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ET’S play a short game of 50 questions for a change: Do you eat beef?

If you do, can you accept another person’s right to insist that they should not eat beef?
If, they believe that eating of beef is immoral, cruel and sacrilegious, can you accept
that they have a right to hold such a belief?
Are you willing to listen to them persuade you to follow their beliefs? Are you willing to
engage with them in a discussion, civil, heated, maybe argumentative or even downright
ugly arguments, without resorting to threats or violence, on the pros and cons of eating
Will you, at the outset of such discussions or arguments, be open to be persuaded
otherwise should their arguments be compelling enough for you to change your mind?
And if at the end of said discussion or arguments, both of you still disagree with one
another, will you be able to say something to the effect of, “Okay to each his own, we
agree to disagree” and part with your acceptance of the person’s absolute right to hold
an opinion or belief completely against what you believe?
Now let’s change the word “beef” with any word you can think of. Anything.
Change it to any issue or subject-matter related to football, any sports, culture, politics,
education, religion, whatever – can you still hold to YES to each of the above
If your answer is still YES – then you are a LIBERAL. That is it.
The Oxford English dictionary defines “liberal” as an adjective which describes someone
or something who is “willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from
one’s own; open to new ideas”.
By the way, you are either pregnant or you are not. You are not super pregnant by
being with twins or even quintuplets, you are just pregnant with more babies to deliver.
As such, the same as you cannot be super pregnant, you cannot be a super liberal.
You are either a person who is open minded to new ideas and are willing to respect or
accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own or you are not. That’s just being a
You are either a liberal or you are not. There is no such thing as being super liberal, so
let’s not be stupid about that.
That is why I will always insist on the right of anyone to say anything no matter how
much I disagree with it, short of causing clear harm to the immediate public, a litmus
test being crying fire in a crowded theatre when there is none.
But what brings liberals to such a way of thinking? It is basically premised on two
guiding principles:
1. Allowing freedom of thought and speech is the bedrock of how ideas can be tested
without fear or favour. Being open-minded is how one allows bad ideas, even those we
hold dear, can be challenged, dissected, analysed and changed for the better one to
take its place.
2. Basically for a liberal there is no sanctity of ideas or beliefs that cannot be analysed
or challenged. It is the common sense, the pursuit of truth by evidence as best we can
determine is the very essence of what has made human civilisation progress for the
So when people oppose liberalism, what exactly are they opposing? They are opposing
the freedom for us citizens to think and debate freely in a democratic society. Hence
you have laws of sedition, blasphemy, leste mejeste, all to shut you up.
A nine-year-old is apparently mature enough to be married but educated adults in this
country cannot engage in free discourse for fear of causing “confusion” or insulting
others, and apparently some human beings are above being criticised as if they are
God, when God himself allows for free will.
So when they say liberals are a threat to society, what exactly are they concerned
They are concerned that the free speech and free thought and the debate engendered
by liberals will expose the weakness of their position, and the untenable ideas by which
their powers and influence are derived from.
So when we tell them why religious classes are indoctrination and not education, and is
a polarising influence in public schools and the solution is to have it outside of the public
school system – do they argue with you on the issues? No. They call you a liberal anti-
When you tell them why marginalised communities such as the orang asli and natives
need government protection on their rights, they call you liberal meddler in state affairs.
When you tell them LGBT persons are human beings too and they harm no one as
consenting adults, and should be left alone to live their lives, do they argue with you on
the issues? No. They call you liberal for gay marriage when nobody in Malaysia has
ever advocated for such things.
Straw Men. Liberals are the straw men of Malaysia.
Sometimes I think the Pakatan Harapan government is delusional about who voted for
them. Liberals voted for them. Who makes up this liberal constituency?
Non-Malays. They want a free society with equality for all. By their very character,
Malaysian non-Malays are by and large liberal in outlook because most are either
irreligious or holds religions that are, for all intents and purposes, philosophies of life
that are debatable and not cast in stone dictated by above.
Liberal Malays. They want change from what was a previously a government that used
religion and race as the shield and sometimes even reason for them to continue to
plunder the country.
They believe in basic tenet of Islam that is – to you your religion and to me mine. And
therefore, horrors of all horrors, religious pluralism: “I respect your rights and beliefs as
equally valid to you as mine is to me.”
And who voted (in the Peninsula, at least) for what is today the opposition? Basically,
the non-liberal Malays. While, those non-liberals whose ethos is their religion first no
matter what, voted for PAS.
Those non-liberals who are either conservative in outlook, with the main concern being
racially superior with maybe religiosity in second place voted for Barisan Nasional.
You are not going to change this demographic by demonising liberal and its causes.
It will not swing opposition voters to your side.
That tactic will just convince undecided Malays that Pakatan harps the same thing as
what Barisan and PAS do.
And if that is the case, you are basically doing the propaganda for Barisan and PAS for
them to vote for the now opposition.
As such, the Pakatan government needs to engage liberals instead of demonising and
calling us made-up names and making up non-issues. The government and some of its
leaders may not like what we liberals sometimes say about them or their policies.
We are sincere and it would be the wiser choice to engage us.
We understand the dilemma the government has in changing a society bereft of
corruption, both in form and in mind set, after all the years of systemic ethnocentric
Liberals are open to listening and working towards the betterment of our society.
Nothing embodies the liberal ethos more than the preamble to our Rukun Negara that
WHEREAS OUR COUNTRY, MALAYSIA nurtures the ambitions of:
– Achieving a more perfect unity among the whole of her society;
– Preserving a democratic way of life;
– Creating a just society where the prosperity of the country can be enjoyed together in
a fair and equitable manner;
– Guaranteeing a liberal approach towards her rich and varied cultural traditions; and
– Building a progressive society that will make use of science and modern technology.
And with that, I rest my case for a Liberal Malaysia.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/siti-kasim-