Tuesday, March 27, 2007

No time for hand-wringing

I blogged a while back that there had been no commentary on the R. Subashini case. Well, we’re getting some feedback but it’s coming from the usual suspects. You can read them here:

AWAM statement
Malay Law Student letter to Malaysiakini
The Federal Constitution is the highest law of the land – Jacqueline Surin
Judges must show courage – Zaid Ibrahim
Bar Council: Syariah Court only for Muslims
Tricia Yeoh – Centre for Public Policy Studies letter
CFM Press statement by Bishop Paul Tan
Malaysian Gurdwaras Council: Press Statement
Report in Indian Catholic – Non-Muslims disturbed by rights struggle
Article 11 video launch and comment by SIS
Rojak & Cocktail blog comments and links 15 March post

Islamic experts tell non-muslims not to be prejudiced
Fatima Idris’ letter to Malaysiakini – another side of the coin and a call to set up a Constitutional Court

What dismays me is that the news has had little or no impact on bloggers and others in the virtual community. Is there no concern for the usurpation of the constitution by such convoluted reasoning in favour of the Syariah? Are we really agreeing by our silence that a non-Muslim should seek recourse in a Syariah court? I know it’s not easy and there’s also Subashini’s husband who left his wife in the first place and went to the Syariah court to dissolve his civil law marriage.

Yet, the implication is immense, and signals the insidious secession of the rights of all people under a common Constitution to a religious doctrine of jurisprudence that some claim should be elevated above the latter and over all. That day may yet come, but not if Malaysians of goodwill choose to speak up. Objections and appeal to common sense against an apparent injustice have been notable by their absence, as the issue has had no traction in the blogosphere. Instead everyone online seems preoccupied with galvanizing support for freedom of expression and the ‘persecution’ of celebrity bloggers.

I have no quarrel with that and I stand united in the defense of responsible and free expression of speech, online and off. But it would be tragically myopic to fight for virtual freedom when people like Subashini, Rayappan, Moorthy, Lina Joy, S. Shamla, etc are also denied theirs in heartbreaking dollops out in the real world.

Everyone who is rallying behind Rocky and Jeff Ooi frames it as a challenge to freedom of expression (let’s ignore the charge of defamation for a moment) and a battle between old and new media. It is all that, I’m sure, and those who are feeling the heat – particularly ministers, government appointees, and er, one Booker Prize contender – are sounding like children whose favourite toy has been snatched away. So they whine, even threaten to throw the book at bloggers. Perhaps someone should throw Huge Hewitt’s book BLOG: Understanding The Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World in their direction.

But hey, we do need a reasoned and united stand on the big picture - Article 11 and the Federal Constitution. It seems to me that if anything truly matters, this matters just as much, if not more. Not everyone believes we're on a slippery slope, and I'd like to be proven wrong. So I'm hoping for a blogswarm (Hewitt) in defense of the country we want to live in. Right now, if we let this be taken away, everything else is hand wringing at the passing of daylight.


susanloone said...

its not true that there is no impact on bloggers. i had email malik imtiaz many times to ask if he could help me with the matter, like i want to interview subhashini myself becz i dont want just to be repeating what everyone is saying. i want her story, her real feelings becz that is what really matter. but malik nor any journalist i ask have even replied my email. and i am here in bkk. if i were in KL, it would be a different matter.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said...

Dear Susan,

I have not received your e-mails concering Subashini. Reach me at imtiaz@malikimtiaz.com.my

Malik Imtiaz

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said...

And great posting David.

Malik Imtiaz

David BC Tan said...

Hi Susan,
It's good to know bloggers are on the case. (So i was mistaken. Sorry, but i'm still hoping for a blogswarm) Will certainly be visiting your blog to pick up threads/links as and when they appear. About Malik, you might want to drop a message on his blog as well? Everyone is just so busy....

David BC Tan said...

Hi Malik,
Thanks for visiting. Hope you'll get in touch with Susan soon.


Linken Lim said...

Hi David,
Thanks for visiting my blog.
A great posting you have .

David BC Tan said...

linken lim: appreciate your visit

The Hedonese said...

Hmm... Hugh Hewitt's booklet "In But Not Of" inspired me to start blogging :)