From America's CNN to the UK's Daily Mail, the portrayal of Malaysia was that it consisted mainly of bumbling incompetents. Perhaps MAS and the DCA could have been more forthcoming but this was an unprecedented situation and no one was prepared.
So I find nothing to be ashamed of Malaysia for that.
But what does embarrass me about Malaysia, is the way the BN government cracks down on dissent.
“The Malaysian government has revealed itself as petty, vindictive, and brittle when thrust into the limelight on the eve of important state visits. Going after activists, journalists, and opposition leaders are not the actions of a confident government committed to promoting respect for human rights, and visiting leaders need to say so.”
- John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch
The visiting leaders in question are United States President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among others.
Now I confess I don't know much about Japan. But the USA is not in a position to preach because its human rights record when it comes to African Americans leaves much to be desired.
So visiting leaders might have reason to keep their mouths firmly shut.
However, we Malaysians don't need to be silent. And thousands did not remain cowed. My respect to those of you who went out and protested during BERSIH 4.
My respect to Zunar who has fearlessly drawn cartoons that so uncannily depict the situation in Malaysia.
My respect to Adam Adli who faithfully pushes on for political reform.
My respect to Haris Ibrahim who is being tried for words he purportedly uttered at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in May 2013.
My respect to law professor Azmi Sharom who moved to challenge the constitutionality of the Sedition Act 1948, which was enacted even before independence. The Federal Court dismissed it on the 6th of October.
And I never thought I would say it, but despite my reservations over Mahathir, I am pleased that he is speaking out. Read what Zaid Ibrahim has to say about the harassment of Tun M.
But more importantly, support the political activists who risk their well-being to fight for your freedom.
P.S. Who is Khalid Ismath and why was he under solitary confinement?