Hate speech is the politically incorrect expression of mainstream M'sian politics - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Malaysiakini : "But what I am afraid of is that this positive promotion
of a way of life. This is what is happening here now. They are saying
that people should actively promote homosexuality, that you should try.
It is not necessary that you should try. There are certain things which
are bad. That you needn't try. Just accept that it is bad. We are not
made that way.” – Dr Mahathir Mohamad on homosexuality, 2001
| Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s suggestion that Asean formulates
policies that curb free speech on digital platforms in the guise of
curbing hate speech has been called out for being hypocritical.
speech has not been normalised in this country. To make such a claim,
we have to point to sources which demonstrate how such speech at one
time was considered anathema. The reality is that hate speech has always
been the vulgar political and religious expressions of the state.
Whether doctrinal or legislative, such speech was merely the expression
of state actions.
When it comes to racial or religious issues, the
state has always either through legislation or political norms,
endorsed hate speech as a means to reflect the racial and religious
superiority of the majority but more importantly, has been accepted by
mainstream political operatives as the realpolitik of this country
instead of something to be raged against.
Martin Vengadesan alludes
to this and makes an important point here when he writes: “That’s why
the poor bumiputeras in Malaysia still keep voting for the party that
stole from them – because they are fooled by the false sentiment that
the same people who have kept them poor are defending their cultural and
religious rights against vague and imaginary threats.”
“false sentiment” is the result of indoctrination political and
religious and enforcement by a system which jealously guards its
provinces. Whether you're talking about special privileges, the rights
of Malays or religious superiority, the idea that the "other" and their
rights are subordinate is the basis of the political discourse and
legislative policies in this country.
especially by Malay/Muslims, from this is the main threat to the
established order. This is why folks like Sisters of Islam and activists
like Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, are targets of the state.
bigger danger in curbing free speech under the guise of combating “hate
speech” is that when it comes to totalitarian-leaning regimes – like
the ones in Malaysia – the people who most often suffer are those who
think that “hate speech” laws are a panacea for uncivil behaviour.
They ignore the reality that uncivil behaviour – hate speech – is the reflection of political dogma in this country.
have no idea why the PM would make such a ridiculous suggestion since
he has been part of the religious and political establishment which
traffics in hate speech, all of which are considered foundational
principles of “ketuanism”.
Hypocrisy then becomes more than just
the moronic behaviour of political operatives who are convenient
targets but who are also a distraction from the injustices the system
There is this weird disconnect when it comes to
talking about hate speech in this country. I do not mean the hypocrisy
of folks pointing out the hypocrisy of Perikatan Nasional (PN) all the
while engaging in a hateful speech to make their point.
disconnect is thinking that “hate speech” is confined to political
actors and not that it is the political currency of this country.
real hypocrisy is not of ministers being a racist or bigoted jackass in
Parliament or making ridiculous statements in the press. The hypocrisy
and the one that causes the most damage, is continuing to fund (when you
claim that your mandate is for a change) the religious apparatus and
not even bothering to change the agendas of such organisations, all the
while indulging in rhetoric and bromides meant to narcotise the
This is just but one example of the kind
of hypocrisy that is often overlooked. You cannot point to the hypocrisy
of politicians and their hate speech when you put up with supposedly
secular and egalitarian political parties which align with race-based
parties to gain political power. And when in power, reinforce norms and
legislation meant to sustain such inequalities.
Not only is this
hypocritical but it also further entrenches ideas that are based on
bigotry, racism and tribalism that find expression through hate speech
and then validated by supposedly egalitarian political parties.
fact that political operatives use such incidents as the PM's hypocrisy
as political capital with no real agenda to secure the LGBTQ community
fundamental human rights through legislation - which the courts have
demonstrated is possible - is indicative of the hold such ideas have on
political operatives, some of whom probably believe on moral grounds
that the LGBTQ goes against their culture or religion.
that race and religion are not mutually exclusive in this country means
that any forms of hate speech laws – whether you subscribe to them or
not – are based on policies that are determined by the religion of the
state in service of political ends.
Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor when cancelling Thaipusam holiday
told everyone not to “politicise” the issue. “Politicise” is code for
making trouble. Do not make trouble when it comes to your religious
beliefs because religion is a political means to an end, and the
religion of the state always trumps everything and everyone else.
are dealing with a political and religious bureaucracy that seeks to
define the racial, sexual and religious identities of the majority of
This did not start with PN, but rather it is the
underlying ideology of mainstream political parties in Malaysia. In
other words, non-Malay/Muslims political parties have played a part in
sustaining the very systems that continue derailing the foundations of
When it comes to the LGBTQ community, for instance,
Pakatan Harapan or PN it really does not make a difference. When
Harapan was in power, then religious czar Mujahid Yusof Rawa assured everyone that Jakim was investigating cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman.
on the role of the MCMC, he was reported in the press as saying – “MCMC
has the power to bar social media content which causes unease among
This is the main point of hate speech laws in
this country. The fact that the sensitivities of the majority would be
the main, nay the only consideration, when it comes to defining hate
speech. Remember when Harapan attempted to enact the Racial and
Religious Hatred Act to protect Islam and other religions?
LGBTQ community is more than just a scapegoat, it is a red herring. A
distraction from the very real problem which is not – in this context –
The real problem is the rise of religious extremism
which has been left unchecked not because of benign negligence but
because political operatives have been diligent in dismantling the
guardrails of democracy in this country to ensure a political base which
is narcotised on race and religion.
normalisation, in this case, is the validation given by political
parties to racist and bigoted agendas in the hopes of gaining political