Mainstreaming the lunatic fringe?

Mustafa K Anuar
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 14, 2011

AUGUST 14 — In the recent past, middle-ground Malaysia has borne witness to a series of disturbing public expressions by certain groups and individuals that border on ethnic slurring, slander and rabid racism.

And many a time, these public expressions have without exception insulted the intelligence of the average Malaysians, irrespective of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

What’s equally disturbing is that such articulation has caused hurt, pain and even outrage among the people who have been subjected to these irrational outbursts from the lunatic fringe. ‘Lunatic fringe’ here refers to the fanatical, extremist or irrational members of society who seem to be on the rise lately. Perkasa and other groups of similar disposition come to mind immediately.

This political posturing of the lunatic fringe could possibly pose a threat to our ethnic relations as well as national security.

And yet de facto law minister Nazri Aziz insists irrationally that Malaysia’s political landscape has changed so drastically that what was taboo or “sensitive” a few years ago is now acceptable to Malaysians.

“Sensitive matters are now being discussed in the open,” he told The Malaysian Insider (20 May 2011) recently. He added, “When something is mentioned all the time, it becomes less sensitive and this is a good thing because then things can be mentioned but people will not take offence of it.”

Nazri’s statement was made in the context of the recent claim by certain blogs and subsequently quoted by the irrepressible and irresponsible Utusan Malaysia that the Christian community in Malaysia was involved in a conspiracy to replace Islam with Christianity as the official religion of the federation. This matter, as it turned out, became easy fodder for groups such as Perkasa to publicly express their dismay and disgust and to agitate — although armed with no iota of evidence!

Freedom of expression or freedom to incite?

The minister’s ‘explanation’ seems to imply that freedom of expression and of the press is in full swing in contemporary Malaysia. Is this really so?

I don’t think so. If anything, this so-called freedom of expression has been applied by the powers that be in a very selective manner. When was the last time Malaysians were encouraged, let alone permitted, to publicly discuss pertinent but ‘sensitive’ issues such as religious conversion that has implications on a couple’s children, meritocracy, the brain drain, institutional racism, the NEP; history text books and the ISA, to name but a few?

Anyway, to follow the minister’s argument to its logical conclusion, does freedom of expression provide the licence to the citizenry to mouth racist remarks that could well spark ethno-religious uneasiness or even conflict in multi-ethnic and multi-religious Malaysia? Have the authorities subscribed to the creed that freedom of expression includes the right to cause hatred among ethnic and religious communities?

If so, wouldn’t this new political philosophy run counter to and make a mockery of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent plea at Oxford University for moderates from all religious communities to join hands in promoting justice, freedom, hope, compassion and goodwill (The Malaysian Insider, 17 May 2011) ? Or was that mere PR spiel for the international crowd?

If the Najib administration is serious about reining in the extremist and irrational elements in our midst, one would have thought that he and his cabinet ministers would have reprimanded and condemned the wild utterings of the lunatic fringe. Of course, we’re not suggesting that the federal government make use of such undemocratic legal tools as the ISA, but at the very least Malaysians expect him to make a public statement to categorically denounce such extremist expressions.

And in the case of the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, one would think that the supposedly concerned prime minister, who is also the Umno president, would have taken the paper to task for having published unverified reports and commentaries that invariably hurt the feelings of certain segments of Malaysian society, thus causing disharmony and dissatisfaction among Malaysians..

Nazri’s assertion that everyone is entitled to speak their minds could possibly help groups such as Perkasa to delude themselves into believing that they have been entrusted to represent the sentiments and interests of ‘the Malay-Muslim community’. To be sure, many Malays and Muslims — who believe that Islam stands for peace, justice and mutual respect and at the same time abhors slander, divisiveness, and enmity — are averse to many of the things expressed in their name by Perkasa and its ilk.

It is in moments like this that one is baffled by the elegant silence displayed by many religious leaders, particularly the Muslim religious authorities. One would think that the Muslim religious leaders would be in a better position to rein in these social recalcitrants in keeping with the true teachings of Islam. — Aliran

* Dr Mustafa K Anuar is assistant secretary of Aliran.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 14 August 2011 - 1:32 pm

    Malaysians of to today are totally different from previous years…especially after 12th GE.
    They are more educated and much smarter…and not easily fooled by dirty race politics anymore.
    Malaysians dare to speak up with no fear and fully aware traps are laid to provoke for angers and fights…and when that materialized ……Najib have plenty of options to turn things around…….like a rat finding ways to escape being caught.
    Malaysians are not easily fooled.
    The BERSIH 2 rally is the classic example…no weapons…no violence…and accept arrested with no fear…so much so…1600 were arrested..and what happen next? All freed!!
    They can keep provoking and create fear.
    And the fear they fear most is voters will vote them out….and they have no smart ideas how to change their minds…unless Malaysians fight each other and give them the reasons they desperately looking for.
    To get rid of CORRUPTIONS and RACE politics..disuniting Malaysians for decades…they have enough…of their arrogance…bullies…expert twisters.
    Rob and steal….yet treat all Malaysians like suckers and idiots.
    The People Power will come out on 13th GE …which Najib knows and dare not declare the date for so long…which god willing …is infact helping Malaysians to vote for change with his low class lying…wheeling and dealing…hypocritical leadership.
    He is the longest unelected PM feeling no shame at all.

  2. #2 by undertaker888 on Sunday, 14 August 2011 - 2:13 pm

    By using the same NEP [email protected] logic, the Christian world can now also ban all Muslims from preaching to Christians. Same for those Buddhist and Hindu countries. Put them in jail if they proselyte to non- Muslims.

    all those bodoh sombong corrupted NEP [email protected] a bunch of jokers running the countries with mamak pulling the strings.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Sunday, 14 August 2011 - 5:42 pm

    undertaker888, when I was in Standard 1 way back in the 1960s, I saw a group of schoolkids playing marbles, rolling up their marble to hit a line of marbles in front of them. The elder brother of one of the players was making up his own rules of the game. He said, “If you miss, my brother wins. However, if you hit the marbles in front, my brother also wins.”
    I guess that elder brother has since joined the NEP [email protected] and making up the laws of the land. Except that now his victims are no longer Standard 1 kids but grown-ups.

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Sunday, 14 August 2011 - 8:27 pm

    I am disappointed that many of our national leaders do not have a logical mindset.

    At the height of the Bersih 2.o row, the Friday sermon in mosques throughout Kuala Lumpur attacked the credibility of Bersih’s organisers, accusing them of causing disunity by questioning Islamic rights and manipulating Muslims. The sermon, obtained from the website of the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jakim), charged that the organisers were using many tricks to achieve their goals. The sermon is prepared by the GOVERNMENT and read out in all mosques in Kuala Lumpur.

    How can we have this kind of “mentally retarded” leaders to helm the country? Wouldn’t the country go downhill under their leading? They are making Malaysia a laughing stock to the world!

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Sunday, 14 August 2011 - 9:43 pm

    At least a good news: Malaysian squash superstar Nicol David claimed d Australian Open title at her first attempt; Wonderful, congratulations
    Too bad LCW lost to his nemesis LD again; no public holiday 2molo

  6. #6 by asia on Sunday, 14 August 2011 - 11:27 pm

    They all deserve lock up with free Nasi lemak

    They are CRIMINAL in laws

    They are liars

    They are robber to steal

    They are cheater

    They are misleading voters to be their supporters to cheat, lie, rob, steal

    All deserve lock up with free Nasi lemak

    Can we?

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Monday, 15 August 2011 - 1:09 am

    Look at TheMalaysianInsider Reports Aug 14 – “Malay rights group Perkasa threatened today to “do something” to the government if it fails to take action over three outstanding matters — Bersih 2.0’s “illegal rally”, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s alleged sex video and DAP’s “Christian conspiracy”. “This is our decision today — if there is no action taken on these three issues within a reasonable time we will do something Justice delayed is justice denied ” – Ibrahim Ali added at the media conference.
    And another report :” Perkasa proclaimed today that it will take over PAS’s role as defenders of Islam from now on after accusing the Islamist party of failing in its own objective of upholding Islamic principles”.

    Look who’s acting now like the de-facto PM of Malaysia?

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Monday, 15 August 2011 - 1:23 am

    Silence on Najib’s and authorities’ part to extremist statements and refusal to contradict much less act against extremists only rewards and encourages those who take extremist positions because it pays. They get the attention for being assertive. That’s what counts, never mind that what is said is nonsense. It gets heard. If often enough and not acted against, these extremist positions do assume currency and a semblance of being “normal”.

  9. #9 by Bigjoe on Monday, 15 August 2011 - 8:29 am

    When did the lunatic fringe became mainstream? Its hard to tell exactly BUT I can tell you when it started – May 13, 1969 – that was when they got their foot in. Other pivotal moment – the day Mahathir got elected and 1988 when Razaleigh failed to kick Mahathir out and 1998 when Anwar got jailed. They have been mainstream for a while now…

  10. #10 by dagen on Monday, 15 August 2011 - 9:46 am

    Dear Dr Mustafa of aliran,

    Do not fear for we all know the difference between islam and islam jenis-umno.

    Sleep well. Thanks anyway for your concern.


  11. #11 by Cinapek on Monday, 15 August 2011 - 11:36 am

    Nazri said:

    “… “When something is mentioned all the time, it becomes less sensitive and this is a good thing …”

    Is he trying to justify, defend and encourage the fringe lunatics to continue to fabricate lies that the Christians are trying to take over the Govt, make Christianity the official religion and converting muslims? Until today, despite the strident promises of the Home Minister that all these claims will be investigated, not an iota of proof has been shown. In this respect, I am in absolute agreement with Ibrahim Ali that Perkasa should “do” something to Najib’s administration if Najib and co. are still too cowardly to reveal the report of their “investigations”. Or is Perkasa just as chicken as Najib as displayed by Perkasa during the Bersih rally ? All talk and no action?

    I would like to remind Nazri and the BN Govt where all these lying and provocative acts by these fringe lunatics can lead to. By refusing or chickening out to rein them in, the UMNO/BN Govt is sending the dangerously wrong message to these fringe lunatics that they are above the law and this will encourage them to be bolder and sooner or later attempt more provocative acts. The older generation will remember the shameful desecrations of Indian temples by muslim extremists in Selangor a few decades ago. After getting away with a few desecrations they became bolder and went on a spree of destruction of the temples. It culminated in a group of Indians waiting in ambush for these lunatics and killed the whole group except for one who managed to escape. The Indians were charged for the killings. During the trial it was revealed that the survivor was reportedly a Govt scholar studying medicine in Australia. But can you blame the Indians for retaliating and acting in self defence to protect their temples when the law enforcement agencies were dragging their feet in apprehending the perpetrators? All this could have been avoided if the authorities had the will and sincerity to nip it in the bud.

    We are now seeing history being repeated with the Christians. We might see more provocative acts and raids since we also have lunatic UMNO senators parasiting on taxpayers’ money encouraging them by threatening critics of these lunatics with fire. Fire seems to be a favourite tool of these lunatics. First we have the church burnings, then the various threats and attempts to burn down those who expose the scandals, Ezam’s threat to burn the two news portals and Perkasa’s burning of the STAR newspaper. Are these people incapable of engaging in an intellectual discussion instead of resorting to fire threats all the time?

    We are heading down a slippery slope and it is gaining speed.

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