IT has been said that people make a nation. That being the case, I can’t help feeling worried and disturbed about the existence of certain groups in the country who seem to enjoy themselves as they continue to disrupt the peace and harmony we have jealously guarded for decades.
If there are Malaysians who are hell bent on pitting one race against another, one religion against the other, this party against that party for the most absurd of reasons, then we are heading for troubled times.
The situation gets more worrying when the authorities seem to turn a blind eye on such acts of extremism in our midst.
Several incidents of public misdemeanour and violent-like behaviour in Peninsular Malaysia this week should remind us of how fragile our inter-racial and inter-religious ties are. Surely, there must be something wrong somewhere that has caused this current trend of unwarranted outbursts against each other, even if it only involved a small group.
Here are some of the incidents which took place this past week. All right-thinking Malaysians must express concern and outrage at the gangster-like behaviour of these groups.
In Penang, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng related in an article on how he felt threatened by the violent conduct of a group of protesters during a rally last Sunday.
Lim wrote: “I decided to proceed to the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 event and arrived at 6.30pm in my official car PG1. On arrival, I became the target of the Umno and Perkasa members’ violent behaviour. They used foul language, curse words and racial epithets such as ‘Cina Babi, Penang Cina bodoh, babi sokong Lim Guan Eng Ketua Menteri’.
“The Umno and Perkasa members surged forward, pointing their fists at me, again using racist language and threatening words like ‘you jaga’. If not for members of the public ringing me in protection, I believe they would have attacked me.
“This violent conduct does not represent Malay culture or Malaysian spirit. I do not understand why they are so worked up in supporting Lynas which is an Australian company. They have a right to support Lynas but these Umno and Perkasa members cannot prevent others from opposing Lynas”.
“The Umno and Perkasa members continued their violent behaviour towards me coming as close as 1 metre when I went to my car. Even after getting into my official car, they continued to hit my car, spit on it and refused to let my car leave.”
The chief minister later lodged a police report about the incident, stating that should anything happen to him, he would hold Perkasa and Umno responsible.
This case is the worst of the racial kind as the most venomous slurs were uttered against a particular race.
Another incident of a violent nature is this one involving PKR and UMNO.
Last Monday, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah lodged a police report alleging that a man, who was among a group of ‘thugs’ trying to disrupt a PKR event in Felda Lepar Hilir, Pahang, had tried to attack her.
Eyewitness and PKR’s Seri Setia assemblyperson Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad had claimed that the ‘attacker’ Asrullah Effendi Abdullah attempted to hit Nurul or wrench her tudung.
Asrullah is the aide of Umno’s Lepar assemblyman Mohd Shohaimi Jusoh who had earlier defended his man’s action saying that he was trying to ‘protect’ Nurul from being attacked.
He explained that Asrullah had tried to grab the microphone from the PKR parliamentarian to stop her from speaking, as the mob was getting out of hand.
This case is of one political party attempting to show its might against the other. It is principally a Malay ‘power battle’ as it involved Felda.
What is not right here is that it looked like an attempted vicious attack against a lady politician.
The Umno group should have organised a separate ceramah elsewhere instead of disrupting the PKR event.
The third incident which I find rather disturbing this week is the statement from Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali over the Star’s publication of the photograph depicting American singer Erykah Badu with the Arabic script ‘Allah’ tattooed on her upper chest.
Last Tuesday, he was quoted as saying that “we have given the warning … Perkasa cannot guarantee that our members will not act beyond the law… if there is no action from the government”.
What! So Perkasa members are prepared to take the law into their own hands? Is this what they are trying to tell the rest of Malaysia?
Such a group poses real danger to the country. I’m wondering whether the police will take action against Syed Hassan for uttering such words which could be considered threatening the security of the country.
What is most disturbing is that some VVIPs also seemed to be lending their support to Perkasa’s ‘blind’ campaign. I hope they would reconsider their links with such an extremist group.
The above incidents I’ve related seemed to depict the declining racial and religious understanding and warm personal ties in the country.
Then again, we must emphasise that only small groups of people are involved in such unruly and violent behaviour. Nonetheless, the authorities must act to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
Every time I read or heard of such violent incidents happening in West Malaysia, I have to say in my heart, ‘Thank God, there are no such groups in Sarawak’.
Let me be very blunt here. Sarawakians are glad that Perkasa and the extremist elements in Umno have not set foot in the state. We don’t want them in Sarawak. To us, they are trouble-makers and their violent streaks are alien to us.
We Sarawakians do not hurl racial slurs at each other, do not disrupt political gatherings, do not attempt to attack or throw stones at the official car of our chief minister and do not accuse each other of proselytisation.
If someone offended us, we would be more than happy to accept an apology.
See, Tan Sri Dr James Masing did just that when The Asian Beacon apologised for an article deemed insulting to the Iban community. He did not demand for the printing permit to be withdrawn like Perkasa demanded of The Star.
I can go on and on with examples of how civil we, Sarawakians, are when compared to how uncivilised some groups in West Malaysia could be.
Granted things may not be perfect in Sarawak — corruption remains the sore point — but I must still say in my heart will all sincerity, ‘Thank God, there are so such groups in Sarawak. We are thankful for this blessing for our home state’. – The Borneo Post