Chegubard’s arrest for sedition is a blatant abuse of power

Follow us on our Malay and English WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, Tiktok and Youtube channels.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) refers to the news reports that activist Badrul Hisham Shaharin or “Chegubard” was arrested under the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) and is under investigation for his Facebook post on discussions between Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Vincent Tan over the opening of a casino in Johor’s Forest City.

The offending post that he has been arrested for are merely his comments on a Bloomberg news report that Anwar is [allegedly] in discussions on opening a casino in Forest City. The Bloomberg news article was also attached in the same post.

Where is the crime in this? Only in dictatorships do people get arrested for something like this.

Why have the police deemed it necessary to arrest and remand Chegubard for repeating or commenting on something that was reported by a reputable global news network? It cannot be an offence to comment on anything that appears in the news and is already widely disseminated.

Further, don’t the people have a right to ask questions over the issue of whether Anwar is in talks to open a casino? Isn’t that a matter of public importance? Are we supposed to take Anwar’s word that “it’s all lies” and not enquire further?

This an utter and complete failure of the “Madani” (civil and compassionate) government on their promise to protect freedom of speech which is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Constitution.

If the news is false, the government is free to deny the reports by issuing a statement to that effect, which in fact it has already done. They could even go further and take civil action against the news outlet responsible for the alleged false news.

READ MORE:  Sedition charge against opposition politician breaches promise to repeal Sedition Act

Yet, what they have done instead is targeting Chegubard for merely commenting on the news. It is obvious that the government is resorting to the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the CMA to shut down any criticisms or questions regarding the government’s action.

This is the clearest act showing that the government’s primary intention is to stop any public discourse that damages the image of the government in voters’ eyes by abusing the criminal investigation process and misusing police resources.

The duty of the police is to preserve public safety and not to preserve the image of the government or Anwar Ibrahim.

It was only last week that the government summarily dismissed Amnesty International’s report that freedom of speech was dwindling in Malaysia. How can the Pakatan Harapan-led government in good conscience deny such allegations when arrests and investigations continually occur under the draconian laws it had promised to repeal?

Not only is the government hypocritical, but it is outrightly disrespecting the Constitution by ignoring the protection to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 10(1)(a).

Meanwhile, LFL is appalled by the silence of DAP and PKR leaders who were once vocal against the use of these draconian laws against government critics.

LFL urges the government to return to its promises to repeal the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the CMA and to honour its pledge to protect freedom of speech.

It is not too late for the government to correct its course and live up to the reformist ideals it claims to espouse.

READ MORE:  Don't probe Akmal or anyone else under draconian laws

Zaid Malek is director of Lawyers for Liberty.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
Support Aliran's work with an online donation. Scan this QR code using your mobile phone e-wallet or banking app:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments