Saturday, 9 June 2018

My weekly news: Fake news abolishment and free speech

Three days ago, in his usual lunch time speech our PM confirmed the abolishment of fake news act which was hastily brought in by ex-PM prior to the election. This is good news for most of us. However, since the results of GE-14, we have been inundated with various 'fake news' and often misleading headlines even from main stream media reporting, not to mention the various unnecessary negative and sometimes outright rude comments from some members of the public. So, how do we strike a balance between protecting the rights of people to express themselves versus the protection against fake and malicious intent? 

I agree that introducing a law is not the answer because even if a law was created with good intentions, it can somewhere along the way be abused by those in power. Therefore, we need a better long term solution. My thoughts would be on self-regulatory based on the concept of professionalism. First of all, let me introduce the meaning of Professionalism 

Professionals often pride themselves through their ability to self-regulate. Therefore, as a doctor I am a professional and I have a regulatory body which is the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) that ensures doctors maintain a certain standard of practice through defined codes and ethical conduct, will not abuse their power and will be investigated if commit any medical wrongdoings. 

If as a nation we pride ourselves in our ability to express our views and not be restricted by a government law then perhaps we need to regulate ourselves. This regulatory should not come from the government because people hate government interference (irrespective of any government whether it is BN or PH or PAS). Therefore, these regulatory body should be independent. It is perhaps easier for media outlets for example, I am sure they have a regulatory body and if they don't, they should have. However, when we talk about the people in general, it is slightly difficult because people are people, so there are no one regulatory body as such. 

However, we can have general guidelines and NGOs or other professional bodies that can promote a responsible type of behaviour, a form of education to the public as to how to become professional in our responses and remarks towards others. 

For example:

1. When you read a news or statement do not react immediately, take time to think about it and how you would react. Don't jump to conclusions, do not assume. Just take a few seconds to think. 

2. Before you share a news or statement, think first what is your objective of sharing? Is it to educate or for malicious intent? Do not spread lies or have malicious intent. Spread for the purpose of education or information.

3. When we express our views, are we simply venting out our frustration or do we intent to incite feelings in others? Venting out our own frustration in public may not be a bad thing as long as people know that is what we are doing. We must always remember that whatever we write, will be read by people from God knows where and from which background. They may not always understand or agree. Therefore, be clear if we are simply venting out. Use emoticons if needed. 

On the contrary, if we intent to incite feelings in others, this may lead to sedition (hasutan). We must know the difference and we must be aware of our role in this issue. There is already a 'Sedition Act' in Malaysia and it is not going to be rid of anytime soon. 

There are a few issues that are considered 'sensitive' in Malaysia and it is already in the Malaysian constitution. This includes the rights of the 'Nine State Royal Kings' of Malaysia, the rights of the Malay Natives and Indigenous (Bumiputera) people and so on. How do we handle these issues? I don't believe we should declare these topics as untouchables, but I do believe that within our education system, the way we convey the message to our children should be clear. Make history interactive and let the children discuss these issues. Children are innocent, they do not yet have the understanding of good and bad but they need to know why history has shaped the way things are today. They need to appreciate history and learn to respect others. 

As for the constitutional rights as above, these should be protected and remain however, I also believe that our Malaysian Chinese and Indians whose parents, grandparents, perhaps even great-grandparents were born and brought up here, should be given some form of 'Bumiputera' equivalent status and rights. After all, their forefathers came here with a hope for a better life, a better future and equal opportunity. Most importantly, we share a history, a national language, a national anthem, same national heritage. We celebrate one another's culture and we have respect and understanding of one another's beliefs. Chinese and Indians learning Mandarin or Tamil is not a problem, if anything we should all become trilingual but exclusion is not the answer and vernacular schools is not the answer. I will leave it to the politicians and I know it sounds weird and people would probably cuss me for it but we all worked together to make this country great so, why not? 

Well, it is not for me to decide. I am just a small fish in the sea. However, the issue of fake news need to be address because we cannot allow those who are irresponsible or malicious to taint the good intent of the other 99% of the people in this country. At present, a month after the GE-14, the people are still in an intoxicated state, like someone who have just achieved freedom and people are saying whatever they want to say; but there needs to be some form of regulation and in most cases, equilibrium will be achieved by itself, unless a catalyst is introduced. So, be mindful people! 

Thursday, 7 June 2018

My weekly news: Government servants should be proficient in English

I am focusing on this one news alone because it is potentially a 'Lailatul Qadr' night or known as 'The night of Power' and Muslims would like to spend more time doing extra prayers or reciting the Qur'an because these last 10 nights are extra special. So I am choosing one very important news from this week. 

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, our Prime Minister in his speech yesterday announced the need for government servants to be proficient in English. That is all well and good but what gets to me is the response of some people who are against it, complaining about it and claiming we are abandoning the Malaysian language in favour of English.

First of all, let me state a fact. FACT: Malaysians have been learning in their formal education both the Malaysian (Malay) language and the English language from the age of 7 up to 17 years old. So, if any person who went through the Malaysian education system and not able to have a decent conversation in either of the two languages i.e. Malaysian or English than that person is at fault. why? because a language requires practice, to read, to speak, to write. The initiation and determination to practice speaking has to come from one's own self, not from teachers or lecturers or the government. If a person is shy or inferior or think they can't speak in English for whatever fetish reasons, that is their problem. Don't blame it on the government, school or whatever. Get rid of that attitude and speak! 

Let me ask something to those people who make such a big fuss. Did the Prime Minister ask you to do something bad? Did he ask you to steal? Did he ask you to take a bribe? Did he ask you to support him even though he took the people's money? No! Tun Mahathir asked you to do something good for yourself. He asked you to be proficient in another language. Did he ask you to stop communicating in the Malaysian language? No! So, if you think that someone asking you to do something good for yourself is a bad thing, then you are the one with a serious problem because you refuse to help yourself.  

On the contrary, another thing that bothers me is people make a big fuss when a Malaysian does speak good English. I thought that is expected. As I said, we learn English in school from the age of 7 years old. It would be a serious problem either with our education system or with ourselves if we still cannot converse in English. Our parents who were born in the 1920s and 1930s perhaps had better English skills then us because some of them went to English schools under the British. So, what is wrong with the people in this country? Having the ability to speak in English should not be a shocking thing. Please stop saying 'For a Malay, he has good English' or 'For a Chinese, he can speak good Malay' That is not a compliment rather it is an insult!  

I absolutely hate it when people say to me that my English is good because I studied in the UK. I have been speaking in Malay and English my entire life. I did not learn to speak English in England. I went there having been able to speak in English. Perhaps my accent changed a bit and I stopped saying 'Lah' at the end of every sentence but that was about it.  

I will tell you a story. Living in the UK for 17 years and not having anyone to speak Malay to, I did lose my ability converse fluently in the Malaysian language. I could still speak Malaysian but not the formal type of Malay. For instance, I couldn't give a speech in Malay (like Anwar Ibrahim for example). Okay, I still can't give a speech like Anwar Ibrahim but I think I can give my medical lecture to my students in Malay (if I have to) because our lectures are all in English. Anyway, one day after returning to Malaysia in 2010, I went to a course and the lecturer whom we call J.J (a Malay guy) he totally inspired me. He was able to give his lecture in impeccable Malaysian language and English language. I was so impressed by him and I was adamant that one day I was going to be like him, able to speak fluently, to give my lectures in both Malaysian and English language. After 8 years of being back in Malaysia and I was called for my Associate Professor interview, when they asked me questions in English, I answered in English and when they asked me questions in Malay, I replied in Malaysian language. One of the interviewer made a comment of how he was impressed with me and my ability to do so. I then realized what I have achieved and I was proud of myself. I was happy that I have almost achieved my aim to be like J.J. 

It annoys me when people say 'Wow! Lim Guan Eng can speak Malay'. Of course he can speak Malay, he went to a National School (Sekolah Kebangsaan) or when people say 'Wow! Dr Maszlee can speak in English' Of course he can! My nieces and nephews who go to Chinese school can speak in Chinese. So what? When we learn a language at school, we are supposed to be able to use it. What is the point of learning a language for bloody 11 years and then not able to use the language? Think about it. Besides, whatever language you know will give you further access to more knowledge because you can read more books, watch more educational videos and learn more things. What is so bad about that? 

We make it a big deal because of attitude. If some people have an attitude that they do not want to speak or do not want to be good at something. Whose fault is that? Think about it! Our national language is Malaysian, learn it well. The lingua franca of the world at the moment is English, learn it well and whatever other language you learn, Arabic, Mandarin, Tamil etc. just learn it well. 

My weekly news: Fake news abolishment and free speech

Three days ago, in his usual lunch time speech our PM confirmed the abolishment of fake news act which was hastily brought in by ex-PM prio...