Narrow bridges

Tudung Politics: For the Nation to Progress, We Must Build Bridges


YOUR SAY | “No hope for the country if everything is deemed political.”

COMMENT | Hannah Yeoh’s tudung threading and DAP’s hypocrisy

Anonymous_15897060865429524: Not all political acts are “bad”. Some are necessary. DAP has an image problem. He is seen as “too Chinese” and “anti-Malay”. Rightly or wrongly, such is the perception.

What DAP MP for Segambut, Hannah Yeoh, did was a political act, yes. But it was a small step towards correcting this image problem plaguing DAP.

The point is, Malaysia is a predominantly Malaysian and predominantly Muslim country. And to make this country better, we need Malaysians and Muslims on board. There’s no point in dipping your head in the centuries-old sand and pretending everything else is irrelevant.

For this nation to progress, we must build bridges between the races. This is the only way. And if political acts, even seemingly superficial, are needed, if this helps to reduce antagonism and mistrust between communities, why not?

Anonymous54: So in the thought of Malaysiakini columnist S Thayaparan, should elected officials not visit any religious institution in their constituency?

I remember that Amanah’s vice president, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, frequently visited churches and temples to chat with them for information and feedback. Really, there is no hope for this country if every gesture of a politician is deemed political.

I have visited Buddhist temples in Thailand where the temple required that women wearing shorts or dresses above the knees be required to wear a draped jumpsuit, and they provided them to visitors for a small fee.

PESamuel: Thayaparan, I regularly read your articles and agree with most. But on this question, I think you are totally wrong. This question isn’t even worth writing or commenting on, let alone criticizing – whether by you or someone else.

Here all we had was a woman who had the courtesy of following the accepted dress code for the situation. What does it matter if she is a politician or at the DAP?

When I went to a gurdwara, I wore a scarf on my head. When my British friend visited us he took his shoes off at the door without me telling him. When I did the same at his house, he asked me to put them back on because everyone was wearing their shoes inside.

We must respect our respective cultures. As simple and mundane as that!

MarioT: Instead of appreciating him for his kind gesture and goodwill, Thayaparan uses him as fodder to attack and ridicule.

This narrow thinking has also heavily influenced some of the non-Malays who are always on the lookout for the ulterior motives of such actions instead of the goodness they portray.

MRS: If one separated Yeoh from her party and regarded her as an ordinary citizen, there should be nothing disconcerting about her dress for the mosque. But if we consider her as a political operator, her motivation becomes suspect and the word that comes to her mind is appeasement.

She could be both a true believer in Christian charity following the “do to others” rule and an intriguing political opportunist who wants to score points.

While I was one of many who supported her decision to dress like she did, I would also be among the first to bring her down if politics were all in her heart. But how will I ever know?

Anonymous_15897060865429524: @MS, if politics were his intention, could that be called bad intention? She is, after all, a politician. Not all political acts are “bad”. The question is, was it harmful?

MRS: @ Anonymous_15897060865429524, yes it is bad if it was pure selfish politics (with the media in tow) and not really a real act of respect. She deserves everything scheming politicians deserve from a skeptical and cynical public.

Why is that? Because politicians do not have the right to use a place of worship and false piety to improve their electoral prospects. I said the same for the Malaysian politicians who put on kurtas and garlands to endear themselves to the gullible Indians of the Batu caves.

So it really depends on the intention. And since none of us can get into anyone’s heart and mind, it’s best to take it at face value. This is what I did when the photo of Yeoh wearing selendang first appeared.

Existential Turd: In another context, donning a tudung while visiting a mosque is a sign of respect. But in Malaysia, respect is one-sided. It is not reciprocated.

“Respect” as practiced in Malaysia is like between a master and a servant. The servant must respect and obey the master, but the master need only show magnanimity towards the servant at most.

Respect as practiced in Malaysia is not between peers or equals. This is why “respect” is politicized in Malaysia. So when a non-Muslim shows respect to Muslims, it is seen as submission by Muslims and non-Muslims.

Muslims see this as another confirmation of their ketuanan status, and non-Muslims see it as being treated again as lower status citizens.

Remember the time when Umno’s Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah wore a native Sabah tribe head covering with a pattern that looked like a cross? It wasn’t even a real cross, just the resemblance was enough to annoy Malays / Muslims.

“Respect” is another victim of the militarization of religion by the majority in Malaysia.

Sanakyan: @Existential Turd, indeed respect is a two way street. Muslims and non-Muslims practicing their own religion must show mutual respect.

In Malaysia, respect is demanded by the majority race as they do everything in their political power to demonize and demonize other faiths.

Why then should non-Muslims bend over backwards to please and show their submission to ketuanan type?

If it is political expediency (begging their votes), then it is a futile exercise. There is no respect on their part as those in the Malaysian Dignity Congress have shown.


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