Friday, January 18, 2013

Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! 

(I literally copied and pasted it 10 times, anyways jokes aside.....) 

It's my turn to voice out my PERSONAL opinion about the recent viral issue regarding a forum by Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia.....as a journalism student I am always taught to be on a neutral ground, to look at both sides of the story and seek the truth. I am not sure how often that is practiced in the industry these days but I should and I will share my opinions by analyzing and understanding both sides of the story.

Background - Bawani KS and President of Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen

If you have not been following the news, there was a recent forum called, 'Mahasiswa dan Politik' organized in University Utara Malaysia (UUM) by Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia, a Non-Governmental Organization. What happened during the forum was, the president, which was the speaker, humiliated a fellow student from the University in front of more than 2000 students.

Bawani KS was voicing her opinions on free education in Malaysia. Before Bawani could finish her speech, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen took away her microphone and requested for her turn to speak. However, the word request in this context is a bit unfair for Bawani KS.


Respect and demand 

Bawani KS vs Sharifah Zohra Jabeen in terms of respect, who was at fault? 

In my opinion, there were fault in both parties. Firstly, Bawani KS was a bit too passionate in voicing out her opinion that she forgot about the intonation of her speech, her voice was raised slightly higher than normal and can be categorized as provocative and perhaps slightly emotional as well. In addition to that, she also used body languages that were in some context, harsh.

Alright, that was Bawani's side. However, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen is not any good as well. Before Bawani could finish her sentence, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen cut her short with one word, that was repeated many times (that felt like a million). Was that respectful towards Bawani? I do not think so. Perhaps, just perhaps she was trying to calm things down as Bawani was a bit too heated up in her speech. However, that does not justify what Sharifah had to say after that.

Sharifah, as the president of the NGO and as an honorable speaker for the forum had all the rights to defend her own opinions about the matter. All in all, it was an open forum that was suppose to be a platform for intellectuals to share their opinions on important matters. However, the only thing that caught my attention as well as sparked my dissatisfaction was Sharifah's personal attack on Bawani KS.

Even as the president of Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia, Sharifah was in no position to humiliate and condemn Bawani KS in front of so many people present. Claims made of Bawani such as being disrespectful was already injustice to her. Moreover, calling her the least educated individual in the hall was unacceptable.

Respect does not come with age, status or power. Respect comes with wisdom, it is earned not demanded.

Young and foolish

Yes, Sharifah was absolutely right, Bawani was younger than her in age. She was young but she was definitely not foolish. She stated her opinions with facts, figures and good comparisons as illustrations. Sharifah as well, had some truth regarding respecting the elderly. However, Sharifah should have stopped speaking before she went on about animal rights.

Cats, dogs and jaws has problems. I agree with you, Sharifah. Animals do have problems, there are stray animals living in the streets, some die of starvation and some of diseases. However, a rebuttal must make sense and must be relevant to the context. Bawani spoke of free education, she spoke of the truth in regards to Bersih 3.0. On the other hand, Sharifah spoke of illegal gatherings of 3 people or more and animal rights in regards to the topic addressed.

Alright, so up until now, both sides had their valid opinions. Perhaps Bawani was wrong in the way she expressed herself and perhaps Sharifah had solid points but was irrelevant and rude in her rebuttal. So both parties were foolish but wait, there is another and that is the people in the hall.

When I clicked on the video I was already ready to watch the two people addressed in a heated conversation. However, the disappointment only came in when the people in the hall was cheering and clapping with no absolute reason. More than 2000 people cheered and clapped for Bawani KS when she spoke. However, the same amount of people cheered and clapped for Sharifah when she humiliated their own friend in front of them.

Why, my dear Malaysians, why?

Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men?

From here on, it is all my own opinion. Just like Bawani KS, I am an undergraduate student from Monash University studying Arts and Social Sciences. I am young, yes, sometimes foolish, yes but I know what is black and white, right and wrong, ethical and unethical and most of all, I know my rights.

Humiliating another individual in front of so many people, is wrong and unethical. Expressing yourself in a provocative manner is wrong and foolish. However, not respecting the people's opinion in regards to creating a better future is not acceptable. We may be young but we are taught, at a very young age of making a difference, of change, of improvements to a better future for all generations to come and humanity.

I have kept quiet for this long. When a guideline was published and approved by our Ministry last year in regards to identifying Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals and Transexuals, I was enraged. During then, I was studying a subject on Sex, Gender and Women knowledge. We spoke of equality among genders and people with different sexual orientations in class. We debated and discussed about change in human rights. Even in a small and humble classroom of 30 people, we could see change and we spoke of change. Yes, these people who saw change and spoke of change were people my age.

We are young, yes but just remember this, we are the future as well.

Do you want all of us to memorize text books in class and be a slave to idiocy? 

Do you want us to have pre-programmed mind sets of a certain truth that was sculpted and established by society, influenced by what was clouded with misconceptions and corruption by generations from generations? 

Do you NOT want us to change, for our sakes and for the future generation's sake?


I love my country, I was born here but my country is not the only developing nation in the world. There are many great nations out there. Some struggling for change, some improving on change and some not wanting to change. We are capable of change, each of us, no matter how old, rich or wise is capable of change but what is preventing us, exactly?

Now to share with you my current favourite song;

Les Miserables- Do you hear the people sing

Do yo hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!




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