There two important lessons we must learn from the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple fiasco. The 21st century Malaysia is still a mirror image of its post-colonial self. It is crucial for all Malaysians to study the impact of the temple relocation issue to be fully aware of its cost and tribulation for the country.
First, the level of religious and racial tolerance in Malaysia is at its lowest ebb. It was made worse by racist and extremist politicians who want to continue feeding their supporters with sensitive and senseless race and religious issues to keep them fired up.
As a result, not only the issue was blown out of proportion but it was put on a global microscope for the world to see how senseless, intolerant and uncivilised Malaysians are. These zealots may continue to argue that what happened in Malaysia is not the concern of other outsiders.
They must be reminded that this world is interconnected. If we can criticize the Israel atrocities against the residents of Gaza, we should be able to do the same to protect our own minorities.
We should be able to deplore violence and threats and accept that a proper civilised discourse is a better option to help solve issues which involved different beliefs and races.
This was precisely the option taken by the Selangor state government headed by PKR's Khalid Ibrahim. Khalid's goodwill was instead reciprocated by insults and jeers. These protesters should feel ashamed of themselves for not being able to act reasonably and sensibly to help build a bridge of understanding and mutual respect with the minority Hindus in their area.
Both Khalid Ibrahim and Khalid Samad should be commended for showing a good leadership in managing the issue. The reaction and compassion of both Khalids should be able to help the other non-Malay Muslim Malaysians to understand that the rude behaviour and uncivilised mannerism of a small bunch of protesters do not represent the general attitude and behaviour of all Malay-Muslims.
There is now a real solid reason for many of us to believe that those involved in the 'cow head' demonstration were UMNO members or supporters. They were quick to get a personal attention from the Minister of Home Affairs Hishammuddin Hussien and other UMNO big guns such as Khir Toyo.
It is so unfortunate that these leaders had consistently defended all wrongdoings committed by various public agencies in the country e.g. the police, the Election Commission, the MACC, the judiciary and others.
Secondly, it is becoming evidently clear that the actions and deeds of these unscrupulous protesters and those politicians who had helped to defend and protect them are doing a great injustice to the good image of the Malays and Islam.
I can only urge all Malaysians to practice restrain in our responses and words and not to be provoked into making unfair and insensitive criticism against the other Malay Muslims.
In the holy month of Ramadhan, I am sure many of our Muslim brothers were equally upset and hurt by the action of these protesters who were too cowardice to step forward and accept responsibility for their senseless action.
Let the Bagan Pinang by-election become a valuable lesson to UMNO. They must lose the by-election to understand that this country wants to move away from the old ethno-religious politics which is senseless, irresponsible, shameless and violent.