Life changes, quickly these days, and things are so very different than they were just a few short years ago.
Life in the early 21st century is notable for a number of aspects. People talking on or messaging one another on cell phones. Ipods zombies drifting through the streets, oblivious to all around them. Laptops and wi-fi seemingly everywhere.
And here’s another constant reminder of how life has changed—publicly posted anti terrorism messages. One cannot watch television, travel on public transportation, or traverse public spaces in cities as diverse and separate from each other like London, New York, Sydney or Singapore without seeing conspicuous reminders to watch out for public enemy number one. All such announcements constantly exhort the same message. "Report anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. Report unattended parcels to the authorities." It’s a somber, ubiquitous reminder of the times that we live in.
But there are some places where ignorance is seemingly preferred. And Malaysia is one of those places. What do I mean?
Well, walk through the streets of Kuala Lumpur (KL), or any other Malaysian city. Mingle with the tourists, many of them Arabic or Pakistani, in the downtown core of KL. Ride the trains and the busses. Watch the local TV channels. How many anti-terrorism messages will you see or hear?
Zero. Zip. None.
You won’t find any anti-terrorism awareness programs for the masses in Malaysia. Not in English, Chinese, Malay or any other language. A very curious silence, indeed.
Not one Malaysian is officially ready to even consider the possibility that terrorists may strike here. It’s a nationwide case of denial and an entire nation essentially sticking their collective heads in the sand. “It can’t happen here, it won’t happen to us.” Group think and cognitive dissonance on a mind-bending scale. No, I’m not making this up.
When I ask Malaysians about the possibility of terrorism on their own soil, they usually shrink back and look at me aghast. They are horrified at me for even daring to think such things, let alone say it out loud. The answers often run along the lines of “Malaysia is peaceful,” “Malaysia has no enemies”, and so on. All these notions are fanciful in the extreme, for anyone who knows the true, savage, and bloodthirsty nature of our enemies.
Now, why this total lack of anti-terrorism information in the Malaysian public sphere? Well, I have a theory about that.
For the Malaysian government, it is far better to pretend that Islamic terror doesn’t exist. And why? Well. too many Malaysians—quite likely the majority of the population—and including major decision-makers in the government, are only too willing to continue believing that “Islamic terror” is actually one or more of the following:
This is why anti-terrorism as a message is so dangerous, as in politically destabilizing, to Malaysia. No one must be allowed to think about terrorism too deeply, and why terrorism is almost exclusively a Muslim enterprise nowadays.
It’s a sad fact, that most of the victims of the Muslim Jihad to date have been other Muslims. Either as ‘collateral damage’, or as the intended victims.
So it’s not a matter of ‘if’ the Jihadists will attack Malaysia. It is only a question of when.