Unacceptable and appalling for the new government to permit police probes on Fahmi Reza’s Kelas Demokrasi
8 December 2022
We refer to the reports yesterday that four Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) students were called in for questioning by the police in relation to their involvement in activist Fahmi Reza’s Kelas Demokrasi held in Penang last month.
LFL is appalled that the students, three of which who merely attended the event and one who only replied to Fahmi’s post on Twitter, were called up by the police for questioning. Political activism and creating democratic awareness are not crimes. It is an exercise of free speech and assembly that is protected under Article 10(1)(a) and Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.
We are particularly disappointed that this is happening under a government led by the “reformist” Anwar Ibrahim and the PH political coalition. Where are the promises of yesteryears?
A healthy democratic process depends on the free marketplace of ideas in any form, whether it happens online or physically, and it must be protected from police action. There is no reason then for the students to have been called by the police or that a police investigation should be conducted on Fahmi Reza’s Kelas Demokrasi.
We must also stress that irrespective of whether any event of this nature was for the benefit of any specific political ideology or party, police action is never warranted. In fact, the irony is that this Fahmi Reza talk was reportedly non-partisan. Students and the public at large should be able to engage each other and coalesce to discuss the democratic process as well as the political development of the country.
The PH political bloc from whom the new PM Anwar Ibrahim comes, in its manifesto has already promised that freedom speech will be empowered under their rule. This promise must be kept. Otherwise, it would be a flagrant breach of a solemn undertaking given to voters.
Therefore, we urge the new government and PM Anwar Ibrahim to uphold civil liberties and give the necessary policy directives to the enforcement bodies. Meanwhile, we urge the IGP to immediately stop the investigation on Fahmi Reza’s Kelas Demokrasi and other such events.
Lawyers for Liberty