Tashny Sukumaran @tashny Malaysia Correspondent for the South China Morning Post (@SCMPnews). This is the final struggle. Apr. 05, 2019 1 min read

I'm really keen to know why these white journalists who've parachuted into Asia for the lulz think they know more about Brunei than me. I mean, I only grew up there/still have family + friends there/speak the language.

Are these laws against human rights? Yes. Without a doubt. But that doesn't give anyone the right to speak for or over Bruneians who may or may not be comfortable with what they believe are symbolic laws. You can disagree, surely. But don't drown out brown voices on the ground.

You want to talk about Brunei? Sure. Let's talk about instituting shariah but not living up to the responsibility to protect people of the dhimma. Let's talk about stateless people. Let's talk about the British Army's presence there. Let's talk about economic diversification.

But let's talk about it with people who are a part of the community, not from ivory towers or after three-day trips where your source was paid to talk to you. To strip an entire people of the privilege of nuance, of a voice, is dehumanising and, well, not very human righty.

Freedom of speech in Brunei is incredibly limited, and it's admittedly hard to get people to comment, even anonymously. International media shouldn't see this as some roadblock they can't overcome. Y'all are journos ffs. Do better. Try harder. Serve.

What's NOT helpful is flippant, reductivist comments saying one Muslim country is just like another Muslim country. Brunei is not Saudi Arabia, and white people need to stop othering brown nations into uniform sameness.

What's not helpful is calling for luxury hotel boycotts (the Dorchester is FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS A NIGHT fucksake don't kid yourself you baller like that lah) - performative white saviours living off tweetability - and ignoring the actual lived experiences of LGBT people in Brunei.

We shouldn't accept the marginalisation of any community in any country. So actually engage with these targeted communities and ask them what they want or need, and not just accuse them of being apologists because they're not parroting a sanctimonious neocolonial party line.

Sekian khutbah Jumaat saya.


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