Freedom of speech in Malaysia now means being intimidated by the police

Murray Hunter

Today, a human rights activist Shashi Kumar was told by the police at Shah Alam that he is being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code related to international insult and provocation of public peace, Section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act, related to abuse of internet facilities, and Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act, related to insulting behaviour. The police are investigating Shashi on the basis of the Tik Tok video above.

Shashi criticized prime minister Anwar Ibrahim’s conversion of an Indian youth to Islam at a mosque he visited last Sunday. After listening to the video, I heard the arguments that Sashi had made, previously in the media over the last few days. There was nothing new and nothing rude, just an expression of opinion.

Lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan and Sashi Kumar outside Shah Alam Police Station this morning.

Sashi also went into a very serious issue that many within the non-Muslim, in particular the Tamil Indian community is very concerned about. That is children being converted to Islam without the knowledge of one parent.

This is a matter of importance, which needs discussion, and some form of resolution, to protect the rights of both parents having a say on their children.

What was alarming is the police wanted to confiscate Shashi’s mobile phone when he visited the police station yesterday. There is no guarantee he would get it back, and why in this advanced IT age can’t the police copy the data onto a hard-drive. This is just blatant intimidation.

This is not a religious issue, it’s an issue about parents’ rights.

Malaysia is starting to see those who criticize the prime minister and policy, are subjected to harassment and intimidation. This is a direct affront to the basic human rights of Malaysians. Shashi is not the only activist called to Bukit Aman. Activist Arun Dorasamy was also called.

Sarawak social activist Peter John Jaban has said in a Global Human Rights Federation Malaysia (GHRF) media statement that “Our PM needs to accept the critique and address it. That is the nature of public service. He needs to remember that he represents his office. He represents Malaysia as a nation, …”

Bukit Aman should not become the Gestapo headquarters for Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and Media and Multi-communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil. Malaysia should not become a nation where people fear to talk.