PN pressure comes when Harapan's credibility is at its lowest - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, July 09, 2020
Malaysiakini : “One cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”- Franklin D Roosevelt
| The pressure or harassment of journalists, activists, politicians and
media personalities comes at a time when the opposition is suffering
from a lack of credibility. What
we are witnessing is a Perikatan Nasional government that spooks easily
and an ineffective opposition mired in internal squabbling that has
splintered the base.
Whenever any Pakatan Harapan political
operative attempts to speak out on issues, especially when it comes to
the freedom of the press and the right to assembly, any rational person
would ask what the Harapan government did when they were in power. Only the most disingenuous of partisans would still justify that “Harapan did not have much time”.
The harassment of Boo Su Lyn (below),
for instance, is a prime example of why Harapan cannot credibly attack
the PN government on the issue of press freedom and governmental
The editor-in-chief of CodeBlue wrote her series of articles on what she contends was information that was declassified.She claimed that the then health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad confirmed that the report had been declassified as a state secret. Two
points need to be made. The first is that the Harapan government should
have immediately declassified the report and the second, the former
health minister has still not issued any public statement confirming or
denying Boo's claim.
It seems to me, and maybe to you too, that if
one was a political operative who was interested in freedom of the
press and governmental accountability, one would speak out in public and
confirm or deny the veracity of what a journalist claimed about the
declassification of an independent report. A reader wrote to me,
livid that the state was attempting to crack down on readers’ comments
and was “punishing” news portals because of the rakyat’s right to
comment in the comment section.
Well, forget about whether this
is a “right” or not, but I had to remind the anxious subscriber that
Harapan attempted to do the same. Some folks talk about how the state is going after Malaysiakini for what readers wrote in the comment section but forget that the Harapan regime also attempted to do the same.
people mock PN/BN political operatives for claiming that “people have
raised concerns about the comments on social media”, they are forgetting
that Harapan political operatives have used the same rationale. Under
Harapan, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry considered taking
action against operators of news portals who allowed their subscribers
to leave comments that “touch on racial, religious and royal institution
The former communications minister said: “I have
received many complaints from members of the public who also lamented
that there seemed to be no monitoring by the operators of readers’
comments posted on their portals. “I am considering whether there
is a need to formulate a law on this aspect. It is still under
consideration and has not been brought to the cabinet (meeting) yet.”
This, of course, did not go down well with me. At the time, I wrote:
“Some people have questioned how Harapan is going to police the comment
sections and social media when it comes to this issue? They do not have
to. “What they can do is make enough examples of individuals who
go against this supposed law, expand the type of comments the state
finds unacceptable and Malaysians will fall into line.
news portals will, on their initiative, crack down on what they think
the state finds offensive and subscribers would be penalised, based on
the fear of repercussions from the state.” Isn’t this exactly what
the PN government is doing now? The state security apparatus and
political operatives know that all they have to do is make examples out
of certain personalities and what will happen is that most people will
fall in line.
The fact that Harapan even considered such a legislation is indicative of how spooked certain political operatives are. Because,
while they ignored the racism, bigotry and misogyny that permeate the
social media, they were instead concerned with people posing legitimate
comments that questioned institutions that needed to be reformed. They were concerned that these people were giving ammunition to the then opposition led by Umno/PAS.
of course, am concerned by anyone who is being investigated by the PN
state but I was also concerned when the Harapan state questioned
activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (below).
As reported in the press,
Fadiah explained that the article "Don't kiss the hands that beat you,"
which first appeared on youth group Malaysia Muda's website, was in
relation to an image of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim kissing the hand of
Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar. It would have been
something if the PN government had to circumvent legislation enacted by
Harapan or bypass regulations created by Harapan that protected or
reinforced free speech.
But the reality is that PN is just doing
what Harapan did, but is unencumbered by a “progressive” faction that
would raise any kind of stink about its actions. Notice how the
most vocal members of Harapan who were against certain actions of the
state were also the ones criticising the political apparatus and they
were vilified for it. This is what is extremely frustrating for me about this latest series of provocations by the PN state. I want political operatives who will stand up and when they speak, for their words will carry some weight.
Look, I happen to think that Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil (below) has a lot of potential.
Fadiah was harassed, Fahmi was one of the few political operatives who
showed support and made an argument as to why the intimidation should
stop. And this was against his own government and security apparatus. However, he also said that the media “…should not be free to report false or invalid news”. Fahmi, if you remember correctly, said that the schisms within PKR were the figment of the press’ imagination.
Now, all this is not to say that I disagree with what he said. It’s actually far from it. What
it does mean is that if Harapan ever comes back to power, they should
commit to governmental action that translates to protections of
principles that Harapan claims means something to them.
They should also be honest in the way they deal with the press. The
irony, of course, is that Harapan has many operatives who are familiar
with the system, having been subjected to the excesses of the state or
led careers of activism to reform the system before they become
Life, especially political life, is strange that way.