Tattoos and vaping lead to 'moral decadence'?

Hafidz Baharom

Modified 17 Dec 2019, 5:39 am

LETTER | The recent tattoo issue and my reaction to it led someone to pull me aside and tell me a very disturbing mentality in this day and age – apparently, tattoos will lead to “moral decadence”. 

Just a few days ago on Nov 30, we even had Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye say that somehow even vaping will lead to “moral decadence”.

This is hilarious for me, because when I look at cases of theft, embezzlement, rape, sexual harassment, or even social media bullying – I don’t see a single tattoo or even the person suddenly taking a long drag off a vape pen to blow out mango-scented vapour.

Instead, what I see in court photos and even Facebook profiles are a bunch of people wearing a ketayap or songkok, or expensive Brioni suits, or donning baju melayus and smiling while posing with their families. Even our million ringgit tax dodgers and conmen pose with expensive cars, fish ponds and exotic pets.

One of them recently went full-on racial, playing the victim, simply because she had marketed her banana milk as a health product with no scientific backing and got called out for it. She even had the audacity of saying “the Chinese laugh while the Malays attack one another”.

And how are people still falling for scam products and services by these people that con them out of tens of thousands of ringgit?

Oddly enough, these things listed above don’t seem to be considered signs of “moral decadence” at all. Instead, a lot of people seem to celebrate the people who do these things, even those in court facing charges somehow get a birthday cake.

In fact, these so-called influencers and successful entrepreneurs, religious and political leaders, and even fake degree gurus can somehow post on Instagram or Facebook and still have hundreds if not thousands of people backing them – simply for symbolising the antithesis to “moral decadence”.

This is the fallacy of the Malaysian mentality. While I am not sure if it is ingrained in all Malaysians, I am pretty sure this prejudice is dead set in the majority mindset, for some reason or another. Perhaps they’ve not yet gone to Indonesia to meet the millions who look like us but with tattoos on their bodies.

Perhaps our deputy minister and his Health Ministry somehow think that vaping would lead to the community suddenly planning to become Smaug the Dragon and horde the wealth of the nation in the Misty Mountains. After all, the hobbits were all smokers, even if what they were smoking is up for questioning.

Does having tattoos lead to people drinking alcohol, running over innocent pedestrians or bystanders? Does it lead to paedophilic tendencies and rape? Are Muslims who vape more inclined to eat pork or become adulterers, to don silk and gold, to steal from orphans and the poor, to divorce their pregnant wives and abuse members of their households?

Do people with tattoos and vapes abuse their maids to death?

Let's face it – neither vaping nor tattoos will lead someone to suddenly go nuts and subscribe to “moral decadence”. If anything, avarice for money and power are triggers and pretty much the causes for such a thing to the point of abusing religion and the religious mentality of the people to do so.

But those are not things you will see, those are things you will notice once they open their mouths or start typing on social media. 

Meanwhile, discriminating and creating fear against people with tattoos and those who vape is simple and easy to do, since both are clearly visible identifiers.

In other words, we have a deputy minister and even the mob majority who are negatively profiling Malaysians without a clear basis, without a single shred of empirical evidence and they would just say these things to promote a point of view that is divisive, triggering fear and discrimination, and just a negative outlook among Malaysians.

And here I thought we wanted a “new Malaysia”. How about we stop propagandising things we don’t agree with, and tell those detractors to live and let live? How about we tell Malaysians, you know what, mind your own kids and business? How about we tell Malaysians, go live your lives, find something constructive to comment on, come up with an idea or go form an NGO to keep themselves busy?

How about we tell Malaysians, to let Malaysians be Malaysians and do what they please within the confines of not harming others?

On my end, I’d rather hang out with the purveyors of “moral decadence” rather than deal with the hypocrites – at least these so-called decadent Malaysians are bluntly honest with themselves. After all, the deputy minister and the holier-than-thous are playing in the morally decadent practice of all – politics.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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