Home Coalitions Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia Suppressing Malaysians’ freedom of speech undermines sovereignty

Suppressing Malaysians’ freedom of speech undermines sovereignty

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Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) supports Inspector General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador’s statement that he will not tolerate police intimidation of activists and he will look at the claims by two activists that they were intimidated by the police over events held in solidarity with participants in Hong Kong who protested against a proposed extradition law.

We also applaud the inspector general’s affirmation that the police respect freedom of speech. He has shown to fellow Malaysians that he is a patriot who upholds the Federal Constitution by respecting freedom of speech as enshrined in Article 10(1).

GBM believes that it is the right of every citizen to voice their opinions publicly on national or international issues (be it concerning the grave injustices in Hong Kong, Xinjiang or Palestine or towards the Rohingyas) without fear of intimidation by the government.

While we understand that the government must be more constrained in its response to international affairs for diplomatic reasons, we affirm that citizens must face no such constraints in voicing our opinions on international affairs in a peaceful manner.

We call upon the Pakatan Harapan government not to follow the Barisan Nasional government’s practice of intimidating activists who organise public events that were deemed “contrary to national interests”.

We recall the case of Lena Hendry, who was persecuted and found guilty of screening a film without approval. The film screened was a documentary on the civil war in Sri Lanka, and it was believed that the prosecution against Lena Hendry was carried out to placate a foreign government.

We do not wish to see a repeat of such a shameful episode in the new Malaysia. That episode was deeply unpatriotic and an affront to the Federal Constitution. In addition, it also limits the government’s space for diplomatic manoeuvring and undermines the country’s sovereignty.

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To appease one foreign government on an issue will lead to a situation where all foreign powers must be appeased on all issues – which would make Malaysia a follower in the international arena.

GBM calls upon the Pakatan Harapan government to reaffirm its commitment to freedom of speech by leaving no stone unturned in its investigation on the above claims of police intimidation and to mete out disciplinary action on those found guilty of such abuse of power.

We also call upon the government to redouble its efforts in repealing those laws that stifle freedom of speech in the country.

Zaid Kamaruddin is chairman of Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM). He released this statement on behalf of the endorsing member organisations of GBM:

  1. All Women’s Action Society (Awam
  2. Engage
  3. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
  4. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
  5. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami)
  6. LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG
  7. Monsoons Malaysia (MM)
  8. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
  9. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
  10. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
  11. Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram)
  12. Pusat Komas
  13. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  14. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  15. Tamil Foundation (TF)
  16. Tindak Malaysia (TM)
  17. United Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM)
  18. University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany)
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