Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fear: Who fears what and who fears who…

By Anak Malaysia

IN a society with many ethnic groups practising different languages, cultures, beliefs and values, such as ours, distrust, fear, misunderstanding, conflicts and sometimes disagreements, are the order of the day.

Care, tolerance, mutual respect and diplomacy are elements we cannot do without as we go about in our daily life.

In Malaysia’s case, communities enjoy social peace and harmony but at times such a situation is an uneasy one. The precious social peace and tranquillity could easily be shattered by reckless utterances, statements and speeches, especially by the same politicians who prod their countrymen to value peace, talk peace and live in peace with one another.

I would hasten to add that the tongue is even more deadly than the sword or the keris.

So, we should all watch what we say. By the same token, words of kindness, cooperation and conciliation and acts of compassion, especially by community leaders towards one another are the surest safeguards. In other words, the existing harmony is not an optional luxury but a necessity as our Prime Minister told us.

At the recent Umno General Assembly, statements by several Umno leaders, this time, hardly provocative as compared to last year’s gather, sought to reassure wary non-Malays about racial and religious sentiments being expressed or raised.

Whether they did assuage or allay simmering fears and apprehensions among the non-Malays we do not know. All I can tell is that they were not that provocative to the extent where it could spell trouble.

We have laws on sedition, that clearly spell out incitement to hate etc and we should not hesitate to use it on anyone committing such an offence.Our leaders keep warning the people not to raise sensitive issues like race and religion and yet there were some who did just that at political meets.

The spirit of togetherness and co-existence cannot be traded for anything else in a land with many races, values, cultures and religions. Open houses attended by different races are not enough to guarantee us the continued peace we have unless we unhesitatingly rein in the politicians Ð whether it is Umno, MCA, MIC, PAS or opposition elements - who deliberately provoke, incite and cause trouble.We have said many times that we ought to preserve and enhance religious and cultural tolerance and understanding.

With such elements in our midst, then only would we able to protect our freedom and social stability that we treasure.There are many issues that need urgent attention and solution and there is no quick fix to them and solutions must be accepted by all parties.

Racial equality must not be confined to mere lip-services. We must be fair in all areas of our Malaysian life to include scholarships, job opportunities, promotions, etc.

Otherwise, many questions and doubts will remain.

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