By Francis Paul Siah
This was my note to friends last month on July 22, the day Sarawak celebrated its Independence Day.
“A note of thanks and appreciation to all my friends who have sent me ‘Happy Sarawak Day’ messages.
“To me, whatever day is meaningless if Sarawak is not governed justly, with integrity and compassion, and the rights and needs of Sarawakians of different cultures, races and creeds are taken care of. If that is achieved, then every day is a celebration.”
My sentiments remain the same as we approach Hari Merdeka on Aug 31 and Malaysia Day on Sept 16.
I understand there will be no elaborate celebrations on these two auspicious occasions this year as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. The recovery movement control order has been extended till Dec 31, and all of us have to sit tight till the storm is over.
Nonetheless, we have been reminded by our leaders time and again to celebrate our nation’s rich diversities and cherish our inter-racial and religious harmony, which has stood the test of time.
That’s well and good.
But I must ask. Who are those who have been stirring up racial and religious animosity in our midst? My direct answer – the sick politicians who think they belong to a supreme race and those who think they are the chosen ones sent by God to save the nation.
To save the nation from who? Who else but themselves! Ordinary citizens like you and me, irrespective of our race or creed, do not indulge in racism and bigotry.
It is unfortunate and sad indeed that just as we are about to celebrate our Hari Merdeka and Malaysia Day, which is about remembering our past and appreciating our freedom, came these prophets of doom who have brought nothing but gloom upon our auspicious and happy occasions.
What is very worrying is that these self-proclaimed “messiahs” are getting younger and younger and not the usual suspects among the veteran political elite.
I wonder if these younger politicians have taken on the bad example of their party seniors, thinking that since no action had been taken against the veterans in the past, it was also okay for them to spew venom against those of another race or religion.
The Pasir Puteh MP’s tirade against Christianity in Parliament last week is an example.
PAS MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (above) remained defiant and refused to apologise, despite being requested to do so, for saying the Christian Bible was distorted (dipesong), stating that Christians in the country had no right to be offended.
Earlier, the MP was ticked off by the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) over the “direct insult” to the Christian holy text.
ACS chairperson Simon Poh, who is the Catholic archbishop of Kuching, described the MP’s statement as inflammatory and disrespectful to all people of goodwill who seek to live in harmony in Sarawak and Malaysia.
“ACS strongly rejects such form of religious imposition from the Pasir Puteh MP on Christianity and other religions. Crossing the boundaries into religious sensitivity with insults against Sacred Scriptures and teaching of any religions is deemed totally unacceptable”, the archbishop said.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii also called out Zawawi, stating that “not only was the PAS MP’s understanding of other religions incorrect and flawed but he resorted to cross the line to insult the Bible which is sacred to Christians”.
“I find this unacceptable as insulting the religion of others may cause unnecessary misunderstanding and even tension in our plural society”, Yii had cautioned.
I find the PAS politician’s response that he was willing to have a harmonious dialogue on the issue rather “cheeky and insincere”.
You insulted me, and after I demanded an apology, you say “let’s talk”. Where were you thinking that day in Parliament, Mr MP? Intoxicated with the greed for power and position and mustering all you have to stay on as an MP for as long as possible?
Then, we have another still wet-behind-the-ears young Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (photo) who called for vernacular schools to be phased out.
His reason: Vernacular schools have failed to produce students who are nationalistic.
This is exactly the kind of politicians who are a clear and present danger to the positive nationalistic values we have so carefully nurtured in our pluralistic society.
Besides being termed a loose cannon, the young deputy minister seemed to be embracing racism – he probably thought that could be his quick route up the political ladder.
I believe that Fayhsal is one who is unable to think rationally and could never view that extremism (the kind just spewed by him) is the root cause of national disunity, not vernacular schools.
Watch your tongue, young man. Adopting a racist streak is why many politicians failed miserably in the past because the majority of Malaysians do not tolerate racists.
You could do a lot better by cherishing diversity in education rather than to gun down vernacular schools, which means preventing children of other races from learning their mother tongue.
So, as we prepare to celebrate two auspicious dates over the next three weeks, sick politicians and their rhetoric among us have created a damper to what would otherwise be joyous and happy occasions.
The above are just two recent examples. There are many more.
Politicking and mudslinging among our politicians on different sides will continue in the on-going Sabah elections and for many more months to come.
Are you in a celebratory mood for Hari Merdeka and Malaysia Day? Truth be told – I’m not.
This piece first appeared on Malaysiakini. The views here do not necessarily represent those of this portal.