Young politicians should embrace diverse views

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The filing of police reports against those who have an opposing opinion is silly, time-wasting and against the people’s democratic right to freedom of expression, Mustafa K Anuar writes.

PKR youth vice-chief S  Thiban was recently criticised by many people, including members of his own party, for lodging a police report simply because he disagreed with the views of an academic.

In response to the news that Anwar Ibrahim intended to hold an audience with the Agong over the opposition leader’s claim of having sufficient votes in parliament to replace Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, constitutional expert Shamrahayu Ab Aziz had offered her opinion that constitutionally only the sitting prime minister could meet with the king over such a matter.

Thiban disagreed and filed a police report. This is silly, time-wasting and against the professor’s democratic right to express a differing opinion. He should not have emulated other Malaysians who in the past had lodged police reports for the slightest of reasons, which could possibly distract the police from attending to other serious and urgent matters. This is also a waste of precious resources.

In a sense, his making a police report is a form of censorship of the people’s right to express themselves. This right ought to be respected and adhered to for as long as views expressed do not incite violence and hatred.

Thiban’s negative response is not much different from, say, the authorities’ ban on a book that carries a view inconsistent with that of the status quo.

The use of a sledgehammer is obviously unjust and improper as it could eventually lead to a road favoured by authoritarian leaders.

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It blocks the legitimate and democratic right for an opinion to be discussed in the public domain for the intellectual benefit of others. If an argument is weak or silly, let it fall flat on its face in a rigorous debate, and not through government fiat. Also, this would serve as a useful learning process for others, especially the young.

As a young politician, Thiban should be open to civilised discourse and not be inclined to short-circuit an argument – for this does not encourage the development of an intellectual tradition that a modern democracy aspires to.

Furthermore, certain seasoned politicians who resort to heckling or profanity when not able to handle an argument in the Dewan Rakyat should not be role models for the young.

Besides, an attempt to criminalise an opinion not consonant with one’s stand suggests an intellectual laziness or incapacity that is unbecoming of any politician worth his or her salt.

Democracy is often noisy with various views jostling for attention in a public space. But it is a nagging necessity, nonetheless, because it is inclusive of the concerns of various stakeholders as well as informs public policies.

Allowing citizens to participate in discourses is vital for the vibrancy of democracy, especially when it is acknowledged that the government no longer knows best. This is especially so in a political culture where certain politicians have an inclination to dupe the unsuspecting electorate.

If the future of the country lies in the hands of the youth, it is most desirable that young political leaders are adept at robust intellectual engagement.

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Source: The Malaysian Insight

PKR youth vice-chief S  Thiban was recently criticised by many people, including members of his own party, for lodging a police report simply because he disagreed with the views of an academic.

In response to the news that Anwar Ibrahim intended to hold an audience with the Agong over the opposition leader’s claim of having sufficient votes in parliament to replace Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, constitutional expert Shamrahayu Ab Aziz had offered her opinion that constitutionally only the sitting prime minister could meet with the king over such a matter.

Thiban disagreed and filed a police report. This is silly, time-wasting and against the professor’s democratic right to express a differing opinion. He should not have emulated other Malaysians who in the past had lodged police reports for the slightest of reasons, which could possibly distract the police from attending to other serious and urgent matters. This is also a waste of precious resources.

In a sense, his making a police report is a form of censorship of the people’s right to express themselves. This right ought to be respected and adhered to for as long as views expressed do not incite violence and hatred.

Thiban’s negative response is not much different from, say, the authorities’ ban on a book that carries a view inconsistent with that of the status quo.

The use of a sledgehammer is obviously unjust and improper as it could eventually lead to a road favoured by authoritarian leaders.

It blocks the legitimate and democratic right for an opinion to be discussed in the public domain for the intellectual benefit of others. If an argument is weak or silly, let it fall flat on its face in a rigorous debate, and not through government fiat. Also, this would serve as a useful learning process for others, especially the young.

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As a young politician, Thiban should be open to civilised discourse and not be inclined to short-circuit an argument – for this does not encourage the development of an intellectual tradition that a modern democracy aspires to.

Furthermore, certain seasoned politicians who resort to heckling or profanity when not able to handle an argument in the Dewan Rakyat should not be role models for the young.

Besides, an attempt to criminalise an opinion not consonant with one’s stand suggests an intellectual laziness or incapacity that is unbecoming of any politician worth his or her salt.

Democracy is often noisy with various views jostling for attention in a public space. But it is a nagging necessity, nonetheless, because it is inclusive of the concerns of various stakeholders as well as informs public policies.

Allowing citizens to participate in discourses is vital for the vibrancy of democracy, especially when it is acknowledged that the government no longer knows best. This is especially so in a political culture where certain politicians have an inclination to dupe the unsuspecting electorate.

If the future of the country lies in the hands of the youth, it is most desirable that young political leaders are adept at robust intellectual engagement.

Source: themalaysianinsight.com

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