Saturday, August 16, 2008


As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at on August 15, 2008 3:44 PM

1. Non-Malays and maybe quite a few Malays have strongly criticised my piece on the Bar Council. I am made out to be against free speech, human rights etc.

2. What I was talking was about sensitivity - about the need for people to be sensitive to the feelings of other people. It was not about Islam or its teachings or its history per se. It is about the Malays and the non-Malays in this multiracial, multi religious country and their sensitivities.

3. You may not notice it but I also mentioned the sensitivities of other races in Malaysia.

4. I didn't use language meant to irritate which I could very well do, as good as anybody else.

5. My criticism against the Bar Council is because of its insensitivity and arrogance. I can say a few things about some members of the Bar Council in order to hurt. But I did not. I should really, because the Bar Council was instrumental in persuading the Royal Commission that it was possible I was influenced in the choice of judges by V.K. Linggam and that I should be investigated. It was an exercise in taking me down a peg.

6. Sensitivities of people differ. We don't wear chador in Malaysia but go to the countries where the chador is de rigueur and wear a miniskirt because it is your right. Then you will see what will happen. Even Queen Elizabeth covered up sufficiently when visiting Saudi Arabia. She was sensitive, her royal rights notwithstanding.

7. Other countries have different interpretations of Islam and it is their right. In fact even Christian countries have their sensitivities. Or the levels of their sensitivities may be different.

8. Go to some European countries and you will find condoms on the steps of churches. In others, Christian priests officiate marriages between man and man, woman and woman and they raise families by having sex with other people. It is fine there because it is their interpretation of their rights. But why stop there? Why arrest couples having sex in full view of people in a park? Isn't it their right too? But the people object. They are sensitive to this. What is the difference? You know very well that they do this at home anyway. And you do it too. But I think you also feel it is not right. You would feel offended as your child ask you "What are they doing Papa (or Mama)?" as the case may be.

9. The non-Malays in Malaysia have a lot of sensitive issues too. We cannot touch on them. We would be accused of being racist, being insensitive, provocative and offensive.

10. But supposing we ignore their sensitivities and we talk loudly about them. They would not like it. They may reply in kind, perhaps more insultingly.

11. Then we have to increase our insulting remarks in order to annoy, knowing that what we say would irritate and anger them.

12. The end result must be tension between the races in Malaysia which may lead to violence, continuous violence. Lives may be lost and property destroyed.

13. You can tell relatives of the people killed or owners of the property destroyed that this is okay, this is human rights, this is freedom, this is democracy. Think they will celebrate and offer more of their relatives to be killed so that you can behave insensitively?

14. I may be against the present Government but that does not mean I must forsake all that I believe in.

15. I believe not being able to discuss certain issues is a small price to pay for having stability and peace in this country. It had paid off hansomely. We would not be where we are today if we slug verbally or otherwise, at each other every day.

16. Some countries may be more open than others and still remain stable. Almost all these countries are single ethnic developed countries with the majority of the people atheistic. Still you don't call a black man a nigger but it is okay to call him an SOB (Son of a B***h).

17. But ours is not. Ours is multi-ethnic country where assimilation has not taken place. After hundreds of years you insist on still being what you are. Still for 50 years we managed to remain stable without the kind of conditions imposed by developed countries on new citizens.

18. We were able to do this because we were willing to accept minor restrictions, we are sensitive to the feelings of others.

19. Other newly independent countries attempting to practice even basic democracy have all become very unstable. Their people remained poor and the poor became poorer, despite being single ethnic.

20. If what we want is to be able to provoke people as a matter of right more than our own well-being and that of fellow citizens then be insensitive and have open debates by selected people whose views are already known, who are insensitive to the sensitivities of others but are very sensitive about their rights to be insensitive, whatever the cost to others and the country.