Second Aliran member hauled up in crackdown against freedom of expression, media

Wong Hoi Cheng with his lawyer accompanied by Aliran and PRM members

As the dragnet against dissenting and critical views spreads, the list of individuals hauled up is growing longer.

Wong Hoi Cheng with his lawyer accompanied by Aliran and PRM members
Wong Hoi Cheng with his lawyer accompanied by Aliran and PRM members

Yesterday, Wong Hoi Cheng, an Aliran member, was charged with posting comments through his Twitter account that allegedly demeaned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the police.

Wong, a director at the Inter-Research and Studies (IRAS), was charged despite having retracted his tweet and apologising online to both the IGP and the police for allegedly likening the police chief to Nazi military commander Henrich Himmler.

Wong pleaded not guilty to a charge under Section 504 of the Penal Code, which provides for a maximum jail sentence of two years or a fine or both. He also pleaded not guilty to an alternative charge under Section 233 (1) (a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or a maximum of a year’s imprisonment or both.

He was allowed bail of RM4,000, and his case was fixed for mention on 27 October 2014, which happens to coincide with the 27th anniversary of the Operation Lalang ISA crackdown in 1987. Some have dubbed the present crackdown against dissent as ‘Operation Lalang II’.

Previously, Malaysiakini journalist Susan Loone, also an Aliran member, was arrested and investigated under the Sedition Act. Loone had reported about her conversation with Penang state exco member Phee Boon Poh, who was at the time in police custody in Penang following the mass arrests of Penang Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS) members after a Merdeka Day parade. The Malaysiakini report was titled ‘Exco man grilled for four hours, treated like criminal’. Loone is waiting to find out if she will be formally charged.

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Aliran appeals to the attorney general to let good sense prevail and not to waste the court’s time and taxpayers’ money. He should drop all charges under the Sedition Act and other repressive laws.

In fact, the Sedition Act and other repressive laws should be repealed. After all, the prime minister himself had pledged to repeal the Act two years ago. In line with good governance practices, other vague laws which allow for abuse of power should also be abolished.

Aliran executive committee member
16 September 2014

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