Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Guest Post: Juana Jaafar's impassioned plea

Juana Jaafar
Enough is enough: An appeal to Malaysians

By Juana Jaafar

I write this as a truly distressed young Malaysian.

The state of the country’s political sphere has reached the pinnacle of filth. Sadly, politics in Malaysia today envelopes almost every aspect of our daily lives -- which means there is no way any informed person could run away from the smut that oils this country’s politics. For a long time I thought I had grown immune to political sex scandals after years of "exposés" being shoved down my throat by the media. Well, I’ve been proven wrong.

As a teenager flipping through newspapers for school assignments I learnt a lot about homosexual sex and pedophilia. I was exposed to information far more than what my parents would want me to know at that age, and certainly nothing they would otherwise like to discuss with me. But newspapers were, at least then, still regarded as a source of knowledge and my parents could not stop me from browsing.

I pray Malaysian parents know better today.

As a fresh graduate and through my working life, one political sex scandal after another would surface in my life, as they continue to do so today. But this time it’s different. When revelations of the latest political sex scandal appeared on my Twitter feed, I found myself feeling nauseous. I was so disgusted I literally ran into the shower and scrubbed my skin with the coarsest sponge I could find.

The smut that is our country’s politics did not just intrude into our homes via mass media and robbed us of our collective decency, but is now all over our very existence. The filth lingers on our news feed for days and weeks as political actors continue to make statements about it. And God forbid the matter is taken to court, or Parliament, we will be flushed with pornographic details for months and years to come.

Malaysia’s media too seems to have acquired a thirst for these political sex scandals, with editors playing active roles in mediating "elite" screening sessions. As media practitioners they race against each other to see who can get filthy details out to the public first. And for as long as scum political actors are willing to provide scoops, the media will oblige to publish their "exclusive".

Malaysia’s media, both traditional and new, are just as morally bankrupt and complicit in the rapid degeneration of our nation, as the filthy political actors behind these sex scandals.

And what of bloggers, the new "independent" and uncensored voice of Malaysia’s conscience? Those self-proclaimed patriots whose jihad is to save Malaysia from immoral leaders; how do they counter this process of decay and help restore our collective decency? To my horror, their noble contribution to the nation is to viral and direct the very people they want to save straight to the smut material itself.

I ask myself, what exactly then are these bloggers saving Malaysia from?

What’s worse is that regular Malaysians actually validate and respond to these filthy exposés by making judgement on the quality of the material, the brilliance or stupidity of the political strategy behind the scandal, and of course the eventual and compulsory name-calling between grassroots political supporters. And if the nature of history is to repeat itself, this toxic exchange on the internet will continue until yet another political sex scandal surfaces.

On this matter, I call on my contemporaries to defeat history.

And I call on Malaysia’s women to take the lead. Political actors and agents who perpetuate the mass distribution of this filth are generally not from among the country’s women. And yet women make up for at least 50 per cent of the audience who are exposed to it. Furthermore, women are also often the "collateral damage" in these exposés as their identities are uncovered and degrading comments are made about them in passing.

I beg of you, my fellow Malaysians regardless of your political affiliation, to please stop making comments on social media, blogs or online news portals featuring updates about these scandals. Your comments will only encourage political actors to source for new smut materials, and "news" outlets would strive to outdo each other in their coverage of these revelations.

Let’s put a stop to this. Enough is enough.

Juana Jaafar describes herself as a regular Malaysian. See also A hero's welcome.

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