Merdeka: A crime of thought and feeling | Selangor Times
Friday
26·05·2017
Issue 118

 

Selangor
Merdeka: A crime of thought and feeling
Writer: Wong Chin Huat
Published: Fri, 18 Nov 2011

First, it was Prof Abdul Aziz Bari of International Islamic University Malaysia. He was suspended and even prevented from entering the campus by his university simply because he commented unfavourably on a certain practice of a constitutional monarch. His suspension was lifted only after students protested against it. He is still under investigation for sedition.

What is Prof Aziz Bari’s field of expertise? Constitution! So, why can’t a professor comment on his own discipline? What is left of our universities when our professors cannot even speak freely on their own specialisation?

Then, it was Seksualiti Merdeka, an annual event since 2008 for the sexual minorities to learn about their rights. It was first labelled by a few groups as a threat to morality and the nation. Not long after, it was banned. And its organiser, Pang Khee Teik, supporters, and the special guest for the opening ceremony, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, were questioned by police.

You need not agree with Prof Aziz Bari’s constitutional opinion or the "sexual minorities" lifestyle. By all means, challenge them with logic and facts. But who are we to silence them? What right does any government have to arrest someone for a crime of thought or feeling?

These two nonsensical and outrageous incidents ironically reveal the emperor’s new clothes in our politics of slogan.

Suppressing academic freedom is denying one’s right to have an independent mind. It’s denying one’s right to think.

Suppressing sexual orientation is denying one’s right to have a free soul. It’s denying the right, of some if not all, to love.

What is 1Malaysia when you are not allowed to think independently and love freely? I dread to recall a Lite FM DJ’s irritating propaganda: “No, no, 1Malaysia is not a dream… it’s what we were and can be again.”

Was Malaysia 40-50 years ago a pathological society that tried to force everyone into the same mould? I am not old enough to haved live through that, but it could hardly have been if it was like the laidback and relaxed society in P Ramlee’s movies.

To me, independence is not about overthrowing a political class that is foreign in origin. It’s about us being the masters of our destiny. This means not only must we have the right to elect our government, but we must also have some rights beyond the reach of the government we elect.

Our government must not dictate to us who to love or who not to love. In short, our government must not be an Orwellian Big Brother.

To me, colonisation starts when a government becomes a Big Brother that invades and tries to control our hearts and minds.  

We become slaves when our hearts and minds are occupied and controlled by others. Put simply, white men are not a necessary condition for colonialism. And political independence is not a finished business with just the departure of white men. It is constantly renewed every minute we exercise our rights as a free person. It is reversed and needs renewal when our rights are infringed.

Prof Aziz Bari and Pang Khee Teik are my Merdeka heroes. They are fighting not for their personal professional freedom or personal passion, but our rights as free humans. I long for the day they can think and love freely, and everyone else can also criticise them freely.

The crime that Prof Aziz Bari has committed is one of thought. The crime that the sexual minorities have committed is one of feeling. They are both crimes of conscience. These crimes have a common name: Merdeka.

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

 

 Selangor Times

 

 

Also by Wong Chin Huat:

Running, standing and growing in democracy

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From security crisis to constitutional crisis?

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Voting right by residency?

AS published in the gazette on Jan 14, 2013, the Election Commission (EC) has changed the postal voting bylaw to extend postal voting rights to more – but not all – overseas Malaysians.

Changing colour of minority politics

IYOU follow Malaysians’ obsession for numbers, you would say that 1125 must have a certain embedded meaning about minority politics.

Can early polls stabilise the country?

The Economist (“No Time Like Tomorrow, Oct 6, http://www.economist.com/node/21564248 ) is right in a way to compare Datuk Seri Najib Razak to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who lost the election he called too late. 

Be a good journalist or don’t be one at all

It was my last lecture as a journalism lecturer. After five and half years, two lines in the song “Butterfly Kisses”, “oh, with all that I have done wrong, I must have done something right” came to my mind. 

Yes to Stadium Merdeka, no to Mega Tower

On Monday, the 1st anniversary of the Bersih 2.0 rally, about 300 of us braved the rain and walked from Dataran Merdeka to Stadium Merdeka.

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I can understand why Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin wanted to freeze loans for students of Universiti Selangor (Unisel) and why Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin could not wait to back this decision.

It’s about Malaysia, not Ambiga

Those who set up the anonymous website dearambiga.com got it all wrong. Technically speaking, it’s a very simple but very smart project.

A city without history

I love Berlin for her history. You don’t have to go to the Brandenburg Gate, Berliner Dom or Charlie Checkpoint to feel it. It’s everywhere in the city.

Which is worse, disobeying or obeying bad laws?

Since Nov 26,  people have been gathering in yellow at some parts of KLCC at 2pm on Saturdays. They stage a series of “Malaysians can …. at KLCC without police permit” protests. You can fill in the blank while walking in KLCC park, reciting poems, posing with Christmas trees, picnicking, and celebrating birthdays.

Biometric verification and online banking

THE hottest technology in town is perhaps biometric verification. Not only it is used in registering foreign workers, the government wants it to be applied to Malaysian voters, too.

Real issues behind ethnic representation

After the Sarawak state elections, Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians of all sizes and shapes talked about ethnic representation. The message targeting ethnic minority is simple: if you abandon us before everyone else, you will be abandoned.

A biblical perfect storm?

History is often written unconsciously. When the Tunisian police confiscated Mohamed Bouazizi’s vegetable cart, then President Ben Ali would never have thought that the innocuous incident would eventually bring him, Housni Mubarak and perhaps a few more Arab leaders down.

 

 

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