Wear black to protest Wong’s arrest

As news about the arrest of academic and activist Wong Chin Huat under the Sedition Act continues to filter in, a few things appear clear to me.

Firstly, the initial promise that the new administration under Najib Abdul Razak would be more accepting of criticism and adopt a more ‘liberal’ approach towards political dissent, which was hinted at when he freed two Hindraf activists who were detained under the ISA soon after he took office, has been quickly dashed by this latest act.

It is sad that Wong, one of Malaysia’s most promising young political scientists, currently teaching at Monash University in Sunway, was targeted, most probably because of his activities in advocating for electoral reform under Bersih – just to mention one of his more prominent roles – and specifically because of his role in urging the Malaysian public to wear black in conjunction with tomorrow’s sitting of the Perak state assembly.

Are the actions of a civil society activist and academic so threatening as to warrant his arrest under the Sedition Act?

That Hishammuddin Hussein would allow the arrest of Chin Huat to take place as one of his first acts as the new home minister, most probably with the tacit consent of his cousin Najib, makes this episode even sadder.

Among those who had gathered yesterday at a press conference under the banner of Bersih, Chin Huat was clearly one of the ‘softer’ targets. Arresting one of the MPs at that gathering – Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad (PAS), Sivarasa Rasiah (PKR) or Tony Pua (DAP) – would have created a much bigger public outcry. Instead, a young academic was single out.

Secondly, the notion that there was any semblance of academic freedom, especially in the field of political science, has to be seriously questioned.

Read more at: http://ckcounterpunch.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/wear-black-to-protest-wongs-arrest/