Current Affairs

Is there no one to stop the mob?

By Charles Santiago

Again we have a ragtag bunch of people spewing venom and inciting violence in the country. And yet again we have the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, feigning amnesia, while UMNO leaders are looking the other way.

No, they are not offering their other cheek to be slapped as well. But rather condoning the actions of the Muslim group, which has offered a cash-reward for anyone who slaps DAP lawmaker Teresa Kok.

The mob also slaughtered chicken and smeared blood on the photos of DAP leaders, to raise fears about another racial riot like May 13. But Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has shrugged off calls for investigations and dismissed elements of threat. One can never say that Zahid Hamidi lacks a sense of the absurd.

All this brouhaha was brought about by the unfounded notion that Kok has insulted the Malay leadership, Malay dignity, the King and Islam by taking a whack at government policies in her video. The video was a political satire, which mocks price hikes, corruption and other issues that Malaysians are grappling with every day.

Why shouldn’t the national conversation be critical of the leaders? Why can’t Malaysians protest against government policies, which are detrimental to the people? Why shouldn’t the people question bad governance? And why must the inherent rights of a citizen to raise questions and demand answers be viewed as an insult?

I agree that anyone has the right to dislike Kok’s video and criticize the satire. But taking the contents of her video out of proportion and turning it into an issue which could polarize the society even further and garnishing it with violence is simply not acceptable.

It’s not that we have lost our sense of humor but this rather shows the need to fashion everything into a race or religious issue. And while doing so, we have lost our core values.

Supporters of the bully boys and UMNO have indulged themselves in a very sexist smear campaign against Kok in cyberspace. Condemnations against her were sexually-charged and yet we have heard nothing from the ruling leaders.

Shouldn’t politicians be setting higher standards? Or are we content with teaching our children that it’s ok to speak gutter language to shame women, condone threats and violence and stir racial and religious sentiments for personal gain?

It’s rather clear that UMNO leaders are keeping quiet because this plays perfectly into the strategy of creating fear to embolden their power base, just like the ride on the Allah issue.

The government has been struggling for years now to remain relevant to the people. And it is failing miserably. If it wants a semblance of a chance again, Najib must take a stand now to prevent the religious and racial tension from escalating further.

The Muslim NGO has also expressed hope that the Chinese and Indians who are not fluent in Malay or no longer show loyalty to the King and country be flushed out. I would really like to know what Najib has to say about this.

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