Sedition: Selective prosecution and persecution?

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Anything that puts Umno leaders, including the corrupt, in poor light is considered a threat to national security, observes Tota.

charged with sedition 2014

To say that the Malaysian legal and justice system leaves much to be desired is an understatement.

The utter abuse of power by an oppressive regime has resulted in the misuse of repressive laws originally meant to deal with an armed insurgency out to topple the British colonial government.

The Umno-dominated government has used both the ISA and the Sedition Act ruthlessly and mercilessly against political opponents, critics and civil rights activists. The noblest and most patriotic among the Opposition and critics have been incarcerated. A few examples will suffice to convince anyone: Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Dr Syed Husin Ali, Kassim Ahmad, Mat Sabu, Lim Guan Eng, V David, Kua Kia Soong, Anwar Ibrahim, Teresa Kok, Tan Seng Giaw, Irene Fernandez, Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmy, Ahmad Boestamam, P Patto, Dr M K Rajakumar, Chow Chee Keong, and Bro. Anthony Rogers.

If the ISA had been applied impartially, many from Umno would have languished in Kamunting for years. The so-called abolition of the ISA was in name only. The law that replaced it is hardly better and detention without trial is still in place.

Currently, the detestable Sedition Act, though supposed to have been abolished, has been resurrected and applied selectively against Opposition critics and civil rights activists. Those from the Umno ranks, people such as Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Nordin, Mahathir and Zaik Abdul Rahman, seem to get off scot-free and live happily ever after.

Now there are about thirty known cases charged either with sedition or being investigated for all kinds of silly reasons. A book, an article, a book of cartoons etc are considered a threat to national securty. Anything that puts Umno leaders, including the corrupt, in poor light is considered a threat to national security when it is really a threat to their political survival.

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A few examples will suffice to convince Malaysians how ruthless and merciless Umno has become towards the Opposition and its critics – Rafizi, Nizar, Surendran, Rayer, Karpal, Mat Sabu, Tian Chua, Azmi Sharom, Haris Ibrahim, Adam Adli, Teresa Kok, Khalid Samad, Tamrin, Kassim Ahmad, Hishamuddin Rais, Uthayakumar, Alvin Tan, David Orok, Safwan Awang, Md. Shuhaimi Shafiei, Ali Abdul Jalil, etc.

Malaysia does not officially have, like Thailand, lese majeste but the powers that be have used the Sedition Act to charge people for any comment that is perceived to be adverse to royalty, who had a chequered relationship with Umno until 2008. Since the Perak power grab, Umno has found a new ally in the royalty.

In 1983 the Constitution Amendment Bill, curbing the powers of the rulers was passed by Parliament. This precipitated a constitutional crisis when the rulers rejected the amendments.

As expected Umno orchestrated, through the government-controlled print and electronic media, a vicious and ruthless campaign to discredit the rulers. Then Umno organised a series of “illegal” rallies – minus, of course, the tear gas and water cannon – in Alor Setar, Bagan Datoh, Seremban, Malacca and Batu Pahat at which Umno leaders led by Mahathir mercilessly castigated the rulers.

At these rallies Umno Youth were seen wearing T-shirts bearing Mahathir’s picture and the words “Daulat Rakyat”. There was a relentless campaign against the Malay rulers and the Malay print and the electronic media were fully marshalled to spew out mercilessly Umno propaganda against the rulers.

The government was said to be compiling dossiers on the rulers with tales of their extravagant lifestyles.

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Dr M’s words then, “It was the rakyat who had protested against the Malayan Union … It was always the people who had fought for their destiny … We weren’t born ministers … We’re up here because we were chosen by all of you.” Dr M had drawn the battle lines clearly – Malay sovereignty versus royal hegemony. At a so-called victory rally in Malacca, Mahathir probably declared that the feudal system had ended!

The late Karpal Singh had been charged with sedition. What Karpal had said was mild compared to Mahathir’s utterances against the rulers. Yet Karpal was “kurang ajar”; Mahathir was not. Karpal was hauled up; Mahathir was not. Karpal was “seditious”; Mahathir was not.

During the stand-off between Abdullah Badawi and the Sultan of Trengganu over the choice of MB, AG Gani Patail said that under Article 34(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot function as a ruler of the state except as the head of religion.

He further said that His Majesty was aware of the fact that appointing the MB lay fully with the Regent and the Regency Advisory Council and that His Majesty had no role whatsoever under the law concerning it.

Weren’t the words of the AG “seditious”?

Over the same problem, wasn’t Datuk Rosol Wahid, Trengganu Umno Liaison Committee Secretary’s police report on the appointment of the MB an act of disobedience towards the ruler? Police reports were made against him.

As always, the perception is that Umno can do no wrong. So no police action was taken. Weren’t Datuk Rosol Wahid’s actions “seditious” as well?

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Tota is the pseudonym of a contributor to our Thinking Allowed Online section.

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