Kluang MP admits Pakatan didn’t reform archaic laws, but says never used it against media

Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi speaks to Malay Mail during an interview at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur on July 31, 2018. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi speaks to Malay Mail during an interview at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur on July 31, 2018. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — DAP’s Wong Shu Qi conceded today that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration did not amend outdated laws, particular those on freedom of expression, during its 22 months in power as pointed out by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah yesterday.

However, the Kluang MP also said PH was never as high-handed as the current ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) government in using the same archaic laws against the media to quell dissenting views.

“I want to stress here that it is true Pakatan Harapan did not manage to reform or update all archaic laws in 22 months.

“Yet, we did not use it against the media. In fact, freedom of the media flourished under Pakatan Harapan as evidenced by local and international reports,” she said in a statement in response to Saifuddin.

Wong noted that Saifuddin had been foreign minister during the short-lived PH rule as well as the coalition’s “chief secretary”.

She questioned if his current stance against coalition he had been a part of was to detract public attention from what she claimed to be his past failures.

“Or perhaps he hopes that Malaysians will forget his role as a failed Foreign Minister who pushed for the ratification of ICERD and Rome Statute, which incited a huge public outcry in particular from those whom he is now working together with in Perikatan Nasional,” Wong said, referring to the massive outcry from Umno and PAS which forced Malaysia to reverse its decision on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Rome Statute.

The DAP lawmaker said Saifuddin should be playing a leading role to protect Malaysia’s reputation when wrongly depicted.

Wong said Saifuddin’s actions was indicative of the PN government’s “high-handed” approach towards the media, referring to the use of sedition, defamation and multimedia laws against international news agency Al Jazeera over its 25-minute documentary on the treatment of migrant workers during the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in the country back in March.

“The minister was very clear in his answer in Parliament yesterday, the PN administration used Section 22(1) of the Finas Act 1981 against Al Jazeera because the latter has offended the government. 

“The picture is scary, as the government retaliated against the media using a law which the government themselves admitted is outdated and is in the process of being amended. If anything, this is clearly a form of abuse of power,” she said.

Wong accused Saifuddin of using Malaysia’s health workers, who have been on the frontlines battling the spread of the coronavirus, to mask his doublespeak and “high-handed actions to stifle the media”.

“The truth is, although the government was given a chance to clarify and explain in the said report, it failed to do so,” she said.

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