No problem, cause problem — Jotham Lim Ee Chen

SEPTEMBER 5 — Something is amiss.

For the past week, I have been bombarded with news regarding race-based products being boycotted, the barring of Muslims and non-Muslims from praying together, and Friday being announced as Jawi Day.

As a Malaysian citizen, I am not just worried and disappointed. More than that, I am genuinely confused why these issues are being brought up in the first place?

Are Bumiputera entrepreneurs struggling to get business due to their skin colour, or is it due to capitalist market forces?  Is a large portion of the population voicing out their concerns that the Jawi language is not implemented enough, so much that it warrants a dedicated day every week just to practise it?

Has anyone complained that they feel uncomfortable praying alongside someone from a different religion and background? Is it a common occurrence? If so, is it a problem to begin with?

I am trying to comprehend how did the boycott issue escalate so much to the point where it has to be brought up in Cabinet; I am trying to comprehend why these certain policies are being set in place by the Prime Minister’s Department in the first place.

How exactly is barring two people from different religious backgrounds from praying together promoting understanding and racial harmony? How exactly is forcing the use of Jawi nationwide promoting the love and respect of the script?

I sincerely wish that this is just a simple case of policies being made for “syok sendiri” purposes. I am afraid that maybe there is something wrong with the status quo that I have not realised yet. Maybe somewhere across the city, a racial maelstrom is brewing that I am not aware of.

Why are these news headlines being produced, when we have nationwide economic and environmental issues to worry about?

Call me naive, but I believe that there were good and admirable intentions when these policies and were first drafted. But not every issue can be solved through rushed and poorly made policies. Just because the government has been given the hammer of authority to introduce such policies, that doesn’t mean that everything has to be a nail.

For those who possess a genuine love for Jawi, they will congregate together and form communities on their own. For those who do not feel comfortable praying alongside others of a different faith, they can kindly move to a different location, or request the other party to move. What is next? Every household is required by law to hang a flag outside their doorstep?

It took decades of fine-tuning and trial & error to draft out crucial policies that have long-lasting effects. The Strata Management Act, the Employment & Labour Law, the National Policy on the Environment are just a few out of many crucial laws that have been carefully drafted by legislators, under heavy consideration from a team of consultants and analysts.

Even the Reid Commission had to meet 118 times within a short span of four months, receiving 131 memoranda from various individuals and organisations in order to draft out our Federal Constitution.

I look across the South China Sea, over at our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak. Not only are they much more culturally diverse than us here in the Peninsula; Not only are they facing far more pressing issues than us, but these racial and religious issues are also somehow not as severe as us.

Until this day, I still stare in envy at Masjid An Naim and Good Shepherd Church sharing a carpark together in Miri, Sarawak. I am unsure whether such a thing is even possible here in West Malaysia. In fact, there might be a law being implemented just to prevent such a thing from happening in order to “promote understanding and racial harmony”.

I sincerely believe that most Malaysians, regardless of racial or religious background, wish to live together in peace and harmony. Or at the very least, they do not wish to interfere in each other’s personal lives or matters.

I believe that these issues have been brought up by the vocal minority, which warrants the government’s attention. But they should also consider the silent majority before imposing such policies.

Policies should not just be well thought of, but also well communicated and implemented. Please form policies that actually add true value to the lives of the common citizen here in Malaysia.

Because I do not wish to see the day come, where people would rather stick their name cards on their chest on a Friday, because not everyone can read proper Jawi.

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

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