HARASSMENT OF ACTIVISTS CREATING ANGER AND DISTRUST TOWARDS THE GOVERNMENT

HARASSMENT OF ACTIVISTS CREATING ANGER AND DISTRUST TOWARDS THE GOVERNMENT


The investigation into Citizens Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (Caged) spokesperson Rama Ramanathan under Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications of Multimedia Act over an article is yet another example of an activist being silenced by the authorities.

Yesterday, Mr Rama was questioned for over an hour by the police and later at night, it was reported that police had entered his apartment without a warrant and taken away some of his belongings including his laptop and phone.

The investigation follows the arrest of another activist Jufazli Shi Ahmad, whose arrest itself is being investigated over the possibility of being made without a warrant.

Despite the change in Government last year, cases against activists for making remarks have not ceased. These include cases against Suaram executive director Seven Doraisamy, preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, lawyer Fadiah Fikri, human rights activists Herinza Syaza, Joanna Jaafar, Thilaga, Numan Afifi and Mohammad Alshatri.

If left unchecked, these cases will only become more frequent and will be meant to silence the voices of our citizens and members of the media.

Of late, there has been growing dissatisfaction with the Government over the slow repeal of draconian legislation, while ordinary citizens continue to face charges under these laws.

These investigations have put the Pakatan Harapan Government in a bad light especially as the Government has come to power on the hope that after over 60 years of independence, Malaysians will be allowed to enjoy greater freedom of expression. Inability to take swift action to prevent this is destroying the trust between Pakatan Harapan and the people.

The Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police must enforce strict guidelines for authorities so that they act with restraint when conducting investigations.

The Parliamentary Select Committee for Consideration of Bills can carry out a fast but thorough examination of the Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill as soon as possible so that we can finally implement the check and balance needed to monitor the powers of the police force. The Bill must be ready to be passed by the next sitting.