By reportedly warning that a group of protesters would turn up again in Chinatown today to demand whatever, Jamal took a step too far.
Things happened quickly after that.
China’s ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang took the unprecedented step of visiting Petaling Street yesterday, and warned those who used violence to disrupt public order in Malaysia.
“The Chinese government opposes terrorism and any form of discrimination against races and any form of extremism,” he was quoted as saying.
Beijing, he said, would not think twice about voicing out against any threats towards the interests of its citizens or anything that disrupts the relationship between Malaysia and China.
Jamal was reportedly arrested after that.
(Update: The envoy has since been summoned to Wisma Putra for an explanation. But it is worth noting that China just completed a six-day joint naval drill with Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca, with more than a thousand PLA troops taking part.)
Mahathir accused Najib of backing the demonstrations in support of the prime minister. See point number 36 in his blog post.
Meanwhile, the pro-Umno website mykmu.net lashed out at Jamal, saying his struggle was not the same as Umno’s:
Petaling Street Bukan Isu Perjuangan UMNO atau Melayu
Tindakan Ketua UMNO Bahagian Sungai Besar, Datuk Jamal Md Yunos, mengancam untuk menutup tempat perniagaan Petaling Street bukan perjuangan UMNO, apatah lagi perjuangan Melayu dan Islam.
Apabila Pesaka menganjurkan Himpunan Merah bagi menyatukan orang Melayu ia bertujuan menunjukkan bahawa orang Melayu bersdia mempertahankan kepentingan Islam dan Melayu jika perlu. Ia bukan untuk menunjukkan siapa lagi samseng apatah lagi “berperang dengan kaum Cina.”
Melayu tidak pernah terjejas dengan Petaling Street. Sekian lama kita sudah ketahui Petaling Street ialah tempat penjualan barang palsu dan kurang kualiti terbesar di negara ini. Ia di monopoli oleh kaum Cina dan disukai oleh pelbagai bangsa kerana harga yang murah…..
Jika Jamal mahu membantu orang Melayu, maka kempenlah agar peniaga Melayu di Uptown, Downtown atau apa sahaja jenis “town” dibenarkan berniaga barang yang sama seperti peniaga Petaling Street tanpa gangguan.
Jika Jamal mahu membantu Melayu, apabila kerajaan beri geran kepada beliau sepatutnya beliau laksanakan sampai berjaya dan bantu Melayu lain. Malangnya sekian banyak perniagaan beliau yang kerajaan bantu, sekarang ini sama ada sudah berkubur atau hidup segan mati tidak mahu.
Kita mahu memperjuangkan hak Melayu dan kepentingan Islam, tapi bukan cara tidak masuk akal dan merosakkan keharmonian negara ini.
Jangan nanti Himpunan Merah yang berjaya tempoh hari, akhirnya menjadi “kad Merah” kepada Barisan Nasional.
All of a sudden, Jamal has become isolated. (Update: Lee Lam Thye has pointed out that all ethnic groups were given trading lots in Petaling Street in the 1970s.)
How did this come about? For context, the words of a KL-based political analyst should be relevant:
“The China ambassador’s visit to Petaling Street tells us a lot about an underlying message. Too much is at stake – trade with China and our investments there,” he said.
Malaysia has been China’s top trading partner in Asean for six consecutive years with annual trade between the two nations exceeding US$100bn. Malaysia is also China’s third largest Asian trading partner after Japan and South Korea.
“The trade is considerable. But there are idiots who don’t realise the consequences of their actions,” said the analyst.
It is reassuring that the authorities are now reining in those who are trying to harm ethnic relations in the capital.
But what about the real sponsors of these Red Shirts, who are hard-core supporters of Najib perhaps aiming to divert our attention from the real issues of the day such as 1MDB and the weakening ringgit. Who will rein them in?
Can Umno itself abandon its race-based rhetoric and politics at a time when no effort should be spared in protecting the interests of the ordinary rakyat on the street during these difficult times?