I personally have great skepticism about the theories extolling the wonders of ‘Asian values’. They are often based on badly researched generalisations and frequently uttered by governmental spokesmen countering accusations of authoritarianism and violations of human rights…”
– Amartya Sen, Foreword to ‘The Passions and the Interests by Albert O Hirschman’ (1996)
COMMENT by S. Thayaparan| Before I begin, I would just like to say that it is not constructive engaging in ad hominems with M Kayveas for presenting a contrarian view – in the alternative press – on celebrating “Asian values”. Indeed, I wish that more space was available (unlike the mainstream press) to pro-establishment types to peddle their views.
I am going to answer all the questions the PPP President posed because the reality is that these questions are rhetorical traps. These traps are deployed by those who would wish to silence people who believe that Malaysians, regardless of creed or race, have rights that the state wishes to infringe on using religious and political norms, all under the guise of “Asian values”.
Kayveas wrote: “So where is the extremism that we are screaming and hurling in every direction, in the wake of this demand to have or have not a beer festival in public space, if I may ask?”
The extremism comes from the so-called security threat that people opposed to this public event pose and the capitulation of the state to these extremists. It really does not matter if non-Muslims enjoy the right to “celebrate” in private, there is no law that says that these rights are denied in public spaces.
“So why do we fight over so-called ‘rights’ to have a beer festival in the public space when we could have gracefully enjoyed to the last drop in private space like a hotel’s grand ballroom?
The “fight” is not about celebrating alcohol. The fight is about our right as non-Muslims/Malaysians to hold activities in public even if those activities may cause “sensitivity” to certain religious groups.
“Should we not be thankful that alcohol is not peddled and celebrated in public venues where our young frequent to chill out?
You just claimed that non-Malays/Muslims enjoy unrestricted access to alcohol and we should be grateful for that. We can assume that young people have access to alcohol in this country. How does holding a public beer festival where young people would be restricted from publicly drinking a bad thing?
“Should we not let our Asian values triumph over this imported foreign carnival fads that often leave much to be desired in comparison to our own rooted Asian values?”
Certain towns in America are dry towns. There are laws that restrict the sale of alcohol in countries in the West. There are laws in the West about public intoxication. Therefore, when you say let our Asian values triumph, what values are you talking about which are distinct from Western values?
“Where do we go from publicly-held beer festivals?”
Yes, we should ask ourselves, what other types of festivals would the state ban and who in the state decides which festivals to ban. What if Muslim agitators decide to ban Christmas carols in public – which has happened – because Christians can listen to their carols in private?
Or what if Hindu processions were deemed “violent” and offended the sensitivities of certain racial and religious demographics? Would the triumph of Asian values still apply?
Selangor MB Azmin Ali (photo) is under pressure from religious extremists as to his decision not to ban Octoberfest in Selangor using that heinous excuse that the majority in Selangor are Malay/Muslims.
This is where we go from here.
“How about fashion festivals as in the likes of carnivals in Rio de Janeiro or Jamaica?”
Do you understand the origins of these festivals? These carnivals are a melding of Portuguese and African culture (after a troubled history of slavery), not to mention a potpourri of other influences.
It is about couture and music, dancing and joy, straight and gay, in other words “this” and “that”, mixing in peace. It is much more than scantily-clad men and women.
Take a look at social media if you want to watch naked Malaysians engaged in various sex acts. However, if you want to have a street party, have a carnival or better yet, a Bersih march.
“Or if you would, some form of revived Woodstock that spills and oozes with drugs in the open?”
Woodstock is a music festival. Music festivals are currently “allowed” in Malaysia. What are you suggesting? That we ban music festivals, too?
I would not worry about people scoring drugs in such events. I would much rather worry of the corruption that allows for the free flow of drugs in this country. The rural meth labs. The drug traffickers who collude with elements from the state security apparatus. They pose more danger than the drugs that ooze out of music festivals.
“Or even a gay festival of sorts now that it is becoming very much a ‘westerner’ penchant?
“Penchant”? Sexuality Merdeka was banned for whatever reason and politicians and extremist activists talked of going after the “gay menace”.
Religious extremists, their apologists and collaborators did not acknowledge that Wikileaks exposed the fact that there are homosexuals in government.
I think a gay festival is exactly what this country needs if only to expose the hypocrisy that defines Asian values.
“…what is so wrong in Malaysians respecting the Asian values of moderation, consideration and believe in the eternal truth that promotes self-restraint, respect and endorsement of everything Asian?
The problem here is you haven’t defined what separates Asian values from so-called Western values. You do not want people having beer festivals. You do not want young people exposed to drugs and alcohol.
You obviously do not like scantily-clad women because you object to Brazilian-style carnivals. You do not want homosexuals having marches and you do not want to be “Westernised”- which is kind of strange because you have no problem wearing nice Westerns suits.
These are not exactly “Asian” values. These are values that are exhibited by groups of people (normally religious) all over the world. There is nothing distinctively Asian about them unless you consider hypocrisy a distinctively Asian trait.
Also, I do not think you understand what you mean when you write this – “All Malaysians know and do cherish our superior Asian values which must remain as the bedrock of a distinctly progressive future.”
A progressive future means abandoning silly ideas about the superiority or inferiority of Asian and Western values and embracing values that do not divide us along racial and religious lines.
I wish I could say that you have voiced the genuine agenda of the UMNO establishment but the reality is that many in the opposition probably support your perspective. Hypocrisy is the most overt trait of religion, and as we can tell, the basis of “Asian” values.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.