Rendangate is upon us. For the uninitiated, Masterchef UK has recently featured a Malaysian-born cook who made our patented nasi lemak with a side of chicken rendang. Unfortunately, the myopic (sebab dia pakai cermin mata) judges criticised her dish, first praising the quality of the nasi lemak itself but disparaging the rendang as the chicken skin was not crispy and because the time to cook said dish was too short to properly tenderise the chicken. The rendang was deemed unwise to have been paired with such an elegant nasi lemak and caused the contestant to be eliminated.

Malaysians everywhere, quite predictably, erupted in dismay. The result has been constantly mocked, made into quality memes and even snuck into propaganda posts by the Prime Minister and the Menteri Besar of Selangor. In fact, the whole of the nusantara region lent their support, with even more criticism and fresh satire. In all the merriment and solidarity, one can easily forget certain imperative items that also happened this week, hence, we at Liberasi, ever the downers at the proverbial house party, decided to bring you our very first instalment of The Redux, an intermittent segment that attempts to capture the elements of a time which might elude most people. Yes, we are exactly this boring.

1) Anti Fake News Bill

The hotly contested Anti Fake News Bill was passed this week in parliament, garnering backlash that, when compared to Rendangate, was lukewarm at best, which begs the question, is rendang more universal than human rights? Satire aside, this bill is downright scary to look at. Terms such as fake news and malicious intent are thrown around so vaguely that it opens up the possibility of defining literally anything as fake news. This opens up the very real possibility of setting up such a controlled state that freedom of speech becomes a meaningless buzzword, where any dissent can be characterised as fake news and taken action upon.

Sure, the spreading of inaccurate information and content intended to cause harm is to be abhorred but combating such a scenario with restrictive laws would not work anyway. This bill will only make the State seem more oppressive, forcing fake news to go underground. Shared in secret, out of the purview of the public, really toxic ideas can breed and will one day break forth into society fully-formed and even more formidable than before. It is better to, instead, inculcate a culture of intellectualism by focusing attention to dispel these rumours through factual means, and even laws that already exist against slander.

For example, we aren’t supposed to question the special rights of Bumiputras as well, but ask any Malaysian anywhere and they will have strong opinions on the matter and will spread them to their friends and family. How factual are these? We don’t know. If they are toxic enough to breed hatred between the races, we would only see the final riots rather than the spate of incorrect assumptions made prior to them. Generalising to a wider spread of topics is a terrifying concept.

In this regard, Liberasi stands with the United Kingdom and Eire Malaysian Law Students’ Union (KPUM) and the United Kingdom and Eire council of Malaysian Students, championing facts not acts #FaktaBukanAkta.

2) Tun M, Innocent After All?

Now because I’m Malaysian and I’ve dealt with Malaysians, that first entry will make some of you think I’m an anti-kerajaan, brainwashed troublemaker. Nah, just for you I balance it out with this entry. Tun Mahathir recently claimed that, during his time, he had never abused the Internal Security Act. In fact, he didn’t want to use it so much that even repealing it seemed a useless act. Of course la, why throw away what we never use in the first place, perfect logic. Furthermore, testimony from top cops back in those times certify that Tun M advised against the utilisation of these laws but his hand was forced due to the dire need to use it, as recommended by said cops. This is especially true in Ops Lalang where it was a complete coincidence that the people who were caught generally seemed to be Tun M’s criticisers and political opponents, strengthening his then shaky claim to the Prime Ministership. And Anwar kind of deserved it? Anyway, itu semua air di bawah jambatan kan?

Well, about that, I don’t want to say much, as there isn’t much to say. Look it up to see if the facts match but I’ll add some value here. I realise the political scene in Malaysia employs the Great Man leadership concept, where the leader is seen as untouchable in power, wit, kindness, morality and (insert nilai murni here). All the past deeds, hypocrisies and failures are washed away to strengthen their and their party’s claim to the throne of Putrajaya. This is especially true when we see certain organisations who were once adamant in their criticism of these leaders now praising them (looking at you CHALLENGER). This in and of itself is fine, everyone has the capacity to change. But when historical whitewashing such as this is done, and it is done extensively and without a shard of remorse, we must step back and ask if it is ethical to sell this faux image to an already confused populace? Just say politicians are human and some compromises need to be made for political gains, senang cerita. Be honest with people, especially since a large bunch of them are sick of the BS and are opting to spoil their votes. Ni nak agungkan lebih daripada Agong. Menyampah

3) PRU 14

The 14th General Election is expected to be called by the end of this week and the feverish atmosphere is, pun intended, infectious. Now, our pals at KPUM and UKEC have done their very best to encourage those of you who are interested to register as voters and to get your postal voting forms sent in ASAP. At this point, the former is out of reach and the latter’s deadline is closing soon, so it doesn’t make sense for Liberasi to ask you to register. What we will do, instead, is build upon points 1 and 2 to give you some pointers on how to navigate the campaigning period and decide upon who to vote for, just to end on a semi-positive note.

There are going to be a lot of engagement sessions held in the coming weeks for the politicians who run at your constituency to woo you into voting for them disguised as townhalls or productive intellectual forums. Use this opportunity to question your politician incessantly on the topics that matter. I suggest for BN, this be civil rights, accountability or microeconomic (income inequality) issues and for PH, a comprehensive macroeconomic agenda, worker productivity and progressive taxation. Read up on their manifestos, compare them critically and add some of your own thought process into it. Stand up and ask tough questions. I swear if I see someone wasting time with theatrics like over-praising politicians or asking inane personal questions, sumpah aku santau. Tahulah Syed Saddiq tu kacak. Nak pikat tu pergi terus ke pejabat dia, jangan mengada sangat.

To my #undirosak-ers out there, I see you and I understand. Picking the lesser of two-evils is tough but I encourage you guys to attend these sessions as well. Your insight into each side’s weaknesses would be imperative for those around you to make better decisions. Who knows, maybe you will learn something yourself. I am but a small actor compared to your experience in activism, I do not pretend to teach you the nuances of Malaysian politics. Tapi hidayah tu, seperti malang, tak berbau. Please do add value to the discussions, even if you will be protesting by spoiling your votes.

Been bit of a slog this week but hey, we’ve gone through worse and we’ll survive. And that’s the first ever edition of The Redux. Thank you for your time and remember, if you don’t like my opinions, form your own. And no, sharing a meme on rendang doesn’t count.

Featured picture from Munchies

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