On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

There is no place for bigotry

RED Shirts leader Datuk Md Jamal Yunus had yet to be born when the racial riots of May 13, 1969 broke out.

And that means the ikan bakar restaurant owner and privileged beneficiary of approved permits to import luxury cars has no idea of the inflammatory fire he is now playing with. Ignorance isn’t bliss in this case.

The Sungai Besar Umno division chief, you see, was born only in 1970 – a year after the black blot in the nation’s history and it would have been impossible for him to remember the scars of the tragedy that continue to haunt the nation.

Together with his supporters, they make it worse when they attempt to resurrect the ghost of May 13 each time there is a Bersih protest, with the Red Shirts responding with racial overtones. The spectre of May 13 should remain buried. These young thugs in red get involved in such scare tactics when they did not even exist, in any form, in 1969.

As we would say, forgive them for they know not what they are saying or doing.

Malaysians are pretty sick and tired of people like Jamal and his racist counterpart Ali Tinju whose only talent is organising protests which smack of racism and are a threat to others.

Jamal has, by his own admission, not done too badly in life despite failing badly in the SPM examination. Claims of being “suppressed and oppressed” ring hollow each time he makes his racist rants.

Presumably thanks to his political connections, he is in a trade that lots of other Malaysians, including many Malays, would never be able to enjoy.

We don’t suppose that he is now driving a Lamborghini because of his grilled fish business and many of us don’t think it is due to his financial or economic ingenuity either.

He has now found himself in hot water because of a May 13 threat he has been linked to on Facebook. However, he has denied vehemently, saying it was a fake account, and he is also not tweeting now.

Let’s just give him the benefit of the doubt, but surely, he cannot deny that he is a serial racist rabble rouser with his constant insane ranting, which has caused much unhappiness and anxiety among Malaysians.

His acts of hooliganism and gangsterism, to put it mildly, should, by right, be condemned by all. It is a credit to Umno leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz that they have come out to make it clear that such threats will not be condoned and that the violent acts by Jamal and his supporters are “unacceptable”. The police have been urged to take action.

While many of us are also not in favour of the Bersih protests, surely there could be a more effective way of dealing with Bersih? The brutish methods of the Red Shirts are not going to endear rational and moderate Malaysians to their cause.

It won’t help Umno win votes, especially the fence-sitter voters, and surely there is a need for serious thought on the effects of these Red Shirts to other Barisan Nasional component parties.

Jamal, who admitted that many of the Red Shirts were Umno members, however, insisted that he was not representing his party and had acted in his capacity as the Red Shirts movement’s leader.

It is the bigoted and offensive actions of Jamal that have alienated urban voters. Politicians like Jamal should not assume that playing the Malay card will automatically win them the Malay votes.

Rowdy behaviour such as filling up Gurney Drive with hundreds of motorcyclists is also hardly commendable in civil society practices.

We will be surprised if thuggery and intimidation are now the most effective way of winning elections. Tell us something we don’t know.

Jamal, for example, has bewildered us by blatantly defending the actions of his supporters in yelling “Cina babi” (Chinese pigs) as they chase away journalists who appeared to be Chinese and warning traders of Chinatown for purportedly selling fake goods.

He had put on a straight face and actually asked why the Chinese would be so sensitive about it because “from what I hear, pigs are food to the Chinese generally”.

We will remember that subsequently, the police had to use water cannons to break up his goons from entering Petaling Street in the capital last year.

Traders in that area had to shut down businesses for fear of a possible riot despite assurances of security. Of course, we also recall that he denied his involvement.

Malaysia has moved on since 1969, although race and religion continue to be used by politicians. The changing racial demographics have made it clear, and the argument that the Malays are the oppressed majority no longer holds water when the Chinese population has shrunk dramatically.

The future of the Chinese who harbour political ambitions nationwide, except perhaps in Penang, must be viewed at a realistic level. It is mathematically impossible to influence the outcome of the elections, let alone have a Chinese become prime minister.

The likes of Jamal would love it if the Malays were to believe that such a scenario is possible.

The continuous play of the Chinese community as the bogeyman for the ills affecting the country is no longer believable nor realistic.

The bumiputra community is well and dominantly represented in all spheres of public life, from the civil service to government-linked companies, public universities, the judiciary, police and army.

The continuous use of the May 13 threat to supposedly paint them as a community under threat seems shallow and hollow.

The electorate is now more educated and more exposed to information via social media.

Surely, the old way to stir racial dissatisfaction no longer works.

For the participants of Bersih, the absence of the Malays in the 2015 rally is surely disturbing.

The absence of PAS from Bersih 4 showed the inability of PKR to marshal Malay participation.

The test this time is whether PKR, Parti Amanah and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia can ensure that Bersih 5 is multi-racial and not another Chinese protest against the Government.

If the Red Shirts are Malays, then the Yellow Shirts should not be predominantly Chinese, as that would sharpen the racial angle.

The lessons to learn is that any head-on conflict will not help Malaysia. No one wins. It is far more important that Malaysia and Malaysians win.

The voices of moderation must prevail and must be louder now. There is no place for Malay or Chinese extremists or any other bigots from other races.

Malaysia was founded by leaders who believed in moderation, consensus and power-sharing.

It has been a successful formula and certainly that kind of sanity must prevail for Malaysia to move on.

Umno has built on its brand of being a moderate party since its inception.

It has a proven track record with its form of coalition government as the Alliance and now the Barisan is being used as a model even by the Opposition.

Umno doesn’t need the likes of Perkasa, Isma and the Red Shirts to shore up support because in the long run, they are a liability.

Malaysia cannot be spending time on issues that have long been resolved as that serves little purpose.

Whipping up racial or religious hatred for sure, whether by the Reds or Yellows or Greens, is pathetic and desperate in 2016 – 47 years after the 1969 tragedy. It is a tragedy that such a script is still used, or worse, to give reasons for such an act to be carried out.