Futile or not, stand up for freedom
Why lighting a candle is better than sitting in the dark
Khairie Hisyam Aliman
Malay Mail Online
Sometimes we cannot not act, even if in futility. Because taking action in itself is an impact, even without visible effects.
These were the thoughts in my head when, this week, someone forwarded me a petition form by the Institute of Journalists Malaysia.
The petition, addressed to the prime minister, home minister and the Attorney-General, expresses support for the journalist body’s previous call for the repeal of the Sedition Act, for non-interference in legal journalistic work and for cessation of any and all action against journalist Susan Loone.
To recap, Susan was arrested earlier this month for writing a straight news report based on a telephone interview with a Penang state lawmaker. She was detained and questioned for hours for doing something that is a normal daily activity for any other reporter anywhere.
It brought to mind a brief chat with a lawyer last week about participating in the Malaysian Bar’s Walk for Justice, the effectiveness of which I admittedly also wondered about, though I didn’t voice this.
The lawyer’s reason for walking: objection against the government’s selective use of the Sedition Act and a desire to express displeasure at the selective usage, even if that gets ignored anyway.
It came down to making a statement. Showing intent. Expressing unhappiness. With or without effect, isn’t that important too?
Coming back to IoJ’s petition, I have no pretensions that my one insignificant name matters. But it’s important as a community, as a group to do what little we can individually. In some cases it simply means speaking up, even if our individual voices get drowned out.
The alternative is keeping silent and not saying anything. But then no one would know we disapprove if we keep that feeling hidden behind walls. Worse, our silence may be mistaken for endorsement.
In whatever purpose we pursue, I believe that if we all lend our small voices to the collective, together we can have a better chance of being heard.
Do I share the principles and stance expressed by the IoJ in its statement? (Read it here.) Yes. Do I believe my fellow journalists and I have a right to work unhindered? Yes.
Do I think this petition will reform the nation overnight? No. Can the journalist collective push for the repeal of the Sedition Act on its own? No.
Am I signing anyway? Yes. Pursuing some things are simply a matter of principle.
If you’re unhappy about the Sedition Act too, it’s time to speak up. You could be Malaysia’s tipping point.