This is the age of sedition in Malaysia.
If you are a non-Malay or non-Muslim, be very careful what you tweet and post on Facebook—you might end up spending time in jail. Parents should take some interest in what their children are saying on social media. I have heard many things Muslims have said publicly about Christians, Christianity, Hindus, Hinduism and the Chinese that are insulting and derogatory, but the chances of them being charged are less likely. That’s the way the cookie crumbles in this country.
Non-Malays and non-Muslims also need take extra care in what they say or write about the Malay Rulers. Although constitutional monarchs in democracies everywhere else in the world are not spared from public criticism and unsavoury comments, the situation here is different.
Clearly, we are not the democracy we say we are and we are not the free country we were promised we would be on Malaysia Day in 1963. Leaders cannot be criticised or disagreed with publicly, or they will feel insulted. We are a semi-Caliphate, not too far removed from those in Iraq or Syria.
The loyalty of non-Malays and non-Muslims are being questioned all the time, as is the loyalty of those in Sabah and Sarawak who are unhappy with the treatment they have received since the formation of Malaysia. So do not say or write what you feel, unless you are prepared to spend time in Kajang.
I know it’s tempting to exercise your freedom and express your views, especially since you are exposed to the world through social media, but please exercise restraint. For the first time in our history, we have a Prime Minister and Home Minister who have publicly declared, many times over, that the Malays and Islam are under threat. The threats are from within, of course; where else could they be? So the PM and his Home Minister are referring to non-Malays and non-Muslims as enemies of Islam and the Malays. In this environment, it’s better not to be too expressive.
It’s not a good idea to protest too much about what’s going on in the country either. Street marches have been proposed and there are those who have said the Bar Council could organise such rallies, but I am not sure this strategy would work. We might get some news coverage, but nothing will change.
It would be better to focus on inter-communal relationships at the grassroots level. Show our leaders that we do not subscribe to their story. Show them that we are prepared to determine our future as a nation and who we are as a people. Let us craft an identity as Malaysians that is totally different from what they want to manufacture.
So how about using your energy and financial clout to strengthen your communal relationships with the Malays and Muslims? Interact with them more so they see that you are not their enemy. In Kelantan where I come from, the Malay and non-Malay relationship at the community and personal levels are excellent, and I am sure it’s the same in many other places. The different communities can help each other in many problems in their daily lives. The people are tired of these leaders’ defeatist mantras, but since they have a monopoly over TV stations and newspapers, they will keep working to get you to believe that the threat truly comes from within.
I find the people in Sabah and Sarawak are closely knit, but more could be done to infuse trust between the Christian community and the Muslims. In the peninsula, community leaders have to be extra robust in their outreach programme to cement the friendship and harmony among the different races and religious groups. I believe the majority of Malaysians do not believe “the enemies from within” storyline.
If we all work together to be a united people, there is only so much these leaders can do to break us. One day, they will be talking to themselves about the enemies from within, because no one else is listening, except their hired hands and sycophants.