Friday, 28 November 2008

You can’t say that!

by James Chin,

In the bad old days when I conducted seminars, I used this opening line: “Don’t believe what you read about Malaysia. There is complete freedom of speech in Malaysia. There is only no freedom after the speech.” I’d get a few laughs here and there.

I know, I know, this line has been overused by Kit in the august House. After what happened to some bloggers (you know, being sued all) and RPK sent to UK (Universiti Kamunting) you really have to wonder what it is you can and cannot say.

My professional 2 sen is that you can say what you want but be ready to be sued, or be given a full scholarship to UK. (This scholarship covers all costs including tuition, full board, transport allowance from anywhere in Malaysia to Ulu Kamunting and back.)

You see, the problem is Malaysians cannot really talk to each other. Everything that is non-sensitive to one community is ACTUALLY very sensitive to another. There is no common area for any real discussions on religion or politics or even mundane issues such as the price of cars, scrap metal business, etc.

When you complain about the price of cars in this country, some people are unhappy because you are deemed to be unpatriotic for not supporting the national car project.

After all, in the name of patriotism, who does not want to pay TWICE the world price for a product that is “Kampung First Class” – you know, cheap plastics, funny noises after 10,000km, constant problems with the auto-gearbox, etc. (For more information, please check with the mechanics looking after the exco cars in Selangor, Perak and Terengganu.)

On the scrap metal business, no logical or rational discussions please! You are raising a “sensitive” issue since the scrap metal issue is really an ethnic issue given that one race dominates the trade (Did I just say something sensitive?) With a smart lawyer, you can probably use the Sedition Act on this one.

In other words, you name it, it is bound to be sensitive. You really have to wonder how people handle stress here since opening your mouth may lead to all sorts of trouble!

Is this the reason why obesity is fast becoming a problem here? Since you cannot talk, might as well eat.

Truth be told, Malaysians have not learnt the simple lesson in life: you can agree to disagree. Malaysians want to “win” the argument – any argument. Since a “win” means someone has to “lose” the best solution is to fly the “sensitive” issue flag.

If you think you cannot win the argument, just shout “you cannot say that – its sensitive!”

The obsession with “sensitive issues” has led to some funny results. Mainstream newspapers are now losing their readership because they don’t cover the real news – the real news is too sensitive to be printed. So you increase the entertainment news and the classifieds.

Local–made movies and teledramas are pathetic because their storylines cannot deal with any sensitive issues. You cannot be creative because everything around you is sensitive.

So what do you do? Most people bare their souls by writing anonymous postings on the internet. There are thousands of anonymous Malaysian blogs that complain about everything around them.

Yet the writers refused to identify themselves. You can’t blame them, though. After all, from kindergarten onwards, every time they open their mouths, their teacher would say, “You can’t say that! It’s a sensitive issue!”

P.S. I have to take back everything I said because I have been told it’s too sensitive to discuss UK, national cars, scrap metal business, obesity, etc. PLEASE IGNORE WHAT YOU HAVE READ. I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING!


Cruz says ....
You never heard of something called the "BN/Umno Social Contract", meh???
BTW, you forgot the mantra
in Malaysian politics - "Don't Question ...."


  1. Precisely doc, we've all got to chant that mantra. haha. hope you dont mind me linking you up.

  2. No Probs mate - I'd be honored... Thnks


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