Minister Mujahid should not have singled out Nur Sajat nor exerted inappropriate pressure on MCMC to take action against her
5 February 2020
Lawyers for Liberty is appalled that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa has singled out Nur Sajat, who identifies as a woman, for criticism after she was pictured wearing female attire while visiting Mecca to perform umrah. Further, we are concerned that Minister Mujahid urged the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to ban her from social media for causing “unease to Muslims”. This is a heavy-handed response and inappropriate treatment from a government minister towards an ordinary citizen.
We must remind Minister Mujahid that the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Federal Constitution and cannot be arbitrarily limited, save for the purposes of national security, public order or other reasons stated in Article 10(2)(a). The feeling of “unease” within a certain category of the public is not a valid justification for limiting Nur Sajat’s freedom of speech and expression. Any action taken against her would be unconstitutional.
As a government minister, Mujahid has a duty to protect the fundamental rights of all Malaysians, regardless of their religion or private beliefs. He must not pander to only certain sections of society or vocal members of the public to the exclusion of others. Nur Sajat, like every other citizen of Malaysia, has rights under the Constitution and deserves the same protection and respect from the State.
Vulnerable groups such as the transgender community also require the protection of the State from hate and discrimination. Minister Mujahid’s knee jerk reaction to these mere social media posts serve only to empower intolerant groups and individuals to further persecute these already marginalised communities.
Neither the Minister nor his office should have exerted pressure on the MCMC, which like any other regulatory agency, should be allowed to work with independence from government ministers in accordance with their standard operating procedures.
The Pakatan Harapan government has made notable progress in enhancing the country’s democratic norms and values, resulting in Malaysia achieving its highest ever ranking in the Global Democracy Index in 2019, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Minister Mujahid’s actions in relation to Nur Sajat risk causing a setback to this progress, and are contrary to the government’s overarching goal to be a more democratic, accountable and inclusive government.
Lawyers for Liberty