Are we brewing another May 13, 1969 in Malaysia?
Friday, May 23, 2014
Are we brewing another May 13, 1969 in Malaysia?
by Azly Rahman
This is serious, if you ask me about the latest events concerning Umno and DAP: those revolving around name-calling, storming of the Penang state legislature and the latest, on the threat to burn down the headquarters of the DAP.
Is this a prelude to something bigger as we approach the 14th general election? Irrationality will rule and will be rationalised. Is the climax to a potentially explosive racial conflict going to be built up and the two parties involved in a showdown? Go back to the prelude to May 13, 1969, if we wish to process the brewing of mass violence.
I hope we are all sane enough to diffuse these kinds of situation and quickly make peace and for all to be patient, to exercise restrain, and to not provoke those who are irrational. We will make it as Malaysians. We have come a long way through our hard work in building bridges and to continue to call ourselves Malaysians.
But crises will be manufactured and we will never know the truth of any conflict that will bring chaos to the country.
Let us use whatever medium of peace-making and peace-building at our disposal to make peace with ourselves and with others.
After watching the video of the Umno Youth protest in front of the DAP headquarters, I sensed that the worse is yet to come and we may never be able to stop violence or to stop those out to wage war – unless we wage peace, beginning at this very moment.
For the Malay Muslims in the video, the character of the Prophet Muhammad is the best to show Malaysians what peace looks like. Go back to that and not let anger consume the natural, peaceful self in you.
You will feel better if you search within you and let Prophet Muhammad be the guide in you. I suggest you invoke the salawat and the istighfar that should help in times of anger and irrationalism.
To my friend and parliamentarian Ong Kian Ming, I say this: you did an admirable job of being calm and composed. I pray for your safety and those of others faced with a similar situation that you may continue to serve the community well.
Many of us know that this does not have to do entirely with race – it is about human nature, materialism, militarism and racism, as the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr has said in many of his speeches during the American Civil Rights movement.
My message to all Malaysians
Let us leave all these nonsense behind and resolve thing amicably, no matter what race and religious group you belong to. This is a beautiful country with beautiful people who ought to work together beautifully.
I hate to have my memories go back to that day in 1969, when, as a very young child, what I heard daily was men in red headbands in Muar, Johor with parang, kerambit, keris, daggers and all kinds of weapons, were heading for Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur, meeting at the residence of the then menteri besar Harun Idris.
I could even feel the “heat” of May 13 in my kampung in Johor Baru, with the people talking about “sembelih” (slaughtering). As a child, those moments had left a bloody history in me. We have a lot to do and we do not have time to undo the more than 40 years of peace we have built.
And the young people of today need to know this. The future is yours. You need not emulate the stupidity of your elders, especially when it concerns behaving as if there is not enough home-training on anger management in public.
I, for one, do not wish to read about another May 13 in the newspapers, or even through online portals these days.
My saddest moment that day was when my Maths teacher, whom I love and respect dearly and who adored me for my hard work and who had all praises for me since day one. On that day, after May 13, 1969, all of a sudden, after checking my class work for the day, she threw my exercise book right across the room and out of the door, for a reason I can now understand. I was devastated for weeks.
Bless your soul, Ms Chan!
Peace, salam, salamat, shaloom are terms we must hold as a mantra these days. But how must we understand ourselves, politically, these days?
A mirror we hold up today
My stunted growth in understanding Malaysian politics is even greater these days, reading how much we have progressed backwards and how true P Ramlee, the great Malaysian social-philosopher and humanist, said about politics being a “circus” (sarkas) when illiteracy rules and rationalism is shunned against.
We have not seen fresh new ideas embraced by all parties, at least once in a while in a collaborative manner. We have only seen more and more hidden, and even physical violence, manifesting.
Political change needs social imagination and critical sensibility founded upon a very strong ethical system drawn and designed as a national philosophy; a transcultural system inspired by the strength and universality of all religious and non-religious philosophies – not just based on Islam that has its limitations and cultural biases, albeit insisted upon and imposed onto many as a complete and all-encompassing, all-hegemonising political, social and existential philosophy.
Islamic philosophy as conceived by Malay Muslims of the political enclave, especially, will still not be a comprehensive idea as long as its proponents are still ill-prepared to even explore the meaning of “western liberal philosophy”.
Besides, with the global image of Islam, as Salafic or Wahabbic or Talibanic or even Boko-Haramic, who would these days pay attention to the idea of a beautiful and peaceful and just Islam fit for all of humankind?
We need to understand the excesses of the demands made by major factions contending for power and control in order to come to a middle ground and a peaceful solution to resolving conflicts.
We need to, once and for all, analyse these and make structural and foundational changes to our system and its institutions in order to bring society into some kind of order.
May 13 seems to be brewing. But we now have the means let it simmer and cool. We are, first and foremost, Malaysians building a better Malaysia for all Malaysians.
I hope Umno and DAP will agree.
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