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Stop hijacking the democratic space for discussion


Media Statement
by Chow Kon Yeow

(Penang, Wednesday): In a functioning democracy, it is the right of the people to discuss any issue of importance.

A residents’ association can discuss about a proposed incinerator project in their neighbourhood. Single mothers could meet to talk about career opportunities and maybe better facilities for childcare. In fact, it is impossible to list out what could be taken up as an issue in our country. This is the goodness of democracy.

The mob of protesters who disrupted a forum in Penang on 14 May is the latest example that our democratic space to discuss issues affecting us is being hijacked.

Most frightening is the fact that these “hijackers” are motivated by a seized mentality. Any mention about Islam, Malay or Bumiputera rights, or Chin Peng would drive some into frenzied mood.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz condemned the protest against the forum and described it as “Stupid act!”

Nazri should know better as Parliament is a venue where such “Stupid act!” is played out.

The classic act was one by MP for Jerai who screamed: “This is an Islamic country. If you don’t like it, you can get out” in response to DAP’s assertion that Malaysia is a secular state.

The recent controversy over the documentary film “Lelaki Komunis Terakhir” is another example.

Protesters have not even watched the film but their pressures are strong enough to get the permit to screen the film revoked although the Censorship Board had approved it without cut.

The Inter-Faith Commission, Article 121(1A). NEP, 30% Bumiputera equity, national language are some jargons that can put hijackers into action.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang is concerned that one day, DAP MPs would have to abandon their speeches when these hijackers stage protests outside Parliament.

Finally, the protest had marred the image of Malaysia as it happened on the eve of a five-day Meeting of International Experts on Human Rights in Islam in Kuala Lumpur.

WE call on the government to ensure Malaysians that their human rights to associate and freedom of expression are not compromised.


* Chow Kon Yeow, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Tanjong

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