What will they do about racism now?
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 10:27
By Kee Thuan Chye
Let’s wait and see what action will be taken against Siti Inshah Mansor, the principal of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai, for the racist remarks she allegedly made at the Merdeka celebrations in her school.
The police will be concluding their investigations soon, under Section 504 of the Penal Code. If they have a case, Siti Inshah could be charged with provocation, which carries a maximum imprisonment of two years, a fine or both.
Meanwhile, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has called for her to be sacked. MCA president Chua Soi Lek calls for her to be transferred to a desk job and given counselling. How generous of Chua.
Of course, I’m being facetious, but this must surely be the fantasy of anyone who feels disgusted by any racist act. All the more so if it is committed by someone who is a principal of a school, who should be spreading the message of racial unity instead of – God forbid! – racial hatred.
Siti Inshah is alleged to have said that Chinese students are not needed in the school and can go back to China or Sekolah Foon Yew (a private Chinese school in Johor), and that the prayer strings Indian students wear on their neck and wrist make them look like dogs, and only dogs would be tied this way.
If the allegation is true, what could have possessed her to make her say such things? That is something that must be ascertained. Even if she had been provoked for some reason or other, it is still not her place to react this way to the students. She has a huge responsibility as a school principal to restrain her racist impulses.
Given the seriousness of the situation, if the allegation is true, how then can she be allowed to get away with it? If she were to be exonerated, imagine the damage she could further cause given her influential position.
If it is true that she behaved like a racist, her name should instead be remembered in the Hall of Shame.
So far, however, among the Barisan Nasional parties, only the MCA and the MIC have criticised the action. Has any Umno leader come out to say anything against it? And if so, why not?
If the people who are in charge of administering it are not up to it, if instead they are exposing the wound to even more bacteria, then we should be looking for an alternative cure.
Siti Inshah is also alleged to have called her non-Malay students penumpang (passengers or tenants) in this country. First, we had Umno politician Ahmad Ismail calling non-Malays pendatang, now there’s penumpang. What will they think up next?
These racial slurs are getting out of hand. And that’s worrisome. It’s symptomatic of the times. We are getting more divided along racial lines than perhaps ever before.
That’s what you get when you allow the mainstream newspapers to go to town scaring the Malays into believing that the non-Malays are a threat and will soon take over the country.
When someone like Zaini Hassan can write irresponsibly and mischievously in Utusan Malaysia about a “large-scale war” breaking out that will be bigger than that of May 13, about an alternative constitution being written that will abolish the special position of the Malays and Islam. What rubbish!
That’s what you get when you allow newspapers and individuals to go around telling non-Malays they must be submissive, grateful and not speak up for their rights, or go home – to China or India.
That’s what you get when you allow organisations like Persatuan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) to go on their high horse and slam every reasoned argument made against their credo. So now, for every little thing they don’t like, they run to the police station to make a report.
That’s what you get when you give them so much face, to the extent of granting them a publishing permit virtually overnight; when you cut them so much slack by saying nothing when they challenge government policies that seek to address the nation’s fall from economic competitiveness.
And then no less than the Deputy Prime Minister invokes the ghost of May 13, pulling the perennial Umno stunt, to tick off Chua Soi Lek for asking for more non-Malay participation in the economy.
Not only is Muhyiddin Yassin behind the times in that regard; he actually warns that this could anger the Malays and it could amount to a spark similar to that which set off May 13.
Who is stoking the racial fire here? If a personage like the DPM says it will make the Malays angry, some people might be bound to take that seriously and really feel angered. If the DPM mentions May 13, that might put ideas in some fanatics’ heads.
Why must Muhyiddin say something potentially flammable like this?
As the nation’s No 2 leader, he should instead avoid bringing up such a thing instead of brandishing it like a Damoclean sword.
But then, that’s what constitutes the central problem of this country. Politicians will make capital of anything without thinking of its consequences. They are short-term players looking for short-term gains. And this short-term playing has been extended for decades in the sick politicisation of race.
Do we have to keep reminding them of the dangers of this game and still see nothing done about it even when the cows have come home? By then, it will be too late. The wound caused by racial discord might have become so infected that it can no longer heal.
The treatment has to start now.
And if the people who are in charge of administering it are not up to it, if instead they are exposing the wound to even more bacteria, then we should be looking for an alternative cure.
Dramatist and journalist Kee Thuan Chye is the author of 'March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up'