Malaysiakini Letter

Racism, xenophobia alive among Bersih backers

Hafidz Baharom  |  Published:  |  Modified:

During the recent Bersih 4 rally, I wrote a letter to the online press based on comments written by Malaysians anonymously in response to a Malaysiakini article, noting the low turnout of Malays. I decided to openly note why it was so.

It is now more than two weeks past the rally and supporters of the 34-hour rally are still going on to ask why there were so few Malays. Some say it was tribalism, while others rightly say it did not matter.

For those who preach the latter, congratulations on breaking the spin cycle.

For the former, I congratulate them for still proving that racism is alive, well and subliminally still in the backs of our hearts and minds.

And quite honestly, for those who are actually blaming the government for coming up with this spin, I would personally say you have got to be joking.

The government cannot even sell the idea of direct monetary assistance through BR1M. We have a cabinet which is even made up of loyalty over brains.

You are all giving them too much credit. The thing is, you should really, really look at yourselves. The moment that question popped into your head and you decided to raise it, voilà!

You are the basic proof that thinking based on racial lines still matters to you.

Racism is still alive and well

Welcome to the age of subliminal racism, and quite frankly it is even clear in Bersih. For example, let us take the angry words of Sarajun Hoda Hassan in a Facebook post (picture), since he is the deputy chairperson of the NGO and also from Aliran.

Reacting to the obviously racist red shirt statement of protesting against the " kurang ajar " Chinese DAP, he types the following, aimed at Jamal Yunos, chairperson of the Malay NGOs Association:

"(Jamal) forgets. If not for the Chinese, he would still be walking in sarong and eating tapioca just like his grandfather and great great grandfather in Indon. Ungrateful idiots,"

The statement above is not only racist, it is damn well xenophobic.

Of course, the Bersih group will remain mum over such blatant statements, and I am sure the media - even those picking up Facebook posts openly - would love to pretend it never happened.

But it did.

And quite frankly, many constitutional Malay Malaysians have origins from Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, and even India and Pakistan. In fact, I do believe Sarajun Hoda himself is a constitutional Malay of mixed descent.

So I have a question; being a Malay with Indonesian heritage myself, do I owe the Chinese for trousers and food other than tapioca, too?

Damn, and all this time I thought I owed the British for pants.

Note your own racial tendencies

Sarajun Hoda's statement is proof that racism is still alive and well, festering below the surface of so called "Malaysians".

Jamal is blatantly being a racist right-wing nut because he belongs to a race-based right wing party and caters to a racial majority as an audience. What is the deputy chairperson of Bersih's excuse for going to the same low?

Is he saying that Malays of Indonesian heritage in Malaysia owe the Chinese, and are being ungrateful?

Since his statement has yet to be answered by the likes of Bersih, its supporters, or even the DAP, is such silence basically a sign of support for the statement?

Similarly, when Zahid Hamidi's daughter came out with a statement that branded the Bersih protesters as "stupid", many again went along racial and xenophobic lines, going so far as to brand her an "Indon bitch".

Of course, many just laughed it off and didn't even bother noting the origins of Malay voters and the population of which most do have roots in Indonesia. And yet, the same population would get pissed off if asked to go back to China or India.

So, to fellow Malaysians, if you want to talk about racism in governance and leaders without even noting your own racial tendencies, then I suggest you shut up because your words actually speak louder in cyberspace even under a shroud of anonymity.

I once said that "Malaysians" are their own worst enemies because they cannot mind their tongues and fingers. Clearly, we have a long way to go on all sides before we can call ourselves "Malaysians".

And equally clearly, the onus is not just on the government.

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