Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedom Of Speech

The right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous human-rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Right

In Malaysia, Article 10 (1) Federal Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, the right to assemble peacefully and the right to form associations to every Malaysian citizen.

Of all the people, I would believed a senior lawyer and statesman should be the one who are in the know of these provisions. However I am sad to see a news report of statements made by him which suggested that such guaranteed fundamental right does not apply "in toto" to all. Some people are just not allowed to criticize and speak of their mind.

Mahathir should stop criticising Abdullah, says Karpal
The Star 12th April 2008
PETALING JAYA: There is no political mystery for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to solve and his services are definitely not needed to criticise the Government, DAP adviser Karpal Singh said.Responding to a letter in The Star by Dr Mahathir yesterday, Karpal Singh said there was no question of any conspiracy by the DAP or Pakatan Rakyat, as alluded to by Dr Mahathir.Dr Mahathir had said that the DAP wanted him to stop criticising Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi so that the Opposition could continue to capitalise on Abdullah’s apparent weakness in the next general election.However, Karpal Singh said he and Lim Kit Siang had not spared the Government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, including his ministers, from sometimes scathing criticism over policies undertaken by them.“I repeat once again, Dr Mahathir should not drag himself further into the political mud by trying to resurrect his political career. It is too late,” Karpal Singh said. “Dr Mahathir should accept reality and let his successor carry out the mandate secured in the recent election.“The Opposition, in the form of 82 MPs, is more than enough to keep the Government in check. Dr Mahathir is not needed for that purpose,” he said.
Read more of the above story here

Nevertheless, it seems now that a political party, which has been labelled as undemocratic and led by authoritarians and dictators all the while, is singing a different tune. I for one see this as a positive sign and good progress.

No gag order, says Najib
The Star 12th April 2008By SIMON KHOO

PEKAN: Umno will not issue gag order on its leaders expressing views as it shows democracy is alive in the party, deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.He said the party would continue to allow Umno division leaders to speak out in the open on issues close to their hearts."What is important now is to provide an avenue to the grassroots to express their views in an open and sincere manner."We will then leave it to the party's leadership particularly Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to come up with the best measures to reform the party and regain the people's trust," he said Saturday after launching the fish protech aquaculture project in Kuala Pahang here. Read more about it here

If you believe in freedom of expression and objected to such authoritarian act as seen in the past in the form of "Ops Lalang" etc. you therefore should not practice a selective application of the same. If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech even for views you don't like. If we don't believe in free expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

As said by Voltaire " I may not agree to what you say, but I'll defend to death your rights to say it". All of us, practising lawyers in particular, who have sworn to uphold the constitution and duty bound to protect the rule of law, should subscribed to the said saying, without qualification.

Again if I may hereby reiterate, to all Malaysian politician, please "walk the talk" and don't just "wag the dog"!

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