Ambiga: When humour perceived as threat, nation’s future at stake

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An ominous presentiment looms over the future of the nation when humour elicits retribution instead of laughter, cautioned Ambiga Sreenevasan.

“I am truly concerned for the future of Malaysia and for our children who are inheriting a country where some believe that humour is a threat,” she told Malaysiakini.

The former Malaysian Bar president was responding to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) blacklisting Crackhouse Comedy Club co-owner Rizal Van Geyzel from registering a business in the capital for life.

“I am truly appalled by DBKL’s overreach,” she said.


Hoping that Rizal would haul DBKL to court, the veteran lawyer pointed out he has cause to argue that the decision is a “total abuse of power”.

“And that DBKL has deprived him permanently of his right to livelihood which, by the way, is a constitutional right,” she added.

Denouncing DBKL’s action as “disproportionate”, Ambiga also noted the repercussions on performers.

“This will have a chilling effect on performers who have to already jump through hoops to do what they love,” she added.

Licence revoked

Meanwhile, Rizal declined to comment on DBKL’s decision beyond saying he is discussing the matter with his lawyers and that he has not received anything official from the authorities.

Earlier today, Deputy Federal Territories Minister Jalaluddin Alias was reported as stating that Crackhouse’s licence was revoked effective July 30.

“We have also decided to blacklist the owner for life from registering business licences in Kuala Lumpur. This means the owner cannot register any businesses in the city even if he is using another name and company,” he said.

The spotlight fell on the club over a controversial performance deemed as insulting Islam, which led to a woman and her boyfriend being charged.

Crackhouse had distanced itself from the performance, but this did not prevent Rizal from landing in the authorities’ crosshairs.

On July 22, he claimed trial for three counts of posting insulting remarks touching on religious and racial sensitivities over videos from 2018 posted on social media. – Malaysiakini