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COMMENT | Are we targeting Marina for her father’s sins?

COMMENT | To what extent should we vent our frustrations with a parent on their children? What is the right equilibrium point, when it comes to 'cancel culture'? What kinds of apologies are and aren’t enough?

These are the three questions I’d like to examine in turn, in the aftermath of some recent controversy surrounding my fellow columnist Marina Mahathir.

The story starts with a column printed in The Sunday Star on Jan 30.

Rereading the entire column, I am deeply struck by how all the people I saw passionately decrying Marina for this one paragraph, were the same people who were fighting for the exact same cause expressed by almost every single paragraph in Marina’s article.

I’ll go into more detail later, but I do hope everyone will read her column in full.

Here is the controversial paragraph, as originally appeared in print:

“I’ve been through embarrassing moments abroad when our politicians have said something stupid and then tried to cover it up. In the late 70s when we had many Vietnamese refugees landing on our shores, our then home minister announced that we would shoot any that washed up on our beaches.

“Predictably, outrage ensued around the world. He then gave the standard politician’s excuse, that he was misquoted, that he actually said he would ‘shoo’ them away. Did anyone believe it?”

As has been pointed out repeatedly, this is factually incorrect.

It was in fact Marina’s father, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who announced that Vietnamese boat people would be "shot on sight" if they landed on Malaysian beaches.

This misattribution to then home minister Ghazali Shafie (not named in Marina’s article), caused an uproar amongst Mahathir haters.

I think this uproar provides a lot of opportunities for productive reflection.

I myself am guilty of...

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