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They have politics written all over them

  • It's not sensitivity, security, rain or anything else. It's politics that tears our country apart.

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

The immigration department wants to kick out foreigners coming here for the beer festival or gay party.

What a joke that is! And since the authorities do not have a list and have no idea who would come into the country for these two events, how are they going to deport these people?

Moreover, DBKL and PDRM have already rejected the application for Better Beer Festival 2017, while the White Party Bangkok organizers have denied holding a gay party here. So, are the authorities fighting some non-existent shadows?

DPM cum home minister Ahmad Zahid pointed out on Sept 21 after attending the 11th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crimes in Manila that the government would not approve the gay party in KL on Sept 30. The following day, the immigration department said it would act as per the DPM's instruction to bar foreigners arriving for the gay event.

On Sept 23, immigration DG Mustafar Ali threatened that these foreigners could be expelled without the need for further investigation.

Even before the police responded to this matter, the immigration department had already rushed into a conclusion. Malaysians should count their blessing if such exemplary efficiency is applied in the plugging of security loopholes exploited by Abu Sayyaf terrorists to infiltrate into KL.

Back to the beer festival. It is not a purely security issue, as we can see from here how a conservatizing trend in our politics and society has influenced the thinking of our bureaucrats.

Our politicians have been playing the religious card for years for the sake of ballots and power. For instance, PAS has implemented a dozen of religious measures in Kelantan to control the attire of Muslim women, segregate male and female patrons in an all lit-up cinema hall, enforce discreetness in the attire of women on ad posters, make sure businesses remain shut during evening prayers and no female performers on stage, among others.

Not only are Muslims subjected to such restrictions, even the day-to-day lives of non-Muslims are not spared.

PAS later attempted to extend its religious ideologies elsewhere in the country by opposing to concerts by foreign artistes citing non-conformity to Malaysia's social values, and proposing to ban alcohol sale at convenience stores and open celebration of Valentine's, among others.

The federal government, fearful of losing the votes, has been ardent to echo the calls of conservatives by openly lashing out at liberalism, lending energy to these conservatives while sparking more controversies in our divided society.

Such an attitude of connivance towards conservatism on the part of our politicians has slowly reshaped the thinking of our civil servants and members of the public. For example, a Muslim man and woman should not ride on the same motorcycle, "pretzel dog" must be renamed, supermarkets have to set aside halal trolleys, Muslims-only toilets at highway rest stops, Muslims-only cups at school canteens, raids on boar bristle brushes and separation of alcoholic drinks from other food ingredients...

Alarmingly, such mentality has managed to get its way into the heads of people in the street. The halal concept has been extended way beyond food to include also tools, equipment and businesses. A self-service launderette in Muar has made it clear it only welcomes Muslim customers, and the state government has responded by saying it will not interfere.

With more and more businesses adopting the segregational modus operandi, aggravating social division is well within anticipation.

Our politicians have proposed single-stream education as an approach to address the lack of unity among young Malaysians. Unfortunately we now have a bunch of fools eager to divide the people as the authorities choose to ignore.

The government must stop any discriminating, segregational, exclusionary and dividing acts, otherwise misunderstandings in the way of Malaysian communities will deepen further.

Religion-inspired divisions and a determined tilt towards conservatism are bound to crush the virtues of cultural accommodation, understanding and tolerance we used to cherish, and this is poised to impede the country's continuous economic development.

Imagine if conservatism were to become the mainstay of the country, will foreign organizations still come here to host events that may be deemed "unclean"? For sure they are not going to take this risk.

How are we going to develop our tourist industry, let alone digital economy, if we are perceived by the outside world as a hermit kingdom?

By criminalizing liberalism, our politicians are denying the attributes of human rights, equality and democracy, sinking the country further into the pit of despair.

 

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