PPBM will return freedom of speech if we come to power, Dr M promises

Tun Dr Mahathir Muhammad delivers his speech during the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's first annual general meeting in Shah Alam December 30, 2017. ― Picture by Azneal Ishak
Tun Dr Mahathir Muhammad delivers his speech during the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's first annual general meeting in Shah Alam December 30, 2017. ― Picture by Azneal Ishak

SHAH ALAM, Dec 30 — The public and the media will have their freedom of speech back if Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) take Putrajaya, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pledged today.

The former prime minister-turned-Opposition leader said they will also not direct state apparatus such as the police to investigate their critics and rivals’ speeches and social media posts.

“We will return the freedom of speech of individuals and the media,” the PPBM chairman said during the party’s inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) here.

During his administration, Dr Mahathir was blamed for among others the 1987 Ops Lalang, which was credited with giving the now defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) the reputation of being a “white terror”, after the security law was used to detain 119 people.

His administration had also withdrew the licences of English dailies The Star and Sunday Star, the Chinese language Sin Chew Jit Poh, and the Malay language Watan.

Dr Mahathir added today that if PH takes over Putrajaya, it would also ensure a separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches, and their independence.

He also said that PH will no longer practise blacklisting individuals and companies, while those holding important posts cannot easily be fired without reason.

A PH administration would also have a Registrar of Societies (RoS) that decides on a registration in under two weeks.

Most of PH parties have faced trouble with the RoS, with PH itself still unregistered for months.