Playing the same game with hate speech laws - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, June 24, 2019
Hate speech double standards give REAL fascists a pass
Malaysiakini : "They are urged to take practical steps, not just make statements that result in nothing." - Kerk Chee Yee
| DAP's Malacca state executive councillor Kerk Chee Yee posed a
challenge to Umno and MCA to disavow comments made by a PAS political
operative to end vernacular schools. I have no idea what
“practical steps” that could be taken by MCA and Umno beyond their usual
pusillanimous rhetoric when it comes to the extremism of the far right,
but I do think that Pakatan Harapan is in no position to lecture anyone
on “practical steps”.
My opinion on Harapan’s desire or, should
that be a threat, to enact hate speech laws is a matter of public
record. I am against such initiatives. Here is the thing, though.
Harapan likes to talk about how this is a new Malaysia, but what the
ruling coalition always ends up doing is playing the same game as it did
when it was in the opposition.
The comment by Kerk, for instance,
demonstrates that Harapan parties are not really interested in their
own ideas about what constitutes “hate speech” but would rather
“challenge” all and sundry because it makes them look good to their
base. The extreme rhetoric of the far right then becomes a useful
tool for Harapan to further deflect from legitimate questions about
their competency - and an opportunity for the already toxic race
relations in this country to further muddy the waters when it comes to
public policy. While I oppose on principle any attempts to further
curb free speech in this country, what I want to know is how committed
Harapan is to hate speech laws, or is this just another attempt to
Instead of asking MCA and Umno to make their
positions clear whenever extreme speech is used by the far right, what I
want to know is what practical steps are being taken by Harapan to curb
these “hateful” speeches, instead of dragging in other political
Nearly all the Harapan big guns have come out in support of hate speech laws. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the de facto
Islamic affairs minister, of course, came out in defence of hate speech
laws in the cause of defending the sanctity of Islam. There were
proposals by the Harapan government to get into the comment sections of
online news portals, and who could forget the proposed Racial and
Religious Hatred Act which, we were told, was there to safeguard our
interest when it comes to hateful speech.
Speaking of this Act,
would the comments made by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, this
specifically - "The general election had just concluded and there was a
change in politics, the government is dominated by non-Muslims and there
are many instances of Muslims being challenged...” fall afoul of the
proposed Racial and Religious Hatred Act, for instance?
be nice if Mujahid answers this question. Indeed, I want Harapan
political operatives to answer this question. Harapan likes to make a
big deal about how this is a “new” Malaysia. Now, no matter what you may
think of hate speech laws, the big question, is how will Harapan,
especially the Malay power structures, react to their speech being
curbed under these proposed laws?
how about this: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi goes on about the “plot” to create
more seats for the DAP. Public comments by Zahid demonstrates that he
views the DAP as a race-based Chinese political party out to usurp Malay
rights, or whatever you choose to call it. Would demonising the Chinese
community by proxy fall afoul of hate speech laws that Harapan claims
it wants to enact?
Harapan political operatives, especially
non-Malay political operatives, most often use these occasions – when
PAS, for instance, openly says things that most Islamists in this
country, including those in Harapan, subscribe to – to create a
counter-narrative of victimhood. It is politically beneficial because it
makes a target of the far right instead of the policy failures of
Now, whatever you may think of hate speech laws and you
may be like me, who opposes these attempts to curb free speech, the
reality is that Harapan could do something if it really wanted to. Why
make these proposals if you do not have any intention of enacting them?
Why makes these proposals and not define “hate speech” when it comes to
pushing racial and religious agendas?
Rejecting the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Harapan's failure to observe Icerd
tells a different story when it comes to all this talk about hate
speech laws. While someone like Kerk demands action from Umno and MCA,
why is he not demanding that the Harapan government do something about
laws which Harapan claims would curb hate speech?
Kerk not asking the Harapan government, which he is a part of, to carry
out their reforms when it comes to hate speech laws in this country? If
the Harapan government is committed to “opposing” hate speech, like it
claims it is, why isn’t it going ahead with these laws, instead of
sniping like schoolchildren in the playground, when PAS and Umno or the
far right make comments that are racially and religiously provocative? I
think we know the answer to that, right? Harapan cannot afford to enact
any kind of hate speech law because this would mean that race, religion
and royalty cannot be weaponised anymore. Not only would the far right
be caught up in these laws, but so would the Harapan Malay/Muslim
Hate speech law is unenforceable in this
country because it strikes at the desideratum of the racial and
religious politics as advocated by mainstream Malay power structures. It
also makes the “inspiring” work of someone like Zakir Naik, criminal.
Think about that, Kerk.
said that, as someone who opposes these kinds of laws that curb speech,
I would pay good money to see someone like Latheefa Koya – considering
her rhetoric against the far right and her coalition – become the hate
speech czar in this country. This would really send shivers down the spines – if they had – of the race and religious supremacists out there.
speech is going to be curbed (and most probably someone like me would
be caught in the crosshairs), I want a large side order of schadenfreude
to go with it.