A series of unfortunate events but Malaysia is not becoming a nation of extremists

Malaysian Airlines, in an article that appeared in Sinar, apparently apologized for publishing an advertisement for a restaurant promoting pork in its January edition of Going Places.

However, it is now apparent the ad in question did not display ‘pork’ but beef ‘wagyu’ meat. This shows how some people are over-excited in the new Malaysia era.

The airline said it did not intend to offend anyone with the advertisement. But the story went viral on the local social media network, with a passenger claiming he never saw such an ad in a MAS in-flight magazine in 30 years of travel using the national carrier.

MAS reacted to the posting with an apology, but many believe the social media is now out of control in new Malaysia.

The country is feeling the pulse of almost every single citizen who are active online. Their opinion has grown in such a way that they now matter more than ever. And local companies like MAS and Honda are scrambling to salvage their image against this uncontrollable onslaught.

Last year, Honda was said to have fired an employee who attacked the Muslim faith with a what was seen as a vile comment related to the death of a fireman who was killed during the Mariammen temple scuffle.

The recent spate of viral stories in Malaysia shows a complete failure of the Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia or Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission.

The MCMC was a powerful tool, but abused by the Najib Razak regime, it seems it lost its power. Under the Najib regime. It was used to curb on anti-government comments, imposing strict standards, particularly during the last few years of BN power in the country.

It has now lost control of the situation and the PH regime does not seem to know how to handle the ‘online’ state of affairs.

The cyber battle is not really against the companies alone, they are most of the time, directed towards the Malay-led Pakatan Harapan government.

In the case of the MAS, the online post asked what has happened to the Malay leadership at MAS for them to allow such an ad to appear in the in-flight magazine.

“Were they coerced by hidden powers to publish the ad?” asked Mohd Ridzuan, the person who reportedly posted the missive against MAS.

As we can see, everything is now about anti-Muslim conspiracies or some agendas against the Malay-Muslims in the country and even an attempt to ‘Christianize’ the nation.

The opposition Umno, Islamist PAS and the remnants of the Barisan Nasional are not strangers to the ‘conspiracy’ theories. They are not doing anything — and why should they — to dampen the threads with regard to attempts at subverting the powers of ‘Islam’ in the country.

To those who are not living in Malaysia, this indicates a rise extremism in the country. Many are of the belief that Malaysia is turning into an extreme Muslim nation where the majority Muslim population is easily offended by a few viral videos and posting on social media.

This is not the case. A stroll in Kuala Lumpur or a drive around the cities surrounding the ancient capital city will give the impression of the usual in the country, that is peaceful cohabitation.

As usual, on Mondays or late Sundays, the clinics would be full of people playing sick and wanting a medical certificate in order to get an official day-off.

The shopping centers are filled with strangers on weekends, and at times, on weekdays showing that everything is normal under the new PH regime. It also shows that new Malaysia is not that bad.

But the effect of the animosity and criminality that one perceives on social media is not seen in public, where people of all faiths and races are seen dining together, going to work from the same overcrowded buses and trains or helping each other in the brightly lit offices.

Overall, the country did well in the aftermath of the Mariamman temple issue. In reality, the population respected (in general) the passing of the fireman, and he is remembered with dignity in public.

There is no extremism in most of Malaysia’s social media networks. It is only the work of a few who want their 15 minutes of fame at the expense of their own country’s respectability, says an observer to The Independent.

It is the lack of sensitive feelings among the people who are posting the so-called viral messages attacking either the government or the leaders and taking some issues in their own hands that must end, said the observer.

Perhaps the PH government could give a new breath to the MCMC. Not to bring it back to its ‘Gestapo’ days, but to give it enough teeth to start teaching the online sensation-seekers how to deal with the issue they are sensationalizing.

In the case of the MAS advertisement, one man decided it was an offense, but it is the words used in the attack on the national airline that was really disturbing.

He said, among others, that there are so many other ‘meats’ but why did MAS promote pork or in Malay ‘daging babi’?

Well, his comments would have been well taken if there were no agency that could take action to ‘protect’ the sensitiveness of Muslims in the country.

There were other means the people could use to channel their concerns and anger against such situations in Malaysia. Approaching MAS directly and getting a response from them before posting the message on social media would have been a great job done by a concerned ‘Netizen’.

To sensationalize everything is not the way to go, says many. And people of Muslim faith are not really fighting MAS and other national brands for ‘selling’ or serving alcohol, which is as ‘haram’ or illicit to consume in Islam as pork.

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