Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pluralism is neither a fatalistic nor a sinister philosophical/political idea – Part 1

By: Choo Sing Chye 






Let us break free from the shackle of hate, and make 2015 a  year to rekindle our hopes of goodwill, and harmony in Malaysia.  We have forgotten the feelings of brotherhood, and sisterhood which had been residing in our hearts many decades ago.  

Needless to say that it is already a known fact that the hate-peddlers dwell comfortably in UMNO’s ironic One-Malaysia home.   We have  weak and unintelligent leaders in UMNO to begin with, and because of this, they are unable to  provide an effectual injunction against these hate-peddler’s misdemeanours.  

Their lack of intelligence, and political will, have left  a large patch of  fertile ground for this consortium of hate-peddlers, the yelling right-wingers, thugs and the pseudo-intelligentsia to flourish and expand.  

In short, these hate-peddlers dominate everything from influence peddling to national debate.  They even dictate the vocabulary of Human-rights, Democracy, Pluralism and Liberalism.  

Malaysian Pluralism.

Pluralism, like Liberalism is neither a fatalistic nor a sinister philosophical/political idea, it just needs a keen mind to comprehend, and decode its significance so that it could be applied effectively to our society in the form of good policies.   

But, with our tiny minded politicians, and activists dominating the mainstream debate, throwing ideology like Pluralism into the ring would in an instance hurl them into a violence epileptic fit. 

What many do not know is that Pluralism is the key to our political survival, and it forms the back-bone of our society whether we like it or not.  In fact, Barisan Nasional, and the Pakatan Rakyat are fashioned toward diversity incorporating several different ethnic political parties under its wings vying to become the government of the day.

Pluralism held on well during the preliminary years after Merdeka.  Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister, continued with the British Federalist policy of governing Malaya/Malaysia.  But sadly, almost 12 years later, May 13th riots broke out, and it sent the country into an uncontrollable spiral entering one the bleakest episode in our history.  This was the day Pluralism stopped working. 

Yes, Pluralism literally died on that day.  The Malays and the Chinese were at each other's throats, and hatred for each other reign the day.  No more neighbourly or brotherly love – just pure hatred.  

It was Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Dr. Ismail who resuscitated Pluralism when they reinstated Parliament  and moulded the Rukun Negara into the Malaysian consciousness. 

Today, Pluralism had fallen into disrespect and torn into tatters by the yelling hate-peddlers.  Unintelligently, these acts are being cheered on by none other than our Barisan Nasional’s future and present leaders, notably from UMNO.

Now, why is the real meaning of Pluralism not in our national debate or in our consciousness anymore? 

It is crystal clear that these unintelligent hate-peddlers have misplaced the correct meaning of Pluralism.  They seem to focus entirely on the presumption that Pluralism has a hegemonic value attached to it.   

They refused, and in most cases, unable to think intelligently.  They  inferred that our society with different set of values are made equal, and forcibly moulded together into one gigantic Super-Valued Pluralism.  (1,  Value Pluralism).     By this, they insist and believed that Islam is placed at equal footing with other religions.   

This is  pure nonsense, because in reality, Pluralism cannot be super-valued into one huge entity where everything are forcibly made equal.   Islam cannot  be reduced in value to be made equal to other religions. It simply cannot be done!

The Malaysian Constitution is a Federalist document, and not a Super-Valued one.  It positions  Islam eminently as the religion of the Federation (official religion), and it is placed under the domain of the Malay Rulers, while the non-Muslims are given space to freely practise their religion in the Federation. 

UMNO’s politicians, and the yelling hate-peddlers shouldn’t have fallen into these hostile and antagonistic trappings. They have all the highly paid consultants, government owned media practitioners,  public university professors, and yet they can’t even understand the correct meaning of Pluralism.

In fact, UMNO having all these advantages would have easily sailed through explaining the significance of having a thriving pluralistic culture in our society.    But the opposite is true, none of their scornful, thoughtless, nasty and silly speeches  reflect the correct meaning of Pluralism. 

As a consequence, things that are good can be made bad with the twist of the yelling hate-peddlers’ tongue.   Let us take the hypothetical example, even the simplest meaning like SWEARING can be misplaced and manipulated.

To prove a point, the word swearing can be banned from our courts if  these hate-peddlers bypass their brain, and jump in a haste to believe this syllogistic layout: “Swearing is forbidden by  God; swearing is practised in our Courts of Justice; therefore something practised in our Courts of Justice is forbidden by  God.”   So,  should it be removed from our court’s system?  

This is a simple hypothetical example to illustrate what can happen to a term when its meaning is not comprehended, and misplaced by us, just like Pluralism.    

Thus, what we need today are intelligent, and competent leaders to carry the torch of pluralism/diversity needed to secure all Malaysians a place in the sun, and sadly this is not the case.

Undeniably, it is an insurmountable task to correct the consortium of hate peddler’s perceptions.  But fortunately, we have the Group of 20 plus 11 coming out into the open to voice this concern.  This has definitely offered us a small glimmer of hope against this Consortium of haters.  

I hope this group and others would flourish throughout 2015 and beyond.







1) E.R.Chang, Value Pluralism – Keywords: Pluralism, Monism, Values, Reduction, Regret, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Relativism, Pleasure, Rational choice, Incommensurability, Incomparability.  Dept. of Philosophy, Rutger University, N.Brunswick, New Jersey, USA