Najib’s sentence reduction: Don’t invoke Sedition Act for selective persecution

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The Teoh Beng Hock Association for Democratic Advancement is dismayed by the unwarranted police investigations of former Petaling Jaya MP Tony Pua under the much-maligned Sedition Act 1948.

We urge the “unity government” to immediately cease any police investigations of Tony Pua, who only expressed an opinion in his social media pertaining to the reduced sentence of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, which is deemed to be of great public importance.

The matter at stake here is not merely Pua’s right to freedom of speech, which the unity government has increasingly attempted to stifle, but also PH turning its back on reforms and even relying on the Sedition Act 1948, which it once promised to abolish.

We believe Pua is not the only one who has reacted negatively towards the decision made by the Pardons Board, which was construed as insulting the monarch.

It is arguable that some of the public responses from certain leaders of the ruling party, Umno, could also be deemed to be questioning the decision of the Pardons Board.

The government must take note that the controversial decision to commute a former Prime Minister’s corruption sentence would raise the political temperature, and this is why the government must be [seen to be] acting neutral in ensuring no one is selectively investigated nor charged.

Most of all, the government should tolerate disagreement and dissent on this matter when both the attorney general and the federal territories minister are collectively responsible for the Pardons Board decision.

People ought to be able to express their opinion freely especially when the government has no intention of coming forward with a proper explanation why the former prime minister was able to enjoy a reduced sentence under such extraordinary circumstances.

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The use of the Sedition Act is alarming, and it is certainly disappointing when the government led by PH appears to have no qualms in using it to stifle dissent.

Speeches or actions qualifying as seditious are left too broad and ambiguous that, in this case, the provision of “inciting dissatisfaction against the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong” could be abused easily and used against anyone who commented on the Pardons Board decision in good faith.

PH’s opposition towards the abusive nature of the Sedition Act has been well documented: it rightly argued, when it was in opposition, that the use of the Sedition Act is a restriction of Malaysia’s freedom of expression.

It is in this spirit that we once again urged the government to desist from any investigation attempt on Pua and to honour its promise to repeal the Sedition Act as soon as possible. – TBHADA

Ng Yap Hwa is chairperson of the Teoh Beng Hock Association for Democratic Advancement

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.
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