Sunday, 30 August 2009

Cow Head. What's The Beef?

What is the beef? Muaz Omar cooks a good beef rendang for Merdeka and Hari Raya in the Malaysian Insider:

Umno reaps what it sowed
28th August 2009

Just days before the nation celebrates its 52nd Independence Day, the action by some mongrels who stamped and spat on a severed head of a cow in front of the Selangor State Secretariat building to protest against the planned relocation of a Hindu temple to their residential area has posed serious questions about the state of race relations in the country.

The planned relocation of the temple from Shah Alam’s Section 19 to Section 23 has drawn loud protest from a section of the local residents.

According to the protestors, the area is populated by 90% Muslims and the presence of the temple will affect their lives as Muslims.

The surprising thing is that the police stood by in full view of these acts. Their newly found restraint, unlike their heavy-handed clampdown on Hindraf, Bersih and recent anti-ISA demonstrations, is most unusual.

In keeping with his call for 1 Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on the police to take swift action on the “outrageous action” by the protestors to put a lid on the provocative acts and stop communal tensions from blowing up.

As long as the so-called “sensitive subjects” of race and religion remain taboo, it will be easier for powers-that-be to retain hegemony, divide and rule the community to their liking.

These extremists, whether they parade themselves under the banner of some supposedly noble NGOs like Pembela, Perkasa, Hindraf, Dong Jiao Zhong or the like, live on the philosophy of radicalism, bordering on racism.

While these fringe groups are getting louder and louder, they actually have minute numbers in representation. Their mindless actions calling for parochialism and supremacy of one race is based on short-term and narrow minded political agenda.

This scenario is exactly what right-wing nationalist organisations like Umno have been hoping for and harping on.

The embarrassing performance by Umno and Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election is being said to result in the dilution of Malay power.

When Umno and BN won almost 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats in the 2004 general election, they became big-headed and disregarded the minority voices, especially those from outside the Malay community.

Umno leaders marginalised them to the extent of discriminating against the impoverished and poor, especially those among the Indian community.

They also acted with disrespect to the Chinese community and accused them of taking advantage of the divided Malay community.

At the same time, Umno leaders became too engrossed with power and abused the New Economic Policy to enrich themselves as well as their cronies, which have turned off the Malays themselves.

Fast forward a couple of years from the humiliating 2008 general election and the Umno extremists have now crawled back into their shells and accentuate their hardline stance with a more extreme brand and rhetoric of Malay supremacy.

They are increasingly disassociating themselves from a significant 40 per cent of the nation’s population (non-Malays and non-Muslims) and, at the same time, splitting the Malays right down the middle.

The paradox between Najib’s 1 Malaysia and Umno’s raison d’etre is becoming even more evident and prominent by the day.

Led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Umno is shifting even further to the right to the extent of dismissing his fellow cabinet members in defending some extreme pro-Malay stances adopted by Umno leaders and their mouthpieces.

Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of disseminating extreme pro-Malay and pro-Umno propaganda which is meant to sway the minds of the general Malays.

Articles, opinion pieces and news reports have been skewed to incite hatred towards Pakatan’s Malay leaders with Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pas’s Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat being the prime targets, accused of selling out the Malays.

While Anwar and Nik Aziz are being denigrated using the worst kind of terminologies available, the Malays are being fed with the illusion that the downfall of Umno will result in the downfall of the Malays.

The outcome of these charades and “wayang kulit” spiced up with venomous and spiteful antics as well as idiotic actions by Umno bigots are hallmark of desperation as well as fear of losing the accustomed power to rule the nation.

For them, power is everything even if it means destruction of the very fragile fabric of the society.

Muaz Omar is a consultant with a regional stakeholders management firm based in Kuala Lumpur.

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