The way we are
OVER 50 YEARS HAS PASSED since we formed Malaysia. During that time, we have come to live together and gotten to know our neighbouring states better. Logically, this union should enable us to have an understanding between each other and of each other’s differences and even mutual respect for our differing religions and customs.
Facebook, which is supposed to bring friends together and make the world a smaller place, however, has been used by some Malaysians over recent years, to insult each other across the South China Sea.
On September 8th this year, a group of concerned Sabahans representing 72 sub ethnic groups of several districts simultaneously lodged a police report in Ranau, Keningau, Tiaran and Kota Kinabalu for a thorough investigation of a Facebook posting on a page called ‘Semenanjung Malaysia ANTI Sabah dan Sarawak’.
Tony Miggir, who spoke on behalf of the Sabahan complainants, described the remark as rather seditious, expressing concern over the matter as he believes that the lives of East Malaysians living in the Peninsula were at risk and hopes action would be taken by the government to handle such matter.
The Facebook posting on August 4th read: “Disampaikan buat rakan2 semenanjung malaysia, kalau korang jumpa budak Kristian sabah Sarawak kat semenanjung, bgo diorang mampos, jgn bagi hati, korang potong2 budak ss tue, kaci makan anjing daging diorang. Mmg lah sepatut nya budak Kristian sbah sarawak kna bagi mampos.”
(For friends in West Malaysia, if you meet Christians from Sabah and Sarawak in the Peninsula, let them die, do not be compassionate, cut them, feed their meat to the dogs. The Christians from Sabah and Sarawak should be dead.)
This however is not the first time such a remark has been made by the group. An article in The Borneo Post in August 2013, details how United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) called for severe action against those behind a Facebook page whose main purpose seems to be to insult Sabahans and Sarawakians.
According to the freemalaysiatoday website, the anti-East Malaysian fan page which was previously shut down, resurfaced on August 5th 2013.
Aside from posting insulting remarks, the administrator of the fan page has even challenged Upko Ranau chief deputy Datuk Siringan Gubat Siringan, to lodge a report to authorities following the insulting statement made about East Malaysians as well as hurting the feeling of Christians in the country.
According to Siringan, the page could jeopardise the existing unity and relations among people of different religions and also between East and West Malaysia.
His remark followed a police report lodged by Tuaran Upko Youth members against those who created the “Semenanjung Malaysia ANTI Sabah dan Sarawak” group.
Hoping that stern action would be taken against those posting such insulting remarks on Facebook, Siringan also added such matter could tarnish the image of the government that has been working to promote the 1Malaysia spirit and international integration between Peninsular and East Malaysia.
It is important as a country of diverse religions, cultures and customs that Malaysians understand and accept one another with our differences because it is the variation that makes us distinctive from other countries.
On an individual scale, some netizens seem to be fuelling the racial issue without properly addressing them sensibly or in a civilised manner.
On September 10th, a construction site supervisor, Chow Mun Fai, 36, was charged with a crime under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, a maximum one-year prison sentence, after he pleaded guilty for making comments on his Facebook account that had insulted Muslims about Ramadan.
While September 16th calls for a celebration from all across Malaysia, why is it that after over 50 years of the establishment of Malaysia, these issues on our differences are being argued about now?
Where do all the insults come from and why is it happening? Has it been a long standing problem between West and East Malaysia that is just emerging now because of social media?
Throughout the time frame of over 50 years since the establishment of Malaysia, perhaps it is time for us to focus more on building a more empathetic, social community rather than just relying on cold, hard development.
After all, is it worth having first class facilities with a third class mentality?