Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Malaysia should consider not celebrating Merdeka Day and International New Year

My letter titled Malaysia should consider not celebrating Merdeka Day and International New Year in Lim Kit Siang's Blog .

My letter featured in Letters section of Malaysia Today .

My letter titled Lawyers march: Permit rejection mind-boggling in Malaysiakini .

Letter content

I would like to refer to Malaysiakini reports, Human rights march: 5 lawyers arrested and PM warns public safety is top priority. In the latter report, the PM apparently warned that "public safety takes precedence over public freedom".

I am not sure how our prime minister's brain works but if Abdullah Ahmad Badawi thinks the International Human Rights Day celebration requires a permit and jeopardise the national safety, I would like to remind the police and him to consider banning the up-and-coming Hari Raya Haji, Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya Aidiladha and most important of all the 51st Merdeka Day in 2008.

Hearing so many calls from his government and himself on the possibility of using the Internal Security Act, I hope our PM is just joking to Malaysians. After all, from my understanding, less than 10 person coming together without a permit is already a gathering and if police has its way, those assembling can be under detention without trial.

International Human Rights Day is not a protest or having any intention to upset national security. It is an annual celebration to commemorate, to remind us, humans, of the freedom we are supposed to have. Similarly, Merdeka or Independence Day falling on Aug 31, 2008 is to remind Malaysians on the freedom that we have achieved and to commemorate the effort to gain Independence as a human right.

If International Human Rights Day is considered to be unsafe, then perhaps, Merdeka Day should not be celebrated as well. There should be no marching. If 200 people walking on the street with some banners, without parang or guns for the Dec 9, 2007 celebration is considered not safe, it is in my opinion the Aug 31 celebration, which has more number of people marching, could be potentially dangerous to national security.

Maybe, Malaysians should reconsider celebrating the up-and-coming International New Year 2008 in places like KLCC or Bukit Bintang. If a small number of people celebrating International Human Rights Festival 2007 in a less than 15 minutes walk require a permit, a bigger turnout of people watching fireworks will probably require permits especially if these places display big ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’ banners.

It is certainly mind-boggling that the police force had rejected a permit requested by Bar Council to hold the Sunday event. It is mind-boggling that a lawyer can be arrested for stopping some outsider from taking down a banner in the Bar Council compound, of which he is working in. There is nothing seditious with the banners.

It is perfectly strange, people having stroll (a basic human right) can be arrested as well. Maybe, the police force should enlighten the public on these matters. Otherwise, it would also be wise for police to reconsider giving any permit for Merdeka Day 2008, which is also a celebration of human rights.

Last but not least, Happy International Human Rights Day to all Malaysians. Good luck and wish you all the best!

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