Why politicians should not feel insulted

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Photograph by Geralt/Pixabay

Aliran is shocked that a retiree was fined RM2,000 by a Sessions Court recently for having insulted Health Minister Adham Baba. And the former is to serve a month’s imprisonment if he fails to pay the fine.

The retiree made the ‘insulting’ remark in his Facebook account “with the intention to hurt others”.

It is surmised that the “others” included someone in the Ministry of Health who read the comment, which the judge noted was not malicious or overboard,

It is ridiculous that action was taken simply because a comment has ‘insulted’ others. We do not know what the comment was in this case. But comments that do not incite hate, threaten personal safety or cause hurt or damage should be allowed in a mature democracy.

If valid public comments about public officials and politicians are criminalised, it would set a dangerous precedent.

Politicians must be willing to listen to the differing views of the public, irrespective of whether they agree with the views. We cannot allow for a situation where politicians are shielded from valid public criticisms of their actions and the policies they make.

People have a democratic right to hold political leaders to account for their actions, especially when what they do and say insults the intelligence of ordinary Malaysians.

Would Malaysians, by virtue of this warped logic, have the right to sue any politician who has insulted their intelligence, like offering a lukewarm solution to a serious pandemic?

People have the right to criticise public officials and politicians, even if such criticism is scathing. Politicians who cannot take the heat should just vacate their public office and preferably stay away from politics altogether.

Criminalising comments and criticisms is a crass form of censorship that a democracy can do without.

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Aliran executive committee
5 July 2020

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Lim Siew Lan
Lim Siew Lan
6 Jul 2020 9.59am

Sick to its core how could a civillain be slapped a fine of Rm2k or a month’s imprisonment for having been deemed for “insulting” the cycnical minisrer Datuk Dr Adham Baba. So my comment is now deemed as an insult too in thisendless stupidity society that is now govrrned by gangsterism behaviours and,gangsters ways and gangsters mentality by gangsters.

Unbelieveable judhes must have been sleepung on their job !

Teo Chuen Tick
6 Jul 2020 6.19am

Malaysiakini is helping the government to do censorship by banning words like ‘moron’, ‘eunuch’ and ‘as*min’ in comments.
 “with the intention to hurt others” – my god! Perhaps I should be grateful to the mkini editors for this is the new normal under this backdoor govt.[wonder whose feeling I will be hurting here?]
But , if even Mkini is getting afraid of its shadows, freedom of expression is no longer a constitutional right.