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The Malaysian International Tattoo Expo 2019, held last month, came under fire for supposedly being “obscene” and at odds with the country’s culture despite the fact that the event had been approved.

BEING a Malaysian nowadays is akin to discovering that you were never allowed to grow up into a functional adult because some people do not trust you to behave as such.

There always seems to be someone happy to shout at the nearest person to tell him how to behave or what he should be outraged about even before the second WhatsApp tick can appear.

The Malaysian International Tattoo Expo 2019, held last month, came under fire for supposedly being “obscene” and at odds with the country’s culture despite the fact that the event had been approved.

Other issues that have raised hackles in the past few news cycles are the “need” to ban vapes, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, how certain books are not suitable for public consumption, how beer festivals (or non-alcoholic beer) are condemned and whether or not to make vaccination compulsory.

Even something as simple as music has been problematic. There have also been outcries against K-pop stars, metal acts, dangdut queens and pop-rock band Michael Learns to Rock.

Religious thinker Karen Armstrong said it best in 2007 when she was in Kuala Lumpur and was asked about her banned book, The History of God: “I think Malaysians are mature enough to make up their own minds about things.” The comment was much lauded.

Sabahans and Sarawakians have scoffed at the “not-our-culture” complaint, especially since the expo included local tattoo legend Ernesto Kalum, who is the only Malaysian to be listed on the French Mondial du Tatouage, as well as featured in the National Geographic television show Taboo.

Calling for vape to be banned but saying nothing about cigarettes and cigars is silly and hypocritical since experts agree that, while not harmful, vape does not wean smokers off cigarettes.

We’re more than six decades old as a nation. The era of government knows best is long gone. This is especially true since those in positions of authority have proven countless times how much they can’t be trusted to have our best interests at heart (politicians who keep jumping parties and who will say anything to win an argument).

Children need to learn to grow up and become adults. That’s the way the world is. It can’t happen if they have everything done for them, especially when that dependence is disguised as being for their own good.

The government should stop being a nanny state and focus on more important things like keeping promises and providing qualitative education and equality of opportunity and fairness.

AHMAD AZRAI

Kuala Lumpur

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