Liberty is ours, tattoo that!

DECEMBER 12 — They take it in inches. Your civil liberties. They’ve been at it the last 40 years in Malaysia.

Don’t let them anymore. Here today is where we make our stand. It’s about bleeding time.

With 2020 on the horizon amid tumultuous and toxic national politics, despair and questions abound over the economy and future of Malaysian jobs and leadership, it’s time to regain what’s always possible, ourselves. Our individual selves.

Tell them you are free. Whether they like it or not.

Freedom is defined by individuals and not only by external actors. The state adjudicates in the interest of fairness and averting injustice, but it always fears being a despot injuring the happiness of the masses.

Only the masses can determine their respective elation and they naturally abhor state encroachment.

Our nation state can be free and even freer and form the bulwark for our collective liberty.

Let’s turn the wheels of progress here in Malaysia and demand our government enable our freedoms.

Push the envelope and see what happens.

I tire of people claiming it’s a pipe dream and ask us to deal with what’s possible. They are the most dangerous, even more than those who speak against freedom.

For they foment indifference, which leads to helplessness.

There’s never been a time like now where freedoms could be attained within all our lifetimes.

We just need the courage to act. For we only seek our freedoms and not the oppression of others.

All for one

To start with, write it down on a piece of paper.

I live; therefore, I’ll be.

And keep it close, as a reminder. An electronic reminder on a smartphone is easier, but not as visceral as your own handwriting on a crumpled piece of paper.

Plus, being reminded about business meetings, dental appointments and other engagements through the same device devalues your own emancipation when the existentialist reminder pops up.

Paper and pen. Try it.

What type of freedoms? All of them.

To speak, assemble and criticise all. Your ability to post what you feel and for others to watch your videos, convene with those you want to be with and how you want to be with them, and to be pissed with everything and anyone without apology.

Without undue limitations.

Here’s the noise from the loud minority opponents:

You don’t need freedoms. Freedoms are alien to you. They are western. You were never free to begin with, so learn how to accept our definition of freedom. Don’t fight for his — the other bloke’s — freedom for you are not like him, you are different. He belongs to us. His soul is ours to keep.

It’ll be painful for a while, only when you fight it. Give in, give up. Feel the joy of surrender.

It’s been played to me all my life, like music on repeat which never paused for technological interruptions. It sounds horribly the same digitally as it did on vinyl.

None of those premises stand rationally, they are just asserted. Assertion is a key tool for those opposed to freedoms.

Besides being repetitive and completely incapable of questioning their own motives.

Like the tattoo exhibition uproar. Was it actually? Most Malaysians don’t care, and even those seemingly incensed keyboard warriors are not upset enough to spend their own money and time to stand and picket outside the tourism ministry.

But the organisers apologise so as to appease the authorities. Authorities bark to please the “offended.” Action has been promised, real action of the fire and brimstone variety.

It’s tattoos, seriously. Speak about overkill.

Body art is older than today’s dominant religions. And even if it was a year old, the consensual act to mark words and pictures on oneself when proven not medically deleterious need not justify itself.

Their skin, their machines and no one dies. Their choice, to let others watch their body art.

Tourism puts food on civil servants’ tables. Expos — like body art — attract tourists.

The “godless” mainland Chinese give us 10 million arrivals. Them and other infidels. Before attacking the debased values of others, remove your fingers from that tasty roti canai first.

But I digress.

Even if body art offers no commercial gain, the tattoo artists and recipients are not harming others. They just want to be left alone. Left to their passions, and to enjoy their passions.

Is that not being human?

Offended

What truly offends me is the need to tiptoe on eggshells to write about freedoms and the need for them.

In Malaysia, being offended is a basis to end all debate or discussions about what other people can do. Those people over there, usually of a small number, can’t do what they want to because those people over here, usually a segment of the majority who assert to represent all of the majority, feel offended.

I’ve diligently avoided references to the various specific freedoms and restrictions. If written, outrage dominates rather than a rational conversation about how there is much to disagree with.

Malaysia may be new to woke culture, but it has been knee-deep in a sense of reprehension of about everything the loud minority can’t or won’t understand since the start of federation.

Their backwardness is theirs to possess, but it constantly gets in the way of my freedoms. It forms the nucleus of objection to personal actions.

It’s time to ask those upset to show the demonstrable harm brought about by these instances when they have been offended. Not imaginary ones.

Not the kind a kindergarten education offers like, “Not kind on the eyes.” Or think about “the country’s reputation.”

Or the favourite, “we are this” or “we are that,” by self-confessed righteous moral-protectors.

We are a country of individuals. Every individual is different but more importantly we have 32 million different feelings.

How about ceasing to assume you are the Borg?

It’s free and win-win

Freedoms breed success. And this government is desperate for success.

It can be the single thing for free to retain professional young Malaysians home, up productivity and increase external investments, and it costs the government nothing.

A freer people are bound to be a richer people.

It’s not about getting a bank loan, or to join a state-run scheme, access to free healthcare, education or the guarantee of jobs. Just about being free, and not to be constantly harassed for wanting to be.

To not needing to explain yourself to a self-appointed moral squad who have assumed authority over your freedoms while not being responsible for your physical survival.

Civil liberties do not require governments to give them anything, just the right to be.

Which is reason to be forthright. To be brave.

We all get to breathe and die, and while we live, perhaps to live more and true to ourselves. As we own ourselves.

Even the idea of owning oneself is liberating enough to scream loud like a wombat. Wombat Wallace. “Freedom.”

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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