I write this as a truly distressed young Malaysian.
The state of the country’s political sphere has reached the pinnacle of filth. Sadly, politics in Malaysia today envelopes almost every aspect of our daily lives ~ which means there is no way any informed person could run away from the smut that oils this country’s politics. For a long time I thought I had grown immune to political sex scandals after years of “exposés” being shoved down my throat by the media. Well, I’ve been proven wrong.
As a teenager flipping through newspapers for school assignments I learnt a lot about homosexual sex and pedophilia. I was exposed to information far more than what my parents would want me to know at that age, and certainly nothing they would otherwise like to discuss with me. But newspapers were, at least then, still regarded as a source of knowledge and my parents could not stop me from browsing.
I pray Malaysian parents know better today.
As a fresh graduate and through my working life, one political sex scandal after another would surface in my life, as they continue to do so today. But this time it’s different. When revelations of the latest political sex scandal appeared on my Twitter feed, I found myself feeling nauseas. I was so disgusted I literally ran into the shower and scrubbed my skin with the coarsest sponge I could find.
The smut that is our country’s politics did not just intrude into our homes via mass media and robbed us of our collective decency, but is now all over our very existence. The filth lingers on our newsfeed for days and weeks as political actors continue to make statements about it. And God forbid the matter is taken to court, or Parliament, we will be flushed with pornographic details for months and years to come.
Malaysia’s media too seems to have acquired a thirst for these political sex scandals, with editors playing active roles in mediating “elite” screening sessions. As media practitioners they race against each other to see who can get filthy details out to the public first. And for as long as scum political actors are willing to provide scoops, the media will oblige to publish their “exclusive”.
Malaysia’s media, both traditional and new, are just as morally bankrupt and complicit in the rapid degeneration of our nation, as the filthy political actors behind these sex scandals.
And what of bloggers, the new “independent” and uncensored voice of Malaysia’s conscience? Those self-proclaimed patriots whose jihad is to save Malaysia from immoral leaders; how do they counter this process of decay and help restore our collective decency? To my horror, their noble contribution to the nation is to viral and direct the very people they want to save straight to the smut material itself.
I ask myself, what exactly then are these bloggers saving Malaysia from?
What’s worse is that regular Malaysians actually validate and respond to these filthy exposés by making judgement on the quality of the material, the brilliance or stupidity of the political strategy behind the scandal, and of course the eventual and compulsory name-calling between grassroots political supporters. And if the nature of history is to repeat itself, this toxic exchange on the Internet will continue until yet another political sex scandal surfaces.
On this matter, I call on my contemporaries to defeat history.
And I call on Malaysia’s women to take the lead. Political actors and agents who perpetuate the mass distribution of this filth are generally not from among the country’s women. And yet women make up for at least 50% of the audience who are exposed to it. Furthermore, women are also often the “collateral damage” in these exposés as their identities are uncovered and degrading comments are made about them in passing.
I beg of you, my fellow Malaysians regardless of your political affiliation, to please stop making comments on social media, blogs or online news portals featuring updates about these scandals. Your comments will only encourage political actors to source for new smut materials, and “news” outlets would strive to outdo each other in their coverage of these revelations.
Let’s put a stop to this. Enough is enough.
I hear you loud and clear Juana. And trust me; your sentiments are shared by many. As I was growing up, I devoured newspapers and books. I had deep respect for the Malaysian political leaders then, and Tun Mahathir was my hero. I did not have posters of boy bands or handsome actors on my bedroom wall. I have stopped buying newspapers except for the occasional Sunday print. I am a mother to a 12 year old who like me, devours thick books in a matter of a day or two (max). I don’t encourage her to read the local papers, so we watch international news channels to keep abreast of world events. I have friends in the media and I do not mean to be disrespectful of their profession as I systematically discriminate local news but I am unable to filter everything that is printed. My daughter is lucky because through my chosen profession, she is sensitised to issues relating to sexuality. She embraces sexual diversity and accepts the fact that mummy’s friends come in all shapes, sizes and sexual preference. But she is still too young to understand that sexual behaviour of individuals are often judged, stigmatised and sometimes made public for sinister reasons. I would like to share a recent event which left me reeling with the stark realisation that children have the capacity to choose as and when they want to be exposed to a particular world of knowledge. I prepared a powerpoint presentation for my daughter on sexual reproductive health, thinking that now is the right time to discuss these matters. To my surprise, she completely withdrew from our intended heart to heart chat and said, “Mum, I am only 12!”. I made her upset that day and I have come to accept and respect the fact that she is not yet ready. I still live with the constant fear that my daughter will be exposed to all sorts of “smut” as you call it from all forms of media and can only hope that she will come to me when she is ready. Yes, enough is enough… we don’t appreciate smut in our faces.
Sex scandals are nothing new, only what encompasses unacceptable acts. (To the Romans pedophilia was considered normal). In Canada in 1967 (then Minister of Justice) Pierre Elliot Trudeau said “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation”. What is needed is an understanding and change in the law that what consenting adults do behind closed doors is their business as long as no physical or psychological harm befalls anyone.