Friday, August 14, 2009

You can never Win with a Bigot - My Response to "OutSyed the Box: Is The DAP A Chauvinist Party?"

This is my Response to "OutSyed the Box: Is The DAP A Chauvinist Party?" by Syed Akbar Ali (SAA, or Tuan Syed)

Dear Reader, allow me to to share a "joke" with you. Two waiters were talking about the diners they were serving that evening:
Waiter A: There's a large party at my table. I'll get a good tip tonight for sure.
Waiter B: Don't hold your breath, buddy. They're all X (insert name of group here), everyone knows that X are cheapskates.

Later that night...

Waiter A: Hey, I got a really nice tip from them! They weren't cheapskates at all!
Waiter B: Of course you got a "big tip", sucker. Everyone knows those X control all our money anyway!
As far as waiter B is concerned, the X are damned if they do and damned if they don't. He has made up his mind and no truth can change it. He is a caricature of a bigot, i.e. one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. Bigots never let facts, reason and logic get in the way of what they want to believe; after all, why should they, when it's so much easier to find crooked thinking and dishonest arguments enough to support their bigotry?

Bigotry is spreading fast in our blogosphere, on both sides of the political divide; I believe that SAA's blog entry of 31 July 2009 is but one example of it. The purpose of the post in question seems to be to imply that the DAP is chauvinist, anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

Let's look at some of the things SAA wrote, beginning with this about Lim Guan Eng (LGE): "Lim Guan Eng made a public display of standing up for a young Malay girl because the fellow involved was Rahim Tamby Chik, Guan Eng’s nemesis in Melaka at that time. Would Lim Guan Eng have made the same stand if it was not Rahim Tamby Chik? What if it was Chua Soi Lek?" So, according to SAA, if someone like LGE speaks up for a Malay girl, he/she is only motivated by political and/or racial motivations, never by principle or more nobler aims.

Yet, five paragraphs later, he is taking Theresa Kok to task for (supposedly) doing the exact opposite: NOT speaking up for a Malay girl! He writes: "Then it came to pass that the girl was not Chinese but actually a Malay girl, also wearing a tudung, who was a suspected drug addict. Not surprisingly that also marked the end of Theresa Kok's involvement in the matter. She dropped the case like a hot potato."

Doesn't it seem like whatever a DAP politician says or does, SAA can find a way construe it to imply that they are opportunist, racist and/or worse? How convenient!

Let's look at another example of SAA's logic. Of LGE's conviction for sedition over the case allegedly involving Rahim Tamby Chik, he wrote: "By the way none of his lawyers (or even DAP) spoke of conspiracy, crooked judges etc after the verdict. Does anyone know the name of the judge who jailed Guan Eng? Crooked judge? How come DAP never said so?" He seems to be implying that LGE, his party and his lawyers have implicitly admitted his guilt because they (supposedly) did not dispute the judges verdict. Yet, in his post "The Solution To The Perak Crisis" of 12 May 2009, SAA criticised Perak PR leaders for disputing court decisions that were unfavourable to them!

There's just no way to win with Tuan Syed, is there? We're damned if we do, and damned if we don't! Would it be in any way unreasonable to suspect that SAA would have found a way to criticise LGE, even if he (LGE) had disputed his conviction?

SAA's arguments that I've described above, are all based on just one of the 38 dishonest tricks commonly used in arguments, namely no. 38: attributing prejudice or motives to opponents, without any evidence in support. That's easy to do, but by neglecting to go beyond smear tactics, such an argument does not consider the action or argument on its own merits. It also ignores the various possible real reasons a person acts or speaks in a particular way.

Let's look at another example by SAA, based on the same dishonest trick. SAA writes this about Lim Kit Siang (LKS): "In Bamiyan the Buddha statues were blown up but no one died. 11 Press statements were made by Kit Siang. In the destruction of the Babri Mosque, 2000 people were also massacred but no Press statement from Lim Kit Siang." SAA uses these facts to imply that LKS, and by extension the DAP, is anti-Malay, anti-Islam and chauvinist.

Now, if LKS had issued a statement SUPPORTING the destruction of the Babri Mosque by Hindu fanatics and the subsequent massacre of Muslims, then SAA's implication would have been very credible. However, as it stands, SAA has merely attributed, again, without evidence, a DAP leader's action (inaction, in this case) to prejudices or dishonourable motives.

This particular game can be played, with almost any combination of organisation, person and causes, until the cows come home. To see how ridiculous SAA's argument is, let's apply his logic, along with some of his own words to, let's say, Tun Dr. Mahathir (TDM). TDM launched SAA's book recently, and seems to be a person whom SAA admires very much; as he wrote here "If we had a 100 Vincent Tans and just one more Dr. Mahathir our country will be fine".

TDM, either personally and through his organisation, the Perdana Global Peace Organisation, has made numerous statements against the Israeli oppression of Palestinians. To paraphrase SAA, I congratulate TDM for his concern. Well done. However, how many statements has TDM made against the oppression of Christians in Pakistan? Can anyone guess? The answer is none. Since Tuan Syed had no qualms about arguing thus against LKS, would he also believe that TDM is anti Christian? Of course he wouldn't; the argument is preposterous.

My question to SAA is this: WHY does the shoe have to be put on the other foot before he realises the patent unfairness of his arguments? Isn't it a moral failing if one is unable to feel the unfairness and injustice felt by others in a situation, until and unless one's own interests are affected?

To be fair, Tuan Syed has not always written like this; indeed, he used to be one of the better bloggers out there. Even when I disagree with his point of view and conclusions, I used to find his blog entries well argued and if nothing else, principled. If you don't believe me, just take a look at here, here and even here; some antipathy towards DSAI and PR perhaps, but that's not a crime, is it? I could never find a crooked thought in them. For him to have sunk this low within the last couple of months, is saddening.

In my opinion, this recent blog post of SAA's represents the worst of what the Malaysian blogosphere is becoming: a seedy back alley for spreading bigotry, with spin, smear, insinuation and dishonest arguments; all done for partisan interests. An example of this is the effort by pro-BN bloggers and the BN owned mainstream media to paint PR as anti Islam and anti Malay. Tuan Syed seems to have jumped onto this particular bandwagon with much gusto.

Democracy needs a forum for open minds to honestly discuss and debate issues of National interest, as we work towards a Malaysia that is free from racism, bigotry, corruption, oppression, bad governance and tainted judiciary. Bigotry, on either side of the political divide, will destroy our blogosphere; it has already infected our mainstream media and blighted inter-community relations in the past, with dire consequences. If we care for our Nation's future, we need to reclaim this space for enlightened public discourse.

All of us have our own political beliefs and affiliations, there's nothing wrong with that. However, whatever those beliefs are, we have a responsibility to argue our cases justly and honestly; if not to our readers, then at least for the sake of our own conscience. SAA ends his post by writing: "So this may throw some light if the DAP is anti Malay, anti Islam, chauvinist etc." No, Tuan Syed, your words do not throw any light at all on the character of your intended victims, but they do reveal much about your own.

Malaysian Heart


  1. This SAA is definitely a hypocrite. He works with the Umno propaganda machinery, despite the fact that one look at him would tell you that he is of Indian heritage. Of course he also criticizes to appear "balanced", so as to win over the sceptics - he's smart, but a hypocrite nonetheless.

    Don't you know who this fella is?
    He's the one who was a trojan trolling on MalaysiaToday, using the handle "muftimurtad" and "MM2007". He went on putting insulting comments on Islam over & over again. Some of them were so insulting, that even I as a non-Muslim found it in real bad taste. Most probably he wanted to damage MT's credibility, and make it appear that MT is anti-Islam.

    Unfortunately, he was hit by "friendly fire" and got hauled up after MM made a police report against RPK - the case keeps getting postponed (for whatever reason).
    Now he's launched a "Read the Quran" campaign to whitewash that image (probably for the sake of a credible defence).

  2. As the saying goes, money or (ahem!) "benefits" are the roots of all things evil. So, it's not surprising that things could change overnight as temptations sets in.

    When money/benefits are concerned, white could easily be seen as black and vice versa as the power of $ knows no bound. There's no need to fret over lost souls because there could be never be an acceptable reasoning for them, no matter how apparent it may be....that's how the term bigot comes into play.

  3. I believe DAP is not a antiMalay, antiIslam but it certainly you an 'impression' that it is a cahuvinistic party. You can't fault people for having this perception because most of the issue they brough up 'appeared' to be related to certain race. What they should do is to groom more Malay leaders and accept more malay members to change this perception


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