‘Voices of moderation must occupy M’sia’

The voices of moderation should occupy the broad, middle ground of the nation for the sake of continued peace, happiness and economic prosperity of all the people, says former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Ariff Md Yusof.

Ariff said the voices against moderation and extremism, whether these are political, religious, racial or regional, should not be allowed to spread but remain within the extremities of one’s political life.

A democratic society, he said, can only be viable if there is a great measure of tolerance for freedoms, not the other way round.

The former judge also recognises that freedoms are not absolute.

“However, this truism cannot be used as an excuse or a reason to negate the very basis of these freedoms, if we still believe in and expect to live within the confines of a democratic system.

“In this light, there is something disconcerting when the police authorities say they have zero tolerance for sedition, or words to that effect. This really begs the question: what is sedition, anyway?” Ariff asked.

This was in obvious reference to the police crackdown on political opponents and activists using the controversial Sedition Act.

Defining sedition further, he said sedition is an attitude that offends the principle of moderation and the allied principles of rationality, reasonableness and proportionality.

Speaking at the launch of ‘Alamak- All in Gods name’, a book by Malaysiakini columnist KJ John (right) last night, Ariff said constitutional law is about politics – which in turn is regulated by law.

“An academician who comments on constitutional issues cannot, therefore, escape the political dimension,” he said in obvious reference to the Universiti Malaya associate professor Azmi Sharom, who had been charged with sedition.

Likewise, he added, the chairperson of the Bar Council cannot be expected to divorce politics from constitutional law when giving a view on an aspect of the constitutional fabric of this nation.

“The judge who gives a decision on a constitutional dispute, in the same vein, decides on a political question on the basis of regulated politics.

“It will be a balancing exercise of competing demands and expectations of the government as against those of parties insisting on their freedoms as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution,” Ariff said.

Apr 8, 2015 – Malaysiakini
‘Voices of moderation must occupy M’sia’


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