Three things we learned from: The Teresa Kok video

A screen capture shows Kok at the start of the satirical video that was made for the 2014 Chinese New Year.
A screen capture shows Kok at the start of the satirical video that was made for the 2014 Chinese New Year.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — Scorching temperatures of the current lunar new year are no match for the heated tempers surrounding a seemingly innocuous Chinese New Year by DAP’s Seputeh MP, Teresa Kok.

But while the video itself was veiled in sly innuendo for the sake of plausible deniability, the responses that it triggered have laid bare three things:

1. Malaysians have lost their humour

The video is satire, that much is undeniable. Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, for one, noted that the real crime was that it was not humorous at all.

While the jury may be out on the quality of the comedy, even non-native speakers of the Mandarin and Cantonese used within will see that all it does is caricaturise personalities and events it claims not to.

Of course there is the sting to the ego if you were to find yourself the subject of ridicule, but that is life. Sometimes the world laughs with you; other times, it laughs at you.

Today, we seem only able to laugh at others and to lash out angrily when the sniggers come our way.

Beyond condemning us to never have another Tan Sri P. Ramlee in our midst, it means that too many are too eager to see offence where none may be, or to see a harmless jest as an injurious slur.

With that, expect more than the usual suspects to exercise their constitutional right to slaughter chickens in public.

2. Membership has its privileges

The police are often accused of double standards when it comes to public rallies, in which the difference between a perfectly legal and acceptable gathering to express dissatisfaction and the cusp of violent revolt to unseat a rightfully- and democratically-elected government boils down to what party card you carry in your wallet.

It is too early to start tarring the authorities with claims of bias but if clear incitement to commit physical harm coupled with implicit threats of racial violence does not send policemen knocking on the doors of those involved, just chalk it up to wearing the right colours.

3. The first step is the hardest

The last thing any right-thinking Malaysian would want is a repeat of the May 13, 1969 incident but while some struggle to put it out of their memories, others are too eager to make sure that none of us forget.

Last month, it was a banner that made reference to the bloody racial riots that was bandied about during a protest against a PKR lawmaker in Penang.

Yesterday, the ante was upped with the dramatic slaughter of live chickens and the smearing of their blood on a sign that again made reference to May 13.

Every day a little farther? Where will it end? 

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