Malaysiakini Opinion

Can Malaysians handle freedom of speech?

Zan Azlee  |  Published on  |  Modified on

COMMENT | Pakatan Harapan has made many promises, and as a voter, I will be demanding that they at least make a decent effort to fulfil every one of them. If Harapan leaders think that they have been waiting long for this moment, then the rakyat have been waiting just as long.

However, everyone does realise that this is a period of change and adjustment even if it has been more than four months since the change of government. Even the full cabinet lineup hasn’t been completed yet.

The rakyat have been trying to adjust too, and one of the things that they have been trying to get to grips with is freedom of speech. Although many of the old and archaic laws that stifle freedom of speech still exist, the feeling is totally different now.

It seems that people are no longer afraid to say what is on their minds and this is exactly how society should be progressing. But just being able to say what is on their minds doesn’t mean that they know how to handle this new freedom.

For the most part, things are going smoothly. Remember a few days after the elections? RSN Rayer, the DAP MP for Jelutong, made a stupid remark calling for TV3 to be shut down. Luckily, the party’s senior leaders came out and said the party does not support Rayer’s call.

Freedom of speech should be available across the board and it shouldn’t matter if what is being said is biased or not. It may be true that the previous government didn’t allow for any dissent in the media, but this new government shouldn’t fall into that behaviour either.

Then there was the issue when PKR’s Rafizi Ramli made a statement saying that new Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had made his initial cabinet selection without properly consulting the other component parties....

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