FMT LETTER: From May Chee Chook Ying, via e-mail
Just the other day, I had a conversation with my youngest whoâs 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 canât agree more. To us parents, every child is a gift from God. No law of destiny or nature can be an obstacle to a parentâs love for his child. And here we have our leader proclaiming thereâs no place in Malaysia for LGBTs!
A child, I repeat, is a gift from God, and nothing is unclean in all Godâs creations. Sin is not something we do unintentionally but it is always something that comes from the heart. (I shudder to think whatâs lurking in the depths of his heart!) By making a declaration as such, is he not dividing people as âusâ and âthemâ, or rather ignoring their very existence, unless it was to let them feel the weight of his so-called âjusticeâ? Iâm 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. Whatâs so wrong with embracing a political ideology founded on ideas of liberty and equality? Whatâs so wrong with employing social liberalism that espouses social justice?
Whatâs so wrong with classical liberalism thatâs 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? Whatâs 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, thereâs 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?
Shouldnât 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 thereâs a marketplace for ideas? Whatâs interfaith for if there isnât 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 âtempurungsâ? And yet, some found it offensive that our leader is tagged a âfalse democratâ?
As a âtrue democratâ, he would know all citizens have an equal opportunity to express their opinion. As a âtrue democratâ, he would know that equality and freedom are important characteristics of democracy.Â As a âtrue democratâ he would know that the democratic principle has also been expressed as âthe freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given and which, therefore, could not be known.â
As a âtrue democratâ, 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 âusâ and âthemâ, he is depriving them of their fundamental right to have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.
Words from a âtrue democratâ 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 âtrue democratâ, 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 leaderâs 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 âtrue democratâ, 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 personâs 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. (Iâm afraid he would stand guilty of creating Judases by refusing to integrate some people into our society.)
As a âtrue democratâ, he would know that heâs 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 âtrue democratâ, 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 peopleâs true liberation goes beyond partisan quarrels and rivalries.
But, here we are – he has divided the nation to âusâ and âthemâ. I think itâs a national disaster to be divided like this. In the best democracy in the world, wouldnât 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 âtrue democratâ, 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 thatâs due to oneâs own belief, whatâs 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, donât 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 thereâs no place in Malaysia for some of us.
To my LGBT brothers and sisters, please do not be disheartened by such hypocrisy. You are Godâs 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 itâs 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!