Articles, Opinions & Views: Yes, freedom of speech is also for fascists - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Yes, freedom of speech is also for fascists - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Malaysiakini : “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”  ― Oscar Wilde
COMMENT | Syahredzan Johan’s piece asking if free speech is also for fascists (it is) is a welcome contribution to the free speech discourse in this country. As someone who has been targeted by the far-right (and by certain segments of the “moderate centre” of this country) for things I have written, the issue of free speech is something I take very seriously.
I note that Syahredzan had to add the qualifier, “this writer is not advocating absolute freedoms” as a means to preempt straw men that those against free speech like to use on people they disagree with. I am sure there are proponents of absolute freedom of speech but in most countries, the fight has always been to limit the state from intruding into our public and private spaces using laws designed to promote political agendas at the expense of legitimate dissent.
The fact that repulsive speech is also part of the speech that free speech advocates have to protect does not mean that laws that limit speech – libel, slander, incitement, etc- should be abandoned but they should always be open to scrutiny. However, I suspect Syahredzan knows this already.
In the Malaysian context, concluding that free speech is also for fascists is not a Herculean endeavour. Racial supremacy, religious supremacy, policies that benefit a specific race, educational institutions for a specific race but most importantly, mainstream political narratives embraced by Malays and non-Malays are all fascist in nature. Hence asking if free speech is meant for fascists is meaningless.
Syahredzan Johan
What Helmi Effendy said, when you really think about it, is not something which is anathema when it comes to the mainstream political discourse in this country. Malay political operatives are always accusing each other of being race traitors. Malay political operatives are always claiming that the Malay polity will lose their power to non-Malays. What Helmi wrote is merely taking this position to its logical extreme. Honestly, people have either overtly or subtly implied what Helmi said in social media outlets.
My views on hate laws are a matter of public record. There are enough laws in this country to curtail certain kinds of speech without resorting to the kind of measures that only serve the political establishment. I broadly agree with Syahredzan but as a people, we need to dig a little bit deeper. Syahredzan gets to the heart of the matter in two paragraphs which expose the problematic nature of attempts to curb free speech in this country.
The first – “It is also clear that in advocating extrajudicial killings, Helmi has stepped beyond the boundaries of free speech. Even the most ardent advocate of freedom of speech and expression will agree that free speech stops when you call for injury or death onto others.”
Really? So if I advocate death for apostates, then I have “stepped beyond the borders of free speech”? Is this example only applicable if the state does not sanction the execution of apostates since we are talking about “extrajudicial killings”? Or is calling for the death of apostates never a good example of free speech even if its utterance is done by people who place their religious beliefs above the laws of the state (if the state does not execute people for apostasy)?
Helmi Effendy
As far as incitement goes, I am sure many people think that Helmi is guilty of this. In his Facebook posts,  Helmi fantasied of a virulent kind of far-right political body who would save the Malay polity and murder those of his Malay/Muslim brethren whom Helmi considered race traitors. Do people really find this shocking?
What do you think a criminal enterprise like Islamic State (IS) does on a regular basis? Look, we have a mainstream political dogma that claims that the Malay community will become slaves in their lands. We have the political establishment that warns that the Malays are divided and susceptible to manipulation by non-Malay political factions which are detrimental to the well-being of the Malay community.
Any rational person would consider such speech “incitement”. Any rational person would be offended by such speech since such speech is ahistorical and grounded in fabrications that are unfortunately part of the mainstream racial narratives of this country. At this point, "incitement" is merely a politically correct expression for not having to deal with the fundamental issues facing this country.
Is Helmi as dangerous as he thinks he is? Who knows? In writing about how young people are radicalised in this country, I spoke to security personnel who told me that what they found difficult to navigate was the extreme speech of racial and religious groups and the mainstream political dogma of this country.
Where do you draw the line? Sure, political patronage and the deep-level interference is part of the problem but we have to acknowledge that what passes as mainstream political discourse is extreme in this country and would be considered unacceptable in most "developed" countries.
Of course, our state security apparatus is functional enough to detect the elements that would bring harm to the citizens of this country but even they admit that it is difficult to disrupt the radicalisation process when the political apparatus encourages narratives that make it easy for young people to reject the system as not radical enough or embrace an ideology because they believe the system has let them down.
Which brings me to the second problematic paragraph in Syahredzan piece – “But what about situations where it is less straightforward? What about those spreading extreme right-wing narratives, or what is known as ‘fascist’ ideology? How do we deal with such expressions?”
Again, how does one tell the difference between mainstream political ideology and “far-right” ideology? Syahredzan uses Isma (Malaysian Muslim Solidarity) as a convenient whipping boy but how exactly is the ideology of Isma different from the mainstream political ideology of Pakatan Harapan when it comes to racial and religious policy in this country?
The faces of Fascists in Malaysia
Syahredzan is right that we need to confront such extreme ideas but what does this mean exactly? Helmi fantasied that an extreme right-wing organisation was needed to battle the “extreme left-wing" in this country. That is his problem right there. There is no “extreme left” in this country. What Helmi is raging against is actually the moderate centre which Harapan is attempting to be.
The only way to confront speech and ideas like these are is to propagate speech and ideas which are a direct opposite to what people like Helmi and the far-right are advocating. This goes merely beyond words but must also translate to policy.
You do not need to limit free speech to do that. What you need is the political will to carry out policies which would demonstrate the falsity of the ideas propagated by the far-right.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:06 AM  
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