March 26, 2019
A commentary by Zaidi Azmi.
STRANGE stuff have been happening these past few days.
Last Saturday, the person – who had, in 2007, accused the previous Malay-led government of forcing Hindu Indians to convert to Islam in exchange for jobs in the civil service – preached about the importance of racial and religious tolerance.
“We Malaysians have been living together for years. We must not allow others to sow hatred among us,” said Unity Minister P.Waythamoorthy at a peace-and-tolerance-promoting assembly held at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur,
It was weird because, Waythamoorthy has yet to apologise for his baseless accusation. Why? Who knows but Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad remarked that the claim was not a big deal.
No one knows if others in Pakatan Harapan shared Dr Mahathir’s view on Waythamoorthy’s past but every political savvy Malaysian knows that when it comes to Dr Mahathir it is always his way or the highway.
Nevermind that. Let’s move on to Sunday’s equally eyebrow-raising twitter drama over former PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar’s disappointment with Dr Mahathir and his administration.
In what is widely construed as a veiled snide against Nurul Izzah, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali tweeted that country does not need cry babies and those who cannot take the heat should get out of the kitchen.
Expectedly, Azmin’s tweet elicited an equally cloaked tongue-in-cheek response from his cohort, PKR Youth Chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad who wrote: “when a lady makes a stand, call her a crybaby? Cheap, very cheap.”
From then on, the petty squabble grew louder after former Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar joined the fray in chiding Azmin. Khairy however, was rebuked by Pribumi Bersatu Youth Chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman for doing so.
The drama then took a seemingly hypocritical twist after Azmin tweeted: “Please meet and talk over lunch not via tweet.”
Wait, what? Wasn’t Azmin the one who triggered the entire twitter drama? But whatever it is, there is no denying that Pakatan politicians seriously need to have their own Whatsapp group.
But what had topped these two weekend peculiarities was probably the Kedah state government’s controversial role in an homage to some “heroic” Japanese soldiers who died in the state during World War 2.
It was a most disturbing news as everyone in the country knows that the Japanese Imperial Army was not a knight in shining armor that came to help liberate Malaya from the British as per to their “Asia for Asians” propaganda.
The fact is that the Japanese soldiers beheaded, tortured and raped the locals. No amount of investment that they intend to pump into the state coffers can erase that.
And ironically, the very soldiers whom the state government had inadvertently paid respect to, were killed when they tried to blow up the Alor Setar bridge in order to stem the advance of the Allied forces.
Obviously, none in Kedah was amused by the gaffe, especially when the state government said that it played no role in it although they officiated the refurbished memorial and that the cost was all borne by the Japanese consulate.
So, basically in Kedah, if you have money, you can do anything? Even rewriting history?
After the initial damage control failed, the state government finally decided to remove the memorial’s controversial information boards which had described the soldiers as heroes of war.
But just when the dust is about to settle, the matter made news again today when the state government clarified that the whole mess was a mere translation error.
State Tourism Committee chairman Mohd Asmirul Anuar Aris said the error occurred when a Japanese officer from the consulate tried to communicate with a local contractor here commissioned to build the signboard at the graves.
“They were like chicken and duck, trying to communicate with each other. That was the issue. It was the error in translation,” said Asmirul.
Wait. Does this mean that the state government did not vet the texts which the Japanese consulate wanted to etch onto the memorial’s information board?