Star’s radical attempt at moderation

Two years after Najib Razak started peddling his theme of “moderation”, one that’s more honoured in the breach thereof by various factions of his own party let alone the rest of Malaysian society, The Star has joined the parade by appropriating it for its own promotional advertising campaign.

“It is not a word that belongs to any political party,” the campaign says, somewhat defensively perhaps, given Najib’s four-year-old initiative.

The Star's attempt at reflected glory

But then no group, let alone a politician, can claim exclusive ownership of any word in any language.

“Moderation” is one of those feel-good uplifting words with a broad reach, that appeals to many, for few would be called “extremist”.

For Najib and his merry men, it’s a useful word in a desperate attempt to rise above Mahathir Mohamad’s legacy of sponsored racism, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, blinkered thinking, deep-rooted conservatism and crony capitalism (to name just a few traits).

Another day, another Utusan column

Another day, another Utusan column

The voices of progress

The voices of progress

The Star has its own legacy in public perception, of being a political mouthpiece of its owners and the Umno-BN establishment. The showcase of columnists under a slogan of “brave voices” and “bold ideas” looks less like a proclamation of faith and more of claiming some borrowed glory.

Thing is, most of these voices are that of outsiders and contributors, purveyors of commentary and opinion, of thought. Mostly, it’s all talk.

In Malaysia’s barren, limited and repressive sphere of public discussion it doesn’t take much to come forward with what the public would believe to be “brave words”: you only need to put up common sense against the prevailing and toxic nonsense of the establishment.

Pathetically, that already sounds radical. More radical would be some courage within the Star towards giving their columnists greater breathing space for contrarian thoughts that are routinely excised.

For the Star itself, sadly, its showcase of columnists is an indirect indictment of its own worth and raison d’etre as a newspaper: not in the subdued and modest clash of opinion, but in what it hawks in the rest of its bulk.

It is an indictment of the insipid reporting passed off as news on its national, local, business, features, specialist and sports pages, and in what it chooses to forego.

For that, there is a more appropriate word. Lackey.


4 thoughts on “Star’s radical attempt at moderation

  1. Being moderate can mean many different things. It can mean being reasonable, being balanced. But it can also mean being lame, or being a fence-sitter. I suppose it’s a welcome move in today’s charged environment. But we do want policy shapers to have some oomph, and not act limp-wristed. In the US, politicians like Ron Paul and his son Rand are forceful in arguing their libertarian positions. They are not moderate libertarians, they are firm and vocal as politicians. At the end of the day, maybe it is not about moderation, but about being open towards diverse views and showing maturity as a society.

  2. As moderates, we cannot say that religious fundamentalists are dangerous people, for practising what they belief. We can’t even say that they are mistaken because their knowledge of scripture is generally based on written book. We can say that we don’t like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. In Malaysia there are four different religions trying to compete and survive with the government openly leaning towards Islam. Najib talks about moderation but openly supports Islam against the other faiths. Secular judges are mostly Muslims and their secular judgements are flawed in support of Islam. Islamic sharia courts have become a parallel system with the civil courts. Islamic organizations openly act against civil law and even the majority Muslim police are placed in a tight spot. Religious violence still plagues our world because our religions are intrinsically hostile to one another. Secular knowledge and secular interests have been high jacked and restrained by religious fundamentalist who are working inside UMNO and spells opposition to moderation expressed by Najib. Islam is especially hostile to the principles of civil society. Islam also believes that women and non-Muslims do not get equal rights. There are still places in the Muslim world where people are put to death for invented crimes, such as blasphemy. The totality of a child’s education consists of his learning to recite from an ancient book. Throughout the Muslim world, women are denied almost every human liberty, except the liberty to breed. In this aspect where is Malaysia heading to with talk of moderation and at the same time imposing Islam vibrantly into the society.

  3. Pingback: Where is Moderate Malaysia? | Poskod Malaysia

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