By Syed Akbar Ali.
Firstly was there a real need for the Police to question Mr Lim Kit Siang and threaten him with infringing the Sedition Act over a speech he made at Penanti ? This is politics in
If the Police want to, I think they can find seditious statements in just about every campaign speech by any politician. Every politician who gets up on a stage to deliver a speech can possibly be investigated and even charged with sedition. But over the decades the public has become numb to all the campaigning already (I am saying this on the safe assumption that the Sedition Act IS STILL designed to protect the public?)
During the time of Dr Mahathir when he was Prime Minister and also Home Minister I do not recall any politician being charged in Court for making a seditious speech at a campaign rally. Dr Mahathir was cool and relaxed. And if you think people did not make ‘seditious statements’ against Dr Mahathir, then you must be nuts.
To my knowledge (please correct me if I am wrong) during Dr Mahathir’s time only one ‘newspaper’ was permanently banned. It was a foreign publication called Crescent News International, coming out of
Crescent News Int’l was a Shia newspaper which basically glorified the Shia Ayatollahs of Iran. Out of my usual curiosity I used to read almost every issue of the paper quite religiously – it was usually full of crap, a waste of time, but I read it anyway.
The ‘Aliran Monthly’ also used to make caricatures and say plenty of bad things about Dr Mahathir at that time. But from Dr Mahathir’s time until today it has never been banned. How come? Can anyone answer that?
I used to read every issue of the Aliran Monthly too. Then every month end I used to ask the mamak book shop (Syarikat Yakin in
So despite being so critical and being defenders of the realm, the Aliran Monthly did not sell well. Oh well.. But for a long time I had an annual subscription to the Aliran Monthly.
So I hope our Minister of Home Affairs Dato Hishamudin Hussein constantly exercises maturity in carrying out his duties. His main responsibility is to protect the public interest. Running a country and exercising powerful authority (like the Ministry of Home Affairs) must be taken seriously at all times. It is not a ‘main-main’ situation. Peoples’ freedoms and their lives too are at stake. The public is also watching closely how you do your job.
Well folks after 17 years, Jay Leno (picture above) has called it a night at NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’. Jay hosted his last show on Friday 29th May 2009. For those who are not familiar, Jay Leno is an American talk show icon (cum comedian). There was also David Letterman on the David Letterman Show, another American talk show great.
Despite a long day at work yesterday and physical exhaustion from some strenuous but exhilarating workouts I watched Jay Leno for three hours last nite (much to the complaint of my caring wife) because this is his last week as host of the Tonight Show. 17 years of a great icon has come to an end. Jay Leno is going on to host another show on NBC.
Before Jay Leno’s debut in 1992, the host of the ‘Tonight Show’ was the famous Johnny Carson. When I was studying in the
Jay Leno is even more popular than Johnny Carson. He takes great pot shots at US politics, politicians and just about anyone or anything that interests the American public. Of course they are very talented, have an excellent command of their language and are very well informed. Although they are basically comedians, they exercise very mature thinking (most of the time).
You can sit and listen to them for hours without getting bored (except when Jay is interviewing his guests, who are usually movie stars and artistes, some of whom can be really boring).
The American talk shows like Jay Leno’s ‘Tonight Show’ hold a very important lesson for us too. It has to do with freedom of speech. The important lesson is that unfettered American talk shows do not guarantee that there will be no infringement of freedoms in
Last nite, Jay Leno had Wanda Sykes the black comedienne (perempuan lah) as one of his guests. Wanda joked (spoke too) about the
What I mean is, despite them having so much freedom of speech, it does not mean that the Americans will not pass laws (quite voluntarily) which are more restrictive than our ISA. And despite the new President Barack Obama being in office, it does not look like Obama will be repealing the Patriot Act anytime soon. I think President Barack Obama is quite comfortable with the Patriot Act.
Hence fighting for the freedom of speech is more important than fighting against restrictive laws which we may need from time to time.
(Folks we really need the ISA, albeit with more built in safety features to prevent abuse. Has anyone noticed how not even a tiny squeak has been heard from anyone, complaining, protesting or candle light vigil-ing against the arrest of Mas Selamat under the ISA. Bro Haris where are you? Where is the Bar Council ? Suaram ? AK ? No candle light vigils for Mas Selamat ke ? Why not ? Hypocrisy doth reign its gangly head over its minions)
This is the point I want to make. The
Hence our protesters and wannabe politicians who do not read enough books, who do not hold regular jobs, who have no real ideas about what this great country of ours really needs, who have no idea how to unite our people and take them to greater heights, just jump on the anti ISA bandwagon just to get their names and faces in the newspapers. Kerja buang masa aje beb!
Abolishing the ISA does NOT guarantee freedom of speech. Let me repeat this : Abolishing the ISA does NOT guarantee freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech is controlled by other more mundane and rather simpler laws, the most important of which are the Malaysian Libel and Slander laws. If we want freedom of speech in
The newspaper Editors and journalists are afraid of the libel laws, not the ISA. It is the libel laws which prevent our newspapers from playing a more meaningful role in our society.
I don’t see a need to talk about the Sedition Act which is quite a stupid Act really and tidak masuk akal. When it was put in place by the British it actually referred to the King of England and later to Her Majesty the Queen of England !
It is totally irrelevant today and just confirms the fact that the political intelligentsia (if there is such a thing) in this country are still mental slaves to what the orang putih told them to do. ‘Boy, awak pigi duduk diam diam. Nanti ikut cakap saya ok.’ The orang putih have left the country but the boy is still duduk diam-diam!
This is where we need to relook Jay Leno and the Tonight Show in the
Exempted would be factory workers, housewives, students, your retired grandma, farmers and fishermen who do not come into contact with the public to make a living.
But if you are a public personality in the
More importanly their law recognizes that different people have different levels of education, upbringing and/or refinement. A man with a PhD may criticize someone using educated and polished language but a more ordinary person like a bus driver, truck driver, farmer or angry citizen can only use language or the type of language with which he is familiar. N’ertheless everyone has the right to speak his mind against the President of the
The Americans have become the great nation that they are because they have allowed such freedoms to allow their citizens to speak freely against their public personalities.
Now here is a local news report that is quite relevant to this topic of freedom of speech (truncated)
Anwar claimed that Anifah @ Haniff Amman had linked his name to an alleged offer of a top Cabinet post at the State Department in
Let me just say it ok: this man Anwar Ibrahim is a jack ass who knows jack sh*t about anything. He is not intelligent at all. Orang macam ini kah nak jadi PM Malaysia? RM100 Million? What for ? So what if Anifah said you offered him a DPM's post ? Big deal. Wah! Brader Anwar – kaya kita nanti. So, bila mahu declare assets?
But this is what really stifles freedom of speech in this country. Not the ISA. If any writer, journalist or Blogger wants to say that a YB Minister is involved in an act of corruption they are not afraid of being arrested under the ISA. They are more afraid of being sued in Court for libel – like what Brader Anwar is doing here to Anifah.
This is what is holding back the development of real freedom of speech in this country. Our too tight libel and slander laws prevent the exercise of free and unfettered speech.
So folks, our target is not the ISA. To ensure freedom of speech in this country, our real target for reform should be the Malaysian Libel and Slander Laws. They are archaic, old fashioned and out of date. Lets change this law.
Define what is a public personality and make it extremely difficult for public personalities to sue people for libel and slander.
Then I would not mind being the host of a talk show like Jay Leno. Kita pun banyak talent.
Here is You Tube video of Jay Leno's last show on Friday.