The False Dichotomy of Malaysians and Other Mishaps

at Mariott putrajaya circa 10 May 2015

I would like to put out for Malaysians to take note of in a short excursus on several fallacious tendencies that I have empirically observed online being committed by some Malaysians.

Umar Zulk

Frankly today, it seems like there’s a lack of major development within the country, in other words, there’s NOTHING major really going on here besides the continual sensationalist developments like the recent graves found in Perlis, everything keeps rotating back and forth from the typical political feud, conflicts in the Middle East and yada yada.

Thus, to break the impasse, a few things I would like to put out for Malaysians to take note of in a short excursus on several fallacious tendencies that I have empirically observed online being committed by some Malaysians.

The False Dichotomy. The first major thing I find irksome permeating from several members of society is the false dichotomy that has developed. If an article gets written on TMI (or anywhere for that matter) where a certain “Team A” has been shown to have committed something unscrupulous, ergo you MUST support “Team B”. Nothing wrong with this idea in general, but it has been so warped that it appears in Malaysia there are only two options, “team A or team B”. If you do not coincide with ideals from “Team A” you are automatically vilified and declared persona non grata as you clearly MUST be supporting “Team B” and vice-versa. Instead of this, the idea of a dichotomy itself must end; it’s not like a debate where you have either the “Government or Opposition” per se.

Ad Hominem. Building further on this as mentioned before, there will always be an excess of Ad Homs from people thrown to anyone who so far as gives comments that does not conform to their views. A person expressing a less-favourable opinion of “Team B” would be called asinine, a confounded creature having crawled from the most heinous of places as a figure of speech, the actual insults are of course more colourful than what I could possibly conjure up. This needs to desist especially for those who are or will be committing it, my suggestion is focus on the subject matter or argument and not manifest your emotions by targeting the person with tu quoque or insults.

Jumping to conclusions. This segment features an example which I have personally experienced though it is by no way an argument through anecdote. The context: Picture a prominent VIP of “Team B” who was invited to give a speech in a Place X about heavy topics like GST and was unexpectedly denied their turn to give said speech on the “agreed date”, the following day it was then reported online and soon enough there is a pour of attacks on the Head-Honcho of Place X with people choosing to “Hentam” them by saying that it was an act made by the agents of “Team A”, “The Illuminati” or “The Lizard Men” etc. if you like conspiracy theories. How is that conclusion in any way coherent? Because “Team B’s” VIP is denied the right to put forth their opinion, it automatically makes the person perceived as having orchestrated this, which happens to be the Head-honcho of Place X in this case, an agent of “Team A”?

First of all I would question whether the VIP is relevant in giving the speech according to context, if for example it is a speech on GST, the best person to call is the Implementer i.e. the MOF, but I won’t develop this further as it is merely context. What is important to note is that people do not have enough information to come to the conclusion above. Every story has three sides, theirs, yours, and the person who tells you, so it could be a case of Place X being a “Team A” sympathisers, it could be misinformation on the organizer’s side i.e. details weren’t elaborated to the “Head-Honcho “or it could be that the Head Honcho just doesn’t like The VIP of “Team B”. A lot of things need to be made clear and taken into consideration before a conclusion can even be made so it’s best not to make sweeping statements without having first backed up your claim with facts.

Generalisation. This would be the final excursus; imagine an Alien Y declaring that “Venus has the best/worst education system in the Solar System” based on one isolated case or data. Though they are warranted in their opinion it is nevertheless a generalisation as it’s easy for them to use said data and paint every member of the solar system one shade of gray etc. However, society as in a Malaysian context, is not made up of a binary set of people where only two extremes exist, “good” or “less good” (can’t bear to use the term bad). Rather it’s made up of a series of intermediates between the two.

So it could be said that Venus has the best education to a certain extent in that it is able to produce students who attend the best universities in Jupiter, but it could also be said that Venus has one of the worst (if not the worst) education system to a certain extent as many students fail in learning basic survival in a CO2 rich atmosphere etc.

For those of you who have read this far, you might think my entire passage is based also on one big generalisation, but I’d like to point out that the difference between my claim and the aforementioned claim is that I have stated in the beginning this applies to certain Malaysians based on empirical evidence not the whole of Malaysia.

Here Endeth The Lesson. The next time you read an article try to observe these acts occurring and by using tact, point them out to the author etc, and hopefully we can create a more logical field of discussion.