Virtually every pollie is now talking about race and racism, whilst almost every journalist is not far behind them.
Is racism new to Malaysia or for that matter, Malaya?
We have had the tragedy of May 13, and some months after that, the Sentul racial attacks. While the Chinese managed to avoid another drastic experience (notwithstanding the Chinese school incident leading to Ops Lallang, thanks to a former Education Minister, wakakaka), with only Lee Kim Sai suffering his datukship being stripped off him, wakakaka (and I hope he had the dignity and pride to refuse its reinstatement), alas, the Indians experienced another just some years ago, also in KL.
But way before May 13, Penangites used to have what they joked as their 'annual' riots, ranging from minor skirmishes hardly worth reporting to a major one in 1953 during the coronation celebration for Queen Elizabeth II, then sovereign ruler of British crown colony Penang.
For the Island of 'annual' riots, it was strangely tranquil during the May 13 period.
Penangites like my mum, aunties and their pals have become experts at preparing the household needs for curfews (brought about by racial riots) - water, rice, matches, salt, salted fish, salted eggs, preserved/salted veg (Teochew specialities), oil, rock-hard biscuits, candles, kerosene, maybe some coffee, tea and sugar.
In 1950, Maria Bertha Hertogh, who was a Catholic Dutch girl brought up by a Malay Muslim family after her parents were imprisoned by the Japanese during the Occupation became the cause célèbre invoking a racial riot in Singapore, where 16 were killed with hundreds injured.
The story is so well known that I won’t bother to repeat it here, other than to say the Malays were pissed off with the court decision favouring the Dutch parents. Court decisions seen to be biased have never been popular, even and especially today.
Talking about today, post March 2008, there are forces in UMNO who still believe racial polemics remain the best formula to both intimidate their non-Malay opponents and marshal the heartland (including even part of PAS and no doubt PKR) to its banner.
Amidst this, Indian leaders are so selfishly and self-centredly split up that one can only cry for the marginalized poverty-stricken Indians. Those so-called leaders have been leading them to nowhere. But it hasn't stopped (sadly enough) some of these Indian leaders from promoting the racist line.
As for the Chinese, the MCA is now in a similar position to MIC, and the Gerakan is nothing more than more than a zombie under the voodoo control of UMNO. The dead don’t make very good racists, but no doubt would still try when the opportunity arises, unless of course it's against them like the recent resurrection of Ahmad Ismail of UMNO Penang. Poor Koh TK - it's like UMNO smacking him in his face.
DAP! ;-) They have been accused of being Chinese racists which must have deeply offended Karpal Singh and sons, Kula, Sivakumar and a host of Indian, Eurasian and even Malay leaders and members.
But nonetheless they need to keep one step ahead of the ‘label’ that UMNO has been desperately (and in some cases, successfully) attempting to pin on them. UMNO has been particular worried about the Malay support that DAP has slowly attracted, especially by Teresa Kok and Lim GE.
I won’t say a word about PKR because surely you can read today’s headlines yourselves.