It is an insult to all those who have never resorted to violent means to struggle for their rights and democratic space, writes JD Lovrenciear.
The reckless speed and questionable urgency in rushing through the widely talked about anti-fake news law by Najib’s government – with loyal support from his partners-in-waiting, Pas – raises a fundamental question.
Are Malaysians really a dangerous lot? Are we notorious for throwing out governments every five years through ugly, dangerous and violent acts and through deception?
In these past 13 general elections spanning six decades, did Malaysians march to the polls employing fake news to overthrow their elected government? Did we use molotov cocktails and gunpowder to force politicians to flee?
Every five years, over 13 terms, Malaysians faithfully and peacefully voted the same political party to power. Malaysians have demonstrated that they cherished peace, progress and prosperity through peaceful and honourable means.
But now, this anti-fake news law gives the unmistakable impression that Malaysians are prone to instigation, false news mongering and violence at the least provocation and therefore need to be caged by the fear of an extraordinarily intimidating law with ambiguous powers.
Indeed it is an insult to all the citizens in this country who have never resorted to brutal, violent, bloody means to fight for their rights, beliefs, democratic space and justice.
Despite having diverse roots – from Bugis to Malabar to Indian, Chinese, and what-have-you with equally different religious beliefs and education to boot (East to West, North to South) – we Malaysians have largely lived in peace and harmony. At most, we have taken part or supported peaceful assemblies through Bersih and the Reformasi in recent decades.
Even the controversial May 13, 1969 riots did not turn Malaysians into some underground terrorists plotting against their own nation and people.
So why now this fear of fake news threatening public safety and national security?