End intimidation of activists and respect freedom of expression and thought — Maria Chin Abdullah

JULY 6 — It is disappointing that the Perikatan Nasional government continues to intimidate and arrest activists based on flimsy excuses of differing views.

The police action to investigate Bersih 2.0 chair, Thomas Fann totally erodes our freedom of expression and thought. He is being investigated under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 in relation to a posting on Bersih 2.0 official Facebook page on February 29, 2020, urging citizens unhappy with the betrayal of the people’s mandate brought about by the “Sheraton Move” to attend a protest called “Turun Ke Jalan: Demokrasi Mati” at the Dataran Merdeka that night. There is no need for the investigation and the police should cancel the investigation order against Thomas Fann.

It is disconcerting to note that increasingly other repressive actions have been taken by the police, such as the following:

• The Parlimen Digital, an online initiative by the youth, saw some of its participants hauled up by the police for investigation.

• YB Hannah Yeoh was hauled up for a fake poster which was not created by her but by an unknown person but unfortunately resulted in her taking the brunt of the police investigation.

• Patrick Teoh, 73 years old, was charged for allegedly insulting the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and the Johor royal institution in a Facebook post. He was arrested during the MCO period and subsequently released on bail.

• Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun took a Federal court case against Steven Gan of Malaysiakini for contempt over readers’ comments in a June 9 article.

• And many more cases where freedom of expression have been called into question.

The PN government has certainly backslide on our democratic rights. The intimidations can only be perceived as attempts to reinstate the culture of fear through the use of broadly worded laws to haul activists, ordinary citizens and politicians for their postings on social media. The police as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs seemingly have no qualms in violating our Federal Constitution that protects freedom of speech.

It is therefore imperative that in the coming Parliament sitting that the IPCMC be brought back to be tabled and implemented so that we can have a reformed police force that respect human rights and democracy.

* Maria Chin Abdullah Member of Parliament Petaling Jaya.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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