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Author Archives: lindai

Individual vs Collective Freedom

The trap made me think of different concepts of freedom and I ended up pondering about religious freedom in Malaysia considering the recent burning of three churches by Islamists as the result of a religious discourse that had been going on for a while. The debate was that anybody who is not a Muslim should not be allowed to use the word “Allah” but a Catholic newspaper kept using it. The case went to court and the newspaper won its right to continue using it. Shortly after Malaysia witnessed an awful response; three churches were attacked. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/world/asia/09malaysia.html

Malaysians with all its different races, religions and ethnicities used to accept and tolerate the others’ freedom to practice their religion as they wished. What has happened with it? Is it a mistrust that spreads in unstable and uncertain times? Is it the media?
New media in Malaysia allows for more individual freedom to express thoughts and can serve as a buffer. Users can voice their opinions but may stay anonymous. But then, words might be said to easily without much reflection. Once “out there” it cannot be taken back and can easily develop into a heated debated. I am not sure if the “Allah” debate started online but it is likely that all the media networks helped to spread and stir the discourse.

This leads me to think of individual freedom versus collective freedom. Where should one draw the line, if the interest and pursuit of individual freedom of a few go against the interests and endanger the freedom of many? Where does freedom start and stop for a nation and the individuals living in it? And which would be the best political system for it?