By Kuik Cheng Kang, Sin Chew Daily
While the incident over the hanging of CNY lanterns at SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong 1 appears to have calmed down after the intervention by the cabinet, it has in essence dealt a further blow on our vulnerable interracial relations. Chinese Malaysians feel a knife brutally stabbed into their chests while some of the Malays are unhappy with the cabinet intervention as if the move has badly bruised their frail dignity.
Even though we have been living in relative peace and harmony for so many years, it is not uncommon to see quarrels and bickering as a consequence of misunderstanding, prejudices, lack of candid communication, exploitation by politicians as well as provocation from irresponsible quarters.
All this has nothing to do at all with our existing multi-stream education system or differences in our religious and cultural backgrounds. All Malaysians must come to recognise the reality that our cultural diversity should be our strength and a dynamic force to propel us forward.
It is sad that racial prejudices and hatred buried deep inside our hearts have failed to be turned into harmonious coexistence mainly because of rogue politicians who love to raise sensitive racial issues, connive and incite extremist acts and remarks to gain traction at the expense of the feelings of other ethnic communities.
Those with powers in their hands have done nothing to stop the extremism and bigotry but have instead created opportunities to embolden them, the Malay Dignity Congress being an agonising example.
Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, the PUTRA vice president who raised the CNY lantern issue, claimed after successfully setting off racial animosity that he had triumphed, while the enforcement authorities and the country's leaders largely kept their eyes shut.
All that the Malaysian Chinese community wants is to take Jawi calligraphy out of regular school curriculum and acknowledge the legitimate status of Chinese primary school management boards. However, irresponsible politicians have dismissed this as a heinous move of rejecting Jawi.
In a similar manner, a couple of incidents exploited by these people have over and again indicted the entire Chinese community for questioning the status of Bahasa Malaysia, Islam and the special privileges accorded to the bumiputras.
Chinese Malaysians now feel the excruciating pain that rogue politicians continue to stay immune to the consequences of their iniquities while those fighting for their legitimate and deserved rights are made to face public censure.
If the authorities continue to connive with Mohd Khairul and take no actions against him, they will eventually destroy this whole country. Connivance is not the way to run this country; it will only tear us further apart.
To put it forthright, our predicament today could be attributed to the lapse of duty on the part of our enforcers, as well as politicians who dodge their inherent responsibility of uniting the people.
Buoyed by the "New Malaysia Dream" promise of Pakatan Harapan, Many Chinese Malaysians threw out the BN/Umno racist regime for a promising new government over a year ago. What they never realised was that the ghost of racism was still very much alive and was reincarnated through the new ruling party PPBM.
Now in the opposition, Umno has officially tied the knot with PAS, but where will they take the country in future? This is a question the local Chinese community cannot afford to overlook. PAS president Hadi Awang has repeatedly commented in a highly radical manner issues that Chinese Malaysians are very much concerned about. This has protruded the party's intolerant, bigoted and unempathetic attitude towards non-Muslim communities of this country.
The "New Malaysia Dream" could be just an unrealistic dream post-election. The "feel good" atmosphere seems to have dissipated into thin air, prompting some to say they might consider relocating to the East Malaysian state of Sarawak out of sheer dejection.
From Adenan Satem to Abang Johari, Sarawak's chief ministers have insistently embraced the philosophy of diversity and have rejected the entry of extremist politicians from West Malaysia. All the people living in this country will only have a strong sense of belonging if our prime minister will take care of the feelings of the Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Dayaks and other ethnic communities in addition to the Malays, and wholeheartedly accept and recognise the reality that diversity is actually our strength and asset, so that the racists will not have any place in this country to thrive.
Our leaders must adopt a moderate approach and guide our people towards moderation so that all Malaysians will get to appreciate the beauty of mutual cooperation and respect as we walk down the road of shared prosperity together. In fact, harmony and cooperation also go well with the value system in Confucianism in ensuring equality and a win-win situation for all despite our differences.
We will celebrate the Chinese New Year very soon and I have to start preparing to host my Malay neighbours who will be visiting me and who have been painstakingly preparing mouthwatering delicacies for me and my family during each Raya festivity for as long as we are neighbours. We are all looking forward to each gathering with much anticipation. And during each of these visitations, we cannot help but feel utterly disgusted at politicians who delight in tearing up our society's unity and harmony.
Sin Chew Daily will continue to carry heart-warming and uplifting real stories of Malaysians in its "Warm Power" and "We" columns.
Our diversity is not unlike the Chinese lou sang or the Malay rojak, so harmoniously blended and congruously delectable.
I am really worried about the state of the country's interracial relations at this very moment, but things have not gone to the state of desperation yet, as we still have the last remaining strip of pure land somewhere in this country.
Instead of getting obsessed with the "Look East" policy, perhaps we should look across the South China Sea to see how Sarawak is run.