[ UPDATED ] Hyperallergic Reactions to BBC’s HardTalk With Syed Hamid Albar

16 09 2007

[ UPDATED ]

It seems that my satirical suggestion that we should adopt Sarah Montague of BBC HardTalk as Malaysia’s PM has triggered grave fears of an impending invasion and recolonisation of Malaysia by a grand military alliance composed of the UK, US, Israel, Russia, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Dubai, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, East Timor, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Burkina Faso and Luxembourg neo-colonialists, led by none other than the terrifyingly implacable and gimlet-eyed Supreme Leader Sarah Montague… I sincerely apologise for causing widespread panic and terror in the Malaysian online community.

With so many more pressing issues at hand, I would much prefer not to feud with commenters and other bloggers, but the appearance of several particularly venomous and fascist dangerous blog responses to my latest post/subject (the BBC Hardtalk interview with FM Syed Hamid Albar) requires a comprehensive reply.

It seems that several individuals and bloggers (not UMNO, to my considerable surprise) have taken grave offence to my satirical suggestion that we should adopt Sarah Montague of BBC’s HardTalk programme as Malaysia’s Prime Minister. At least one (fairly established and outwardly pious) blogger has uttered explicit threats of ‘hunting down and decapitating’ ‘traitors’… presumably independent-minded individuals who might dare to ridicule the esteemable Foreign Minister’s desperate comments and make satirical comments that Sarah Montague would make a better Prime Minister than Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

(Note: If you have not seen the video yet, please refer to the end of this post for the link to the BBC video; I leave you to judge for yourself whether Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar’s performance at the interview qualifies as that of a gallant hero defending the flawless reputation of Utopian Malaysia from hordes of evil enemies (as some think), or a squirming stooge forced to defend an indefensible political position from uncompromisingly blunt questions from a hard-nosed BBC journalist who cannot be intimidated or suppressed by UMNO-BN, unlike the supine Malaysian mainstream media)

It would seem that my satirical one-liner (last line of this post) about importing Sarah Montague as our PM has proven to be far more useful than I intended. For one, it appears to have (inadvertently) exposed the racist-religious supremacist tendencies of some individuals by triggering an over-reaction on their part.

The immediate and adverse allergy to satire is clear proof that the self-serving paranoia and supremacist rhetoric sown by UMNO-BN for so many years has fully taken root in some individuals, who may outwardly profess to be opposed to UMNO totalitarianism but spew the same poisonous, racist-religious supremacist rhetoric that we have come to expect from the fascists in UMNO Youth. This is a trend that is as insidious and dangerous as the overt racist rhetoric spewing from within the ranks of UMNO.

I say again: if we succumb to communal and sectarian hatred, UMNO has won. They will have successfully divided the multiracial people of Malaysia along racial lines, thus ensuring their continued hegemony.

To emphasise the point, I reproduce below one of the comments (unedited) here, as posted by ‘Mahaguru58’ on Achmed Rauff’s blog (Bullets of Quills and Ink) “Do I want Sarah Montagne as PM of Malaysia?”:

mahaguru58 said…
Well said Brother!Read my latest article about these anonymous cowards who seem hellbent in selling out our nation to foreign devils!They are traitors who must be hunted down and decapitated for their treacherous ideas!It is as the saying goes, ” A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.They’d never know the value of the independence that we have till we are colonized again!These upstarts usually have never experienced the hardship that our forefathers went through living under the foreign occupiers!I am with you in this stand.
7:20 AM”

Expressions of frustration and contempt for corrupt, inept and racist government (leaders) are not the same as ‘selling out the nation’ to ‘foreign devils’.

To ‘Mahaguru58’ and Achmed Rauff, you may wish to turn around and look in the direction of the BN (UMNO-MCA-MIC etc) headquarters. There are your ‘traitors’ who are ‘selling out the nation’, not those of us citizens who declare our refusal to submit to corruption, racism and creeping totalitarianism — unless of course you share the same insidious fascist objectives as UMNO. I will remind you that the threat of ‘decapitation’ would fit seamlessly into an Al-Qaeda/Jemaah Islamiah/Abu Sayyaf video.

And just in case you once again try to denigrate the credentials of other races in claiming equal rights as citizens of Malaysia:

My grandfather (and many Malayans of all races) operated with the Force 136 guerrillas and fought against the occupying Japanese Army for three years during WWII. Malayans of all races fought and died for a proto-country where many were at the time only 2nd or 1st-generation Malayans or were even born overseas. I can tell you that they did not fight to replace one set of oppressors with another, home-grown one.

There is no room for supremacism. We will not accept it. Stop this racist and religious intolerance NOW.
__________________

The record will show that:

(1) this blog is implacably opposed to the corrupt and racist policies and (mis)conduct of the BN government of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi led by UMNO and its component parties, and expresses opposition by helping to record and expose misconduct and hypocrisy.

(2) this blog has been pushing (in its limited capacity) for social equality and racial/religious tolerance, and is a (very) small part of the Bangsa Malaysia initiative, which adopts a ‘colour-blind’ position to overcome the deep communal suspicions created by years of UMNO communalist rhetoric and institutionalised discrimination. This blog does not tolerate supremacism of any kind. Fortunately, there are many enlightened individuals and citizens of all races and creeds who can see and act on the urgent need to eradicate supremacism.

(3) this blog has been trying (in its limited capacity) to help raise awareness of the people’s civil rights to freedom of speech and information; to demand accountability from the government; and the right to vote independently for a clean and just government.

(4) this blog has been seeking (in its limited capacity) to collaborate with other civil-minded individuals and/or groups in order to discuss and suggest improvements to governance, policy and the Constitution.

For some comic relief after the heavy material above, may I suggest you go to YouTube and search for “The Militant Black Guy” series of comedy skits from the “Balls of Steel” comedy series, which features a ridiculously belligerent black man whose paranoia and oversensitivity leads him to misconstrue completely innocuous comments as racial insults (i.e., like my satirical comment being misconstrued as ‘an invitation to ‘foreigners’ to ‘recolonise’ Malaysia). The brilliance of these amusing but meaningful short skits is that they manage to simultaneously satirise both real and reverse racism: casual discrimination against people of African descent and the reactionary paranoia of the ‘militant black power’ activists. Two of the videos are embedded below:

[ PARENTAL ADVISORY: VIDEOS CONTAIN HIGHLY GRAPHIC SATIRICAL CONTENT ]

Plenty more at YouTube.

The most salient point made by the videos (besides the prevalence of casual racism and reactionary racism) is that the inability to criticise and laugh at oneself is the core impediment to achieving maturity.

Thank you ‘Stu’, ‘dink’ and other readers who alerted me to the blogs in question, and to a few readers who recognised the satire and defended this blog and other readers. At the same time, I would like to request that readers refrain from attacking the blogs in question; by outing themselves as supremacists they have already done enough damage to themselves.

We have more important battles to fight.

_________________

[ ORIGINAL POST ]

FANTASTIC. This BBC video interview is as riveting as it is nauseating.

Watch as UMNO-BN’s hypocrisy and hubris is laid bare for the world to see as the implacable Sarah Montague of BBC’s HARDTalk relentlessly interrogates Syed Hamid Albar over the blatant racism and corruption in Malaysia under UMNO-BN.

Watch the Foreign Minister squirming like an obese rat caught in a mousetrap as he is forced into baldfaced lies and belligerent denial in order to defend the indefensible. I suspect the hapless stooge was not at all prepared for the grilling he received at the hands of the marvellously hard-nosed Sarah Montague. Not that any amount of preparation would have helped.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/progs/07/hardtalk/albar13sep.ram

If you haven’t seen the video already, please do. The link above is for the Realplayer version of the interview, or you can go to the BBC website here to access the Windows media version.

Thank you BBC for helping to shine the hard light of truth on the great Malaysian hypocrisy, and for putting the issue up on the global stage.

Now, it is our turn to ask the hard questions ourselves. Mercilessly. Relentlessly.

Excuse me while I check the Constitution to see if there’s anything to prevent us from importing Sarah Montague as our Prime Minister!


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15 responses

16 09 2007
Stu

Two bloggers (mahaguru58 & achmedrauff) strongly support the performance of the Foreign Minister, and go on to criticise other bloggers (including Ghl) and commentators,. They make threats to hunt down and decapitate all traitors and critics of Malaysia.
Their right to their own opinions is totally respected, however it is clear that such comments are from the mouths of inward looking, narrow minded, religious extremists who are intolerant, xenophobic, who are typical ignorant products of the Malaysian education system.
They have eyes but cannot see, brains but cannot think and ears but cannot hear!
Totally racially nationalistic no matter what.
Sadly such people will contribute to the eventual downfall of multiracial Malaysia.
The FM’s performance was, if viewed with a rational open mind, just a series of shameless half truths, barefaced lies, total denial and reflected the blinkered view that ‘all is well in Malaysia’!
If his performance was so wonderful why did ASTRO cut out the repeat of the HARDTalk interview which was scheduled for 10:30 pm?
Obviously ‘big-brother’ was of the opinion that it was not good publicity for Malaysia!!!!

[ GhL ] : Thanks for the heads-up, Stu; I won’t bother retaliating but have taken PDF prints of the offending posts on the two blogs mentioned for reference, and will consider seeking legal advice if appropriate.

16 09 2007
dink

Some people can’t take satire.. it seems someone out there seriously thinks you are going to read through the entire Constitution (where the hell do you get a copy anyway?) and really try to make Sarah the PM.

[ edited ]

[ GhL ] : Well, truth be told, I actually AM in the process of going through the entire Constitution — as part of a collaborative effort to identify problematic articles and propose amendments. It amuses me that someone would take my one-liner about adopting Sarah Montague as PM so seriously that they would throw a hissy fit — which suggests that it hit a raw nerve and that the point has been made.

As you said, some people can’t take satire, and therein lies its value – it exposes the intolerant for what they are. It may be instructive to note that at least one of the two blogs (so far) that have threatened violence at people critical of the FM in the HardTalk interview is also among the blogs responsible for insinuating a racist/religious supremacist undercurrent into the outburst of public anger over the Batu Burok violence and the near-riot in Paya Mengkuang.

As I mentioned in my previous blog posts, the two situations were actually very similar: it was about a corrupt and intolerant government trying to bully the people by using the police as a political tool; we as citizens were angry because police fired on unarmed civilians exercising their civil rights in Batu Burok, and we were angry because the police were used to bully the farmers in Paya Mengkuang. Race/religion never was and never should have been a factor, until some individuals started playing the race-religion card and directing hate at the pig farmers purely because these were pigs and thus their very existence was perceived as an affront to Islam. One wonders if the race-religious supremacist insinuations would have appeared had the farm animals in question been, say, chickens.

My anger is directed purely at the corrupt and increasingly fascist BN government (primarily UMNO as the largest component) and racists and supremacists of all stripes, not at the Malay people. In fact, the racist-religious intolerance espoused by UMNO and now revealed within some bloggers is as corrosive to the Malay people as it is to other communities.

There is — and must always be — a clear distinction between the ‘government of the day’ and ‘the nation’. The moment the ‘government’ begins serving its own interests and not the nation’s, it is time for the people to reclaim the nation and to kick the government out. The government is dispensable; the nation is not. UMNO is NOT and has never been synonymous with ‘Malay’; this is the fallacy that UMNO has actively tried to cultivate in the minds of the Malay community – that UMNO is the one and only representative of the Malay people. Entirely untrue. Unfortunately, many people are unable to see or understand the distinction.

For these particular individuals, there is a clear failure to understand that this blog is entirely about:
[ 1 ] Recording and exposing (particularly) government corruption and institutionalised discrimination in Malaysia;
[ 2 ] Exposing and advocating the overcoming of all forms of chauvinism (racism, religious supremacism and sexism), whatever the source.

Thanks for the heads-up, readers; there is no value in retaliating in kind; by exposing their chauvinism they have already done great damage to themselves. I have taken PDF prints of the offending posts and filed them for reference.

By the way, the Constitution is available at major bookstores that stock government publications e.g. MPH and Popular for about RM10-12/copy (I think) for the small pocketbook version and about RM43 for the thicker ‘General Laws of Malaysia Vol. I’ version which packages the Constitution together with a part of Malaysian laws. It’s no joy to read (dry and convoluted language) but I strongly recommend getting a copy to familiarise ourselves with the actual constitutional articles, laws, our rights as citizens and any problems that have accumulated in the Constitution over the years (such as the ISA).

Wikipedia also has the Federal Constitution, but I haven’t checked to see how accurately transcribed the article is. You may wish to check it out as a preview of what’s in the document itself. Keep fighting all forms of chauvinism: racism, religious supremacism and sexism, but let’s fight on a higher plane.

16 09 2007
Thomas E

Those in the know can vouch that Syed Hamid was lying through his teeth to get out of the corner.

Eg:
“Malaysia allows inter faith conversions. They just have to go through the processes.” Reality: This is nothing further from the truth especially when if it comes to conversions out from Islam.

“Lina Joy wanted to change her name on her ID and this is not allowed.” Reality : Lina Joy applied to have her religion recorded in her ID changed from ‘Islam’ to ‘Christian’. She did not apply to have her name changed.

“All the races in Malaysia are happy with the race relations right now” Reality: Need I say more?????

“Ethnic Indians are richer than Malays” Reality: Most Indians have remained as labourers and working in plantations all these 50 years as if time had stood still.

Please do not be too hasty to interpret his composure for the truth. Some people are capable to put up a straight face especially those that have so much experience in deceiving their own countrymen.

17 09 2007
Rauff

Amiable greetings,

I get your satire Ghostline. I never said that the minister in question was not lying through his teeth. Whoever watches HardTalk knows that many lie when they are in front of that Montague.

Merely giving a different perspective on one issue give a different depth of field. Simply that was what I am trying to do and at the same time speak my mind. But of course many will have even more things to say. Which is good…makes all of us think.

Your last line did work…and I used it to test what people feel. But as far as some to call me a racist and question my faith and religion that is a tad over the top. I would simply put that Malaysia is for Malaysians (not only Malays mind you). As for my last line….that meant to state how far am I willing to go to protect the very land that I was born and bred in. If I have to die for my religion and country why not? Wouldn’t every Malaysian do the same?

[ GhL ] : Greetings, Rauff.

I can understand your taking a provocative position in order to elicit a response from different angles. I must however also point out that to a reader, your post is very easily — too easily (and dangerously) — interpreted as an assertion of supremacism, an impression greatly reinforced by the presence of explicitly-worded threats of violence (“head shots”, “decapitated” etc) on your post and Mahaguru58’s comment.

Reader Zackaria Brach (who might be a Muslim himself – I don’t know) reacted out of shock when he read the post and Mahaguru58’s comment. So did the other readers apart from Mahaguru58. Whether intentional or not, the post and subsequent comment from Mahaguru58 created an effect similar to Hishammuddin waving his keris with Hashim Suboh egging him on to use it (on other communities).

I truly hope you did not intend that effect, and that you can see my (our) concern. Satire is one thing, overt threats of violence are quite another.

I allow most comments on my blog to pass through unedited as fair comment but have on several occasions edited parts or entire comments where I consider them to be unnecessarily inflammatory, offensive, bigoted or involve threats of violence (and this includes instances of reverse racism). I urge you to do likewise; you clearly have the ability to make your point without inflaming tensions.

Thank you for this frank exchange. To civil and responsible debate.

17 09 2007
kampunghouse

whow..you lot are so dramatic. I know there’s room for some artistic license but the level of exaggeration displayed by you and Mahaguru58 just goes to show that some people take things a little bit too seriously.

Relax, take a chill pill and look around. We’ve got a lot of problems in our country but no one really benefits from over-emotional arguments that merely provokes but doesn’t really do much else.


[ GhL ] :
True. But satire is one thing, explicit threats of violence are quite another. Calming tensions and easing suspicions is the first step to positive action to improve things in Malaysia.

17 09 2007
Hamidi

Rauff: “Your last line did work…and I used it to test what people feel. ”
Testing only? Wow that’s original. Want to know what’s a tad over the top? Easy, just look no further than your decapitator friend’s response to a satire. If that’s not over the top, I don’t know what is.

17 09 2007
dink

Ghostline: Thank you. Your eloquence in the face of anger is far more restrained than mine – thanks for the well-crafted civil responses (and for making my previous comment such as well).

I just feel fear and anger and bewilderment as to how effective these politician-barons have corrupted the minds of the citizens. Please help us all in using your words and ideas to continue speaking our minds.

“A stand can be made against invasion by an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an idea.” Victor Hugo

[ GhL ] : You’re welcome, dink. It is extremely difficult not to retaliate in kind — and we often come to regret words said in anger — but losing self-restraint only escalates the problem.

The real tragedy is that for the most part, the race/religion divisions and tensions in Malaysia (and for that matter, anywhere) are artificially manufactured constructs. People are not born racist. they learn or are taught to be racist. There are always agents provocateur (whether in crowds or in high political/religious office) who specialise in fanning race/religious tensions for purely selfish reasons.

If we can recognise this (as some citizens have with the Bangsa Malaysia initiative), we can stop racism and supremacism dead in its tracks.

The character ‘V‘ in ‘V for Vendetta’ said something similar (possibly influenced by Victor Hugo): “…behind this mask lies an idea, and ideas… are bulletproof.”

17 09 2007
dink

GhL: Good to read your response above. The idea that racism is a manufactured construct sparks me off greatly. I have read a detailed account (from Rocky Bru? I can’t seem to find that blog post now) that the riots of May 13, 1969 might have been provoked by DAP, but it was PLANNED and instigated by UMNO. International observers noted that, while it unclear whether the police or army has aided the Malay rioters, it was quite clear that they did not do anything to clamp down on it.

It would be valuable if you post a brief commentary on this idea that racism is a manufactured construct, of how racism was a political tool in the 60’s, and still is used today, and to what ends (riches, power). I would love your take on it. It would be a waste if it was buried within this comment section.

[GhL ] :
Hello dink. The account you read was probably based on the book “May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969” by Dr. Kua Kia Soong. The book is also available at major bookstores for about RM22/copy. The evidence in those third-party documents strongly contradicts the ‘official’ account.

The nation has never really recovered from the trauma of May 13, and as long as Malaysian society remains poisoned by UMNO supremacist rhetoric, it never will. The book goes a long way to providing an authoritative third-party account of the riots so that we can better understand and address the unresolved issues left behind by the riots.

Thanks for the idea, will post on the use of racism and supremacism as a political tool in a later post.

And thanks for confirming your identity. Caution is the order of the day, these days.

17 09 2007
Stu

Please read this quotation, and surely every thinking person must clearly understand that apathy and complacency are the root cause of all the problems faced in Malaysia today.
” ALL THAT IS NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS THAT GOOD MEN DO NOTHING. ” – Edmund Burke
All sensible Malaysians must speak out, object, stand up for the truth, refute lies and misinformation WITHOUT FEAR AND WITH HONOUR.
Racism, religious bigotry and ethnic division (Divide & Rule) are the tools of the corrupt and the evil.
ALL GOOD MEN & WOMEN DO ALL THAT YOU CAN TO RID MALAYSIA OF THE EVIL AND THE CORRUPT.

[ GhL ] : …and one very simple way to put this into action is to register as a voter, vote intelligently and urge others to open their eyes and do the same. Ask hard questions. Accept nothing at face value. Question everything and find the answers for ourselves.

18 09 2007
ghostline

Hello dink,

I received a comment from ‘dink’ this evening which sounds like you but was posted with a different email address from your previous comments, so I’m just checking to verify that the comment did in fact come from you.

Would you mind confirming the origin of that comment by posting a comment under your previously-used email address? Only I will be able to see the email address.

Excuse my caution, but some bloggers (notably ‘earthinc’ and ‘johnleemk’) have either received comments from impersonators or have themselves been impersonated on other blogs. Again, the work of agents provocateur.

Thanks and regards.

19 09 2007
chansey

George Bernard Shaw:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

To all bloggers and commentors: We must be the unreasonable people in Shaw’ quote to stay and fight for change; but not the illogical, racist people our Dear Leaders want us to be. Be careful what you say, and avoid the words that begin with “M”, “C” and “I” as much as possible. As Ghostline says it is too easy for us to fall into our old ways.

19 09 2007
Kavilan

when a satirical line can evoke comments saying that heads will roll, i wonder what would happen if serious words are written.
Mahaguru58 said smthg bout selling the country to foreigners… What about this interview in question which proved that a nation’s politician has been selling out his own countrymen?
I had written a post in my blog regarding this matter. Will post a trackback here.

19 09 2007
Rauff

To use the word “fight” gives a negative impact. I would rather put it as “practice”. Come the next elections all of us will practice for change. Hopefuly this time around the results will be more favourable.

[ GhL ] : Here’s to much-needed change.

19 09 2007
Why I Think Sarah Montague (BBC's HardTalk) Asked The Right Questions | Kavilan's World

[…] Read Ghostline’s Hyperallergic Reactions to Syed Hamid Albar’s talk on the Issue […]

23 09 2007
Antares

A tip of the proverbial hat to you, GhL, for setting an admirable new standards in mental clarity, moral valor, and the gentle power of well-considered articulation. May our orbits intersect in 3D at some point!

[ GhL ] : Thank you Antares, but it is the people in the front line like Haris Ibrahim and Jeff Ooi who are really showing the way forward. I merely do my best to follow their lead. I look forward to that cosmic alignment.

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