Freedom of Expression is Guaranteed

Sisters in Islam (SIS) regrets that Perkasa has lodged a police report against columnist Azmi Sharom and The Star over “Sore need for plurality in law” (published on 18th November 2010), alleging that the article was in contempt of court.

Freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Every citizen of this country has a right to openly discuss court decisions and public policies that have an impact on their life and the lives of people around them.

SIS is of the view that citizens exercising their responsibility as watchdogs can only lead to improvements in legal and political mechanisms. An assessment on whether Malaysian courts have upheld their duty, rooted in Constitutional provisions and principles of justice, should be a natural part of public discourse. Disagreements should not take the form of threats to the writer’s liberty or the newspaper.

Civil society in Malaysia has called into attention the use of police reports and lawsuits to silence the right to discuss matters concerning the public openly. SIS alone has had to contend with numerous police reports made in several states by over 50 groups in the past two years. Only recently, we celebrated a decision by the High Court to strike out a lawsuit that sought to stop us from using our name. This situation speaks of the need to further nurture openness and acceptance of diversity in opinions.

We urge all Malaysians to uphold our constitutional right to freedom of expression. Informed debate is the way forward, not intimidation. We should not allow these scare tactics to be used to infringe on our fundamental rights and liberties.

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