Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 4th September 2010:
Why double standards against Namewee, questioned for over 10 hours, for his anti-racist outburst as compared to treatment for the two errant school principals?
Four questions need to be asked in the Nameweek’s “Nah” videoclip controversy.
Firstly, is the three-minute video “Nah” uploaded on YouTube by rapper Wee Meng Chee better known as Namewee seditious? I would say no.
Secondly, is the video racist? I would also say no, unless an anti-racist response has also become “racist” in the way that former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad wants Malaysians to believe that meritocracy has become a form of racism.
Thirdly, is the video crude, vulgar, abusive and even obscene? Yes. I have said twice publicly that I do not approve of the crude, vulgar, abusive and even obscene style used by Namewee but that is different from saying that it is seditious or racist and deserves the harshest criminal action to be taken against Meng Chee.
This is also why I cannot agree with the public stand of the MCA President Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek who declared on National Day eve that MCA fully supports any action taken by the government against Meng Chee. Does this include action under the Sedition Act or other capital offences?
How can the MCA leadership with four Ministers in Cabinet take such an irresponsible position, giving a blank cheque to racists and extremists to set the agenda as to the punishment that should be meted out to Meng Chee? Isn’t this a gross abdication of responsibility in government?
The fourth question is whether Meng Chee is the victim of double standards by the authorities?
Yesterday, Meng Chee was questioned for more than seven hours at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for the “Nah” videoclip. Three days earlier, he was questioned for three hours by the police – making a total of over ten hours of questioning by the authorities since National Day.
In contrast, the two schools principals in Kulai and Bukit Selayang, who had made racial and seditious slurs against non-Malay students, had been spared such an ordeal although Meng Chee’s video was made as an anti-racist protest against these two incidents.
The Public Service Department (PSD) is reported today as saying that a show cause letter will be issued to the school principal in Kulai if she had indeed uttered derogatory remarks at her students recently.
Three weeks have passed since the incident in Kulai on 12th August. Is it so difficult to establish the facts and the truth of the incident?
Where is the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s pledge of “Zero tolerance for racism” and his slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” when there could be such great contrast between the treatment meted out to the two errant school principals and Meng Chee?
If action is to be taken against Meng Chee, there must be a sense of proportion and justice with regard to the action meted out to the errant school principals on the one hand and Meng Chee on the other.
UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin’s self-serving response to my statement on Thursday does not merit much attention as I had never said that “two wrongs make a right”.
However, a person who had been guilty of making racist statements should not be trigger-happy to demand action to be taken against others on the alleged ground of racism.
Malaysianki readers have themselves shot down Khairy’s self-serving explanations in the Malaysiakini interview, as his defence of his racist statements would be as believable as his support for the keris-wielding incidents by the Umno Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for three years consecutively when he was then Deputy Umno Youth leader!
Khairy’s claim “if you ask 10 Malaysians what they thought” of the Namewee line “You tak baca? Siapa buat Malaysia kaya?” that 10 Malaysians would agree with him that it was racist is debunked by one reader who commented:
Wong Jiang Fung KJ: "If you ask 10 Malaysians what they thought Namewee meant by that statement, they'd say that there is an obvious undertone which is suggestive." "Of course it was offensive, implying that we don't have any contribution at all," I have 10 friends on fb who watched the video, none of them think like KJ did. This proves KJ is wrong. The statement is controversial but not seditious.
Writer Mariam Mokhtar in her article ‘Namewee is a uniting factor’ also clearly does not agree with Khairy, and I would urge Umno and MCA leaders to ponder what she wrote, viz:
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin adopted a different spin on Namewee’s questions: “You tak baca? Siapa buat Malaysia kaya?” (Don’t you know? Who made Malaysia prosperous?). Khairy assumed that Namewee suggested the ‘Malays played a minor role in Malaysia’s economic growth’.
Khairy is possibly wrong and as far as can be ascertained, Namewee wasn’t alluding to anything.
Namewee posed an open-ended question. However, political personalities are already scoring brownie points by insinuating various things.
Namewee was wrong to be abusive – even I would balk short at such behaviour. But Namewee speaks for all those who suffered that day in school and for the people in Malaysia who care.
Maybe if the authorities had been swift in their response, Namewee would not have had the reason to come up with this clip.
The more potent danger
Actually, Namewee has done the job of the government much better that the government itself. It has given prominence to racism issues in a creative way and made us take a stand against racism. If not for his Youtube, clip, would we have taken as much attention? The problem is that the authorities have ‘lost it’.
When Dr Chua Soi Lek criticised Namewee and said, “Freedom of expression should come with responsibility to consider sensitivities towards other races and religions”, he forgot that it was the two school principals who ignored sensitivities and caused a furore.
And instead of the school principals being censured, it is Namewee who is allegedly being charged with sedition. Namewee’s clip was crude and coarse, but not racist.
This young disgruntled Malaysia’s response to racism has been blown into something of a racial firestorm. That is the more potent danger.
It seems that when you scratch beneath the surface, 1Malaysia is unraveling faster than a knitted jumper. One person condemns an irresponsible racist head, and the so called defenders of the race, react like beasts unleashed, and all for the wrong reasons.
Namewee has talent. He engages with the young via his rap music and lyrics. He should be nominated for a role in the Ministry for Information, Communications, Culture and Arts, to promote racial unity and other Malaysian issues.
Far from creating disharmony, Namewee has united us against racism. He at least has the courage to tackle racism in his own entertaining way.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor