Freedom? What Freedom?

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

Sometime last week, Walski posted a poll that asked, “Is there freedom of religion in Malaysia?

The result was not at all surprising, with NOBODY answering Yes. The two other choices were a straight NO (43.75%), and Yes, but not in the way that makes any sense (56.25%). So basically, by any normal or sensible definition, there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia.

You see, in a country where common sense isn’t the rare commodity such as in Malaysia, if freedom of religion is a fundamental right of everyone (citizen or otherwise) accorded by none other than the country’s Constitution, it means that the decision of what flavor faith an individual chooses, is entirely up to that individual.

Malaysia’s Federal Constitution addresses this in Article 11, whose first clause reads:

(1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

Clause (4), which is a qualifier, states: State law and in respect of the Federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

So basically, the very article that grants an individual the right to conscienably believe in a religion of their choosing, but states that the right to propagate has limits.

Note the wording: Every person.

The reality, however, is that Article 11 (1) is, in practice, a sad myth. At least for the 60% and change who identify with Islam, whether by choice or by birth. Because it’s virtually IMPOSSIBLE for a Muslim to change their faith. Maybe those who converted to Islam because they wanted to marry a Muslim, but later divorced. MAYBE.

A lawyer friend, Fahri Azzat, recently wrote at length about this. You can read the discourse on said friend’s blog, as Walski doesn’t think it necessary to replicate what the friend’s written (plus Fahri is certainly more learned a gentleman on this matter).

But even a Muslim cannot practice their faith according to how they see fit, according to which school of thought resonates best with them, without running the risk of persecution by the religious authorities. Ironically, authorities that are salaried by taxpayers. So as a Muslim who pays tax, part of that tax goes to ensure his freedom to believe is non-existent. Comical, no?

Freedom of speech? Yes, to some extent, but NO guarantee of Freedom After Speech. Especially if one is not high enough up the social food chain. Malaysia is, after all, a feudal society that’s in denial it’s a feudal society. That said, there seems to be a lot more freedom to criticize politicians and national leaders these days. Especially since today’s leadersheep aren’t the sharpest tacks in the stationery shop.

Freedom of association? Allowed, but under everybody’s microscope, which in this day and age of hyper-intolerance for any opinion that doesn’t jive with one’s own, and cancel culture to boot, makes publicly declaring one’s association an act that is equal in difficulty to walking on eggshells.

A couple of days back, our PM (well, hardly PM, more like Noon, at best), claimed that Malaysia’s drop in the International Corruption Perception index is not because of corruption, per se, but because Malaysia’s “values are different”, for instance, when it comes to Human Rights.

Two completely different indices with different metrics, but that’s the genius of Ismail Sabri Yaakob – idiocy must never be derailed by facts. Or, for that matter, reality.

This was said in Parliament, no less. It’s no secret that Malaysia only makes noise about human rights abuses when it concerns OTHER humans, but not those in Malaysia. Because in Malaysia freedom is officially viewed as a bad thing. A free people means that incompetent dingbats in office might not last, and that’s a bad thing. Especially for the incompetent dingbats.

But the fact that Malaysia is being run – into the ground – by a bunch of inglorious bastard dingbats is a discussion we’ll save for another day.

So, in closing, Walski would like to ask these questions:

Do YOU think, as a Malaysian, you enjoy the freedoms you deserve? And exactly what are those freedoms do think you actually enjoy?

Would Malaysia be a better place if we were truly free?

It’s funny, but one of the meanings of the word merdeka is freedom. Instead, we’ve been conditioned to be fixated on its other meaning, independence. Ever thought about that?