Joint statement by Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari and Edmund Bon Tai Soon:
The resolution by PAS calling for SIS to be investigated, and if necessary banned, will maintain a disturbing trend. Considering the matter from the fresh perspective of association rights under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution sheds light on the issue.
The right to association is a fundamental liberty, and it is essential to our maturing democracy. Any proposed curtailment of the right must be actively discouraged. Civil society should empower and liberalise, not restrict and narrow our liberties in the Constitution.
Engagement and open dialogue on matters of controversy is the most constructive way to resolve conflict, and to move forward; not by the banning or detaining of persons with dissenting voices.
Whatever one’s view of certain groups in our country, we should not deny our citizens’ basic right to association. This is something both State and non-State actors would do well to take cognisance of.
Dated this 14th day of June 2009