By Tay Tian Yan
I don’t care whether Namewee’s latest video “Oh My God” has been an insult to Islam or other religions, and I am in no position to judge anyway.
I’m actually more amused by his subsequent defence which is more entertaining than the controversial video itself. It is a challenge to common sense, if not being intimidating.
In the video, four people are seen dressed in four different garbs: a robe-clad monk, a Taoist priest, a Jesus-lookalike holding a cross, and a Muslim in an Arab costume.
Namewee defended the four of them playing poker around the table, arguing the game could not constitute gambling as there’s no money on the table. They shot with guns, but he said those were only water guns bought from a roadside stall.
Dancing in a mosque? He argued they not only danced in a mosque, but did the same in a Chinese temple and church.
That reminds me of the argument by Alvin Tan, the controversial sex blogger, who said that the “bak kut teh” in the photo posted on Facebook, could be made of chicken or mutton, not necessarily pork, and that it must not be assumed as having the ill-intention of belittling the Islamic faith during the holy fasting month.
Namewee even explained that the video was meant to promote religious harmony and the merit of benevolence.
Really? Poker, guns and all sorts of ungodly actions… Little wonder Ali Tinju called his “butt exercise” in front of former Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevasan’s house an initiative to promote social harmony.
I guess Namewee’s spiritual world is very much different from that of any other sound-minded person.
He said he was trying to introduce some comic effects into the video but I’m sorry to say I can hardly appreciate his sense of humour.
I don’t think the majority of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Taoists will appreciate his effort, either. Looks like his kind gesture of “promoting religious harmony” has backfired.
Believe me, I’m not trying to censure this young man who has spent much of his time in monocultural Taiwan, which probably explains his lack of sensitivity towards religion and race. Moreover, that is a highly liberal society where all kinds of weird and deviant manners have become the norm.
And to promote himself in showbiz, Namewee needs to go the extra mile to draw some attention.
But these should not be reason enough to excuse his ill taste.
Every society has its own sets of rules, and oftentimes we need to curb our freedom for the sake of the common interests of the larger society.
While in some societies religious and cultural differences do not constitute a major taboo, in Malaysia some degree of self-restraint could generate an additional dose of peace and harmony.
Some insist they have the freedom to express themselves, but if we hold fast to this freedom, we will inevitably step into other people’s territories, triggering unnecessary backlash.
This is especially true of the majority of Muslims to whom the Islamic faith is an absolute priority, even more important than their mortal lives. If we were to intentionally put our fingers into this sensitive zone and then claim it’s only for that humorous touch and seriously no offence meant, will the audience really appreciate this brand of humour?
In the past, political parties stepped in to dispel the controversies over Namewee’s mischievous rendition of the national anthem and other vulgar outbursts out of sympathy.
But, he keeps repeating the offence. If we don’t remind him that this is now your own problem, then we are just telling him that it is alright to swear and poke fun at other people’s religions and ethnicities.
He always has his own imaginative ways of explaining, but perhaps he should ask himself whether he should spare a little more thought for other people’s feelings, try to learn and respect the unique social fabric of Malaysia and stop making a fool of himself again.
Tay Tian Yan writes for Sin Chew Daily
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