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Date [ 2015-09-29, 06:39 ]

The day Kuala Lumpur was awash with red.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Camilo Menzes =The Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu held on Malaysia Day, September 16 2015 is over. What has it accomplished and what is its aftermath?

Thankfully not much in the way of physical violence. Life for the majority of Malaysians is going on as usual. Even the Petaling Street vendors who came under intense hostility from the Red Shirts, are back to doing what they do best –selling their wares to largely a tourist crowd.

On the other hand there have been some demands thrown at the government by the Red Shirts and some soul searching by others.

Tajuddin Ramli, a Free Malaysia Today reader, mentioned the incident shamed the majority of Malays throughout the country. He said, “For the first time ever, I went to work with my face down, feeling ashamed to be called a Malay. I could sense my non-Malay colleagues looking at me and laughing in their heads to what my people have become. I had to put on a brave smile and pretend nothing ever happened. But the reality is that the Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu has shown the world the attitude of some Malays in the country. Please don’t get me wrong. The hooligans who gathered for the rally in no way represent the silent majority of Malays in the country who are civilized.”

Many Malays also felt Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu was not a reflection of true Muslims. It was pointed out that Prophet Muhammad never taught Muslims to ridicule another religion or call others derogatory names. Chanting racist slogans was something that Islam does not recognize.

Tajuddin went to say, “I fail to understand the reason for the rally. They say Malaysia belongs to Malays. Strictly speaking, Malaysia belongs to the Orang Asli. Most Malays are descendants from Indonesia. So what are they chanting about?
What if the Orang Aslis hold a rally and ask the Malays to leave their country? How would we react? We condemn the Jews for robbing Palestinian land. What are we doing here?”

The demonstrators, who had been screaming that the Chinese were oppressing the Malays, roughed up some Chinese reporters when they asked how this was so? They also had racial banners calling the closure of Chinese vernacular schools, telling the Chinese to go back to China and even verbally calling out ‘Chinese Pigs.” 

DAP MP Kulasegaran pointed out that a quick look in the field of education will show, “Mara’s total student population is bigger than other government universities, which makes it the biggest single higher institution in this country.” What should be noted that the student population is predominantly Malay.

Other perks the Malays enjoy are the best interest rates for Amanah Saham, special quotas and extra discounts when buying property and  loans easily approved. The Malays also dominate the public sector. Malay children  get scholarships while the non-bumis with better results are excluded. The majority of states have a Malay ruler. In the corporate world, the top posts are held by Malays. Going further afield, the police, army, navy and air force are all controlled by Malay heads. So is there any veracity in saying the Malays  are being suppressed?

To add insult to injury, the Chinese (read that as Bersi 4.0) are being accused of trying to overthrow the government. Is this possible after reading the above? That too with firepower being totally in the hands of Malays.

Comparisons were bound to be made with Bersih 4.0 and the Red Shirts. The former had more, about 250,000 attending their rally. Most of the participants were young, educated and professional and had a sense of pride in participating. They came into K L on their own accord, fed themselves and so gave roaring business to stalls and restaurants, slept on the streets for the 36-hour rally, sang the Negara Ku when it was midnight as Merdeka Day was ushered in, all this away from their restricted spot of Dataran Merdeka. They all went back home peaceably and with the sense of having accomplished something for the call of a clean and honest government. 

The Red Shirts brought in instead uneducated people from the rural, many with no idea why they were in Kuala Lumpur. When questioned by reporters the answers that came were like, ”We were asked to meet and get on the bus.” Some were given money as they boarded the bus, food was provided for them after which many of the elderly just sat around waiting to go home.

The Red Shirts’ rally brought out some demands that to many were unreasonable and in some cases, hilarious. Datuk Jamal Md Yunos,  the leader demanded that Petaling Street be opened up to Malay traders. He felt the Malays too should be given the opportunity to do business and earn profits at Petaling Street. The point missed here is that it is not about race, about earning profits, but uniqueness. Petaling Street, the capital’s CHINATOWN says it all. The Chinese elements have to dominate with that distinctive Chinese flavor and for which the tourists came to see and buy. It is the same for Little India as well as the Malay Traders in the Masjid India area.

Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders’ Association Chairman, Datuk Ang Say Tee finally spoke out.  He told the Malaysian Insider, “What will people think? You can’t just simply say you want, and we hand it to you. The Malays are also laughing at his suggestion..”

He also reiterated that Jamal could not make sweeping statements that the Petaling Street vendors enjoyed immunity and received favours from City Hall authorities despite running illegal businesses.

Ang informed the authorities conducted enforcement operations periodically, the latest being a week after the Red Shirt rally. He continued, “We don’t condone the sale of counterfeit products or pornographic videos and if the traders insist on doing this and get arrested, they will have to deal with the authorities themselves.”

Ang also informed there were a small number of Indian and Malay traders , mostly running food and beverage stalls as well as selling newspapers. He reminded it would be difficult for anyone to open a business here, as all 700 stalls have been taken up.

Bersih 4.0 had traders and eateries shouting for joy at all the extra cash they had made. The Red Shirt Rally had the majority of Petaling Street traders closing shop for fear of being vandalised. They were almost right when a group of Red Shirts attempted to break through the police barricade at Petaling Street

But when all is said and done, perhaps what is most damaging about the Red Shirts rally is the fact that they breached the rule of conducting a peaceful rally. It turned chaotic and some pictures on the web showed a group of Red Shirts trying to break open the closed shutters of a small hotel. They left after some time, unable to break open the shutter. However the most telling was the front page picture of a FRU vehicle spraying a  water cannon to control the unruly gathering. This  will long stay in the memory of Malaysians.

abc@koreanpress.net

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