Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Namewee



Wee Meng Chee or Namewee's latest video should rightly offend all Malaysians who profess to be against racism. As I told the press yesterday, I believe this time, Namewee's insult was too blatant for anyone to ignore. He cannot continually be given a pass, and this latest stunt suggests he did not mean his apology to all Malaysians over the infamous "Negarakuku" video in 2007.

In that apology, Namewee also said, "As a Malaysian, I understand the sensitivities of each ethnic group and religion in the country" and that he learnt a “valuable lesson” on national unity and ethnic relations. Personally, I accepted the apology and wanted to draw a line under the whole incident. I met and acted with him in the short film “Meter”; I wanted to believe he was merely a na├»ve young man who meant no harm and that he had learnt from an honest mistake. After viewing his latest video, I no longer believe either of this to be true.

In that video aimed at the school principal Siti Inshah's alleged speech which contained insulting remarks about ethnic Chinese and Indians, Namewee bombarded viewers with vulgar, sexually suggestive lyrics and imagery unbecoming of any decent and respectful person. But that is the least of my concerns.

In the 'song', which begins with him colourfully expressing his disdain for racists, Namewee exposes himself as the racist when he says "You tak baca? Siapa buat Malaysia kaya?", the implication being that the Chinese are the reason for Malaysia’s prosperity and as such Malays like Siti Inshah have no business asking the Chinese to 'return' to China. The same message could have easily been conveyed by stating that no one should be telling anyone else to 'return' because Malaysia belongs to all its citizens without suggesting that a particular ethnic group has contributed more or less.

Now, my position on the Siti Inshah matter is crystal clear. If she did utter the words as claimed, she should be severely punished. But let there be no doubt, Namewee's insinuation that the Chinese are solely responsible for this country’s growth is just as blatantly offensive. Neither is it a question of Malays being too sensitive. Hurt and anger are to be expected when one community is essentially told they play a minimal role in this country's progress.

While this controversy is obviously racial in nature, the reaction to it does not have to be. Just as Namewee's video was the wrong response to the Siti Inshah issue, somewhere out there someone is saying that all Chinese should be eternally grateful to the Malays for granting them citizenship. He or she would be mistaken of course, but the point is we cannot allow disempathy to feed on itself. We cannot let this vicious cycle go on in perpetuity. We cannot play the game of the extremists and the racists on both sides of the spectrum if we are to forge a better path than what they offer.

As such, let this episode be not merely about Namewee, but also symptomatic of the challenge for moderate Malaysians, many of whom I have come to befriend in social media circles. The challenge I speak of is nothing more elaborate than that of consistency transcending racial or political affiliations. I am utterly against extremism, disempathy, insensitivity and racism of any kind - I have spoken out against the likes of Perkasa, Al-Islam magazine and Siti Inshah, often at great political risk. And today I am speaking out against Namewee, not because of his race, religion or even the probability that he will not vote Barisan Nasional. But because he was explicitly insulting. With consistency comes credibility, I have learnt that. And if you, too, call yourself a moderate Malaysian, this is your acid test.

1 comment:

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