Patriotism by example, not coercion

Patriotism at the end of the day is not all about loving your country. It is also about how you jealously safeguard the nation from ‘all things bad’ and when it comes to the latter, Najib shows no interest in doing so.

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

The country is under great crisis. A foreign woman gets blown to bits and the law finds no one accountable for her death. Then there is the revelation that cops are moonlighting as snatch thieves!

If these morose developments are not depressing enough, there is also the fear that communal tensions are a ticking time bomb, no thanks to the Court of Appeal verdict that had ruled against the Catholic Church last Thursday, the excuse being that the government’s appeal to block non-Muslims from using “Allah”, the Middle-Eastern word for god, was “not academic”.

The Catholic Church had sued the government for violating its constitutional rights after the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the publication permit of the Herald, a Catholic weekly, in 2008 for using the Arabic word “Allah” to describe God.

The 2009 High Court judgment in favour of the Catholic Church sparked one of the worst religious attacks in the country, where a church was firebombed and other places of worship desecrated.

The legal tussle is however far from over. Post-Aug 22, the Church vs Putrajaya battle continues next month, prolonging the over four-year-long legal tug-of-war between Muslims and Christians over one word – Allah.

While the church is understandably disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s verdict, Malay-Muslim supremacy group Perkasa is only too happy the decision was not otherwise. In fact, over 200 protesters from Muslim groups, including Perkasa, rallied outside the courthouse, confident that the court would rule against the Church.

That was not all. On Aug 28, cinema goers must have to be careful not to step on the wrong side of the law should they not respect the national anthem ‘Negaraku’ that is to be played in cinema halls before each movie screening.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek had announced recently the national anthem and two patriotic short clips will be played in cinemas prior to the movies. Should moviegoers refuse to stand up and sing the ‘Negaraku’, they are asking for trouble as far as Ahmad Shabery is concerned.

Forced patriotism via crappy ideas

The smart alec ‘patriotism in the theatre’ is the Barisan Nasional government’s Merdeka Week campaign that kicked off on Aug 25 and continues until Sept 3 – the aim being to instill patriotism and reviving the 60s Merdeka spirit.

Besides the regular dont’s imposed by cinema halls, the latest addition includes “fines not exceeding RM100 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month” under the National Anthem Act 1968 should patrons to the movies disrespect the ‘Negaraku’.

That is not all. In addition, anyone showing disrespect can be arrested without warrant as stipulated by Section 9 “unless such person gives his name and address and satisfies” the arresting officer that he will “duly answer any summons or other proceedings” against – in this case – a defiant moviegoer.

The government’s desperate attempts to rekindle the spirit of ‘love thy nation’ among the rakyat is a sure flop, going by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s refusal to take to task religious bigots and fanatical politicians who harbour the desire of alienating the Malays from the other races.

Najib’s prejudicial stand as far as race and religion issues in the country go tells volumes of his own ‘patriotism’ towards the rakyat.