Are we stupid enough to fall for the same scam?

By Kee Thuan Chye | Nov 24, 2011

I can’t help but wonder if the government really thinks that Malaysians are stupid. So stupid that we can be hoodwinked into believing that the changes they propose to our laws amount to actual reform.

Two months ago, when Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that newspapers would no longer have to renew their publishing licences annually, he might have expected us to go ga-ga and applaud and say that the media would now be freer.

But if we had done that, we would indeed have been stupid. Because we would not have realised that there is really no change.

Even if the newspapers need not renew their licences every year, the fact remains that the home minister still retains the power to suspend or close down any newspaper at any time – if he feels it is too free in expressing its views, or for whatever reasons.

So, whether there is renewal or not, it does not matter. As long as the home minister is still as powerful as before, your newspaper can still get into trouble with him. What’s more, his decision cannot be challenged in court.

Ah! If you now say that stinks like a scam, that the government is actually trying to deceive us, you would be right. But if you still think, like the mainstream media does, that there is actual reform in that licence renewal waiver, then the government would be right in thinking that Malaysians are stupid. Or, at least, some Malaysians.

You may be surprised that there are indeed such stupid Malaysians.

They are the ones who continue to support the ruling party and defend its policies, including its numerous flip-flops. They are the ones who will vote for that party at the next general election and say it is better to go with the devil they know than the devil they don’t know.

They are the ones who don’t know they are being fooled. They might even be people who know they are being fooled, but still choose to go with the devil who is fooling them. Needless to say, the ones who know they are being fooled and still continue to support the party are even more stupid.

Disturbing restrictions

And they will continue to be stupid if they believe that the Peaceful Assembly Bill, which the government tabled two days ago, is a step forward, guarantees more freedom, and will lead to Malaysia being “the best democracy” as promised by Najib.

Their stupidity will not allow them to see that it’s another attempt to hoodwink Malaysians. They will say it’s good because it allows Malaysians to gather in public without having any need to apply for a police permit.

Yes, on the surface, it looks good that a police permit is no longer required. But now consider the other conditions. The most disturbing one is this – although you don’t need a police, permit, your assembly cannot proceed if there is objection by the police.

What? Isn’t that like getting a police permit?

Let me repeat. You don’t need a permit but if the police object, your assembly can’t go on. So, what does that mean? Your assembly is still dependent on police approval, isn’t it? So what’s new?

If you straight away say, “That police permit waiver is a scam!”, then you’re not stupid. Because there is no change. And you can see it for what it is.

In fact, it has now become worse. You have to give the police advance notice of your assembly 30 days before it is due to be held. Thirty days! That’s a long time to plan.

And what happens if you want to stage a spontaneous assembly? What if the government does something cruel and unfair and unlawful and citizens feel compelled to take to the streets to protest against it immediately?

Well, that will be considered illegal. And if you don’t provide the 30-day notice, you can be fined up to RM10,000!

Youth discriminated

And did I mention the words “streets” and “protest”?

Well, according to the new bill, no street protests will be allowed.

What? Then what’s the point of an assembly? Only for socialising? For merely hanging about in public? No placards? No cheering? No chanting?

The new bill is obviously designed to protect the government, not to give more democratic space to the citizens. It is designed to prevent people from protesting against the government.

In fact, the new bill transgresses the rights of freedom guaranteed in the federal constitution.

One, if you are below the age of 21, you cannot organise an assembly. Is that fair? Are those below that age not citizens who should enjoy equal rights? Is this democracy? Is this “the best democracy”?

Two, if you are below the age of 15, you cannot take part in an assembly except cultural and religious ones, like funeral processions, or events approved by the home minister. Again, discrimination. Again, power to the home minister.

Three, areas at which public gatherings cannot be held have now been specified. Has this ever been done before?

Bill gives cops more power

And if you were to look at the list of prohibited areas, which include petrol stations, hospitals, mosques, fire stations, kindergartens, schools, etc, you would see that the democratic space – also in physical terms – has become even smaller. Especially since there must also be a buffer zone of 50 metres around each of these areas that public gatherings cannot traverse.

Most districts, especially in city centres, have a few of such areas in close proximity to one another. As such, the interstices between the buffers would be too small to accommodate a mass of people.

How then would a public assembly be able to fill these little spaces? This condition is clearly aimed at discouraging assemblies in city centres.

Four, the police have even more power now. They can decide to arrest any assembly participants they deem a problem, and those arrested can be fined up to RM20,000. Is that providing more freedom or more deterrence? And who is to say the police decisions may not be arbitrary?

So, my fellow Malaysians, are we going to be stupid? Are we going to accept this bill that discriminates against some of us, throttles our freedom and disregards the constitution?

Are we going to be fools and be thankful to the government and say the bill is providing reform and taking Malaysia forward, and should therefore be passed into law? Are we going to be twice bitten by the same scam and not be aware of it?

Well, there’s no fine imposed yet for taking to the streets. And there’s still leeway to do it without giving 30 days’ advance notice. Once the law is passed, however, it will be too late.
KEE THUAN CHYE is the author of ‘March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up’, which just won 3rd prize in the Popular Readers’ Choice Awards. It has also been translated into Chinese.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 3:32 pm

    Honestly? Yes, at least there is enough out there..

  2. #2 by Jong on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 3:38 pm

    Wake up folks!
    Najib has run out his last lap; has shown he cannot be trusted anymore. He has failed us, badly.

  3. #3 by tak tahan on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 4:15 pm

    These so called clown leaders think Rakyat are so stupid that they can keep churning out one lie after another to stay in power.Even majority Malays are more educated now and not be easily hoodwinked by these idiotic leaders.
    Come GE13,let us reform Umno/BN by vote them out.It’s time to change this useless,corrupt and racist government.ABU.

  4. #4 by tak tahan on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 4:26 pm

    Does our PM know what is democracy?

    Does a true PM flip-flop?

    Instead of promising the best democracy by this bunkum PM,outcome the worst democracy.Bunch of joker leaders they are!

  5. #5 by drngsc on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 4:52 pm

    Sometimes when something is done so openly and stupidly, it smacks of arrogance. They are telling us, we will S**** you, so what can you do about it?

    To me, it is not stupid, just arrogance from a from a government who does not care anymore, who just want to remain in power, by hook or by crook, and who is all prepared to buy their way to power.
    So we must work very hard to throw them out and teach them a lesson, that they will not forget.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is our best chance. Failure is not an option. Let us all work very very hard.

  6. #6 by Loh on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 5:13 pm

    ///The new bill is obviously designed to protect the government, not to give more democratic space to the citizens. It is designed to prevent people from protesting against the government.///–Kee Thuan Chye

    UMNO thinks that any assembly is to protest against the government because it knows deep down that its policies and implementations are against the people.

    The objective of the assembly is to get the people to be aware of what is going on in the society. If the people have the right to choose a government, they have the right to know the issues involved, and to make the right choice. Malaysia claims to practice democracy, and so it has to allow the practices of democracy which includes the right to know. The natural place for people to be aware of the issues brought about by an assembly of people is the streets. Peaceably assembly as provided by the constitution demands that such assembly would not disturb peace. The traffic police has the responsibility to ensure that movement of people for their daily life is not affected. The Police Act pertaining to traffic should take care of issues involving assembly, and there is no need for a new law to restrict the population on how they assemble.

    Najib said that the new bill is revolutionary. Indeed it is; it is like a coup d’etat against the rights of the citizens.

  7. #7 by dagen on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 5:32 pm

    Umno is rubbish. Jib is tipunegara.

  8. #8 by jus legitimum on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 5:40 pm

    Enough is enough.Come the next GE,we will vote out the 54 year old good for nothing regime that is still trying desperately to cling on to power.More and more people are boiling mad with the current corrupted,incompetent,inept and inefficient government.Beware Malaysia will be on the rocks if the same bunch of crooks succeed again in the next GE.

  9. #9 by cskok8 on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Hooray, that means students who are UMNO club members overseas can still be sponsored to attend the upcoming general assembly since I presume the Home Minister will approve.

  10. #10 by monsterball on Thursday, 24 November 2011 - 7:08 pm

    They live in a fool’s dream world for so long….they really think Malaysians are real stupid.
    If they wake up and notice what Malaysians are today….they say it is a dream.
    They had is so good for 55 years….they actually think they own Malaysia…lock…stocks and barrel…including the royalties.
    Their Race and Religion politics have carried them so far….they think it will carry them on and on forever.
    And they were shocked with the 12th GE results…..and dream on…saying Oppositions won by bribing…and apply unfair tactics.
    How can such a government not think Malaysians are stupid?
    In their minds…Malaysians must all be stupid..or else how dare Najib keep flip flopping and get the supports from his ministers…be it from back doors or from front doors…..UNLESS……ALL….have a comment interest…to avoid loosing 13th GE…be charged for CORRUPTIONS….one by one….with no escape from jail sentences.

  11. #11 by sightseeing on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 2:49 am

    The Oxford Dictionary’s New Word for 2011

    [Malaysians]: Same meaning as [stupid persons]

  12. #12 by k1980 on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 7:51 am

    //#4 by tak tahan on Thursday, 24 November 2011 – 4:26 pm
    Does our PM know what is democracy?//

    PM’s democracy means govt of the foolish malaysians by umno for umnoputras

  13. #13 by k1980 on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 11:02 am

    Old viagra CSL has nothing to say about BN economic policies, whereby RM500 million are given to a senator (appointed, not elected) to rear 3,000 cows and buy 2 condos….

  14. #14 by Iwantchange on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 11:42 am

    Please vote out BN, we cannot be living like this any longer!

  15. #15 by Not spoon fed on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 10:34 pm

    Today, Sinchew reports that Chua Sooi Lek ask for donation of money and he said this fund is for public usage.

    Amboi, MCA could not beg their big brother for money. Their big brother UMNO, has been refusing to give money to MCA since decades ago. Everyone know this when we look at the Chinese and Tamil primary schools nationwide.

    So, MCA has to ask around for donation of money! MCA also have “appeal” every year for scholarship.

    In the past, MCA was rich before Mathew took over as prime minister. Mathew also systematically planned to control and redirect national resources to his cronies and his sons. He should have helped nationwide rural areas especially those estates people and agricultural Malays in rural areas. But he did not do so.

    Just like the RM250 million for National Feedlot, this project or money should be spread around the country. This money should not be in the hand of just one family.

    The people of Malaysia are the judge themselves!

  16. #16 by Not spoon fed on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 10:42 pm

    Regarding this news about Chua Soi Lek, woi, everyone knows that Barisan Nasional has been mismanaging national fund and Malaysians’ money.

    Everyone also knows that Barisan Nasional has been causing debt mounting high every year since many years ago.

    Is this not showing BN is incapable? The Star reports as “Pakatan lacks expertise”.

    I would say “Barisan possesses much expertise” in causing national debt mounting and causing corruption everywhere!

    Barisan also possesses much expertise to cause Ringgit to be far away from dollar Brunei and dolar Singapore. In 1970s, Ringgit and Singapore/Brunei dollar were same value!

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