Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Barisan won’t profit from suppressing rakyat, says ex-Umno leader

BY LEE SHI-IAN


Former Temerloh MP and Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah says Malaysians now want to have a say in the nation's decision-making and that it is pointless to try to silence them. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 1, 2014.

Former Temerloh MP and Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah says Malaysians now want to have a say in the nation's decision-making and that it is pointless to try to silence them. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 1, 2014.
Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) should realise that the political landscape has changed and no amount of suppression will make the rakyat vote for them, says Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
The Global Movement of Moderates chief executive said silencing dissent would only make people dissatisfied to the extent that they might support the opposition instead.
Saifuddin, who was once a deputy higher education minister, told The Malaysian Insider that Umno and BN should understand the changing times and what citizens really wanted.

"The rakyat want their role to be recognised, they want their voices and opinions to be heard, they want to have a say in the nation's decision-making," said the former Temerloh MP and Umno Supreme Council member.
Saifuddin was commenting on an opposition exposure that 60 Umno division leaders had urged the Attorney-General and the inspector-general of police to crack down on government critics.
This meeting, allegedly held on August 14, was cited by PKR central committee member Latheefa Koya in a press statement yesterday, in which she accused Umno of instructing the police and the public prosecutor's office to act against dissenters.
She said Putrajaya's spate of arrests and prosecutions using the Sedition Act against
opposition politicians began soon after this meeting.
"During my time as an Umno Supreme Council member and as a deputy division chief, we never had any such meetings," Saifuddin said.
"We had occasional meetings with party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, but it was to discuss developments or to seek allocations to build schools and bridges.
"I had never experienced a meeting with senior civil service leaders, such as the IGP or A-G and to issue instructions to them.”
However, Saifuddin said, if it was true that such a meeting had taken place, then it was truly "a time to be sad" as the political landscape had changed a lot.
"No amount of suppression will make the rakyat vote for Umno or BN," Saifuddin said, referring to the current sedition blitz Putrajaya has embarked on.
"Putrajaya needs to differentiate between criticism and incitement. They should celebrate as there is currently a contestation of ideas."
Saifuddin said the results of the 12th and 13th general elections showed that more and more voters were casting their votes based on new expectations.
"Voters are looking for democratic hopes, freedom and fairness. They want rule of law, prudent spending and a fight against corruption.
"If this is considered bad or negative by Putrajaya, then what exactly is the way forward for Malaysia?"
He said differences of opinion were something that should be celebrated, saying it was better for individuals to speak up instead of going underground.
Saifuddin also expressed hope that constitutional expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari would not be charged with sedition despite police opening investigation papers.
"There are not many constitutional lawyers in Malaysia to begin with, a mere handful of them. If Aziz is charged with sedition, then who won’t be charged?"
Aziz is to be questioned by the police today over reports published in The Malaysian Insider in which he commented on the powers of the royalty and their role in politics.
Saifuddin said both Aziz and University Malaya legal professor Dr Azmi Sharom, who has been charged with sedition, had both given their legal opinions about the Selangor menteri besar saga.
"I do not see any issue with either of their statements. They were merely giving their legal opinion on a subject of public interest."
Highlighting the selective use of the Sedition Act, Saifuddin said police should recall the early 1990s when former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad amended the constitution to curb the powers of the royalty.
In 1993, the Federal Constitution was amended so that the Malay rulers could face charges in a Special Court for crime.
When the Malay rulers requested the move to be withheld in order to have more time to review it, Umno waged a massive media war against them.
"Some of the statements issued by Umno leaders during the roadshows conducted in 1993 were fiery to say the least. So is that not seditious?" – October 1, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/barisan-wont-profit-from-suppressing-rakyat-says-ex-umno-leader#sthash.Y87qOy7Y.dpuf

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