Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let’s stamp out racism - article by Azmi Sharom in the Star

Dear Readers,

This is an excellent article by Dr. Azmi Sharom, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at Universiti Malaya, which was published in the Star today:

Thursday September 3, 2009

Let’s stamp out racism


Not only must we condemn the cow-head protest in Shah Alam last week but we must look into ourselves and make sure we don’t think and speak like racists.

THE cow-head protest in Shah Alam last week left me feeling utterly disgusted. The men who organised and participated in that foul act are nothing but rank racists, and by cloaking their activities in a veil of piousness they show themselves to be even more despicable.

Yes, I was furious, but sadly I was not surprised. How can I be and how can anyone else be? We have allowed racists to have their way for so many years now.

Their appalling words and actions get progressively bolder and it just builds and builds until we have these men feeling they have the right to insult another religion in the most vile and brutal manner.

In the light of how Malay and Islamic supremacist thinking and expression have caught hold in the last few years, this sickening behaviour is simply a natural progression.

It happened because we allowed it to happen. Those bigoted thugs did what they did because we did not stamp down on the racists among us hard.

We allowed racist politicians to spout their garbage about “immigrant races”; we allowed them to tell our brothers and sisters to “go back to where you belong”; we allowed them to wave weapons of war; and we allowed them to ask for the weapons to be bathed in blood.

It’s too late for any politician to condemn something now when all the other acts of bigotry that have been brewing in the past few years were not even protested against because they suited their political needs.

It is too late to be making pleas of unity on National Day when not enough has been done before.

Let’s look at something recent. Two books that attacked the Mentri Besar of Selangor and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim are blatantly racist.

They claim that Selangor is for Malays only. They claim that the Pakatan Rakyat state government threatens Malays because they hire non-Malay staff.

In other words, the government must only hire Malays so that only Malays get benefits from the government. This is racism pure and simple. But because it suits the ruling party, as these books attack Pakatan, nothing is said.

Racism is racism, be it some vile words published in some cheap self-published drivel, or a bleeding cow head stomped and spat upon. Racism is racism and it must be fought.

When it is not fought, when it is not faced down every single time, then those without the courage to fight it are merely accomplices who, through their cowardice or selfishness, support it.

And how should we fight it? The law that should be used is the Penal Code. The Sedition Act is a blunderbuss of a law and could be used against genuine dissent as well. Let us not look to that archaic leaving of the British.

Use the provisions in the Penal Code that make incitement an offence. Charge these people under the Penal Code and lock them away.

But that is for the authorities to do, if they so choose to. We, the people, must look into ourselves and make sure we don’t think and speak like racists. We must be even more careful that we do not infect our children.

We should speak out against racism and we should tell our political leaders that if they do not fight racism then they are supporting racism and we will not support them.

We must make sure that what happened in Shah Alam faces utter and complete public contempt. Only in that way can we ensure it is not repeated.

Dr Azmi Sharom is a law teacher. I fully subscribe to and support his views expressed here.

You can read more about Dr. Azmi here, here and here.

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