HUMAN rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) has criticised the presence of police officers outside the Bersih headquarters during a press conference advocating for electoral reforms. Executive director Sevan Doraimsamy denounced the incident as intimidation.
“10 police officers, two police trucks, and a number of police motorcycles stationed outside Bersih’s office for a mere press conference calling for faithful implementation of long-promised reforms.
“This is not upholding public order. On the contrary, it is sheer, condemnable intimidation.
“Does this mean that netizens criticising the Pardons Board decision will follow suit, by having their posts deleted, social media accounts monitored, or even worse, investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998?” Sevan asked.
Sevan questioned whether Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail or Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were aware of the police presence. He lamented the government’s failure to accept criticism and dissent, emphasising its duty to uphold human rights and transparency.
He also raised concerns over potential repercussions for individuals criticising government decisions, highlighting recent police monitoring of former Damansara MP Tony Pua’s remarks regarding the Pardons Board’s decision on former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s sentence reduction.
“Through these tactics, the government has committed a triple betrayal: on top of failing to defend its fight against corruption and justice, it has also contravened its duty to uphold the basic human rights of all, especially those seeking public transparency and accountability.
“This derailment from the values and spirit of reforms has gone far enough and should be immediately rectified. On this note, SUARAM unequivocally demands the government to fully protect the right to freedom of expression and actively refrain from intimidation, harassment, and any form of reprisal against all persons who exercise this fundamental freedom.”
Moreover, SUARAM demanded the government protect freedom of expression and refrain from intimidation or reprisals against dissenters.
The recent decision by the Pardons Board to halve Najib’s jail time and reduce his fine has sparked controversy, with critics accusing the government of failing to uphold justice and transparency.
Najib was convicted in the RM42 mil SRC International corruption case, with his sentence upheld by higher courts. – Feb 8, 2023
Main photo credit: @bersihofficial