by RK Anand
Sep 3rd, 2015
COMMENT He dropped the bombshell midway through dinner. The reasons, he argued, were better opportunities and having grown tired of racism in Malaysia.
But racism exists everywhere, I protested, hoping it would dissuade him from emigrating but it was greeted with laughter instead.
“I do not mind being called an immigrant elsewhere. But it hurts when I am told that I am a ‘pendatang’ in the land where my father and I were born. I do not want my children to endure this as well.”
With that, I knew nothing more could be said or done except to bid him farewell.
The racial remarks that keep piling in the aftermath of last weekend’s Bersih 4 rally reminded me of that conversation with a friend, who is now residing in New Zealand, where he claims to be happier – at least on non-gastronomical terms.
It seems that the minority Chinese community is accepted as Malaysians by certain politicians and their demagogues as far as tourism posters or advertisements are concerned.
But when a predominantly Chinese crowd takes to the streets to protest against the government, their actions are viewed through racial lens, evoking calls of counter-rallies and warnings of racial bloodletting.
Then again, how is calling for reforms to ensure free and fair elections as well as good governance a racist agenda?
If that is the case, then this brand of “racism” should be propagated. And the “racists” should be proud of themselves for wanting to create a better tomorrow for all.
Granted, some of the incidents which occurred during the protest were distasteful and disrespectful.
But this is not confined to Bersih 4 – there were protests with the severed head of a cow as well as the slaughtering of chickens and smearing of their blood on a banner with images of DAP leaders.
And do not forget how the Bersih 4 protesters waved the Jalur Gemilang and rendered the national anthem with patriotic zeal.
Malays in a political conundrum
The response to the racial composition of Bersih 4 was expected. After all, it came as a blessing in disguise for certain political parties.
The Malays are in a political conundrum.
On one hand, Umno appears to be plunging into chaos due to internal rumbles, and on the other, without Anwar Ibrahim and PAS, DAP appears to be dominating the opposition.
Bersih 4 provided the perfect excuse for Umno politicians to whip up anti-Chinese and anti-DAP sentiments, with photographs of protesters ridiculing and disparaging Malay leaders, including the PAS president, an Islamic scholar.
Angering the Chinese in the process is of no consequence to these politicians since their votes are cast for the opposition.
And so the focus shifted from the objectives of Bersih 4 to the skin tone of its participants.
To be fair, racism is not exclusive to one particular group; it is found among all races and the social media exposes this underbelly, where comments are sometimes peppered with racial slurs.
The danger however is when it is exploited for a political agenda and the authorities turn a deaf ear, thus legitimising the racial threats and acts of provocation.
As for the prime minister, who happens to be the central figure in all that is transpiring at present, he is similar to the inflatable punching bag which protesters had pinned a caricature of him to and rained blows on.
Refusing to be knocked out, he keeps bouncing back.
Even the devastating upper cuts of Dr Mahathir Mohamad – which had knocked out numerous formidable opponents in the past – appear unable to floor him.
And now Mahathir is pushing for a vote of no confidence in Parliament and it remains to be seen if the former premier would be able to convince Umno lawmakers to deflate their president.
RK ANAND is a member of the Team Malaysiakini.