The AG would do well to remember that any attempt to utilize his power to protect and preserve a political party was a blatant misuse of power and must not happen in Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) has said in a statement that it deplores all unjustified attempts to limit and curtail the freedom of expression and freedom of information as suggested by the Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali last week and strongly condemns the act of intimidation by the police through its warning to artist and activist Fahmi Reza.
“The statement issued by the police would directly and indirectly prevent positive discourse on matters relating to national interest and jeopardize the democratic space and freedom of expression of all Malaysians.
“The police statement on Fahmi for his posting of a satirical image of a leader of the Government of Malaysia was a clear attempt to intimidate the public against any dissent and criticism against the government.”
In recalling the nature of office held by any government official, said Suaram Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy, public scrutiny and criticism was part of the democratic process that serves as the foundation of Malaysia. “Satirical images and comments made against government officials should not be considered a crime.
“The surveillance and monitoring of social media posting of satirical materials by artists and activists was excessive and unjustified.”
Any act of curbing or limiting freedom of expression and information must be justifiable, added Sevan. “The recent suggestion put forward by the AG was not only unjustified but a blatant attempt to silence dissent and prevent revelations that would harm the present ruling party of Malaysia.
The strengthening of the Official Secrets Act 1972 and the proposed curbs and threats of prosecution against the media can only be interpreted as an assault on the freedom of expression and freedom of information, continued Sevan. “The importance of the freedom of expression cannot be discounted.
“The importance of this right is repeated in various international documents and bill of rights.”
The freedom of expression was not only enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was also enshrined in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration which Malaysia is a party to, stressed the Suaram chief. Furthermore, he said, freedom of expression was also provided for under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. “Beyond human rights, the freedom of expression and information serves as the foundation of any democratic state.
“The denial of these rights can only be permitted with the direst of circumstances with no better alternatives available.”
Suaram went on to remind the government and all enforcement agencies of the promises made by the country in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), specifically in the context of the abolition of the Sedition Act 1948 and the protection and promotion of Civil and Political Rights.
“Failure to ensure the protection and promotion of the Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information would most certainly be contrary to the promises made during the previous UPR and devastate what is left of Malaysia’s dignity and respect in the international arena.”