Actions taken by bureaucrats (most of them with degrees from local universities and abroad) at the behest of their hypocritical UMNO political masters make us a laughing stock to the rest of the world. My colleagues at The University of Cambodia and my students look at me as if I were from another planet of saints of the Islamic variety who say one thing and do something else, worse still when no one else is watching.
The beer fest affair is just of one of those stupid things our politicians of the Islamic faith do to our citizens by depriving them of their rights to be themselves as long as they respect the rights of their Muslim brothers and sisters. What irreparable harm is being done when we and our friends gather socially for a glass of beer!
My friend Nades is gutsy enough to say what he thinks about this affair. By giving security concerns as the excuse for calling off the event is not only flimsy and cynical, but also nonsensical. Furthermore, in this case, Malaysians are being treated as “kids and fools”. It is alright to treat MCA, MIC and Gerakan leaders and their supporters that way. After all, they have grown accustomed to being scorned and insulted by their UMNO bosses in Barisan Nasional. But doing that to us all by infringing upon our fundamental rights to be ourselves and choose our friends is unacceptable.
I can only add my disgust at the attitude of our authorities. I am wondering how much more we as Malaysians can tolerate this patronizing attitude of the current Administration. It has been trampling on our rights to freedom of speech, association and expression since Najib Razak took office in 2009 with a 1Malaysia slogan, Rakyat DiDahulukan, Prestasi DiUtamakan. What he has shown over these years is Rakyat diKetepikan, Prestasi diAbaikan.
To think that Najib Razak’s UMNO-BN will be returned to power come GE-14 makes me throw my hands in the air. If that happens, unless our East Malaysian brothers and sisters vote to reject his leadership, I think I can say that we deserve the government we choose, one that uses religion to differentiate and divide us.–Din Merican
How can a beer fest be a security threat?
There are some moments in our daily lives when we ask ourselves, “Do we deserve to be treated this way?” The answer is always, “We deserve the government we elected.” Really?
When government leaders treat citizens as children and expect us to accept everything they say – hook, line and sinker – the anger seethes and churns in our systems. While many can take it with a pinch of salt and laugh at their antics, there are times when their puerile statements make us wonder why they are sitting up there.
When they tell us the “political sensitivity” and “security threat” have similar meanings and connotations, we are compelled to stand up and ask: “Sir, are you taking us to be kids or fools or idiots?”
Now before anyone takes up the cudgel and tar our leaders with the same brush, let it be specific.
On Monday, Sinar Harian had quoted Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) Corporate Planning Department Director Khalid Zakaria as saying that an application to hold the Better Beer Festival had been rejected because of “political sensitivity”. On the same evening, Kuala Lumpur Mayor Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz has declined to comment on this matter.
The organisers – Mybeer (M) Sdn Bhd – issued a statement which read: “We were further informed that the decision was made due to political sensitivity surrounding the event.”
Of course, right-minded citizens expressed their disgust over this insisting that their rights are being impeded. Joining the chorus were politicians on both sides of the divide. Well and good. Every inch of their support, although in some cases, couched in politically-correct language, was needed to stop this intrusion into one’s personal choice.
The MCA asked City Hall to be “consistent and accountable”. Its religious harmony bureau chief Ti Lian Ker, said: “They cannot arbitrarily reject the application and threaten to take action against the organiser without giving a proper account or reasons for the rejection.”
But on Wednesday, there was a complete turnaround. MCA president and Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the authorities had told cabinet during its weekly meeting that safety was one of the reasons why the craft beer festival was cancelled.
If security had been “real” reason, why was it not conveyed to the organisers? Why did City Hall have to lie by saying “political sensitivity”? If security was an issue, surely the organisers would have made other arrangements and beefed up security.
From Joe Public’s standpoint, all this appears to be an afterthought and a shameful charade. We have no intention of causing alarm and panic, but are we to assume that any congregation of people would require them to look over their shoulders while sipping their beer?
Held to ransom
Two Saturdays ago, a group of friends were at a screening party where the match between Liverpool and Manchester City was telecast on a large screen. The venue was a pub in Sri Hartamas and there were more than 100 people. Fans of both clubs enjoyed the beers and game. Liverpool fans drowned their sorrows while City fans celebrated.
Every weekend, there are scores of such screening parties in pubs, restaurants and mamak shops. Are they targets too? Will they ban such screenings?
If the mantra previously was “moderation”, it has now become “security”. What purpose do sloganeering, walks and campaigns serve when our rights are being disregarded and dismissed summarily?
Six years ago, in one of the hallowed halls of University of Cambridge, Prime Minister Najib Razak extolled the virtues of Malaysia’s moderation quoting the Quran, the Bible and even the Torah.
Today, such notations are in shambles; the nation is being held to ransom by a handful of zealots. Yet, the government is watching with folded arms and refuses to stand up to this kind of bullying.
Even the civil service has become subservient to the frolics of the few. All and sundry have got their priorities wrong for political expediency.
At every turn, religion is creeping into our daily lives unabated. Despite espousing moderation both verbally and in writing, these so-called advocates of temperance and reasonableness retreat into their cocoons when confronted with issues.
We cannot continue putting up our hands and saying, “What can we do?” We have to say, “Enough is enough”, and collectively drown the voices of the few who are trying to impose their values on the rest of the citizens.