There are statesmen and there are opportunists. We learnt yesterday the shocking news that Petaling Jaya Utara MP YB Tony Pua received a bullet threat in the post. Immediately a chorus of condemnation ensued, and rightly so. At some point the politics and politicking need to take a backseat in favour of humanity and caring for each other's fundamental right to physical safety. It was in such spirit that I, as Leader of UMNO Youth, expressed outrage against the threat to YB Tony and his family, as well as urged the police to ensure their safety. It matters not that YB Tony is a DAP leader, or that we have our numerous disagreements politically, and it certainly does not matter that he is an ethnic Chinese. All that should count is that he is a Malaysian citizen who was threatened by an individual or individuals and that no justification exists for such a threat.
But as is often the case here, in times of shock or crisis, some politicians find ways to exploit sentiments and score political points against an opposing political party. A matter, to which sensible Malaysians can gravitate, suddenly becomes all about how UMNO or Barisan Nasional is at fault. In the minds of such politicians, the politics never stops; in their actions and statements they insist our entire social lives be governed by narrow, belligerent partisan logic, 24/7.
One such politician who tends to do this is YB Lim Kit Siang. We shan't go through history here to see how often he has exploited tensions, conflicts and unease for partisan gains. His recent blog post suffices.
In it, YB Lim Kit Siang implies that the threat was a result of "communal hatred against YB Tony". He precedes this insinuation by stating the police reports and warnings made against YB Tony made by UMNO Youth Selangor and the UMNO Information Chief. He is careful to avoid blaming UMNO outright on his blog, but we all know what he's trying to say.
Was the bullet threat motivated by discontent in parts of the Malay community about YB Tony's position on the Bumiputera housing discount? Likely, though we cannot rule out any possibility until the police conclude their investigations, hence the call I made earlier for speculations to be kept at bay. For the sake of argument, was UMNO at the forefront of this Malay discontent? Sure. But instead of trying to empathise with such disgruntlement, YB Lim Kit Siang dismisses it with adjectives like 'irresponsible', 'ugly' and 'vicious' - because he'd like very much for people to believe that UMNO manufactured the discontent, and that in doing so UMNO similarly created a "communal hatred" against an individual resulting in a bullet threat. Talk about generalising and piling one assumption over another.
Nevermind that many Malays who have nothing to do with UMNO feel strongly about the issue of Bumiputera housing discounts, it is what YB Lim Kit Siang omits from his statement that interests me most. If he is going to assume that the threat was racially motivated, then I say bravo, Captain Obvious. But especially so being a veteran politician, YB Lim Kit Siang should follow that up with calls for calm, join UMNO Youth and others in rallying all Malaysians of all races to stand in solidarity against extremism. He could have stated that even if the threat was racially motivated, it was not representative of any community. These are exactly the things YB Lim Kit Siang should say if he has the country's interests at heart. But true to form, instead of defusing the situation, YB Lim Kit Siang sought to worsen it by fanning the very "communal hatred" he is convinced exists - provoke UMNO, ridicule the aforementioned discontent and hope people see it through his partisan eyes.
But I have more faith in Malaysians than YB Lim Kit Siang does. Just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and all the various ethnicities in this great country rose up against the arson attacks early this year, I believe we will do the same whenever anyone receives death threats for stating their views, even if there are racial or religious dimensions involved. We are a resilient lot; push comes to shove, we know to put our differences aside and stand together. Well, most of us, anyway. There are statesmen and there are opportunists.