FEBRUARY 14 ― Enforcement officers from the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry has taken the unprecedented initiative to raid hardware shops in town for suspected pig bristle paintbrushes. However, we have also seen a dramatic reversal merely days later when the minister ordered an immediate halt to the operation.
The ministry has temporarily suspended the raid operation, but wants the merchants to put on the labels to indicate if the paintbrushes contain any part of pig or dog.
Anyone that has a strong passion for this multicultural country will not want to see such a trivial issue amplified infinitely into a major racial and religious issue. It is good that this whole farce has come to a conclusion, but if we were to look back at the incident, it should serve to offer all of us a unique opportunity to readjust our steps in creating a more harmonious and diverse society.
The forced operation on hardware stores on the part of the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry's enforcement unit has reflected its narrow minded frame without due consideration for the interests of all Malaysians as they focus only on the “protection of Muslim consumer rights”.
Although the enforcers have based their operation on the Trade Descriptions Act 2013 (goods made from any part of pig or dog), it is absolutely necessary for the authorities to have some degree of sensitivity while handling issues like this. They should look at it from a wider perspective and adopt a more appropriate approach instead of creating some trouble for some people.
Unfortunately the authorities have failed to visualised the plurality of this country such that they tend to look at things from the angle of Muslims without considering the feelings and dilemma of the country's non-Muslim community.
When the administrative and enforcement units observe things from a specific angle, they will invariably overlook the needs of the rest of the society, triggering controversies and discontent from their biased actions.
Malaysia is a multiracial and multireligious country. Although Islam has been made the official religion, other religious faiths have also been protected by the country's Constitution.
While Muslims constitute a majority in the country's population, the rights and interests of non-Muslims must not be downplayed. It is imperative that our government officials come to realise the country's pluralistic reality and look at issues from a much broader perspective for the sake of all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.
Another phenomenon that deserves our concern is the instant politicisation of the pig bristle paintbrush issue. This shows that the country is in a politically very unhealthy situation so much so that any non-political issue could be made into a political one.
It is part of the democratic process for political rivals to criticize one another for the good of this country. However, politicising everything and pegging everything to political conspiracy does not reflect a matured political culture.
In a society where pan-politicisation dominates, anything can be exploited as a tool for the eventual political gains. Facts will be invariably distorted beyond recognition and the society radicalised and torn apart by our polarised views, wreaking irreparable damage to our multicultural society.
The paint brush drama has come to a close, but along the way the narrow-mindedness of our government officials has been unreservedly exposed, along with the vastly unhealthy political environment of this country.
After putting down the pig bristle paintbrushes, perhaps it is time for us to pay closer attention to these real problems. ― Sin Chew Daily
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.