Aliran condemns the mob disruption of an exhibition by political cartoonist Zunar that has severely violated his basic right to freedom of expression.
What is alarming is that the mob was able to act with impunity despite the presence of police personnel including the light strike force.
While we appreciate that the police protected Zunar from personal harm, they should have done more to apprehend the trouble-makers and prevent the disturbance of public order. These thugs did not have any court order or legal right to stop Zunar from holding his exhibition.
The mob action against Zunar comes a day after another small mob tried to attack member of Parliament Khalid Samad as he tried to enter Parliament.
Again, although security personnel protected Khalid from any personal harm, many felt they could have done more to prevent the unruly mob from getting anywhere near Khalid – especially in the premises of Parliament – in the first place.
Although Prime Minister Najib said he viewed “with seriousness the incident at Parliament … and any elements of violence against MPs”, this does not go far enough. He must find out why these mob elements feel so emboldened to think they can take the law into their own hands and act with impunity.
Why is it these thugs do not seem afraid of the long arm of the law, which is so quick to act against peaceful activists? In the case of the incident in Penang, these thugs did not seem bothered that the police were present while they disrupted Zunar’s exhibition.
The inspector general of police should make it clear that the police will take clear and decisive action to prevent such mob behaviour and not just act after the fact.
The rule of law must be upheld. We cannot afford to descend into mob rule and lawlessness.
Aliran executive committee
25 November 2016