COMMENT | MCA publicity chief
Chai Kim Sen made two rather disingenuous statements regarding the
arrest of the teenage bombmaker and his cohorts. The first was
oppositional types should apologise for casting doubts on the
credibility of the state security apparatus on their claims that there
were elements out to violently disrupt the beer festival, and the second
was there were some rights that should be sacrificed in order to
protect other rights and freedoms.
To be honest, I am not really interested in these statements. The
credibility of the state security apparatus has diminished by the words
and actions of people entrusted to safeguard our rights; and while there
are always situations where “sacrificing” certain rights for
utilitarian purposes, this is not one of those situations.
Keep in mind that according to initial investigations this teenage
zealot wanted to teach Malaysia a lesson. Therefore, there is the
question of the lesson he wanted to impart and what Malaysians actually
learnt from his attempted criminal act of religious murder. The great tragedy here is that in a functional democracy, the lesson
he wanted to teach would be dismissed for obvious reasons but here in
Malaysia, the state security apparatus gave him exactly what he wanted.
The extremely important lesson that this teenage bombmaker taught
Malaysians, and especially the state security apparatus, is that terror
works. It did not take a coordinated effort by committed hardened
Islamic State types to disrupt a festival in Malaysia. All it took was a
middle-class teenager with delusions of grandeur and the right people
to “fund” him.
In any other functional democracy, the state security apparatus foils
attempts at terrorism and ensures the safety and security of citizens
going about their daily lives. However, in the case of Malaysia, the
establishment tells us to be grateful to the state security apparatus
for essentially caving in to the demands of Islamists who either protest
violently - like the leader of the red shirts - or plan an attack on
civilians, all in the name of safety and security.
I say “caving in” because this is exactly what happened. What was the objective of this so-called teenage amateur bombmaker? His main goal was to disrupt the event and kill non-Muslims. We know this because initial investigations as reported
in the press reveal he “was motivated by incidents affecting Muslims,
and decided that Malaysia had strayed from its role as a true Islamic
nation”. We also know from initial investigations that he did not have
any contact with any Malaysian or Islamic State militants.
Think about this for a moment. This is made-in-Malaysia Islamic
terrorism. We are not talking about a young man radicalised by foreign
elements about the “plight” of Muslims in foreign countries. This was a
case of a young middle-class teenager who felt that there was something
wrong with the way how Islam was practised in this country and decided
that he had to do something about it.
We already have a high-ranking minister make the claim
that there is a concerted effort by the establishment – and this
includes their non-Muslim coalition partners – to make Malaysia an
Islamic state, but this is not good enough for this middle-class Muslim
teenager. This is not “true” enough for someone who would use violence
and attempt to murder non-Muslims in the name of his faith.
Same religious ideology
Some in the media have called this a “twisted ideology” but how
twisted can this be when what this amateur bomber believes in is exactly
the same kind of religious supremacy that dominates the discourse in
this country? Thomas Koruth Samuel in an article titled ‘The Lure of Youth into
Terrorism’ which you can read at the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for
Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) website, highlighted a certain point which I have often revisited – “Religious institutions, preaching a skewed and misconstrued
interpretation of a religion have the potential to capture the hearts,
minds and imaginations of the young people. In most cases, recruiters
would identify and target the more promising youth and pull them into a
smaller setting where a more comprehensive indoctrination programme
would be undertaken, without arousing the suspicions of the moderate
members in the congregation.
“Coupled with the actual injustices happening all around the world,
these ‘men of God’ clinically exploit the minds and hearts of the youths
into thinking that the only alternative left is that of violence.
Having the advantage of ‘god’ on their side, these youths are
manipulated into believing that they are actually struggling for a noble
and worthy cause, with the assurance of victory.”
I have no idea if this teenager went to a religious school. We know
that his father “was muezzin at the local surau, while his mother is a
housewife”, I wonder if the state security apparatus is concerned that
these types of extremists thrive in an environment where non-Muslims are
constantly reminded of their subservient place in Malaysia and where
establishment politicians routinely demonise other Muslims as deviants
Investigators, while looking at the diagrams of explosive devices by
this teenage bombmaker, were reminded of that other Malaysian bombmaker,
Azahari Husin, so to dismiss this teenager as some sort of religious
kook would be underestimating the level of danger these extremists pose. The important question here is not where this teenager learnt to make
his improvised explosive devices, but rather where he learnt his “true”
Islamic values. Anyone can learn to make a bomb but not everyone who
knows how to make a bomb would use it to kill innocent civilians in the
name of his or her religion. Writing about why Muslim Malaysian youths are radicalised, I made this point, which is as far as I am concerned the main point in this particular discourse – others may have a different view.
“Do not act worried about radical Islamic dogma infecting Malay
youths when the very basis of their identity is wrapped around the
pillars of racial and religious superiority. Do not act surprised that a
dogma that promulgates the meme that every other human being, including
Muslims, is fair game when it comes to achieving Islamic statehood,
though violence is attractive to certain youths when the same ideas
could be discovered in the way how the state carries out its agenda
against Muslims and non-Muslims.”
As far as I am concerned, the opposition does not owe an apology to
the state security apparatus. I think the BN establishment and the state
security apparatus owe Malaysians an apology for giving legitimacy to
this teenage fanatic's lesson.