What makes you think that the religious teacher is Catholic?
What makes you think that the Indian farmer is a man?
These are the questions that forced the participants of the “Reconstituting Earth V2” session to think about.
My own thought was: If a gay rock climber and mineralogist is expected to be the sole male procreator in a new world order, does that mean we’re denying him his right to practise his sexual orientation?
On 7 February 2010, the Constitutional Law Committee had the pleasure of conducting this workshop at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)’s “Constitution and Constitutionalism: Understanding the Rule of Law” workshop in ILKAP, Bangi.
At 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning, having a thought-provoking and interactive session such as this (as opposed to a lecture) was a wise choice on the part of the organisers. 30 participants from different professional backgrounds gathered in 3 groups of 10 to discuss and debate which six individuals from a list of 25 deserved to be given a chance to live in a new planet while Earth is going to be destroyed.
Don’t worry. Earth is here to stay for the moment. This is a hypothetical scenario created by the Constitutional Law Committee as a way of encouraging participants to think whether their assumptions and prejudices are necessary and good for society. For a thorough understanding of what the workshop module constitutes, please click here for observations by Aniza Damis which created a storm since its release recently.
One needs to be present at the workshop to fully appreciate that it makes no difference what one’s political affiliation or social status is, as everyone has his or her own prejudices. It was amazing that participants included those from the legal, political, diplomatic, academic, medical, religious, activist, commercial, writing and student communities. I believe it was a rare occasion to have someone from UMNO, PAS, Gerakan and even the Anwar Ibrahim Club to gather under the same roof simply to learn about the Constitution and the rule of law.
What I like most about the workshop was how comments from individual participants ranged from the humourous to the ethical, such as, what gives us the right to choose who deserves to be saved and who not?
One group said they chose the human rights activist and politician because they are both needed to “balance each other out”.
My own personal favourite is this:
The disabled foot soldier/sailor was chosen because he is strong and has survival skills and yet due to his disability, he won’t be able to engage in war.
It’s not often when you hear a group talk so positively about someone with a disability.
To end this, below were the key phrases used by participants when describing their chosen six:
· Preferably female
· Possesses knowledge and skills
· Ethnicity is not important
· Most probably a male
· Female for procreation
· Disability could potentially hamper
· A lesbian serves no purpose in procreation
· Adaptability of human beings
· Good and strong genes for breeding
· Ability to work is important
· Appearance is important
· Everyone has the ability to teach something
· An engineer knows more than a teacher
· Religion cannot be taught but something you believe in
And last but not least, beauty queens these days are intelligent.
This article was written as a web report for the Malaysian Bar website. Click here to view.