In the past two months, “social media Malaysia” seems to have a developed a life of its own – giving a false picture that centrifugal forces in Malaysia are having an upper-hand and tearing Malaysia apart as a result of the worst racial and religious polarisation in the nation’s history.
But this is a false picture of the real Malaysia.
The 62nd Merdeka Day on August 31 was not only celebrated in the federal capital and the various state capitals by the “big shots”, but for the first time in a very long while in the nation’s history by ordinary Malaysians in small towns and villages all over the country.
In the Iskandar Puteri parliamentary constituency, for instance, I flagged off in the morning the 62nd Merdeka Day Run in Kangkar Pulai which was participated by some 2,000 people, opened a debate tournament, flagged off a 62nd Merdeka Day Convoy of Motor Bikes and officiated a day-long 62nd Merdeka Day Pesta Bola participated by 32 teams from the surrounding Malay kampongs.
Instead of inter-racial and inter-religious doubt, suspicion, distrust, animosity, fear and hatred, as propagated by “social media Malaysia”, I find on the ground only goodwill, understanding, harmony and tolerance among Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians.
I call on Malaysians regardless of race and religion to prove “Social media Malaysia” wrong, that it is giving a false picture that centrifugal forces in Malaysia are having an upper-hand and tearing Malaysia apart as a result of worst racial and religious polarisation in nation’s history.
I received two letters yesterday, full of venom and invectives which seem to have become the vocabulary the pedlars of fake news and hate speech on the Malaysian social media.
One, in Chinese, accused me of being among other things a “running dog”, “charlatan” and “shameless political cheat” while the other, in English, addressed me as YB Ular “Osama Lim KS bin Abdullah”, accused me of being a “running dog”, “Chinese traitor”, “Malaysian conman” and “Dr. M’s filthiest parasite”.
This is quite a change-over, as for the past half century, I had been falsely accused of being anti-Malay, anti-Islam, and being a Christian, a communist even a relative of Chin Peng! I was even accused of being Mahahir’s “puppet-master”. Now I have become a “running dog” and a “charlatan” betraying Chinese and non-Muslim rights and interests.
But this is the stuff of fake news and hate speech to incite inter-racial and inter-religion suspicion, doubt, animosity, fear and hate in Malaysia.
Only a few days ago, this canard appeared in a local Facebook:
“Dikatakan Lim Kit Siang lahir di Fujian dan datang ke Tanah Melayu dalam usia 16 tahun. Namun Lim Kit Siang mengatakan dia lahir di Batu Pahat, Johor;
“Tetapi tak pernah menunjukkan bukti di lahir di Tanah Melayu.”
It is such fake news and hate speech which dominate the social media in the last two months to incite doubt, suspicion, animosity, fear and hate in plural Malaysia by pitting race against race and religion against religion, which are responsible for the ridiculous situation where each ethnic group believes that it is facing an existential threat of its ethnicity, religion and culture.
If this spiral of fake news and hate speech to incite doubt, suspicion, animosity, fear and hatred against other races, religions and cultures is not stopped, it could have only one end – racial and religious conflagration in Malaysia.
A recent example is the social media call to boycott non-Muslim products.
As the confluence of four great civilisations of the world – Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and West – we should leverage on the best values and virtues of these civilisations so that Malaysia can be a showcase to the world of the success of the Alliance of Civilisations instead of being a failure from the Clash of Civilisations.
Malaysians should unite and compete with the rest of the world, instead of fighting among ourselves.
We are engaged in a battle for the soul of Malaysia, whether we are committed to the objective of a New Malaysia to become a top world-class nation of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity or whether we allow fake news and hate speech to pit race against race and religion and religion, forcing every Malaysian to return to their respective ethnic shells and reduce Malaysia to a failed and rogue state and a klepto-theocracy.
The Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Sultans of Perak and Selangor have stressed the importance of national unity and the perils of fake news and hate speech.
All Malaysians must speak up for national unity and condemn fake news and hate speech designed to create inter-racial and inter-religious doubt, suspicion, animosity, fear and hate.
Just as the 14th General Election result of May 9, 2018 shocked Malaysians and the world in its historic importance reflecting great vision and courage of ordinary Malaysians, I am optimistic that the majority of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, would want Malaysia to be a top world-class nation in unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity instead of becoming a failed and rogue state and a klepto-theocracy.