KUALA LUMPUR: The arrest and subsequent three-day remand of a man who posted a picture in a WhatsApp group falls into the pattern of the authorities’ sliding tolerance towards alternative viewpoints, said the Centre For a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) in a statement.
The think tank cannot see how a picture shared privately with a small group, where the “aggrieved” was not even a member, can affect national security. “It’s indeed mind-boggling.”
“That would only convey, rightly or wrongly, the impression of the pettiness of national leaders.”
Cenbet was commenting on the arrest of a 76-year-old man for his posting in a WhatsApp chat group. “It signals the current administration’s growing intolerance towards dissent and freedom of speech,” the statement added.
Continued stifling of contrarian voices will only lead to greater disenchantment and goes against open, civil discussion which Cenbet said it promoted.
The latest crackdown, the think tank pointed out, came on the heels of several highly questionable actions taken by the authorities in recent months.
This includes charging activist Bilqis Hijjas for releasing yellow balloons at an event attended by the Prime Minister.
Last month, artist Fahmi Reza, known for drawing caricatures of the Prime Minister as a clown, was also charged.