I was at the Subang International Airport this morning waiting for my flight to be called when a Malaysian joined me at one of the waiting benches, and asked me what I thought would be the future of Malaysia.
I did not know who this person was, but I responded, saying that it reminded me of the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’s “”A Tale of Two Cities” –
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”.
I said Malaysia seemed to be caught by this paradox on the occasion of the 62nd Merdeka Day – best of times, worst of times; light and darkness; hope and despair.
But the “social media” Malaysia, dominated by fake news and hate speech particularly in the past two months to incite suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred in each community against other communities, seeking to create the psychosis among the Malays, Chinese and Indians that they are all individually facing an existential threat from other ethnic groups is completely different from real-life Malaysia
I said I had various 62nd Merdeka Day programmes in Iskandar Puteri yesterday, from the flagging off of the 62nd Merdeka Day Run in Kangkar Pulai involving some 2,000 people in the morning, to the Lim Kit Siang Cup Young Malaysians debate tournament, the 62nd Merdeka Day Convoy of Motor Bikes in Iskandar Puteri and 62nd Merdeka Day Pesta Bola involving 32 teams from the surrounding Malay kampongs and which ended only at 8.30 pm last night, and I found from my interactions with Malaysians on the ground, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians, that “real-life Malaysia” is completely different from “social media Malaysia” .
Instead of inter-racial animosity, distrust, fear and hatred, I find on the ground only goodwill, understanding, harmony and tolerance among Malaysians, whether Malays= , Chinese or Indians.
I told this Malaysian that it is imperative that the government must not allow fake news and hate speech a field day on the social media to incite suspicion, doubt, distrust and hatred among the different communities and to generate the baseless fear that each community is facing an existential threat with regard to its ethnicity, rights, religion and culture.
I will like to know who will oppose steps to check fake news and hate speech designed to incite inter-racial and inter-religious suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred as to jeopardise inter-racial and inter-religious goodwill, harmony and relations?
In fact in many case, fake news and hate speech to incite suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred among races and religtions are just generated by machines and bots!
One counter will be to require the pedlars of fake news and hate speech to identify themselves, and not to be nameless and faceless behind anonymous posts.
There was recently an anonymous post on the social media circulating a purported audio from Betty Chew, wife of Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General and Finance Minister denouncing the Malays and Islam. But who will know that the voice in the audio was not Betty Chew’s voice?
As I told this Malaysian, there are killings and wars in other countries although they are from the same ethnicity, speaking the same language and from the same religion.
My hope is to see Malaysia able to show the world it is an example of the success of the Alliance of Civilisations, as we are the confluence of four great civilisations of the world – Islamic, Chinese, Indian, Western – instead of being a failure because of the Clash of Civilisations.
This person agreed. I subsequently found this person was at one time an important personality of the previous government.
From my airport encounter this morning, I call on all Malaysians who want Malaysia to be an example to the world of the success of Alliance of Civilisations instead of being a failure because of Clash of Civilisations to come together achieve the success of this objective, regardless of their political antecedents.