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Media Statement by Loke Siew Fook in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 21st February 2009:

BN Youth, Hishammuddin need a proper lesson on democracy and human rights

I fail to make any sense out of BN Youth chairman Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's self-contradictory statement that "we cannot prevent youths from expressing themselves but they can do so in a controlled environment which we will monitor closely". If they are closely monitored in a controlled environment, how can our youths speak their minds and express themselves fully? In that case, are these youths really expressing their own varied opinions or are they merely channeling the voices of their 'monitors' with filtered speeches?

Hishammuddin also found fault in the 'violent' street protestors in Kuala Kangsar who got hit by tear gas fired by the 'peacekeepers', and pinpointed those who protested by lying on the road. I think it is clear to us who were being violent in that episode. Hishammuddin has once again displayed BN's misguided understanding of democracy and twisted sense of reality. It is only in BN Youth's perverted vision that a person lying stationary on the ground is more violent than irresponsible FRU officers who fired tear gas to the crowd and injured a few young children. It is only in BN Youth's sick mind that a person marching in a street really is more dangerous than a person sending death threats and live bullets to DAP Chairman Karpal Singh in the name of defending the royalty.

The right for peaceful assembly, whether done on the streets or in an auditorium, is a basic democratic right that each citizen of a forward-moving country is entitled to. I'm also sure that UMNO members and supporters are well aware of that right when they rallied on the streets to protest against the appointment of Ahmad Said as Terengganu Menteri Besar in March 2008, or when they protested against Karpal in a field in Ipoh, in front of his office in Kuala Lumpur, and in front of his house in Penang. I fully respect their right to assemble in public, and when I find fault in their arguments, I respond with words, or with a peaceful protest. There is no violence involved.

Therefore, why are anti-BN demonstrations condemned and considered foul and illegal while pro-BN ones are perfectly fine? Why is PR supporters' protest against a decision to sack a Menteri Besar condemned and considered foul and illegal while BN supporters' protest against a decision to appoint one is perfectly fine? Blatant double-standards, it is as simple and as clear-cut as that.

I urge BN Youth to truly recognize Malaysian youths' right to express themselves independently. I appeal to them to stop threatening Perakians who are distraught with the toppling of their democratically elected government to peacefully convey their emotions. Lastly, I must condemn the practising of double standards by BN in commenting on this crisis, as well as many other issues.

* Loke Siew Fook, DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) Chairman & MP for Rasah



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