January 9, 2016
Johor: An exemplary state where Voices of Dissent are heard
by Narwar Firdaws
In most parts of Malaysia, freedom of speech comes with great limitations. The same does not apply to Johor where voices of dissent are heard instead of silenced, said national debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. He said this made Johor a safe haven for all those residing there and a dream state for those who were not.
“I’m very proud of Johor. The state government under the leadership of Menteri Besar Khaled Nordin and the Sultan has been very strong in terms of serving the interests of the rakyat, making us feel closer to home. We (the people) are trying so hard to make Malaysia great again but it seems that we are either being silenced, thrown behind bars, expelled from university or suspended. So what can we do?
“Johor is our safe haven,” said the Johorean, who was recently crowned Asia’s best debater for the third consecutive time.
Speaking of his own experience, Syed Saddiq said despite his many criticisms of the Federal government while working as a member of Johor’s think tank, he has never been reprimanded or told to stop airing his opinions in public. This, he added, showed that there was hope and room for dissenting views within the state.“That even though you might disagree with one another, it does not mean that the disagreement would lead to complete censorship or in the silencing of one another.”
He also told FMT in an exclusive interview that the combination of good governance as displayed by both HRH The Sultan and the state government was the reason why many Malaysians were drawn to Johor.
“The Sultan has proven himself to be someone who is not hesitant to speak up for the public, a lot more than our elected representatives ever have.Our state government, although under UMNO, has outperformed the others in other parts of Malaysia.The fact that both institutions (the monarchy and the state government) in Johor are doing exceptionally well gives rise to the hope that one day, the rest will follow suit by ensuring clean and transparent governance.”