Hakam supports Minister Gobind Singh Deo’s call for the Cabinet to impose a moratorium for any charge under the Sedition Act.
The Pakatan Harapan government pledged in its manifesto to repeal a whole number of oppressive laws (Promise 27) – for the reason that these “tyrannical” laws were used by the past government to advance its political interest.
It pledged unconditionally to repeal the Sedition Act as well as a litany of other laws, namely:
- the Prevention of Crime Act 1959
- the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971
- the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984
- the National Security Council Act 2016.
It also pledged to revoke the mandatory death sentence in all acts, and further undertook to abolish draconian provisions in the following acts:
- the Penal Code, especially on peaceful assembly and activities harmful to democracy
- the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998
- the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma)
- the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012
- the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) 2015.
We note that these pledges have remained unfulfilled.
We recognise that only Parliament can repeal or amend these acts. And that this may require the completion of prior administrative procedures before this can be accomplished.
In the interim, it is crucial that the government acts consistently with its pledges. In this context we applaud the attorney general for withdrawing the charges brought against several people under the Sedition Act as well as under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
To be consistent with its promise, the government must immediately impose in the interim:
- a moratorium on all charges brought under these acts
- a suspension of all mandatory death sentences
- an immediate speedy process to revoke or amend all the acts that it rightly described as “tyrannical”
Gurdial Singh Nijar is president of Hakam.