Most thinking Malaysians are getting increasingly concerned with the rapid pace of sedition charges levelled at well-known and well-meaning Malaysian personalities and intellectuals.
At the same time there is considerable anxiety over the relative indifference and excessive tolerance shown to some obvious violators of the very open and loosely worded current Sedition Act, which deeds urgent revision or replacement
We therefore hope that the attorney-general (AG) and the police will exercise more care to ensure that the growing public perception of practicing double standards and selective justice will be addressed as a matter of high priority?
If honest opinions expressed in the interests of public debate and intellectual discussion on national policies and their proper implementation can be discouraged and even curtailed too harshly, then where and how is democracy to grow and mature in Malaysia ?
We have been urged to think out of the box, innovate and give feedback to the government and to help transform the economy and indeed our beloved country.
But how will this structural change be possible if honest dialogue is apparently stifled by the heavy handed use of the powerful Sedition Act?
We may actually be using a hammer to hurt a fly? Judging from the Internet discourse, the public reaction to these rising cases of sedition charges are becoming very critical and caustic!
This is not healthy for the peaceful harmonious and socio-economic development of our nation.
The international community - particularly our real friends and foreign investors will not be encouraged by this wide and strong restrain on our basic needs and human rights.
It is therefore comforting that the AG is reviewing all these sedition cases.
In the meantime , I have the following proposals to make:
1. Can there be a moratorium on sedition charging?
2. Could the National Unity Consultative Council's proposed Harmony Bills be given greater priority for tabling in Parliament?
3. Would the AG please review rapidly the present sedition cases, with a view to withdrawing the charges which appear to be weak ?
This new sedition charging spree will have to be better managed. Otherwise I can envisage a large number of Malaysians who may want to test the system with spurious seditious statements and allegations that will make it very difficult for the hard-working authorities to keep up with charging many more Malaysians with sedition.
If this kind of silent protest is posed by the silent majority, the credibility and confidence in good governance can be jeopardised and we will all become uncertain and unhappy.
On the contrary, we all want to be happy, peaceful, progressive and united Malaysians.
Let’s resolve to be more democratic and to celebrate A Very Happy 51st Malaysia Day!
RAMON NAVARATNAM is chairperson of the Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies.