Malaysiakini Opinion

Rais Yatim’s post-truth politics over the Malay language

Bob Teoh  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Given his penchant for post-truth politics over the use of Malay as the official language, Rais Yatim may be unsuitable to be the next Dewan Rakyat speaker. This is because parliamentary debate should be moderated by the speaker to ensure it is fact-driven.

Already he has slayed the new finance minister, Lim Guan Eng, for translating his press statement into Mandarin from the official Malay version. This undermines the position of Bahasa Melayu as the national language, he claims. Clearly Lim has complied as his official statement was in Bahasa Malaysia.

Next, Rais skinned the new attorney-general Tommy Thomas alive for his lack of command of the national language and wanting the court to allow him to use English in prosecuting ousted prime minister Najib Abdul Razak for alleged corruption and abuse of power. This also subverts, as Rais claims, the constitutional position of Bahasa Melayu as the national language and the place of honour that it so rightly deserves.

Rais’obiter dictum is, “Cakap Bahasa Melayu lah, bukan susah (Just speak Malay, it isn’t hard).”

Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics and post-reality politics), according to one definition, is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy or facts, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.

The phenomenon has become immensely popular, so much that in 2016, “post-truth” was chosen as the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year, due to its prevalence in the context of that year’s Brexit referendum and media coverage of the US presidential election....

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