Repeal Sedition Act to safeguard freedom of expression – Suaram

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The arrest and remand of Badrul Hisham Shaharin is an act of repressive intimidation.

It demonstrates that the “unity government” is no different from previous administrations in continuing to arbitrarily weaponise the Sedition Act against dissenters, especially the political opposition.

Even the commitment made last July by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to only limit the use of the Sedition Act to criticisms involving the rulers’ position has been reneged at least seven times to date, with investigations and charges on statements that are about the Pardons Board’s authorisation, Malaysia-Israeli relations, the judiciary and notably the unity government’s establishment and Anwar himself.

Let us not forget that repealing the Sedition Act was also the promise made by the Pakatan Harapan coalition in its election manifesto – which was then broken.

The prohibition on ‘insults’ to public figures because of their status fundamentally contradicts the principle that the government should by right be subject to public scrutiny and criticism.

This principle is especially crucial in cases of unelected heads of state including monarchs, who cannot otherwise be held accountable by citizens.

Thus, by continuing to enforce the Sedition Act, the government is also actively hindering Malaysia from becoming a true democracy but also from fully living up to transparency and accountability standards, which many have demanded for.

The public will never be able to enjoy the basic right to free, diverse and meaningful discourse on various issues of public interest as stipulated in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, as long as criminalisation through the Sedition Act in the name of claiming ownership of truth remains the status quo.

READ MORE:  Sedition Act not the solution to 'three Rs' problem

Repeal the Sedition Act.Suaram

Sevan Doraisamy is executive director of Suaram.

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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