In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here.

This post was published on Marina’s personal blog. It is reproduced with her kind permission, following some possible inception-mind-control thingamabob by Lord Bobo.

Dear folks, this must be something of a record but I’ve just been told that once again, my column’s been spiked. In newspaper-speak, that means it’s not going to be published tomorrow. This would make it the second of my columns recently that was totally spiked, plus one more that was chopped up badly. (See this and this.)

People ask me why I keep writing at The Star if they keep doing this. Well maybe I’m just sentimental. They gave me this column to write about 23 years ago when nobody else did and for the most part they’ve published most of what I’ve written. I do know that lots of people read it and I would feel as if I’m abandoning my readers if I just stopped. I’m hoping that those who read it in the paper also read me online and will realise that perhaps my days at The Star are numbered (or at least until the elections are over).

My editors at The Star did politely ask me to tone down my column. They even bought me tea to tell me this. They explained the type of nasty pressures they face over many articles, pressure from people who seem to be hyper-paranoid over every little bit of news that might be construed as anti-government, anti-Islam, anti-everythingtheystandfor. I can sympathise with my editors. It can’t be fun being constantly shouted at on the phone or having to attend ‘briefings’ where they are told exactly what they can or cannot write, no argument.

But just last week I was at a forum on media freedom, in Singapore, and I listened to two Burmese journalists talking about media freedom in their country. They talked about how for years they had to deal with the military censors who insisted on seeing their articles BEFORE and AFTER publication. They had to find ways to creatively get their message across either through writing ‘between the lines’, using codewords or writing about foreign news which somehow had some relevance to Burma though obliquely.

Recently however Burma has been moving towards democracy. And with it has come new media freedom and many new newspapers and magazines have proliferated. And where once Aung San Syu Kyii was never mentioned in the papers, she is now on the front pages of almost every paper “because she sells papers”. They now can write about most things although some things — like corruption — are still taboo.

But one thing they said left a mark on me. Through all those years of pressure, the temptation to self-censor was always there. And while others may have succumbed, this one young man decided he would not. “My job,” he said, ” is to write. The censors’ job is to censor. I don’t censor myself because that’s not my job.”

That’s the way I view my column too. I don’t ‘tone down’ largely because I don’t know how to. But also because it’s not my job.

So, for what it’s worth, here is the column that should have appeared tomorrow.

Marina Mahathir for The Star

Obfuscation is a word I love. It means to make something obscure or to confuse people. I love it because it is an apt word to describe the noisy politics we have to endure these days, the sort of noise that makes it impossible for anyone to even hear themselves speak, let alone think about what needs to be thought.

Obfuscation is an every day occurrence these days in our country. When issues should be presented clearly, they are obscured by side issues, distractions and misinformation. People who attempt to bring some clarity are shouted down, drowned by the sheer noise of the loudest though not necessarily the smartest nor the most sincere of loudhailers.

How did a campaign calling for that most innocuous of causes, clean and fair elections, come to be characterized as a clarion call for LGBT rights? Only because some people decided that the best way to distract from a popular issue is to project it as one that is ‘really’ about something else. And then the ‘something else’ was defined as an issue which most people will reflexively react against.

So the logic now sounds like this: if you call for clean and fair elections, that means you want LGBTs to take over the country. Wow!

How wonderful is this obfuscation tactic that a man who was once hailed as a great nationalist patriot for leading a demo to call for the overturning of the policy of teaching maths and science in English, is now likened to a pervert because he is calling for clean and fair elections. He literally went from hero to zero overnight.

Meanwhile, so-called amendments to various laws are touted as the long-awaited reforms by a modern and democratic government. Yet such amendments are rushed through Parliament and ‘debated’ by parliamentarians late at night when they are no doubt sleepy and fuzzy-minded. Surely such important laws deserve better? But no, the obfuscation continues. The bulldozing is touted as ‘proof’ of genuine commitment to reform. And people actually buy this?

Some students decide to stage a tent-in in a public space for a cause that may be a bit too idealistic. Certainly it doesn’t seem to have captured much public sympathy. But the obfuscation continues, confusing the students’ right to voice their unhappiness with their cause. What’s more, news reports on the students seem not to have made clear that there are in fact two groups at Dataran Merdeka, and although there are some overlaps, there are some fundamental differences between the two. Not only are their causes different, so are their ways of working. But obfuscation requires that the two are conflated and by that, the tarnishing of all young people continues.

Today it is difficult to speak publicly in any intelligent manner because it is the unintelligent and the belligerent who rule. On university grounds, grounds where the intellect should reign, a man can blithely say that if LGBTs take over this country (despite there being no evidence whatsoever of this happening), he would not hesitate to take his keris out and use it. In other countries, such a pronouncement would elicit immediate arrest. But no, in this self-proclaimed moderate country, such violent arrogance is applauded.

What is the point of promoting any sort of science in this country when basic evidence is never respected? When anyone can come up with the most dubious statements without any facts to back it up? A full 30% of men in this country are gay, according to someone, and this is a danger to the country. What does this mean? Does that mean that out of the 28 men in our Cabinet, at least nine of them are gay? Out of the 13 Muftis making fatwas around the country, 4 of them are homosexual? If a full 30% of Malaysian men prefer their own sex, they also make a sizeable voting bloc. Why alienate them?

But there is no longer any point in talking sense or logic in this country. The less logic you speak, the more popular you are. The less facts you present, the more you are lauded.

Better still, the more incorrect facts you give, invented out of thin air, the more you dazzle your followers.

Obfuscation however tends to bite back. The more you use it to blindside people, the more you make it a culture, the less people will trust you. It’s hard to continually create a fog around facts, to drown truth with noise. Sooner or later, you’re bound to trip up. That would be enough to create mistrust.

So, like the boy who cried wolf, even if you present facts now, it’ll be hard to persuade anyone.

See also: Trash Talking To Tomorrow (Marina Mahathir, 6 March 2012)

Marina is a nice mild-mannered middle-age Mum who unfortunately has a low tolerance for illogicality, stupidity and bigotry. This leads her to blow fire out of her nostrils on her blog, or more mildly...

34 replies on “Another Marina Mahathir Column Banned By The Star”

  1. Puan Marina, I really respect what you have to say. I see truth in your uncovering of hypocrisy in Malaysia. There is nothing more evil than institutions that are funded by government who pretend to be defending our faith or our morality. They are the worst crooks. My illegal Indonesian friend says that their women fear the police who rape them. JAIS/JAKIM breaks into hotel rooms and humiliate and sexually abuse the women found in compromising positions. Politicians claim to be pure but cheat and lie. These people get away with murder. We need to expose them. Thanks for your voice. We need you.

  2. When Julius Caesar's wife was the subject of gossip in relation to a certain dissolute man, Caesar divorced her, saying "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion". This means a public official who wants to preserve his reputation for integrity, cannot be linked to a close relative who has the slightest whiff of impropriety associated with him or her. In this case, there is growing doubt among the Malaysian public about Mahathir's record as the PM for 22 years, about the alleged intrigues he engaged in. In a similar way to Caesars's action in relation to his wife, Mahathir's daughter cannot be free of suspicion as long as she remains related to her father. Unfortunately, one cannot sever one's relationship to a parent in the way that a person can divorce his/her spouse. Alternatively, she can make a public disavowal, referring to him by name, of her father's stance on key issues periodically. After all he has asked "Who is she? I don't know her. She's not my daughter". Until then, the doubt remains, whether this is all an elaborate sandiwara by the Mahathir clan, to help whitewash their affairs and diminish public opprobrium.

  3. Good read. I see a lot of noise in the comments above, people trying to shoot her down with baseless and totally unrelated topic

  4. Ma'am,
    It reminds me of Pinocchio tho', one lie to cover another. In the end you don't even remember why you have to lie in the first place…….

  5. Well, u call yrself part of sisters in Islam but a convert, Haji Stork, had to correct u that there r two verses in the Quran that state a woman must cover her aurat, since u said there weren't any. N do u really need to show some cleavage on the cover of yr book? Is that Islamic? When I make comments abt foreign celebrities showing their 'good' bits, I say that we all know they're there, so don't worry. N when I was a journalist with the Malay Mail n the pink triangle was launched several yrs ago, I was the only 'covered' journo there. I had come early, waited fr abt 45 mins for MM's arrival, had skipped breakfast, and she asked all the other 12 reporters what they wanted to drink, all except me. I was totally parched by then cos the interview went on for abt anther hour. Is that Islamic? An ex-colleague of mine, a covered Muslim, said she also experienced the same 'warm' reception frm u at a PC. Hey, hey!!!! Helllllllo!!!! We are not the enemy. Can't all that education make u at least fathom that? BTW, I too studied in the UK, and the Brits are such lovely people, more than a great number of Malaysians. Am bringing this out now as God asks us to do good, but also to stop wrongs. Mohon maaf to you and others who might be offended by my comments.

  6. Old man – Take a brinjal and shaft it up your arse. Don't you dare be rude to Marina. I know her since she was a little girl in Alor Star and no way you can compare with her. Fuck off you old man.

  7. Keep up the good work you're doing Marina…I believe you are the voice of the silent majority.

  8. Some random quotes from Wikipedia:-

    "He (Mahathir) steered an amendment to the Constitution through parliament to remove the general power of the High Courts to conduct judicial review. The High Courts could now only engage in judicial review where specific acts of parliament gave them the power to do so. The Lord President of the Supreme Court, Salleh Abas, responded by sending a letter of protest to the Agong. Mahathir then suspended Salleh for "gross misbehaviour and conduct", ostensibly because the letter was a breach of protocol. A tribunal setup by Mahathir found Salleh guilty and recommended to the Agong that Salleh be dismissed. Five other judges of the court supported Salleh, and were suspended by Mahathir. A newly constituted court dismissed Team B's appeal, allowing Mahathir's faction to continue to use the name UMNO. According to Milne and Mauzy, the episode destroyed the independence of Malaysia's judiciary."

    "Instead, Mahathir ordered what Wain calls "the biggest crackdown on political dissent Malaysia had ever seen". Under the police operation codenamed "Lalang", 119 people were arrested and detained without charge under the Internal Security Act. Mahathir argued that the detentions were necessary to prevent a repeat of the 1969 race riots. Most of the detainees were prominent opposition activists, including the leader of the DAP, Lim Kit Siang, and nine of his fellow MPs. Three newspapers sympathetic to the opposition were shut down."

    "Anwar stood trial on four charges of corruption, arising from allegations that Anwar abused his power by ordering police to intimidate persons who had alleged Anwar had sodomised them. Before Anwar's trial, Mahathir told the press that he was convinced of Anwar's guilt."

    "Mokhzani has been listed as the 19th richest person in Malaysia by Forbes Asia with an estimated net worth of US$290 million in 2008.[6] Mokhzani is also the chairman of the Sepang International Circuit."

    And finally, this is a quote from Mokhzani in The Star : “I voluntarily terminated my agreement with Porsche, so Sime Darby could take it up. I want to get away from the AP (approved permit) and import of car business."

    Malaysians do have short memories.

  9. Bersih 3.0 was about students getting a free ride at tax payers` expense! Why is it that "right becomes wrong, and wrong becomes right"? You people are a bunch of Bolshiviks(sp. sorry); this will only leed to another "failed state"…Think-KLM

  10. i really dun get the readers that post such nasty comments! sincerely if you do not like the person, go away then! why even come by here when we are all treasuring.. As much as you have the right to dislike the article we too have a right to support and like. MARINA, U ROCK!!!!

  11. i really do miss your columns. its so frustrating being voiceless in a so called democratic nation. people who were voted into parliament seems to do no wrong .. despite the fact that its a wrong. the rakyat cant even pinpoint their wrongs else they may just themselves into punching bags. what kind of society are we??

  12. MARINA MAHATHIR??? Anything that comes from MAHATHIR are pure ASSHOLE.

    Ask her go find a cucumber & fuck herself la. The more she talk, the sooner her father is gonna die of heart failure.

    1. There is nothing less frustrating than an asshole empty vessel who speaks merely to hear his/her voice. Grow a brain and in the process open your blind eyes.

      1. I think a cucumber is unable to grow a brain. Let's leave this wise man and his cucumber alone

  13. You got your point across. That is what is important. Why write more on the alternative media like the internet or Malaysia Today. You will sure get your article published.

  14. …… but sayang, your command of the lettered word not that great either and while I (and many) admire and respect your involvement on numerous social programs, let's just say writing is not your forte and please, not my intent to cause you tears sayang but 23 years ago, have you ever considered a space was created for you as a favour because of the old man ?

  15. …… but sayang, your command of the lettered word not that great either and while I (and many) admire and respect your involvement on numerous social programs, let's just say writing is not your forte and please, not my intent to cause you tears sayang but 23 years ago, have you ever considered a space was created for you as a favour because of the old man ?

    1. This is a political commentary meant for the masses. As long as it gets the point across, I don't see the reason for it to be cerebral or witty beyond necessary.

    2. *is not that great.
      ** involvement in
      *** it is not my intent
      **** considered that
      ***** favour to

      I personally enjoy your writing, Marina. Thank you for speaking your mind for our country.

    3. What do you mean? I love the way she writes. I probably won't read your over dramatic post if you tried to write one.

Comments are closed.