Rioting over a hand phone?

PDRM must bring to book the culprits that incite racial hatred.
PDRM must bring to book the culprits that have incited racial hatred.


THE recent incident at and around the Low Yat Plaza in Bukit Bintang is, to me, a very sad day for Kuala Lumpur. An incident that was sparked off by something as silly as a mobile device (based on a newspaper report that quoted ‘police sources’) simply erupted into a brawl and riot. That’s just stupid.


As if things couldn’t get any worse, users of the social media got all too emotional about it, quickly made their own judgements based on what they see and/or read on their little screens, and shared their racist and bigoted remarks with each other, directed as certain groups of people. All done without really knowing the truth, any fact-checking whatsoever and most importantly, keeping a level head. Like lambs to the slaughter. Sadly, in this case the country itself is the lamb!


While we wait for the authorities to conclude their in-depth investigations over the matter, bring the perpetrators to justice and mete out the punishments they deserve, the rest of us throughout the country as well as outside Malaysia should desist from further speculating over what ‘actually’, ‘had’, ‘might’ve’ and ‘could’ve’ happened.


Before yours truly goes any further, this morning a youth has been charged in the Magistrate Court for the theft of a hand phone in Low Yat Plaza, HERE.


Thank you PDRM for the swift actions.  PDRM could have acted faster to nip the problem before it went out of hand.


Let us hope that the police will arrest and charge the culprits that had incited racial hatred in the social media. This is the most appropriate case for the police to use Seditious Act against the culprits. These culprits are the architects of Low Yat Plaza fracas.  They must not be spared.


Despite what many of us associate the Bukit Bintang district with – good things or otherwise – I never imagined that such an incident would erupt in one of the country’s tourism ‘jewels’ when I was the Bukit Bintang’s Member of Parliament in the 1990’s. Let’s call a spade a spade – thugs are out to create trouble in whatever race, colour or creed the come in.


Like religious zealots that we unfortunately and constantly have to deal with, those thugs out there are not doing what they do for any ‘noble cause’ or on behalf of any ethnic or religious group, despite their claims. They are just thugs – selfish destructive idiots that are a menace to this country and that’s that.
As we are all aware of, there are some parts of the inter-racial relations in Malaysia that is already tenuous, and all those bad things will simply hasten the damage and putting all the noble efforts of those who are out to fix it to naught.


Seriously, what is the point of the country and its partners in the private sector spending millions, if not billions of ringgit, to promote the country throughout the world when the people we are trying to attract are already scared of coming here because of racial tension?


We already have so many problems now that are counter-productive to the tourism industry – like I had mentioned in my last two recent posts, HERE & HERE – and now we have this?? Tourism Malaysia might as well take a long ‘break’ and I concentrate my time on my legal practice then!


An incident like the one in Low Yat Plaza – misleadingly viewed as a racial riot by gullible Netizens and the public – is simply a major turn-off for tourists.


The red & yellow shirt protestors in Thailand. They fought against each others for many months and the Thai economy was badly hit by it.  Do we need this in Malaysia?
The red & yellow shirt protestors in Thailand. They fought against each others for many months and the Thai economy was badly hit by it. Do we need this in Malaysia?


A supermarket in Bangkok was destroyed by fire during the fight between red and yellow shirts protestors.
A supermarket in Bangkok was destroyed by fire during the protest.


Remember the ‘People Power’ revolt led by Cory Aquino against the then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986? The riots in Indonesia in 1998? That worrying protests and riots during the very recent 2013-2014 Thai political crisis between the Red and Yellow T-shirts?


Those are just three examples in three of our neighbouring countries. There were many more similar examples all over the world. One definite effect they all have – turning away tourists, as well as affecting the decisions of potential foreign investors.  Just imagine the social and economic costs of such incidents to those countries.


As preposterous as this may sound to all of us, it is best that we ignore any news, video clips and comments that appear on our computer screens and our precious mobile devices. I can assure you that by further satisfying our curiosity on the subject will only create (more) anger, hatred, confusion, presumptions and snap judgements – all bad things. Try your very best not to share such information of which the origin you yourself are unsure of.


Instead, speak to your multi-ethnic neighbours and colleagues more, visit them with your families, go for teh tarik, make friends with the neighbourhood cops – something… anything other than staring at computer and cell phone screens and letting some invisible and irresponsible people out there raise your blood pressure.


I strongly urge Malaysians to be level-headed and not stir up any racial tension that might further damage our tourism industry and the country as a whole. That is the last thing we need now, especially during such a joyous month of Ramadhan for the Muslims and the Aidilfitri celebration is so close. Lets celebrate together Hari Raya Adilfitri, Maaf Zahir & Batin.


As the Chairman of Tourism Malaysia, a former Member of Parliament and most of all, as a Malaysian, I appeal to all Malaysians to not further worsen this matter. Let’s put a stop to all this nonsense before we – yes, Malaysia, you and I – lose more tourist dollars! Let us unite against any form of racism.

4 thoughts on “Rioting over a hand phone?

  1. Mohamad

    Well said sir. We should move from this racially base politic and multi stream education system. From there we take off to a better Malaysia.

    1. Anonymous

      Yes fully agreed – the root cause is the separation of our children in 3 different schools, agama, Chinese & Tamil. Abolish all for the sake our our beloved country!!

  2. True that it began on Saturday evening as a straightforward case of shoplifting and hooliganism but the demonstration by 200 people outside Low Yat Plaza on Sunday had taken on racial dimensions which is worrying, given the already tenuous racial and religious sentiments which have been building up over the years, fanned by constant politicking, including racially inflammatory comments on pro-establishment and anti-establishment website, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and what not.

    The anonymity and separation afforded by the Internet encourages people to be more bold with their statements online in the belief that they are relatively safe from physical harm behind their computer screens but the hurt and resentment which can eventually result in bloodshed, especially for innocent parties.

    Quite frankly, I fear for what could have happened inside Low Yat Plaza Sunday evening had the police not prevented the 200 from charging in.

    I visited Low Yat Plaza at 5.00pm yesterday (Monday) evening and was rather shocked to find most outlets on the ground floor to the top floor closed and was informed by the customer information desk that most shops in the mall had decided to close for a day, whilst a shopkeeper at one of the open shops said that it was a “special holiday”.

    I do not know why they closed but can only guess that it could have been either to allow for a cooling off or as a collective statement to show what it’s like when the mall is closed for business.

    Anyway, I understand that the plaza resumed business as usual this Tuesday and hopefully no more such incidents will happen again.l

    However, we must face the fact that racial and religious sentiments which have been building up below the surface broke through over the weekend and something needs to be done to cool it, though with the government preoccupied with matters such as 1MDB and the accusations and counter accusations, I don’t know how much it can really do to address the problems, especially when they are compounded with issues such as the rising cost of living.

    Meanwhile, if Malaysian value the freedom of speech and expression on the Internet we need to be more responsible with what we say online but are we up to that?

    As for tourism, well this incident is world news now or at least regional news and hopefully it will not deter tourists from coming.

    Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin and may peace prevail.

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