By Tay Tian Yan, Sin Chew Daily
Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) vice president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz declared that he had triumphed.
He said he only needed to write one letter to get the red lanterns taken down, and the government had to send six ministers and one deputy minister to get the lanterns put up again.
Although I really hate this guy, I have to agree that he has indeed won!
There is this saying: “There's no such thing as bad publicity” meaningany any publicity is a good one and there is no such thing as bad publicity.
This guy's purpose is to promote himself, his party, and his ideology.
So, he said it very clearly that he knew the Chinese New Year celebration has nothing to do with religion, and he admitted that this is a fact everyone knows.
But he still started the incident, not because of “fact” but“perception”.
In other words, as long as he is trying to create a kind of perception that would associate lantern decorations with the Chinese religion, he can make many people reject them.
You may ask, will people believe? Could it be that everyone is such a fool to believe him?
Sadly many will, including that school principal, the police officer involved, Muslim parents as well as Malay social media users.
You can't conclude that these people are stupid. If they are stupid they wouldn't have been school principal or police officer.
However, in our Malaysian society today, perception could supersede fact anytime religion is mentioned.
And Mohd Khairul is well aware of this human weakness which he is more than happy to exploit.
When perception supersedes fact, he can say with much pride that he is defending his community and religion, and fight seven ministers all by himself, an ordinary citizen.
Isn't this sufficient to make him a big hero?
He and his party are vying for the conservative Malay Muslim market. He doesn't need the support of non-Malays or more liberal Malays. As a result, it will be a successful publicity for him if he manages to win the trust of conservative Malay Muslims.
Remember, there's so such thing as bad publicity.
Mohd Khairul is proud to announce that he will do it again.. “As long as I am still alive, my mouth still talks and my limbs still move, I will become your worst nightmare.”
Six ministers and one deputy minister have actually done something great, but it is meaningless for them to take turns to explain the significance of CNY decorations to the public.
The whole world knows that CNY is a Chinese tradition unrelated to religion, including Mohd Khairul himself, the school principal and the police officer, but very often perception takes over the fact.
So long as we still go down the religious path and monoculturalism beats multiculturalism, perception will always be the frontrunner and Mohd Khairul will always emerge as a victor.
Today, it takes seven cabinet ministers to put out the fire but the flame will very soon be lit again by some other incidents.
As long as no action is taken against Mohd Khairul, he will repeat his old trick and more Khairuls will be created in his likeness.
What can the authorities do to a scoundrel with a triumphant smile?
Ironically our deputy eduction minister Teo Nie Ching is standing on the other side, thinking exactly the same way as the Putra VP.
She links the red lanterns to Jawi in an attempt to sell her Jawi with the Chinese tanglung.
She says putting up lantern decorations will not convert Muslims, nor will three pages of Jawi turn Chinese and Indian students into Muslims.
The same thing is being said by Mohd Khairul. He says you (Chinese) claim that lanterns will not affect the Muslims, then why do you oppose to Jawi? Will three pages of Jawi make you Muslims?
SEKAT secretary Arun Doraisamy says taking down CNY decorations is a very unfortunate incident but it couldn't have been worse than Teo Nie Ching's response. This shows that the deputy minister simply doesn't understand the real problem with the Jawi issue.
I won't echo Arun's call to demand Teo's resignation, but I wish to remind her that if her logic is consistent with that of Mohd Khairul, what makes her any different from the rogue Putra vice chair?