The red shirts can be dismissed and ignored

Bersih4 was a Malaysian event with a clear call to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down and for electoral reforms. The “red shirt” rally on Sept 16 — Malaysia Day — was clearly racist. It was called the “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” (United People’s Rally) but only one race attended it and by their actions it is evident to all the kind of people they are.

In many ways, the rationale for their actions reminds me of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) and the extreme fundamental Christians of the United States. The logic and reasoning behind the red shirts’ statements are similar to these two groups, known to exploit the use of religion, race and money in their desire to keep American culture as lily-white as possible. The KKK and these fundamental American Christians use these arguments to justify white supremacy. The red shirts are using the same arguments. Luckily for the rest of the world, there are good people in America who have voted these racial and religious bigots out into the periphery in every election.

Despite the racist rhetoric of these bigots who still exist, the good people of the USA — Christians and others — set the blacks free from slavery, instituted affirmative action, granted equal employment and opportunity to all, instituted laws to protect minority interests, recognised and ensured that every American is entitled to his or her rights and welcomed foreigners fleeing from injustice, torture and abuse. Because of the good people who voted with reason, the USA is a better place attracting people from all over the world.

I pray and hope all the good people in Malaysia will do the same — vote the bigots out into oblivion and bring about a new Malaysia where every citizen is respected and honoured. The red shirts had a right to assemble but their mustering of strength to intimidate smacks of sheer political bullying, quietly sanctioned by their leaders — some of whom are Umno members — who did not stop them.

Umno has said it does not endorse the red shirt rally but it has not stopped its members from attending it. I suspect that the reason was to see how many would turn up for the rally since it was also a show of support for Najib in response to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call to Malaysians to come out to the Bersih rally to demand for Najib’s ouster.

The red shirts seem to be particularly upset with the Chinese, especially the DAP, ostensibly because of images of a couple of Chinese stomping on the pictures of Najib and PAS president Datuk Hadi Awang. If they were so incensed why didn’t they do what PAS supporters did: burn effigies of DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng? Isn’t that better than taking to the streets, sabre-rattling and threatening the peace?

It appears as if all that the red shirts wanted to do was to just ventilate. While the rally did not degenerate into violence, we heard of unruly behaviour, childish name-calling and open racism.

I am surprised that the BN component parties of MCA, MIC, the ethnic East Malaysian parties and other parties have not disassociated themselves from the BN after this red shirt spectacle of so-called Malay supremacy. If these parties, however, fail to correctly read the sentiments on the ground following the red shirt rally, they will lose even more support in the next General Elections. I wouldn’t be surprised if the little Chinese and Indian support the BN now has disappears altogether! Ethnic parties have to take a good hard look at themselves and honestly ask if they can with any shred of dignity remain in the BN after the racism demonstrated at the red shirt rally.

Has the red shirt rally made any impact apart from letting off hot air? Let’s do some simple maths. Red shirts claim about 250,000 turned up at the rally. The police put it down to about 30,000. Let’s give the red shirts the benefit of the doubt and accept their figure of 250,000. This is possible because, afterall, Umno has about 3 million members. 250,000 votes constitutes about 4.6% of the 49% popular vote that went to BN in the 2013 General Elections. There were about 11 million voters. In other words there is about 95% of the popular vote who didn’t turn up at the red shirts rally. It is those voters who are going to make the difference in the next General Elections, not the red shirts.

If these voters have had it with such types of people who support Umno, the popular vote to BN will shrink and it could bring about BN’s defeat in the next General Elections. No matter how the others vote, these 250,000 Malays and other Umno supporters will always vote for the BN. Their votes are guaranteed, even if BN loses. But, the votes of the rest are not. If they swing away from the BN, even with the guaranteed votes of the red shirts and their kind, the BN would lose the next General  Elections. In other words, the red shirts can be dismissed and ignored.

The only objective they can accomplish is to create trouble. If they create racial strife, their leaders should be blamed for being unable to control them and the police should deal with both.

The focus should be on those who did not turn up to support the red shirts. They should be made to see the kind of politics they are supporting — that the status quo tolerates racism and corruption to stay in power, that change is necessary to introduce electoral reforms and to institute new laws for checks and balances so that the excesses and abuses of the past are not repeated.

If the good people of Malaysia — Malays, Chinese, Indians, Dayaks, Kadazans, Ibans and all the other ethnic groups — can see the injustices around us and seek changes, we can expect a far better Malaysia than what we are seeing now. We should be prepared to seek for changes.

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