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Being fair-minded and objective reflects a person’s character


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Fair-minded people always epitomise well-defined and level-headed discernment of issues.

They gauge concerns and perspectives from all angles before arriving at a conclusion, forming an opinion or making a decision. Sometimes they do this to be at peace with their conscience and not to have any sense of guilt or remorse later.

Non-discriminatory people make decisions based on concrete substantiation rather than being emotionally charged. They know the whole story rather than just some of the facts that scratch the surface. They also look at the picture in a holistic manner, rather than taking a superficial approach.

Recently, a new upmarket Indian restaurant was opened in Bangsar by Najib Razak, who was convicted over the misappropriation of RM42m of SRC International funds, which is now pending appeal.

Many were annoyed with the owner for inviting Najib to officiate the opening ceremony. If you enter this new restaurant, you will see a plaque conspicuously displayed to commemorate the opening ceremony of this restaurant with Najib’s name and signature on it.

Morally and ethically speaking, it was wrong of the owner to invite Najib to open the restaurant. But is that a reason for ordinary patrons to boycott this restaurant?

There were calls by a few in our residents’ association to boycott this restaurant. I respect the views of my fellow residents, but I beg to differ with them on boycotting this restaurant because of the person who opened it.

If we consider ourselves decent, civilised human beings, then we have to be fair-minded and objective: we must apply the same principles and standards to all restaurants and retail establishments and check the background of the owners and whether they too had done similar or even worse things.

Can we check on whether the owners are shady characters or convicted felons or whether they committed heinous crimes? Can we do it and do we have the time and resources to conduct such background checks on all retail outlets we patronise? Definitely not.

There is another nearby restaurant in Bangsar where the late owner committed a heinous crime and yet people still patronise this restaurant to this day. Why are there no calls by our residents and others to boycott this restaurant too?

To me, asking people to boycott one restaurant just because some are unhappy with the person who opened it, while being silent about another restaurant whose owner committed an atrocious crime, smacks of hypocrisy.

The bottom line is we should all be dictated by our moral conscience, whether we want to boycott or patronise any restaurant or retail establishment. But we should never be hypocritical about the decisions we make.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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