He has since been released, apparently without any intention on the part of the police to take the matter any further. I spoke to him a short while ago and he was his usual jocular self, musing whether he could say that he had faced an arrest when it appeared instead that he had been harassed.
In the period between when I was first told by Tony Yew of Haris being taken away to the point where I managed to speak to him and find out firsthand what is that had occurred and what would, or would not, be happening, a range of thoughts crossed my mind. Being Malaysian and having lived in this country for the better part of my life, these thoughts, not unusually, largely centered on the possibility of his being prosecuted for, perhaps, sedition or, worse still, a detention under the ISA.
Later, after I was informed that he had been released, I went back to my reactions during that period. And I got angry.
At the fact that thoughts like that are the norm in this society. At the fact that the administration had nurtured an environment that keeps us in a constant state of tension and anxiety, so much so that many of us do not even register these feelings any more. At the fact that the administration felt that it had the right to do so.
Why is it that those of us who believe in a better Malaysia should live our lives in the expectation of reprisal. I am not alone in this. After I was told about Haris’ arrest (a flu had kept me home), I called around and, unsurprisingly, everyone I spoke to had the same reaction. The same questions came to mind. Sedition? ISA? Was he going to be ok? And they came to mind because Haris speaks out, regularly and loudly.
Paranoia? Perhaps a little, but then, that’s part of the wider strategy, an element in the methodology of fear by which those in authority keep the rest of us in check. Remember that the next time the Home Minister asserts the continued need for the ISA, remember that he is defending a means of fear-mongering as lethal as it is a means of suppression.
And remember that the only interests that require protection through suppression and fear are vested interests.