Activist under sedition probe defends article critical of royalty

Ida Nadirah Ibrahim
Fadiah said she was overwhelmed by the support she received and said the current generation has to continue championing freedom of speech for the betterment of future Malaysians. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — Lawyer and activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said today she stood by her article on the monarchy, amid the police investigating her for sedition and committing an online offence.

Fadiah said she left it for readers to make up their mind and had not intended to patronise anyone, as she was merely getting her opinion across to get the general public to think.

“I was quite surprised because people kept sharing the article and many had said they felt the same way but cannot express it.

“This shows that our thoughts have been controlled for so long and it is not free. I am relieved that people are speaking up. In a democracy, no institution should be immune to criticism,” she told reporters after she was brought in for questioning at the Brickfields district police headquarters here.

Fadiah’s article titled “Don’t Kiss the Hands That Beat You”, published on last Monday, was critical of the position of the royal institutions.

Fadiah said today she was overwhelmed by the support she received and said the current generation has to continue championing freedom of speech for the betterment of future Malaysians.

“I can’t do this alone and I am not strong enough to do it alone. But I am okay because I am not alone in this.

“The fight for freedom and justice is not easy and we may not be able to achieve it now but we will take our chances. The time is now for the future generation,” she said.

Fadiah expressed her disappointment in the so-called “New Malaysia” era as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has yet to scrap controversial laws, such as the Sedition Act 1948.

Fadiah said the new federal administration had promised to abolish laws that restricted freedom of speech, but the probe against her was proof that it was still used to silence dissent.

“I was not surprised when I received a call from the cops, but I was asking myself, is this the New Malaysia?

“The government said they were going to abolish the Act but we do not see it happening. No one issued a statement on the matter except for Fahmi Fadzil,” she said in reference to the Lembah Pantai MP.

She added the federal government, particularly the Home Affairs Ministry, had remained mum over the matter.

“Not everyone is being dragged under his law, but knowing it is still there and having someone questioned under the Act will instill a sense of fear and people will self-censor themselves,” she said.

Yesterday, Fahmi tweeted that he would be present in support of Fadiah, but was absent today as he had other matters to attend to.

In his tweet, Fahmi said the “new Malaysia” should be more open to differences of opinion and that the constitutional right to freedom of speech must be defended.

Fadiah said she was called in by the police after a student lodged a report over the article.

Following harassments and threats she received on social media platforms, Fadiah said she too will lodge a police report over the matter.

Fadiah said she had exercised her rights under Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code to remain silent during the questioning and will only answer in court if charged.

She said one of the questions posed to her in the probe over one hour was whether she had intended to hurt anyone’s feelings in Malaysia.

She was represented by lawyers Ragunath Kesavan and Farhana Abdul Halim.

Also present in show of solidarity were PSM central committee member S. Arulchelvan, activist Fahmi Reza, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism founder Cynthia Gabriel, and about 30 others.

Fadiah was called in under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which criminalises uploading offensive posts online.