It should not have led to violence


  • Brave New World
  • Wednesday, 16 Aug 2017

Pandemonium: A chair being thrown, allegedly by a troublemaker, after a flare landed on the floor during the Nothing to Hide 2.0 forum.

THE recent fracas at new Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Mahathir Show ... I mean their Nothing to Hide 2.0 forum, raised some amusing reactions.

In case you have been binge-watching Game of Thrones, what happened was a bunch of thugs disrupted the event by getting violent. Chucking a chair, setting off flares, hurling water bottles, and of course no political fight would be complete without a flying flip-flop.

In the aftermath of the incident, one cop said the organisers would also be summoned to give statements. I wonder if this is some sort of unique police procedure that I have never heard of. In the event of a crime, investigate the victims.

I can see it now:

“Officer, I was mugged.”

“Oh, really? Let me ask you some questions. Have you ever taken martial arts classes? Were you by any chance making yourself a target by looking too wealthy? Why on earth were you walking around in that area anyway?”

But it wasn’t just the cops being funny. The politicians and their people were making me chuckle too.

A ruling party press secretary said the rampaging morons were actually dissatisfied members of the Opposition. I wonder how he came to this far-fetched conclusion.

Someone has been immersing himself in conspiracy theories and unless he has some firm evidence that the Opposition really was into inflicting self-harm, then this could be very much a case of “Misleading the Public 101”.

Even the “victims” were saying some funny stuff. The president of Pribumi, when confronted with the possibility of the cops investigating them, said that this was unreasonable as they were politicians and therefore would not be able to identify bad guys from good.

Now, I know he was talking about the agent provocateurs in their cunning disguises of Pribumi’s Armada (youth wing) T-shirts but his statement was ironic to the extreme.

Politicians don’t know how to distinguish bad guys from good? I see. Now I know why the country is in such a mess!

Of course the incident was a shameful one and perhaps some may find my levity a bit off colour. But then, anyone who has observed politics in this country knows that thuggish behaviour is something that has been part of the political landscape for decades.

Peaceful conferences have been disrupted by politically affiliated goons; private individuals have been harassed; political activists have been threatened and attacked; entire areas have been closed off by bullies to prevent opposition politicians from entering.

The list goes on. And all done to ensure only the narrative of the status quo is heard.

This most recent event is nothing new. It is only capturing the imagination because a central character in this episode is an ancient ex-premier. An ex-premier during whose reign some of the thuggish activities I mentioned above occurred.

Again, the mischievous head of irony pops up. However, if it takes an attack on an old man for the masses to see that this kind of gutter politics has no place in a democracy, so be it. Some good may come out of all this.

And I hope that we begin to see that regardless of whether we like the message a person is saying, you do not ever counter it with violence. Those who do so are showing that they are bereft of intellect and the ability to put forward counter-arguments. In other words, they are showing that they would lose in an intellectual debate and therefore are likely in the wrong.

Azmi Sharom (azmi.sharom@gmail.com) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.


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Opinion , Azmi Sharom , columnist

   

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