News that the police are charging me for sedition, this time for my 31 December 2015 blog post entitled “My heart goes to Indira Gandhi”, spread quickly on online media. Even my sister Asiah, who lives in a quiet corner of Kelantan, soon heard the news.
She called me right away, sounding very distraught. She was worried I was about to end up in the lock-up or in prison. She suggested that I stop writing altogether, and said I should be content to play with my grandson Ayesh. She thinks there are safer things for me to do.
I told her that judges should be our last bastion of protection from tyranny. Judges are the special individuals who can dispense justice when politicians and the other stakeholders in the system have failed altogether. But when high-placed judges lose their capacity for compassion — in Indira’s case, to do what’s right and just for a mother — then we have a problem. The least we can do is to voice our concern.
Of course, some judges get upset when I call them “heartless”. Heartless means unkind. I could have described them as Sunni clerics but I didn’t. They have become hypersensitive, like our political leaders who cannot even tolerate cartoonists.
They level sedition charges against cartoonists and bloggers like me because their feelings are hurt. Their feelings are apparently more important than the feelings of a helpless mother, so much so that they require the protection of the Sedition Act.
See how arrogant these people have become — you cannot hurt them at all. But if we say and do nothing, more of these types will ascend to the highest levels of the judiciary and in future, our grandchildren will possibly face sedition charges for even more minor infractions.
I told her (and my darling wife Suliana) that the least we can do at our age is to dedicate our lives to the betterment of the people of this country. If all we can do is write, then we must continue writing. If all we can do is speak, then we must speak out. There is no better country than Malaysia and there is no better set of people—made up of various races professing different religions—than the people of this country. But the promise of who we can truly be will only be fulfilled if the people want things to be better.
So I told my sister, let’s not be cowed by these judges. They are like that because the people have given them too much latitude. They have rubbed shoulders with politicians and members of the royalty for far too long. They are excited about the prospect of being given Board appointments in big companies after retirement, as their predecessors did, and they get too many titles for their own good. In the end, some of them have forgotten about little things such as kindness, compassion and the feelings of a mother.