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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The depths of our descent

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Still seething from the expected, but nastier than usual, tirade from Ridhuan Tee Abdullah (via The Malaysian Insider) over the weekend, Malaysia was rocked by this bit of unpleasant news yesterday.

Screenshot from The Star, image hosting by Photobucket

As if it weren’t enough that we have to now contend with a weekly dose, almost, of Ketuanan Melayu Celup, we get this wake-up call to tell us that racism is not only confined to the realm of political rhetoric, but exists for real in our everyday lives as well.

And when something like this happens in our schools, Walski shudders to think: just what has become of Malaysia that we’ve descended to such depths of uncivility?
(what The Star didn’t show, what the principal said, and more, in the full post)

The report from The Star hinted that what was uttered by the school principal was shocking and hurtful. What the report didn’t show (at least, not the online version), was what the principal actually said.

Malaysia-Today picked up the same news item and published it yesterday. In addition, it included a copy of an actual police report filed against the school principal by one of the school’s students. Walski has taken the liberty of posting it below, and highlighting a portion of the report.

Image taken from Malaysia-Today, hosting by PhotobucketImage taken from Malaysia-Today

The red-boxed portion of the image above (added to the original image by myAslum) is an excerpt of what the student filed in the report, and is something Walski has duplicated below - minus the ALL-CAPS - along with an English translation.

Beliau memberi contoh yang beliau memiliki 1 kereta Proton Saga dan menumpangkan 2 orang individu iaitu Munusamy dan Chong. Munusamy dan Chong merupakan penumpang sahaja. Mereka tidak boleh menuntut hak ke atas kereta tersebut. Ini sama seperti Malaysia di mana pelajar-pelajar bukan Melayu adalah penumpang dalam konsep 1Malaysia. 70% hak diberikan kepada warga bukan Melayu, 30% kepada warga Melayu. Jika ia merupakan beliau, beliau hanya berikan 30% kepada warga bukan Melayu dan 70% kepada warga Melayu.

She gave an example where she owns a Proton Saga automobile, and has 2 passengers, Munusamy and Chong. Munusamy and Chong are merely passengers. They have no right over the car. This is similar to Malaysia, where non-Malay students are passengers within the 1Malaysia concept. 70% of rights are given to the non-Malays, 30% to the Malays. If it were her, she would only give 30% to the non-Malays and 70% to the Malays.
(source: Student's police report, as posted by Malaysia-Today)

Almost sounds like something straight out of the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) playbook, if one didn’t know any better. And why this fixation of 30% by the school principal, named as Hajjah Siti Insyak Bte Mansor? Where did she get the idea that in the 1Malaysia concept, non-Malays get 70% of rights, compared to 30% of rights given to the Malays?

Aren’t all Malaysians equal citizens, regardless of ethnicity or creed? What gives?

Frankly, Walski is not really shocked that this kind of bigotry exists in Malaysia. He sees it online day in, day out. What he does find shocking is that people like this are allowed to be school principals. Heck, she doesn’t even have the right to teach, much less head a school. Incidences like this lends credence to the accusation that bigotry in Malaysia is institutionalized.

Granted, Walski acknowledges the fact that this kind of behavior is not condoned by the Education Ministry. But the ministry should do no less than to sack this person. The usual MoE modus operandi of transferring her to another school is only transferring the problem.

But what is the root-cause of such despicable behavior? And sadder still, this school principal has performed the Haj, an important obligation required of a Muslim to perform in his or her lifetime. Is this an example of religion being worn on one’s sleeve, while the soul and conscience remain as rotten as ever? Going by the date stated in the report, what Hajjah Siti Insyak said was on the second day of Ramadhan. Did she really think that her blatant display of bigotry would please God? Seriously, Walski has known many atheists who behave better than this, and have kinder dispositions toward other people.

Perhaps what happened is a symptom of the incessantly belligerent loud screams from organizations like Perkasa, whom we seem to be hearing from on a daily basis, and reported with such gusto and pride by the Malay-language mainstream press, as if Perkasa’s antics and demands are the best thing since roti banjir.

And when online personalities, who openly support organizations like Perkasa, make bigoted statements and threats of violence, Walski cannot help but be concerned. Take, for example, this idiot who goes by the handle Perkasa_Liberal.

Screenshot from UberTwitter, image hosting by PhotobucketIs this the kind of thinking Perkasa promotes?

Not very endearing to your fellow humans, if you were to ask Walski. The tweet above was apparently a reply to former PKR MP Zulkifli Noordin. If the image above is a bit of an eye-test, what the tweet says is this:

YB @zulkiflinoordin, السلام عليكم .... This is how I feel about the Chinese and Indian if they still keep on asking us for more and more and more.... I'm will to go for war....

And this is not just a one-off-kilter tweet from Perkasa_Liberal. His/Her tweets are almost all like that, over-flowing with sheer loathing and hate. Walski dreads to wonder what kind of person this is in real life.

It really stretches the imagination to figure out how someone can have so much vitriol in one’s heart, and be so consumed by bigotry. Is this the kind of ideologically bankrupt individual Perkasa has successfully created?

Because if you live and breathe whatever Ibrahim Ali and Perkasa have to say, and think it the gospel truth, you would probably end up thinking that life is indeed hopeless, and it’s all the fault of the ubiquitous “others”, whom you believe own more than 70% of everything you see. Including, in would seem, your own self-esteem.

Going back to our school principal earlier, how many more of such bigotry-infested individuals are there in our school system? More importantly, why are they allowed to be there in the first place?

Something very interesting, though, is how the school principal understands the 1Malaysia concept. It would really be a useful exercise to find out how such a warped understanding could be arrived at. Again, it is as if her entire world-view has been shaped by the rhetoric of Perkasa and UMNO, and reinforced by what BTN has purportedly been saying during their courses.

But if it is the root-cause that we’re after, perhaps the real answer lies in what writer Kee Thuan Chye wrote towards the end of his response to Ridhuan Tee’s piece, published earlier today at Free Malaysia Today.

"Really, it is this fixation on the issue of race that has brought our country into a fine mess."

Walski couldn’t agree more – especially about the “fine mess” part. We have somehow developed this tendency to view and measure just about everything from the race angle.

It may be that from the physical point of view, Malaysia has come a very long way from where we were 53 years ago. 48 years ago, even, when Malaysia proper came into being. But beneath the shiny veneer of physical development, we seem to be drifting further apart as a people, with each passing day.

The Hajjah Siti Insyaks and Perkasa_Liberals around us are clear signs of this. But more than that, they are obvious indications of just how deep we’ve gone in our descent from greatness.

How much deeper and further do we have to go before we say enough is enough?