Tem­ple row: No lives lost

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

MALAYSIANS, what­ever their re­li­gious or eth­nic back­grounds, are grate­ful that no lives were lost in the fra­cas that erupted at the Sri Maha Mari­amman tem­ple in USJ 25 in Subang Jaya on Nov 26.

How­ever, a fire­fighter, de­ployed to at­tend to ve­hi­cles set on fire near the tem­ple, was at­tacked by a fren­zied mob and sus­tained life-threat­en­ing in­juries. Muham­mad Adib Mohd Kas­sim has been hos­pi­talised and is now re­ported to be in a stable con­di­tion. We pray for his com­plete re­cov­ery.

It is also sig­nif­i­cant that Malaysians are unan­i­mous in main­tain­ing that the tem­ple fra­cas had noth­ing to do with re­li­gious or eth­nic is­sues though it has cre­ated some un­easi­ness within the com­mu­nity.

It ap­pears that the tem­ple’s re­lo­ca­tion, which is an is­sue that has been fes­ter­ing for a while, is the un­der­ly­ing cause for the dis­tur­bance. An am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion which re­spects the in­tegrity of a house of wor­ship will have to be found through me­di­a­tion and ne­go­ti­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble.

The im­me­di­ate and ur­gent task be­fore the au­thor­i­ties is to con­duct a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent. They should not only pun­ish the cul­prits but also de­ter­mine who were the mas­ter­minds.

The ma­nip­u­la­tors of the fra­cas should be dealt with se­verely in ac­cor­dance with the law. Prime Min­is­ter Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad has given this as­sur­ance to Malaysians.

The tem­ple fra­cas has also brought to the fore a ten­dency within Malaysian so­ci­ety, which has al­ready ex­pressed it­self a few times be­fore. When­ever an is­sue as­sumes an eth­nic or re­li­gious colouring, so­cial me­dia, more of­ten than not, pro­vides in­ter­pre­ta­tions that are one-sided, bi­ased and prej­u­diced. So­cial me­dia dis­course of this sort ex­ac­er­bates eth­nic ties. It gen­er­ates an­tag­o­nism. It in­ten­si­fies dis­trust be­tween com­mu­ni­ties.

Through in­ter­ac­tion with groups in other so­ci­eties we may de­velop a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of this phe­nom­e­non, which in some ways is a new chal­lenge fac­ing mul­tire­li­gious and multi-eth­nic so­ci­eties in the 21st cen­tury.

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