ALSO BY

By Helen Ang

Behind the Tony Yew-Chan Lilian spat

I refer to ‘Blogger in trouble over tweet "promoting" Bersih' where one Malaysiakini subscriber made a reference to me.

Going by the moniker ‘Ade', the person commented: "Coming to that Tony Yew character, I don't believe he is a Christian. He's just like most non Christians who use Christian names for glamour. Remember Helen Ang?"

It is a sad day for Malaysiakini if ‘Ade', along with his like-minded compatriots who troll the feedback section, is representative of the crowd comprising the news portal's most ardent and addicted supporters.

But it's beginning to look as if their mindset is the one prevalent as the general tone of the regular commentators suggests.

Firstly, for Ade's information, ‘Helen' is not a Christian name. His claim merely reveals his own ignorance. My best known namesake is Greek mythology's Helen of Troy.

The earliest written record of her appears in Iliad and Odyssey - which clearly Ade has never heard of - an epic by the poet Homer who lived 800 years before Jesus was born.

Secondly, on Ade's allusion that I'm a "non Christian who use(s) Christian names for glamour", again his unfounded allegation is telling of the childish malice that prompts certain readers to slander others simply for holding contrary opinions to theirs.

I have dozens of relatives and cousins who call me Helen, the name by which they've known me since birth. That my mother chose it for me indicates that she was an educated woman, schooled during the British colonial rule.

That Ade chose to take such a cheap shot indicates how the Pakatan cheerleaders, who are the most vocal segment, operate and their approach - the template of which I am cataloguing below.

Thirdly, regarding Ade's slur, "I don't believe he is a Christian", Tony Yew similarly has family and friends who will vouch that he surely is. So what are we supposed to make of approved comments which scatter such baseless accusations like some nasty birdshot?

For the sake of Malaysiakini's credibility, I hope that Steven Gan is reading this letter.

Next, at the time of my writing, there are almost 60 comments in response to the said article on the Chan Lilian vs. Tony spat. They fall into a few broad categories.

First is the personal attack on the ‘offending' individual which does nothing for public discourse. Examples: "go to hell Tony Yew!", his name is "too obscene to be uttered", "so much crap coming out from him".

In short, anyone critical of anything to do with Lim Guan Eng's office where Lilian is a contract staff must surely be "two faced hypocrite BN bootlickers".

Actually, the level of sycophancy I've noticed accorded Marina Mahathir for her Bersih walk makes me wonder that a tongue infection epidemic had not broken out.

Second, the knee-jerk assertion that Tony is trying to get a ministerial post, or a title/datukship. Any rational reader knows that it is unlikely to happen - with no disrespect to Tony but certainly it is unfathomable to imagine a reward over this trivial matter.

Other wild comments insinuate, for instance, that Tony is taking instructions from Ibrahim Ali. Again, needless to say, the commentator had not substantiated his statement and nor will he be able to.

Third, profanity and name-calling directed at Tony: The ‘f' word, "MF", "idiot", "bonehead", "blockhead", "asshole", "arsehole".

Evidently some readers spell the British way while others follow American spelling but in the same breath, these blindly charging brigadiers refuse to permit everyone else the privilege of diversity of thought.

Coerced censorship through mob intimidation is symptomatic of fascism, just in case you weren't aware.

Fourth, the holier-than-thou grandstanding of many commentators insisting that "shameless" Tony can't possibly be a Christian and that he is a disgrace to their religious community.

This particular thread of abuse goes in tandem with a recurrent ‘Christian traitor' motif. In addition to several comments along the same Judas line, there is the following: "the whole Christian community will curse you for behaving just like JUDAS" - a comment coming from someone who frames him/herself ‘anak,bangsa,malaysia'.

All I can say is that is if his/her hexing is illustrative of a typical follower of the SABM movement, then I can only hope I'm spared the misfortune of my path ever crossing theirs.

They seem to lack the realisation that life is too short to be spent barbecuing those refusing to be DAP Malaysian First-ers over fire and brimstone.

Fifth, in the Malaysiakini-reader lynching of Tony Yew can be seen the quite predictable attempt to silence the speaker, in addition to declaring him an outcast: "Diam lar", "let's excommunicate this unbeliever".

However, some of the readers lent the cyber-ranting - already vile enough as evidenced in the sampling above - a greater earnest and extending their enmity to the physical environment.

Malaysiakini subscribers wrote: "Please post a picture of Tony Yew, so all (especially Christians) will know how he look like", "if anyone knows which church this IDIOT Tony Yew attends, please let us know online", "So if anyone knows of this guy please place his photograph for all to see", "any Christian group (Catholic, Methodist etc.) know who this ‘Tony' is, please post his picture and we will see who this guy is".

Since these folks are so keen to know Tony's appearance and apparently to stalk him, may I ask what is it that they have in mind to do to him should they recognise him in the street? Tar and feather?

The extreme political partisanship displayed by Malaysiakini pages has so clouded the commentators' judgment that none (as far as can be discerned from published remarks) bothered to take the trouble to find out the particulars of the spat before rushing in one voice to canonise Saint Lilian, and consigning Tony to hellfire.

On July 7, I wrote an article that touched on the behind-the-scenes of the Lilian-Tony tweet war, where I said that I didn't buy Lilian's flat out denials and disagree with her harsh language used on Tony.

For reason of space constraint here, an elaboration can be found in my blog posting ‘Tony Yew and Chan Lilian duke it out' at www.helenang.wordpress.com.