It all started with a one-minute video that surfaced on Nov 19.
In it, a man later identified as Mohamad Edi Mohamad Riyars (aka Edi Rejang) was berating a beer promoter at a hypermarket in Ampang Point.
He ridiculed her for giving out beer samples, mocked her for not speaking Bahasa Malaysia, used the term “ini Bumi Melayu” before signing off with his middle finger and a few “choice” words.
The young promoter kept her cool throughout and was overheard saying “You’re hilarious” at the end of the video.
But many others stressed it was no laughing matter.
Edi Rejang got “terajang” (slammed) for his behaviour as sympathies came pouring in for the victim.
Unlike other hypermarkets, alcohol at Giant in Ampang Point is sold along the walkway just after the row of cashiers. Thus a promoter seen with beer in her hand would be deemed as “offensive” to some.
I’m sure Hindus feel the same each time they see beef presented in the open – whether raw meat or served in the cafeterias of government buildings and public food courts.
There are those who have argued the operator should push the non-halal section to the back of the store. Perhaps.
The fact Edi uttered such remarks showed his true inner feelings about alcohol and indirectly about a fellow Malaysian. Such sentiment is real. It is scary.
As much as we want to camouflage it with slogans and harp about unity during festive seasons or Merdeka Day, the fact remains there will always be those who view each other through racial lenses.
We still hear about going to a doctor or lawyer of the same race to get “discounts” or better service, or relatives cringing when they find out someone within the family is marrying one of a different ethnicity.
But it’s a global thing – racism happens in every part of the world, not just Malaysia. It is a disease often fuelled and manipulated by politicians who believe in “divide and rule”.
Racism is even seen in sports when it is supposed to be colour blind. Equality organisation Kick It Out recently revealed an average of 54 per cent of respondents (nearly 27,000 supporters from 38 nations) said they had witnessed racial abuse in football, with Peruvian fans reporting the highest incidence at 77 per cent.
The uproar against Edi was only natural but it eventually bordered on cyber bullying as some exposed his work place and the picture of his daughter who studies in a vernacular school. He has apparently been sacked.
Edi met Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng and apologised to the promoter through a short video clip uploaded on social media. He insisted he is not racist as his child studies in a Chinese-medium school and the outburst was due to him being “tired from work”.
“I became too emotional. I sincerely apologise to the woman (promoter),” he said in a video posted on Lim’s Facebook page.
DAP lawyers are expected to accompany Edi to the Ampang Jaya police station today.
The incident also exposed the hypocrites – those who say no to alcohol but find it okay to belittle women and children, to treat them as sex objects. Those who play God by judging others despite not knowing or truly understanding what religion is all about.
There was a silver lining following this fiasco.
The support the young promoter received was overwhelming. Malaysians – young and old of all creeds –credited her cool and calm reaction. Many in her shoes would have flipped and the incident could have got uglier.
Some even said the views of Edi did not represent that of the majority. It showed Malaysians respecting each other.
This should trickle down to our young ones – that we should respect a fellow human being and penalise those who hurt others.
Edi’s faith or race has nothing to do with the incident. It is the action of the man himself and he has since apologised. Sincere or not, we have to learn from this lesson and move forward.
The best outcome of the incident had to be this Facebook posting by Harveynder Singh Tyndall:
Cheers to that, Harveynder – and to all Malaysians who believe in respecting each other and common sense.