COMMENT | Free speech in Malaysia is costly

Thor Kah Hoong

23 Feb 2021, 12:05 am

Updated 13 d ago


COMMENT | In my childhood, the infractions of kids were punished with a verbal roasting from a parent (or both); if the transgression was adjudged to be major, requiring a sterner lesson, a rattan cane or a feather-duster would appear.

This was a time when no NGOs were around to scream "child abuse" and sic the authorities on the parents. We took our painful medicine. We knew the laws, we crossed the line, we had gone to catch fish at Klang River, or some selfish, greedy uncle had complained about stolen rambutans.

No big deal. The cane-strokes were usually a token warning against a repeat of the offence, just over-act on the screams and promise of heartfelt repentance, never again; even when they stung, the hurt was transient.

What really hurt for me was the ritual ending where I had to say "Sorry". For some, the humiliation was rubbed in with the requirement of a "Thank you." Bad enough encouraging lying about being sorry, but expressing gratitude for the painful lesson? That's child abuse.

There was an occasion when heated over a blatant miscarriage of justice, I refused to be contrite. No apology, no going to bed. I sat stewing in my outrage for a couple of hours but had to succumb eventually to the inflexibility of the law before sorry me could go to bed.

That was me when I was a kid. Steven Gan, Malaysiakini's editor-in-chief, is no kid, and Malaysiakini is no new kid in the media landscape. This news portal has had more than its share...

All Access Plan
starting from


per month
Subscribe Now
You can cancel anytime.
Get unlimited access to our articles on web and apps
Add comments to our articles
Bookmark articles to read later
We accept
Student or Senior Citizen? Get a special rateGroup / Institutional / Corporate Plans
Already Subscribed?
Sign In

View Comments (0)