From Terence Netto
For some time now there has been a war for the Malaysian soul waged between two schools of thought. Just now that strife is at its most intense.
To be sure, hostilities between the two schools have been going on for a long time. But since the outcome of the 15th general election on Nov 19, the adversity between both parties was heightened.
Broadly, the hostilities pit a school of thought, whose exponents aver that one idea explains everything, against its opposite school, which is game to pursue multiform, often contradictory, insights to a conclusion.
Essentially, one could call the former school monistic while the latter one is best described as pluralistic.
Both schools have been jousting with each other for a long time, but in the four months since the elections, the lines of demarcation between the two sides have been starkly drawn.
A bellwether of this demarcation is the film “Mentega Terbang”, a local production that depicts the quest of a young woman in finding out what happens to her cancer-stricken mother after death.
The monists rounded on the film, denounced it as subversive of Islamic religion, and demanded its banning. In fact, they were appalled that the film had gained a limited viewership before reactionary forces shut down its circulation.
The reaction of the pluralists to the film was the diametric opposite.
They hailed the work as ground-breaking, viewed the film’s multiracial production team as proof of the interesting stuff that could be produced when talented Malaysians of all races worked together and were elated at the bright prospects for the future of the film industry if such work is encouraged.
The entire episode was a testimony of what happens if the monists make all the valuations in society. Everything is frozen at a certain level, no higher than the imaginations of the ruling mediocrities of the monists.
A state that is willing to usurp the faculties of those it rules by refusing to let them think and discover freely has already proved itself barbarous even if it does not resort to concentration camps.
Terence Netto is a senior journalist and an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.