KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — A civil rights group and a DAP lawmaker called today for a stop to the harassment of a female activist advocating for the right to spoil one’s vote in the 14th general election.
National Human Rights Society (Hakam) secretary-general Robyn Choi, in a statement, said the attacks on Maryam Lee were a breach of Lee’s rights to be treated humanely and to freely express her opinions.
She said political disagreements should be addressed through respectful discourse and not through immature or personal attacks.
“Productive public discourse requires us to respect the humanity of our opponents, even if we strongly disagree with their views.
“Everyone is entitled to the protections human rights provide, regardless of their political view,” she said.
Choi said the attacks, especially some with underlying sex-based discrimination, sent a devastating message to politically active young women.
“It says that their voices will be silenced and that they will be ridiculed in the most personal ways, with attackers targeting their sexuality, their bodies and ultimately, their humanity,” she said.
Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said she was appalled at the attacks Lee has been receiving online, adding she could sympathise with the activist as she had also seen her fair share of threats, attacks and fake accusations.
In a statement, the DAP deputy secretary-general said netizens should respect different views, as a democratic society ought to do.
“I urge fellow netizens, particularly the supporters of Pakatan Harapan, to stop all forms of personal attacks and character assassination against her and others in cyberspace.
“We certainly shouldn’t pass any form of misogynist, sexist and humiliating remarks against people who have different opinions from us,” she said.
Kok said while she respected Lee’s freedom of speech and sentiments shared by other proponents of the #UndiRosak social media movement, she claimed that the success of the movement would only “worsen the current situation”.
She stressed on the importance of voting, especially since the upcoming 14th general election would see a stiff competition between the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and federal Opposition pact Pakatan Harapan.
“Refusal to vote or casting spoiled votes will only help either party to win or lose unfairly.
“From the days of Pakatan Rakyat to the present Pakatan Harapan, we have fought valiantly against the passing of bad, indeed evil policies by the BN regime, like the Goods and Services Tax (GST), but our numbers in Parliament were never enough.
“We have fought against the imposition of undemocratic and heinous laws...and we will continue to do so. But only if we have the support of the rakyat,” she said.
Lee’s vocal expression of her views for the loose #UndiRosak campaign has made her a target of many insults and attacks on the internet.
Some have even gone to the extent of manipulating her images found online into sexually explicit ones.