When it is ‘right’ to protest

So now we know why PSM leaders and others were arrested last Saturday night for having involved in a candlelight vigil to protest against the war in Gaza and Sri Lanka.

According to The Malaysian Insider, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar insisted that it’s not appropriate to mix what are perceived to be two different conflicts in the same public protest.

The Palestinian conflict is predictably considered kosher by the powers-that-be, while the Sri Lankan one is not because it concerns a ‘separatist movement’. But both conflicts have common elements of violence and death, to which the protesters urged for a peaceful end. 

Even if it is true that the two conflicts are different in nature, it should not be a justification for the arrest of the protesters and denying them democratic space.

Besides, public expression of political sentiments do not necessarily have to be in line with the ideological bent of the authorities. This should be seen as part and parcel of the very notion of freedom of expression and of assembly.

Elsewhere in the world, there were demonstrations that were staged by ordinary people whose views ran counter to those of their respective governments, and yet they were allowed the democratic space to protest and dissent.


1 Response to “When it is ‘right’ to protest”

  1. 1 Speak Up Malaysia 15 January 2009 at 3:28 pm

    The Red Book – Police and Your Basic Rights

    In 2006, The Malaysian Bar Council took the initiative to launch a publication titled “The Red Book – Police and Your Basic Rights”.

    The Red Book contains a lot of information that you will find useful if you have to deal with the police (plain clothes or uniformed).

    For example, the book contains information on your rights and what you can do and cannot do if/when you are stopped, arrested or questioned by the police.

    Other useful information in the book include the colour schemes of police authority cards (blue is inspector or above, yellow below, white reserve and red suspended) and the phone numbers of Legal Aid Centres (LAC) that you can call if you need a lawyer.

    CLICK HERE to download an English or BM version of The Red Book from the Malaysian Bar Council website:

    You can read more about The Red Book launch here:


    “All persons are equal before the law and entitled
    to the equal protection of the law.”
    Article 8 (1), Constitution of Malaysia

    “Every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression.”
    Article 10 (1A), Constitution of Malaysia

    “All citizens have the right to assemble peaceably
    and without arms.”
    Article 10 (1B), Constitution of Malaysia

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