Thumbs up for multiracial ties

In the wake of the Low Yat Plaza riot, Mr Fais Al-Hajari and Mr Desmond Mok are proof positive that the different races can get along fine in Malaysia. The Malay Facebook user has written on his page of his long - and good - relationship with the Chi
In the wake of the Low Yat Plaza riot, Mr Fais Al-Hajari and Mr Desmond Mok are proof positive that the different races can get along fine in Malaysia. The Malay Facebook user has written on his page of his long - and good - relationship with the Chinese mobile phone seller.PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF SIAKAP KELI

PETALING JAYA • A heart-warming account of friendship has emerged in the wake of the Low Yat Plaza riot, with a viral post from a Malay Facebook user praising a Chinese mobile phone seller at Plaza Idaman, on the edge of Kuala Lumpur.

The story of Mr Fais Al-Hajari and salesman Desmond Mok is in sharp contrast to the violent brawl at tech mall Low Yat Plaza in downtown KL that took on racial overtones on the streets and in cyberspace.

The incident was sparked when a Malay man stole a phone from one of the shops. The incident escalated into race-tainted fights, police say.

Yesterday, Shahrul Anuar Abdul Aziz, 22, was charged with stealing a smartphone costing RM800 (S$286). The unemployed young man pleaded not guilty.

Police yesterday also arrested four mobile phone salesmen in connection with the riot and questioned 30 others.

Meantime, Mr Fais on Monday wrote on his Facebook page, which featured a photo: "This guy's name is Desmond. His nickname is Mok. I have bought handphones from him for a very long time, and he always sells quality items."

Mr Fais said that although he has sometimes bought mobile phones from other retailers, Mr Mok continues to smile and treat him well.

"This good relationship has remained over the last eight years. Other handphone sellers in Plaza Idaman here, the majority of them Chinese, are also good to me.

"The secret? They don't cheat me and I don't steal their goods. We have mutual respect for each other and are supportive. The world is peaceful," said Mr Fais.

The post has resonated with other Malaysians, with the photo having more than 76,000 likes by yesterday, and 4,800 shares.

Five people were injured in the fighting outside Low Yat Plaza on Sunday evening and into the wee hours of Monday.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has said he is disappointed that the incident has turned into a "heated racial topic online" and said the instigators will be charged under the harsh Sedition Act.

The arrest of four salesmen yesterday added to the 19 nabbed after the riot. Police have also arrested one of the alleged key instigators, Mohd Ali Baharom or Ali Tinju (Ali the Boxer), chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Association.

They are also looking for a blogger whose handle is Papagomo for allegedly inflaming racial passions.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'Thumbs up for multiracial ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe