Rights and freedom — Lim Mun Fah
AUG 15 — Media practitioners are well aware that there is no government that does not wish to suppress freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the world. And there is no political party that does not wish to manipulate the media and public opinion.
You might have heard this cliché a thousand times over, but I still have to mention it here. That is, there is no absolute freedom in the world, but only relative freedom.
If you understand the above-mentioned reality, you will then find it not difficult to understand why governments around the world always introduce laws to restrict freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
Originally, the formulation and adoption of any statutes in democratic countries should consider the following points:
1. Is it necessary?
2. Is it reasonable?
3. Is it urgent?
4. Have adequate consultation, discussion and debate sessions been conducted?
The answers are not absolute for the same questions.
It depends on your viewpoint and what stand you take. Take Section 114A of the Evidence Act for example; it is definitely necessary, urgent and reasonable in the eyes of the ruling coalition.
On the contrary, the opposition will never agree with it. Instead, it is neither necessary nor reasonable. Moreover, the next general election might be held at any time now and in this crucial period, of course the alternative coalition is very much worried that the government might make use of the Act to stop the alternative coalition from gaining the people’s support through the internet.
In fact, not only alternative coalition members, but also some in the ruling coalition, are opposing Section 114(a) of the Act. Among them are Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
Saifuddin has very accurately grabbed the people’s anxiety, namely the provision might create a culture of fear.
Khairy also thinks that the new provision should be reviewed.
Khairy and Saifuddin have openly turned into naysayers, exposing the long-existing problems within the ruling coalition. The new provision was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat even before discussion was conducted and consensus was reached within the coalition, let alone consulting professional groups and individuals.
It is undeniable that internet has provided the civil society a wider and more open space of speech, causing every words and deeds of the ruling coalition inescapable from the people’s monitoring. Some netizens, however, have indeed violated internet freedom. As a result, the online world is full of violent languages, defamatory statements and lies. Such a trend is certainly undesirable. However, these netizens are only the minority. Moreover, the 114(a) provision might not be able to ferret them out, while a third party might become the innocent victims instead.
There are no human rights when there is no freedom of speech. The government and the people should cherish and preserve it, instead of violate, suppress and abuse it! The ruling coalition should bear in mind that power corrupts a man, while netizens should also remember the famous words of Madame Roland, “Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!” — MySinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.