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YOURSAY | Tudung politics: If nation to progress, we must build bridges

YOURSAY | ‘No hope for country if everything deemed political.’

COMMENT | Hannah Yeoh’s tudung donning and DAP’s hypocrisy

Anonymous_15897060865429524: Not all political acts are "bad". Some are necessary. DAP has an image problem. It is seen as being "too Chinese" and being "anti-Malay". Rightly or wrongly, that is the perception.

What DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh did was a political act, yes. But it was meant as a small step to correct that image problem that DAP suffers from.

The fact is, Malaysia is a majority Malay and majority Muslim country. And to improve this country, we need the Malays and Muslims on board. There is no point sticking our heads in the secular sand and pretending everything else is not relevant.

If this nation is to progress, we must build bridges between the races. That is the only way. And if it takes political acts, even seemingly superficial ones, if it helps to lower antagonism and suspicion between communities, why not?

Anonymous54: So, in the thinking of Malaysiakini columnist S Thayaparan, elected representatives should not visit any religious institutions in his/her constituency?

I remember Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa frequently visited churches and temples to engage with them to get insights and feedback. Truly, there is no hope for this country if every move by a politician is deemed political.

I have visited some Buddhist temples in Thailand where the temple mandated that women with shorts, or dresses above their knees, are required to wear a drape-over overall, and they provided these to visitors for a small fee.

PESamuel: Thayaparan, I read your articles regularly and would agree with most. But on this issue, I think you are totally wrong. This issue is not even worth writing or commenting on, much less criticising - either by you or anybody else.

Here, all we had was a woman who had the courtesy to follow the accepted dress code for the situation. What does it matter whether she is a politician or in DAP?

When I went to a gurdwara, I wore a kerchief on my head. When my British friend visited us, he removed his shoes at the door without my telling him. When I did the same at his house, he asked me to put them back on as everyone wore their shoes indoors.

We should respect each other’s cultures. As simple and as mundane as that!

MarioT: Instead of appreciating her for her kind gesture and goodwill, Thayaparan uses it as fodder to attack and ridicule.

This narrow-minded thinking has also strongly influenced some of the non-Malays who are always on the lookout for the ulterior motive of such actions instead of the goodness it portrays.

MS: If one were to separate Yeoh from her party and see her as just another citizen, there should be nothing disconcerting about her attire for the mosque. But if we see her as a political operator, her motivation becomes suspect and the word that springs to mind is appeaser.

She could be both - a true believer in Christian charity following the “do unto others” rule and a scheming political opportunist wanting to score points.

While I was one of the many who supported her decision to dress as she did, I would also be among the first to take her down if politics was all that was in her heart. But how will I ever know?

Anonymous_15897060865429524: @MS, if politics was her intent, does that qualify as ill intent? She is, after all, a politician. Not all political acts are "bad". The question is, was it harmful?

MS: @Anonymous_15897060865429524, yes, it’s bad if it was pure politics of a self-serving kind (with the media in tow) and not really a genuine act of respect. She deserves whatever scheming politicians deserve from a skeptical, cynical public.

Why is that? Because politicians have no right to use a place of worship and fake piety to improve their electoral prospects. I’ve said the same for Malay politicians who put on kurtas and garlands to endear themselves to gullible Indians at Batu Caves.

So, it really depends on intent. And since none of us can get into the hearts and minds of anyone, it is best to take it at face value. Which is what I did when the selendang-clad picture of Yeoh first emerged.

Existential Turd: In another context, donning a tudung while visiting a mosque is a sign of respect. But in Malaysia, respect is a one-way street. It is not reciprocated.

"Respect" as practised in Malaysia is like between a master and a servant. The servant must respect and obey the master, but the master need only show at most magnanimity towards the servant.

Respect as practised in Malaysia, is not between peers or equals. That is why "respect" is politicised in Malaysia. So when a non-Muslim shows respect to Muslims, it is seen as submission by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Muslims view it as another confirmation of their ketuanan (supremacy) status, and the non-Muslims view it as again being treated as lower-status citizens.

Remember the time when Umno’s Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah donned a Sabah indigenous tribe headgear with a pattern that looked like a cross? It wasn't even a real cross, just the resemblance was enough to rile up the Malays/Muslims.

"Respect" is yet another casualty of the weaponisation of religion by the majority in Malaysia.

Sanakyan: @Existential Turd, indeed, respect is a two-way street. Both the Muslims and non-Muslims practising their own religions should show reciprocal respect.

In Malaysia, respect is demanded by the majority race while they will do everything in their political power to demean and demonise the other faiths.

Why then should the non-Muslims bend over backwards to please and show subservience to the ketuanan type?

If it is political expediency (to beg for their votes), then it is a futile exercise. There is no respect from them as shown by those at the Malay Dignity Congress.

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