TV3, Teo Nie Ching, and The Constitution

1) Selamat Hari Raya

I’m not sure what’s the big deal. But over 10,000 people on Facebook have joined a group to flay the Umno-owned TV station for what appears to be soft multi-cultural (or in some minds, multi-religious) symbolism: A white-haired man driving a flying becha that leaves a sparkly trail across the night sky, and lotus-like blossoms that unveil kerosene lamps.

For this Facebook group, the white-haired man and his sleigh-like vehicle appear too closely related to one Santa Claus, while the pelita blossoms are close to Buddhist imagery.

For others on the interwebs, it felt like the team behind the ad was more inspired by ET than some gift-bearing saint and his gravity-defying reindeers; another said that actually these “protesters” were upset that a Proton Perdana V6 was not used instead of the anachronistic tricycle (“Kita sudah maju! OK??”).

However one sees it, I believe TV3 should not have apologised. They surely did spend a good deal of money on the ad, and surely it must have been vetted by a whole range of people internally, which meant that the intentions of the director, script-writer and team must have been quite clearly understood. If anything, whoever OKed the ad should be axed – and publicly.

If one prefers a less bloody deliberation, I suggest engaging the group of Facebookers with an explanation. Or is that too much work? (“Just give them more Senario,” I can almost hear someone at the station saying…)

Immediately apologising and stopping the ad from airing is just… lazy.

***

2) Sorry about that Surau visit

Last 22nd August, Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching stepped into Surau al-Huda in Kajang on the invitation of the surau committee to hand-over funds they requested to fix their broken fence. What had merely been an otherwise small program has turned into a two-week campaign by Umno’s Utusan Malaysia to force Malaysians to believe that non-Muslims cannot enter Muslim places of worship.

What kind of bull is this?

(Dr Asri‘s voice of reason thankfully isn’t the only one.)

On top of that, Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had allegedly remarked that MP Teo was “dirty”, which was why she shouldn’t have stepped into the prayer hall. Classy, boss, classy.

Also, the Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS) has decreed that non-Muslims (or rather MP Teo, specifically) cannot enter mosques or suraus. One wonders how they arrived at such a learned position. And they sacked the entire al-Huda surau committee.

Look, Umno, this issue is really past its sell-by date. It’s dead in the water. No one really believes MP Teo was up to no good, or even trying to drum up support for whichever political faction; she was just doing her job as an elected representative, for Allah’s sake! Oh wait, are you sending a message that working for one’s constituency is… wrong?

Give it a rest already.

***

3) So Seditious

On 5th September, a group calling itself Kelab Belia Graduan 1Malaysia lodged a police report saying that brochures prepared and distributed by the Bar Council group MyConstitution was inciting Malaysians to change the Federal Constitution.

According to its secretary-general Ezaruddin Abdul Rahman:

We were made to understand that the brochures were being distributed in several institutions of higher learning in the Klang Valley and some colleges in Kedah.

We also believe that the brochures were sponsored by an anti-government foreign non-governmental organisation.

It’s bizarre that a graduates’ club would deny other Malaysians the right to be educated and informed about our Federal Constitution. What more when the club employs the moniker 1Malaysia, which as an idea one would imagine requires Malaysian citizens to appreciate the constitutional and unifying foundation stones of this country. Hmm… I wonder who’s their patron?

I guess just because you’re a graduate doesn’t mean your mind is liberated. Or educated.

Maybe what the club really wants to say is that education is seditious.

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