COMMENT | There are many reasons as to why I did not vote for Barisan Nasional in the last general election. One of the main reasons is that I felt it did not provide a safe environment for me and my fellow Malaysians to be able to express our thoughts, discuss and have proper discourse.
Every time we wanted to raise questions related to issues that are communal and social, we had to think three, four or maybe a dozen times if it would be deemed too ‘sensitive’ that it would put us in trouble. We all know what I mean. If something were to offend someone in power, that’s it.
There is really nothing we can do about it because the practice was made systematic when laws were created vague enough so that almost anything and everything can be considered an offence. Case in point would be the Sedition Act. It is so vague and subjective that anyone can interpret it differently.
We saw so many people being detained by the authorities for saying things that many don’t even find offensive at all. Journalists and editors were hauled up and interrogated for doing their jobs questioning government practices. Normal citizens get detained for expressing their feelings on social media.
It didn’t matter if it was hate speech or just healthy discourse. If the authorities didn’t like it and felt it was offensive, they can define it as that. So much so that people were literally self-censoring themselves very stringently. It was better to be safe rather than be sorry, and this killed off our spirit.
And so after decades and decades of fighting this oppression, we finally succeeded in discarding the people who had put these laws in place. We voted in a government that had promised us freedom of expression and speech. We could now create an environment where we can express our grouses and play a role in our country’s governance.
These same people we voted in have even been on the receiving end of the oppression so they must know. They even promised us that they would repeal these laws when they came into power. In the meantime, they put in place a moratorium on the enforcement of these laws.
Everything seemed fine. Some Malaysians started criticising the new (old) prime minister and people started saying that this was inappropriate. The old man stayed true and said that it’s okay to be criticised and that it came with the territory of being a politician and serving the people. No action was taken against them, and rightfully so...