Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Tun - Racism Vs. Demagoguery

Tun Dr. Mahathir posted an entry entitled DISHONOURING UMNO in which he wrote:

1. Why is it that when I defend UMNO or the Malays I am labelled a racist but not when others speak up for Chin Peng?

2. If speaking up for the Malays is considered racist then are the Malays to be denied their right to speak for themselves?

3. Liberalism is fine but it should not benefit only certain people and not others. By definition not benefiting certain people contradicts the very concept of liberalism.

4. I really don't think openly slugging it out on racial issues in Malaysia is healthy. But if that is what Malaysians want then they should be prepared to slug and be slugged.

This is my response to him:

Dear Tun,

Racism is defined as:
  1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
  2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
  3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Therefore, until & unless it is shown that you indulge in any of the above, no one can justifiably call you a racist. Similarly, if you (or anyone else) believes that those who speak up for Chin Peng are racists, you need to show how they meet any of those same three criteria. As far as I am aware, they have made no such arguments, but I will stand corrected if anyone can show otherwise.

I too believe that "openly slugging it out" on any issue is not healthy. However, that must not mean that issues of National interest are decided behind closed doors by the elite few. All Malaysians need to be able to discuss these issues (even sensitive ones), calmly, rationally, with goodwill and without trying to incite racist sentiments, or succumbing to them. Leaders & statesmen (including your goodself) can help this by leading through example and encouraging Malaysians to look beyond communal one-upmanship to seek dialogue and consensus on shared concerns.

Sadly for Malaysia, some politicians, ex-politicians & media seem to believe that they will be more powerful by returning to the days before PRU-12 and even further back. Therefore they frame all issues in racial, religious or communal terms, and portray others as the enemies who seek to victimise & disposses.

While such actions and words are not necessarily racist, they constitute demagoguery, i.e. a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda , and often using nationalist or populist themes. May God save us from such politicians, because in the end their message is just like that of the bully and the gangster, that Malaysians should shut up and comply or risk being "slugged".

I wish you and all in your family good health & happiness.

Malaysian Heart


  1. hhmmm...
    demogoue - strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudice, emotions, fears and expectations of the public,...

    i guess pakatan rakyat is guilty of the same offence then,..

  2. All Malaysian after UMNO and Mahadey's rule are guilty of being racist or at least tainted by it. Demagoguery is the root cause and UMNO is very fond of it. So after 50 years of this destructive politics suffocating and drowning the rakyat, can we expect it not to taint the psyche of Malaysia? We are all effected by it and the best thing to do is acknowledge that we have a problem and try to find a solution to this problem..... Don't expect people who is fond of this demagoguery ( UMNO and BN and others) would help us.

  3. haha...bankrupt of ideas? Ethos Consulting can help you, Omar Mustapha Ong is extremely professional.....LOL... dia kan pandai, sederhana dan sensitif...

  4. Unfortunately if you read most of the comments in various blog, those who defend Chin Peng seems to believe that Chin Peng is not allowed to come back is due to his racist on top of him being a communist.

    Some even question that if Chin Peng is a Malay, the outcome would be different. So the perception of majority is this is a racial issue not purely on communism.

  5. Hi Anon 2:37pm,

    Thanks for your comment. If I understand you correctly, you seem to be saying that those who defend Chin Peng are racist, because they may believe that he is not being allowed back into Malaysia just because he is Chinese. Let's analyse this via an analogy.

    Supposing a woman believed that she was not promoted by her boss just because she was a woman. She asks her boss, "If I was a man, would you have promoted me?" Does this make her a sexist? Obviously she believes that her boss is a sexist and that her not getting promoted is a gender issue, but has she herself met any of the three criteria I mentioned in my post? I do not think so.

    If she had instead said something like, "Women are superior to men in work, therefore you must promote me," or, "Our office policy must discriminate against men in favour of women," or, "I hate all men, they don't deserve promotion as I do," then we could rightly say that she was a sexist.

    So we can conclude that suspecting another person of racism or sexism doesn't automatically make you a racist or sexist yourself. What is important is that if you want to say that a person is racist, you need to show how he/she meets the criteria, either by something he/she has done or said. So if that woman in our analogy wanted to prove that her boss was indeed sexist, she would have to show that he/she had promoted men who were similarly or less qualified as herself, or that he/she hated all women, or that he/she believed that women were inferior to men. Otherwise, no one would believe her suspicions.

    Racism is an evil quality. God made us into different races so that we may know each other better & live in peace. But still racists exist in the world. If we shout at them, "YOU RACIST!", it is unlikely that they will think about what we have said & correct themselves. They would probably hate us even more. So how to talk to someone who may be a racist? Again, I believe that we need to show them calmly & with goodwill how their actions constitute racism. It may not always work, but we have a better chance than if we had simply shouted "YOU RACIST!" at him/her.

    Coming back to the issue of Chin Peng, I have seen so many arguments in our blogosphere, for and against his returning to Malaysia that were based on legal, moral and humanitarian grounds, nothing to do with race at all. So I would disagree with you that Chin Peng's return is a racial issue per se. However, I feel that some people out there would like to turn it into one for their own benefit. If you see someone doing that, analyse their arguments carefully to see if they are right.

    Thanks for dropping by, and do come back often.


How to Paste Text into Comment Boxes

Google seems to have disabled pasting text (including ctrl-v) into blogger comments boxes in Firefox. The good news is that:
1. You can still copy paste using Internet Explorer (I successfully tried it with IE7)
2. With Firefox, you can still "Drag and Drop" text into the comment form. I have successfully dragged and dropped text from MS Word, websites (HTML) and from ScribeFire (plain text and HTML). Just do the following:

a) reduce the size of the window you want to take the text from, and place it near the comment box
b) Highlight the required text with cursor
c) Click on the highlighted text and drag it over to the comment box and drop it there.

Happy commenting!