I couldn’t help but laugh at a recent Starbucks hangout session. A close friend complained that the current ruling coalition was dashing hopes of a “new Malaysia”, particularly after feeling pained by the label of being a “super” liberal.
For myself, I couldn’t help but guffaw at the title – “super liberal”, used by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had used recently during a campaign speech held in a mosque in Port Dickson.
At the same time, I was curious that such a political gathering could be held in a mosque, particularly since I’m from Selangor where His Royal Highness the Sultan is adamant against having such speeches in a religious institution.
So, what exactly is a “super liberal”? I find myself pondering this question for a week or so because honestly, most of what is being advocated is just plain liberal. In fact, most middle class Malaysians are more “light liberal” rather than full fledge liberal.
Perhaps what Anwar meant was the extremist liberals? Those advocating gay marriage, full fledge meritocracy, secular identity and the abolishment of privileges bestowed purely from an accident at birth determining race?
The image I conjure up of an extremist liberal would be someone wanting total free market ideology at all costs, even if it included doing business with dictatorial nations. Those who argue there should be no minimum wage or even welfare handouts, instead letting the market handle these freely.
A “super liberal” would probably believe, from a healthcare system, that everyone should pay their own way rather than expect the state to do so. They would also believe that government should have no say in religion, and religion should have no say in government.
Instead, a “super liberal” would suggest followers of such religions provide the means and pay the way for their own beliefs rather than depend on state coffers to fund it.
This would be my mental image of a “super liberal”. But that’s not what a Malaysian “super liberal” is at all. Instead, what is being advocated by the people targeted and grouped by Anwar are just liberals. What made them super is advocating any of these in Malaysia, a society that is getting further and further into a conservative rut.
In other words, Anwar is pandering to voters.
In a Malaysian context, a “super liberal” is anyone who believes that everybody should be treated as equals from birth to death regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender and even their status in society.
A Malaysian “super liberal” is one who believes nobody deserves to be penalised for stating an opinion, loving someone, and even having the audacity to single out and call out anyone who creates wasteful by-elections – be it in Kajang or Port Dickson – simply for political gain at the cost of government funds.
Of course, a “super liberal” is also someone who thought those advocating #undirosak were “sick in the head”, and then are hypocritically advocating doing just that in the Port Dickson by-election.
And yes, I will be extremely and liberally smug about that fact.