By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
I once wrote an editorial on the "Witch-hunting Rally." Looking back at what I wrote, the story remains very much relevant today although we have a change of cast line-up.
Back then Perkasa and several religious organisations were making a whole world of fuss trying to get a "Million Believer Rally" (Himpunan Sejuta Umat) up and going.
A lot of noise was created. If the rally was eventually attended by a million people, it could have easily broken another national record.
The proponents had a truly impressive cause: "to prevent other religions from influencing Muslims and defend the sovereignty of the Islamic faith."
This was how the rally came about:
The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) raided the Thanksgiving dinner of the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC), and accused it of trying to proselytise Muslims. Although no evidence of such claim was available, a picture of the Church proselytising Muslims were nevertheless painted.
Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali and PAS' Hasan Ali would not give any opportunity of blowing up this issue a miss, thinking that this incident could best be manipulated to cook up Muslim sentiments. So they wanted to rally over a million Muslims in an unprecedented show of force to "safeguard" their faith.
The entire nation was suddenly plunged into a fit of anxiety, fearing that things would go out of hand and turn into an interfaith confrontation or conflict.
What I was thinking was: Relax, I don't think this thing can get more than 10,000 supporters. Just go back and enjoy life as normal.
Simple: The status of Islam was rock solid and there wasn't anything that could possibly rise up to challenge or undermine the status quo. The so-called "proselytization" was nothing more than an illusionary witch-hunting party painted by a handful of irresponsible people..
Indeed, on the day of the rally, the Shah Alam Stadium was expectedly hushed, and a rough count revealed that the attendance was no more than 3,000. The participants shouted their slogans and went home feeling exhausted without causing a substantial stir.
Dejected and defeated, the two Alis have since contained their tones.
The conclusion: We need social consensus to start a public campaign, failing which our boisterous campaigns would not raise a brow among the majority of people.
Today, the Dongzong has called for Malaysians to assemble in front of the Parliament House on September 26 to "save the Chinese education from extinction."
There are a few things I would like to seek clarification:
1. Has the Chinese education in Malaysian gone to a stage that we really have to save it from extinction?
2. If yes, how "dead" is it now?
3. Compared to the past 10, 30 or even 50 years, has the Chinese education in this country gone better or worse?
I'm not trying to pour cold water on anyone. I'm only feeling that we need some social consensus if we want to start a "save Chinese education" campaign.
If we do this only because of some minor hiccups brewing in a single Chinese primary school's board of directors or because someone is unhappy with a deputy minister, then we are indeed making a mountain out of a molehill.
Differences in beliefs and ideologies should be settled among the people directly involved instead of blowing them up into a gigantic issue that entails the life or death of the Chinese education.
Aggressively shouting slogans and initiating ethnic-centred confrontations would only invite more suspicion from people from other ethnic communities while not doing any good to promote inter-racial understanding and trust.