Autocratic measures against dissent will backfire, says Human Rights Watch.
The crackdown against all things Bersih, including the censorship of publications, the detention without trial of dissenters and the demonising of activists in pro-government media, will cost Barisan Nasional the support of young Malaysians, according Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW-Asia.
He said young Malaysians were constantly connected to the Internet and with each other through social media, enabling them to make critical assessment of government-sponsored information.
“The government has a lack of respect for Malaysians to make up their own minds, treating them like they need to be spoon fed,” he said.
He also ridiculed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz for defending the Emergency Ordinance (EO) as being necessary in the face of a communist threat.
“There are people around the world who are laughing, Robertson told FMT. “There are people in complete disbelief. It is an argument that doesn’t pass the laugh test. It’s nonsensical.”
He argued that communism was no longer the threat that it once was.
He said that seemingly communist countries around the world, such as Laos and Vietnam, were in fact “crony capitalist” governments.
“They are only communist because their communist parties are in control of the government.”