I am talking about the Chinese Organisations Congress planned for 28 December. But I’m sure Dong Zong have their reasons for wanting to hold the congress, and I’m not going to comment whether they are right or wrong in wanting to hold it.
Instead, I’ll present what we know up till now.
To DAP’s P. Ramasamy, the Chinese educationist group has the “legitimate and democratic” right to organise the congress.
DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang said there is no basis for the fear that the congress will lead to chaos “if it is not anti-Malay or anti-Constitution”.
Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, the MCA president, calls it a “gathering”. He said the gathering is about vernacular education, not race.
Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad said the Malays will react in a very Malay way”. There are people who are not happy with what the PM said, but I don’t think the PM was issuing a “veiled threat”.
Mahathir said there could be repercussions as the congress “will only result in Malays having their congress and talking about closing down Chinese schools and all that. You do that kind of thing, you will get reaction”.
I risk being labelled a “Mahathir apologist” but I’ll say it anyway. The PM is being realistic because for every action there will be reaction. He is being real.
Well known author Nathaniel Tan writing for MalaysiaKini recently said the prime minister’s prediction “that this congress was likely to elicit an unpleasant reaction from more extremist Malay Muslim groups is likely an accurate one”.
And here’s the thing. Many Malaysians, including a number of Chinese, are not keen in seeing the Chinese Organisations Congress take place this 28 December or on any other date for that matter.
Many, again including Chinese, see the congress as a protest against the introduction of three pages of Jawi lessons for standard four pupils which is “no more a big issue” although most of them agree the character of vernacular schools “should be preserved”. I am not going to comment on that either.
I’ll just say this. When the Jawi issue erupted many hardline Malay groups have made demands that the government close down vernacular schools. Come to think of it even before the Jawi controversy such demands they have made. The groups have never liked vernacular schools, in particular Chinese schools, deeming them “anti-national aspirations.”
Now they are repeating their call, and they are becoming more vocal and should I say “vicious”.
I don’t intend to repeat what have been or are being said. Take a look at comments on social media and you’ll know what I mean.
They are alleging that Dong Zong and allies are bent on creating trouble over “only three pages” of Jawi lessons. They say Dong Zong is being kurang ajar, or very rude!
The sad part is that the entire Chinese community is made up to be or accused of being kurang ajar as well. The fact there are Chinese who are not supportive of any of Dong Zong’s move is conveniently forgotten.
Worst still, there are Malays who have all the while been fair minded and anti-racism are taken in by the kurang ajar rhetoric. What more with Dong Zong seen as adamant in wanting to hold its congress.
In short, plan in organising the congress is aggravating matters. The hardline or extremist Malay groups are finding support from Malays who in the first place are against them.
As I see it, by holding the congress Dong Zong is giving their enemies ammunition i.e. giving bullets to shoot back at not only themselves (Dong Zong) but the Chinese community as well.
Now we are hearing of a leader from PAS Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali quoted by Malay Mail Online a few days ago talking on the possibility of the Seafield temple trouble, unless the Chinese organisation congress is stopped.
He wants the police to act to “avoid a repeat of the 2017 riots at the Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple in Subang Jaya”.
I’m sure many agree that the PAS leader should not have said what he said. Now even if (this is a big IF) Dong Zong has wanted to call off the congress, Khairuddin’s statement is making it hard for them lest they be accused of “kowtowing” to PAS, thus losing face. And in Chinese or rather Asian culture, losing face is a big deal. Still the interest of country must take precedence over anything else, losing face included.
Anyway, perhaps Wee could give Khairuddin some sort of advice as the MCA is on talking terms with PAS via Muafakat Nasoinal although it is not a member of the pact up till now.
But now there are media reports that another congress opposed to Jawi khat will be held by a group calling itself Sekat, after the Dong Zong’s congress. More bullets for Malay hardline NGOs to fire at non- Malays?
(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)