Yesterday there was a peaceful gathering in Penang at a Speaker’s Square. It was a gathering protesting the Sedition Act in Malaysia, which has be awfully misused by the authorities. (A reporter was arrested under the Act for merely reporting and quoting a seditious statement a politician said, however no action was taken towards the politician; a well-respected professor and columnist Azmi Sharom, recognised for his open and forthright views about major problems in the country, received a phone call from the Malay Mail, a popular right-wing tabloid, requesting his academic opinion on a political crisis in Malaysia. Weeks later, he too was arrested but not the reporter… I can go on and on about how they are using that Act to arrest anyone who questions the government.)
According to sources, buses load of ‘pro-Sedition Act supporters’ came to counter protest the anti-Sedition Act gathering, heckling the coordinator’s speech and harassing the anti-Sedition Act activists. The pro-Sedition Act supporters even mobbed and chased away a British couple who happened to walk past by the area, calling them ‘Jews’. The police only stepped in much later.
Now I happen to know this couple. They are human rights activist themselves and are great supporters of the bookshop I work in, and they are just the nicest people ever. I don’t know if the husband is Jewish, but the wife is British-Indian. But in any case, what does it matter? What’s that got to do with the anti-Sedition Act gathering? I feel sorry for them that they had to go through that ordeal.
These so-called ‘right-wing supporters’ who reportedly came from Kedah and Perak (neighbouring states) are no different to Hitler’s brownshirts in the Weimar Republic. All people want to do is have a peaceful gathering for an Act that they disagree with, but right-wing thugs (yes, I said thugs) respond with violence, hostility and by creating fear (I mean, look at the big guy in the [literally] brown shirt!). Malaysia is heading down a slippery road of resembling a Fascist state. Is this really where we want to be heading? What happened to freedom of speech?
(PS: I really hate that they used ethnicised insults like ‘Jews’. A person is a person, no matter what. All deserving the same rights and respect as it should be. Having a different skin colour doesn’t make you are more superior/inferior that the rest of us.)
Tumblrian, please help spread the word. The world needs to know about such injustice and bullying.