It is quite refreshing to hear a top UMNO leader speaking the voice of the people, especially that of the younger generation, when he said at the Hari Raya open house Kota Bahru yesterday in his capacity as UMNO Kelantan state liaison chief that what the people want is not just physical development but also freedom.
Tengku Razaleigh spoke out against banning the Harakah, as this would not prevent the people from getting similar reports from other sources like the Internet.
Tengku Razaleigh made a very pertinent point when he said: "Some people feel it is an insult to their intelligence when reading mainstream newspapers".
Tengku Razaleigh seems to be the only UMNO leader who has not misread the results of the recent tenth general election, when UMNO suffered its worst electoral defeat in party history.
Up to now, the visceral reaction of the UMNO top leadership of the Barisan Nasional government is to strike out at the Opposition and dissent, instead of trying to respond positively to the aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
As a result, there is the Stalinist decision of the UMNO Supreme Council
on "no contest" for the two top party posts and the show-cause notices
to withdraw printing permits for Harakah and a pro-Opposition bi-monthly
Three other pro-opposition publications, Wasilah, Tamadun and Eksklusif have also been warned and harassed by the Home Ministry.
These actions have led the Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), an international organisation that defends press freedom throughout the world, to warn that "Any pressure on the private media and the closure of one of those newspapers would constitute a grave violation of press freedom."
Abdullah should heed the calls not only of RSF but also Tengku Razaleigh.