Thursday, January 20, 2022

From flipping burgers to flipping the truth

Just as we stand with victims of oppression, we should also ask who are the oppressed and who are the oppressors?

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Recently, the country was shocked by revelations that several traders were slapped with RM50,000 fines for violating Covid-19 SOPs.

The public outcry is understandable. At a time when the economy is badly hit, many feel that the government should at least exercise some compassion in enforcing the law. Slapping a burger trader with a RM50,000 fine is deemed excessive, especially when certain VIPs appear to be getting a slap on the wrist for more serious violations.

But as we join the frenzy assailing law enforcers over their purported lapse in good judgement, we should also examine the veracity of the malicious allegations that make their way to the free-for-all cyberspace. Every story has a flip side, and the least we can do is to hear it out and refrain from prematurely jumping to conclusions.

It has since emerged that the narrative about a “cruel government who used a sledgehammer against a small-time trader” in the RM50,000 fine story may not be what it seems. Dribs and drabs of information have now surfaced, including allegations that this is not the trader’s first violation and that the police had issued him with several warnings prior to the compound, which has since been reduced.

And let’s not get into some of the more personal information, which has since been confirmed by the trader’s wife in a news report, including their lifestyles which differ vastly from what netizens have in mind.

My point is this: just as we stand with victims of oppression, we should also ask who are the oppressed and who are the oppressors? Have we also considered the authorities’ side of the story? Or do we prefer the “high” of being whipped into a frenzy by saddling up on the so-called “moral high horse”?

A thread on Reddit Malaysia on this issue has seen many Malaysians share stories on their positive experiences with the men in blue. Save for a few bad apples, these are the men and women who work tirelessly to keep the country safe, whether from armed robbers or lethal microscopic viruses.

By allowing others to press our buttons without us verifying the truth, we stand to demoralise these frontliners. It is time we defend ourselves not just from the coronavirus, but also to stay vigilant against the purveyors of fake news.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.

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