September 16 – Red Shirts and the Day of Shame

Yesterday was Malaysia Day when Malaysians from all walks of life should have been celebrating with joy and happiness our togetherness as a nation united and unified. We should have been renewing our pledge under the Rukun Negara to swear our belief in God, loyalty to King and country, to safeguard democracy, the Constitution and rule of law and to always conduct our affairs with courtesy and morality.

Instead, the nation was treated to a day of infamy and shame when thousands of Red Shirts, with the blessing of the Prime Minister and his deputy, descended on Kuala Lumpur, to trumpet Malay supremacy, sow fear of impending violence and incite hatred against other races, particularly the Chinese.

This was a Day when all Malaysians should have got together, as they did at Taman Tasik Shah Alam, Selangor, for a walk in a show of unity to champion the ideals of peace, respect and love. Therefore, words cannot describe the sense of shame and disgust that I felt seeing Malays in red shirts – men and women alike – chanting racist slogans and expressions of contempt and hatred against the other communities.

Is this UMNO’s best idea of restoring Malay dignity? Busing in thousands of Felda settlers and party members from the states and setting them loose like an angry mob out to lynch others?

Is this UMNO’s best idea of shoring up support for the Prime Minister? Whipping up anti-Chinese, anti-DAP sentiment and engaging in acts of provocation like marching to Low Yat and Petaling Street?

Is this UMNO’s definition of “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” where only Malays belonging to one political party and members from right-wing groups congregate with no positive agenda or purpose except to vilify the Chinese community and their leaders and to shout at the top of their voices how great Malays are supposed to be?

And is this how UMNO wants to show-case the religion of Islam? Indeed, by saying that racism is in line with Islamic teachings and that such a rally, even though racist,is endorsed by the religion, they have added insult to injury and have committed great dishonour to Islam and Malay dignity.

The leaders responsible for this day of infamy are now forever tainted with having violated the unwritten code of conduct as a nation – to treat all the communities with honour, dignity and respect. They should be seized with remorse and overcome by shame – if there is any self-respect left in them.

Malaysia Day is a day to remind all of us that this country is multi-racial and multi-religious, united under the King as head of state and that we must treat each other with courtesy and moral rectitude. Rather than marching with hatred and animosity, we should have been marching hand in hand as a nation regardless of race, colour or creed singing our Negara Ku, renewing our social compact and strengthening our bonds of citizenship under the flag of Malaysia.

Hidup Malaysia!

Mohamed Azmin Ali

Chief Minister State of Selangor

17th September 2015