Investigations into several activists and the delay in repealing oppressive laws are putting the Pakatan Harapan government in a bad light, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said.
The former activist with Empower and Bersih 2.0 said there was already “growing dissatisfaction” with the government over its failure to keep its promise to repeal draconian laws, and even worse, its using these same laws against ordinary citizens.
“These investigations have put the Pakatan Harapan Government in a bad light as the government has come to power on the hope that after over 60 years of independence, Malaysians will be allowed to enjoy greater freedom of expression.
“Inability to take swift action to prevent this is destroying the trust between Pakatan Harapan and the people,” Maria said in a statement today.
She said the investigation into Citizens Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) spokesman Rama Ramanathan was the latest is a string of police actions against activists.
She said that despite the change in government last year, cases against remarks made by activists had not ceased.
These included cases against Suaram executive director Seven Doraisamy, preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, lawyer Fadiah Fikri and several human rights activists, including Joanna Jaafar and Numan Afifi.
“If left unchecked, these cases will only become more frequent and end up silencing the voices of our citizens and members of the media,” Maria said.
She added that police, after questioning Rama yesterday over his blog post on activist Jufazli Shi Ahmad, had also entered his apartment last night without a warrant and seized his belongings, including his laptop and handphone.
She said the home ministry and the inspector-general of police must enforce strict guidelines for authorities so that they act with restraint when conducting investigations.
“I also hope that the Parliamentary Select Committee for Consideration of Bills can carry out a fast but thorough examination of the Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill as soon as possible so that we can finally implement the check and balance needed to monitor the powers of the police force,” she said.
She hoped that the Bill could be passed at the next meeting of the Dewan Rakyat.
Rama is being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act, which deal with “intentional insult” and “the improper use of network facilities”.
The investigation is related to an Oct 20 article on his blog citing witness accounts of how the sister of activist Jufazli Shi Ahmad might have prevented Jufazli from becoming the latest victim of enforced disappearance.
The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), meanwhile, said that freedom of speech and expression should be respected.
It said it was also a constitutional right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
“Proham calls for the stop of police intimidation and to allow for freedom of expression in charting the course for a healthy democracy in Malaysia.”
The NGO reiterated the need for Putrajaya to set up the IPCMC to provide the check and balance and to monitor the police.