Human Rights In Malaysia
In Malaysia, human rights are generally seen as something either favorable or threatening; depending on whom you ask. When the citizens of Malaysia speak of human rights, they would sometimes associate the subject to the current government that has been holding on to its position for more than half a decade. Malaysian citizens, especially the ones who oppose the current government, more often than not, commonly refer to their regime as a conservative lot that has been consistently dominating the political landscape till this very day. However, supporters of the present government would refer to them as moderates. Albeit the fact that Malaysia inherently upholds democracy in its constitution, this form of democracy is allegedly being controlled by the present government in order to remain in power. Nonetheless, various allegations of human rights abuses occur and they usually correspond to the actions of the present government. Thus, the subject matter itself is highly controversial.
Although human rights in Malaysia would seem sufficient and ordinary enough, that point of view restrictively pertains only to the surface of it all. The right to free speech is subconsciously restrained by the government as news portals are advised to practice self-censorship which is of course highly recommendable. Be that as it may, writers are usually limited with how much they are able to voice out their personal opinions. If what they publish is highly critical and against that of the current government, they may be deemed as ‘’seditious’’ and be labeled as a threat to national security. Cases like these have had their fair share of abuses whereby critics have been detained by the government’s weapon of choice, the ‘’Internal Security Act’’. However, the act itself has recently been planned to be abolished by the current Prime Minister of Malaysia. Despite that fact, questions still remain on whether it would be replaced by another draconian law. The existence of the act itself still remains questionable even after the announcement to abolish it.
There are certain subjects the government does not allow to be voiced out. Normally, these subjects would include anything that would stir or cause a racial tension or conflict. Numerous investigations have even been made to people who have openly criticized the government on social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter. The government controlled media usually report mostly good remarks and are highly favorable toward the government while the opposition parties are usually badly remarked or deemed as having inadequate qualities. The internet gives way for the opposition parties to express their opinions and goals. Therefore, people who have access to the internet are usually more aware and are not biased towards one party.
On the 9th of July 2011, over fifty thousand brave demonstrators walked down along the roads of the country’s capital in advocating their freedom of assembly towards electoral reform. Over two thousand people were arrested and detained, but were eventually let go. Although elections in Malaysia may be largely fair in judgment, they are not free. The reforms demand the need to bring attention for greater accountability in elections and checks in the abuses of the system. Initially, the government allowed them to protest in a stadium but retracted their decision which sent the protestors of the cause to run amok towards the streets. Teargas and water cannons were used by the local police force to stop the liberated demonstrations.
If there was a measurement for age regarding the democracy of Malaysia, the country would probably be estimated as an infant. Despite the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, the diversity of politics in the country remains divisive as political parties are still race-based. Malaysia needs a better pair of legs to walk down the path of democracy. Political parties in a diverse country like Malaysia should be more integrated with their ideologies regardless of race, ethnicity or belief. If Malaysia is to reach its goal towards being a first-world country, then race-based political parties and policies should be abolished as the rights of every Malaysian should be met regardless of race, ethnicity or belief.