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A ‘true democrat’?

June 27, 2012

FMT LETTER: From May Chee Chook Ying, via e-mail

Just the other day, I had a conversation with my youngest who’s eighteen. She was resolute when she told me that no one chooses to be born the way they were. So, we should embrace them the way they are, for who they are. I can’t agree more. To us parents, every child is a gift from God. No law of destiny or nature can be an obstacle to a parent’s love for his child. And here we have our leader proclaiming there’s no place in Malaysia for LGBTs!

A child, I repeat, is a gift from God, and nothing is unclean in all God’s creations. Sin is not something we do unintentionally but it is always something that comes from the heart. (I shudder to think what’s lurking in the depths of his heart!) By making a declaration as such, is he not dividing people as “us” and “them”, or rather ignoring their very existence, unless it was to let them feel the weight of his so-called “justice”? I’m flabbergasted, to say the least.

Our leader, purportedly of the best democracy in the world, also stressed that he would fight against any deviant thought such as liberalism and pluralism, promoted by certain quarters. What’s so wrong with embracing a political ideology founded on ideas of liberty and equality? What’s so wrong with employing social liberalism that espouses social justice?

What’s so wrong with classical liberalism that’s committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and free markets? What’s so wrong with economic liberalism that grants people more basis to control their own lives, including making their own mistakes?

How can we not tolerate pluralism, especially in a country like our own? Do we not tell people, our differences are our strength? That we are united, in spite of it all? How can we, Malaysians, living in a society so diverse not embrace the fact that, there’s going to be a diversity of views and that we have to agree to disagree?

Are we going to marginalise the smaller groups in our society who come with their own unique cultural identities? Do we not recognise those who believe in a multiplicity of legitimate interests and stakeholders in the employment relationship?

Shouldn’t we, being beneficiaries of the best democracy in the world, indulge in politics that allow diverse and competing centres of power in society, so that there’s a marketplace for ideas? What’s interfaith for if there isn’t an acceptance of all religious paths as equally valid, and thus can help promote coexistence?

This is 2012 and yet, we are not ready to accept the position that there is not one consistent set of truths about the world, but many? Liberalism and Pluralism are deviant? Are we living in sunny Malaysia or under “tempurungs”? And yet, some found it offensive that our leader is tagged a “false democrat”?

As a “true democrat”, he would know all citizens have an equal opportunity to express their opinion. As a “true democrat”, he would know that equality and freedom are important characteristics of democracy.  As a “true democrat” he would know that the democratic principle has also been expressed as “the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given and which, therefore, could not be known.”

As a “true democrat”, he would know that democracy is not just a political system but an aspiration connected to the capacity to begin anew, of what it is to be human and of what it is, a human should be to be fully human.

If the LGBTs are stripped of their rights to participate freely and fully in the life of our society, are we still a democracy? Or is it a case of the minority being oppressed by the tyranny of the majority? By dividing the nation into “us” and “them”, he is depriving them of their fundamental right to have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Words from a “true democrat” do not remain mere words but they should effect a change; better still, a positive change. He would frame words that acknowledge the dignity of our brothers and sisters, instead of driving them into closets to protect themselves against ridicule and bullying. Instead, he framed words that cause new walls to spring up around them. How far can human stupidity go?

As a “true democrat”, he would encourage his people to liberate themselves from prejudices that classify people. As it is said in the holy book, the Sabbath was man for man and not man for the Sabbath. No law, no matter how holy, should be applied in such a way that would oppress another. Like a true religion, for me, a true leader must be rooted in the marginalised and needy.

The LGBTs have never asked to be accorded any special rights. They have two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose. They are asking for the same rights as any other who fit that description. They are being further marginalised by our leader’s stupid declaration and he should know this. Who can tell what is possible for a free and liberated person? How far he can go to realise his potential and how much he can contribute to society?

As a “true democrat”, he would enable his people, all of them, to attain their personal progress by renewing their environment. He would allow them, all of them, to enter life as they should; a life that invades them – a meeting with self and the total realisation of a person’s own potential.

He would encourage them, all of them, to embrace the mystery of life that begins with full of hope, not push their backs against a wall. (I’m afraid he would stand guilty of creating Judases by refusing to integrate some people into our society.)

As a “true democrat”, he would know that he’s not just the leader of one particular segment of society but the leader of all. What would happen to the rest of us if he and the likes of him begin to feel that they own the nation alone? I think we are already suffering from such consequences.

As a “true democrat”, he would know that he should fight for liberty to every person, in order to develop culture and national life. He would know that a people’s true liberation goes beyond partisan quarrels and rivalries.

But, here we are – he has divided the nation to “us” and “them”. I think it’s a national disaster to be divided like this. In the best democracy in the world, wouldn’t its leader know how to give political life its true place and not to confuse it with faith and religious fanaticism. Since faith asks of us total obedience, people who knowingly confuse political militancy with faith begin to justify, little by little, everything their party does, even its lies and crimes.

As a “true democrat”, he would know how not to mix politics with faith or religion. He would know that he cannot expect to demand the obedience of conscience that’s due to one’s own belief, what’s more in a nation as plural as ours. He would know how not to manipulate religion for political purposes. He would know how not to practise a politics that seeks religious justification, when convenient.

Laws were first crafted, not for the good, but for those who do evil. Just because some of us are different from him, don’t mean we deserve to be tortured and mocked. Some of us continue to be persecuted to the extent that we are no longer considered as persons, and brothers and sisters. That, I think is evil; the wickedness of one who ill-treats some or allow them to be ill-treated. And he has done just that, with that stupid declaration he made that there’s no place in Malaysia for some of us.

To my LGBT brothers and sisters, please do not be disheartened by such hypocrisy. You are God’s precious creation and as beautiful as the next person. Do not allow those with empty arguments that attract the mediocre to decide your fate. You must have faith in yourselves as it’s the only force you have to fight against egoism and unequal privileges.

Do not be scandalised by those hypocrites who have no faith in themselves as dignified persons (if they do not cling to antiquated practices and thoughts). All things are possible for those who believe; have faith. God Bless!


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