Putting out the Low Yat Plaza flames — Lim Sue Goan

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JULY 14 — It is alarming that what started as a mobile phone theft in Low Yat Plaza has since turned ugly in the form of race-motivated hate attacks against innocent people.

Why has a simple theft been distorted into the sale of reconditioned phone by unscrupulous dealer which subsequently took a violent turn after the dealer refused to replace the phone, as well as the racial implications that followed?

Why did the trouble-makers refuse to believe in what the police had to say?

This is Internet, and the power of social media in generating and spreading lies.

Thanks to the distorted information made widely available to the public online, many unnecessary troubles have been created. Unfortunately people seem to have not picked up some lessons from past incidents, and continue to allow themselves to be deceived and manipulated by what they read.

As a matter of fact, youngsters are not the only ones lacking in sound judgment over the information fed to them, even our political leaders are happy to quote the various online remarks in stating their stand.

This kind of herd instinct can easily morph into a negative force that will destroy our social harmony at the instigation of racist remarks, especially at a time when the smartphone has become a universal commodity.

In the face of such dangers, it is therefore essential for us to pool our resources together to check the advances of these negative elements.

Young people are known to be fearless in uttering what they have inside their minds, although what they say or how they behave could potentially snowball into a powerful destructive force that will rip our society apart.

We will push our country a step closer to the edge of the cliff if we as adults are slow to control our young and divert them from their risky preoccupations.

it doesn’t matter if we are Chinese or Malays, we must write rationally and respectfully on social media sites. While we can surely play heroes on the Internet, we only have one country to call home. Where else can we go if this country of ours is left to rot in chaos and turmoil?

Another factor that has contributed to the uncontrolled developments in the latest incident is the racism promoted by our very own racist politics, which has since the dawn of nationhood condoned division along racial lines.

As a result, interracial relationship is getting from bad to worse. Our youngster have grown to be grossly insensitive towards racial issues, and they no longer know how to respect people from a different cultural background.

Indeed our politicians are obsessed with their ill motives, but our impressionable young netizens have inadvertently allowed themselves to fall prey to such evil designs.

The good thing is, in the midst of all the absurdity, we have seen the emergence of a group of peace-loving people spreading positive messages to promote racial harmony. Such an initiative should be echoed by more people so that our erstwhile spirit of moderation could be restored soonest.

We can only stop the propagation of extremist thinking if we incorporate the value of moderation into our day-to-day life. We need more people in the likes of G25 (of moderate Malay community leaders) to impart the value of moderation to our society to rid it of the scourge of racism.

Umno ministers must also visit Low Yat Plaza as soon as possible, offering words of solace to the businesses operating there while condemning in the strongest terms the barbaric acts of the mobsters gathering outside the mall Sunday night. This will effectively deliver a clear and direct message to the trouble-makers that they must stop confounding themselves with the idea that this whole thing has been racist in nature.

As for the violent outburst outside the mall, it is imperative that the police take prompt and uncompromising action to apprehend the perpetrators as well as a man delivering seditious speech outside the plaza..

Failing to take stern actions will see the perpetrators grow in fearless lawlessness, eventually taking a severe toll on the commercial activities in and around Low Yat Plaza.

Politically motivated violence has become increasingly common in recent years, the latest being the rowdy mob at a DAP forum in the constituency of Johor menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

The frequent violence could be attributed to the government’s soft-handedness in tackling trouble-makers.

The government must decisively stop all acts flouting the country’s laws before they destroy our rule of law spirit.

The country has its share of problems now: the leadership crisis, weakening ringgit and bruised economic prospects. We can no longer afford to take the load of yet another unrest or riot.

Low Yat Plaza is located right in the heart of the capital city’s Golden Triangle, and the weekend violence will have severe effects on the businesses there if it starts to eat into the tourism industry.

Without the slightest doubt Malaysians have become increasingly irritable of late. Things as trivial as a mobile phone theft could be easily blown out of proportion, as the country grapples with deepening political crisis.

We must never dismiss the Low Yat incident as insignificant, for it highlights the extreme vulnerability of our racial relations.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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