would do this in Malaysia?
These incidents only lend credence to a theory that there are groups of people out there who want to foment trouble in Malaysia, especially in PR-ruled states. Why? There are endless possibilities to that question.
Police have yet to make any headway in any of these cases but any further acts of a similar nature will only stoke the religious tension in the country for the benefit of the few.
The good news is that there are Malaysians out there who know better, such as the group that has gone from the Klang Valley to Penang over the weekend to promote peace and harmony.
It proves one thing – that there are Malaysians who ignore provocations, threats and blinkered politicians to do what they do best, give each other the warm hand of friendship and smile that has made Malaysians among the most gentle people on the planet.
Politicians should know better, that the people want a better country for all, not one divided by race, religion and class.
There will be many more weekends that will bring us joy or fill us with fear that Malaysia is tearing apart at the seams.
But the opposition have shown that they can handle hot issues of the day with the people that matter. Can BN do the same or just make motherhood statements that mean nothing to the people in the streets?
Yet, one lesson from the weekend is clear. There are more Malaysians out there who want peace and harmony than there are the few lurking around trying to provoke a fight. – February 17, 2014.