too much freedom too limited freedom

16 09 2008

“As always, you happen to be in Malaysia when the exciting things took place” said one of my Malaysian friend who was there with me on 912 (September, 12). He was also with me in November 2007 when the Hindraf demonstrated in front of the British Embassy. We were supposed to hold a seminar together that day.

I remember when my other two friends started receiving SMS from their organisations, my mobile was also ringing. It was before midnight of 912. It was in regards to the arrest of a Malaysian MP under ISA.  During the day, I met with a few people and through some of them I learnt about the arrest of a blogger followed by a reporter and finally an MP. I could not help but compared it with the current political situation in Thailand.

Whenever people asked me about the situation in Bangkok, I told them that I saw no light at the end of the tunnel whereas in Malaysia you still have hope. Then came news about the collapse of the Thai parliament to elect a new prime minister and a call for a National Unity Government. And in Malaysia, an arrest of a reporter and an MP.

In Thailand, the anti-government group known as People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has occupied state institution – the Government House – for over two weeks and  their argument is that the government must allow it as it is stated in the article 63 of the current constitution in regards to freedom of expression and freedom for assembly. Ask people who support the group, they would immediately cite the same reason. For many outsiders, it seems the Thai protesters enjoy too much freedom.

In comparison, in Malaysia, freedom seems to be very limited. A reporter has to be very careful in reporting.  Otherwise they can be arrested just for the sake of reporting. This is a view from an outsider and I might be wrong too. Anyway, I was sad to hear about her arrest since i was introduced to the reporter herself in March this year…

In Thailand, reporters seem to enjoy their freedom to a great extent. Sometimes we jokingly call them “the untocuhable”. They are free to write everything but they also have to be responsible for everything they write. Whereas in Malaysia, I often hear a different story.


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