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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Almost anything we say can be seditious in Malaysia

We all know we cannot criticise, let alone insult, any of the nine sultans in peninsular Malaysia. They are above the law and above criticisms. We comment at our own risk.

Even any suggestion of secession by Sabah or Sarawak people too. Police are tracking down those who gave such an idea to the people... as they will make them hate Malaysia. In other words, we have to force people to love our country?

We cannot curse the ruling party Umno without being arrested for sedition, even if you said it in the Penang State Assembly.

Now, even the PM and IGP cannot be insulted too. The latter will use his IT experts to track down those who insulted him in their tweets or in Facebook. There is even a suggestion that we follow China's example by banning Facebook and setting up our own!

To top it all, even the expression of a legal opinion, by a law professor, can be seditious too! Soon there will only be conformists, yesmen and sycophants left in Malaysia.

PM Najib, when campaigning for GE13, promised to repeal the Sedition Act. He is famous for his 'Janji ditepati' but instead, more like 'janji dicapati', or 'janji akan ditepati... selepas semua pembangkang ditangkap'!

Recently, there was a sudden frenzy of arrests under the Sedition Act which shows a lack of commitment to its repeal. It is akin to seeing amber light at traffic  junction and take it as 'last minute to go' instead of the intended meaning of 'last minute to stop'!

Here's a list copied from Malaysiakini:

2011
Sept 11,  Mat Sabu, PAS Deputy President - criminal defamation (Bukit Kepong);
2013
June 5, P Uthayakumar, Hindraf leader - jailed for sedition (letter to UK PM on ethnic cleansing);
2014
 Feb 21,  Late Karpal Singh, ex-Bukit Gelugor MP - convicted of sedition (Perak Sultan);
March 14, Tian Chua, Batu MP - (call to rise up against racism, graft); Aug 12, insulting modesty of police officer);
May 6, Teresa Kok, Seputeh MP - sedition (video - onederful Malaysia);
June 19, Abdullah Zaik, Isma President - sedition (labelling Chinese Malaysians intruders);
Aug 19, N Surendran, Padang Serai MP - sedition (Sodomy II decision);  Aug 28, sedition (Sodomy II 'political conspiracy');
Aug 25 Nizar Jamaluddin, Changkat Jering Assemblyman - criminal defamation (of PM Najib);
Aug 26 Khalid Samad, Shah Alam MP - sedition (strip MAIS of executive powers);
Aug 27 RSN Rayer, Seri Delima Assemblyman - to be charged with sedition (Umno 'celaka');
Aug 28 Rafizi Ramli, Pandan MP - insults with the intent to provoke breach of peace;
Sept 2 Azmi Sharom, Academician - sedition (Perak constitutional crisis).

Update:

Add to the list: Suhaimi Shafiei (Sri Muda ADUN) and Thamrin Ghafar Baba (PAS Politician), among others mentioned below:

Excerpt from Adrian Lim Chee En's letter to Mkini:

“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.” –Mahatma Gandhi

The Asian Law Students Association (ALSA Malaysia) is outraged and strongly condemns the recent increase in arrests and charges brought by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) under the sedition Act 1948.

The barrage of arrests and charges raise questions as to the sincerity of the prime minister’s promise to repeal the Act, which was live telecasted on local stations in July 2012.

It further undermines all efforts being undertaken by the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and Global Movement of Moderates (GMMF) in drafting the National Harmony Bills.

Such an Act violates the right to freedom of expression guaranteed to every Malaysian under Article 10 of the federal constitution.

It provides very minimal defences and holds a very low threshold in determining what is “seditious”.

Section 3(1) of the Act vaguely defines what is of seditious tendency.

Contrary to normal criminal cases, the proof of intention (mens rea) to any seditious remarks made is unnecessary.

Under such circumstances, an accused can be convicted as long as the courts are satisfied with the presence of a seditious remark.

It is a relic from a bygone era used to curb communist insurgencies and has been either repealed or put into disuse by modern states.

There are sufficient existing laws under the Penal Code to tackle and criminalise hate speech that puts one at physical harm.

In fact, if that is not enough, we can look at the proposed National Unity Bills.'

'At first glance, it appears as if this sedition dragnet only affects politicians from the opposition.

This however, is not the case as members of all walks of society are also affected.

In 2012, Human Rights activist Irene Fernandez was also probed for suggesting ‘Malaysia is unsafe for immigrant workers’.

Father Lawrence Andrew in January this year was not spared either.

Adam Adli, a well-known student activist, was also under the limelight in May this year.

Just last month, a secondary schoolboy was investigated under this draconian Act for liking a Facebook page.

Earlier, academician-cum-law lecturer Professor Azmi Sharom was charged for comments on the Selangor menteri besar crisis in his capacity as an academician.

As independent and non-partisan members of the legal academic fraternity, these charges are shocking!

We urge the attorney-general to immediately withdraw all charges, impose a moratorium over further usage, and repeal the Act.

We also urge members to speak up against any breach of fundamental civil liberties or suppression to academic freedom.'

Rest of his letter to Mkini, The law does not really say what is seditious :
http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/273581


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