PETALING JAYA (July 31, 2013): Gerakan and Umno are at loggerheads over the issue of whether Guneswari Kelly should be charged with sedition for uploading on Facebook photographs of the “shower room canteen” at her daughter’s school.
Selangor Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Noh Omar’s call for the whistleblower to be brought to book for exposing the issue has not favour with Gerakan youth secretary-general, Dr Dominic Lau, who was dismayed by the statement.
Lau said any move to act against Guneswary would deter people from reporting such incidents to the authorities in future. “If we start charging whistleblowers, no one will speak up,” he said.
Legal and activist circles have also deemed the call to be highly inappropriate.
Bar Council president Christopher Leong said the Bar was of the view that the parent was wholly within her rights to have raised a matter of personal concern because her child is a pupil in the school (SK Seri Pristana) besides the fact that it was a matter of public concern.
Leong, who spoke to theSun today, said: “This would be another example of how the Sedition Act can be abused.”
He said the uproar sidetracked from the real issue – that it was wholly inappropriate and irresponsible to use a shower room as a temporary canteen.
Lawyers For Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen echoed Leong’s views, describing the call to charge Guneswari as “absurd and preposterous”.
“Uploading the photo was merely to point out an example of unfair treatment that occurred in this school during Ramadan,” said Paulsen.
He said the definition of sedition should be given an extremely narrow meaning as freedom of speech is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Nalini Elumalai also condemned Noh’s call, saying it showed that “Umno Selangor does not want the (real) issue to be discussed openly”.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim also supported Guneswari’s action as “completely within her rights”.
“Any mother would do this regardless of race or religion,” she said.
Tan Yi Liang, The Sun