Datuk Seri, please do the right thing

By Azrul Mohd Khalib | MMO
September 9, 2014

Datuk Seri Najib Razak, I, like many Malaysians around the country, support your call to repeal the Sedition Act of 1948.

There are periods in history when we are at the right place, at the right time and are called upon to act. To do what our conscience tells us as necessary because only we can. Times like these are few and far in between, when we are called to action to make right that which is wrong, heal that which has been hurt and practise that which we speak of. This is one such opportunity.

The 1948 Sedition Act is a piece of colonial era legislation which was born during a time when our penjajah, the English, intended to suppress dissent, maintain power and continue the oppression and subjugation of the people of Malaya.

It was intended to extinguish the flame of democracy which burned brightly amongst those who yearned for freedom and a better future for everyone in this country. It is an instrument born of fear, insecurity, is against democratic principles and aimed to tyrannise the ruled and to see and treat the rakyat as the enemy. It was used on the people who fought for this country’s independence.

It has been 57 years since the cry of “Merdeka!” rang seven times in the ears of all those present at Stadium Merdeka as tears ran down cheeks during that glorious moment.

How ironic is it that we have been independent for decades but continue to keep and utilise the tools of oppression and tyranny left by our colonial masters more than a century ago? Have we become today’s colonial masters who brook no opposition, no contrarian opinions and no check and balance?

Surely, Malaysia and the Malaysian people deserve better?

How can we call ourselves truly independent and democratic when we allow for the continued existence, use and abuse of such an unjust law against our own people?

Datuk Seri, you know as I do, that nobody is arguing for changes which compromise or threaten the security of the country.

Contrary to what the proponents of this law say and often deliberately misrepresent, Malaysia does not need this law to maintain its security and maintain the harmonious and peaceful existence which is our way of life. It does not make us a better people or a better government. Perkasa described the act as a “weapon” to aim at “traitors.” A weapon certainly does not promote national harmony.

What this Act does is to cultivate a culture and climate of fear, impunity, distrust and oppression where dissent and contrarian opinion are not tolerated or accepted, and even criminalised. Only extremists, people with selfish interests and those who jump at shadows and imaginary enemies or “traitors” will argue for its continued existence.

They are the ones who moan and groan of the inconvenience of democracy and prefer the authoritarian approach where might makes right. Where there is only one way. Their way. They are afraid of change, doubt the maturity of the Malaysian people and do not believe in a different and better Malaysia. They doubt your vision for the country, Datuk Seri.

Two years ago, when you announced the government’s intent and your vision to repeal the Internal Security Act of 1960 and the Sedition Act and later acted on the former, we saw hope of change for the better.

The mere act of being in disagreement or in opposition against the policies and actions of the government should never be considered either a crime or seditious. If a person cares about Malaysia, he or she will talk about both her strengths and weaknesses, warts and all. After all, what is democracy if not the right to stand up, speak out and stand for what you believe in without fear or favour. It is how together we build a better country.

But of late in the past year and these few months, many of us have seen with dismay the exponential vigorous use of a law which has resulted in activists, politicians, journalists and even academics being hauled up, accused and charged with sedition.

Far from being seditious and traitorous, many of them are in fact the very moderates which you speak so highly and are supportive of as being the bulwark against extremism and injustice in this country. They speak out in support or opposition because they care about and love this country. The extremists on the other hand seem to have a freehand, are unaccountable and act without fear and with impunity regardless of the damage, tensions and fear they create and cause.

Datuk Seri, we are concerned that even members of your own Cabinet, as recently as last week, have openly questioned or disputed, directly or indirectly, your vision of a better Malaysia without these laws. They have also tried to undermine the mandate given to the NUCC to help draft the National Harmony Bill to replace the Sedition Act.

A great change is at hand, and you are in the right time and the right place to make this happen, peacefully, constructive and of benefit for all.

The right actions are rarely easy or even popular. But it is the right thing to do. Let’s get rid of the Sedition Act of 1948 and be truly independent in deed and spirit.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Critics say replacement of Sedition Act will be old wine in new bottle – the critics are wrong. THE ENTIRE NAJIB ADMINISTRATION IS OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLE – AND VERY OBVIOUSLY POOR QUALITY BOTTLE AT THAT TOO..

  2. #2 by drngsc on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 - 2:37 pm

    Dear LGE. Why did you apologise to HRH? DAP has done no wrong. You all were merely upholding the Federal and State Constitution. Without the Federal Constitution and Parliamentary democracy, where will we be? We have sacrificed us, on the alter of convenience and expediency. The only thing left for us in Malaysia is the Federal Constitution and Parliamentary Democracy. There is no end to appeasing greedy people. Today it is this. Tomorrow it will be that. I hope that you know what you are doing. You may have to pay dearly for this mistake.
    What you did may also be viewed by PKR as selling them out. PAS has left. We must stand together with PKR to have any chance of taking Putrajaya.
    I believe that you have made a serious error.

  3. #3 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 - 7:26 pm

    A well written piece. And your impassioned plea to Najib to do the right thing rings loud and clear.

    Your voice, like so many others, I am sure are heard by Najib. I am also sure he knows what is the right thing he has to do. But the only problem is, he does not have the courage and will to do it. This could be the best opportunity for him to bestow a lasting legacy on this beautiful nation of ours and be remembered in history as the man who steered this country in the right direction in a time of crisis. Instead, he will be remembered more as the man who duck out of the kitchen when the heat gets too much.
    Winston Churchill had his finest moments guiding Britain through WWII. Deng Xiao Peng took China out of the throes of the Cultural Revolution and set it on its path to the huge economic and soon social success that is the China in the 21st century. And Malaysia? we are regressing. While the US has elected its first African American President and Indonesia has recently elected the first ethnic Chinese and second Christian Governor of Jakarta, Malaysia does not even have anything remotely close. Instead, we throw the Sedition Act at anyone who even brings up any issue on race, religion or royalty.

    • #4 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 - 8:31 pm

      The Tom, Dick and Harry who make you win are the real ones in power. If there is anything to remember, it is all the MH disasters.

  4. #5 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 - 2:19 am

    PR not being a legal entity is not asked to submit 1 name for all : so each component party of PR is requested to submit 3 names- right? PKR & PAS each submits 3 names from their respective parties. Assuming one of PKR’s 3 is Dr Wan Azizah. DAP also submits 3 names including Wan Azizah but making sure the other 2 submitted by it (whether from PAS or PKR) are not names already submitted by PKR and PAS. This means out of 9 names submitted, Wan Azizah’s name is the only one as against the rest that appears twice from all 3 component parties combined. Isn’t it then to be deduced that she is the only one (on paper) that commands ‘confidence’ of majority at least in terms of enjoying 2 nominations in relation to any other name submitted by the 3 parties? Doesn’t that mean DAP holds the decisive vote?

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