Yes, you’ve read that right. Satire, in any form, shape, and colour, is stupid. It is pointless, crude, and does nothing but stir up trouble for people who already have enough trouble being stirred up for them.
You may wonder what it is that prompted me on what will be a long, weary tirade against the ineffectual, blatant display of pseudo-intellectualism that is satire. Well, I came across a cartoon that appeared in Nanyang Siang Pau, which is pictured below.
How offensive! Depicting human beings as monkeys! Why, the mere thought of it makes me shudder with anger and revulsion. And think of all the poor readers they’re misleading. Lesser-informed readers might be tricked by the cunning editors of Nanyang into thinking that these are referring to actual monkeys, that there is actually a monkey named Hadi Awang, and that Act 355 literally refers to a dish served under a cloche. In fact, the cartoon refers to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act – otherwise known as RU355 – that was deferred without being debated. Fortunately, thanks to the quick decision-making skills of Abdul Hadi Awang, we’ve yet again managed to dodge a debate over what would undoubtedly be a thorny issue, as all matters concerning race and religion are in Malaysia.
Thank goodness we also have individuals such as Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to come out and defend us against vicious attacks like these. He said, showing astuteness as befits a Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Doctor, that poking fun of others using our knowledge is intellectual egoism. Hear! Hear!
It may be allowed and considered ethical in other cultures, but not Malaysian culture. Truer words have never been spoken!
What a good thing we have Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi indeed, to let us know what is appropriate or not appropriate in Malaysian culture. How else would we be able to find out for ourselves? Just because we are Malaysians, doesn’t mean that we make any sort of discursive contributions to Malaysian culture, you know. No, that is a sacred, divine concept that only qualified individuals, such as Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, are allowed to speak on.
We also have groups coming out to protest this affront to our delicate Malaysian sensibilities. Around a hundred members of PAS and other Muslim groups, being incensed by this matter, diligently and devotedly sacrificed a good deal of time and effort, all for the sake of gathering (peacefully, I’m sure, unlike some other rowdier protesters – you can tell by the fact that the police wasn’t involved) outside Nanyang’s office. How lucky we are that even the younger generation is taking up the mantle in defending our poor, passive Malaysian readers against malicious lies and media propaganda!
There is no doubt that this display of intellectual egoism must be curbed, especially in the dealing of sensitive matters. Why draw attention to these issues when they can be nicely and tidily swept under the rug? What’s the point of using humour or wit as a form of social critique when we poor Malaysians ourselves have trouble even in determining what is appropriate in Malaysian culture? As State PAS commissioner Muhammad Fauzi Yusof rightly reminded us: keep in mind of what happened to Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper that has been a target of, not one, but two terrorist attacks. How wise of him to use the tragic death of these people, these cartoonists and editors and other staff, as a stern warning to these conniving media outlets.
Never mind that these are people who are actual individuals killed in a brash, horrifying act of violence, leaving behind grieving families, friends, and colleagues. Why does that matter when we can use them as an example of rightful retribution towards publishers of content which aims to disrupt the fragile harmony we Malaysians are barely able to preserve?
Why, every single waking moment of my daily life is just spent ensuring that no one is offended by anything I say, do, think, feel, eat, create, write, suggest, ask, or discuss. I find it generally helpful to steer away from anything to do with race or religion or politics.
As Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed sagely pointed out, the publication of a single cartoon could very well threaten the national order. In fact, it may very well destroy the very fabric of Malaysian society! No, we should let wiser individuals like Deputy Prime Ministers and State Commissioners deal with lofty matters like this, while we stay properly in our own places and follow orders.
Why, even history has shown that any attempt to challenge these sensitivities will result in violence. Look at what happened during the 13 May riots and Operation Lalang. It is obvious any form of racial tension, instead of being addressed or discussed in a manner that would ensure everyone’s voices are heard, should be either removed from our collective national memory, as 13 May was, or suppressed immediately in one genius preemptive stroke, which was what they did in Operation Lalang. Thank goodness we have the New Economic Policy to unite us after the conflicts and riots of 13 May – certainly, it is much more effective, fair, and constructive in our attempt to achieve racial harmony. Not to forget the Sedition Act and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act that allows the government to efficiently swoop in and squash any dissenting voices before they create more trouble by providing critique or voicing concerns or suggesting that we have one of those pesky discussions thingamajig.
Still, at the end of it all, even Abdul Hadi Awang has graciously forgiven Nanyang. Yes, Nanyang is the one who was ignorant in ‘understanding the fine line in religious sensitivity’, the one who was immoderate. Just Nanyang. No one else. No one else at all. It just goes to show that satire is stupid. That much is obvious. And hence I would hereby like to officially declare, though I am but a poor, passive, uninformed writer, that I would never resort to employing such underhanded means to expose problematic social discourses.
Written by Yee Heng Yeh
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of the editorial team at IGNITE.