Bullets Ahoy! Death Threats And What’s Happening In Malaysia

A Member of Parliament recently received two bullets, which is obviously a death threat, not because she ran out of ammunition. What does it mean? Is this normal in Malaysia? As the writer pokes his head around to find out

The news that Seputeh MP Theresa Kok received a death threat in the form of two bullets sent shivers down the spines of Malaysians and its alter ego, the Netizens. Or so I think. But it happened when we Malaysians were, as we have been doing for the last six decades, busy bitching about race and religion; therefore, Kok was spared that unwanted publicity. Plus, there are no elections down the corner either, so she can chill if nobody pays attention to her.

This is not the first time something like this happened to her though. Ten years ago her service centre was splashed with red paint and a chicken carcass was placed at her doorstep, barely two weeks after a coalition of Islamic NGOs offered a reward to anyone who dared to slap her as she was under fire that time for insulting Islam and Malay rulers. Well, she is truly under fire now that they (not necessarily the same group) have upgraded the slaps to bullets.

Bullets From Cowell?

Kok did, though, find support from Teo Nie Ching, Wanita DAP chief, who, for those who were not swept up in the Pakatan furor, is the celebrated vocalist behind the ABC GST song—a rendering that would have persuaded Simon Cowell to send symbolic three bullets himself.

This is not the first time a public figure has been threatened with death in the country. Most are usually threatened with walkouts, loss of support, or boycotts, and there is also less intimidation, like, in the case of politics, tearing down their election campaign posters or writing dumb graffiti. Death threats are mostly recalled during hangovers.

Yet, a “death” threat means a lot for politicians; it is often symbolic as to the intended victim’s importance. It means you are a big deal—big kahuna, head honcho, large pineapple—you get the idea. To politicians, that is a much more preferable headline than leaked sex scandals that “kill” their political career. The latter pronounces “death knell” to their journey to the top. But who am I kidding? Here in Malaysia, sex scandals get you power and position. Hah, take that, Bill Clinton.

Indeed, elsewhere It could mean not only the end of a politician’s public but also his personal life. Threats and scandals could mean tragic events in the lives of these politicians, only to be rewarded during the launch of their biographies.

Death Threats

Alas, I sidetracked. Let’s not forget that Teresa’s death threat is not the numero uno on the list of public figures who received death threats in Malaysia this year. A few months ago, filmmaker Khairi Anwar Jailani received a death threat for his film, Mentega Terbang (flying margarine, yes). Why? The controversy is that the film is said to contain scenes that are “disturbing to Muslims.” Oh, before you pounce on Muslims for being super sensitive, I have already discussed other religions that are equally thin-skinned about stuff that is taboo to them. Chill.

Aside: The threats are scrawled on physical papers, and one even had a hashtag. Yes. A hashtag. Our criminals are a class of their own. End of aside.

Among others, what may have ticked off this future assassin is that the film discusses stuff about Muslims eating pork and comparisons between the teachings on life after death according to different religions. It touched many nerves, but I personally think that the would-be assassin was actually more pissed off by the asininely stupid title, and I don’t care if it’s symbolic.

Speaking of religious sensitivity, we are still baffled by the case of a missing pastor, Raymond Koh. Koh first received a threat in the form of two bullets (just like our Teresa here, and don’t you go and do your CSI-inflected thinking and make connections). Of course, it’s no secret that Koh was not exactly preaching the good words to his kinship alone; among others, he was accused of attempting to proselytize Muslims, which should be on Ripley’s list of unbelievably stupid things you can do in this country.

If you think that only politicians, filmmakers, and zealous priests get dead threats, what about the most obvious targets? Cops? They face death threats every day, as did recently, by Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division head Ayob Khan, who received one through a personal phone call from ISIS militant Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, who, without doubt, has certainly turned to the dark side of the force (here’s a link if you didn’t get that ribbing).

In Thriller & Action Films

But then, police officers receiving death threats is the norm and is the plot device of approximately 26,890 thriller and action films.

Coming back to Kok, who received two bullets with a letter, the Pakatan assemblywoman should be proud that she has finally earned her position to be in the same league as the American presidents, who receive death threats at about the same rate as the annoying group What’s App messages.

She is in the same danger zone as the Pope, who travels in a bulletproof popemobile (in case his boss is too busy elsewhere, like giving AIDS to African kids or helping an American teenage girl with certain augmentation), and on the glamour angle, Teo definitely belongs to the same stage as Whitney Houston’s character in The Bodyguard (1992); she ought to get herself a local Kevin Costner. I know I am trivialising the matter, but if this is any consolation, I can assure Kok that the would-be assassin is now, at least, two bullets short. – NMH

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Rakesh Premakumaran Kumar
A movie buff, as opposed to film connoisseur or aficionado, because the last two words are hard to spell, Rakesh has been in the field of writing for more than two decades and hopes that one-day movie “buff”ing is lucrative enough to afford him a Batmobile, the Michael Keaton one.

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