Malaysia: The Low Yat Plaza Incident is the Hand Maiden of Racists

July 14, 2015

COMMENT: The Najib Administration must not  be dismissive of  this incident. His divide and rule politics of religious exclusivity and racial differentiation has come to roost and is now beginning to threaten communal harmony  and political stability with attendant effects on an already difficult economy.

There is so much anger and frustration in Malaysia that the situation can flare up at the slightest provocation. Pekida and other UMNO-sponsored Malay right-wing elements, the Chinese triads and Indian terror groups  can pounce into action to create chaos.

Kee Calm Eat Kangkung

The Prime Minister must cease playing survival politics and get down to the serious business of governance. Otherwise, like William Shakespeare’s Richard The Third ( Act 5, scene 4, 7–10) he can be expected to be trading his besieged  kingdom for a horse. –Din Merican

Malaysia: The Low Yat Plaza Incident is the Hand Maiden of Racists

by Boo Su-Lyn
Low Yat Plaza  V2

The Low Yat Plaza riot which injured five people was scary with its disturbing racial overtones, and we don’t do Malaysia any favours by pretending that the whole incident had nothing to do with racism.

The original incident seemed simple enough. A Malay man allegedly stole a smart phone from a Chinese trader at a shop in Low Yat Saturday. He was caught and handed over to the Police. Then the upset man brought a group of friends over who allegedly assaulted the workers from the mobile phone outlet and damaged the store, causing about RM70,000 in losses.

The story then took a strange racist twist, with rumours suddenly popping up on social media about how the “cheating” Chinese had tried to sell a counterfeit phone to the Malay man. The Police, by the way, have reportedly dismissed claims about the counterfeit phone.

A riot broke out at Low Yat the following day, with disturbing videos of the violent Malay mob attacking a car with passengers cowering inside, as well as three journalists from the Chinese press.

The shoplifting was not unusual and had nothing to do with race, certainly. But the subsequent fallout was motivated by racism, with all the belligerent calls on social media to #BoikotCinaPenipu and to boycott Low Yat. There were hostile calls for Malay unity and vague threats of assault, with a photo of a gunman and the words “Call of Duty Low Yat” on Facebook.

Low Yat Plaza violence

There were even calls for arson. Malays were painted as victims, oppressed by the Chinese. At the mob gathering on Sunday night, a Malay man is seen in a video making a racist speech about how Malaysia is “bumi Melayu” and how the Chinese humiliated the Malays.

Police, politicians and the public have been quick to say that the Low Yat incident was not about racism, but just a simple case of theft. Wake up and smell the coffee — the Low Yat riot was racially motivated and it shows how ugly things can get when the economy is bad.

For all our campaigns about “moderation”, the truth is, racism exists in this country and we can’t ignore it. People look for scapegoats when the economy is in the doldrums. The Jews were made a scapegoat for Germany’s economic problems after World War I.

It is easier to blame a person from another ethnic group living near you, who is sitting in the same LRT and eating at the same fast food restaurant in which most of the counter staff appear to be Malays, for robbing you of opportunities in life.


It is  easier to get angry at news of someone from another race ripping off your fellow brethren over something tangible like a phone, than at the purportedly missing billions in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.

After all, you don’t know exactly how many of those billions come from your taxes. And you don’t see physical cash from your taxes being diverted into someone’s personal bank account.

It’s easier to hit a fellow Malaysian of a different skin colour over perceived injustices, compared to trying to slap the Prime Minister who’s protected by bodyguards and whom you only see in the news, not on the streets.

The government too should be blamed for allowing, and even encouraging, circumstances for a riot to happen. The race-baiting in Utusan Malaysia, the refrain for Malay unity, and Friday sermons that repeatedly label minority groups as “the enemy” have all contributed to this powder keg of racial tension.

A minister who brazenly called for Chinese traders to be boycotted should have been sacked. But instead, he remains in government. The ethnic conflict between the Malays and Chinese is driven by the perception that the Chinese are significantly wealthier. It’s unclear how much of that is really true.

A Khazanah Research Institute study shows that 26 per cent of Bumiputera households earn less than RM2,000 per month, compared to 20 per cent and 14 per cent of Indian and Chinese households respectively. So it is arguable if the Chinese really do dominate the economy.

Racism is not just caused by politicians who use the race card to get support. There are things that do not make it in the news – the wariness of the Malays at eating or drinking at Chinese coffee shops, the unnatural fear of pork to the extent of shunning Chinese ice-cream sellers, the undercurrent of complaints against the Chinese for stealing the country’s wealth and for trampling on the rights of the Malays.

There’s breeding resentment on both sides. The Chinese complain about not getting equal treatment and having to work twice as hard to get the same opportunities as the Malays, who receive coveted positions at public universities, housing discounts etc. They look down on the Malays and perceive them as “lazy”.

When a Malay is hardworking and does make it to the top, they say she’s an exception, not the rule. This makes for uncomfortable reading. But we need to confront racism head on.

We need to acknowledge that we hold racial stereotypes and that such stereotypes comfort us. They make us feel good about ourselves. They make us feel superior. We can laugh at racist jokes but we secretly place our colleagues, acquaintances, civil servants, and traders into racial stereotypes that they happen to fit in.

I myself am guilty of doing it. I compare the Chinese and Malay nasi lemak sellers at the wet market that I regularly go to. The Chinese nasi lemak seller is fast and efficient, but she’s very careful with her portions, always measuring them so she does not give too much.

The Malay trader’s nasi lemak is tastier and he lets customers dole out their own portions, charging a far cheaper price too. But he arrives at a later time than the Chinese, which means fewer customers, and he’s slow.

So I secretly think that the Chinese is a better businesswoman, even though I prefer buying from the Malay nasi lemak seller (when he arrives early enough).And I allow myself to take comfort in the (dangerous) belief that yes, the Malays may get everything handed to them on a silver platter, but we Chinese can still beat them because we’re better, smarter and faster than them.

I feel uncomfortable admitting this in writing. But I must, just like all of us must similarly admit the racial stereotypes we hold if we want Malaysia to move forward. We will never eradicate racism by burying our heads in the sand and pretending that it does not exist.

We need to perhaps befriend more people of other races. Maybe even get into interracial relationships and have babies of mixed ethnicity. Then maybe, just maybe, Malaysia will be a little less racist.

21 thoughts on “Malaysia: The Low Yat Plaza Incident is the Hand Maiden of Racists

  1. Quotes from the late historian Howard Zinn:

    “Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy…crippling our willingness to act.”

    “There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment we will continue to see ……. eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies…the quick collapse of systems of power that seemed invincible…good things that happen (that) are unexpected, and yet explainable by certain truths: Political power, however formidable, is more fragile than we think (note how nervous are those who hold it)…ordinary people can be intimidated (or) fooled for a time (but) sooner or later they find a way to challenge the power that oppresses them…people are not naturally violent or cruel or greedy, although they can be made so… revolutionary change (moves) zig-zag towards a more decent society… small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

    “The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

  2. Din, there is one very glaring tell-tale sign in this incident. Within the first 12-hours, how many BN/UMNO leaders (and who) came out to pacify the public? Did the Prime Minister utter anything? I believe there was silence from these people. We read about the IGP (for once he is doing his job), PAS, DAP, PKR, civic groups, caring netizens all coming out to with positive comments. But there was SILENCE from the party and the leader who rule the country

    I suspect if it one started tracing how Pekida ended up sending 200 members to Low Yat Plaza and all the inflammatory postings it would lead to one particular place.

    As someone said in the websphere, very, very few people will benefit from this incident in light of stuff like 1MDB and the bank accounts saga.

    It is a very scary thought.

  3. Perhaps these perpetrators to look at what happened in India……They should a very close look and compared with what happened in Malaysia…….Only then they will really understand

    And Hndraf protest

  4. Even Mahathir has called the Malays lazy and cried at one UMNO General Assembly.
    Almost all banks are owed by Malays. So are the Highways, Rice, Sugar, Bus , Airport, Sea Port, Car Inspection and the civil service, police and army.
    The Chinese make do with what is left and they are smart and damn hardworking.
    Now why are there Malays jealous of the Chinese for taking away their opportunities?
    If they are still poor blame UMNO elites for stealing what is due to them. Nota single Malay group had protested on the Cow gate, IMDB, MARAgate and Tabung Haji gate.
    Perhaps its ok for Malays to steal in millions but blame the Chinese for warking hard to make a living.
    Are the Malays lazy? Mahathir has answered that question.

  5. Read our beloved PM’s comments that the Low Yat incident wasn’t connected to racism. Yes, the first cause wasn’t… I do agree. But the aftermath? Look at the car being trampled on and its occupants being pulled out and whacked…How was this incident related to the first cause? Would the attackers would do it if the car (and occupants) belonged to their own kind? Can our PM explain in what circumstance would a racist violence start? Inside the bedroom?

  6. Don’t kid yourself, racism is deep rooted, and as this incidence showed, only requires a little spark, to boil over into a serious racial clash. Playing with this racial and religious card keeps them in power and wealth,regardless of what happens to the country. We live our lives day to day in fear of what may happen next…an unexpected road accident involving two different races may trigger another unpleasant episode. I do not foresee a solution in the near future, until a change in the ruling body.

  7. “I feel uncomfortable admitting this in writing. But I must, just like all of us must similarly admit the racial stereotypes we hold if we want Malaysia to move forward. ”

    Yeah speak for yourself.

    What you described preceding this was not a “racial stereotype” but underlying racist tendencies justified in the minds of some (many ?) because of Systemic dysfunction which has nothing really to do with the average Malay who suffers far more under this Regime than the “Other” races (sic).

    This same kind of thinking is prevalent in the private sector and each community – oh hell, why not just say Chinese and Malay – retreats into their own preoccupations and neuroses harbouring grudges and slights, which is reflected in their politics.

    “We need to perhaps befriend more people of other races. Maybe even get into interracial relationships and have babies of mixed ethnicity. Then maybe, just maybe, Malaysia will be a little less racist.”

    You really should feel uncomfortable writing this . What a howler. I bet your friendships are restricted mostly to people from the same ethnic and perhaps religious group and social class, right ?

    You do get that Islam is a barrier when into comes to marriage in this country, right?

    The “other” races have been getting it on for some time, but it really hasn’t made Malaysia any less racist . Racism amongst the “Other” communities is just as overt but less commented upon, than the State mandated racial policies.

    Oh, there’s a conversation to be had but until political alliances are not formed with racial suicide pacts or marriages of Religious and Political convenience, perhaps it’s better not to whine about the politics and instead reflect on one owns attitude towards, race and privilege in this country.

    Lastly, the punditry on the Low Yatt incident has been appalling.

  8. Was it all planned? I am thinking aloud.
    How about this scenario.
    1.A puppet master gathers a group of good-for-nothing Malay boys. They are told how to spark the first which will flare into a conflagration.
    2.(The speark) Two members of the group are told to steal a phone from a Chinese shop. Another member of the group who is under cover near the store watches the theft . As planned the thief is caught. The under cover agent then phones the group-in-waiting to quickly come and carry out their job. (How could one explain the speed with which the group reached the scene. Surely they would have needed time to gather their friends. But they reached the scene at lightning speed). This is only half the group (GROUP A). The other half (GROUP B) is still waiting for the green light.
    3. GROUP B is summoned to join the GROUP A and cause the mayhem on all Chinese owned properties regardless they are in the store or on the road.
    4. Some scapegoats are arrested and lawyer is on standby to give them free service.
    5. The satisfied puppet master pays the actors and phones his boss that the job is done so that he can get a reprieve from the onslaught from 1MDB critics.
    When Malays attack only the Chinese, isn’t that called racist attack.
    If this isn’t a racist attack, how many Indians and Malays were injured?
    Immediately the police say it is a simple case of theft and not a racial attack.
    A horse is a horse even if the police calls it a zebra.

  9. edit* : “I bet your friendships are restricted mostly to people from the same ethnic and perhaps religious group and social class, right ? ”

    I bet your friendships are restricted mostly to people from the same ethnic and perhaps religious/atheists group and social class, right ?

    *Having read some of the author’s other pieces.

  10. Pekida does not represent the Malays but the fact is there are “connected tissue” between Pekida and most Malays..What they are may not be representatives of Malays but they a race that allows them to be so prominent part, even embraced by some of their top leaders in government they elect, speaks volume of the irresponsibility and failure of citizentry of the Malay race and hence characterises them and in danger of being defined by them..

    Like it or not the Malays have a problem and Pekida is their problem..

  11. “Having read some of the author’s other pieces.”

    Give the SYT a break-la, Conrad. I wonder whether she still carries that iphone 4s?
    These Gen Y and Millennials are a product of their environment, as we were of ours. She was just trying too hard to be in a dilemma.. Sisyphean journalism.

    This LYP FUBAR is simply thuggery with racist overtones and political undertones. The funny thing is that a vast majority of e-products in LYP are sold to Malay youths, who are given free vouchers, cash and so on. Some of them use to surf free porn, which is why they have to replace it every month or so? If LYP closes, imagine where these lepak-kings will be up to..? They certainly won’t be in suraus nor mosques.

  12. Katasayang,
    One good example is Richard Nixon. But then again, I can close one eye if Richard Nixon were PM of Malaysia but definitely not Najib Razak, slimy crook . By the way, Hun Sen is not really clean

  13. What have been on display and described truthfully by Boo Su-lyn, here, is directly the consequence of ”Ketuanan Melayu ” attitude which must be discarded and replaced by ” Ketuanan Malaysian”, regardless of race ,religion, political affiliations or beliefs, or otherwise.

    The leaders , starting with PM Najib, should emphatically, declare and act on it repeatedly, privately and publicly, and more meaningfully and effectively, on the coming Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day.

  14. Pingback: Cinta kenapa begini? | penamenarilagi

  15. For decades some blood thirsty Malay/Muslim criminals are looking at every opportunity to cause riots.

    With decades of politically motivated bullying, threat and intimidation, the Chinese community is still the most peaceful and productive community in the country.

    With these Malay/Muslim criminals out to cause trouble at all cost, with extreme hatred and evil in their hearts, no one is safe……..they are probably tolerated, encouraged or supported by some faceless men.

  16. What happened recently at Low Yat is indeed sad, very sad. But the fact is, most Malaysians of all races want to live in peace with one another. This problem I believe is caused by a minority of Malaysians who have been brain-washed by selfish & racist politicians for their own personal gains.
    I would like to ask these angry Malaysians who are unhappy with the Chinese, ‘What is it you are unhappy with? What would you like to see us change? How could we make you happy? What could we do to make all Malaysians live together in peace & harmony?’ I would be very happy to share your feed-back to build a great peaceful & progressive Malaysia. Will you help me to?

  17. How much we want to uphold peace and harmony will be shattered if the kangkung Ministers keep on using the spasm words on other minority groups whenever needed for scapegoat. Attitude of blaming Cina tu dan nie….definitely input hatred mindset to the brainless and weakling youngster are easily motivate by the master cunning politician for bailing out jobs. Government of the day are moving us to destruction.. So who to be blame.. ..for creating racism issue.. .

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