Facebook removes Dr M’s ‘Chinese Dilemma’, cites violation of community standards

Screen capture of the posting by an administrator of Dr Mahathir’s Facebook page, who identified himself as ‘KN’.
Screen capture of the posting by an administrator of Dr Mahathir’s Facebook page, who identified himself as ‘KN’.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — An article by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on “The Chinese Dilemma” has been removed by Facebook for allegedly violating its community standards, according to the former prime minister’s Facebook page’s administrator.

The column piece, originally published in English daily New Straits Times (NST) and then posted on Dr Mahathir’s Facebook page, painted a portrait of Chinese Malaysians in a dilemma, caught ostensibly between their thirst for political control while retaining their economic clout and the decades-old power-sharing formula.

“Today, Facebook has informed us that the article was removed for violating its supposed community standards. This means there were many who were disturbed and opposed, and complained to Facebook against what Tun wrote,” said a posting by an administrator who identified himself as “KN”. The original posting had received more than two million likes.

KN had urged fans of the page to read the online version of the article on NST’s website and decide for themselves whether the article violated Facebook’s Community Standards or was just an “unpleasant truth”, as he called it.

Facebook users can anonymously report any posts that they believe violate the social network’s community standards by clicking on a link on each post.

A post which receives enough complaints will then be investigated by Facebook’s User Operations team, and it will then be removed if the team decides that it has violated the standards.

It is believed that Dr Mahathir’s article may have been removed for promoting hate speech, which according to Facebook includes attacks on people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or disease.

“We do, however, allow clear attempts at humor (sic) or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack. This includes content that many people may find to be in bad taste,” Facebook explained in its “Help” page.

Other categories under Facebook’s Community Standards include violence and threats, self-harm, bullying and harassment, graphic content, nudity and pornography, intellectual property, and spam.

In his column, Dr Mahathir said that the Chinese community had reaped the fruits of the power-sharing formula for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s race-based components, adding that the community that makes up about 30 per cent of the country’s 28 million population was better off today than before independence in 1957, when it was shackled by colonial British rule.

The majority of the hundreds of commenters on KN’s post defended Dr Mahathir for writing his column, labelling him as one of the few Malay leaders “brave enough” to criticise the Chinese community.

Many of the comments were also laced with racial slurs and name-calling towards the Chinese community, especially towards the Chinese-majority opposition party DAP, which Dr Mahathir had slammed in his column.

“To the Home Ministry and authorities, please be strict and not be afraid to punish them like Chin Peng,” said a user named Zieyla Idzam Joys, who compared the content in DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang’s blog to the long-time Malayan Communist Party leader.

“I’m a Chinese but I support Tun, I’m more willing to have Tun rule our country ... Tun, please take this opportunity to rule Malaysia again. Malaysians need you,” said a comment by one Eugene Ooi, which was one of the most popular comments.

“Malays have never questioned the rights on non-Malays to build their business empires in Malaysia ... Why are the non-Malays questioning the rights of Malays?” asked another popular comment by a user called Vides Espaces.

The DAP won 38 federal seats in Election 2013 while the Chinese-based party MCA won only seven. Other Chinese-majority parties in BN also suffered major losses that led the ruling coalition to win only 133 federal seats in the May 5 general election against the 140 it won in Election 2008.

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