Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I was very impressed by Eric Loo's opinion piece published in Malaysiakini.
That's why I'm reposting it for those who have yet to subscribe
(sorry lah, Prem and Steven :-)...

No end to cow-crap politics
Eric Loo
Sep 7, 2009 

With a ludicrous home minister mouthing absurdities, we should be concerned about his capacity to mediate in future inter-communal discord or ability to engage intelligently with his counterparts on the international stage.

The minister and his apparatchiks might want to refer to this resource site at the University of South Africa on political conflict resolution.

Any student in Conflict Resolution 101 knows that in mediating, you don't take sides. You avoid justifying the furore of the conflicting parties. You listen. You ask questions of both parties. You try to understand the context and source of the conflict. You do not pass judgement on who's right and who's wrong.

But, no, we have a home minister - whose job is to ensure public safety and goodwill among racial groups - who exacerbates the situation. He has told the public not to blame the Section 23 protesters, when obviously their hyperbolic and berserk claims to religious territorial rights are blatantly offensive and downright threatening to rational thinking Malaysians.

From the outside looking in, the fundamental differences in religious dogma, moral values and worldviews that separate the Section 23 clowns from the wider community are insoluble in a staged meeting. The prejudice, arrogance and dogma are so entrenched in the minds and hearts of the protesters as members of the dominant racial and religious group - and likewise in the minority Hindu community. History tells us that these fundamental differences are like oil and water, insoluble, except to disperse with time and outgrow each other.

Minority Malaysians have since May 13, 1969 resigned themselves to the political realities of being subjects of Umno-dominated rule. Live and let live, as my grandparents and parents used to say.

We may not have outgrown many of our frustrations and angst caused by government-sanctioned discriminatory policies in the public service, in the tertiary education sector, commerce, in building permits to churches and temples, and in 'equal' access to socio-economic opportunities that would see every citizen realise their full potential regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation.

I often wonder how many high achievers out of high school - who could be significant contributors to the country's progress in the hard sciences, medicine, technology, education, research and development, culture and arts - were denied those opportunities.

Those from families who could sacrifice and afford it have long left - and are continuing to leave - to study abroad and remain there to the benefit of places like Australia, Canada, US, New Zealand and, ironically, Singapore.

Those who do not have the financial means are left to rely on their resourcefulness to make it good in their country of birth, governed by bureaucrats whose worldview is limited to what they can see through the eyes of their apparatchiks.

From the outside looking in, I see this in the home minister's ridiculous attempt to mediate in the Section 23 cow-head incident. Instead of saying to the mob 'there is no excuse for your actions', he gave the cow-head stomping clowns 'respectability' by meeting with them, thus adding credence to their hyperbolic protests.

They wanted headline attention and they surely got it - this time as posers with the former keris-wielding Umno Youth leader.
See the 'cow-head' stomper standing smugly, suited sans the tie, behind the minister (2nd from right in photo). Just about a week ago the stomper had gone quite mental stomping on a severed cow-head. That's 'cow-crap' politics for you.

Multiple standards displayed

Hishammuddin Hussein could learn a thing or two from President Barack Obama on how to seize the day and morally lead on issues of race and religion.

On July 30 in the Rose Garden of the White House, the US president met with a black Harvard professor and a white police sergeant who had arrested the professor for attempted burglary and disorderly conduct. The professor was actually trying to break into his home because he forgot his keys. After a neighbour's 911 call, the Massachusetts police rushed to the scene - the professor's home.

Perceived racial profiling from the wrongful arrest unleashed public angst over the covert racism that still divides American society. The president mistakenly said on national TV that the police sergeant had “acted stupidly” - to which, understandably, the police objected.

To contain the tit-for-tat situation, the president invited the black professor and white police sergeant to the White House for a “friendly thoughtful conversation” over a few drinks and snacks. Commenting on the teachable lesson from the incident, Obama said after the chat, "I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.”

In our case, the minister took the opposite road. Discussions on the Internet point to complete disbelief at Hishammuddin's double - or rather multiple - standards, total lack of integrity and the protesters' feigned ignorance of Hinduism's sacred animal.

As Martin Luther King Jr once said in his struggle against the evils of racism and segregation in 1963: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

What if the minister had arranged a session of thoughtful conversation between the stompers and the priests of the Hindu temple at a mamak stall in Shah Alam over mugs of teh tarik? That would have been moral leadership by example.

But, in an entrenched culture of politics that's built on patronage, racial ties and religious dogma, in the end it boils down to keeping supporters on side. Hishammuddin is more Machiavellian than we think.

The affected parties have continued to talk about it - albeit with the inevitable batty outcries and flaring temper at the first town hall 'dialogue' at the Shah Alam City Council last Saturday. It's good to see that the temper was not extended to violence on the streets. We have learned our lessons from 1969 that there are no victors in racial riots.

Unfortunately, it's one step forward and two steps back in our governance with politicians practising multiple standards backed up by inconsistent policing of race-related events. Sixteen Hindraf members were arrested in a candlelight passive protest at Dataran Merdeka on Sept 5.

The Section 23 bellicose stompers were exonerated by the home minister and at this time of writing, remain free. How far back we have regressed with each change of political leadership and politicians of a questionable past, and who seem untutored on the principles of natural justice.

The mainstream media unsurprisingly have given short shrift to the 'cow-crap' politics and inconsistent policing - all caught on Malaysiakini videos.

As readers know, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has ordered Malaysiakini to take down its videos of the 'cow-head' protest and Hishammuddin's press conference after meeting the stompers.

We hope it will not come to that stage. Does the MCMC not know that the horse has bolted? Thank god for YouTube.
Meanwhile, we shall keep the wheels of civil discourse turning, exposing the hypocrisy, ignorance and stupidities that still govern the country.