Lodging police reports in defence of Dr Mahathir not conducive to democratic change
17 May 2018
Lawyers for Liberty notes with concern the recent increase in police reports being lodged by concerned individuals and pro-government NGOs against offensive statements made on social media targeting the new Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Such police reports are clearly frivolous and are a throwback to similar practices employed by the previous Barisan Nasional government and their supporters to protect the image of their leaders and silence criticisms against them.
In line with the change of government ushering a new era of democracy and reform, there must also be a change in the political atmosphere, and people from all political divides must be more accepting of differing and even controversial views.
We certainly expect the new government to be more open and amenable to public criticism including perceived insults, as this is the norm in genuine democracies, and is to be expected by the office that they hold.
Likewise, it is important for supporters of the government and politicians to exercise restraint and to not trivialise the act of lodging police reports against those exercising their right to criticise or even insult government and political leaders. Unless these social media comments threaten violence or incite public disorder, they are protected under freedom of speech, no matter how uncivil or crude they may be.
As the new government is in the midst of recalibrating a new democratic Malaysia, state institutions including Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) must be allowed to focus on their day-to-day work instead of wasting resources investigating such reports.
We fully expect PDRM and MCMC to summarily dismiss such frivolous reports and to begin advising the public to be more be objective when lodging reports of such nature.
Lawyers for Liberty