In the case of Pamela’s video, LoyarBurok had no alternative but to edit the original video which showed Pamela’s personal details. We took this step after numerous comments inciting hatred were published while at the same time exposing the said details, and our attention was directed to these comments.
A commentary on the intimidatory responses that made police intimidation look tame.
Of late, there is a lot of talk about civil society movements gaining momentum and mass in Malaysia. It’s heralded as the coming of a third force, the keeper of checks and balances, social justice championed by society. I was very hopeful until I saw the utterly uncivilised comments in response to Pamela’s police intimidation video.
As part of the editorial team here, I was pleasantly surprised at the record breaking speed at which the video was gaining circulation and comments. The purpose of making public such a video, especially on a site like LoyarBurok, is to encourage public debate and discussion. Comments/brick-bats, supporters/detractors are all part and parcel of the free and open discourse we seek. However, two things about the bulk of the negative responses perturbed me: (i) The violence and intimation by fellow citizens. (ii) The narrow view taken in contextualising the video.
Many of the comments are fine examples of violence against women. Browse through the comments on this blawg alone and you will see the gender-based violence in the words. The use of derogatory labels amounted to sexually harassment. The intimidatory tone worse than that inflicted by the police.
I wonder if the video was taken by a Peter and not a Pamela, would there be this much personal attacks, threats, sexual jibes, and harassment? No doubt, there will still be people of the opinion that the civilian should have been more “respectful”, but ever stop to wonder would the critical comments be more objective and focused on the incident? Would it still be fuelled by the indoctrination of women as the second sex? Do you expect a woman to be more of a “lady”? Would you think “This rude bitch damn cari pasal la.” or “This guy should’ve not lost his cool la.”
On the surface it may be just words on the internet posted by a faceless nickname. But online harassment and violence is just violence against women taking on the latest platform. Women have long been fighting to be heard, to have a voice, to not be a labelled “bitch” when a fellow male doing the same is called “assertive.”
When I uploaded this “fragmented” video, I did not expect it to be become a contest of who’s right and who’s wrong. This finger-pointing paints a certain representation that Malaysians in general do not know how to agree to disagree nor can we discuss differing views in a civilised manner without attacking each other. (No wonder things get ridiculously extreme when discussing matters related to race) We seem to be locked in zero-sum assessments.
The video raises many points of debate and it would be a shame if it was viewed solely with the intention of picking who is in the wrong and ending the discussion there. What can we do when in doubt of whether the person is actually a policeman? Should we just apologise whenever we are flagged by police to increase our chances of being let off? What if we chose to insist on our innocence? What if apologising didn’t work? Where do we draw the line between kow-tow and being respectful? Do authorities deserve extra respect? I’m sure there are other more astute points of debate, unfortunately even these simple ones I posed were hardly touched by commentators.
The video also did not show what the situation was like before the civilian decided to record the incident. Being stopped by the police, unsure of whether you had actually broken the law, unsure of whether you are hearing hints for bribery – can be an unnerving episode to some if not most people. Understandably one of the questions raised by such a video, would be who was in the right. What was surprising is the speed and decisiveness in which this “judgment” was dispensed inspite of the many unknowns to the viewer of the video. In most countries, it is the police that are held on a higher standard, not the civilians that they have been entrusted with the duty of “policing.”
LB: Ong Jo-Lene really doesn’t know how to describe herself but she has plenty to say at Seksualiti Merdeka.