Malaysia is facing a malicious attempt at false provocation.
Clearly, the selectiveness of the ISA arrests is an insidious and misleading attempt to create resentment among particular communities. Why else arrest the messenger but not the message maker, or a politician proven to be only falsely accused?
Perhaps it is hoped that impassioned and racially-tinged sentiments will be expressed in the coming days, escalating to even more impassioned racial reactions. This in turn may lay the ground for emergency rule, and for all the suspension of civil liberties and human rights that follow.
What the powers-that-be have forgotten however, is that Malaysia is better than that.
On March 8, Malaysians refused to vote purely on racial lines and instead chose their leaders based on issues that affect us all as a united Malaysian nation.
This time, once again, we will not fall for the trap of racial fear mongering. We will not be pawns in the political manoeuvrings of the ever crumbling ruling party. We will not be trapped in racial polemics, or ever again draw the bitter lines of racial conflict.
While race is not something that must-never-be-talked-about and only swept under the carpet, the simple truth of the matter is that the crisis that is now enveloping Malaysia is not about race at all.
It is about keeping the movement for a better Malaysia alive; it is about rejecting a culture of fear and corruption in favour of a culture of integrity and good governance; most of all, it is about protecting what we as a united people regardless of race and religion hold dear as Malaysians, as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons.
Time to speak the right language
The time has come to speak out in the right language. The language of upholding truth, human rights and our love for one another as Malaysians.
We shall reject the language of race, and the utterly misleading temptation to describe the current crisis as a conflict between ethnic communities.
We shall not talk the way they want us to, about supposed injustices and insults inflicted by one race on another, or about how one group supposedly steals from another, or any other such lies and misrepresentations.
These are the same tools used the world over throughout history to incite multiracial populations into hate; populations that would, and do, coexist peacefully and in harmony if not for the manipulations of power-obsessed politicians.
Instead, we will speak of defending those who speak truth to power; we will speak of upholding the rule of law and due process, not the use of draconian colonial laws at whim or fancy; we will speak, most of all, of our desire to remain united as Malaysians and continue to love our neighbours as we have done for decades in peace.
It now depends entirely on ourselves
When talk is no longer sufficient we will act. We will act only peacefully, without burning tires or harming even a fly.
We will learn the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and practice peaceful civil activism. We will stand together and rise in defence of our principles, our patriotism and our unity.
If the first line of leadership is taken in, the second must take its place; if the second line falls, the third must rise, and so on until every Malaysian stands up to be counted and to resist injustice.
Whether our country will emerge from this tunnel into the light, or whether we lose our best chance to finally break free of the lies that create racial conflict, will depend entirely on ourselves and our resolve.
If we stand firm now, united and without fear in the face of the challenges and temptations ahead; if we be strong, and take courage; we will see the invincible strength of a united people, and finally win for all Malaysians the Malaysia we deserve.
NATHANIEL TAN, who is almost 28, blogs at www.jelas.info.