- By Tommy Pauk
These days, citizens from almost every society are given leeway of expression on politics, their grievances, disagreements, discontentment, poor administration and difficulties in their livelihood, etc. Citizens have the right to express what they want or what they want the authorities or concerned government to do, or to complain about their government’s inappropriate acts in the society. This sort of expression may be called a demonstration made by the public or citizens. Normally, people take to the streets and express their complaints by holding placards or shouting their demands. Basically, all demonstrators march in the streets or around public areas. The procession must not hinder the traffic and create congestion on the streets, and security police are to be stationed along the route of the procession. Instead of marching, some demonstrators go on a hunger strike. These are the patterns of leeway of expression, which can be often seen in societies around the world.
How much freedom of expressions can be granted to citizens? Sometimes, due to unlimited or extreme leeway of expression, chaotic situations or brawls between demonstrators and the police squad occur in some societies. All citizens should exercise freedom of expression as demands to be settled or fulfilled by concerned authorities or government. In other words, the requirements of the general public should be fulfilled by the government properly. Nevertheless, the abuse of leeway, such as violent acts, is unacceptable and illegal. These days, the general public in most of the countries in the world exercise freedom of expression, whenever weaknesses arise in the authorities or government. Normal demonstrations take place in the streets of big cities when the public wants to express their bitter feelings or strong disagreements towards the administration or protest against the government.
Especially in full-fledged democratic states, like the US, UK and France, citizens know well enough how to express their voices or disagreements or grievances to their respective governments and administrators in their countries. Thus, freedom can be exercised calmly and effectively. In other words, leeway of expression appears whenever an administrative body mismanages or misappropriates, or when a non-government organization, company or factory management causes grievances to the general public. Therefore, leeway of expression can be called public complaints. However, citizens have to express or show non-violent means of demonstrations or processions. Concerned governments as well as administrators usually listen to the voices of the demonstrators respectfully and attentively to fulfil the wants and needs pertaining to the freedom of expression.
In a nascent democratic state like Myanmar, citizens are given the right to gather in the streets, public areas or specific areas designated by the concerned authorities to exercise their freedom of expression. Frankly speaking, ways and means to exercise leeway of expression are not fully familiar with the citizens in Myanmar. When protesters misuse the freedom of expression, the situation turns into a riot. In this situation, a lot of confusion occurs between the protesters and the security squad. This is caused by an unlimited leeway of expression indeed. Concerned citizens should obey and follow the procedures and limits for demonstrations when they exercise freedom of expression in the country.
Even though citizens are given the right to express their discontentment, grievances and some complaints about weaknesses of public services, they might use the leeway of expression beyond limit. In order to avoid potential chaotic situations, citizens must control their minds or emotions and abide by the regulations prescribed for freedom of expression. On the other hand, their needs, wants, discomforts and grievances must be properly fulfilled or settled by the authorities and administrators concerned, in line with prescribed laws.
As we all know, leeway of expression is practiced in democratic states in the world, and this practice shows true public voices that would be alarming to elected governments. Concerned governments obligate to serve the immediate public requirements and to fulfill the public demands as much as they can. In doing so, harmony and trust can be built between the public and the concerned governments. In conclusion, the proper use of freedom of expression, one of the democratic rights, is crucial or essential in democratic states, so that violent acts against governments cannot materialize. However, we must be aware that unlimited leeway of expression can be chaotic in society!