Malaysians have never enjoyed as much freedom of expression since Merdeka as now, under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas claimed today.
“In the last 16 months, far more space has been given to individuals and critics of the government, and there is no doubt that Malaysia has never had this much democracy from Merdeka days.
“There is a thriving social media which has spent time attacking me for 16 months and yet no one has been prosecuted.
“So, that is the best proof of the space you have,” he said, prompting laughter from the audience.
Thomas said this in his closing speech at the Lawasia Constitutional & Rule of Law Conference 2019, themed ‘Constitutional Government: The Importance of Constitutional Structures and Institutions’.
PH, which took federal power after winning the general election last year, has sought to reform its public institutions and open up space for free speech as one of the constitutional guarantees, even though it has also borne the brunt of backlash.
The coalition, whose members had been hauled up for investigation under the previous Najib administration, is also seeking to restructure archaic laws, including the dreaded Sedition Act 1948.
Repealing the Sedition Act was one of the law reforms promised in the PH election manifesto.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s had in July said that his government is looking into replacing the Sedition Act with new laws.
Thomas, who was appointed attorney-general on June 4 last year, said actions of the three branches of the government since the 14th general election vary.
“As far as legislature is concerned, we do not have as many bills as we would like. It is still work in progress, but it is a five-year term, so I am hopeful.”