Something disturbing happened when I was down in Kuala Lumpur recently. About 23km down the road from where I was staying, a group of racists had cut off the head of a cow and marched with it to the Selangor State Secretariat building in Shah Alam, ignoring any disturbance to the racial harmony and sensitivities in this country. They were protesting the re-location of an Indian temple to a different part of the state capital.
What was remarkable, if this was an appropriate word - was that the police stood by in full view of this march. They displayed a newly found restraint, unlike their heavy-handed clampdown on Hindraf, Bersih and recent anti-ISA demonstrations in the Klang Valley, which was most unusual.
It makes me wonder. In this country, why can't all the races live together with respect towards one another? I thought that after 52 years of independence, we in Malaysia can tolerate and accept one another for what we are worth. I'm wrong. If anything else, we Malaysians have become less tolerant and more extremist. It's true. Parading around with a cow's head does nothing more than to show off the perversity of the protestors who do not hesitate to use religion to provoke others. And this coming in the Muslim month of Ramadan and immediately after their Friday prayers. More so, it was just days before Merdeka Day when everybody should be happily celebrating the 52nd anniversary of independence.
It was actually disappointing but not surprising to read the Umno big guns coming to the defence of the people behind the incident. That Hishammuddin the Home Minister actually agreed with his racist "brothers" before he finally decided to do an about-turn one day later to say that the protesters should be brought to book. Whether he seriously meant it or not is a different matter, though. Also disappointing was the blind support that Mahathir's son gave Hishammuddin.
All these people only demonstrate the herd instinct (sorry for this painful pun) behind the stupid people in the public eye who should know better than to make such statements that can provoke more unhappiness and indignation. Have we not had enough of them? I have.
Maybe I should also add this observation as an after-thought. There is no mutual respect. The non-Malay people in this country show sensitiveness towards the culture of the Malays but the reverse is not true. The Malays themselves do not understand or exercise the same sensitiveness towards the cultures of the non-Malays. Why is it a one-way traffic or has the Federal Government failed us in promoting harmony and respect among the people?