By Azmi Sharom, The Star

Things are being blown out of proportion over the issue with some viewing it through race-tinted glasses. Are they blind to the fact that the people who are annoyed at the kangkung remark are from all ethnic groups?

I DON’T like water morning glory a.k.a water spinach a.k.a kangkung. There’s a metallic tang to it that I find displeasing.

I much prefer kailan or bayam – the former fried with salted fish and the latter in a watery soup.

What has my taste in vegetables got to do with anything? Nothing really.

Just as the recent, rather humorous, jabs at the Prime Minister have nothing to do with his ethnicity.

It has plenty to do with his alleged insensitivity to the price hikes in the country (which affect every single Tan, Din and Harvin) and it has plenty to do with the fact that kangkung is funny (even its very name makes me giggle); but I can’t see where the Prime Minister’s ethnicity comes into play.

So, how is it racist?

I guess some people view the world through race-tinted glasses.

These are the people who are calling for a demonstration to defend the Prime Minister.

I must say their poster calling for participants in this demonstration looks very exciting.

It has a very macho-looking chap carrying not one but two parang and an equally macho call for all Malays to come out and defend their race, their king, their religion and who knows what else.

I am of course in favour of demonstrations and public protests; it is after all a fundamental right as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Constitution. But Article 10 also says, and rightly so, that any assembly must be peaceful and without arms.

This “Defend the PM” demonstration uses a poster with a chap carrying machetes. Aren’t machetes weapons? Are they asking people to bring their parang? Or is it just for dramatic artistic effect?

I am sure they will have a good explanation and surely the police should ask for it.

The Government has shown itself to be very sensitive to any symbols of violence. After all, the Registrar of Societies made a huge hue and cry about the fact that Parti Sosialis Malaysia used a closed fist for its party symbol.

A closed fist is violent, apparently. It conjures up images of pugilism, I guess.

But if a closed fist is violent, then isn’t a parang even more violent? Thus, I would be most surprised if the police do not swoop down on these organisers with the same vigour and energy that they use when swooping down on the organisers of other demonstrations.

For example, the anti-price-hike demo on New Year’s Eve was scrutinised and demonised by the cops because it was thought to be potentially dangerous.

The police even feared that there were going to be grenades in Merdeka Square.

The organisers did not say “bring grenades” and their posters did not have grenades on them but the cops wanted to be safe rather than sorry I suppose.

Therefore, I would expect nothing less from our men and women in blue than a complete and thorough investigation of people who actually have a weapon-wielding man on their invitation to a demo.

Especially in the light of several folks (again wearing those special spectacles) saying that this kangkung issue could lead to race riots.

Race riots? Because people are angry at price rises?

Are these people blind to the fact that the people who are annoyed at the kangkung remark are from all ethnic groups?

There is no racial issue here. The only racial issues are the ones being made up by the desperate people whose only pathetic claim to relevance depends on them making everything into a racial issue.

I don’t believe that Malaysians are going to fall for this idiocy. But having said that, a few may not care about reason and logic and all it takes is a handful to create trouble.

Surely a government maintaining the peace would seek these true trouble-makers out. Or do different rules apply? We’ll just have to wait and see.

> Azmi Sharom (azmisharom@yahoo.co.uk) is a law teacher. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

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