That time of the season where we tell everyone to go back


That time of the season where we tell everyone to go back
By Zan Azlee

Here we go again! It’s that time of the season when we tell everyone to go back to their own countries.

Orang Cina balik negara China lah! Orang India balik India lah! Orang Melayu balik… eh? Orang Melayu tak ada tempat nak balik ke? Kesian! (The Chinese can go back to China! The Indians can go back to India! The Malays can go back to… eh? Malays have nowhere to go back to? What a pity!)

All this talk started when the Indian-born preacher Zakir Naik asked Malaysians to ask Chinese Malaysians to “go back” before asking him to. He said that the Chinese are “old guests” and that they were all born in China except for the current generation.

He went on to elaborately explain how the Chinese came to Malaya, then the Indians, and later on the British. He considers himself as a guest in Malaysia too, since he has permanent residency status and Malaysians should not be asking him to leave.

Unfortunately for Zakir, he is only a PR here and not a citizen. Not only that, it would seem that his PR status was given due to political connections.

He may be here because the prime minister does not want him to be treated unfairly in India if he were to be extradited, since he is critical of the government there.

Fair enough if he is here under refuge due to injustice. It’s also fair if he wants to continue being critical of an unjust government.

But if he starts meddling in Malaysia’s business, either by spewing hate speech or influencing and instigating negative controversy, that is where we should draw the line.

Hey Zakir! Let me tell you something. I am half Chinese and half Malay. According to your warped logic, if the Chinese are guests and should leave Malaysia and go back to China, what do I do? Straddle and live on international waters?

But that’s not the point. The point is, we are all Malaysians and he is not.

The Chinese in my family aren’t first-generation Malaysians. My late grandmother, Allahyarhamah Ang Swee Poh, was born in Kuala Lumpur. Her parents were born in Kuala Lumpur too.

Now let’s see. That means, including me and my children, that would make us ‘guests’ (according to Zakir) fifth-generation Malaysians. I think I would safely say that we aren’t ‘guests’ anymore, and are true blue IC-carrying Malaysians.

That isn’t something I can say about Zakir. He is truly a guest and as such, he needs to respect the people here. He has no right to tell us we should be chasing away our own fellow Malaysians.

With that being said, the hate speech that Zakir is spewing is actually attracting a lot of listeners and even followers. The fact that he uses Islam as his tool to appeal to the Muslim masses in Malaysia is extremely dangerous.

In a Malaysia that is already full of racial and religious tension, Zakir’s seditious talk needs to stop. The country was already been swamped with 62 years of divide and rule by the government. We had hoped that with the new government, this would stop.

But, by allowing Zakir’s hate speech, it is as if the government wants the maintain that status quo to keep all the races divided and the people polarised.

I wrote two weeks ago about the systemic racism in Malaysia. Now, with Zakir contributing to the mix, isn’t the situation getting eerily similar?

We have most of the Malay politicians staying quiet, while the Chinese and Indians start getting angry. Then the Malays have to respond by saying that these non-Muslims should not interfere. Oh, you all know the narrative.

We can’t be suckers and continue to be duped like this by the system. I’m tired of this bullshit and we need to put a stop to it.

Malaysians need to band together, no matter what race or religion we are, and say no to Zakir and no to the leaders who are using him as a tool to further their own agenda.

The Indians and the Chinese are right to be angry and making noise. The Malays are wrong for keeping quiet and telling the Indians and the Chinese they cannot be interfering in Islamic matters.

It is not an Islamic matter when our fellow Malaysians are being asked to leave their home country by someone who isn’t even Malaysian.

Zakir, balik India lah!

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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