May 13: Guan Eng’s think-tanks vs Umno groupthink
‘Police report lodged against Shahrizat‘ — article yesterday in FMT.
‘Shahrizat’s May 13 statement sign of Umno’s fear’ — reported Friday in Malaysia Chronicle.
What does the opposition find offensive, irresponsible and seditious about the Umno Wanita chief’s May 13 comment?
Aliran, a Penang-based NGO which has come to be seen as being very close to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, carried a commentary by its immediate past president P. Ramakrishan rebuking Shahrizat.
The Aliran editorial is titled ‘Shame on you, Shahrizat: You are a fear-monger‘.
Ramakrishan scolding “Shame on you” recalls the identical phrase that Guan Eng repeatedly directed at Chua Soi Lek whilst furiously wagging his finger during their second debate.
Aliran says Umno members incapable of thinking
The Aliran immediate past president described as “unintelligent gibberish” Shahrizat’s remarks – contained in the text of her speech distributed to reporters – that May 13 might recur.
Ramakrishan accuses her of attempting to “create fear and horror in the minds of unthinking Umno members!”
He also declares:
“What has been established is the fact that change can be peaceful and that the harmony of the country will not necessarily be destroyed [should there be a regime change].”
Rama’s statement above about “the harmony of the country” presumes that Malaysia is a harmonious nation.
While he assumes that Malaysians live in harmony (i.e. there are no racial tensions), he also presumes that Umno members are mass manufacturers of wholesale lies.
Rama wrote in his Aliran article:
“By and large, the majority of Malaysians are peaceful, sensible and responsible. However we must be on the lookout for the few who may try and stir up trouble. We should leave them to the police to take care of.
“Umno must be desperate if such lies have to be manufactured!”
Rama implies that there are only a very few desperate individuals who are out to create disharmony.
His allegation that “Umno must be desperate” also echoes the Malaysia Chronicle article headline cited earlier.
Another view on Shahrizat’s May 13 warning comes from Guan Eng’s think-tank, the Penang Institute.
(There has been police reports lodged against Penang Institute on the allegation that it tried to bribe Tunku Aziz with the offer of a cushy fellowship.)
The next article under discussion appeared in fz.com – an online portal in the The Edge‘s stable. Next month, the Edge Media will be headed by Ho Kay Tat as its CEO. Kay Tat was CEO of The Star who last week departed from the MCA-owned media after successfully turning around the paper.
Impossible that Malays and Chinese today will fight on the street
Writing in fz.com, Penang Institute fellow Wong Chin Huat opined:
“In 2012 or 2013, May 13 will not replay because the Malaysian society has changed. If Chinese Malaysians are targeted in post-election riot, very likely they will be protected by their Malay friends, acquaintances and even strangers.
“Last Sunday, when 20,000 Green Walkers marched through Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, which was a stone’s throw away from Kampung Baru where May 13 started, there was only a jovial and carnival mood, no fear, no hatred,” wrote Chin Huat.
He assesses the May 13 threat alluded to by Shahrizat to be far-fetched.
The date July 9 that Chin Huat mentions is a reference to the Bersih 2.0 rally where, according to him, a great sense of solidarity and camaraderie was forged between the Malay and the Chinese and other races.
May 13 ghost has been busted
Chin Huat concludes that it is impossible for race riots to happen again because the fear factor simply doesn’t work anymore.
He reasons that the spectre of May 13 was killed last year during Bersih 2.0 when the different races safely took to the street together on the same side.
He further argues that the Green Walk last weekend took place a mere stone’s throw away from Kampung Baru but still failed to trigger any kind of racial disturbance.
He adds that when the Green Walkers marched through Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman – even though they were a huge crowd swelling to 20,000 (Pakatan estimate) people – there was no fear and no hatred in the air.
To Chin Huat, the Himpunan Hijau march through the heart of Kuala Lumpur last Sunday was done in “a jovial and carnival mood”.
The summary above encapsulates the views of the Aliran past president and the Penang Institute fellow, both men belonging to organizations ensconced in Georgetown, the capital city of DAPthink.
Umnothink on the other hand is somewhat different.
‘Anak kecil main api’
‘Delegates shed tears over song decrying fate of Malays‘, reported Malaysiakini.
Tears were free-flowing in the PWTC when the audience heard the Warisan song which goes:
“Anak kecil main api
Terbakar hatinya yang sepi
Air mata darah bercampur keringat
Bumi dipijak milik orang
Nenek moyang kaya-raya
Tergadai seluruh harta benda
Akibat sengketa di antara kita
Cinta lenyap di arus zaman
Indahnya bumi kita
Warisan berkurun lamanya
Hasil mengalir ke tangan yang lain
Kita kan merintih sendiri”
The tears were proof that the rintihan expressed in the lyrics deeply moved its Malay hearers.
There is a vast difference in mood between the two groups of Malaysians, one jovial and carnival-like, the other sombre like they’ve lost their land and livelihood.
Rama’s views published in the Aliran website implies that our harmony in this country is not easily dented despite Umno’s best efforts at fear-mongering while Chin Huat’s views published in the news portal assert that the Malays and the Chinese are comrades with arms linked in solidarity.
Together in perfect harmony in Ramaland
A dictionary definition of the word ‘harmony’ reads: “in agreement”, “in accord”, “consistent”, “congruity”.
Yet incongruous better describes the disjoint in mood — the jovial, carnival atmosphere at the Green Walk where the DAP Members of Parliament and state assemblymen turned out in full force, and the dirge-like atmosphere in the PWTC where the Umno MPs and Aduns marked attendance.
It’s not easy to reconcile the claim of national ‘harmony’ when we juxtapose side by side the two gatherings where the participants were predominantly Chinese in one and all Malay in the other.
Emotional outpouring in PWTC
There appears to be a perception gap where Umno warns of ‘chaos’ whereas the opposition diehards confidently dismiss the possibility.
This perception gap is compounded when some imply that the Umno delegates were shedding “crocodile tears” (see screenshot of Malaysiakini main story yesterday morning).
Conventional wisdom tells us that harmony is built on mutual understanding.
So who is misunderstanding whom actually, and misreading the real situation?