Civil society condemns sedition charge against Tian Chua

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Fifty civil society groups have come out to endorse a statement condemning the sedition charge levelled against Batu MP Chua Tian Chua for his remarks on the Sulu intrusion.

Tian Chua - Photograph: keadilandaily.com
Tian Chua – Photograph: keadilandaily.com

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, condemn the sedition charge brought against PKR Batu MP Chua Tian Chang (popularly known as Tian Chua) for alleging that Umno orchestrated the intrusion of Sulu gunmen into Sabah.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had announced on 11 July 2012 that the government would repeal the Sedition Act 1948 to ensure the freedom of speech enshrined in the Federal Constitution. We demand an answer from the PM whether or not he has, by charging Tian Chua under the draconian act, broken his promise and failed to deliver his legislative reforms.

The Sabah intrusion incident is no forbidden zone for public interest, as the people have the right to information that must not be curtailed on any grounds by the authorities. We have seen BN and PR politicians cross swords by accusing each other of having a hand in the armed intrusion and we see no reason why such remarks should be categorised as “seditious”.

We would like to remind the government that it had kept the public in the dark at the initial stage of the armed intrusion over its negotiations with the followers of the self-claimed Sulu Sultan. Opinion leaders or the public should not be blamed for questioning the truth of the incident because rumours had arisen from the government’s own lack of transparency in handling the security issue.

READ MORE:  Sabah: The essence of humanitarian aid amid pandemic

In a larger context, the general election of 2008 indeed released people power and brought the dawn of civil rights reform. The rapidly changing political landscape forced Barisan Nasional to come up with new initiatives – under the names of ‘1 Malaysia’, ‘Government and Economic Transformation Programmes’, and the abolition of draconian laws – that seemingly promised a more open, democratic and just public sphere.

The sedition charge against Tian Chua could mean a breakaway from Najib Razak’s vow to transform the conservative BN rule. It can be seen as a sign the Prime Minister is re-embracing Mahathirism with the general election looming. Former Prime Minister Mahathir is notorious for his cruel and undemocratic means to suppress his opponents.

Therefore, we strongly urge the Najib government to drop the charge immediately. In fact, the Prime Minister should convene a special parliamentary session to repeal the Sedition Act and delay no more!

18 March 2013

Endorsed b:

1. Malaysians for Beng Hock (M4BH)
2. Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
3. Education and Research Association for Consumers (ERA Consumer)
4. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
5. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
6. Save Vui Kong Campaign
7. Pusat Komas
8. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
9. Community Action Network ( CAN )
10. Civil Rights Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
11. Lostgens’ ( art. community. network )
12. Institut Peduli Rakyat ( IPR )
13. Tenaganita
14. Happy Learning Sdn Bhd
15. LLG Cultural Development Centre
16. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
17. Damn the Dams Action Group
18. Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
19. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
20. Mamas Bersih
21. Seniman Paksi Rakyat
22. Aliran
23. Johor People Action Group (JPAG)
24. Kluang Bersih
25. Kill the Bill
26. Anti EMF Radiation Alliance
27. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
28. Social and Economy Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
29. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
30. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
31. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
32. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
33. Angkatan Nasional India Malaysia (AGNI)
34. Youth for Change – Northern Region
35. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (PKKS/EMPOWER)
36. Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM)
37. Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
38. Friends of Kota Damansara
39. Street Project Kuala Lumpur
40. Kelab Bangsar Utama
41. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
42. Community Development Center (CDC)
43. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
44. Council of Temples Malaysia
45. Academy of Tamil Studies
46. Group of Concerned Citizens
47. Semparithi Iyakkam
48. National Indian Advancement Action Team (NIAT)
49. Save Sarawak Rivers Network
50. Baram Protection Action Team

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