Playing the same game with hate speech laws

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"They are urged to take practical steps, not just make statements that result in nothing."

- Kerk Chee Yee

COMMENT | DAP's Malacca state executive councillor Kerk Chee Yee posed a challenge to Umno and MCA to disavow comments made by a PAS political operative to end vernacular schools.

I have no idea what “practical steps” that could be taken by MCA and Umno beyond their usual pusillanimous rhetoric when it comes to the extremism of the far right, but I do think that Pakatan Harapan is in no position to lecture anyone on “practical steps”.

My opinion on Harapan’s desire or, should that be a threat, to enact hate speech laws is a matter of public record. I am against such initiatives. Here is the thing, though. Harapan likes to talk about how this is a new Malaysia, but what the ruling coalition always ends up doing is playing the same game as it did when it was in the opposition.

The comment by Kerk, for instance, demonstrates that Harapan parties are not really interested in their own ideas about what constitutes “hate speech” but would rather “challenge” all and sundry because it makes them look good to their base.

The extreme rhetoric of the far right then becomes a useful tool for Harapan to further deflect from legitimate questions about their competency - and an opportunity for the already toxic race relations in this country to further muddy the waters when it comes to public policy.

While I oppose on principle any attempts to further curb free speech in this country, what I want to know is how committed Harapan is to hate speech laws...

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