The number of Malays that turned out for the ‘red shirt’ rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 16 was significant.
Estimates from their side run as high as 300,000 people. Estimates from the liberals’ side, well, they couldn’t care less.
I tried to ignore it but it would be impossible to do so. The numbers justify the attention, right? Just like how the number of those who attended Bersih 4 was significant too.
The question that I have is that the rally was allowed to go on and a venue was even given for it to be legal. The justification for it is that this country has freedom of speech.
Apparently, if those who gathered for Bersih 4 were allowed to, then so should these racist ‘red shirts’. But then again, Bersih 4 was not allowed to take place by the authorities.
Even the intentions of both rallies were different. Bersih 4 had these demands; clean elections, clean government, right to protest, uphold parliamentary democracy and save the economy.
What are the demands of the ‘red shirts’? I feel what they really want to make it clear is that Malays are the masters of the country and the other races need to realise they are immigrants.
Can anyone see the difference in the demands of both groups? Can you see what is right and what is wrong? Which side would you rather align yourself with?
Freedom of speech is good and I am a big advocate of it. But should freedom of speech be extended to racist and hate speech? And what about a big rally that is all about racial hatred?
For a country that is officially so proud about promoting multiculturalism in a society that is multiracial, I find it shocking that the ‘red shirt’ rally was given permission to go on.
Aren't we supposed to be protected from hate speech and racism by something called the Sedition Act (which was really why the act was put in place in the first place)?
If just by perception of that alone, does it not look like the authorities are only concerned about protecting the sensitivities of the Malays rather than the other races living in the country?
And the ‘red-shirts’ have the cheek to say that they are not racists and even opened the rally for all other races to attend and participate.
Now the next question is, are there really that many Malays in the country who are racist and feel like they are the masters of the land and all other races need to bow to them?
And here I am a little bit conflicted because I find it hard to believe that there can actually be that many people who would have that kind of mentality.
I blame a lack of education and exposure as the cause for these people being so easily manipulated by certain quarters.
So maybe the strategy to help overcome racial problems Malaysia is facing, is not to engage with those who are the source of the actual problem.
But it can't end there. We need to ensure that every layer of society in Malaysia gets the best education, in order for them to break free of this ignorance.
And that is our responsibility. What we need to do is to help these Malaysians who don’t know any better. I’m confident that once they see the light, they will understand.
Only then would Malaysians not be fooled and manipulated by those whose intentions are only to serve themselves, and not the nation.
*Views expressed here are personally those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Astro AWANI.