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Friday, August 18, 2006

As We Turn 49: Intolerance Not Tolerated

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Image hosting by Photobucket13 shopping days to go before 31st August, sports fans.

We decided to skip a day yesterday; admittedly, a post a day was rather ambitious, so posts to this series will be as and when. However, there will be at least three a week.

tolerance - n. the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others (source:

It is this attribute that has allowed a mutlhi-ethnic, multi-religious nation like ours, Malaysia, to survive without major strife (save one black mark that we know as May 13, 1969) for the last 49 years. Granted, it has been, to some extent, a forced tolerance, through curtailment of free speech and association, and an engineered sociopolitical landscape - but for the most part, Malaysians have been tolerant of one another, even before 1957 when we gained independence.

But tolerance is a two-way street. To expect others to be tolerant of you, you must be tolerant of others - almost following Newton's Third Law of Motion - for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. To translate this into everyday morality, "do unto others, as you would others do unto you".

And tolerance is not limited to the racial sphere either. An important part of Malaysia's diversity, or any other nation for that matter, is tolerance of diverse viewpoints.

Given a certain issue or topic, everyone will naturally have divergent points of view and opinions, and a sign of maturity is the ability to accept that this difference will be there. We don't necessarily have to accept each individual viewpoint, per se - but it is important to recognize and allow room for divergent thought and dissent. Worst case, we either agree to disagree, or come to a consensus acceptable to all.

So, when Walski see's talk like it's "Time for the liberals to STFU. Or leave the country", as uttered by one known liberal-hating blogger, this to Walski shows two things: intolerance and immaturity. The saddest part is that this blogger does it in the name of Islam.
(more tolerant rebuttal in the full post)

Walski's literary note: STFU is a common Internet abbreviation for Shut The F*ck Up - although, it could also mean Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, or ST. FU - Patron Saint of Ninjas. But we know which meaning he intended)

This statement was made in relation to a phone survey conducted by the Merdeka Center, reported by the New Straits Times last week. One of the results showed an increased trend towards orthodoxy in the 1,000 randomly selected Muslims surveyed. Specifically, the blogger was referring to one finding that stated 77.3% of those surveyed want stricter Syariah laws in Malaysia.

Former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was said to have once quoted:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics"

Surveys are not free from bias, and while it is nice to infer all kinds of things from survey-derived statistics, the only thing that surveys are able to predict are trends. More importantly, however is another finding of the same survey:

'However, a majority, 63.3 per cent, also opted for the Syariah to remain under the Constitution in Malaysia (the other answer-option given to the question was, "the Syariah to replace the Constitution in Malaysia").'

And as much as the liberal-hating blogger would like to fantasize, the Malaysian Federal Constitution is a secular document, was framed as a secular document by our founding fathers, and has case law precedent upholding it as a secular law (per the Supreme Court decision in Che Omar Che Soh v PP [1988]).

While it is tempting to reciprocate this blogger's intolerant speech - and Walski can conjure up all kinds of colorful derogatory litany if he really wanted to - it would be pointless. It would also exhibit a level of non-tolerance for diverging opinions, no matter how vile they may be.

No, Walski believes that intolerance will be its own undoing. So, go ahead, spew all the intolerance and hate-monger all you want. In the 49 years our country has been in existence as a sovereign state, tolerance has always prevailed over intolerance, and God-willing, will continue to prevail.

To the blogger in question, all Walski asks is that he grow up and smell the 21st century. But know this: intolerance such as you have exhibited WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. No, we won't retaliate - people like you only deserved to be ignored.

As we inch yet another day towards the anniversary of our nation's founding, let's continue the spirit of tolerance that our founding fathers have exemplified. Better yet, let's be the generation of Malaysians that takes it to the next level of excellence. Hate and intolerance will be their own undoing, and the last thing we want to do is to undo what we've achieved for the last 49 years.