Sarawakian activist: Anwar must be able to accept criticism, allow social activists to perform their function

PRIME Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must stand by his promises of Reformasi viz. the creation of a multi-cultural and representative government instead of resorting to scare tactics that are not acceptable in a functioning democracy when he is being criticised.

Sarawak social activist Peter John Jaban made the call today in light of the treatment of two fellow activists Arun Dorasamy and S. Shashi Kumar who were hauled up by Bukit Aman Police over Anwar’s role in solemnising the conversion of a Hindu man into Islam recently.

“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,” Jaban who is also the Global Human Rights Federation Malaysia (GHRF) deputy president pointed out in a media statement.

“As the PM of a purportedly secular government, he cannot allow himself to be seen converting a young Hindu man on camera regardless of his personal beliefs and religious practice.

“Even worse, he cannot expect to curry favour with one sector of the voting public by doing so and then suppress outrage from another to maintain his position. Politics is perception and he has been long enough in the game to know this. He has made this a political act by performing this conversion in public.”

Peter John Jaban

If the police are working on their own under a standard operating procedure (SOP) that remains from a previous time, then this is the perfect time for Anwar to take a stand, according to Jaban who is a long-time activist.

“This kind of action was the hallmark of the old Malaysia and lessons are not easily unlearned. But, in this case, lessons trickle down from the top,” he lamented.

“The police were attempting to seize Shashi’s phone in what was clearly a fishing expedition and an abuse of power against a man who had not been charged with any crime or indeed committed one. Thankfully, he knows his rights, another product of the existence and actions of activists through the decades.”

In essence, Jaban contended that Anwar needs to learn from this event and “to make sure that everyone who represents his administration does the same”.

“This is an opportunity, not a threat. He needs to listen more than he talks and he should separate his private life from political gain. Freedom of expression is an essential component of democracy and criticism an inevitable product of a political life,” added the Sarawakian activist. – Aug 24, 2023


Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE