The use and potential abuse of law enforcement resources and procedures to intimidate artists and political activists or to impede their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression is completely intolerable in Malaysia.
The constant summons, questioning, and unnecessary detainment of creatives is becoming an all too regular occurrence and calls into question Malaysia’s reputation as a functioning democracy and threatens its ability to inspire beauty through its free exchange of multicultural ideas and fruitful discourse.
The summoning and questioning of Anna Har and Amin Landak followed by the raiding of their homes and offices at the Freedom Film Network are only the latest in a series of actions that reek of authoritarian tendency undertaken by law enforcement in Malaysia over these last few months.
At a time of crisis and emergency, when the political and public order are most vulnerable, this is not a time for pressing the application of controversial laws that would be under review by parliament were priorities not otherwise occupied.
Over reliance on such laws as the Communication and Multimedia Act (1998) becomes inappropriate and unbecoming when used to supress artist, journalists, or activists whose motivation should be in line with the police and all other elements of Malaysia’s society in building a better nation.
Taking such questionable actions loses the face of the otherwise outstanding members of Malaysia’s police and often results in the backfire of unintended consequences, particularly when Malaysian’s anxiety and anger are most provoked by the situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malaysia’s artists, journalists, and activists are as essential to the functioning of Malaysia’s democracy as anyone else. They provide a necessary checks-and-balance to a system which must be protected at all time from falling into the corrupting atmosphere of totalitarianism.
In a tolerant society we protect everyone’s freedom to say what they may and take seriously allegations levied. Our society is founded on a trust amongst the people.
To abuse power is to discard this trust which insults the independence of our judiciary and also disrespects the people and our constitution. Furthermore, it does not speak to one’s innocence to take drastic measures against those blowing the whistle, artistically or otherwise.