We have freedom of speech , but not freedom after speech
Copy URLFEW rights are more precious to citizens the world over than the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.No matter who they are or where they live, no one takes kindly to being suppressed or silenced, especially when their views are peacefully expressed and do not violate the spirit of democracy.
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are every individual’s fundamental human right. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948 said: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media…”
For some who may try arguing that these “Western” freedoms have no place in an Islamic state like Malaysia, they are also clearly enshrined in Article 10 of our federal constitution.While such freedoms aren’t absolute, Perikatan Nasional (PN) has been abusing its powers by arbitrarily clamping down on all those with views different from its own.
Even the most placid and objective of statements can be twisted and blown out of proportion, or treated as threatening the coalition or the state of the nation. This is utterly ridiculous, and makes a real mockery out of state apparatus.Laws and legislation exist to protect ordinary citizens, and to preserve peace and order in society.
They certainly do not exist to be used as weapons to be unleashed on the populace at the government’s every whim and fancy. Sadly, that is exactly what PN has been using them for. Ever since PN bulldozed into power, the list of victims who have suffered its wrath has been rapidly expanding.
Just four days after the Putrajaya hijack, police summoned Ambiga Sreenevasan, Marina Mahathir, and 17 other activists for peacefully assembling over the weekend in protest of the coup that sent the nation reeling. In May, police investigated Xavier Jayakumar for criticizing the one-day and one-hour Parliament sitting on May 18 which many other opposition members had also decried as undemocratic.
Within the same month, police arrested 72-year-old radio personality Patrick Teoh for allegedly insulting Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim. He was remanded for five days and will soon be facing trial for the alleged offence.Last month, police probed Hannah Yeoh over a March 9 tweet where she merely inquired about the fate of the national road map to fight child marriage under her successor Siti Zailah.
To add salt to the wound, they are also investigating her over a Facebook post she never made but that was falsely attributed to her.Also in June itself, police questioned Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman over his remarks that were critical of the backdoor government and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during an interview with Al-Jazeera on March 6.
On June 30, police raided publishing company Gerakbudaya and seized 313 copies of a book entitled Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, and Hope in New Malaysia. It recently came under fire for bearing a cover that supposedly insulted the national emblem. As of July 1, this book is now banned throughout Malaysia by the Home Ministry.
Just last week, police started investigating Boo Su-Lyn, editor-in-chief of health news portal CodeBlue for publishing articles on the 2016 fire that occurred in Johor Baru’s Sultanah Aminah Hospital. Boo has maintained that her articles were based on declassified information.
On Thursday, contempt proceedings against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief, Steven Gan began at the Federal Court.The attorney-general has hauled the alternative news giant to the highest court in the country over readers’ comments regarding the integrity of the judiciary.
This is despite the fact that Malaysiakini had already removed the comments cited by the A-G long before he sued it for contempt.The list of intimidation and harassment goes on and on. At the rate that it is going, it shows no signs of slowing down.PN has wasted no time in showing Malaysians that any dissenting views or opinions will not be tolerated, and that those who dare voice out against it will pay a very steep price.
Perhaps some things never change. Under Barisan Nasional, everything was sensitive, seditious, disrupted social harmony, and threatened national security. Likewise, this is the exact same scenario under PN but much worse. Are sensible Malaysians not sick of this long-abused narrative?
Yes, the days are getting darker, and the sun is fast setting on democracy in Malaysia. But for as long as we keep standing up to injustice and fighting for what is right, the mission to save Malaysia is far from over. – July 5, 2020.* Lara Ling reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Read more: TheMalaysianInsight »
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