The Negara-Ku People’s Movement （Negara-Ku）deeply regrets and is disappointed in the conviction of a member of its steering committee, Haris Ibrahim, under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948 for allegedly making seditious speeches during a gathering at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in 2013.
Negara-Ku is seriously alarmed by this development and is of the opinion that the Sedition Act should be abolished and all previous convictions should be overturned.
Negara-Ku views this as the latest act by the government to silence its critics and stifle dissenting voices. The government had previously backtracked from its promise to abolish the Sedition Act; instead the Act had been amended to cast the net much wider, lower the burden of proof for the prosecution, and make the punishment much harsher by imposing mandatory jailing.
Haris was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment despite being charged before the amendments to the Act were passed and when the option of a fine was available to the court. The fact that he was found guilty and sentenced to eight months of imprisonment despite the court having the option of imposing a lighter sentence is alarming and does not bode well for those who were charged or will be charged under the amended Act.
Negara-Ku urges the government to honour its earlier promise to abolish the Sedition Act, which is a leftover from the colonial era to suppress dissent and later used and amended by the government post-Independence to make it more draconian. All previous conviction of the law should also be overturned. Malaysia can never be truly independent if this Act continues to exist and threaten the civic life of its citizens.
Haris Ibrahim was found guilty and sentenced to eight months imprisonment on 14 April 2016. He is out on RM10,000 bail pending appeal to the high court. Haris was charged with Tamrin Ghafar, Tian Chua, Adam Adli and Safwan for uttering seditious words at a public forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Jalan Maharaja Lela between 8.55pm and 11.15pm on 13 May 2013. The trials have been conducted separately.
Zaid Kamaruddin is chairman of the Negara-Ku People’s Movement.