Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) denounces the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Khalid Abu Bakar of attempting to justify the clamping down of freedom of expression with the threats from Islamic States (IS) and to cover up his selective persecution on those who criticized the Kelantan Syariah bill. GHAH demands the immediate resignation of the IGP for his abuse of power and misconduct.
The Kelantan Syariah bill is an issue of public interest and public members are entitled to comment on it. Minister of tourism, Nazri Aziz has publicly questioned the Kelantan syariah bill and commented that anyone who talked about it was “silly”. Last year, former prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad also criticised PAS’s syariah bill and questioned if justice would be served under the PAS’ syariah bill. Rightly so, both enjoyed the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution without any problem from the police.
However, a very different treatment was given to human rights lawyer and executive director of Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), Eric Paulsen, his colleague Michelle Yesudas and BFM radio host Aisha Tajudin. Eric Paulsen was hauled up by police and spent a night in police lock-up for commenting on Kelantan Syariah bill on Twitter. The BFM radio host, Aishah Tajudin, was investigated by police for a satire on the Kelantan Syariah bill despite being threatened with death and rape. Michelle Yesudas was intimidated by the IGP through twitter by asking her to explain her twitter comment regarding the rape threats received by Aishah Tajudin. She was called to police station on 23 March 2015 for investigation.
Eric Paulsen, Aishah Tajudin, Michelle Yesudas and all public members are entitled with exactly the same rights as enjoyed by Nazri Aziz and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Why could some speak freely without any problem while others were subjected to police intimidation, threats, investigation even the loss of their personal liberty?
In defense of the IGP, the home minister Zahid Hamidi claimed that the police did not arrest the two UMNO leaders, Agriculture and Agro based Industries minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob and UMNO Baling women’s chief Dr. Mashitah Ibrahim for investigation of their inflammatory statements as their statement were taken by police in less than 24 hours. Why when it came to the case of Eric Paulsen, suddenly the police needed to make arrest, put him in police lock-up overnight, and even maliciously tried to apply for remand of another four days?
More appalling, the IGP overstepped the lines by making a public statement questioning who Eric Paulsen was to comment on the Kelantan Syariah bill. It is none of the business of the IGP if Eric Paulsen is the appropriate person to comment on the Kelantan Syariah bill. Let the court of law to decide if there is any such dispute.
The double standards and selective persecution of the IGP is stinking high. Clearly, the IGP has not only acted unprofessionally, he has abused his power and committed misconduct.
It is also alarming that instead of doing his job in addressing any threats from the IS, the IGP chose to clamp down the right of the rakyat to freedom of expression. Clearly, Khalid Abu Bakar is not fit to hold the position of IGP anymore.
We call on the IGP to resign immediately. We call on the government to establish the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without further delay.
GHAH is a movement supported by 133 civil societies in Malaysia spearheaded by SUARAM, Lawyers for Liberty, IKRAM, among others. The objective of GHAH is to carry out a national campaign to bring to an end to the ever present threat against freedom of expression and opinion by the Sedition Act 1948 that hangs over every Malaysian.