Ramasamy attacks Mahathir for his anti-Semitic statements

(MMO) – Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy said the “freedom of speech” argument should never be invoked to defend hate and extremism, especially in Malaysia.

He said doing so will have dire implications for a multi-racial and multi-religious country like Malaysia, as freedom of speech cannot be used to deny freedom to others.

He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had defended his anti-Semitic remarks recently at Columbia University, New York with the excuse of “freedom of speech”.

“Perhaps countries that are democratic and vibrant are in a position to put up with or tolerate speeches that are xenophobic in nature,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook.

He questioned Dr Mahathir if Malaysia is in a position to take the stand adopted by Columbia University in allowing him to make unsavoury anti-Semitic remarks at the university.

University president Lee Bollinger reportedly told students who were opposed to Dr Mahathir giving his speech that they must be prepared to face difficult situations and not shy away from them.

“Is free speech or unrestricted speech a defence against unsavoury or racist remarks about ethnic or religious groups?” Ramasamy asked.

He said the consequences will be unimaginable if Malaysia were to allow people to engage in hate and extremism based on “freedom of speech”.

“Perhaps Mahathir is fully aware of the mechanical invocation of freedom of speech that might have dire implications not just in Malaysia that but in some other countries as well,” he said.

He stressed that there is no absolute freedom of speech anywhere, even in mature democracies.

“Just imagine what will happen if fugitive Dr Zakir Naik is given the absolute freedom of speech in this country?” he asked.