On 15 September 2011, the prime minister in his Special Malaysia Day address, promised to safeguard human rights and fundamental liberties in Malaysia. In July 2012, he went on record apparently saying that the Sedition Act represented a ‘bygone era’, and that it would be repealed and replaced by a new law to prevent incitement of religious or racial hatred.
Yet, two years later, what we see happening is the use of, resort to, and abuse of the Sedition Law to snuff out all forms of criticism of the government authorities.
Most recently, on 5 Sept September 2014, Aliran member Wong Hoi Cheng from Kulim was hauled up for questioning in the Butterworth Police Station over a tweet that he had sent out criticising the police. On 4 September 2014, Susan Loone, a Malaysiakini journalist and also an Aliran member, was also called in for questioning over a telephone interview with Penang State government Executive Council Member Phee Boon Poh, then being questioned by the Police, and who had allegedly said that he was treated as a criminal while in custody.
And a few days earlier, law academic and columnist Dr Azmi Sharom was similarly called in for questioning and subsequently charged with sedition. The list of people who have been charged under this Act is growing, and most troubling.
Aliran calls for the immediate repeal of the Sedition Act which panders to the extremists and clearly lends itself to easy abuse by the authorities. Indeed, the Act was first introduced by the British colonial masters in 1948 to snuff out all forms of criticism of the British authorities. Now that we are independent and call ourselves a practising democracy, there is simply no place for this obnoxious and repressive Act which violates our freedom of expression and having an opinion.
If reporting an incident, expressing an academic opinion on an event can fall under the ambit of committing sedition, how are we to raise disaffection with the performance of the government? Or over the administration of justice on the part of the Courts, the Police or Prosecutors?
I support this petition calling for the immediate repeal of the Sedition Act. Mansuhkan Akta Hasutan!
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