The Bull In The China Shop

According to the Star, the Home Minister, YB Hishammuddin defended his role in the cow head affair “through text messages,” i.e. short bursts. The Home Minister’s choice of media seems as sensitive as telling your spouse she’s divorced by sending her phone messages. The choice of this media leads one to expect bull-headed messages.

Here are my thoughts on his five key messages.

(1) He met the protesters in order to gain political mileage.
The Minister said the miscreants’ grievance was against the state government. A text box quoted him: “They were looking for a win-win situation so how could I refuse them?” This is blatant politics of patronage; the Minister talked to them because they wanted him to be their patron; patronage is what politics is about. The Minister cares nothing about the fact that there are local elected representatives, community leaders, etc. who are better placed to deal with such matters. The Minister-patron wants to slay the (duly elected) opposition.

(2) He met them because they said they were not the ones who brought the cow’s head to the protest.
The Home Minister – to whom the police report – is saying he is so naive that he accepts what miscreants say, without verifying the facts! Did he not have the wit to have trusted aides talk to the miscreants first? What was the hurry? See point # 1.

(3) People are upset because they think he implied it is ok for the miscreants to brandish cow heads because others have used pig heads before.
This is a straw man, stating a fictitious reason for our grief. Our reason for being upset is this: the Minister made a gross, negative comparison. Since he claims he met with people who said they did not bring the cow’s head, why did he not bring up positive comparisons, e.g. the bridges between communities the Prime Minister spoke of on 31st August? See point # 1.

(4) He raised the pig’s head incident because Malay Muslims are questioning why there has been no action.
The Minister is blatantly saying, especially to our Malay neighbours, that he raised the pig head incident to send the message: “we didn’t take action on the pig head cases, so we’re not going to take action on this cow head case.” Remember, the Minister said earlier that he did not think there was any need to take legal action against the miscreants. Also, why refer to “Malay Muslims”? Does the Minister only represent them? See point # 1.

(5) He did not instruct the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to ask Malaysiakini to remove videos of the protest and of his response from their website.
This is another straw man, answering an “allegation” we are not making. The question the public is asking is “would the Minister like for Malaysiakini to remove the video of his response? Why suppress a video of himself? See point # 1.

The Minister insists on being a bull in a China shop and being proud of it. Each of his messages breaks something, because all his messages are built upon a foundation of communal politics and patronage. He does not come across as someone who thinks of Malaysia as being made up of Malaysians. Rather, he appears to think solely in terms of races and religions.

The bull is happy because he’s broken a lot of China and is safely out of the shop. We see shattered images in the shreds of broken China he has left behind.

He and his party are not ashamed. I am.

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