It S Terrifying To Think How Racist Malaysians Can Be


­­In the AFF Cup first-leg semi-final, Malaysia beat Thailand 1-0. But just a few days later, we were knocked out in the second-leg. The euphoria was short-lived. Nevertheless, each time any of our national sporting teams do well, the groundswell of nationalism is extraordinary.
However, the first-leg win for Harimau Malaysia also highlighted the most undesirable and sickening undercurrents afflicting the very fabric of our society. Toxicity and unbridled racism reared their ugly head this past week.
Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou, found himself in the centre of a Malaysian imbroglio.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) offered only 59,000 tickets to fans even though our National Stadium can hold more than 80,000. Chou’s Carnival World Tour concert, scheduled for Jan 15 was the reason for the reduced capacity.
Let me give you some context. The concert was booked at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil in 2019. FAM, on the other hand, booked in late 2022, some three and half years later.
A compromise could not be reached, and 21,000 seats were blocked off for this concert by the king of ‘Mandopop’. The stage set-up takes 500 local and 185 international crew members, 45 pieces of heavy machinery, 200 speakers, and 800 lights. The organisers needed a full 14-days for preparation.
I don’t listen to Chou’s music personally, but he is legendary with a massive worldwide following. He is a 13-time Golden Melody Award-winner. The Awards are widely recognised as the equivalent of the Grammy Awards in the Chinese-speaking world. So, Chou is a big deal.
Now, some fans of our national team may not have been able to secure tickets for the match because of this reduced capacity. And, this would have created some disappointment for certain quarters. I too, sometimes haven’t been able to score tickets for my favourite football matches. But I am schooled enough not to go online and spew hatred for missing a game.
The vitriol and venom hurled at Chou through his social media pages by so-called Malaysian football fans was appalling, and outrageous.
For example, one jamoke wrote, “…please don’t come to Malaysia, we hate you.” But more importantly, the obvious racism was horrendous.
One comment said, “…it doesn’t matter if he wants to come, only a few Chinese people like him anyway and what he says doesn’t matter”, and another nastily wrote, “…if he comes, let us Malaysians go and mess up his stupid concert. Just hold it in China, setan (devil in Malay).”
This is downright shameful for Malaysia.
How can we proudly tell the world that Malaysia is the very definition of a melting-pot society? The Tourism Malaysia advertisements say ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’. Then we behave like this? What hogwash.
This horrid episode shows that our national unity agenda of inclusiveness and harmony is actually messed up. The moment there is a clash of timings between our football team and a Taiwanese singer, racist bile comes out.
Chou has a huge following in Malaysia. But, nope, for the ultra-racists, this is only a ‘Chinese problem’ against a ‘Malay’ football team and they accuse the ‘Malaysian Chinese minister of youth and sports’ of not doing enough. Whereas no government or opposition leader is admonishing these racist comments by Malaysian netizens.
Polarisation over race and religion has tormented Malaysia for years, and has a stranglehold on our body politic. This last general election even brought in a powerful monotheistic opposition that simply focused on race and religion to win votes.
While our politicians talk eloquently about creating a ‘middle ground’ and try to downplay our racial cracks, ultimately, they pander to parochial demands simply to appeal to their own supporters.
This is also the case with Anwar Ibrahim’s new unity government. He can do precious little to institute any meaningful reforms for our race relations with Barisan Nasional hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles.
Malaysian politicians play up racial differences, rather than work at narrowing the gap. They don’t focus on strengthening any ties that bind and unite us. Instead, they use our inherent prejudices to enhance interracial differences, in order for them to win power.
National policies that legitimise preferential treatment actively promote these horrible prejudices.
If we want to better our society, and ensure Malaysia’s longevity as a harmonious nation, isn’t it incumbent upon us, as a people, to reduce our own propensity to be racists?
The government cannot just pay lip service to ‘national unity’. Policies need to be created for Malaysians to be incentivised to work consciously on refraining from being racist.
Clearly, the ‘Jay Chou incident’ shows this.
If we don’t address this deep-seated problem fast and repair the fissures, it is terrifying to think of the racist society Malaysia is going to morph into. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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