Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Musings by Marina Mahathir

Can't help it, I just have to keep a record of this article and what's better way than to blog on it! It's so comforting to know there are other Malaysians who think and feels very much like myself with the recent developments in our country...

This is from the article Musings by Marina Mahathir in the Star
Wednesday August 9, 2006

Limitations on speech Musings: By MARINA MAHATHIR

I MUST say that I am at a loss as to what to write about this time. My head is full of things but no ideas come for this column.

For the past 17 years or so, I have written about all the things that I care about; women’s rights, children and young people’s rights, censorship, HIV/AIDS, politics and politicians and more recently, the impact of harsh and rigid interpretations of religion on our people.

In the past few years, I’ve felt that I’ve become a bit of a grump so occasionally I try and lighten the mood by talking about something relatively trivial. But the many people I meet or who write to me have encouraged me by saying that what I write about resonates greatly with them, that I somehow say things that they have been thinking about but don’t feel they can say.

I’ve never felt constrained in talking about whatever got my goat that fortnight, except by the need to be civil and my 800-word limit. Not everyone would agree that I’m always civil; certainly my editors have been known to edit out a line or two where they thought I have been a bit too irreverent about some people in authority, particularly those inclined to wear white robes.

But now I don’t know what to write about. I had wanted to write about how the environment in our local schools is turning out little racists (including my daughter) but I guess I can’t because that’s sensitive. I thought also of writing about how I’ve become addicted to reading blogs recently but then lately, the Internet and the blogosphere particularly have been deemed seething hellholes of lies and misinformation so I can’t talk about that either, at least not in the bastion of truthfulness, the mainstream media.

I’d like to talk about my religion and how self-appointed defenders have painted it as one that so lacks compassion, ignores justice and fairness and promotes inequality between men and women and between those professing it and those not. But then some people have cited me as one of those who really should not be allowed to talk because apparently I give the country a bad name. I guess people who storm forums, write untruths, scream and shout at people with different opinions give a better image of our beloved country. So I can’t talk about this either. So what can I talk about? I don’t really know anymore. I guess the only safe things to talk about these days are cooking, celebrity gossip and fashion perhaps. None of which I am interested or good at writing about. Should I migrate to the cyberworld? But then, writing my column online would be like waving a red flag to all the keyboard-happy can’t-think-of-anything-nice-to-say-about-anyone lot out there and I really would rather not have a life more stressed than it is already.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that life is mostly about the mundane; getting up every day, sending kids to school, buying groceries, sending the car for servicing, that sort of thing. It would be great to be able to just get on with these, if one’s mind doesn’t get distracted by worries and concerns about what sort of country, now approaching its 50th year, my children will grow up in.

I look constantly for little glimmers of hope, that in fact, everyone in this country has to get on because we are so dependent on one another. But it would be nice if we could be inter-dependent comfortably, better still warmly, and with mutual respect. I don’t understand why I and some of my friends who have always spoken respectfully of everyone are the ones being censured while the ones who are blatantly being supremacist are not. How the world has turned upside down!

There are countries less advanced than us, like Pakistan, where people have a lot of space to say what they want. Some here may argue that that’s why they are not as developed as us.

On the other hand, there are also countries more advanced than us who also give people plenty of leeway to criticise, complain and argue. Many developing countries are also finding that the road to progress is bolstered by providing the many freedoms that their people hunger for, including that for speech.

We on the other hand are trying to emulate the least progressive countries, and are actually proud of it. I don’t know how given current circumstances, which admittedly are not new, we are going to take our place in the world. Unless the world is about to implode, in which case it’s a moot question. What a cheery thought!

Marina has her blog here...

3 anak ayam bother to comments:

The Hedonese said...

Welcome to blogdom, kakiayam! May it be a blessing of information and insight :)

Alex Tang said...

hello kaki.ayam,

It is wonderful to discover your blog and some of your interesting thots.

I agree with you that Marina's article is well written and touched on a lot of issues dear to our hearts. It is wonderful that she can say so much without saying it.


kaki.ayam said...

Hi Dave, will try...hopefully it will be a blessing to others...

Hi Dr. Alex,

Thanks for visiting Dr.! If only her thoughts could be channel in some ways through the Malay mass media...

Hope you guys wouldn't mind having your blog link in my blog. I had my dilemma on what I should focus on in my blog, but I have to agree that if people are searching for current national issues, there's plenty of such blogs out there with more indepth information...