Malaysia has cultural issues that we need to depart from. It is one that sees any voice of objection or displeasure as an anti-establishment or disrespectful.
That was the underlying message by former Kelantan FA president and FA of Malaysia (FAM) deputy president Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) honorary secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi at the Freedom of Speech in Malaysian Sports Arena forum in University Malaya (UM) today.
Annuar, who two days ago was elected to the House of Parliament, even went on to say that sports provisions that bar members from speaking goes against the basic right entrenched in the Malaysian Constitution.
However, both parties conceded that such provisions have been put in the right spirit but had lost its cause due to poor administration. Annuar even likened it to the now repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) and spoke about the FAM’s draconian Article 88.
“Sometimes it is not really a legal issue but rather a cultural one. We need to encourage everyone to speak up. The problem here is that when you criticise, some take it that we are challenging the establishment or even being disrespectful.
“The cultural mindset is that some do not want to offend or are even scared of those above. No one must be afraid to speak,” insisted Annuar.
FAM’s Article 88, which bars members from criticising or questioning the national body in public, has come under fire of late. Among the victims of infamous article is none other than Annuar himself, Perlis FA president Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Johor FA counterpart Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and former national coach B. Satianathan.
However according to Annuar, the provision along with other orders placed on officials in various sports are downright unconstitutional as the Constitution of Malaysia clearly provides for the freedom of speech in Article 10, while Article 4 states that any regulations conflicting with the constitution is null and void.
“Article 88 was introduced in the right spirit, just like ISA, but since it has not been administered in the right way, it is better to get rid of it,” he added.
Kok Chi, who agreed with Annuar, went on to distinctly mark his support on provisions limiting sports officials from commenting on certain matters in public.
“It is not the lack of freedom in speech but the method of expressing it. Every member of organisations, associations, etc have to be bound by certain rules but it is the duty of the national sports’ associations (NSAs) to have principles when interpreting these provisions.
“Yes, they (those in power) should be respected but officials cannot be arrogant. Some officials think they cannot be corrected. This must also change,” said Kok Chi.
The forum was organized by third-year Sport Science (Sports Management) UM students in hope to educate those present and the public on the freedom of speech in sports. Also on the panel was Astro Arena football commentator Zainal Abidin Rawop.
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