Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rise of the racists

Online news portal Malaysiakini has been ordered by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to delete two videos, including one of the cow-head protest in Shah Alam, from its website.

Monitoring and enforcement division senior acting director Abdul Halim Ahmad said in a letter dated Sept 3 that "these videos contain offensive contents with the intent to annoy any person, especially Indians. This is an offence under Section 211/233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998."

In my opinion, this is a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted. It is damage control, but the damage has already been done and repairing the torn ties between the Indians and Malays seems a daunting task.

Furthermore, damage control is futile anyway because the controversial and shocking footage of the Malay-Muslim residents (and apparently some non-residents) of Section 23 of Shah Alam stamping and spitting on the head of a cow to protest against the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple in their neighbourhood has already been posted on YouTube and nobody knows how many people have already downloaded it and/or e-mailed it to their friends. There are lots of copies of the disgustng video in cyberspace.

It is impossible for MCMC to track down every copy and get the video deleted from the Internet. The enforcement guys should acknowledge that it is mission impossible - I'm not talking about the movies - and it would be a sheer waste of time and effort trying to censor the Internet.

What not only the MCMC enforcement officials but all Malaysians should ask is why such a shocking incident occurred in the first place.

What happened to the admirable Malaysian attitude of tolerance? What happened to the unwritten rules of courtesy, understanding, respect for each other's beliefs and knowing the limits that Malaysians had abided by in the peaceful past?

The leaders have been talking about unity in diversity and how great a melting pot of races and cultures Malaysia is, but the people - at least a radical section of them - have been out of sync with political rhetoric.

The folks in the Tourism Ministry have been telling foreigners to visit Malaysia for its rich cultural diversity and see how peaceful and harmonious the multi-racial people are, but the reality is that there are great lacerations in the social fabric - the doors have swung open and the racists have bolted out and are wreaking havoc on the community of innocents.

And the authorities always react after the horses have bolted - after the cow head has been kicked around, in the case of the Shah Alam incident. BTW, the police just stood by and watched while the cow's head was trampled on, but they did apologise for their inaction.

It is time to reflect on where we as a nation are heading to. We have a choice - either we work hard to become a united Malaysian society living, as the tourism brochures and politicians say, in peace and harmony or we tear ourselves apart by creating more racial/religious tension by being increasingly racist and chauvinistic and do really insensitive things like stamping on a cow's head

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