I write to you in good faith as a fellow citizen of Malaysia to humbly ask that the Council of Churches reconsiders its decision to object to the Devouror Concert on April 21, 2019.
The reason is simple: Cancelling the concert on the basis that it offends the sensitivities of Christians sets a very dangerous precedent for Malaysia.
Over the years, the Malaysian Christian community has had its freedom of speech and belief, unjustly taken away on many occasions by the authorities, to avoid offending the sensitivities of those who follow the religion of the Federation.
Here are a few examples:
- The ban of the use of the word “Allah;”
- The seizure of Bibles printed in the national language;
- The removal of crosses from the facades of churches.
The logic and policy behind those actions, and the cancellation of the Devouror Concert, are exactly the same.
We cannot complain when the authorities take away our freedoms to make other people happy, when we ask them to do the exact same thing to those who offend us.
Today’s actions undermine the position of all of us who seek the refuge of the law from the tyranny of the majority.
Respecting someone’s right to freedom of speech does not mean that we have to respect the content of the speech itself.
In fact, the CCM will be all the more respected, if it expressly states that even though it continues to find heavy metal offensive and distasteful, it respects the right of the people of Malaysia to exercise their freedoms in a democratic society, by allowing the concert to proceed.
We have not fought so hard all these years to achieve Malaysia Baru, only to start emulating our oppressors before the year is out.
The choices that we make today will determine which path our country will take in the ongoing national conversation. Do we choose freedom over fear; tolerance over mistrust?
It is still not too late.
I am begging you. Please reconsider.
First published in malaymail.com