Act against the racists

By Wong Chun Wai, The Star

There can only be one set of laws in this country. Those who say offensive and seditious words need to be punished. It should be as simple as that.

EVERYONE is taught that when a wrong is done, the person who did it apologises, regrets his error and promises it will never happen again. The person is often punished to show that society does not accept such behaviour.

In Malaysia, we are still waiting to see what action will be taken against the principal who made racist remarks during a school assembly.

Investigations have been carried out, according to news reports, but we are now being told that bureaucratic requirements are delaying further action.

We are told that it is not simple to take disciplinary action against a senior civil servant. In short, members of the civil service are untouchable.

This inaction does not do anyone any good. It gives the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the Government is not serious in meting out punishment. Worse, it shows that the Government tolerates such an offensive attitude.

By seemingly protecting this principal, who obviously needs psychiatric treatment, the issue remains unresolved. It should have been dealt with quickly, thus ending the controversy so we can all move on to more productive things.

By dragging its feet, others are being encouraged to do the same while the aggrieved parties, especially the students in the school, would feel that justice has not been carried out. It would demoralise them.

On a wider scale, this has caused much concern and resentment among many Malaysians who feel that the delay in acting against the culprit is unjustified and unacceptable. It would further be a divisive issue.

More importantly, this episode is contrary to the call by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to stop extremism – whether racial or religious.

Najib has been consistent in his call for moderation at local and international levels but he needs the support of the other leaders. They need to speak up, too.

Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz must be commended for declaring himself to be Malaysian first and a Malay second.

Political parties like the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) put nationality first when their parties were formed decades ago for simple political reasons. Never mind the linguistic arguments over whether it should be Chinese Malaysian or Indian Malaysian.

It is not wrong to say that Nazri has staked his political career on defending a plural Malaysia, putting the long-term interest of Malaysia above himself. By speaking up, he has found himself to be a lonely figure. The right wingers have been subjecting him to all kinds of attack but he has remained steadfast.

Nazri must not walk alone. He needs Malaysians to express support for his stand and we also expect those who talk to walk the talk.

Malaysia is being watched by the world as we tackle the recent events involving race. We will be judged by how we act and how we manage race relations. There’s little point in projecting ourselves as a melting pot of many races, cultures and religions to the world if the authorities do not demonstrate our seriousness in protecting our society.

Malaysia needs to be protected, not these racists and bigots. There can only be one set of laws in this country and those who say offensive and hurtful words that are also seditious in nature need to be punished. It should be as simple as that.

More disturbing, even as we struggle over the position of the principal, an official of the National Civics Bureau has been accused of making racist remarks at a closed door gathering. Most newspapers have refused to print what he allegedly said, as we do not wish to give credence to what it was. Suffice to say, if indeed he did say it, he should just be sacked.

Then there is a pastor, said to be from the peninsula, who insulted Islam during a church sermon in Sarawak. His video-taped sermon in 2006 was put on YouTube, a video sharing portal, and can be seen around the globe.

I have watched the video clip. He is an unknown preacher, similar to the nutty American Christian preacher who threatened to burn the Quran last month. No one in the Malaysian Christian community has heard of him and he is not known to the Council of Churches of Malaysia.

He has shamed Malaysian Christians who are mostly moderates and peace-loving. Certainly, no one tolerates nor condones his hurtful words. Like the school principal, he, too, needs treatment and to be charged by the authorities.

These bigots should not be let off scot-free but made examples of what happens when mentally unsound Malaysians cross the line. Those who do wrong get punished so that no one would even dare think of following in their footsteps. So should these racists and bigots.