What would Najib do if five million citizens were to now say “No” to the Sedition Act, wonders J D Lovrenciear.
The Sedition Act is here to stay. Umno members attending their party general assembly broke out in thunderous applause as Najib, their party president announced, “Hence I, as the prime minister, decided that the Sedition Act 1948 will remain.”
Najib’s surprise U-turn on his stand comes on the heels of Khairy’s alarm. when he blazed that “without it (the Act) to protect us, the nation would be in ruins”.
But Najib’s shocking announcement was preceded by a wiser Abdullah Badawi cautioning that “Umno’s power and strength comes from the people’s support. Remember, if the people no longer support us, there is no law on God’s earth that can save Umno from losing power.”
The nation’s 30m citizens, minus Umno’s 3m members, would also take note of what Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said, in reaction to the shocking announcement by Najib.
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As a member of the National Unity Consultative Council that was convened to draft a new bill to replace the draconian law, Mujahid said the Sedition Act also had a low burden of proof and was exposed to misuse as to the meaning of the word sedition.
He added that, in contrast, the proposed National Harmony Act would tighten the burden of proof and offer protection for freedom of speech.
But to what avail? It seems now that Najib has stuck with his mantra of “endless possibilities”.
What is most disturbing is how millions around the globe will perceive all these.
As marketing consultant Jack Trout advocates, “Perceptions are really what make you and break you.” Najib needs to know foremost that he stood for the entire nation, deciding and speaking on behalf of 30m Malaysians on an Umno-platform that boasts only 3m citizens.
A national decision made on a party platform? Should not such a serious decision with far reaching implications and reverberations not have been made in Parliament?
And as we examine the sentiments and arguments postulated at the Umno assembly justifying the need for the resurrection of this draconian act, surely the nation at large will begin to consider Abdullah’s Lah’s caution.
Many will also wonder, what would Najib do if five million citizens agreed to say “No” to the Sedition Act? Would the three million voices of Umno still overrule the majority voice?
The Sedition Act announcement signals loudly that for as long as Umno thinks its enemies are the nation’s own citizens, it would only crippled its hopes for national transformation. And for as long as Umno leaders think that laws alone will protect the party’s relevancy, its members would be duped.
J D Lovrenciear, who resides in Kuala Lumpur, follows aliran.com