Kadir: We are headed to a dangerous place

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SHAH ALAM: Veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin has lamented the systemic failure affecting Malaysia, claiming rights are trampled on and institutions meant to protect the people do the opposite.

Speaking to FMT on the sidelines of a forum on media freedom at Unisel here today, Kadir voiced concern that the fundamental rights of individuals enshrined under the Federal Constitution were being trampled on and more institutions were working against protecting these rights.

He cited the example of Malaysiakini being allowed by the courts to publish a newspaper, but the permit was never issued by the government.

Kadir said it appeared that the institutions within the state did not respect each other and to him, this was a systemic failure.

“Whatever freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are being undermined,” he said, adding the problem was getting more widespread.

“We are pressured by those who should protect us. We are headed to a dangerous place.”

On the issue of media freedom and freedom of expression in the country, Kadir said the problem now was that technology was going one way, while the government was going the other way.

He said technology had given more freedom to the people in terms of access to the media and for expression, but the government seemed to want greater control of this.

Kadir said at present, under all sorts of pretexts, new laws or amendments to laws were being made which undermined the freedoms of the Internet that Malaysia guaranteed when it embraced the technology decades ago.

He also questioned the role of lawmakers and whether they were doing enough to represent the people’s interests or were becoming mere rubber stamps.

Also at the forum was Fathi Aris Omar, editor of Projek MMO, the Bahasa Malaysia sister site of Malay Mail Online.

The media industry veteran, speaking on the recent arrest of former journalist Sidek Kamiso over the latter’s tweet on the late PAS spiritual adviser, Haron Din, described the arrest as high handed.

He also said regular members of the public should not be arrested for expressing their views in passing, adding it was different if a person of influence made statements which had an effect.

“The question is what damage did that social media post do to the target of the post?”
He said this was why the offence has to be specifically defined or else it would cover everything.

Sidek was arrested yesterday over his tweet and taken to Johor for questioning, after police reports were lodged against him.

The police, however, failed to secure a remand for Sidek after the magistrate in Johor dismissed the request, saying there was “an abuse of court process”.