Three arrested under Sedition Act: A step backwards for freedom of expression

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Responding to the statement by the Royal Malaysian Police announcing the arrests of three individuals under the Sedition Act for comments made on social media regarding the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s resignation on 9 January, Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, executive director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said:

We condemn the arrests of the three individuals under the Sedition Act 1948 for comments made on social media pertaining to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s abdication of the throne.

The announcement is a major step backwards in promoting the freedom of expression in the country. The Sedition Act has been enforced for far too long and used to stifle free speech in the country.

We call upon the government to drop all charges against the individuals who have been arrested and reinstate a moratorium on repressive laws such as the Sedition Act 1948, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 as well as arbitrary detention laws including the Special Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, the Prevention of Crime Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The Malaysian government must repeal these laws in the next Parliament sitting which begins in March. Along with the call for the Sedition Act’s full abolition, we are urging the government to drop all pending charges under this repressive law immediately and without condition.

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This move has been taken to appease the racists and extremists, one suspects.