Get arrested for the right reasons

DECEMBER 11 — One interesting development after the last general election is more Malaysians being ridiculously vocal on social media.

I thought I got more brickbats thrown at me before but angry readers are now chastising me for believing ‘Western propaganda’ about China and sending me emails and Facebook messages.

Malaysians seem to be thinking that they now have carte blanche to say whatever they like online and it’s getting ridiculous.

While arrests for insulting political leaders are rarer now, it doesn’t mean there won’t be a chance for them to happen.

All it takes is a police report or a thin-skinned politician and you could still be in the slammer for calling a politician names.

What’s concerning is the amount of racist discourse that Malaysians think is acceptable on Facebook.

Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence and some of the things I’ve seen on Facebook come dangerously close to crossing the line.

I don’t believe the Sedition Act should exist. But instead, law enforcement should have the discretion in determining speech that is incendiary and inciting violence.

I wish Malaysians would remember that you are not safe from arrest for expressing your opinions on social media.

If you’re going to get arrested, make it worth it. There is no pride in being arrested for childish insults or racist diatribes.

There’s a difference in calling for transparency and justice, for answers and accountability and your rights as a citizen.

If you must call out authority, think: how embarrassed would my child (or hypothetical one) be to see my crime in newspaper headlines?

Free speech is a gift. It is a blessing and it is powerful. Don’t treat that gift poorly lest your words mean little in a time when they would matter most.

If you’re going to jail for saying something, make it something true, something brave and something necessary — not something absolutely stupid. Choose your hill to die on and don’t let it be a dung pit.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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