Netizens have been in an uproar over an election rally last Friday, that saw supporters of the National Islamist Party (PAS) dress in armor and brandishing weapons while marching down the street for the HIMPIT (Terrenganu Youth Assembly) all the while calling it cosplay.
Members of PAS had repeatedly told the public that men carrying weapons down public roads in support of a political party wasn’t political intimidation, but rather a form of performance art or cosplay.
Youth Chief of PAS Kelantan Mohammad Kamal Mohamed, for example, whined that events like Comic Fiesta were allowed to go on with no outrage.
Instead, he told MalaysiaKini that it was only because it was a religious event, and not the fact that they were on public streets carrying weapons, that netizens were outraged.
What the Youth Chief seems to have missed, though, is that Cosplay events actually have incredibly strict rules to prevent this exact situation from happening.
One Twitter user, Joe Lee, explains in a thread just how much regulation goes into your typical cosplay prop.
“Tau tak, cosplayers ada rules on prop weapons whether involving materials used (some limit to only EVA and resin) or to point heavier ‘metal- bladed weapons must remain sheathed etc (in some cases zip tie to disarm it), firearms must be clearly marked with orange tip’ “, he says.
He even shoots down the equivalency between the two:
“Point is don’t keep using it’s “no different from cosplay events”. It is an insult to those of us in the Malaysia cosplaying community. We take security and safety VERY seriously. And again – we don’t stoke hatred and anything political, religious or racial is avoided”, he adds.
Considering the event constantly parroting racial rhetoric, the idea of mobilizing your youth to brandish weapons and march ahead of a state election is inherently dangerous- and trying to liken it to a community that actually self-regulates to minimize public disturbance is dishonest and reductive.