MO,7/2/2018, PETALING JAYA: With the general election around the corner, politicians from across the divide are calling on Malaysians to put an end to hate politics and develop a sense of maturity. They are also urging the public to be respectful of each other’s opinions. MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said some Malaysians were not politically mature despite being educated and knowledgeable. “We are so clouded by political emotions that it surpasses objective thinking. People are no longer interested in looking at facts or choosing the best in the democratic spirit.
“We should have an open mind but because of hate and toxic politics, people no longer care,” he said. Ti said some people were selective in their judgment. Ti said attacks are no longer directed only at politicians but other Malaysians, such as the supporters of #UndiRosak, because “hate culture” had entered the social fabric. Although social media was a necessary and useful tool, it had also become a platform for abuse, said Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz. Nazri said as a politician, he did not take online criticism personally.
“This is the freedom we want. I am a politician and I am professional,” he said, adding that he was not concerned by what people said about him on social media, but there should be a right to reply. “People must respect each other’s views. If people want to criticise me and I reply, do not get offended,” said the senior Cabinet member. Parit Sulong lawmaker Datuk Noraini Ahmad felt there should be sufficient maturity among Malaysians for them to sit down and iron out their differences.
“When an election is close, people start to create issues or stories. That is not right,” she said, adding that women politicians especially had it tough. “We face harassment. But we just have to be strong and continue with our work.“We need to do twice as much as our male counterparts and we are also easy targets,” she added. PKR communication chief Fahmi Fadzil said it was high time Malaysians struck a balance between freedom of speech and self-restraint. “Democracy is a noisy process. Social media, from a democratic standpoint, is an enabler of communication.
“So, it is both an asset and a liability, a double-edged sword that we need to learn how to wield,” he said. DAP assistant national publicity secretary Yeo Bee Yin said while hate politics was hard to control, people should be proactive in reporting users who were abusive online. “People need to treat others with respect. You can have differing views but do not belittle others. Be respectful no matter how much you disagree,” she said.
Pribumi youth chief Syed Saddiq said the ease of creating social media accounts allowed people to anonymously spew hateful remarks without consequences. “The very purpose of those (hateful) comments is to distract people from actual discussion and analysis, which is regressive,” he said. He was insistent that such comments should not be blocked although he had been on the receiving end of spiteful remarks.
“Society will judge who (the commentators) are by what they say. Free speech is important when it is controversial and when it defies social norms, and (should not be) defended only when it is convenient,” he said. A better way to tackle the problem was to push for long-term cultural change through education rather than regulating hate speech with more laws, he added.