Malaysiakini News

Why we speak out on Kartika

Ambiga Sreenevasan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Fair but robust criticism of legal judgments and laws is a wholly acceptable practice. In every democratic state it is a frequent occurrence. It is what makes a system of justice and law-making stronger.

In the past it was largely lawyers at the forefront of such criticisms. However, with the information age and globalisation, there is a rising tide of awareness of such matters amongst the public in Malaysia.

It is heartening to see the public join in the outcry against injustice and unjust laws. It is stimulating to read the arguments for and against a viewpoint, and with this comes the realisation that we should neither take the Malaysian public for granted nor should we underestimate their ability to reason and debate sensibly.

Which is why the lodging of the police reports against JAG (Joint Action Group for Gender Equality) on the Kartika caning issue so disappointing.

I must at once disclose my interest. I am an executive committee member of Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), a JAG member, and I was not present at the press conference on Oct 1 only because I was overseas. Nevertheless, I fully endorse JAG’s stand in relation to the Kartika caning. It was a stand taken after due consideration of all legal and human rights factors and this basis is set out in full in the JAG memorandum of Aug 25.

Those persuaded by these arguments will continue to support them until and unless they are persuaded otherwise, not by threats, but by sound and logical arguments.

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