IGP, What is Seditious in Mariam’s Article?

By Kee Thuan Chye
2nd December 2013

I cannot see a fellow writer being threatened by someone in public authority for what she writes and not stand up for her. I’m therefore saying that the recent warning issued by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to political commentator Mariam Mokhtar against writing articles that could be deemed seditious is highly unwarranted and deserves to be censured.

Now, if the IGP was giving her friendly advice in saying she should not write articles that were seditious, he might have good cause to do so. Even if the articles she has written so far have not proven to be so. But that does not seem to be the tone and tenor of what he said a few days ago.

What makes his remark deserving of censure is what he added: “She had better watch out or we will go after her.” That comes across, undoubtedly, like a threat. And it’s inappropriate coming from someone like the IGP.

I don’t know Mariam personally and have never met her. (Sorry for sounding like Najib Razak talking about a different person – I think you know who.) I also can’t say I’ve read every article she’s written. But those I have do not strike me as being seditious. Certainly not as is spelt out in the Sedition Act.

In fact, her writing impresses me as that of someone who cares about her country and wants it to be better. She criticises wrongdoing by people in power, exposes their foibles and points out the contradictions between what they say and what they do in order to make Malaysians aware of right and wrong.

She provides a much-needed public service by highlighting issues of pressing and immediate concern to Malaysians, giving voice to thoughts that many of her fellow countrymen and women may share but are unable to articulate.

She has written about racial discrimination, social injustice, domestic violence, child abuse, the rise in crime, political scandals, the ‘Allah’ issue, the ineptness of Najib as prime minister, the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the illegal immigrants in Sabah, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s attempt to muzzle the media, the disservice to the Malaysian electorate done by the Election Commission … and many, many more topics of public interest.

She should not be intimidated for creating awareness and putting issues in perspective. She should not be shut up.

IGP Khalid Abu Bakar is reportedly displeased with her article ‘One ideology, two reactions’ that appeared on the online news website Free Malaysia Today on November 29.

In it, she asked why the Government was willing to welcome home Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab from London when it had been dead against allowing even the ashes of the late Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng to be brought back from Thailand.

After all, Siti Aishah was also a left-winger. She was on the Malaysian police’s ‘wanted’ list in the 1970s for being considered an extremist. When she went to study at the London School of Economics, the police kept her under surveillance. Subsequently, she was allegedly held as a “slave” in London by a Maoist sect for 30 years, until she escaped several weeks ago.

Khalid said Mariam’s article was “highly seditious”.

I have since read it a few times, but I cannot in all honesty find anything in it that is seditious.

Mariam states the facts about Siti Aishah and Chin Peng. She asks a pertinent question: “Malaysians must wonder why Aishah is considered safe but Chin Peng’s ashes are deemed a national threat.” Indeed, that has been in the minds of many people this past week.

She informs us, “The High Commission in London has said that it would extend its full cooperation to reinstate Aishah’s citizenship if she had unknowingly lost her identification papers during her 30-year imprisonment. We are thankful that the global network of the Foreign Ministry is diligent in performing its responsibilities in assisting Malaysians in various parts of the world.”

She asks, again pertinently: “So why can’t the same assistance be made available by the necessary departments in Malaysia to serve the hundreds of thousands of stateless people who were not registered by their poor and uneducated parents? Parents who may be the rural Orang Asli, the interior bound Penan or Indians who live on rubber estates?”

What is wrong with any of that? What is seditious in what she has written?

She also writes: “Wisma Putra, the Women’s Ministry and the IGP are keen to help Aishah. By all means show compassion but make sure that compassion is extended to all Malaysians and not a select few individuals who just happen to be making headlines in the developed world. If Aishah is promised counselling, the same should be given to the traumatised victims at home; the ostracised Penan women and young girls who were raped by timber workers, the family members of people killed in violent incidents like Batangkali, Memali, Kampung Medan and May 13.”

Again, I ask, where is the sedition?

She is asking for social justice and compassion across a wide spectrum. That’s a positive thing. Does that constitute sedition?

So why is the IGP displeased?

And why must he invoke sedition? The Sedition Act has of late become too obvious an instrument being used by the ruling party to bully citizens who speak up because they want things to be better, like cartoonist Zunar, activists Hishamuddin Rais and Haris Ibrahim, student leaders Adam Adli and Safnan Awang.

On the other hand, people like Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali, ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and politician Zulkilfli Noordin and the newspaper Utusan Malaysia that have said things for the worse, like insulting the religions of others or causing hatred between the races, have not received even the slightest ticking off from the authorities. Ironically, what they have said subscribe more to the definition of sedition as spelt out in the Act. And yet they are seemingly immune to prosecution.

So, please, IGP, don’t threaten Mariam with sedition and appear so obviously selective with your targets. Go instead after the people who really commit sedition. Don’t turn this into another farce as you did with your explanation of how policemen lost their guns – that the weapons fell into the sea!

And do learn how to make a critical discourse analysis of a piece of writing so that you don’t see things that are not in it. I arrived at my conclusion that ‘One ideology, two reactions’ is not seditious by using logic and reasoning. What did you use to arrive at yours?

Oh, one last point. The Malaysian police were monitoring Siti Aishah when she was in London. How did they miss the moment when she got ‘enslaved’ by the Maoist sect? And were they unaware of it for 30 years? Can we conclude from this that the police were slack in their work? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?

These are not seditious questions, IGP, so please provide us the answers.

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit, now available in bookstores.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 2 December 2013 - 7:19 pm

    IGP pandai sampai langit.
    (Read: IGP is a smart a* #*s*)

  2. #2 by DAP man on Monday, 2 December 2013 - 9:22 pm

    IGP has no intellect. Low IQ.

    • #3 by cemerlang on Monday, 2 December 2013 - 9:45 pm

      IQ + EQ + SQ = pandai. That is the message for all go men.

  3. #4 by bangkoklane on Monday, 2 December 2013 - 9:59 pm

    Both MM and KTC are respected and responsible writers who are admired for their courage and wisdom in speaking the minds of all peace-loving, honest Malaysians of goodwill. I love reading what they write, helps me keep my Malaysian dreams alive. Theirs are the voices of the silent majority…

  4. #5 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 12:59 am

    We still produce rubber right? Everything in this country is stretchable according to their fancies.

    Maybe their England no good, vocabulary very limited. They only know that one word. It is not that four lettered one.

  5. #6 by Noble House on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 3:53 am

    Seditious? How is making that point of two situations somewhat similar even by the greatest stretch of the imagination seditious?

    People in the know tell me that Khalid is most likely an intelligent person to get the job of IGP. Maybe, his act of stupidity is a way of proving just that! For the effort taken really seems to consist in nothing but proving to himself every minute that he is not a piano-key!

  6. #7 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 7:49 am

    It is sedition if someone in umno with a pea brain does not like what she wrote. It is sedition if perkasa Ali says so. It is sedition if you revealed their dirty pockets.

    Lapdogs will always be lapdogs. They charged at anything at the command of their master.

  7. #8 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 9:08 am

    We have an IGP that is emboldened to put his political opinion, clearly unofficial member of Perkasa, in his job because he has a like-minded Home Minister who not only supports but lead the way similarly..

    Its a recipe for eventual tragedies and gross injustice..Likely it is already happening..

  8. #9 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 10:30 am

    Wasn’t Mariam Mokhtar entitled to form her own opinion in a democratic country?

  9. #10 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 11:41 am

    Sometimes I wonder what kind of criteria is used by the BN Govt to select their police chiefs.

    In recent memory, one IGP was castigated by a judge, no less, for lying in court. Remember the case of the 14 year old boy who was shot by the police in Shah Alam a couple of years ago? This present IGP was the Selangor Police chief then and he was on public record as alleging that the boy who was shot dead had a parang in the boot of his car, perhaps suggesting that the shooting was justified because presumably the boy was guilty and deservedly shot as he had a parang. This was never proven.

    And with credibility such as these, he was made IGP?

  10. #11 by sotong on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 5:33 pm

    There is a strong culture of bullying, threat and intimidation……..sometimes leading to voilence.

    You put up with it for a long time and then one day decided you had enough of this uncivilised and unacceptable nonsense, these bullies threaten you with harm.

  11. #12 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 3 December 2013 - 11:12 pm

    Of cos mah, if IGP said U better watch out, U better not cry, Better not pout I’m telling U Y, then U better watch out b4 it’s too late, otherwise, U will truly regret
    IGP is blessed POWER here mah

  12. #13 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 4 December 2013 - 7:59 am

    While we debate on the quality of our IGP, there is no doubt that Malaysia through its slanted education policy is going nowhere. Let us see the latest PISA report: against our main competitors in the Asian Scenario:
    Maths Reading Science
    Shanghai, China 613 570 580
    Singapore 573 545 555
    Hong Kong 561 542 551
    Taiwan 560 538 542
    Korea S 554 536 545
    Macau 538 524 541
    Japan 536 523 532
    Vietnam 511 509 516
    Thailand 427 438 438
    Malaysia 421 424 425
    Indonesia 375 388 382
    Putting aside the countries in the Far East and even Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand have topped us! and soon enough Indonesia will give us run for our system. Say even 20 years ago, we would smile at Thailand, putting aside Vietnam. It is so obvious that our education system has been manipulated for political agenda that can put us at such position! Today even at ASEAN fora, if you close your eyes and listen to speeches in English by the various ASEAN Ministers, you realize how poorly educated are our Ministers not only in English but in substance of the subject of his own Ministry! With such results, will the former PM/Petronas Adviser tell us; that he still expect to get PROTON to evolve to compete even within the ASEAN scenario???

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