Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is greatly concerned and appalled by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s advisory against spreading “false news” on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). SUARAM urges the authority to cease intimidating the rakyat and to uphold our rights to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 10.1 of the Federal Constitution.
The recent revelation made by the “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ) and “Sarawak Report” (SR) of about USD 700 million (approximately RM2.7 billion) state funds transferred into the personal account of the Prime Minister Najib Razak in AmIslamic Bank Berhad in March 2013 is an extremely grave allegation that shocked all Malaysians. Najib has repetitively rejected the accusation and defended that “[he] is not a thief”. And yet, until today, he has failed to answer the most basic questions arise – how and why did the funding ended up in his personal bank account; the purpose of the funds; and the identity of the beneficiaries of the funds.
If found true, it is a grave violation of trust from the rakyat – money that should have been rightfully utilised for the development of the country and welfare of all Malaysians might have been used for dishonest personal gain.
Given the seriousness of the issue, it is inevitable that the matter would garner much discussion and debate from the people. Many Malaysians are deeply concerned and frustrated with the country’s current situation and the alleged corruptions of state fund, especially those who are struggling with the rising living cost and the new broad-based consumption tax. As a venting mechanism, the people resorted to creative satire and parody, among others, by giving major film titles a 1MDB twists.
The “advise” given by MCMC, coupled with a reminder of the penalty risk is unnecessary and is akin to a threat attempting to stop people from discussing issues involving the leaders of the country. MCMC must be reminded that satirical remark and parody are never to be deemed as crime punishable by state. It is unacceptable that state resources are used to silent and penalise the people for merely discussing matters that deeply concern their rights and lives in this country. If indeed the information is false or defamatory in nature, it is for 1MDB or any other persons involved to seek legal action in their own capacity.
Genuine democracy demands a system of constant interaction with all the people, accessibility at all levels, a public sphere which allows conflicting ideas to debate and which provides for full participation in every major decision-making process in matters involving the country and the people. The trending #1MDB is a creative way of people venting their dissatisfaction and frustration with the many issues happening in the country, among others, the raising living cost, constant lack of accountability and transparency by the ruling government, severe allegation of corruption by Minister of the country, blatant abuse of power by authorities and etc. If anything, these voices should be heard, received and understood by the authorities.
SUARAM urges MCMC to cease intimidating the people and to respect our rights to freedom of expression and right to information. We further urge all authorities to act responsibly and reliably in executing their duties and investigations over the 1MDB controversy and to be accountable to the rakyat of Malaysia.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)