Once we have embraced compassion and respect, it is only then we can begin to heal as a nation, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
Fear is a tool often used by governments to regulate its citizens and manipulate their moral judgment.
In Malaysia, the powers that be have seemingly found a way to outsource violence and bigotry by supporting ultra-right wing groups. Hence, statements and remarks that are incredibly seditious in nature are often brushed off with mere warnings. Action is almost never taken and if so, it is done too lightly and appears glaringly insincere.
But Malaysians need to understand that these hateful acts are just part of a game to bait vulnerable Malaysians.
Malaysia’s history has been chequered with tales of violence and intolerance with events dating back from pre-colonial days to events that led to our nation’s independence (and the subsequent formation of the Federation of Malaysia which included Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore).
Malaysians are often reminded of the horrors of May 13, and in recent times, we’ve grown too familiar with the vicious template of violent tactics orchestrated by certain powers who seem to find a certain level of cruel amusement in manipulating multi-cultural communities and pitting us against one another by exploiting religious issues.
Malaysians now wonder if these acts of instigating violence or racial hatred are only a prelude to something else. Do the powerful elite plan to unleash another May 13, if or when they lose the next elections?
This is obvious by the growing number of NGOs who seem to disgorge nothing but bigoted doctrines and extremist interpretations over religious matters. The escalating “Christian fear” and the variety of racist slogans that have become increasingly prevalent are nothing but empty threats to create fear amongst the most gullible of communities that have somehow forgotten the existence of a Muslim monarchy and a solid Constitution that protects their “rights”.
Now they have also begun to target groups that advocate human rights and they do this by stooping down to immature name-calling that lacks substance or factual data to support their claims of “ungodliness”.
Present day Malaysian society is faced with many uphill challenges and it is only normal that we find ourselves questioning the leadership qualities exhibited by those appointed to govern our nation. Surely, any sound-minded leader would condemn such appalling behavior but alas, this is not the case for Malaysia – not for now at least.
Unfortunately, the government has other things in mind.
Issues related to bigotry and discrimination towards Pakatan Rakyat politicians (or to any Malaysians not aligned to it) are often not seen as a priority, or worse, seemed to be encouraged in one way or another.
Recently, a group of Umno Youth members have begun their onslaught. Reported acts of hooliganism have been brought to our attention – again.
We have read reports regarding the threats made by several rowdy supporters from the far right and how they managed to break into the “unlocked” Penang State Assembly hall.
We also witnessed the unnecessary disturbances at the recent Teluk Intan by-election aimed at drowning out the Pakatan candidate, Dyana Sofya.
We have seen how Dr Ong Kian Ming was verbally assaulted by another group of unruly supporters.
Then, another band of overzealous brothers decided to attack the DAP headquarters in Kuantan.
We have seen the videos and we know how ridiculous these attacks are.
Although leaders from Pakatan Rakyat have openly condemned these acts, most of those from Barisan Nasional have chosen to stay mum and those who were vocal only spoke of how these acts were justified, thus indirectly admitting consent.
I would like to reiterate that no rational leader can approve of such behaviour unless he or she has a hidden agenda.
So how do we deal with political tyranny subsumed by fanaticism, bigotry and vile behavior exhibited by other fellow Malaysians?
We can start by spreading the message of peace and tolerance. Malaysians must, above all, refrain from responding impulsively and emotionally when dealing with such brute ruffians, no matter how ridiculous and asinine. Never forget that certain factions are only waiting to see who will cast the first stone.
Malaysians must understand that there is not a single religion that condones violence or aims to create disunity amongst people of different religions or race. Those who uphold such skewed interpretations of religion are fanatics, extremists and mad. We need to get in touch with positive values and confront racial matters differently, not through more violence and hate.
There is a saying in Islam that goes, “The strong person is not the good wrestler. Rather, the strong person is the one who controls himself when he is angry” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 73:135) and this is something we need to remind ourselves and believe to be true.
Once we embody this notion, no amount of threatening words can hurt us, and once we have embraced compassion and respect, it is only then we can begin to heal as a nation.