16 September, or Malaysia Day, was declared a new public holiday by DS Najib soon after he came to power. It was supposed to be a sign of solidarity with Sabah and Sarawak that the day we supposedly joined as one nation should be commemorated in this way (the 2 states gained independence on different dates, but in Najibite politics, who cares?!). It turned out to be a popular move, but till today this blogger wonders if this was more because we Malaysians got a new public holiday rather than what it was supposed to commemorate!
This year, a section of our community has decided to redefine Malaysia Day as a day to celebrate Malay Unity, Solidarity, Dignity, Power, ... all sorts of things Malay! I understood originally it was an idea of some Silat groups to do some sort of gathering partly in response to the Bersih 4.0 rally on Merdeka eve, with red being their preferred colour. However, the 'RED-shirt' movement was soon hijacked by elements of UMNO, led by Dato' Jamal Yunos, Head of UMNO Sungai Besar Division in Selangor and famous for his Sekinchan Ikan Bakar chain!
Since then, the 'red-shirt' movement has evolved into new heights of confusion. It is understood that the police have forbidden the 'red-march' from taking place, especially with its rather provocative plans to march from Low Yatt Mall at Bukit Bintang, recently a scene of racial tensions and typically dense with foreign tourists! However, the original silat groups involved are claiming that they were not planning any marches, but just gathering at Padang Merbok and performing activities there!
At the same time, adding to the confusion as is the norm of late, according to DS Najib, whilst UMNO's leadership is not supporting it, it has no objections to UMNO members joining it! So, I suppose UMNO's leadership is agreeing with the police... but they just don't mind if their members join the 'red-march'! The UMNO President's opinion on this may change though if rumours of #UndurNajib red-shirts being distributed like hot-cakes for the 16 September march rings true! And what if Tun Dr M decides he wants to join the reds at Padang Merbok?
Of course, RED is not your only option if you want to make a fashion statement on 16 September. Last week, a new group emerged, protesting against continued demos happening in KL, citing the negative impact to hawkers, small businesses, daily affairs of city-folk and the national image. They are now calling for ALL MALAYSIANS to wear BLACK on the 15th & 16th September in protest of these demos, especially the reds! It was interesting to note that this group is also led by Malay grassroots leaders from their own NGOs!
Not to be outdone, this blogger has seen yet another social media message doing the rounds citing a man with a family concerned about the state of the nation and his future descendents, wanting people to wear WHITE on 16th September! In the meantime, someone from among the Silat groups planning to gather at Padang Merbok is now claiming there is no colour code! i.e. they will be multi-coloured in their gathering!
Ironically, with the Haze, besides the risk from breathing, one should be worried about visibility when going around the city. And any Health and Safety professional worth their salt will inform you that the safest colour to wear in situations of poor visibility is... YELLOW! So will we see safety conscious Malaysians wearing yellow as well in the Haze if it persists to 16 September? Of course, 'safety' in wearing yellow on the day may be relative...
So, we appear to have choice in what we can wear in KL on Malaysia day... Red if you wish to champion or celebrate Malays or if you support #UndurNajib (arguably the same thing!), Black if you wish to protest against demos, with a bonus that you can start wearing black on the 15th, White if you are worried about your kids' future, Yellow if you wish to be safe... or unsafe... depending on where you think the danger may be coming from, or just wear anything you like even if you wish to join the gathering at Padang Merbok!
Much as we would like all this colour to mingle, or not, in good fun on 16 September, one fears the propect of Dato' Jamal's reds and the #UndurNajib reds actually clashing on on the day, bringing to life the 'Melayu bunuh Melayu' fears of ANY Malay community leader, turning the city streets red... with blood! At the same time, if the reds descending on 16 September are a nasty lot, maybe we should wish the Haze on them... not so they would choke to death... just so they get lost in it with screams turning into fits of coughing!
As an aside, science-fiction fans would be particularly alarmed by the presence of so many red shirts, knowing the fate that befalls most of these characters!
Either way, DS Najib's apparent indifference, bordering on subtle support to the reds on 16 September have the hallmarks of another failure of leadership; with the risk of the day turning from a day of commemoration raised by him as a public holiday signifying national unity, into a potential black date on our history much like 13 May! And even if it does turn to bloodshed, will the man finally realise that it is well past time for him to resign? ... one despairs...