Silence of the Lambs

People like Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah have only one defense when their beliefs are backed into a corner: you don’t belong here, leave Malaysia if you don’t like it. That’s what he said in response to a CPI article written by Helen Ang, “Enforcing NEP on minority religions“.

I’ve faced the same response too often enough, sometimes from people close to me. It just goes to show that such a common sentiment appeals to the simple mind. Don’t like it? Please leave.

The logic is easy to grasp and even easier to vocalize. It just rolls off the tongue so easily, and seems to defeat difficult arguments. It almost sounds like the bleat of a lamb, so common and so simple the sound. In fact, for ease of reference, lets just call people like Dr Mohd Ridhuan, Lambs.

The Lambs think that criticism against the country is a sign of un-patriotism. Or worse yet, in the case of attacks on Malay Muslim practice, heresy. The Lambs believe in a socialist ideal where the only people they want living together in peace in Malaysia are those who are all willing to conform to a standard belief of what’s good for us. Any dissenters are not welcome to partake in this Utopia. Sounds very Maoist to me, and we all know what Mao did to China’s intellectuals during the Great Cultural Revolution

People like Helen Ang have proven themselves capable of critical thought. She’s taken an issue, examined the facts, and presented her argument in favour of her case. Instead of engaging her in discussion (Heaven forbid, she might have a valid point, who knows?), she becomes the subject of ad hominem attacks, and rudely invited to leave the country.

The worse thing for Malaysia is for her, and people like her (people capable of analyzing a problem and presenting a rational case), to take up the Lambs’ offer and leave. Just like any one of the 3 million Malaysians or ex-Malaysians who make their living away from the Motherland. These are people who are able to compete at a global scale, world class human beings so to speak. Isn’t it a shame that many prefer not to ply their trade in our shores? Can we blame them for choosing greener pastures, or do we blame Lamb’s like Dr Mohd Ridhuan for driving them away by denying them the greens of our own garden and forcing them to make do with a diet of rocks and stones?

When a well-educated person reads what Helen Ang wrote, it probably makes sense to them, at an intellectual level: yes this is happening, yes it seems unfair, and yes the non-Muslim-non-Malay minority deserve to be heard and engaged. She isn’t asking for a leg-up or more than what a functional democracy promises: she is simply asking for equality. Perhaps a compromise can be found. That’s what a real person of education would think. A real person of education would, even if he doesn’t agree with her, engage her in meaningful discussion, perhaps present his own facts to show that equality does exist and minority rights are being protected.

But of course, there are very few real people here. Just a lot of Lambs.

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