Chaos & Order by 000studio
In his Malaysia Day message delivered just a couple of hours ago, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak made major announcements towards relaxing restrictions on civil liberties in this country.
He announced the annulment of the three emergency declarations that are still in force today under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.
In his maiden speech as Prime Minister on 3rd of April, 2009, Najib had promised Malaysians that he would review the Internal Security Act, 1960, but in his speech tonight the Prime Minister announced the abolishment of the preventive law.
There will be a new law in place under Article 149 of the Federal Constitution as a preventive law, specifically against subversion, organised violence, and criminal acts.
He also promised a comprehensive review of the Restricted Residence Act 1933, Banishment Act 1959 and Printing Press and Publication Act 1984.
There will be a review of Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 with regards to the rights of assembly under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Street demonstrations are still not welcomed but permission to assemble will be given in accordance with international norms.
This milestone announcement is quite a surprise in today's climate of unbridled politics of slander, spin and diversions. Will this newfound freedom lead towards more wild accusation, slanders and untruth?
In light of the newfound freedom amplifying into people's revolutions in the Middle East, Najib's decision is considered bold. He saw what happened next door in Singapore in their recently concluded general election.
Instead of resisting, he is going with the flow.
Suppression of personal freedom eventually led to such people's revolution in the Middle East. The question now is: will Najib's announcement douse any subversive effort to create a Tahrir Square-like revolution here?
Now, in the event of real threats to public security and lives, will the yet-to-be-enacted law be sufficient to prevent such subversive and criminal activities?
The changes announced today will definitely shift public discussion from the viability of such freedom to whether Malaysians will be able to rise to the occasion.
Are Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, educational background, economic status, occupation, urban or rural, West or East Malaysia, and political inclination, ready to transform themselves for more open, freer and less constrained politics with maturity, greater intellect and better articulation?
It means politics should shift from the old-school politics of brawn and benevolence to brains and big ideas. Nor more is it about propaganda and psychological warfare but reasons and rationale. Will Malaysians be ready to agree to disagree in the environment of greater diversity to come?
This has been what the more liberal segment of society and opposition supporters (usually in the more urban areas) have wanted over many decades but resisted by economic, social and intellectual disparity within and between urban and rural, and other subdivisions.
Since it has finally arrived, what will their response be? What will their excuse to reject or downplay this change be?
You can bet Lim Kit Siang and the DAP will say it is not enough because they have a long list on their plate. Is it the same list that the people of Singapore demanded of the DAP’s sister party, the PAP?