Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the Shah Alam High Court’s decision in upholding the sedition conviction against Wan Ji Wan Hussin and in further allowing the prosecution’s cross-appeal to enhance his imprisonment sentence of nine months to one year’s imprisonment.
This decision is a huge stain on freedom of speech in the new Malaysia as his Facebook post although crude and impolite is not criminal in nature and should be protected by the Federal Constitution.
This prosecution is selective and an overreaction as our society will not be able to function if through any mere abuse, discourtesy, rudeness or insolence on social media, a person can find himself or herself exposed to criminal charges and be imprisoned like Wan Ji.
Given that the government has repeatedly said that the Sedition Act would be abolished as promised in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, questions must be asked regarding the Attorney General’s Chambers reckless conduct in not only opposing Wan Ji’s appeal against his conviction but also appealing to enhance his sentence.
The government must get its act together as the Sedition Act is an archaic piece of colonial legislation that was not even enacted by our independent Parliament.
It is all the more disappointing that many of the then opposition politicians who are now in power have failed to act against the Sedition Act when they are aware, and some have experienced first-hand, how easily the legislation can be misused against dissidents.
We remind the government of its repeated promises to abolish the Sedition Act, which should be communicated clearly to the Attorney General’s Chambers. Pending repeal, the government should impose a moratorium on all investigations, prosecutions and appeals under the Sedition Act.
Melissa Sasidaran is director of Lawyers for Liberty.
9 July 2019