By the Young Professionals (YP)
We in the Young Professionals (YP) were taken aback to read the reply of the G25 Malaysia to our member Aisyah Osman’s piece, itself penned in response to the remarks of the former’s spokeswoman, Dato’ Noor Farida Ariffin, made during her keynote speech before the audience of the 6th Civil Society Award organised by the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall.
We were struck by the churlish tone of the reply in particular and believe that the embodiment of Aisyah’s article was, accidently or deliberately, misconstrued. Hence it is our intention in this statement to clarify further what she had meant to convey.
YP wishes to make perfectly clear that Aisyah’s “vigorous defence of freedom of speech” as the G25 put it was not an attack on secularism nor Islamism, but first and foremost an attack on hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a vile trait for any individual, much less an organisation claiming to be championing and upholding the Federal Constitution, to have. Indeed one of the values that unites those of us of various backgrounds and diverse viewpoints within YP is our love of consistency and thus, strong contempt for hypocrisy and its close cousin, duplicity.
It bears mentioning that the constitutional provision on to the right to free speech and expression encapsulated by Article 10(1)(a) is not limited in any way to religionists or secularists. Whether one is conservative or liberal, every one of us is Malaysian and thus is equally entitled to this right without exception. This reading is also consistent with our constitutional provision on equality as set out in Article 8(1).
Thus when an essentially unregistered NGO consisting of “eminent” figures of elite backgrounds from a single race and religion claims to be the only one entitled to propound a narrative on our apex law while denouncing and silencing the right of others to do so in our multi-ethnic and religiously diverse Malaysia – as is the case with the G25 and its call for allies to sue and prosecute those who disagree – it is not something that we in YP in general and Aisyah in particular, take to lightly nor kindly.
Incongruously the G25 has chosen to respond to Aisyah’s article by quizzing her on Iksim’s report against UM Professor Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi and Jawi’s actions against Turkish author Mustafa Akyol. These are questions which neither she nor anyone of us in YP, not being of these institutions, can answer! The G25 best direct their queries on these two individuals to Iksim and Jawi instead if it serious about ascertaining facts as opposed to making unfounded allegations.
Also, the claim that Aisyah has supposedly “conveniently ignored” acts by religious authorities as well as the suggestion that she direct her writings to these authorities is way off the mark. The authorities are constitutionally sanctioned parts of our body politic carrying out their functions proscribed by law. They have never claimed to be liberal or ideologically bent in any way and are certainly not hypocritical or exhibiting dual standards on the right to freedom of expression. The only parties guilty of this i.e. appealing to human rights while negating the free speech of others, are the G25 and their cohorts.
Another peculiarity in the G25 response is the assertion that it too does not believe in police reports against its ideological opponents when news reports quote its own spokeswoman, Dato’ Noor Farida herself calling for NGOs to lodge such reports against Iksim, JAKIM and others. Does Dato’ Noor Farida not speak for the G25 then or is this yet another example of the NGO’s penchant for doublespeak?
YP stands by the position of its member Aisyah in condemning the duplicity of the G25 in the above regard as a disgrace to its own avowed aim of liberalism and upholding fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the rights of the Malay Rulers.
Perhaps the G25 should take heed of its own call, made to religious authorities on the administration of Islam in particular, not to harass and threaten others with different opinions. This it can do by registering as a credible NGO as well as eschewing confrontation in favour of dialogue.
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