The Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of our country has to be respected in order to maintain a harmonious society.
We are governed by law and regulations to maintain law and order of our country and living in a civilised world, we should adhere to proper social etiquette that defines a civilised society hence, a total freedom of speech like mocking people’s religion cannot be accepted.
In a malicious article, entitled “Making monkeys out of us”, Malay Mail Online’s Boo Su-Lyn tries to justify the controversial and spiteful Nanyang Siang Pau’s ‘Monkey Act’ caricature on the pretext of press freedom.
Claiming it is not even offensive, Boo questions the actions taken by the authority and the complains made by the people and want the government “to allow people to say whatever they want, as long as they do not advocate physical harm”; a situation made possible only in a fantasy world.
For most opposition-inclined activists, freedom of speech only applies to them, hence they are free to slur and mock others but not the other way around.
Below are with my answers (blue) to all Boo’s “Making monkeys out of us” (red).
APRIL 14 — When I applied seven years ago to be a journalist, my boss told me that my job was to report the “facts”, not the “truth”, since I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed wannabe-activist then.
Along the way, I gradually learned the difference between the two. Now, of course, we have “alternative facts” and “fake news.”
For example, Boo Su-Lyn’s “alternative facts”, “fake news”, fake facts and malicious accusations regarding Islam.
What is worse – beyond those terms that Malaysia has long used even before Donald Trump became US president – are the increased incidents of censorship and attacks on press freedom and freedom of speech.
We do not live in the dark ages and we are a civilised society. A gross slur on the country’s religion and the authorities on the pretext of “press freedom and freedom of speech” is wrong and uncivilised. Furthermore, Malaysia is not a lawless country, we are all governed by law.
It’s hard to report the facts under such circumstances.
Yes, it is hard to report real facts when the truth must be spun.
In the latest incident, the Home Ministry has summoned the editor-in-chief of Nanyang Siang Pau over its cartoon on the RUU355 issue that depicted PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia as monkeys.
Is Boo saying that the apology from Nanyang Siang Pau is not sincere and that the slur on Islam and the parliamentary procedure is only part of Nanyang’s “press freedom and freedom of speech”?
The Tuesday announcement came hours after PAS Youth and several Muslim NGOs staged a protest outside the Chinese-language newspaper’s office.
If it is true that the Nanyang Siang Pau’s apology is just a deception as indirectly implied by Boo, no wonder PAS Youth members took the action. Furthermore PAS Youth and the Muslim NGOs are just expressing their “freedom of speech” and freedom of expression.
The police have also waded in and said they’ll launch an investigation, with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) warning the media against publishing “sensitive” cartoons.
It seems like the PDRM, especially the Inspector-General of Police is the ‘prime target’ for Boo and her gangs; therefore it proves the integrity and professionalism of the police force so far.
Nanyang was simply mocking the RUU355 debacle that has seen the fifth tabling of Hadi’s Bill – which seeks to enhance Shariah punishments – without resulting in a debate and vote.
The way Boo puts it, when she refers the parliamentary procedure as “the RUU355 debacle”, shows that she herself is mocking and debasing the long process of tabling the Act; which shows people like Boo Su-Lyn have no empathy and respect towards the rights of others.
The amendment of Act 355 is important to the Muslims who are the majority population of Malaysia. It is a move to uphold Islam as the religion of the Federation, so mocking such a very sensitive matter is uncalled for.
Alas, the arrogant Boo is mocking the process by referring it as “the RUU355 debacle”.
Last Thursday, the Speaker postponed the debate after allowing opening arguments from PAS, saying: “If you don’t use your power, you are a bloody fool. Today, I don’t want to be a bloody fool.”
The Speaker had to deal Lim Kit Siang and a few other opposition Members of Parliament who were behaving like spoiled children trying to disrupt a parliamentary process and denying the rights and the power of the Speaker in carrying out his duty as the the presiding officer of the Dewan Rakyat.
The Nanyang cartoon shows the “Hadi” monkey offering the RUU355 “hot potato” to the “Pandikar” monkey, who leaps off the tree saying, “Keep it for next time”, as a bunch of monkeys get into a fight below. The cartoon is captioned: “Monkeys playing tricks”, with the word “tricks” referencing the Bill.
Was the cartoon offensive? Opinions are sure to differ.
A person does not have to be smart to answer the above questions.
1) The cartoon is offensive to the supporters of the amendment of Act 355 because matters relating upholding Islam is a “no-mocking’ matters to the Muslims.
2) The cartoon is not offensive to people like Boo Su-Lyn because they are the ones who are the mocker or the trouble makers.
To me, calling someone a “bitch” or a “slut” is far more offensive than calling them a “monkey.” Yet, the police aren’t hunting down people who make such offensive remarks against women online.
Another deception of truth using an out of context argument. This is not just another case of name-calling or people make rude and offensive remarks as published daily by the opposition and the ‘opposition-inclined’ news portals, for example Free Malaysia Today and Malay Mail Online.
Nanyang is bounded by regulations and law because we are not living in dark ages or in a lawless country where anyone can do just anything they fancy.
Even if Boo Su-Lyn tells people to call her monkey, she has no right to tell the Muslims to let non-Muslims humiliate Islam by implying the amendment of Act 355 is like a monkey business; after all the caricature was titled “Monkey Act” (as translated by most reports) for a reason, isn’t it?
Why should a newspaper face State action over a caricature when Hadi is free to call the DAP a piece of “shit”? To be clear, I’m not advocating for police investigations against Hadi.
Is she serious? The newspaper insults Islam while Dato’ Seri Haji Hadi did not insult any religion. Islam is the religion of the Federation but DAP is only a political party and not even a religion. Dato’ Seri Haji Hadi said that DAP is a piece of “shit” from PAP, a rude way to say that DAP is a spin-off from PAP. It is rude but not seditious nor malicious. DAP leaders not only slur PAS but they also make offensive and seditious statements towards Islam. In fact, Boo herself wrote a lot of malicious and seditious articles which are offensive to the Muslims. If Haji Hadi must be investigated, so must Boo Su-Lyn and DAP leaders.
The point is everyone should have the right to freedom of speech, no matter how crude and offensive they are.
So, Boo must now fight for the Speaker’s, PAS Youth’s and Muslim NGOs’ rights to their freedom of speech. It is not fair if the rights to go on a “crude and offensive” mocking spree is only bestowed on Boo and her gangs.
The Nanyang cartoon wasn’t even mocking Islam; it was just taking a jibe at the way Hadi’s Bill has been politicised for two whole years since it first appeared in Parliament’s Order Paper in April 2015.
Islam is a way of life and as a non-Muslim and especially an atheist Boo Su-Lyn has no right to comment about Islam. Neither PAS nor UMNO politicised the Bill.
A piece of legislation cannot be equated to a religion.
As an atheist, she fails to understand how people feel about their religion as she doesn’t even have a religion.
Malaysia is a multi-cultural society, which means that our lawmakers in Parliament come from diverse backgrounds. Just because a certain Bill touches on religion (in the case of RUU355, it’s specifically on the Shariah court system), it does not mean that those of other faiths cannot question it.
One need to be constitutionally literate in order to talk about legal matters. The fact that Malaysia is a multi-cultural society makes it crucial for the people to respect the rights of others as provided by the Federal Constitution. Please refer to Article 11(3) of the Federal Constitution before making a statement on this matter.
If that were the case, then we might as well prevent non-Muslim MPs from debating and voting on RUU355.
Muslims leaders obey the Federal Constitution and do not do things based only on emotion.
Or we might as well prevent Muslim MPs from debating and vosion ting on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, since its proposed ban on unilateral child conversions deals primarily with the rights of non-Muslim parents and children.
This is the problem when a person who is constitutionally illiterate comments on parliamentary procedure. It is unconstitutional to restrict the non-Muslims Members of Parliament from voting on matters regarding Islam in Parliament.
The intellectual growth of the nation will be stunted if people are not allowed to question or to make criticisms on topics like religion. Any religious belief, or even the lack of belief like atheism, should be subject to debate, criticism, and yes, even satire.
Please study the law of our country before making senseless comments. Boo Su-Lyn’s ‘logic’ on matters of religion is only accepted by the liberals. By the way, atheism is against both our Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara, so it has no legal standing according to the supreme law of our country.
Freedom of speech is especially necessary in cases where religion is used as a basis for policymaking, be it healthcare, education, marriage, or childbearing.
Policy making must be based on the ideology and the law of a country. We cannot force a secular country to make state policies based on religion and like wise we cannot force an Islamic country like Malaysia to make policies based on freedom of speech.
In Malaysia, religion features in many of our policies, which makes it all the more important to ensure that the interests of the citizenry are not sacrificed for someone’s personal beliefs.
In Malaysia, Islam is not merely “someone’s personal beliefs” but it is the religion of the Federation as enshrined by the Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution. “The interests of the citizenry are not sacrificed” by Islamic policies because it is only for the Muslims. Regarding the amendment of Act 355, it is the non-Muslims who are trying to deny the rights of the Muslims.
If Malaysia really wants to go all out in preserving “national harmony”, then they can look at Singapore which prosecuted teenager Amos Yee for insulting Christians and Muslims and more recently, fined and deported a Muslim imam for saying during Friday prayers: “God help us against Jews and Christians.” Singaporean authorities even gave stern warnings to two Facebook users in the imam’s case.
I agree that Malaysia should take stern actions on people who try to interfere with other people’s religion especially Islam, the religion of the Federation. Unlike Malaysia, Singapore is a country without a religion, thus all religions are at par as according to the Constitution of Singapore; so legal matters regarding religions cannot be the same for both countries.
Christians and Muslims are minority groups in Singapore, forming 18 per cent and 15 per cent of the population respectively in the 2010 census. Buddhists and Taoists comprise the biggest religious group at 44 per cent. A significant percentage, 17 per cent, say they have no religious affiliation.
So Malaysia can take the Singapore route if it wants to and prosecute criticism and insults of any religion, without being biased towards a certain faith.
In the High Court decision of the case, Meor Atiqulrahman bin Ishak & Ors v Fatimah Sihi & Ors 1 MLJ 393, the then Justice Mohd Noor Abdullah had clearly clarified that other religions have no equal standing as Islam:
In my opinion, “Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practied in peace and harmony” means that Islam is the main religion among other religions that are practied in the country such as Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and others. Islam is not equal to any other religion, not sitting together or stand upright. It sits on top, he walked past, located in the field and his voice heard. Islam is like teak trees – tall, strong and skilled. If not so Islam is not the religion of the Federation but is one among several religions practised in the country and everyone is equally free to practice any religion he professes, no more one than the other. Provisions ‘Islam is the religion of the Federation’ shall be defined and reviewed with the objective to read other provisions of the Constitution, especially Article 89, 152, 153 and 14.
If “national harmony” is the reason for clamping down on freedom of speech, it’s preferable to go after those who mock any religion rather than take action against people who criticise a certain faith.
Boo Su-Lyn is either delusional or in a bad faith accused that it is lawful to mock any religion but Islam in Malaysia.
This way, everyone will be happy and there will be genuine “national” peace and harmony across race and religion.
In case Boo is unaware, the president of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) was charged in court under the Sedition Act 1948 for questioning the citizenship of the Chinese.
Of course, the best way for our country to develop intellectually is to truly protect fundamental liberties and to allow people to say whatever they want, as long as they do not advocate physical harm.
Fundamental liberties is stated in Part II of the Federal Constitution and as we live in Malaysia, we follow the Malaysian laws.
We shouldn’t try to be like robotic Singapore. Instead Malaysia should aim higher and allow the diversity of thought and opinion to flourish.
The opposition had always named Singapore as an example which Malaysia should follow, but now they don’t want Malaysia to become like “robotic Singapore”; cherry picking again.
Singapore has both the Internal Security Act 1985 and Sedition Act 1948, while Malaysia was forced to abolish the Internal Security Act 1960 by human right activists and is left with only the Sedition Act which is now under attack by the same group. Weirdly, the same group praises Singapore for its law-and-order policy.
If Boo lives in Singapore, I am doubtful if she dares to do what she is doing now. If Malaysia is as what portrayed by Boo, she would have been charged under the Sedition Act a long time ago. But she is still free to slur seditious and spiteful statements with malicious intent about Islam that can promote ill will and hostility or hatred between different races and religions of Malaysia, which is chargeable under both Section 3(1)(e) and Section (3)(1)(ea) of the Sedition Act 1948.
She must be thankful that at least she is has yet to be charged for making seditious statements. This proves that Malaysia does support freedom of speech. If not, not only Boo but a lot others including some online portals have been charged for making or publishing malicious and spiteful contents.