Stop the witch hunt, protect freedom of expression

The #Lawan movement, organised by SSR

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Suaram refers to the news report yesterday of a farmer charged with allegedly circulating WhatsApp messages surrounding the Forest City casino discussions.

This is a witch hunt with the sole aim of cracking down on discourse that tarnishes the government’s reputation in the eyes of the public.

Through such systematic targeting of members of the public, it could not be more blatant that the government has completely failed in upholding not only the fundamental right to freedom of expression but also the supreme law of the land, the Federal Constitution, which enshrines this fundamental right.

In the process, the state incites further self-censorship and fear among the greater populace, effectively curtailing public participation in nation-building.

While police resources that are already limited are wasted, we also see streaks of authoritarian policing at play. The police are deployed by the state to serve its interests instead of those of the public through the arbitrary application of draconian laws for which it cannot be held accountable.

Such a systematic crackdown is unfortunately not new. In fact, this tactic was employed by the Perikatan Nasional administration to clamp down on public dissent: both the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act were used to investigate 14 activists for their plans to organise the #Lawan rally in 2021.

Freedom of expression has thus regressed to levels seen during the pandemic. This is also highly concerning, as it can set a precedent for increasingly draconian measures by the state against the public in the name of “restoring order” or “upholding truth”.

READ MORE:  Threat to freedom of expression: Rise of fascism?

We are a democratic nation, not an authoritarian regime. Stop this farcical crackdown immediately and we repeat, repeal the Sedition Act. – Suaram 

 Sevan Doraisamy is the executive director of Suaram

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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