Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Old Laws in New Guises



I was at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting yesterday and it was an exhilarative experience. The adjective "great" is best-suited to label the meeting because that is how I would describe the speeches, the evaluations, the fellowship and even the bubur cha cha! It was one of those meetings where everybody had a ball of a time. I liked Chan Weng May’s speech the best although I will readily admit that the other speeches were equally good. I was voted the Best Evaluator, so I don't need to blow my trumpet although the other evaluations were just as helpful and instructive. And I couldn’t help but mention that Chrristine Ngiam fed us authentic Nyonya dessert that tantalized and titillated our tastebuds! General Evaluator Subramaniam was correct when he said we didn’t need a Humor Master because the meeting itself was a coursing cascade of laughter. The humor was overflowing throughout. All in all, I enjoyed the meeting so much that I am giving it a score of nine out of a ten!

Yesterday’s newspapers said it all. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declared on Monday that provisions for detention without trial will be retained in laws which will replace the Internal Security Act, supposedly in March 2012. This is disappointing news because repealing the ISA has become pointless. Shouldn’t we observe basic human rights? Why did Najib talk about giving Malaysians more freedom when we can still be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile? Shouldn’t we be entitled to fair and public hearings? Shouldn’t we be presumed innocent until proven guilty? Shouldn’t there be judicial scrutiny? The ISA is merely changing one garb for another!

And today’s papers highlighted the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 which is aimed at letting citizens exercise their right to organize or participate in assemblies peaceably. But don’t be fooled by the ‘assembly’ descriptor for it contains a host of restrictions and controls that – although it does away with the requirement to apply for a police permit to organize public assemblies – it is still oppressive and repressive in nature that DAP’s Lim Guan Eng said “it should have been called Illegal Assembly Bill” (The Sun, November 23, 2011, p 06). In fact, this bill stops people from assembling almost everywhere, from dams, reservoirs, water treatment plants, petrol stations, airports, public transport terminals, bridges, houses of worship and even schools and kindergartens. Be warned! This bill carries stricter and heavier penalties.

So Najib, where is this democracy that you are talking about? LIAR!!!

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