There is nothing more lonely, and frightening, than standing up and making a stand by saying, “You are wrong!”
As events over the past few weeks have shown, when things go wrong, we do not address the key issues but keep quiet because of the culture of fear in which we live.
First, a child died, having been beaten by a member of staff at his religious school. The man who allegedly beat him on the soles of his feet is free on bail, as the Attorney-General’s Chambers said that there was a lack of evidence against him.
The head of the coalition of tahfiz schools has admitted that he saw the boy being beaten on CCTV, but conveniently ignored the fact that this form of punishment – bastinado – goes against the Geneva Convention.
Second, a little boy died after being left in a locked van. Just imagine his panic when he was trapped in a humid, airless van and no one came to his help.
Neither the van driver nor the religious kindergarten school teacher had noticed the boy’s absence, until it was too late.
Third, in a typical Friday scene outside a surau, cars are parked helter-skelter, because Malaysians are too lazy to walk more than a few feet and think nothing of inconveniencing others. Respect for fellow human beings does not get Brownie points for going to heaven.
Friday is a public holiday in Johor. There isn’t much traffic on the road, unlike working days, but people must be selfish and block the roads. Few think about car pooling.
Another motorist, who has absolutely every right to use the road, used his horn to alert the owner of the parked cars to move their vehicles. No one cared.
What if you had to use that road to bring your parent to hospital? What if it had been a fire engine, attending an emergency? Would they have been beaten up by those who ran amok?
It is a scene which many of us, who live in Malaysia, recognise. Some selfish car owner has parked, because he will “only be five minutes”, getting his tapau from the hawker stall. This scene can be reproduced outside markets, restaurants, pasar malams, schools and houses of worship.
Last Friday, incensed at being hooted, some decided to take the law unto their own hands and assaulted the man who had used his horn.
‘This could have been avoided if people had obeyed the law’
Whilst some of us wrongly search for answers from a racial and religious perspective, the only thing which matters is that this could have been avoided if people had obeyed the law, or adhered to the guidelines and regulations of any well-run organisation.
Young Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi could have been saved if there had been proper and detailed Education Ministry guidelines for a privately-run educational establishment. There were none.
In 2011, another young boy died after being strangled and beaten to death by the warden of his religious hostel in Perlis. At the time, the erstwhile deputy education minister, Dr Mohd Puad Zakarshi, told The Star that no action could be taken against the teacher, because it was a private school. Despite this wake-up call, the Education Ministry failed to strengthen procedures, vet the schools, and issue standard guidelines, to all private and government run religious schools.
Muhamad Iqram Danish need not have died if both the van driver and the kindergarten had a register to record the names of pupils who were absent. What would happen should a fire break out at school? Is there no roll-call?
As for the fracas outside the surau, the inspector-general of police (IGP) should not threaten members of the public, but instead threaten to sack the policemen who failed to fine car owners who parked indiscriminately and ignored the highway code.
In all these incidents, Malays/Muslims were involved, and this is where the indoctrination of the Malay mind comes in useful.
Some Malays cease to be critical analysts. They simply resign themselves to what others have told them to accept, and where deaths have occurred, they accept that “it was God’s will”.
Woe betide some Malays who ask too many questions about these bad practices, the lack of procedures and accountability, because they will be accused of insulting Muslims and Islam.
Sadly, racial and religious indoctrination have reduced some Malays to zombies.
WRITER: MARIAM MOKHTAR