The silence of the majority breeds tyranny by the minority

Last week there was a flutter of messages circulating in cyberspace that the police were stopping citizens and asking for their hand phones. Enraged victims told others to resist giving their hand phones to the police.

According to senior lawyer and legal activist Philip Koh (who is also a good friend of mine), the police can ask to see our hand phones, especially if there’s an ongoing investigation.

If you are not aware of any investigation, and you are stopped at a roadblock, Koh advises: “A case of a police at a roadblock asking for a hand phone or laptop may be a case where the person may demand for a reason before cooperating.”

In other words, engage the cop for an explanation before complying. The cop will realise that he is dealing with someone in the know and, hopefully, be more reasonable and accommodating.

The point is that the cops can ask us to see our hand phones. That is legal.

In one of the messages I received someone said that he checked with a policemen he knew who said that cops were checking hand phones to look for political exchanges.

Why would the police do this unless someone at the top directed them to do so? Whoever directed their subordinate cops to do this is clearly engaging in politics. Is that the police’s job?

It is extremely dangerous when one or a few people at the top direct the use of government machinery to invade the privacy of citizens for political purposes.

Dress Seduction

Recently, a 12-year-old girl had to withdraw from the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017 in Putrajaya because — according to the chief arbiter who spoke to her and her mother — her knee-length dress was considered “seductive” and a “temptation”.

According to news report, the chief arbiter said that the tournament director (who later denied he said it) had this view of the girl.

Seriously? A 12-year-old’s dress style? This man or men couldn’t control his feelings and so the girl had to go?

With what audacity did this chief arbiter get rid of this girl and deprived her of well-earned right to participate in the tournament?

One man powerless to control his own emotions deprives another of her right, and feels he has the right to do so. Is this fair?

How can we allow one or a few men to tell the rest how to behave just because they can’t handle their own feelings?

PAS Will

PAS Youth wasn’t happy that approval was given to US thrash metal band Megadeth to perform at Stadium Negara yesterday. They said “it is in violation of the guidelines on entertainment in the perspective of Islam published by Jakim (the Malaysian Islamic Development Department) and endorsed by the National Fatwa Committee …”.

PAS’ strategy is clear to all: It wants political power to impose an Islamic government on all irrespective of whether they are Muslim or not and whether the latter want it or not. Their activities are towards that end.

PAS is free to believe what it believes and to express themselves. But when that freedom curtails another’s right — like the right of whoever to hold and attend a rock concert like the Megadeth’s — that’s imposing their will on others. Or, when they introduce a bill to enhance syariah laws, that’s definitely imposing their will on others, including non-Muslims, who will also definitely be affected by it.

In any democracy, there will be a multiplicity of voices and expressions. When those voices dictate what the majority must do or behave by the force of religion or the power they wield, it is tyranny.

In the above three cases, that is the underlying trend: A few people are calling the shots as to who can say what can be said in politics, how a child should be dressed and imposing a form of religion on the rest.

And the only reason why they have the liberty to do so is because the majority is silent. True, many people have spoken up openly and powerfully against the injustices the above cases reveal, but they are still a minority. The majority are still silent.

A silent majority is conducive for an aggressive minority to wield its influence. And that is what we are now seeing in this country.

There are religious undertones in the three incidents described above. That may be the reason for the silence. Majority Muslims — even if they disagree with such minority influences — may feel that it isn’t right to speak against anything religious.

That is something that the Muslims in this country have to figure out for themselves.

Christians used to be the same centuries ago. But over the centuries our thinking has evolved and dissent is now part and parcel of Christian life. It is consistent with our belief to speak the truth in love (Eph 5: 15: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”)

Sometimes, we don’t get the speaking the truth “in love” right and we have even gone to war over it, but we have learnt from our history and learnt to accommodate diversity in our faith.

It is something worth thinking about because tyranny of any colour, race, religion or power must be checked. And the only people who can stop it is the majority — if they rise up, speak up and make a stand against the unjust and unreasonable dictates of the minority.

 

 

 

 

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