On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Be proud of our diversity

CONTROVERSIAL columnist Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, who has created a name for himself with his outrageous racist rantings ­rather than his academic achievements, found himself denied entry into Singapore recently.

He complained that he was “treated like a terrorist” and whined that his photograph and thumbprint were taken by the Singapore immigration authorities.

If he expected sympathy, he can be assured he is not getting any. Even those individuals and groups who would normally see this as an opportunity to take a dig at Singapore were silent. Only his misguided fans who share his fanaticism cried for him.

The incident took place at Singapore’s Woodlands immigration checkpoint, where Ridhuan said he was questioned for more than two hours and subsequently given a ­letter saying he would not be allowed to enter.

He seemed surprised at the action taken against him, saying “there was no reason given” but added that “I am confident that it was due to my comments on the ‘ultra kiasu’”.

Ridhuan has obviously chosen to forget that three years ago, he wrote in a Bahasa Malaysia newspaper, that “it is fortunate that I was not the PM when solving the dispute over Pulau Batu Puteh. If I were, I would definitely have not brought it to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).The only resolution to the dispute over the island is to wage war.”

If he expects the island republic to give him the red carpet welcome, then he really needs to see a shrink. If he complains about being treated like a terrorist, he has to look up the English language dictionary to find out the definition of someone who preaches the use of violence.

If he feels he can get any sympathy from moderate Malaysians with this latest incident, we think he is trying too hard.

Through his writings and public speeches, he has carved a reputation for himself to prove that he is more Malay than Malay and more Muslim than Muslim.

Ridhuan may want to think and dream like a Malay but he is still a Chinese. As I have said before, the fact remains that Ridhuan was given the name of Tee Chuan Seng by his parents at birth.

We do feel sorry for him sometimes, because he seems to suffer from an identity crisis problem. No matter how much he tries, the reality is that one cannot change one’s ethnicity. Even his religion does not require him to do so.

I am sure he understands that we are only here temporarily in this world. We will return to our Maker at some point.

We want to be remembered for our good deeds, regardless of our religion and race. Nobody wants to be remembered for making damaging, presumptuous and racist remarks.

And for all the anti-Singapore remarks that he has made, we would like to know why he was still interested in making a visit to Singapore.

Before he makes more disparaging racist remarks against Singapore, he should be reminded that he is also not welcomed in Sarawak. Early this year, he was barred from entering the state.

Bernama reported, quoting sources, that Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem was not in favour of the presence of Ridhuan in giving a talk at a mosque and had instructed that the event be cancelled.

Adenan had said previously that Sarawak was tightening its immigration rules and stepping up the scrutiny of visitors from the peninsula to keep out “extremists, religious bigots and racists”.

While people like Ridhuan may have a limited sphere of influence with his line of thinking, we can see the greater danger when prominent individuals of the world stage subscribe to such views.

Like the bigger bigot who is making world news daily – that orange man Donald Trump who is making a bid to get elected as the next US president.

It’s frightening really that a loose cannon like him could possibly be elected to the most powerful position on Earth and would have his fingers on the buttons to send out ­nuclear missiles.

Trump thinks that everything is like a business deal, a term he keeps using in his rallies, and he thinks he could just get people out if they don’t agree with him. His red-neck supporters simply eject his detractors out of his rallies.

He literally talks of building walls. Instead of bringing people together, like what a good leader should do, he has single-handedly divided the whole of America. He has spewed racist remarks against immigrants, even poking fun at how the Chinese speak at business talks, but forgets that his ancestors come from Germany, and that is well-­documented.

The trouble with some politicians is that when they choose to play the racial card, they conveniently forget about their ancestors.

They thump their chests, declaring their super pure racial stock, without batting an eyelid that there could be some traces of “other blood” from elsewhere.

Even in Malaysia, our past and present prime ministers all can trace their lineage to the land of Siam, the Bugis, Turks, Indians and Chinese, and some of our royalty have Western blood in them.

It is always much easier to play the racial and religious cards, enjoying the popularity of your own kind, without thinking of the long-term implications to the nation, especially one as diverse as ours.

To be a communal champion is much simpler than to be a leader of all. And politicians often take the easy route.

Advocating moderation is a long and lonely journey. It is not sexy and one can suffer from fatigue as the campaign seems to only attract the converts, particularly those in the urban areas. But those of us who have committed to the cause, including this writer, are not giving up.

Moderation is more relevant than ever in Malaysia and on the world stage. We want moderation to triumph, that’s for sure. We also want Donald to be trumped in his march to the White House. The American people hold the trump card in ensuring that moderation triumphs.

This is Malaysia. We are enormously proud of our multi-ethnic heritage and we must never allow any force to turn Malaysia into a mono-ethnic or mono-religious country.

Worse, some of us are even advocating that we embrace foreign culture in the name of religion or, in some superficial cases, pop culture. Please, we are not Arabs, Koreans or African-Americans. We are Malaysians.

Malaysians, like the Americans, hold the trump card, in charting the destiny of the nation.

The silent majority who value the peace and harmony of this nation where diversity is our strength must speak up to drown out the voices of those who seek to divide rather than to unite. That is our only hope.

I wish all Christian readers a Blessed Easter and I am thankful that my friends of other faiths have no issue greeting me likewise as they understand the significance of this day to people of my faith. Just like when I openly wish them when they celebrate their special days.