Exiled activist in Sweden yearns for freedom in Malaysia

Ali-Abdul-JalilPETALING JAYA: Ali Abdul Jalil, who escaped to Sweden after he was charged with insulting the Johor and Selangor royalty three years ago, has maintained his fervent devotion to Malaysia.

The activist, who was granted political asylum in Sweden in 2014, and given permanent residency there last year, harbours hopes for Malaysia to do well, saying he still considered it to be his country.

He said there was a need to change the Malaysian government’s current leadership to put it in line with the spirit of freedom achieved during the nation’s independence in 1957.

“We are celebrating 60 years of independence. It would be a proud accomplishment when the country makes good progress in its economy and infrastructure for the future,” he said.

“It is just that we should address the weaknesses in the leadership in the government, the police and the judiciary. They have been tarnished with allegations of corruption and misuse of power,” he told FMT.

Ali fled to Sweden in October 2014, claiming he had received threats due to his Facebook posts that were deemed insulting towards rulers in Malaysia.

He faced three charges under the Sedition Act 1948 for insulting the Johor royal family and the Sultan of Selangor, and making seditious statements against the latter.

He has since said he did not regret his actions and considered the experience he underwent in being arrested and prosecuted as having made him even braver.

He said he felt excited about the different political atmosphere in Sweden.

“Knowledge and experience are prioritised here,” he said.

“Looking at how Europeans address political issues, it can be seen that they care about ideas and a better future.

“They are not as concerned about individual matters in seeking cheap publicity or in rallying just to lash out at rival parties,” he said.

Ali said he now spent most of his time studying and meeting activists from various countries.

“We share our ideas and experiences. We study what is in the real world in order to improve its situation to become better, to uplift the poor,” he said.

However, despite the freedom and protection Sweden has given him, being 9,000km from home does have it’s drawbacks, as he misses home.

“I am very proud of my family and friends because they helped me a lot and always kept my spirits up,” he said.

“Living away from your country is an experience that is both bitter and sweet,” he said, adding that he also missed Malaysia’s array of delicious food.