LETTER

A reply to Umno Youth's challenge to debate

Hiu Woong-Sin

Published
Modified 26 May 2012, 11:12 am

An open reply to Umno Youth’s challenge to a debate published in The Star over my 'heckling' of PM Najib Razak in London:

Dear Khairun Aseh,

There is enough evidence on YouTube to substantiate my act of chanting "Bersih" (during Najib's event in London). I do not know what other evidence you require from me to substantiate what I did.

If you wish to understand what Bersih is all about, there's plenty of information and evidence provided by the organisation's steering committee online.

Rather than debate with me about Bersih wouldn't it make more sense for you to publicly engage with its steering committee? A principled government will engage with civil society groups like Bersih instead of using the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 to suppress civil dissent.

I am aware that my actions have attracted numerous responses through media and social network.

Your challenge to me is but an act of redemption for your president and an act that avoids a loss of face for Umno.

In other words, your challenge is just another public relations stunt for that party and it will not benefit the Malaysian taxpayers who had already paid for the PM's promotional stunt in London

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My actions were grounded on the moral conviction that, in a democracy I am entitled to freedom of expression. I acted upon my obligation as a Malaysian citizen to make reasonable demands for a free and fair electoral system.

The Rakyat are well aware that all legitimate channels for demanding free and fair eections have been exhausted.        

Yet the government continues to use the mainstream media to manipulate the Rakyat in claiming that it has addressed Bersih's demands.

If the government has shown any sincerity in addressing its demands, the political blunder on the amendment to the Election Offences Act would not have happened in the first place.

Needless to say, the government under Najib's watch has again failed to protect the welfare of Malaysian citizens when our heartfelt request for ‘duduk bantah' at Dataran Merdeka was met with extreme police brutality.

The London 02 protest was a legitimate act of citizenship because chanting Bersih was the only way left to get the message across to a prime minister who shies away from dialogue, yet continues to intimidate dissenting voices.

Civil disobedience is a non-violent act of protest and was not intended to insult or humiliate the PM. On the question of what is Malaysian and un-Malaysian, Umno cannot claim it is on a moral high ground on the subject of ethical conduct.        

Ethical conduct involves a fundamental respect for the law, and our conduct at the London O2 did not contravene the legal codes in the UK or even in Malaysia.

We voiced our discontent and it stopped there. Whereas the acts of public humiliation that Umno and Perkasa undertook in mounting personal attacks against other public figures of the opposition, undermines fundamental ethics of political conduct, going as far as invading an individual's right to privacy.       

If such public intimidation can be engineered against public figures, what's going to stop Umno from bullying an ordinary fellow like me?

Democracy allows dissenting voices to be heard and when we express our discontent within the remit of the law, it becomes very undemocratic of Umno to use the machinery of the government to bully individual citizens.        

This clearly contradicts Najib's slogan of ‘Rakyat Didahulukan'. Umno no longer has the moral credentials to have any say about ‘mannerisms'.

After more than five decades in power, the ruling party has choked freedom with the politics of fear. On a final note, Najib offered to speak to me after the event. Hence I do not want to waste my time debating with Umno Youth.

Najib can hide behind Umno Youth; unleash his institutional prowess through the might of youthful minions. But how long is Najib going to hide? The prime minister needs to answer the call of Bersih and to be sincere about this subject.

I am prepared to face the court of public opinion for my conduct, and I leave it to the public to reflect upon the political conduct and aims of Umno Youth for instigating an unwarranted challenge. Thank you for listening to me.

"You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind" – M. Gandhi