The Malaysian Politics

The extend to how brilliant the Malaysian government is, continues to surprise me.

I say, yes, there are the dirts and corruption going on, but how our government has managed to make everything turn into their advantage is brilliant. They must have hired a top public relations agent.

The recent rallies and protests that has been going on in Malaysia, by both BERSIH (a NGO) and the government might be a starting point to changes in our country. This year has been revolutionary around the world. Middle eastern countries fight against their government and gained solidarity. For Malaysia, this might be a start to something.

For those don’t know what’s going on in Malaysia currently, here’s some basic facts.

BERSIH (translated: clean) – is a NGO formed by lawyers to negotiate with the government to form a better election committee. It does not rally against the government.

However, when all this first started out, it was quite a mess. The government claimed that BERSIH was rallying against the government, and banned all street protests. This, according to the Constitution of Malaysia is illegal. But, in fact, BERSIH was calling for a better election committee, not rallying against the government. According to Article 10, Malaysian citizens have the right of free speech, and to rally.

Days later, the government went on a protest on the Penang bridge, causing a halt to traffic, and vandalizing the bridge. I called this outrageous. How could the government go against its own words? And this is where it becomes more… surprising.

One fine morning, I decided to read the Constitution of Malaysia, specifically Article 10 – Freedom of Speech.

In reading it, I discovered more things that I couldn’t comprehend.

  • Public Order (Preservation) Act 1958 – Minister may temporarily declare any area where public order is seriously disturbed or threatened to be a “proclaimed area” for a period of up to one month.

According to this Act, it can be very biased to those who participates in peaceful rallies. Anything can turn into chaos within moments. And also, why wasn’t this act put in place when May 13, 1969 happened?

  • Police Act 1967 – criminalises the gathering of three or more people in a public space without license.

Again, this happened before the May 13, 1969, why wasn’t it put into use to stop what was going to happen then? Of course, I do not see how it would be applicable in today’s society. Therefore, why wasn’t any amendments made?

  • Printing Presses & Publications Act 1984 – Home Affairs Minister has “absolute discretion” in the granting and revoking of publishing permits.

And this, tightens our freedom of speech. Everything is too vague in all these acts, in fact, the whole Article 10. Nothing has been defined. The courts, the judges, the lawyers, can twist all words into their own advantage then. I do understand why this act came into place. It’s because of the multiracial background that we have.

After suggestions by UN activists, peaceful protests by Malaysians in other countries, the government, which initially banned the street rally by BERSIH that was scheduled to be on July 9, agreed to talk to BERSIH.

I hope something good comes out from this talk.

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