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Requiem for freedom of speech

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When a group assumes to have the absolute truth or denies the people access to the truth, it will invariably abolish freedom of speech, warns Abdul Rashid Hanafi.

We are “created with certain inalienable rights” and foremost among our inalienable rights is the freedom of conscience which cannot exist without the freedom of speech.

People are free to believe what they want, and criticise and comment when they perceive necessary to do so. This is the foundation of freedom.

Freedom of speech never harms anyone. It is absurd to think that I will do you a favour if I gag you and suffocate your voice. This is very strange logic.

The purpose of freedom of speech is to allow everyone to express their views without the fear of threats of persecution, prosecution, or losing their lives over it.

Where freedom of speech is denied, speculations and rumours spread and evils take root. When a leader or a group assumes to have the absolute truth or denies the people access to the truth, it abolishes the freedom of speech.

Those who inhabit the corridors of authority hold the power of censorship to filter information they deem unsavoury. THey assume there is nothing anyone can teach them. They are intolerant of dissent and feel threatened by opposition and are hell-bent on eliminating it.

In order to rule. despotic leaders resort to perpetuating ignorance among the people to make them side with the leadership. With ignorance and the stifling of dissent. nothing can make the ignorant rally around them more than conjuring up a common enemy that allegedly threatens the peace and security of the nation.

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Where everyone is free to express his or her views, different ideas collide. From this collision the
spark of the truth is kindled. The truth is the truth, and it is neither relative nor subjective as some
people make it sound. Our laws are enshrined with all the cardinal points of various individual freedoms, of which the greatest of all is the freedom of expression (with responsibility of course).

We are in a totally different context now, and the world around us is changing. Unless we are willing to throw the old templates away, we are going to perpetuate the same directions and leadership styles that have not succeded.

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