COMMENT | The "coerced" aborting of the Dong Zong gathering is an insult to the country's Constitution and sets an unhealthy precedent that supplants the rule of law by the rule of threats.
The "failed state" is an ignominious description of a country with bad governance.
But what do you call a country that is not a "failed state" but allows the majority race to bully others, including dissenters of its own race?
I call it the "bully state" and it is not about the superpowers throwing their weight around.
When people act like a bully and resort to threats of violence, it results in lawlessness.
Malaysia risks becoming a "bully state" degenerating into a "failed state" with a government that harps on applying the rule of law on kleptocrats (albeit in a selective way), but appears to condone the bullying of its minorities.
Its "moderate" image appears to have been scuttled by its failure to rope in the extreme antics of certain zealots who use threats instead of debate or reason in advocating their cause.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad appears to have let down his office (a post that requires fairness in dealing with all communities) by not taking a firm stand in upholding the rule of law.
He failed to warn those who threatened Dong Zong that it was a culpable act.
The police ought to have warned against anyone threatening the public for holding legitimate activities.
Instead, Mahathir added fuel to the fire by suggesting the meeting will create chaos.
Did Mahathir forget he took part in Bersih 5, in an open public meeting, not an indoor meeting?
Did Bersih 5 create chaos then? It did not, like many other demonised gatherings. It is a lame excuse for banning a legitimate and peaceful meeting. It is a classic case of double standards and politicising valid public concerns.
Allowing Dong Zong to be intimidated is a betrayal of public trust in the government that is supposed to be more people-concerned than its predecessor.
Law-abiding citizens who trust their government do not break the law and expect their government to protect them, not play to the gallery.
Those in government who still think and act like politicians do not know their roles and responsibilities to the nation.
It is a cruel joke to act against bullying in schools and the workplace when bullying is allowed in the wider community.
When will the government send out a strong message that it will have zero tolerance of those who resort to overt threats or innuendos of physical violence?
Who will protect the public from the bully, if not the government? Taking sides is not good governance. Without fear or favour is what we expect as the standard operating procedure of this government.
Over the years, we have seen how the BN government stood by as bullies terrorised civil society by committing offensive acts, including butt dances, blatant verbal provocation and threats of physical violence.
They insulted other races, damaged their religious buildings, interloped community gatherings, gatecrashed meetings and became a law unto themselves. And got away with it.
The government then did not bat an eyelid, let alone come out to openly protect those terrorised by jailing the culprits who had broken the law.
In cases they acted, the punishment was a slap on the wrist.
Which religion teaches its followers to coerce and threaten others?
We see the double standards in the 'bully state'
A good government will not allow any community to act outside the law with threats and warnings of violence and the spectre of a repeat of May 13.
We see the double standards in the "bully state" when one community is allowed to carry out activities and others cannot.
Don't let the country be overrun by bullies who have no respect for the rights of others, who are arrogant and presumptuous and think they can do as they like.
That Dong Zong was forced to abort its planned meeting is a sad day for democracy and the freedom and rights of the minorities in Malaysia.
The report that three policemen were assaulted by MACC investigators sends a chilling flashback to the scandalous tragic death of Teoh Beng Hock.
It is again symptomatic of a culture of bullying, where rough tactics are applied on victims outside the law because the perpetrators presume they enjoy impunity.
Such a misguided sense of power and its abuse results in certain people acting without thought or fear of accountability.
Stop the bullying, rid the nation of the pernicious culture, if the government is serious about doing a better job than the previous regime.
STEVE OH is an author and composer of the novel and musical Tiger King of the Golden Jungle. He believes good governance and an engaging civil society are paramount to Malaysia being a unique and successful nation.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.