It has washed up on our shores. Almost. Like most millennials, I grew up learning of the consequences of terrorism. I would not know much or imagine living in the shadow of the Cold War because it was all about the 9/11 attacks. If there was one word that would summarise the weekend, it would be one: Fear.
Warnings have been issued for places that would find us spending our weekends in — Bangsar, Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur City. After the terrorist attacks in Jakarta last week, terrorism has gotten too close for comfort for us Malaysians, especially those in the capital city.
The day the attacks happened, I remember being glued to news channels. It was a terrorist attack, but it did not have the same effect the attacks on Paris or London did. The attack was too close for comfort. Everyone said it was slowly knocking on our doors.
Despite the fear that gripped Indonesia’s neighbouring nation(s), the Indonesians retaliated, they responded by saying “Kami Tidak Takut” (We are not afraid). This is obviously in retaliation to the main aim of the terrorists: is to instill fear and to keep everyone indoors. Photos of an Indonesian man selling satay on the very same street where the bombs went off could not have been a better example. In this case, actions are stronger than words.
In the recent months, Malaysians have to admit to a turmoil of events that have captured us and put a majority of the people in anguish. There is a threat to our financial stability, but now we have a threat to our personal safety. Albeit, this threat lies within a certain population (the whole 1.7million of them), but the possible spread of terrorism in our homeland and the possibility of a home-grown terrorism would pave the way and give an inclination towards the possible acceptance of terrorism. That, in itself, is a threat to the ethics and culture of us Malaysians. It is a part of our culture to be accepting and tolerant, given the multiple faiths and culture that exist.
Terrorism is nothing new in Malaysia. We found independence while facing the threat of the communist insurgency. Not too long ago, Lahad Datu was attacked. It’s safe to say our government has had its fair share of experience against terrorism, and on both accounts, we won. But, it is nothing compared to the impending threat that we face now. Firstly, it threatens our capital city. The very concentrated space that homes 1.7 million people. The capital city is also synonymous to the definition of Malaysia – the skyscrapers, the food and the people.
As I write this, messages have circulated about the beefed up security, and the risk of certain areas. I send messages to my loved ones to stay at home. But, I think of the reaction the Indonesians had when they were attacked — #KamiTidakTakut and wonder if I should feel scared. It makes me think of the reaction that we, as Malaysians, should have. After all, terrorism is nothing more than a psychological warfare. But, the fact remains that our personal security and safety is threatened, as so we voluntarily paralysed our lives to accommodate the threat of terrorism on our shores.
When the most unpleasant thing happens to us, Malaysians, how will we react? We know what the government will do, but what will we do in our homes? Will we retract into our homes in the days and months to come, and be afraid of the terrorists, allowing them to fulfil their aims, or will we unite as Malaysians and tell them that we do not fear them, as how the Indonesians did? Do we allow the fear of an attack to control us, or do we move on with our lives to show the terrorists that they have failed in their mission?
It was the same sentiments that I collected when the plane disasters happened two years ago. Getting on a plane became scary for us Malaysians. But after two years, the fear is slowly fading. Because, life has to go on. The psychologists call this the “Terror Management Theory” where the awareness of the inevitable death of self affects our behaviour. On that Sunday, KL saw the change in behaviour of Malaysians because the places that were normally crowded with families having their Sunday lunches were not anymore. But, should this continue to give the terrorist control over our fear? Of course, not.
We must realise that the terrorists want nothing but control over us through fear. We must do what we can within our capacity to show them just that. We may not be army-men, we may not be a part of the Malaysian intelligence, but we are laymen, and we fight them within our own capacity. We are doing as much as we can to be vigilant while we walk around the streets, we block the websites that might recruit and spread terrorism, we try to stop those who have fled the country. We hope that nothing would happen to us, but if it does, there is nothing more to say to the terrorists, but “Kami tidak takut”.
The writer, a grand-daughter of former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, is a fresh law graduate trying hard to find her place after spending some time
in Northern England during her university years at the University of Manchester.
Always probing into discussions, she most often regrets not doing Politics, Philosophy and Economics.