Friday, 20 August 2010

Rocky's Bru: Get past the 'R' word - MUST READ

In the hysterics in the aftermath of Cikgu Siti alleged racist comments comes a very calm and measured post by Dato Ahirudin Attan, a must read:

Rocky's Bru: Get past the 'R' word
Thursday, August 19th, 2010 10:19:00(The Malay Mail)

LAST week in the US, where dreams come true and democracy has matured unlike in Malaysia, Laura Schlessinger (pic) uttered the "N" word 11 times on her nationally syndicated radio show and sparked a major controversy.

As I write this, people are still sending her hate-filled diatribes and the media were replaying, rebroadcasting, relaying her "sin" to an even larger audience in the borderless cyberworld.

There are those who disagree with the fuss, mainly arguing that black people call one another "nigger" to be cool, anyway, but Dr Laura told Larry King that she was going to leave her radio show when her contract runs out at the end of the year due to the issue.

In other words, she's going to lose her job.

"When I first started out in radio," she said, "people would disagree — they disagreed, they didn't hate. They didn't try to censor, they didn't try to destroy an opposing point of view. Instead, they just argued and debated, and argued and disagreed, and debated and argued.

"Now," she continued, "self-appointed activist types breed hate, breed anger, breed destruction should anyone hold up a mirror or dare to disagree."

She added that the phenomenon could be observed in all aspects of society, from politics to education to the workplace.

Dr Laura could be describing a Third World country intolerant of dissent and filled with inequalities, like Malaysia. The difference is if Dr Laura had been a Malaysian and she were to say on her show the "K" word or "P" word, which is the equivalent of the "N" word, she'd have no future left at all.

When news of headmistress Siti Inshah Mansor uttering racist remarks at school last Thursday went out, the self-appointed racial Malaysian police department, which consists of half the population from politicians to celebrities, lunged for her jugular. In cyberspace, they sent her endless hatefilled diatribes.

Lim Kit Siang, the Opposition politician who has a knack for politicising every little thing and blaming it on the government of the day, called not only for the headmistress' sacking but for a considerably more severe punishment, "if the Prime Minister's 1Malaysia concept were to have any real meaning".

What did Siti Inshah reportedly say? That “Chinese students are not needed here and can return to China or Foon Yew schools. For the Indian students, the prayer string tied around their neck and wrist makes them look like dogs because only dogs are tied like that.”

If it's true these words were uttered, what drove the headmistress to say such things? Why are there still Malaysians who are racially insensitive? And why are the rest of us so quick to judge them? Are we racially hypersensitive, as Dr Laura called her N-word victim on the radio show?

Siti Inshah isn't the first to be publicly lynched for a racial slur. Most Malaysians still remember the widespread anger Ahmad Ismail sparked by calling Malaysians of Chinese descent "pendatang" in late 2008. The Bukit Bendera Umno chief is still serving a three-year suspension from the party and was stripped of all party posts for uttering the "P" word.

More recently, Datuk Nasir Safar, a special officer to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had to resign under intense political pressure from the Opposition after suggesting during a conference in Malacca that the Chinese who came from China to this land back then were prostitutes and the migrant Indians were beggars.

Nasir apologised right after the conference after some of the MIC delegates confronted him, but obviously an apology, in cases like this one, is never enough. Heads must roll. The severest punishment must be meted out
immediately if the government is serious about 1Malaysia, or unity, or this and that.

Not all the time, though.

When Wee Meng Chee, or Namewee, as he is popularly known, got into serious trouble over his rap video that insulted the Malay-Muslims, the national language, the national flag and Islam, this country's official religion, those who are screaming for Siti Inshah's blood were defending the young Malaysian Chinese.

What did Lim Kit Siang write on his blog?

"Meng Chee can be faulted for the rough language, irreverent expressions and even the use of the national anthem and national flag in the rap, but it is utterly disgraceful that the entire weight of the Malaysian government machinery, going up all the way to the Cabinet, should be used to criminalise, demonise and crush a 24-year-old undergraduate for the rap video clip, when he had already tendered a public apology."

What more did Kit Siang, who demanded the severest punishment for Siti Inshah, say? "In fact, Meng Chee should be commended for his very clear expression of patriotism in articulating the frustrations of the ordinary rakyat at police corruption, civil service bureaucracy, discrimination against Chinese education and the insensitivity of the authorities — which must also be the concern of all Malaysians who love the nation."

And out of nowhere, his political volley: "The least MCA Ministers should have done is to ask the Cabinet to address the frustrations and exasperations of Malaysians expressed by Meng Chee in his rap, but this had not been done, and the Cabinet had completely ignored the real message of the rap — an indictment of a 'half-past-six Cabinet'!"

Sure, there was a message in Namewee's rap YouTube video, just as there must be a message in the follies of those who uttered the "P" and "K" words. We are, unfortunately, not ever going to learn what that message is. Not when we continue to vote in politicians who are hypocrites, who lead racist parties even as they condemn others for their racist politics.

Just take the case of the now-disbanded extremely racist and militant Hindraf group that accused "the Umno-led Malay government" of ethnic cleansing and mass killings of Indians. How could anyone support Hindraf? Did Kit Siang and those who went after the Siti Inshahs of this world condemn Hindraf?

On the contrary, many who are anti-Perkasa and shamelessly claim to denounce race-based politics were throwing their support behind Hindraf. In fact, one of the Hindraf leaders later stood for election in 2008 on the Opposition ticket, and won!

As against such hypocrisy and double standards, MCA president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek's approach comes across as honest. Faced with a lot of flak for the party's demands for the Chinese community last weekend, he said: “The MCA is sensitive to its role in Barisan Nasional, but as a Chinese-based party, it has its role to play to continue to be relevant."

Say it out, we can live with it. We've lived with it for hundreds of years.