Low: More space needed for civil societies to express ‘frustrations’


Source: The Star Online

Datuk Paul Low, pic from the Star Online.

Datuk Paul Low, pic from the Star Online.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government needs to do more for civil liberties and societies, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low.

He said more space should be given to civil societies to “express their frustrations” and for the Government to hear them out and have constructive engagements.

Low, however, said civil liberties and human rights come with responsibilities.

“You cannot be ideal, there are borders and limits.

“Even in the area of expression, you cannot simply say something without understanding the consequences of what you are saying,” he told reporters on the sidelines at a dinner hosted by the German Ambassador to Malaysia His Excellency Holger Michael here on Tuesday.  

The dinner was to commemorate the Human Rights Day observed worldwide on Dec 10.

According to Low, Malaysia is not a homogenous society, adding that the idea of human rights vary among the people.

“Most important thing is you try to claim your rights for the right thing, and you try to express your views for the truth.

“Otherwise, there is a lot of accusation.

“You cannot be idealistic as solving problems involving a suitable compromise among different interest groups, so it’s not a black and white thing,” he said.

Low also said law enforcement authorities need to “respect human dignity and individual expressions,” adding that civil society activists are “not criminals”.

He also said there is a lot of freedom and room for discussions allowed in Malaysia, however, sometimes it is misused.

Citing social media, Low said some spread unscrupulous rumours about the country, which may affect its economic progress.

One example, he said was, rumours being spread about the country going bankrupt.

Such rumours, said Low were untrue and would undermine the country’s economic progress.

“So, freedom of expression and human rights must come with certain amount of responsibility.

“What is right to you may be trouble making to others, so there’s a divide and we need to recognise it.

“That is the job of the Government,” he added.

Low stressed that the Government’s priority is always to maintain peace, harmony, law and order, adding that it is difficult to pick up the pieces once these are destroyed.

In order to maintain law and order, Low said the Government needs to be strict on certain aspects of human rights.

“Human rights need to be carried out in a measured and constructive way.

“It cannot be just about spreading rumours,” he said.