Seeing white

The Dragon Year is finally here. Most of the people I know have been busy going to open houses and visiting relatives and friends. We’ve all been wishing one another the best of luck, for a prosperous and fruitful dragon year ahead. And of course, we’ve all been enjoying the time off to celebrate this festive season.

Also celebrating this festive season with us is Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali. He made headlines (again) when he handed out ang pows in white packets instead of the traditional red, or the more modern colour of yellow. Even MCA and Gerakan politicians have come out to say that he should apologise for what he did.

Perkasa has issued a statement saying that they only handed out white packets when they ran out of red ones. But as so many others have noted, Ibrahim Ali is no newbie to Malaysian politics, and nor was he born a Malaysian just yesterday. It is hardly possible for someone of his political experience to not know such a basic Chinese taboo.

With the internet as it is today, many less ignorant people have posted to “educate” him and others as ignorant about the meanings of the different colours, and what they signify to the Chinese tradition. By now, most would know that red and yellow are prosperous colours, and white is typically used during funerals.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has stood out to say that whatever Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali has done is none of his business, and has nothing to do with Barisan Nasional. There has hardly been any report claiming to tie the two together though, and one can only reason that Najib is feeling the heat from this incident regardless of whether Perkasa is related to Umno or not.

However, I don’t agree with the few who left Facebook messages for Najib to “take action” against Ibrahim Ali. Admittedly, what Ibrahim Ali had done can be considered very disrespectful to the Chinese, and just goes to show how little he actually knows about the traditions of his own fellow countrymen despite their presence in this country for so many generations. But it is hardly something that requires the government to be involved.

In my opinion, whatever Ibrahim Ali does from now onwards will hardly help to improve his reputation with the Chinese. Even if he apologises, there really isn’t going to much difference. Especially now since so much has been said about this incident already, an apology that comes now will only show that he is insincere about it. If he was indeed innocently ignorant, he should have come out with an apology right from the moment he found out about his blunder. Late apologies mean next to nothing.

But to issue an apology now will also put things right again. It will be proof to the people that he really knows his mistake, and that it won’t be repeated. It won’t mean that all is forgiven and forgotten, but it’s a step in the right direction.

This really isn’t the best way to start the new year. Not for Ibrahim Ali, and not for us who are so hung up on what this politician does. If he does issue an apology, and soon, then we accept his apology, and move on with making our lives work for us. If he doesn’t apologise, we accept that he will remain this ignorant, and simply remember this when it comes the time to put our pencils on paper to mark the “X”.

It’s the new year. Let’s not waste time on politicians who don’t know what they’re doing. We should know better.

2 Comments on “Seeing white”

  1. walski69 says:

    I see it as a public relations stunt that went stupidly wrong, out of Perkasa’s total ignorance and how oblivious they are to any culture outside of their own. Whether or not they choose to apologize is up to them. Frankly, the less we dwell on this bunch of folks the better; there are more important things to worry about… 🙂

    Oh, and a very Happy New Year to you, by the way. I hope that the year of the Dragon brings you much success and happiness!

  2. Dylan says:

    “Seeing white « I Am Malaysian” seriously makes me think a little bit more.
    I personally appreciated every particular element of this post.
    Thanks ,Kasha

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