kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Return of the Speakers’ Corner

It may not be to our surprise to see this booth at our place. Though seen at the middle, it’s still considered as the ‘speaker’s corner’.

The idea for a speakers' corner was taken from its namesake in London's Hyde Park, where Karl Marx once preached against capitalism.

Thus, those speaking at the booth will be considered as anti-capitalist.

No one is prevented from speaking at public institutions of higher education and all parties were free to speak and hold debates at universities. (Dr. Maszlee Malik)

Schools, colleges, higher learning institutes and universities should be an open intellectual space.

We do have a speakers’ corner (in public universities) which is free for everybody, that’s what they said.

The minimal standard operating procedures must be fulfilled for anyone seeking to hold events or speak on the campus.

Whether they are students, faculty members or individuals and groups from outside, they need to submit information, alerting us on the number of people they have invited for the programme, as well as submitting a request to use our venues.

Part of these is to become more receptive to citizens' views, and to make people more responsive to change.

Most likely, speakers may talk about anything they like within limits designed to be a model of managed free speech.

Orators must not say anything that contravenes the Penal Code, or Religious Act, or the Sedition Act, which allows internment without trial.

They must not comment on racial or religious matters (does this matter?)

To some place, speakers must not use amplifying equipment, display any posters or hand out leaflets, and before stepping up on a soap box they must register at the nearby police station with documents to prove they are authentic speakers, and where their names will be kept on record for five years.

Moreover, speakers with intention to spoil the talks would not be allowed to open their mouth at the "free-speech" forum.

The greatest inhibition to real freedom of expression however is the stipulation that speakers are subject to our country’s strict defamation laws.

We must agree that speaker who makes "slanderous remarks" can be sued.

The threat of a defamation action is also something not to be taken lightly.

Speakers should not be worried if they saw someone recording on what they say, he said. "If you have something to say, don't be afraid to say it," he advised.

With media portals grazing the 24 hours displays, speaker corners seem another platform for people to speak.

We do need some hard critics of the government and the administrations.

People should not be too comfortable with their political culture.

We may want to listen to citizens criticising the police for unseen actions, people calling for the maid issues, the happenings of abductions and etc.

Though we are bound to Article 10 of the Constitution of Malaysia guarantees Malaysian citizens the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association , we are still waiting for amendments for the real freedom of speech.

To critics, Speakers' Corner is a Public Relation exercise, and many observers feel that it will be largely irrelevant, not least because the Internet is now the world's soapbox.

Maybe it would be a sort of fun, entertaining, artistic, crazy kind of venue. It may be, but bring a sun umbrella.

Azizi Ahmad Bebas News Opinion 21 September 2019
Tags: speaker, writings

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