The Complexities of the “Truth”

I find this phrase from Steven Gan’s Sex, lies and videotape Malaysiakini article interesting –

If you tell a lie and keep on repeating it, people will eventually believe it. So said Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda czar for the Nazi regime.

In Malaysia, there’s no need to repeat a lie. When a lie is told in the mainstream media, opposing views do not see the light of day. The lie is left unchallenged. It becomes the only version out there and by default, the truth.

This underlies the difficulties of obtaining the truth itself. There is another difficulty too. Once you obtain the truth, you have to convey it in a manner which as pleasant as possible. This reminds me of the rishi I posted some time ago – Satyam Api Priyam Bruyat, Na Bruyat Satyam Apriyam – which means: One should tell the truth in a pleasant manner, one should not tell the truth in a manner which is likely to create unpleasantness.

So the point here is that one needs to be objective and courteous at the same time. There should be no shouting, mudslinging and as one commenter said chest-thumping.

Nevertheless, as indicated in Steven Gan’s article, the most pressing issue facing Malaysia is obtaining the truth itself- or in other words, we need to know what really happened. I understand that his description of the Chua Soi Lek scandal is alluding to the political intrigues within MCA and also to the Malaysian political establishment. Maybe there is something happening in MCA. Well, I don’t know. Perhaps I may never know what really happened. Whatever it is, many people in Malysia just don’t know what is really happening.

There is also another aspect which Steven Gan touched – the issue about racism. And this is what I will dwell upon next. This issue also relates to the question of truth.

Is Malaysia Really a Racist Country?
Racism and the question of race is popular in Malaysia. And as such it is reflected in Malaysiakini. From time to time we can read articles and personal accounts of how racism effects the lives of some in the Letters section. I refer to two such articles from the Letters section. The first is this – Why should I go back to Malaysia? article.

I understand the author’s feelings. Racism is always ugly in whatever form it takes. However, in my opinion, the author is mixing facts and his (or her?) prejudices. Over the years since I first started to browse the internet I have read many such letters saying how good life overseas is compared to Malaysia.

Now, I have nothing against moving overseas. I am a firm believer of the free market system, in which all factors of production should flow or be channelled in such a way to maximize our utility and satisfaction. But I am against writing articles and letters and pamphlets that can be used to propagate hate, such as this Why should I go back to Malaysia letter has shown.

Basically the Discordant Dude justified racism in the UK! I just can’t believe it. With or without laws, racism should not be accepted and to say that one incident of racism is acceptable in oune country but not the other is extremely hypocritical.

And then there is this article – Are Malaysians ready to make sacrifices?

I would like to point out this statement:

Many Western nations enjoy a better quality of life than developing nations such as Malaysia. Prices of houses are regulated and rent is controlled. There are no road tolls and the roads are wide and safe. Prices of cars are kept low to discourage people from using old cars and motorcycles. Strict labour laws protect workers from being laid off or having their wages cut. The unemployed are given assistance such as unemployment funds, training and job opportunities.

Now, in some instances, Arbibi Ashoy is telling the truth. But in other cases he does not. And I am particularly amused by this statement: “Prices of houses are regulated and rent is controlled”, which to me gives some indication that house prices are affordable.

This is bloody bollocks! Don’t the author know how expensive the price of houses in Sydney are right now? Arbibi Ashoy, you are a bloody idiot!

Thus, I suppose there is one message that I would like to stress out to readers especially when they are reading articles from anyone or any source.

Don’t just believe them…. as Steven Gan said – we don’t even know what the truth is or where the truth lies.

What is the meaning of institutional racism?

Often times there are articles in Malaysiakini and also in the letters section that attempt to differentiate between institutional racism and personal racism. It seems to me that these people preferred to endure personal racism; they despise institutional racism. Then they say that Malaysia has institutional racism.

 I wonder what do these people mean by “institution” or “institutional”. From my reading of those articles and letters, the author squarely define (explicitly or implicitly) that institutional racism is governmental racism or in other words racism done by government bodies.

 This definition or perspective is wrong. Don’t these people know what is the meaning of institution? Institution is not just government. Cultural practices can also be institutions. Repeated commercial practices such as buyer-seller arrangements (contractual) can also be institutions.

In short, when you have at least two parties doing the same thing over and over again, those actions are said to be institutionalised.

Now, to take Steven Gan’s words again:

If you tell a lie and keep on repeating it, people will eventually believe it.

Yes, I do believe him. Especially in the case of the misunderstanding of what is really meant by institutional racism.

Now in this case: perhaps some one in Malaysiakini can clarify what is really meant by institutional racism and some one should also explain what are the differences between instutional racism and individual racism.

This post is continued here: Quitting America and Racism / Hate Crimes in Australian Schools .


About this entry