Najib, Mobs, and Demonstrations

By G. Krishnan

Umno politicians are good at talking about democracy but time and again, it is blatantly transparent precisely how far they really have to go to even understand what it means – let alone be able to practice it in any meaningful way.

Shockingly, we find the prime minister himself susceptible to this pitiful flaw. The premier says: “Demonstrations will not solve any problems,” seemingly giving credence to the view that such a public protest is “pointless.”

How so revealing is the premier’s perspective. Some might say perhaps he ought to air such comments each time the Umno goons take to the streets to drive home a point or to rebel rouse or intimidate others. The critics are to some extent correct that shockingly, there tends to be deafening silence in such situations.

However, that’s not the basis of my concern. What actually does concern me is the lack of understanding of the imperatives the public’s right to free speech – in all its forms and manifestations. Just because the government is apparently already undertaking a review of the ISA does not there mean that there is no value to a segment of society expressing its voice. The expression of the public’s sentiment is the mother’s milk of democracy. Demonstrations do matter – it is not that they don’t solve anything. That’s not the point. The fact is, public protests are not “for solving problems.” We’re not fools that we don’t know this much.

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