August 19, 2016

Of Freedoms and Idiocy

Nay Myo Wai, chairman of the Peace and Diversity Party and prominent nationalist, is facing charges from a remark he made at the beginning of the month for slandering President U Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing.
He is known for his racist blog as well as publicly calling for the mass-murder and mass burial of so-called Rohingya, in the Youtube video he encourages the crowd to repeat his short and sharp hate speech.
Let’s look at the difference between the two instances.
He has defamed The Lady by accusing her of having “improper” relations with the President and C-in-C and that is how the latter two have the positions they do. We as the public know this isn’t true and his remark amounts to that of an American tabloid writer – an attention seeker crafting pulp fiction.
Then there is the call for the genocide of an entire community of people. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it isn’t necessary to call for the murder and mass burial of human beings. This certainly isn’t a constructive argument to the multi-faceted issue in Rahkine state.
His remarks about the countries leaders broke 66(d), of the vague and misused 2013 Telecommunications Law, that states:
“Extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening to any person by using any Telecommunications Network.” It calls for up to three-years imprisonment, a fine or both.
Of course his remarks were defamatory, but the contradiction that exists in Myanmar is that you do not want to defame public officials or religion in order to maintain the image of the nation, yet you will allow for a citizen to address a crowd and suggest genocide as a solution – in either situation he does not represent Myanmar.
The case against Nay Myo Wai was filed by Wai Yan Aung, an executive member of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation. We can assume Wai Yan Aung is a supporter of the National League for Democracy party — an advocate of democracy should not use laws that do not promote democracy.
I agree what Nay Myo Wai suggested and said is insulting and disgusting, which says something about the intelligence of this person. Freedom of expression and speech is not saying everything that comes to mind, when someone says something so loaded the best solution is to ignore the person.
He shouldn’t have been arrested for his defamatory remarks – rather he should have been charged for promoting hate speech a year ago… under a law that doesn’t exist.
CSO’s have called for the replacement of 66(d) and other laws that undermine the rule of law, and it’s true the government should revoke them. There have been hopeful signs of change with a recent meeting between the Minister of Religious Affairs, Thura U Aung Ko and interfaith groups who discussed religious harmony laws – it was mentioned in a 20 May Myanmar Times article that in 2013, a draft law was submitted to parliament, but was not discussed.
The best method would be to scrap the old laws and properly define what is freedom of speech and expression and what is hate speech/ raving lunacy. Highly respected members of the community can dismiss those who spout hatred with intelligence and education, not vague laws and revenge.


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