Only time will tell whether we, the Rakyat, really dare to assert our constitutional right to peaceful assembly, to voice our disgust at how our nation’s coffers are being pillaged, writes Turtle Shell.
Clare Rewcastle Brown is being circumspect in her comments aired over Aljazeera’s Inside Story about the National Security Council Act. She just asserts that it is meant to protect “a Malaysian”.
Of course, those of us who have been following developments in Malaysia with keen interest know who is the “A Malaysian” she is referring to. Since A Malaysian already goes by so many other pseudonyms like Malaysian Official No. 1, B1 etc, I will use AM to refer to him here.
Clare pointedly noted that countries like France and Belgium, which have borne the brunt of recent terror attacks by extremist Islamic groups, have not enacted laws that enabled their security forces to kill with impunity, bulldoze buildings, detain suspects indefinitely without warrants of arrest, and impose curfews.
Such or similar powers appear to have been provided for under the National Security Council Act. This is really telling as to the mindset of those who drafted this security bill and whatever ulterior motives they have in mind. As I hear Clare speak of those aspects she finds repugnant in this new security law, I can’t help but think of how our security units would be able to act with impunity if or when the order is given.
Eric Paulsen gave his take on why quite a few Muslims are willing to take up the Islamic State’s call for militant action: to them it is like being given a one way ticket to heaven. I am not sure if it is too simplistic an explanation but when viewed against the backdrop of supposedly educated Muslims going to Syria/Iraq to fight with IS, I suspect there is at least an element of truth in it.
The other panelist, Wan Saiful alluded to our government’s ambivalent response to Islamic extremism – on the one hand, wanting to be seen as the protector of the faith in our mainly Muslim country while on the other, realising the need to nip radicalism in the bud.
The bottom line, all the panelists seemed to feel there are enough laws in our country to counter the militant threats. The National Security Council Bill was rushed through Parliament and came into force as law on 1 August, even without royal consent (no thanks to an amendment to our constitution put into place by an ex-dictator).
We will see how AM uses this card in the coming days as Bersih 2.0 has called for a rally to push for accountability in the 1MDB fiasco. The IGP has already drawn the line, insisting that the proposed Bersih 5 rally should only be about free and fair elections. It is not rocket science to see that the IGP’s precondition could be used by the security authorities to declare Bersih 5 illegal.
Whither the Rakyat? Will we continued to be cowed into submission? I don’t know, and only time will tell whether we, the Rakyat, really dare to assert our constitutional right to peaceful assembly, to voice our disgust at how our nation’s coffers are being pillaged, while the institutions of state and those who helm them stand idly by – or worse, clear those ultimately responsible.
Turtle Shell is the pseudonym of a regular reader of Aliran.