In Japan, the history of the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is never taught in schools. Justifications of not teaching such an important event vary from not wanting future generations to bear the burden of their elders to even a matter of Japanese pride ingrained in their culture.
To the same end, Malaysian history tends to tell us to vilify everyone – from the British residents all the way to the Japanese and the communist insurgency. But more so, every May we are reminded of the breakdown in ethnic relations among Malaysians in 1969.
And every year, the threat is made to tell people to shut up and not question the government or even the pro-government mob mentality. As one relative told me, there is a good reason the Brits adopted the Malay word ‘amok’ into the Oxford Dictionary.
Two incidents occurred in the last week that shows just how far Umno supporters are willing to go to keep their power.
The first was an attack on Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad right in front of parliament. A similar attack was made before on the late Karpal Singh, thus this is the second time Umno supporters somehow managed to get through the gates and assaulting someone right at the entrance to the Dewan Rakyat.
The second attack took place in Penang, where cartoonist Zunar was assaulted by a mob of Umno supporters who could not accept satirical political art – something even Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s office seems hard to stomach as well.
These two attacks are unacceptable, and I applaud the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) for taking urgent and stringent action against the perpetrators in Kuala Lumpur, even as there is no word of any action being taken in Penang just yet.
I support media freedom to the core, especially when it parodies politicians. As I defended a small restaurant in Damansara for using Lim Guan Eng, I will also defend Zunar’s right to have comics of Najib. If Umno has a problem with it, hire a cartoonist and park him in Jasa.
Similarly, there is nothing that should lead to the assault of politicians right in front of parliament. I hope the gate guards got a tongue lashing or investigations are being held to see who invited them in – because last I checked, this is the only way for the public to gain access to parliament.
Multiple attacks are being done on the freedom of speech, expression and media – most recently is the raid on Malaysiakini for reporting the news and remarks by a former political individual regarding the Attorney General.
But bear in mind, attacks take multiple forms, even the blocking of websites after the promise of net neutrality and unfettered access, or even the use of a financial pressure, boycotts and advertising squeeze.
Then again, a simple test on Facebook a few days back showed me that when it comes to the press, many don’t question the source. As long as the news is fast and it is something everyone wants to read about, even the boycott of Berita Harian couldn’t stop people from making their news report over two idiots harassing a city council staff go viral.
Since this may be my final words here, I will just pass this message – keep reading the news, keep forming an opinion and keep sharing your thoughts. You don’t have to use words like I do, go ahead and use art like Zunar, or poetry like Pak Samad, or even YouTube like Lutfi or even Instagram like Azwan Ali.
To paraphrase a TV show – they can’t stop the signal because everyone goes everywhere.
Technology has advanced so far to the point that everyone can make a statement by themselves and share it with the world without borders. Share news responsibly via social media, support your media houses as you see fit, fill in their surveys and even click on a few ads accidentally.
As a wise guy once told me, media is what the people put into it, and what they receive is what they can afford in giving.
Source : Hafidz Baharom@The Heat Malaysia Online