Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Rejecting Namewee's Apology: Hypocrisy of the Highest Order!

Written by johnleemk on 2:07:44 pm Aug 16, 2007.

Wee Meng Chee, known on the web as Namewee, is the Malaysian student who exercised his right to freedom of expression to express his love for the country — and is also the same fellow who now may not be able to return to the country he loves for a long, long time.

What heinous crime did he commit? How did he betray the country? Apparently, it is not permissible to sample the national anthem, mixing it in with other original compositions — this is an offense so heinous that it must be prosecuted in a court of law.

At least, that's what Nazri Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and de facto Law Minister, says. According to him, Wee "has committed an offence against the nation", and is as such unpardonable despite Wee's apology — he will face prosecution when he returns, and the only way out is if he can argue that what he did was not an offense, and the courts somehow agree with him.

Now, the interesting thing is, Nazri did not mention Wee's teasing insults of the Islamic faith, or his put-downs of the Malay race. What he talked about was how Wee had disrespected the national anthem, something Nazri believes is illegal under the Sedition Act.

Nazri probably should take another look at the act then, since section 3(1) only bans: creating hatred or contempt towards any ruler or government; attempting to unlawfully alter what has been put in place by the law; creating hatred or contempt towards the administration of justice; raising discontent or disaffection amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia; promoting feelings of ill-well or hostility among different races or classes; questioning the rights and privileges established by the "sensitive" parts of the Constitution. (And believe it or not, this also includes the provisions for citizenship — meaning it is thus illegal to question my right to be a citizen of Malaysia.)

Okay, let's put aside the fact that the Sedition Act is one of the more stupid laws we have in place — it needs an exception in section 3(2) to declare that pointing out errors in government policy is not seditious, and apparently it's illegal to make other people feel unhappy.

Where does the Sedition Act ban the singing of the national anthem in any other way than that prescribed by the government? Where does it ban the desecration of national symbols (assuming you consider what Wee did to be desecration)?

So, Nazri's completely wrong. If the Sedition Act applies at all, it applies because what Wee did aroused heated sentiments of ill-will among those of different communities in the Malaysian family.

But let me ask you...who seriously believes that Wee has done lasting damage to national unity? Who seriously thinks that he has materially increased the risk of violence between those of different communities through his harmless rap video?

Another completely ridiculous thing the Sedition Act does is throwing out the element of mens rea — in other words, it doesn't matter what you intended to do, so it is possible to be arrested for accidentally committing a crime. I don't think anybody has argued that Wee does not love our country, or that the song did not represent an expression of love for the country (some, including myself, think his is one of the most inspiring renditions of the national anthem in existence).

All the circumstantial evidence indicates Wee is far more patriotic than the average Malaysian. According to his father, Wee insisted on bringing the national flag along with him when he went to Taiwan for his studies. Heck, he even keeps a miniature Jalur Gemilang by his computer:

None of this matters. Under the Sedition Act, the government is obliged to treat him the same as someone who intentionally set out to destroy the country. (Of course, the government is permitted to treat him worse than that. Dictatorships are wonderful places to live in.)

Look, this is just a kid who fucked up, plain and simple. This isn't even a major mess — he did not exhort anyone to murder (unlike, ahem, some particularly vehement Islamist opponents of apostasy), he did not excite anti-Malaysian sentiment (the first line of the song: wo ai wo de guo jia — I love my country) — he just teased some aspects of a particular faith.

Of course, comparing the azan to an R&B duet is offensive. But is it equally as, or more offensive than calling Christians worshippers of a naked man hung on a cross, as one Muslim fundamentalist has done very publicly on several occasions?

What about Kelab Penyokong Maya UMNO, which has labeled all non-Muslims as alcoholics and called Christianity a deviant faith which is passed down through the blood? Is this any less offensive than what Wee has done?

If you want to prosecute Namewee, then why the hell are you not prosecuting these people? Why is it that Muslim fundamentalists are free to threaten to murder other Muslims whom they consider too liberal for their liking, but non-Muslims cannot even crack a non-violent joke about Islam? Why is it that an apologetic non-Malay is told he will be prosecuted, but defiant Malays who threaten genocide are let off scot-free?

The truly most disturbing thing for me is that because of these threats, there is a good chance Wee Meng Chee will not be able to return to his homeland for a long time.

Try to imagine if you had to leave the country right now, never to return. How would you feel? What do you think about being forced to leave the people you love, the food you eat, the sights you see?

Ask yourself — does Wee Meng Chee deserve this? All for that stupid little video which, as mistaken (in my view) as it is, does nothing to promote violence, and encourages love for the country?

Perhaps you're a real hardass bastard. Okay, fine. But then ask yourself — should we not prosecute and exile Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi and the administrators of Kelab Penyokong UMNO? Should we not rid ourselves of those "leaders" in UMNO who only last year threatened to spill the blood of the non-Malays, and of our Deputy Prime Minister, who nearly 20 years ago made that same threat? Why are we going after this inconsequential Chinese kid, and letting the real sowers of discord go? We must either tolerate them all, or exile them all. Anything otherwise is hypocrisy of the highest order.

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