COMMENT | In this last week, we saw two very different ways of approaching controversial issues connected to race and religion.
First was the Himpunan Kebangkitan Ummah (Rise of the Ummah) really, which certainly stood out much louder and clearer, being an impassioned gathering of a thousand or so people in Kuala Lumpur.
The second was much more under the radar. It was a barely covered press statement by Muslim NGO Ikram, concerning the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).
The press statement was done in FAQ style, and was produced after Ikram accepted an invitation to a roundtable discussion organised by the United Chinese School Committees' Association (Dong Zong).
At Himpunan Kebangkitan Ummah, we saw the chest-thumping and fearmongering we have all come to expect from any rally that prominently features politicians from Umno and the right wing of PAS.
We also saw the age-old Umno yarn of how Malays and Muslims were under attack, their culture and religion being eroded on their own home soil, and so on and so forth.
These individuals and groups have every right to gather and express their views as they did.
As an aside, it was passing odd that the deputy inspector-general of police singled them out, out of all the peaceful assemblies that have happened since GE14, as exemplary. This seems rather suspect and partisan behaviour, that should be watched carefully.
As many have commented, there was nothing new to see at the gathering – it was clearly a callback to the old Malaysia.
A different approach
Amid the sound and fury, however, we saw a completely different approach to resolving conflict – one I would go so far as to say is one of the best embodiments of the spirit of our new Malaysia I’ve seen so far.
Recognition of the UEC has been a hot button issue. In typical Malaysian fashion – though in this we are not unique in the world – debate has consisted in large part of people shouting past one another, based on assumptions and prejudice, rather than...