Tomoi: A Blow by Blow Account

by Yvonne Tan


Think of an indigenous martial art in Malaysia. Immediately we would think of silat. However, like most places in Southeast Asia, each place has a variant of Muay Thai. Myanmar has Lethwei, which is usually said to be one of the more brutal martial arts around given it permits headbutting and is usually done bare-knuckle, traditionally operating by knockout only to win. Cambodia’s Pradal Serey or Kun Khmer is known for its higher frequency of elbow strikes while Laos’ Muay Lao has a lack of it. In 1995 Cambodia wished to unite the ASEAN martial arts under “Sovannaphum boxing” or “SEA boxing” representing Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, however, the nations were not keen on this, wishing to preserve their own unique form.

Although there is general agreement these forms originate from Muay Boran, a descendant of the traditional martial art Musti-yuddha, most of these variants have been eclipsed by the rise of Muay Thai. Musti-yuddha comes from Sanskrit literally meaning “fist fighting” or “fist combat” which had some of its earliest references from classical epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Rig Veda and Gurbilas Shemi.

The Malaysian variant, Tomoi, which is mostly practised in the northern states, had reached peaked popularity in the 1970s and 80s before being banned in 1990 alongside Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit for its Hindu-Buddhist influences. Hence, many Malaysians now simply refer to the art as Muay Thai or kickboxing to distance the art from being a localized sport and instead paint it as a neutral, international sport originating from Thailand. Thus, the Tomoi-specific rules and rituals before the ban are hardly popularized in comparison.

If you have ever watched a Muay Thai match, immediately you would recognize the Sarama music played alongside the pace of the match and the audience, an apparent feature differing from western boxing. Typically performed by four musicians, playing a Javanese oboe (pii chawaa), a pair of lace drums (klong khaek) and brass cupped symbols (ching chap). They are sometimes swapped with the serunai and the gendang in Tomoi matches. The music begins all the way from the Wai khru ram muay ritual, roughly translated as “war-dance showing respect to the teacher”, which is carried out before the match in Muay Thai competitions.

The dance not only gives salutations to Buddha, Dharma, and the sangha of monks but also to their teachers and the spirit of the ring. It also provides clues to the fighter’s style and abilities which has relevance for betting as well. Many of the Ram Muay dances are influenced by Hanuman from the epic Ramayana and chanting alongside the dance is common. Southern Thailand boxers instead ask for protection from Allah before starting or skip through the salutations. Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn is one of the better-known Muslim boxers in the Muay Thai world who was awarded the best Wai Kru Ram Muay of the year twice, in 2001 and 2006  (Although Thailand itself is far from an example for being accommodative to other religions).

However, with Tomoi, after the ban was lifted in 2006 matches now must be sanctioned by the Kelantan Boxing Association (KBA) led by Ramli Awang and the Kelantan police. The ritual is now replaced with Quranic prayers recitals and chanting is deemed illegal. Fighters also must produce a daily logbook of their training regiments through a manager and the winner is adjudged by a technical knockout (TKO) points system. No betting was allowed as well. Tomoi was also allowed to be practised under the proposed name of “Muay Kelate” but as mentioned earlier kickboxing or Muay Thai is preferred.

Why are we able to welcome with open arms the combat sport when it is branded as a foreign product that comes with globalization, and have the opposite reaction when the sport is one’s own culture? Asking as Homi K. Bhaba does: “in what sense, then, does a nation-centred discourse create an immobile curricular perspective?” [1]

Looking at the national martial art in Malaysia, silat, itself also has roots in Hindu-Buddhism and animism from its folkloric origins to the images of Hindu figures on weaponry. Although it is also illegal for Muslim practitioners to carry out incantations and meditation, the martial art is effectively decided and celebrated as “local” and “indigenous”. As silat is popularly tied to the 15th century Malacca Sultanate, arguably the most important narrative for Malay Muslim civilization, making appearances in Hikayat Inderajaya and Hikayat Hang Tuah. Silat continues to be featured semi-regularly in box office films such as Malaysia’s first colour film Hang Tuah (1956) and its first big-budget film Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004).

Nevertheless, not all portrayal of silat was celebrated. Take, for instance, silat in the internationally acclaimed movie The Raid: Redemption (2011) sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal (2014) was banned from screening for its “excessive violence”. Hence, a specific representation of silat is “prioritize[d] [by] linguistic authenticity, affirming cultural supremacy, and making claims to historical continuity and political progress. These shared discourses of national legitimation are articulated in affective structures of belonging that feel invariably “local” despite their hybrid, international, or intercultural genealogies.” [1]

With silat chosen to represent the epitome of Malay Muslim masculinity, Tomoi has been neutralized of its local ties with emphasis on its Hindu-Buddhist elements of a foreign country despite both sports originating from a melding of various cultures. Repeated calls to lift the ban on Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit, did not necessarily include Tomoi as it was seen as a violent sport operating also as gambling dens with regular ruckus among the audience much like cock-fighting. If modern silat represents refinement and continuation of cultural values, Tomoi is the opposite. Gaik Cheng Khoo coined the term “silat masculinity”:

He represents the average-looking Malay Everyman: clearly not of Eurasian descent, he sports a moustache, has a toned and lean body that is a product of traditional silat rather than the gym and steroids. However, such authenticity necessitates performativity and thus, the traditional hero accessorizes himself with a phallic-shaped weapon such as a keris or badik (both are traditional daggers considered to have magical proper ties) or a gun, which he has to be prepared to use to defend traditional Malay values (and/or femininity)” [2]

In contrast, the critically acclaimed film Bunohan (2011), Tomoi is central to the plot, Adil who is a “kickboxer” that has fallen deep into debt and his father Pok Eng who was a renowned wayang kulit practitioner now struggling to make ends meet with the ban on the craft. Set in a border town of Kelantan, the middle brother Bakar comes back from Kuala Lumpur hoping to sell his family’s land to a large corporation looking to develop it into a resort and in one of the final scenes of the movie Pok Eng confronts Bakar in Kelantan Malay, “you’re so crude, all you care about is land”. Besides the un-Islamic elements, Tomoi is seen as a rural cultural practice as with many others that should be left behind with the lack of space to operate under PAS’ moral and spiritual rectitude and UMNO’s economic growth and development driven narrative. Reaching urban centres as Muay Thai, devoid of its long local history, there is still an immense potential to reclaim the martial art’s roots back within these neutralized spaces, but one can only guess the trajectory of Tomoi’s continuity or lack thereof.


[1] Bhabha, Homi K and Sorensen, Diana (eds.) Territories and Trajectories: Cultures in Circulation. Duke University Press, 2018, p. 2.

[2] Khoo, Gaik Cheng. “Gendering Old and New Malay through Malaysian auteur filmmaker U-Wei Haji Saari’s literary adaptations, “The Arsonist” (1995) and “Swing My Swing High, My Darling” (2004).” South East Asia Research 18, no. 2 (2010): 301-324, p. 315.


Negotiating Love in Malaysia

by Yvonne Tan

Maybe it is just me, but conversion, of course tied to religion and race, seem to be a preoccupation of the dating world here. There is always hesitation between Muslims and non-Muslims because everyone knows if you are truly committed, you would have to convert. In some ways, it also shows that people are aware that you can fall in love with someone from a different race, but you preemptively stop yourself beforehand. 

Maybe you’ve had a friend who would say they would date this particular person if it wasn’t for the fact that they were Muslim. Or maybe you’ve known a Muslim and non-Muslim couple that have been together for many years but decided to part ways when it was time to “settle down” and get serious with someone from the same religion and race. Even if they did stay together, people would immediately raise concerns on what they were eventually going to do in the long run. 

I would argue that it extends beyond the Muslim/non-Muslim dichotomy. I had a relative who went to a Christian college and when an Indian, who was a Christian himself, had taken interest in her, she felt they had too many differences and would not be able to get along. There is also very real understanding within the Indian community that they are being discriminated against by other races, and thus you may have also known Indian friends that view being able to have a Malay/Chinese/Eurasian partner was almost equivalent to having managed to overcome racism pitted against them. Lest we forget caste still has a residual effect even within the Malaysian Indian community, having had a friend ask you to introduce them to girls from a specific caste and no one else. 

To navigate these complex boundaries as a young person with a clear idea of what your parents and community expect of you, has a “scriptlessness” element. Psychologists find that people who experienced unrequited love can quickly overcome it, however, the objects of unrequited love do not, given the lack of cultural models [1]. Even though there have always been cultural models of forbidden love, such as the renowned Romeo and Juliet, they remain within the exaggerated, absurd world and far removed from the context of Malaysia where there is still some sense that you can’t just marry only for love as your heart desires as one also has important duties towards your parents. In fact, the few mixed-race dating scripts that we have from the indie/alternative scene usually ends in heartbreak as they are not allowed to be together long-term such as Yasmin Ahmad’s Sepet and Amanda Lee Koe’s short story Flamingo Valley

You’d wonder maybe if you’re both heirs to one of Malaysia’s biggest conglomerates it might be different? However as illustrated with Chryseis Tan and Faliq Nasimuddin’s wedding, one side questioned if Chryseis had truly converted to Islam and on another brought up Islamic practices that she now is “trapped” to adhere to. Religion has become spaces of homogenizing not only religion but ethnicity so closely tied to it.

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Projek Dialog’s video “Kebebasan Beragama Mengikut Perlembagaan Malaysia” by Prof. Faridah Jalil has stated that it is possible to convert religion in our constitution but as she said the legal process is extremely difficult. Maznah Mohammad states that Islamic legal bureaucracy and modern Sharia has employed “majority-making” devices that had successfully implemented “(1) a ‘ring-fencing’ device, to keep members from leaving the flock, (2) a gate-keeping mechanism for the Malay family to be homogenously Muslim and (3) an internal disciplining ideology for privileging male entitlements as a basis for remaking the new Islamic family” [2]. 

Hence, other ethnic groups have some sense of these devices being employed, also exercise gatekeeping on an individual level to ensure their cultural identity is “preserved” especially with the knowledge that it is threatened. And just maybe this is why being a “Banana” or a “Coconut” is seen as highly disgraceful even in our context. Although these terms deal more with embracing Western culture rather Malay Muslim, the shock discovering an interracial couple accompanied with questions like “So you are going to become Malay?”, “Do your parents approve?” or “How do you two get along?” has the same pejorative that you have lost your culture. 

Playing tug-and-pull with state-sanctioned ethnic and religious assimilation and “imagined minorities” [3], there is no simple solution in sight for two people, despite differing faiths and religion, to be truly celebrated by their communities. Although there are occasional interpretations of how mixed-race couples were the epitome of our nation’s multiracial and multireligious narrative when really plural Malaysia is about tolerating and living harmoniously around each other but not truly together. 

Nevertheless, having recognized such “scriptlessness” surrounding interracial marriages, there are efforts to build a constructive cultural model. Take for instance, The Chindian Diaries, a Facebook community project sharing stories on not only growing up Chindian but also the stories and struggle of inter-racial Indian and Chinese couples. There have also been efforts, especially in the photography medium that aim to tell the sidelined stories of people who are mixed race such as #ProjekCampur by Depth of V and Same Same project. As negotiating different cultures and religions — and one could say it is the very fabric of being Malaysian — happens on such a personal level especially in romantic relationships, constructing our own script might be a step-in bridging distrusts and identity anxieties.  



 [1] Baumeister, Roy F., Sara R. Wotman, and Arlene M. Stillwell. “Unrequited love: On heartbreak, anger, guilt, scriptlessness, and humiliation.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64, no. 3 (1993): 377. 

[2] Mohamad, Maznah. “Making majority, undoing family: Law, religion and the Islamization of the state in Malaysia.” Economy and Society 39, no. 3 (2010): 360-384, p. 378-279.

[3] Tan, Zi Hao, Imagined minorities: rethinking race and its appeal in Malaysia, 11 July 2018 New Mandala []

Feminist Women of Faith: An Oxymoron?

by Yvonne Tan

Feminism is sometimes discussed utilizing religious and localized lenses, but remains primarily discussed through the “Big Three” schools of feminist thought – liberal, socialist and radical feminism. Not to mention in the globalized world we live in, feminist narratives from the western world may seem more prominent, hence, the rise of the term “golongan liberal” has become an easy clapback in Malaysian discourse. Religion has never completely gotten on the feminist agenda and vice versa, viewing each other as reactionary versus radical, institutional respect versus institutional contempt, patriarchal versus lack of problem with the patriarchy, western influence versus local culture. Despite this, religion is still a hugely influential aspect of the lives of women all around the world.

Take for example a Projek Dialog video presented by Suri Kempe titled “Islam dan Feminisme”. The comments in the video immediately pointed out that she could not necessarily comment about Islam without wearing a hijab, questioning how religious she really was. Several contradictions were also pointed out which did not have much to do with the video such as that feminists support abortion, but Islam did not. Nevertheless, the video made important points on how Islam actually allowed for the expansion of women’s rights and to be treated as an equal by their husbands.

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There are sustained efforts to localize feminism, primarily through highlighting prominent feminists in Malaysia who campaigned for women’s rights especially the core leaders of Angkatan Wanita Sedar (AWAS): Shamsiah Fakeh, Sakinah Junid and Aishah Ghani and Kaum Ibu UMNO: Khadijah Sidek and Lily Eberwein Abdullah, the latter of which was also a leader of the anti-cession movement of Sarawak. Other women in history like Sybil Kathigasu, a nurse who supported the resistance against Japanese forces are used to emphasize that feminism is not a foreign concept particularly in domestic politics, and more importantly that they played a role in the independence movement from the British.

At times the prominence of women in the Malay Sultanates such as Cik Siti Wan Kembang and Tun Fatimah or the Minangkabau’s matrilineal Adat Perpatih is brought up to show the long cultural history of feminism in the region. However, even though “Malay court narratives are set within the progressive spread of Islamic faith”, to speak of religious feminism in Malaysia not only in Islam but in other faiths has an added layer of uneasiness that has yet to be tackled [1].

Hinduism, particularly in India, has seen the reevaluation of privileged narratives, shifting to female deities that have typically been used to illustrate the ideal, domesticated woman in today’s society. Take, for instance, the explosion in reinterpreting Sita’s characterization in the Ramayana, an important part of Hindu’s Itihasa, is usually used to illustrate the model woman encapsulated by Naari Dharm, meaning endless loyalty towards her husband.

She was forced to endure Agni Pariksha, trial by fire, by Rama who questioned Sita’s chastity and purity after rescuing her from being kidnapped. She is seen as helplessly waiting for Rama to save her and immediately following his command. Arshia Sattar in Lost Loves: Exploring Rama’s Anguish, talks about how Sita decided to leave Rama and her sons forever after she asked for the trial by fire to prove her innocence and more importantly, that Rama is wrong to doubt her: “It’s the patriarchy that has persuaded us to see Sita as gentle and submissive and weepy. She’s not that by any stretch of a woman’s imagination.”

Propping up crucial women figures has been an approach in other religions. Such as in Projek Dialog’s “Islam dan Feminisme”, Prophet Muhammad’s (s.w.t.) wives Khadijah and Aisyah, are placed to the forefront for their role in spreading the religion. Fatima Mernissi’s The Forgotten Queens of Islam is also a seminal work for feminist theology that also brings to light the contributions of women to early Islamic history. Meanwhile, another example in Buddhism, Chang’e or the Goddess of the Moon in the earlier version of the myth, had stolen the elixir for immortality from Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West instead of her husband Yi. As the Han dynasty’s version has become the most popularized, Chang’e’s theft from her husband illustrates women’s suffering being put in a no-win situation to choose between denying her husband’s right to the immortality elixir or landing in the hands of evil. She chose the latter and is depicted as a sad forlorn woman, living a life of solitude on the moon, her story rewritten so “as to emphasize blind obedience to the trinity of ruler, father and husband, where any form of disobedience would lead to punishment and calamity.”

Needless to say, the reevaluation of religious narratives on women that have been co-opted by the state is far from the being popularized within religious communities itself.  They remain intellectual or outsider interpretations of religious traditions and in the same way, the feminist movement in Malaysia has been more or less concentrated within NGOs, where a large distrust stems from.

The loss of control on the democratizing of religious narratives is the main problem that traditionalists have with “kelompok liberal”: “Islam liberal juga menyeru ke arah pembukaan pintu ijtihad, kefahaman Islam yang terbuka dan progresif. Antara tema dalam Islam liberal berdasarkan karya mereka ialah membawa idea seperti Islam ‘warna-warni’ iaitu Islam bukan satu dan mempunyai pelbagai tafsiran […] Dengan bantuan media baru, semua orang mendapat pelbagai maklumat tanpa dikawal dan menetapkan agenda pembacaannya.” 

As religious feminism is still in its infancy – one that does not dismiss religion as superstition or irrational – work on the prevalence of socio-cultural power relations, inherited oppressions and concealed narratives within religions are needed and celebrating figureheads is a step in that direction. To bridge this gap, working with religious communities as well has been recognized as crucial as “feminists who choose to struggle within a religious framework must inevitably engage with the actors of political Islam, in a terrain which is highly politicized and beyond the boundaries of the merely cultural or social aspects of the faith” [2]. Hence, opening the doors to allow for a more open and understanding approach in religious communities is easier said than done.

Nevertheless, Suri Kempe’s “Islam dan Feminisme” immediately opened the can of worms on the anxiety and discomfort that is often associated with the two topics and opinions. Not to mention this uneasiness is made known as Islam remains the most prevalent religious feminism discourse in Malaysia. Continuing in the spirit of allowing for multiple understandings, religious pluralism can also contribute to reclaiming longstanding traditions of women empowerment where feminists of different faiths continue to highlight the plight of women and democratize what it means to be a woman of faith.

Take Kuan Yin, who is sometimes connected to Siva, both of which hold gender-fluid identities that form the foundations of their respective religions. Or reinterpreting the role of Eve or Hawwa in the garden of Eden. Eve or Hawwa are usually blamed for the original sin and said to be created from the man’s rib. This has since been dispelled by Pope Francis while the Quran does not indicate blame except in hadiths narrated by Abu Hurairah. The appeal of religion has remained significant in many personal lives, be it man or woman. Reinterpreting religion shows agency by women even in spirituality and that it is possible to tease out its specific history of female liberation, although it is the women themselves in these religious communities that have to reclaim it. 


[1] Hisham, Ruzy Suliza, Out of the Shadows: Women in Malay Court Narratives. Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 2003, p. 93.

[2] Mohamad, Maznah. Ng, Cecilia. And Tan, Beng Hui. Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Malaysia: An Unsung (R)evolution. Routledge, 2006, p. 88.

Tafsir untuk Perempuan

Oleh Faisal Tehrani

TERDAPAT sebuah buku oleh Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir, seorang ulama Indonesia yang menurut saya sungguh menarik. Judulnya Qira’ah Mubadalah: Tafsir Progresif Untuk Keadilan Gender Dalam Islam. Ia mengingatkan saya kepada sebuah video terbitan Projek Dialog dengan tajuk hampir sama iaitu ‘Feminisme Tak Anti Islam’ (2013) membincangkan ketakutan sesetengah orang terhadap gagasan ini.

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Buku Qira’ah Mubadalah ini pasti menjawab pelbagai kritikan dan komentar negatif terhadap pembicara dalam video tersebut iaitu Saudara Suri Kempe. Qira’ah Mubadalah lahir dari sebuah perbincangan untuk membaca dan melihat ayat-ayat suci Al-Quran dari perspektif yang bersilang, berwacana dan dengan tujuan untuk memberi perdebatan mengenai hak-hak perempuan secara lebih telus, dan jujur. Ia adalah satu bacaan yang menggelisahkan tentunya untuk mereka yang tertutup, tetapi segar untuk mereka yang berani bertengkar dengan rasio diri sendiri. Ia sama sekali tidak membongkar atau menolak pemikiran ulama klasik, malah meraikannya; tetapi lebih penting buku ini memberi nilai tambah dan melihat dengan penuh arif agar terdapat satu alternatif pada pembacaan sedia ada.

Pengarang memasang atau menciptakan bacaan ini bukan secara semberono tetapi penuh teliti. Ia telah melalui pengalaman, perbahasan, perbincangan dan tolak terima yang panjang  menerusi pelbagai badan bukan kerajaan di Indonesia. Ia muncul di tengah pesantren, bahkan hasil studi tradisi pondok yang tidak takut untuk memikirkan, yakni satu nilai yang dituntut Islam. Bahkan konsep yang disuguhkan oleh Faqihuddin ini muncul dari disertasi beliau di Universitas Gajah Mada pada 2015 yang mana beliau membicarakan hadis-hadis dalam kitab Tahrir al-Mar’ah fi ‘Ashr al-Risalah.

Niat buku ini adalah untuk melihat secara adil gender. Justeru ia melontarkan cabaran berat iaitu agar tidak lagi membaca teks suci secara patriarki.

Bagaimana ia dilakukan? Dasar perbahasan atau gagasan Mubadalah ini bermula hulunya dengan menegaskan tauhid Islam, asas dan tunjang akidah yang sama sekali anti patriarki. Pengarang menghujahkan bahawa jangan sama sekali tersasul al-Quran, dan Nabi Muhammad saw datang untuk memanusiakan manusia Arab jahiliah, dan memberikan taraf manusia kembali kepada perempuan. Sebelum kedatangan baginda Rasulullah, malangnya wanita tidak dianggap manusia. Wanita di zaman jahiliah ditindas semahunya. Mereka adalah hamba pemuas nafsu, perempuan dijadikan hadiah, jaminan hutang, tebusan, untuk diperkosa, dikahwin atau dicerai sehingga ke tahap dikebumikan hidup-hidup semata-mata kerana gendernya.

Tauhid yang diperkenalkan oleh Nabi Muhammad menidakkan semua di atas dengan menjadikan perempuan itu sepertinya juga lelaki. Kaedah pembaikan Islam itu ialah dengan menerapkan ajaran bahawa asal penciptaan perempuan adalah sama seibarat lelaki. Kedua, tiada makhluk lebih baik dari wanita tetapi sebetulnya lelaki dan perempuan adalah khalifah Allah di muka bumi. Maka dengan itu ketiganya, perempuan hanya mengabdikan diri kepada Allah bukan kepada suami atau bapa di mana ketaqwaan adalah ukuran sebenar yang digunakan Ilahi.

Maka Mubadalah membawa kita menelusuri perlahan-lahan bagaimana Islam memberikan pengajaran bertahap untuk bangsa Arab agar menerima pembaikan untuk wanita ini. Jika sebelumnya lelaki tiada had untuk mengahwini dan meniduri perempuan; kini ada batasnya di mana monogami lebih dianjurkan kerana ia jauh lebih adil dari poligami. Juga bangsa Arab jahiliah digoncang lagi oleh Islam apabila nilai kesaksian perempuan diperhalusi, serta bahagian warisannya untuk perempuan diperkukuhkan supaya niat Islam iaitu untuk mendobrak tradisi patriarki masyarakat Arab berhasil disampaikan oleh al-Quran dan Rasulullah saw sendiri.

Metodologi bacaan ini ditentukan dengan melihat teks secara kategorinya iaitu teks mabadi’ (nilai umum Islam); teks dilihat secara qawa’id (nilai yang lebih tertentu dalam kehidupan) dan akhir sekali teks juz’i di mana perilaku tertentu ditangani secara spesifik. Keupayaan dan usaha bersungguh-sungguh atau ijtihad inilah yang kita tidak temukan dalam belahan masyarakat Islam di Malaysia. Ulama kita hampir gagal malah tidak melakukannya.

Oleh itu, di dalam buku panjang ini – sepanjang 616 halaman – misalnya ia cuba merenung semula makna hadis ‘perempuan kurang akal dan agama’ dengan melihat konteks secara penuh sabda baginda itu. Benarkah yang dimaksudkan oleh Nabi wanita itu bodoh? Atau senggama (aktiviti seks) dikupas dengan penuh saksama di mana seks adalah ‘sedekah yang berpahala’ dan bukan lagi tujah cabut yang kadang-kala tanpa rela isteri. 

Lebih melongokan ialah kebolehan pengarang menguasai ilmu hadis dan tafsir lantas menyediakan ruang perbahasan yang cukup bermakna, sangat bermakna yang kita tidak temukan dalam wacana mengenai fikh perempuan dalam kalangan kita, hatta oleh sarjana kita yang doktoratnya ilmu hadis.

Oleh sebab itu buku ini bukan sahaja membaca kembali teks gender secara menyeluruh, ia juga mendudukkan dan memberdirikan perempuan setara lelaki sehingga dakwaan wanita itu sumber fitnah ditubi agar tidak diterima lagi secara melulu. Isu-isu nusyuz, poligami, iddah dan pengasuhan anak diberi konteks yang besar sehingga ia tidak terkucil dalam satu ruang sahaja. Ia berusaha memerdekakan wanita di mana perihal ketokohan wanita sebagai ulama diberi perhatian. Ini termasuklah mencabar dengan nekad sekali kedudukan wanita sebagai imam sembahyang. Kemudian, hadis ‘tidak akan bahagia suatu kaum yang menyerahkan urusan kepimpinan mereka kepada seorang perempuan’ sebagai contoh dilihat bukan pada isu gendernya tetapi sebetulnya merupakan satu ramalan Nabi Muhammad terhadap kejatuhan kekaisaran Parsi di tangan seorang wanita. Membaca perspektif begini menyediakan kita lojik dan rasio untuk dunia hari ini yang mana kepimpinan perempuan jauh lebih berjaya berbanding lelaki, seperti yang ditonjolkan oleh Canselor Merkel di Jerman atau Perdana Menteri New Zealanda, Jacinda Adern.

Sukar untuk kita mempertikaikan kajian pengarang ini yang hadir dengan pelbagai sumber daripada kalangan ulama klasik sendiri membuatkan kita terperosok bahawa wanita dan tuntutan hak kewanitaan (justeru feminisme) adalah sebenarnya satu tuntutan hak kemanusiaan yang sudah pun dijuarai Islam lama dahulu. Buku ini akan membuatkan ulama kita yang patriarki kalah. Malah kalah menyembah.

Buku ini harus dibaca oleh setiap lelaki dan perempuan, khususnya para sarjana dalam bidang studi Islam kerana ia memberi nilai baharu pada perbincangan gender. Justeru kita kelak tidak lagi kebudak-budakan mengejek pembicara atau pendukung feminisme kerana tidak mengenakan kerudung, atau tidak mempunyai kefasihan terma-terma bahasa Arab yang sememangnya punya jantina iaitu muzakkar dan muannats.

Buku ini boleh dibeli atas talian iaitu menerusi penerbitnya, Diva Press.

Mending the Multicultural, Multireligious Malaysian Dream

by Yvonne Tan

EVERY so often some spaces offer a glimpse into the utopian Malaysia that is free of the race and religion strife which has become the backbone of our identity. Take Yasmin Ahmad’s films often described as a ‘dreamed’ Malaysia where such deep divisions have dissipated presenting a cinematic imagination of Malaysian multiculturalism [1]. Sepet was later discussed in parliament on whether the usage of Bahasa Rojak is appropriate and if the depiction of the love story was considered too liberal, which seems as something ludicrous now.

Sometimes we come across anecdotes that might have been recounted with an agenda, or not. Growing up across Methodist and Pentecostal churches, our pastors would always point to our “neighbours” who pray 5 times a day and not just on Sundays. Once a youth pastor told us once that he was bullied, he would run into the mosque and the Imam allowed him to stay there. After repeated times, with not much to do waiting for the bullies to run away, he asked the Imam to share with him some of his teachings where most of his knowledge of the Torah came from. The idea that another religion could make us more fervent in ours was usually repeated as a no-brainer.

On the other hand, every Friday, I would eat at a non-halal food court near a mosque, during Friday prayers. You could listen along to the sermons blasted on the megaphone, and they would regularly preach animatedly about living in harmony and respecting different faiths and races as well. These are some moments where it seems people do attempt to achieve the imagined melting pot community.

Children have also used as a point of envisioning how a world where race and religion have yet to be learned. My Malay “BFF” when I was 12 told me her father said that Chinese people are “babi” because they love eating it and we both chuckled while I told her my father said Malay people are “babi” because they don’t know how to eat it. And of course, who could forget the “Malaysia Baru” phase where many declared that racial politics was finally overcome.

Of course, these may seem like mundane moments but achieving the reality of a truly multireligious and multiracial society should begin in our day-to-day spaces. With the pandemic, we have spent more time at home increasingly alienated from one another, witnessing an ongoing political crisis amidst the pandemic reminded by Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcements of movement control orders on national television, Najib’s 1MDB trials, and a string of controversies surrounding racism that offer a bleak reality of our current state.

Take news like Baling MP’s infamous “Gelap Tak Nampak, Pakailah Bedak” to Kasthuriraani Patto and calling into question Sarawak’s secular identity to “Sarawak Darul Hana”. Not to mention, the New Straits Times’ fiasco surrounding their op-ed “Help minimise threat to society” which speaks in support of the ban of the sale of liquor in convenience stores, featuring an image of a Malaysian Indian at a sundry shop.

It is as in a video by Projek Dialog “Apabila Agama Dipolitikkan”, presented by Uthaya Sankar, discusses how religion is usually used as a political toy when in fact understanding starts simply with normal people. The political arena of religion and also race can give a warped view of a Malaysia that is anything but religiously harmonious.

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As the media becomes a more crucial medium to staying connected with the world in this time, reporting mostly on news centred on political and state affairs, it has presented us with a certain world view. We are all too familiar with the discourse of “post-truth” and “fake news” which has become a convenient catch-all term for anything online that does not support one’s perspective.

Baudrillard commented that media might not necessarily have an intention of deceiving, blurring or hiding the truth in mind, instead “rather than creating communication, it exhausts itself in the act of staging communication. Rather than producing meaning, it exhausts itself in the staging of meaning” (56). Hence, there is a tendency for the media to present reality is far from relevant to our current understanding of our lives.

Leading the “masses respond with ambivalence, to deterrence they respond with disaffection, or with an always enigmatic belief […] but one must guard against thinking that people believe in it.” Echoing Uthaya Sankar’s words from the video, “yang paling penting, tidak perlulah kita asyik bergantung pada ahli politik kerana pembinaan persefahaman dan ilmu haruslah mula dari diri kita sendiri.”

So, whenever you recount real-life experiences that may seem trivial and frivolous, they still offer important glimpses into everyday people undertaking the work to carve out a society that celebrates differences. Although it might be idealistic to see Malaysia as heading in the right direction especially when it comes to a touchy subject like race and religion, such instances can provide respite when swimming against the currents of our legacy of colonialism, racialised capitalism and politics.

Dr Wendy Yee who is a lecturer at University Malaya in a panel discussion hosted by Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) titled “The Role of State and Religious Leaders in Protecting Freedom of Religion and Belief” said aptly, “There are a lot of positive narratives out there in our daily lives which we can share and are loud enough to counter these negative narratives”. 


[1] McKay, Benjamin (2011), ‘Auteur-ing Malaysia: Yasmin Ahmad and dreamed communities’, in M. A. Ingawanij and B. McKay (eds), Glimpses of Freedom: Independent Cinema in Southeast Asia, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Publications, pp. 106–19.

Adakah MB Kedah Melakukan Kenyataan Kebencian

oleh Faisal Tehrani

MINGGU lalu terdapat satu kenyataan politik berbau kebencian telah diucapkan oleh seorang ahli politik iaitu Menteri Besar Kedah, Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor yang juga ADUN Jeneri dari Parti Islam Semalaysia. Kenyataan beliau itu ekoran tindakan Majlis Bandaraya Alor Setar merobohkan Kuil Sri Raja Muniswarar di Taman Bersatu, Kuala Kedah. Kuil ini dikatakan berusia lebih 50 tahun dan ia dirobohkan selepas tapak tersebut – yang dimiliki kerajaan negeri – bakal dibangunkan. Menurut laporan media lagi, selain kuil itu, sebuah dewan silat dan lima kawasan parkir turut ditolak untuk dibina gelanggang futsal.

Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor pada mulanya dilaporkan berkata yang pihaknya kesal lantaran ada pihak menyiram minyak ke dalam api mengenai persoalan ini. Beliau mendakwa urusan ini mudah tetapi dipersulitkan oleh agenda politik dan perkauman.

Menteri Besar seterusnya dengan betul menghujahkan betapa tataletak setiap binaan struktur harus mengikut undang-undang dan pentadbiran di bawah agensi kerajaan. Sanusi menurut laporan media memberitahu; “Ia harus bermula sejak dulu lagi, bukan sekarang walaupun belum terlambat untuk melakukannya. Kekecohan yang diapi-apikan ini adalah risiko yang terpaksa kita hadapi untuk membina masa depan yang lebih tenteram dan harmoni. Jangan sampai kita bergaduh pada masa depan hanya kerana ‘mabuk todi populariti’ dan mahu menunjuk jaguh kaum pada masa sekarang,”.

Kenyataan Sanusi di atas akan selamat dan wajar tanpa ungkapan ‘mabuk todi’, yang merupakan satu rujukan lazim kepada bangsa India di Malaysia. Ekoran dari kenyataan itu Sanusi telah dikecam sebagai seorang rasis dan kenyataan beliau itu dikatakan berbau kebencian.

Adakah kenyataan di atas memang satu kenyataan kebencian? Atau sekadar ‘bau’ kebencian sahaja?
Hal ini menarik untuk diteliti apatah lagi kita memang mempunyai satu parameter untuk menilai keadaan ini. Apakah ukurtara tersebut?

Parameter yang dimaksudkan adalah Pelan Tindakan Rabat (Rabat Plan of Action 2013) yang ditawarkan oleh Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu. Ia adalah satu panduan untuk mengenalpasti apakah yang wajar dinamai sebagai ‘kebencian dan hasutan’ dan apa pula yang boleh dikategorikan sebagai ‘kebebasan bersuara’. Atau adakah ia sekadar satu ‘bau’ yang tentunya busuk.

Apakah poin yang terkandung dalam Pelan Tindakan Rabat? Saya malah pernah menulis di laman Projek Dialog ini enam tahun lalu.

Pertamanya, ia menyediakan polisi dan juga panduan untuk kerajaan, dan masyarakat sivil dalam mencegah kebencian agama secara kolektif. Ia juga menghuraikan apa yang tidak wajar dianggap sebagai ‘kemerdekaan bersuara’ dan dapat dianggap sebagai kebencian terhadap agama secara kolektif.

Kebencian terhadap agama secara kolektif melibatkan;

i. Konteks
Hanya dengan analisis konteks, sesuatu ucapan itu dapat ditentukan latar sosial dan politiknya dan apakah ia ditujukan kepada satu kumpulan sasaran.

ii. Pengucap
Kedudukan individu pengucap adalah penting untuk dikenalpasti. Secara khususnya apakah individu pengucap itu mewakili mana-mana kumpulan agama yang lain, atau apakah statusnya dalam masyarakat.

iii. Niat
Dalam hal ini, niat dan bukan kelalaian atau ketidaksengajaan diberi fokus. Dalam erti kata lain terdapat elemen hasutan, dan mengajak; yang secara aktif dapat ditentukan berdasarkan adanya hubungan antara objek, subjek ucapan dan juga khalayak.

iv. Kandungan dan bentuk
Analisis kandungan dan bentuk ucapan juga sangat kritikal dalam menentukan apakah ia satu pencabulan hak asasi manusia. Kandungan ucapan itu perlu ditentukan apakah ia berbau provokasi, langsung dan apakah hujah-hujahnya tuntas atau tidak.

v. Keluasan
Keluasan ucapan juga dititik beratkan. Dalam konteks ini apakah ucapan tersebut dilakukan secara publik, juga saiz audiennya apakah kecil atau besar, dan apakah ia berbentuk penerbitan, atau media di internet atau arus perdana, dan apakah audien mempunyai akses kepada ucapan atau siaran terbabit.

vi. Potensi risiko
Hasutan dan fitnah yang menanam kebencian terhadap agama secara kolektif ditentukan berdasarkan potensi risiko yang mungkin terjadi lantaran ucapan atau siaran tersebut. Dalam hal ini ucapan kebencian tersebut selalunya adalah langsung dan memang memaksudkan sesuatu yang buruk terhadap sasaran.

Berdasarkan perkara-perkara yang dinyatakan di atas, kita boleh menilai kenyataan ‘mabuk todi’ Sanusi yang diucapkan itu.

Dalam hal pertama, mengenai konteks;Sanusi mengucapkan sesuatu yang jelas mengenai isu kedudukan kuil yang harus dirobohkan untuk memberi laluan kepada ‘pembangunan’. Samada perobohan ini wajar atau tidak semata-mata untuk membina gelanggang futsal bukan isunya di sini. Konteks kenyataan Sanusi adalah memang ditujukan kepada masyarakat Hindu justeru India. Jelas sasaran ‘mabuk todi’ tersebut telah ditentukan tujuannya.

Poin kedua oleh Pelan Tindakan Rabat adalah pengucap; Sanusi mempunyai status penting dalam masyarakat. Beliau adalah seorang Menteri Besar, dan beliau berasal dari sebuah parti berteras agama iaitu Parti Islam Semalaysia. Sebagai kepala negeri dan wakil yang dipilih oleh kawasan beliau, Sanusi memiliki kedudukan penting, di mana kenyataan beliau boleh dibaca sebagai satu isyarat tertentu. Bersekali dengan poin ini ialah keluasan kenyataan beliau itu. Ini bermaksud, kenyataan Menteri Besar telah tersebar dan bukan diucapkan dalam satu majlis tertutup, katakan mesyuarat misalnya. Ia juga bukan ‘dibocorkan’, ia memang dinyatakan. Ramai yang telah membaca laporan media tersebut dan ia sudah menjadi besar.

Manakala jika kita meneliti aspek niat kita akan mendapati Sanusi boleh sahaja mengeluarkan kenyataan yang cermat dan rapi tanpa pun menyinggung mana-mana agama atau kaum. Tambahan pula perobohan tapak kuil tersebut turut melibatkan fasiliti awam yang lain. Adalah jelas Sanusi dengan sengaja menyebutkan ungkapan ‘mabuk todi’ itu untuk menghubungkan satu hubungan dengan objek.

Akan tetapi adakah ia berniat hasutan? Hal ini hanya dapat ditentukan dengan aspek seterusnya.
Hal yang menjadi penting ialah apakah kenyataan itu berbau kebencian atau hasutan dapat ditekuni berdasarkan kandungan dan bentuk; seperti yang disebutkan sebelumnya bahawa ‘analisis kandungan dan bentuk ucapan juga sangat kritikal dalam menentukan apakah ia satu pencabulan hak asasi manusia. Kandungan ucapan itu perlu ditentukan apakah ia berbau provokasi, langsung dan apakah hujah-hujahnya tuntas atau tidak.’

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Sekarang kita telah mendapati kenyataan ‘mabuk todi’ itu memang sensasi, disengajakan dan jelas berbau provokasi. Namun demikian, menurut saya, sedikit sukar untuk menentukan apakah ia berupa satu pencabulan hak asasi manusia meskipun terdapat ramai pengamal dan penganut Hindu yang mengecamnya; baik dari parti kerajaan (MIC) mahupun parti pembangkang (DAP).

Ini kerana dalam masa yang sama, hak asasi manusia juga melindungi kebebasan bersuara asalkan ia tidak sampai ‘mencabul hak asasi manusia’. Sanusi berhenti setakat ‘mabuk todi’ dan tidak menghina kepercayaan agama Hindu. Beliau tidak menyinggung mana-mana ajaran Hindu dan mengecam doktrin kepercayaan tua tersebut. Justeru, sukar untuk menghujahkan Sanusi benar-benar mencabul hak asasi manusia di sini. Ini tidak menafikan satu fakta bahawa Sanusi bagaimanapun memang seorang pemimpin yang menjengkelkan dan nista, akan tetapi untuk menyatakan beliau melanggar hak asasi, Menteri Besar tersebut agak terselamat dalam hal ini.

Akan tetapi wajib pula dinyatakan di sini bahawa kenyataan ‘mabuk todi’ tersebut memang memiliki ‘potensi risiko’, ini kerana ia berkaitan sebuah rumah ibadat iaitu kuil yang sudah agak lama usianya dan sudah tentu mempunyai ramai pengujung tetap. Dalam hal ini ‘mabuk todi’ boleh jadi dimanipulasi dan menerbitkan keadaan yang tidak stabil seperti kerusuhan atau rasa tidak senang yang berpanjangan. Tindakan meroboh kuil untuk pembangunan tersebut boleh disalaherti lantas menjadi satu kebencian agama apabila dikaitkan dengan ‘mabuk todi’.

Buat masa ini Sanusi, jika diukur dengan hanya ungkapan itu, masih belum melepasi garisan merah Pelan Tindakan Rabat. Akan tetapi apa yang pasti ialah, Sanusi memang berada di atas garisan itu.
Apakah Menteri Besar Kedah ini akan memohon maaf kepada masyarakat Hindu/India atau terus terlajak mengeluarkan kenyataan, itu wajib dipantau dan dikaji khususnya dengan menggunakan parameter Pelan Tindakan Rabat di atas.

Semua pembaca boleh menjadi pemantau bersama-sama Projek Dialog. Kami di sini mengajurkan dialog, jambatan untuk saling memahami sembari menyeru kedamaian, kecintaan dan kasih sayang.


Faisal Tehrani. 2014. Rang undang-undang kebencian kaum dan agama: Syiah diabaikan lagi?. Projek Dialog. 11 Julai.

Roslinda Hashim. 2020. Roboh kuil ikut undang-undang, bukan isu perkauman: MB Kedah. Sinar Harian. 5 Disember.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 2012. Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. Rabat: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Halaman 6-7.

Announcement: Nominated for Calcutta International Short Film Festival

We’re proud to announce that one of our PFK films, The House Without a Ground (Rumah Nda Bertanah) by Putri Purnama Sugua, which won the title of best director and storyline at our event, is nominated for the Short Fiction Category under the Calcutta International Short Film Festival 2020!
Putri Purnama Sugua is a filmmaker from Sandakan, Sabah. Her thesis film titled, Dream To Fly had won various national and international awards. She is also an alumnus of the Asian Film Academy in 2017. She then was awarded the title of Best Young Filmmaker at the Malaysian Digital Film Awards. Her documentary Aku Mau Sekolah received a grant and the special jury award at the Freedom Film Festival and was screened at a few international film festivals. Putri also happens to be a grant recipient for Pesta Filem KITA 2 with her film, “Rumah Nda Bertanah” and won the title of best director and storyline at the same event. As a whole, she has produced 6 short films, 4 narratives and 2 documentaries.
Kami dengan bangga mengumumkan bahawa salah satu filem PFK kami, Rumah Ndak Bertanah karya Putri Purnama Sugua, yang telah memenangi pengarah dan storyline terbaik di PFK kami, telah dinominasikan untuk ‘Fiksyen Pendek Terbaik’ di Festival Filem Pendek Antarabangsa di Calcutta!
Putri Purnama Sugua merupakan pembikin filem dari Sandakan, Sabah. Filem tesisnya berjudul Dream To Fly telah memenangi pelbagai anugerah tempatan dan antarabangsa. Beliau juga merupakan alumni Asian Film Academy 2017. Kemudian beliau dianugerahkan Best Young Filmmaker di Malaysian Digital Film Awards. Dokumentarinya Aku Mau Sekolah telah menerima geran dan juga anugerah khas juri di Freedom Film Festival serta ditayangkan di beberapa festival antarabangsa. Beliau juga menerima geran Pesta Filem KITA 2 untuk filem berjudul “Rumah Nda Bertanah” dan memenangi Pengarah Terbaik dan Cerita Terbaik pada acara sama. Secara keseluruhannya beliau telah menghasilkan 6 filem pendek, 4 naratif dan 2 dokumentari.

Bolehkah Menyebarkan Kebencian Menerusi Sastera?

oleh Faisal Tehrani


BARU-BARU ini saya terbaca satu hantaran di blog Projek Dialog dengan judul ‘Hate Speech: An Infographic’. Hal ini sangat menarik kerana dalam minggu yang sama juga saya bersama-sama beberapa rakan pengarang meraikan ketibaan PEN Malaysia. Kami telah menganjurkan suatu pesta sastera atas talian tiga siri dengan nama ‘Sembang Baru’.

Selepas acara itu seorang novelis muda telah mengajukan satu soalan iaitu, jika PEN meraikan penuh kebebasan bersuara, bolehkah PEN mengizinkan karya sastera yang menyebarkan misalnya kebencian? Apakah batasnya?

Pertanyaan di atas bukanlah biasa-biasa dan tidak harus juga dianggap enteng, apatah lagi remeh. Dalam sejarah penubuhan PEN International sejak tahun 1921, pertubuhan besar ini pernah berdepan dengan kemelut mengenai kebebasan bersuara yang melibatkan kebencian.

PEN, untuk makluman anda adalah sebuah kelab sejagat yang menghimpunkan pengarang, editor, pemilik kedai buku, penerjemah dan pengamal teater-filem (khusus dramaturgis) yang berpangkalan di London. Sejak kelahirannya, PEN memberikan tumpuan kepada kerja-kerja membela dan melindungi pengarang dari tekanan dan kezaliman pihak berkuasa. PEN juga meraikan apa sahaja bahasa yang dipilih oleh pengarang dalam karyanya – tanpa prejudis – asalkan karya itu tujuannya demi kemanusiaan.

Berdepan dengan soalan apakah PEN pernah menangani isu kebencian menerusi karya sastera, jawapannya ialah; pernah. Dalam hal ini, ada satu masa PEN berdepan ancaman oleh kebangkitan Nazisme di Jerman. Ia menjadi lebih jelas dan ketara dalam Persidangan PEN di Dubrovnik pada tahun 1933. Jauh sebelum itu, Parti Nazi telah membakar ribuan naskah buku yang dianggap sebagai ‘nista’ – dan dalam hal ini ia nista atau tercemar kerana karya-karya ini tidak menyokong atau menentang dasar-dasar mereka.

Ekoran dari itu, ketika Persidangan di Dubrovnik, Presiden PEN ketika itu, H. G. Wells, telah menegaskan kembali resolusi yang dibawa oleh John Galsworthy selaku pengasas dan Presiden PEN yang pertama di mana kebebasan berkarya itu tidak meraikan apa yang mengancam kemanusiaan, dalam hal ini tindak-tanduk Nazi. 

Seorang Nazi, yang hadir dalam delegasi dari Jerman telah menghalang Ernst Toller, seorang penulis teater Yahudi-Jerman yang hidup dalam buangan daripada berucap mengutuk Nazisme (dan tindakan membakar buku). Satu suara yang solid, kuat, formidable dan meyakinkan telah terbit dari persidangan itu. Para pengarang bersetuju untuk menolak usul Jerman mendokong kebebasan bersuara penuh (justeru menerima Nazisme) lantas kembali memihak kepada prinsip-prinsip yang telah mereka mandatkan. Pasukan dari Jerman marah lantas membantah, langsung bertindak untuk keluar dari Persidangan. Mereka malah memilih untuk keluar daripada PEN, sehinggalah selepas Perang Dunia Kedua.

Kejadian di atas menjadi ingatan buat semua pengarang di mana dalam persidangan pertama selepas perang, PEN berkumpul lagi di Stockholm pada tahun 1946. PEN Amerika dan Inggeris membuat satu daya-sepakat untuk mengusulkan dua resolusi penting. 

Yang pertama, PEN diseru agar mendesak ahli-ahli PEN terus ‘menunjangi idea untuk sebuah kemanusiaan yang aman makmur sejagat’; dan kedua, membawa perhatian kepada isu penapisan (sensor). 

Resolusi ini tidak diterima dengan mudah, malah perdebatan di Stockholm berlanjutan sehingga Persidangan PEN di Zurich pada tahun 1947. Hanya ketika itu lah para penulis bersetuju dan bersepakat. Resolusi inilah yang menjadi asas kepada tatacara keempat dalam Piagam PEN.

Pada tahun 2017, dalam Persidangan ke 83 di Ukraine, Artikel 3 Piagam PEN telah digubah semula. Para wakil PEN ketika itu bersetuju bahawa ‘kebencian’ terhadap kaum tertentu, kelas dan semua identiti harus digubal semula kepada ‘semua bentuk kebencian’, dan perkataan ‘saksama’ dibawa masuk untuk mengukuhkan Piagam PEN. Prinsip-prinsip Piagam inilah yang menyatukan semua pusat PEN di seluruh dunia (berada lebih dari 100 buah negara).

Apakah bentuk kebencian yang ditolak dalam karya sastera? 

Ini kerana karya sastera harus diberi kemerdekaan dalam ruang lingkupnya untuk menyatakan kritikan secara jujur dan benar terhadap apa juga elemen budaya manusia termasuklah agama, politik dan sejarah. Seseorang pengarang misalnya mestilah merdeka mempersoalkan amalan agama yang mungkin tidak adil terhadap penganutnya. Seseorang pengarang juga mestilah diizinkan secara penuh menujah kritik dan menanyakan tindak-tanduk politik yang membahayakan. Contohnya seperti polisi diskriminasi yang didorong oleh Parti Nazi sehingga membawa kematian ramai manusia tidak bersalah ekoran perang. Pengarang juga dibenarkan bebas membongkar semula sejarah dalam karya sastera mereka.

Kebencian yang tentu sahaja tidak dapat diterima ialah kebencian yang membawa kepada keganasan di mana ia mendorong orang ramai untuk keluar menghukum kumpulan minoriti (katakan LGBT), atau memprovokasi supaya minoriti dinafikan hak sebagai manusia (katakan kumpulan marjinal agama). 

Karya sastera begini tentu sahaja berbahaya kerana ia mempengaruhi masyarakat untuk melakukan sesuatu yang berlawanan dari hasrat murni kesusasteraan itu sendiri iaitu mengangkat kemanusiaan.

Jika seseorang pengarang, atau sehimpunan penulis berkarya dan menerbitkan buku dengan niat mengangkat ketuanan kaum tertentu dan menafikan hak kaum lain, maka itu adalah satu kebencian yang melampau. Namun demikian jika himpunan pengarang ini contohnya telah mulai menyuntik propaganda keganasan atas nama patriotik, maka keadaan ini bukanlah satu keadaan yang boleh diterima dan PEN akan berganding bahu atas nama ikrarnya untuk melawan ‘kebebasan atas nama kebencian’ ini.

Sesebuah karya haruslah berperanan untuk mengangkat kebaikan dan kebajikan sesama umat manusia, bukan membawanya ke lembah jahanam yang boleh mendorong keganasan dan perang yang memusnahkan.

Pengalaman Perang Dunia Kedua sangat pahit untuk diulangi. 

Menulislah demi kemanusiaan, bukan kebencian.



Projek Dialog. 2020. Hate Speech: An Infographic. Projek 30 Oktober.