Aliran, together with an increasing number of concerned Malaysians, condemns the proposed 16 September `Red Shirts’ rally.
We, of course, maintain our belief and commitment that dissent and the right to public protest are important aspects of a democratic society.
But protests and rallies by outright racists like those leading the Red Shirts, who churn out hate-filled material advocating violence against innocent Malaysians simply because of their ethnicity, have no place in this country.
And this is precisely what the Red Shirts are about.
They arrogantly – yet vaguely – assert that their proposed rally on Malaysia Day is a rejoinder to the hugely successful and peaceful Bersih 4 rallies on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on 29-30 August.
They allege, with no evidence whatsoever, that Chinese Malaysians at the rallies were `rude’ to Malay Malaysians. Of course those who were there have been quick to dispute this.
Bersih 4 had four clearly spelt out demands: clean elections, a clean government, saving our economy and the right to dissent and protest.
And, clearly, anyone concerned about this country of ours and with genuine notions of democracy cannot really object to these demands.
How then can the Red Shirts threatened rally be a positive rejoinder to Bersih 4? And if it– evidently – isn’t, then what purpose will it serve?
What it does plan to do, from the statements made by those publicising it, is clearly to threaten public order. There have been published threats about spilling blood. The route they plan to take for the rally is also one clearly aimed at sparking off ethnic tension and even violence.
What is even worse, indeed callous, is that top government officials, including the prime minister, deputy prime minister and Umno Youth chief, have virtually declared their support for this rally. By allowing Umno members to join the rally, they are, indeed, condoning it.
Aliran finds this to be highly irresponsible and the act of questionable leaders who are morally and ethically bankrupt. We call upon these politicians to show true leadership and retract their support.
The terms `Malay unity’ and `Malay pride’ are being bandied about to justify not only the rally but the support given by these politicians as well.
It is evident that this government, especially Umno, is now facing a crisis, with its president, Najib, being embroiled in a scandal of international proportions.
The ethnic or racial card that has been typically employed over the years to divide Malaysians at moments when the ruling politicians are facing such a crisis is once again being played.
It is a filthy, despicable ploy that Aliran condemns and which many Malaysians can see through and do not find acceptable.
Reviving the pride (membangkitkan maruah) of a community that, rightly or wrongly, feels entitled, would require the re-examination of BN policies and strategies designed and implemented over a sustained period yet have failed to produce the intended outcomes.
It would require the the BN government – especially Umno – which has been in power all this while, to acknowledge and examine its failures to the community and begin to genuinely remedy them.
The unity, the pride, of any community, including this vaguely defined Malay community, cannot be revived or restored by attacking innocent others or by organising a rally that only advocates hatred and violence.
Aliran Executive Committee member
12 September 2015