Malaysiaku: A celebration of Malaysia Day at Jalan Bangkung

Malaysiaku: A celebration of Malaysia Day at Jalan Bangkung

Sometimes, we just need a reason to go out and have some fun with our fellow Malaysians. The Malaysiaku Celebrations involve one big street carnival held in Bangsar, with an overwhelming array of food stalls, talks, poetry recitals, book signings, and lots of musical performances – basically, there is something for everyone.

The Malaysiaku Celebrations started in 2010, and it was also held in the years 2011, 2013 and 2015. The organiser for this community project is Edward Soo, a lawyer by profession who is part owner of the Bangkung Row Restaurants (Opus, Cava, Leonardo’s, Lucky Bo, Bobo).

Jalan Bangkung Street at Malaysiaku 2010.

In this year of 2018, Soo is bringing back the Malaysiaku Celebrations, in part to rejoice the arrival of Malaysia Baru after #GE14, but mostly to celebrate our rich and diverse Malaysian culture, and to promote the celebration of Malaysia Day on 16th September.

“We want to celebrate all that is good about Malaysia – our culture and food. And in that way, it will remind ourselves of why we are still here fighting for a better Malaysia,” he said.

Peter Yew and Edward Soo (right), organizers of the Lion Dance event at Malaysiaku 2013.

The reason Soo wants to celebrate Malaysia Day and not Merdeka Day is that Malaysia was formed in 1963, and Sabah and Sarawak have always been big contributors to Malaysia in terms of resources. Yet, those of us in West Malaysia do often neglect to think about our fellow countrymen in East Malaysia. Ed Soo said he would want them (Sabahans and Sarawakians) to feel a part of Malaysia.

Sabahan dancers at Malaysiaku 2013.

Kuda Kepang dance from Johor Malaysiaku 2013.

Soo also wants to build more community spirit through these celebrations.

“I hope this will catch on like a trend and spread all over. Everywhere, every community can have this celebration, whether it’s small or big. Get to know your community and your neighbours better,” he added.

The Bangsar community certainly knows how to have fun. And what better way to showcase the best of Malaysia than through our lip-smacking good food?  

Hence, you can look forward to a street carnival atmosphere filled with 70 food stalls along Jalan Bangkung offering a plethora of authentic food from all over Malaysia.  Sample local favourites such as Kelantan Nasi Kerabu, Sarawakian Laksa, Tuak, Indian Vaday, Penang Rojak, Satay, Nasi Lemak Bobo, Johor Laksa, Nyonya Kueh and many more delightful treats to satisfy your palate.

 For those with a sweet tooth, look out for the Depressed Cake Shop booth inside Lucky Boo. This global community initiative promotes awareness about mental health issues by baking cakes which are grey in colour. Funds raised from the sale of these cakes will be donated to Angsana Care.

Wayang Kulit performance at Malaysiaku 2010.

The food is not the sole highlight of the day, as there are also art and craft booths set up by various indigenous and NGO groups, talks/forums, a stand-up comedy act and book signings to be held indoors at Bobo Piano Lounge, Leonardo’s Dining Room and OPUS throughout the day.

The topics of the two talks scheduled at Bobo Piano Lounge are Key Economic and Political Reforms for Malaysia Baharu by Professor Dato’ Woo Wing Thye and Dr. Wong Chin Huat, and Malaysia 2.0: Pressing the reset button by Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan and YB Fahmi Fadzil.

The standup comedy act in Malay is called Malaysia Baharu Boboleh, featuring Hishamuddin Rais, Shashic, KC Nazari and Abe Latte, and hosted by Ayim Razak and Filzah Awok. This is the only event to have a RM30 cover charge at the door and it is open to those above 18 years old only.

Talk “Descendants of the Founding Fathers” organized by IDEAS Malaysiaku 2013.

Over at Leonardo’s Dining Room, there will be another talk presented by Five Arts Centre titled Dibuang (Dalam) Negeri: Who and What is Excluded from Malaysia Baharu? This talk has a unique format which requires audience participation, and it is curiously called the Fishbowl Conversation.

Poetry lovers should not miss Malaysian Poetry Recital: A Nation in Verse. It is presented by an eclectic lineup of home-grown Malaysian poets and storytellers, navigating through these puzzling times of our 55-year-old country using poetry.

At the same time, there will be book signings over at OPUS with local authors Lina Latif, Adilin Arifin, Saidah Rastam, Bernice Chauly, and Benz Ali. Fans of iconic political cartoonist Zunar can also look forward to his interview with Umapagan from BFM Radio.

Last but not least, there will be a huge stage set up in the car park for non-stop song and dance performances from 4 pm to 10 pm. Malaysian folk singer Azmyl Yunor and Ushera will both be performing, as will Saidah Rastam and friends.

We are Malaysia singers at Malaysiaku 2011.

Join in the fun singing patriotic songs to bring back those nostalgic feelings of yesteryears gone by, sway to the music of Nada Bayu, a Sabahan Band, and dance to the pulsating beats of Bhangra music to cap off the night. There will also be welcome speeches given by Ed Soo and YB Fahmi Fadzil, MP for Lembah Pantai, and a Malaysia Birthday Cake Cutting Ceremony at 6.30pm.

So, bring your dancing shoes and enjoy the Malaysiaku Celebrations at Jalan Bangkung with your family and friends this year if you have nothing else planned. You can use Grab to get to Bangsar and minimise the parking problem on the day due to the large crowds expected. 

Use Grab promo code: GRABSP18 which entitles you to RM5 off two rides (max 1,000 promo codes) to and from Jalan Bangkung on Malaysia Day 16th September 2018.

For those who prefer to drive, you can park at BSC or BV/Jolly Green Giant or better still, take the train to the Bangsar LRT station and take a Grab over to Jalan Bangkung.


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I am not simply Chinese Malaysian; I am ‘Hakkien’

I am not simply Chinese Malaysian; I am ‘Hakkien’

I grew up eating Hokkien mee a lot. It is still one of my favorite dishes to this day. For those who have no inkling of what Hokkien mee is, it is a dish of thick yellow noodles stir-fried in black soy sauce with pork lard, prawns and cabbage, and served with a must-have chilli shrimp paste condiment also known as sambal belacan in Malay.

Contrary to what people believe, this popular dish did not originate from the Fujian province of China but was allegedly created by Wong Kian Lee, an immigrant of Hokkien descent who ran a hawker stall in the area now known as Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur, in the 1920s.

Many Malaysian Chinese are of Hokkien descent with a vast majority of them residing in the states of Penang, Selangor and Johor. Besides Hokkien, there are many other dialect groups such as Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, et cetera whose forefathers – many of whom originated from south China – made this country their home many centuries ago.

There is no specific rule in the Chinese custom that prohibits intermarriage among the various dialect groups. Hence, interdialect group marriages among the Chinese were commonly practiced in those days and even more so in this modern day and time.

What it means to be ‘Hakkien’

Whenever someone asked me which dialect group do I belong to, I simply say, “I am “Hakkien” – one who is born Hakka but could only speak Hokkien.

No, I am not “speaking bird language” here. My father is Hakka and my late mother was Hokkien. I was born and raised in Klang, and lived there until the late 1990s before moving to a new township which is just an hour’s drive away.

Klang was – and still is, I believe – a Hokkien-majority town. One would only need to look at the huge mansion-like building that houses the Klang Hokkien Association and be convinced.  There are no other Chinese guild buildings around town that could come close to surpassing its sheer size and grandeur.

Many non-Hokkien Klangites like me grew up speaking Hokkien as our mother tongue. I guess this custom was quite prevalent in many towns and villages back then, as Chinese of different dialect groups tended to use the dominant Chinese dialect of the locality for social interactions and communication between dialect groups.

Hokkien was once widely spoken in the community and played a significant role in defining Klang’s place-identity, but today its usage is not as prevalent as it was in the past.

While Hokkien is still largely spoken among the elderly folks or street-market traders, those of the younger generation appear to be lacking in enthusiasm to use Hokkien as a lingua franca in their daily inter-communal communication; partly because some see Hokkien usage as an indicative of a lack of education, vulgarity and backwardness. The further decline of usage is also attributed to the rise of Mandarin as the preferred language among the Chinese-educated families.

Many studies conducted by linguistic scholars in Penang and Singapore have revealed that the use of non-Mandarin dialects in their respective regions is in dire decline and this phenomenon is in tandem with the decline of many other minority languages in the world. According to a study by a United Nations independent expert, Rita Izsák, “half of the world’s estimated 6,000-plus languages will likely die out by the end of the century” if no effort is made to preserve them.

The waning of place-identity

I am no linguist expert nor am I a dialect proponent, but my concern is less with the decline of dialects per se than with the waning of place-identity. What I am particularly interested in is the relation between language and place, and am curious as to how one would articulate that relationship.

That is, what role does language play in making places? Can language be a tool that helps us to uncover and discover the authenticity of places and its people?

Take Hokkien, for example. There are two versions of Hokkien spoken in this region today. From Penang in the north to Johor in the south, each state has developed a sort of their own unique localized variant of Hokkien, the difference in which can be easily distinguished by the sound of the speaker’s voice and words he or she uses.

Generally, all versions of Hokkien are mainly derived from the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou variants – the two oldest dialects of Southern Min spoken in Fujian province. The Hokkien of the southern states of Malaysia speak the Quanzhou variant, while the version used in the northern states  is derived from the Zhangzhou variant, and is commonly known as “Penang Hokkien”.

Interestingly, the northern version of Hokkien contains more Malay loanwords than the Hokkien spoken in the southern states. As such, it is said that a Hokkien speaker from the south would find it much easier to speak Hokkien to Taiwanese or Hokkien speakers from Fujian province, rather than one from the north.

Such is the potency of place to shape language as it evolves. Conversely, language has the power to shape how places are perceived and interpreted, as each language may paint a different picture of a place to the people who speak the language.

Great places are not only topographic entities, they are also socially constructed by “voices” of people in interaction with one another to form ideas that would then translate into action, and the action would in turn culminate in making. As Yi Fu-Tuan, a well-known geographer, once wrote: “It is not possible to understand or to explain the physical motions that produce place without overhearing […] the speech – the exchange of words – that lies behind them.”

A personal creative endeavour

Speech and spoken words have always held a certain appeal to me, particularly when they are used to ascribe and associate meaning to a place, or to bring back memories of a distant past that are closely linked to one’s birthplace.

My work-related visits to my hometown Klang, of late, has brought back many memories of my younger days, growing up in a town where Hokkien is the only dialect I could understand or speak with competence.

Hence what started as a recollection of my early years quickly grew into an impetus for personal creative endeavour. And thus my first foray into public art began. My hope is that my artwork could assume the role of an interlocutor to stimulate thinking, to prompt dialogue, and to heighten our awareness of our communal roots and values.   

For many foodies, Klang may be a town synonymous for its authentic bak kut teh, but for me, Klang is more than just a town where I was born. It is also a town infused with meaning and relevance that holds the key to my past. I am not simply a Chinese Malaysian; I am a “Hakkien” whose substantial identity is very much rooted in the habitus of Hokkien-ness.

Ti.Tu – Hokkien for spider. Catching spiders to fight is probably unheard of by many urban kids nowadays but it was one of the many childhood pastimes that I had, especially after- school hours.

Kong,Jiao.Wei – A Hokkien phrase which literally translates as talk bird language. It is often used to denote someone is talking nonsense.

Kay.poh – A Hokkien phrase for busybody or someone who is nosy.

Beh Tahan – A combination of the Hokkien word for cannot, andthe Malay word for tolerate, tahan.

The artworks shown here can be found in the vicinity of Jalan Stesyen 1, Klang. This self-initiated public art project would not have been possible without local community support, particularly from the Klang City Rejuvenation team.

Website: Klang City Rejuvenation Project

Facebook: We Love Klang

The need to talk about Islamism in Malaysia

The need to talk about Islamism in Malaysia

The need to talk about Islamism in Malaysia

Many Muslims are exceptionally critical of the West, especially American foreign policy. But when it comes to Islamic ideology, even the mere suspicion of criticism is taken as a personal insult by most Muslims.

With the rise of Islamic radicalism, worldwide geopolitical turmoil caused largely by Muslim refugees and worsening Islamisation in this country, should Islam be exempt from any form of analysis? When there are political elements to the belief structure (Islamism), should Islam still be exempt from any criticism?

There is an enormous distinction between criticising an ideology and criticising individuals.

Islam is an ideology and it should be open to criticism just like any other ideology, especially when it imposes its set of beliefs unto others (be it Muslims or non-Muslims).

With increasing voices of dissent heard from notable figures in Malaysia in recent times, it’s only rational to take the discussion to the next level before Islamism takes a worse turn in this country.

Strictly speaking, Islam is just a religion while Islamism or ‘Political Islam’ is the desire to impose a version of Islam unto the rest of society.

Political Islamists generally do not believe in resorting to violence, such examples include the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbut Tahrir and Malaysia’s PAS. Jihadism, on the other hand, is the use of force to spread Islamism, i.e. Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Talking about Islam in Malaysia, or anywhere else for that matter, can indeed be life-threatening. Intolerance towards any disagreement regarding Islamic ideology and culture has resulted in violence many times around the world.

Bangladeshi bloggers hacked to death, the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France, embassies burned over the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ trailer and of course, one of the biggest threats to humanity, IS.

It may seem like the IS situation in Syria and Iraq is coming to an end where almost all their stronghold has been secured, but do not be fooled for a second that it has been fully defeated. There are still many lone wolf attacks done under the banner of IS and let’s not forget their new base in Southeast Asia.

The majority of Muslims around the world do not support the violence imposed by IS, and it angers them when they are lumped together with IS. According to recent data that the Pew Research Centre collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan, Indonesia to Malaysia, overwhelmingly expressed negative views of IS.

If that is the case, then why is IS still strong as ever and Muslims from all over the world flock to its cause? Why is it that in Malaysia alone the arrests made of Muslims trying to join IS is increasing drastically since 2013? Why does Malaysia have six times the rate of Muslims leaving for battle in the Middle East and the Philippines as compared to Indonesia?

Why did Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2014 ask his political party members to emulate the bravery of IS? And how can all this be happening when this country is considered as a beacon of moderate Muslim nations?

Jihadist activity in Malaysia is not something new. Malaysian Muslims played a key role in the evolution of the Jemaah Islamiah movement. Then came Al-Maunah and now Malaysians form a core component of IS’s Southeast Asian unit, Katibah Nusantara which is currently active in Marawi, Philippines.

So why are Malaysian Muslims or Muslims in general, highly susceptible to be radicalised? Could this be blamed solely on socio-political factors? This is indeed a complex argument and very sensitive in nature.

One could argue that Islam is a religion of peace and all those things done by IS are the opposite of what Islam teaches. But one could also argue that IS is Islamic, very Islamic according to a revealing article by Graeme Wood, published in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic.

IS’ interpretations of Quranic teachings are fundamental to its mission. The beheadings, slavery, rape, child marriage and the rest of their barbaric acts are very much religiously inspired.

Adding to that, based on a poll published in July 2014 in Saudi Arabia, 92 percent of the Saudi population seem to think that IS “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.”

Clearly, IS has something to do with Islam.

With the global jihadist threat escalating at present, the issue of Islamisation in Malaysia is becoming a vital topic that needs to be discussed. Dismissing IS and other jihadist organisations as fringe groups within Islam is not going to solve anything.

IS has proved that being defeated in Syria did not put an end to it. The global ideological problem of Islamist extremism extends way beyond IS and will continue to aspire other extremists.

It is the Islamist ideology that must be discredited. For as long as the ideology and mentality of Muslims are not rectified, there will never be an end to jihadist terrorism.

Malaysia is currently witnessing the progress of an ongoing Islamisation. Marina Mahathir aptly coined the term ‘Arabisation’ in referring to Malaysian Muslims in adopting the Arab culture, ideology and tribalism attitude. With more and more narrow-minded views of Islam being practiced, not only are the Muslims in Malaysia being affected, even the non-Muslims are as well.

Just think of all the pathetic issues that have been brought up by the religious authorities at recent times; Islam compliant dress code issues in governmental departments and even in sports. Protest against non-Muslims for using the word ‘Allah’ in non-Islamic religious texts.

An MP that is more sympathetic towards the rapist rather than the victim and can even suggest that nine-year-olds are ‘physically’ and ‘spiritually’ ready for marriage. A Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department taking a stand to ‘hunt down’ atheists in Malaysia. Beer festival in Kuala Lumpur receiving massive protest by Islamists and even a terrorist bomb plot aimed at the festival.

Even when there are attempts to promote a moderate view of Islam, it is quashed without proper dialogue, such as Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol’s detainment for a speech he gave and G25’s ‘Breaking the Silence’ book ban. This is what happens when religious authorities are given precedence over the constitution.

Thankfully there are still people out there bold enough to voice out their discontent. G25 initially appeared in the spotlight on December 2014 asking for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam and Islamic law in Malaysia. More recently, some royals have become more vocal especially after the launderette issue in Muar.

So where are we right now on the ‘Islamism’ discussion? In the West, the so-called moderate Muslims are getting tremendous support from the regressive liberals. Debates are still going on trying to establish if the Islamic teachings are compatible with modernity. Most leaders seem to reassure the Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace and has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism.

However, this is not exactly helping the anti-Muslim sentiments in the West. With the increasing frequency of jihadist attacks all over Europe and America, true anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia attacks are getting more common, unsurprisingly. Innocent peaceful Muslims are becoming the victims, when the actual issue at hand is hiding behind a ‘burqa’.

This is the exact reason why Donald Trump became the President of the United States and many far-right conservative parties in Europe are gaining momentum. But at least the conversations are happening over there.

In Malaysia, we are nowhere close to such dialogues. Muslims in this country are so sensitive to any form of criticism. As far as Muslims here are concerned, Islam is as perfect as it was in the sixth century and the West are the ones to be blamed for everything and anything.

Muslims in this country are more interested in talking about the terror
committed by the Zionist regime in Israel rather than the atrocities committed by IS in Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I wonder why.

So is Islam inherently violent and needs an absolute reformation or is it like any other religion where it has peaceful teachings as well as violent ones and it’s the followers thinking and mentality that needs reform? Whichever it is, one thing for sure is there is no reforming of Islam without reforming Muslims.

Islam must be subjected to criticism. It must be challenged. It’s easy to dismiss any idea that is critical of Islam as ‘murtad’ or misguided. Holding Islam up to scrutiny is not bigotry against Muslims as people. If we do not have this conversation, only the Islamists and jihadists will prevail, leaving the rest of peace-loving Muslims under threat from anti-Muslim bigots and
the terrorist themselves.

Free speech must triumph over political correctness. In an open society, no idea can be above scrutiny, just as no people should be beneath dignity. We seriously need to talk about Islamism in Malaysia.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of VOIZ asia.

Dear Malaysians, stop being hypocrites!

Dear Malaysians, stop being hypocrites!

In Malaysia, you have to choose sides – if you decide to stand in the middle, it gets said that you’re trying to stir something between both.

I wrote a piece not too long ago about the halal laundrette in Johor, entitled Hentam Melayu, Muslim lebih seronok?

The article highlights other racial practices in Malaysia which are often ignored, such as accommodation and job opportunities only offered to a specific race, and questions the reasons why such practices have not made Malaysians jump off their seats as they did with the laundrette.

Sadly, the article failed to be understood by both Malay and non-Malay readers.

While some readers in the comment section began supporting the halal laundrette, using the other racially inclined practices as a point of reference, others said I was trying to sow racial enmity by writing such an article.

Some readers who have been victimised by racially discriminative practices themselves failed to realise the irony of supporting Muslim-only policies, while others failed to see that other policies can be considered equally discriminative.

If we lived in a non-biased society where people are truly able to think without prejudice, we would’ve long been rid of other racially inclined practices. Sadly, that is not the case here.

Many use our muhibbah concept to reject the halal laundrette – we say it is a disgrace to our multiracial society. Why then, may I ask, aren’t offering accommodations or job opportunities exclusively to people from a specific race, for example, considered a disgrace to this muhibbah?

Likewise, when people are criticised for their choice of skin-baring apparel, some people take to social media to give lectures on human rights and the freedom to express oneself through their choice of clothing.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t take long for the same group of people to turn around and condemn those who cover themselves up in the niqab and burqa – calling it “Arabisation” while conveniently forgetting that revealing clothing can just as easily be dismissed as “Westernisation.”

If we champion the human rights agenda, should we not support the right of every human being to dress as they please, whether skin-baring or fully covered?

Likewise, if we champion the muhibbah agenda, should we not condemn those who practice racial discrimination, regardless of their ethnicity?

Why then are we accepting one issue while condemning the other? I will tell you why – because we are bloody hypocrites.

The right to protest

A few days ago, Umno Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Md Yunos created headlines when he smashed some beer bottles with a sledgehammer as a sign of protest against the organising of beer festivals in Selangor.

While I do not condone his behaviour, I do support his right to protest on matters close to his heart.

Come on, if we have the right to march on the streets of Kuala Lumpur wearing yellow tees, supporting the call to clean up our voting system and get rid of corrupt leaders despite it being labelled illegal, doesn’t Jamal have the same right?

We may not agree with the matter of his protest, nor the manner in which he conducted it. But shouldn’t protesting itself be a right for every Malaysian, regardless of whether we agree with what is being protested?

Just because we disagree with something, it shouldn’t mean that others should be stopped from doing it, surely?

A few days ago, a 27-year old housewife was charged in court for stealing a variety of things worth a total of almost RM600. It was a clear case of theft, not rocket science, really.

However, although her actions were a clear violation of the law, many netizens on social media took her side and condemned authorities for punishing a “helpless ordinary Malaysian” while allowing some politicians to plunder millions or billions from the country.

Now, how can we justify an act of theft simply because one is greater than the other? Be it RM600 or RM2.6 billion, a theft is a theft, no? Or is this a result of the accumulated hatred we feel for the corrupt leaders we have in our country?

Perhaps our desire to condemn the other matters highlighted above (while condoning the rest) is also a result of hatred, but hatred towards the extremism lurking beneath the sheen of social propriety?


Look, I get it. I really do.

We are tired of all the drama, and our flip-flopping is how we react by default. But the time has come for us to change our ways and stop being hypocritical, because if we do not, the gap that has formed between us will only grow bigger.

How can we then see eye-to-eye when our thoughts and reflections are only based on our perceptions, and our perceptions alone?

If we believe in freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to do whatever we desire as civilised human beings, why don’t we believe in the same freedom for everyone else?

Everything begins with us – the people. It begins with us fighting hypocrisy with diplomacy. Learning to stick our noses in matters that concern us should always come hand in hand with learning to understand and respect the fact that everyone has a different way of thinking about matters close to their hearts.

Perhaps when we have obtained a little more integrity, then it wouldn’t be so hypocritical of us to demand leaders with some of their own.



The militant monk of Myanmar

The militant monk of Myanmar

Many would have been wondering why on earth the Rohingyas in Myanmar are not only abandoned but also terrorised inhumanely by the Myanmar-government.

It has to be reluctantly admitted, however, that the highly prejudicial view of against the Muslims is the main culprit for all the sufferings the Rohingya going through. It might be surprising, but this is what has been discovered by The Economist via their investigative journalists, recently.

Ashin Wirathu, a prominent monk in Myanmar, is of the view that Buddhism is in grave danger with the very existence of the Muslims in the country. To substantiate his view, he even said that centuries ago, Indonesia was a Buddhist and Hindu country, but eventually became a Muslim state.

Wirathu also pointed out the never-ending battle between Muslim insurgents and the Philippine- army in the Southern Philippine to support his stereotypical views on Muslims.

The leader of the Buddhist charity known among the locals as Ma Ba Tha, Wirathu is the central figure responsible for stoking hatred against the Muslims, who make up about four percent of the population. Among these, Rohingya only account for a million. They are descendants of the Bangladeshis who were brought in by the British during the colonial era.

Currently, the Rohingya occupy Rakhine, a state near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. They are stateless and have been excluded from Myanmar’s official list of 135 aborigine ethnic groups, despite living there for generations.

Last year, an attack by Muslim militants in Rakhine, which claimed the lives of several security officers further escalated enmity of the security force against the Rohingya.

This incident, according to the UN and other human rights groups, warranted the Myanmar army to launch a rampage, in which the soldiers embarked on a campaign of rape, murder, and torture against the Rohingya.

To add salt to the wound, the security forces also razed their villages, which resulted in some 75,000 of them fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. Yet, the Myanmar government turned a blind eye on its armed forces’ evil deeds against the Rohingya.

Because of Ma Ba Tha’s fearmongering tactics, even political leaders are reluctant to reprimand Buddhists for being dangerously stereotypical towards the Rohingyas. Among the leaders who keep mum on the issue is Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s leader, probably fearing the backlash from the general public who generally view Rohingya as a serious threat to their culture and way of life. Saying anything in support of the oppressed minority could jeopardise her post as de facto leader of the country.

A 2015 survey by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business found that almost 90 percent of hateful online posts were directed towards Muslims. Despite comprising almost 90 percent of the Myanmar population, some Buddhist citizens still fear that the minority Muslims will “outbreed” them. On top of this, there are a number of policies based on Wirathu’s ideas that have been passed in the previous army-dominated parliament to reduce the Muslim population systematically.

Therefore, Malaysia’s strong stance against the Myanmar government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the Rohingya in Rakhine should be most welcomed and supported. More importantly, it should not be politicised to the extent of dampening the importance of the issue.

In other words, it is OK if you are not helping, but please do not discourage others who wish to show support and give a helping hand to the helpless Rohingya.

As in the case of Rohingya, the government is also responsible for voicing out the dissatisfaction of the people it represents without fear or favour, should minorities in any nation, regardless of their race or religion, be mistreated by their government.