21
Sep
14

Repeal Sedition Act and drop all charges, Amnesty International tells Putrajaya

Amnesty International today called on Putrajaya to immediately stop the use of the Sedition Act 1948 and to drop all charges against those currently accused of sedition.

In a statement, Amnesty International said opposition lawmakers, human rights activists, lawyers, students, academics and journalists were all at risk of arbitrary arrest.

“There has been alarming use of the draconian and archaic Sedition Act in recent weeks,” it said, noting that the law was being used to silence critics.

“Putrajaya should immediately grant an unconditional release of all those who have been detained or imprisoned under the Sedition Act.

“These individuals were merely exercising their right to freedom of expression, hence Putrajaya is urged to immediately repeal the act as well.”

The global human rights body said it was concerned that the colonial-era law was being used to “criminalise a wide array of acts”.

Since the beginning of August, at least eight people have been charged and are at risk of imprisonment for making allegedly “seditious” statements under the Sedition Act.

Preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, lawyer Chow Mun Fai, student Ali Abdul Jalil, politician David Orok, academician Dr Azmi Sharom, Padang Serai MP N. Surendran, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Seri Delima state assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer have all fallen afoul of the Sedition Act.

They have been charged under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948 which criminalises the use of seditious words and publications.

The law defines seditious acts or words as having the “tendency to excite disaffection against any ruler or government” or to “question any matter protected by the Constitution”.

Those found guilty can face three years in prison, be fined up to RM5,000 or both.

Amnesty International said the Sedition Act did not comply with international human rights law and standards and violated the right to freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and also guaranteed in Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution.”

…more
Repeal Sedition Act and drop all charges, Amnesty International tells Putrajaya
18 September 2014 – TMI

21
Sep
14

UN expresses concern over ‘arbitrary’ sedition swoop

The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights office has expressed concern over what it sees as a rise in persecution for peaceful expression in Malaysia.

“The Sedition Act of Malaysia is overly broad and does not outline well-defined criteria for sedition,” its spokesperson Rupert Collvile (left) said in a statement.

“We call on the government to quickly initiate a promised review of the Act and to repeal or amend it in line with its international human rights obligations.”

Collvile added that the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights office believes that the persecutions may be “arbitrary” to “silence critical voices”.

As such, it urged the government to halt action under the Act and drop all charges preferred.

Colville pointed out that among the 19 who have come under the dragnet since August include civil society members and religious leaders.

He said among cases of concern include the arrest of Malaysiakini journalist Susan Loone (right) for sedition.

Colville also raises concern over the investigation against lawyer Edmund Bon and Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom.

…more
Sep 17, 2014 – Malaysiakini
UN expresses concern over ‘arbitrary’ sedition swoop

20
Sep
14

Only a weak Putrajaya needs the Sedition Act, say activists

Putrajaya’s insecurity over criticisms levelled at the Najib administration is the reason for its sedition crackdown, activists said when launching a new movement to get the colonial-era law repealed last night.

“Only a weak government needs to threaten its people,” said student activist Adam Adli Abd Halim to a 200-strong crowd that had gathered for the launch of the Repeal the Sedition Act Movement or Gerakan Mansuh Akta Hasutan (GHAH) at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Adam Adli, who was charged with sedition last year, asked the audience to unite and pressure Putrajaya into repealing the Act which covers a range of words or actions that can be deemed seditious.

GHAH comprises mainly civil society groups which were active in the Gerakan Mansuh ISA (Internal Security Act 1960). GHAH is backed by more that 120 non-governmental organisations.

Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen said the Sedition Act 1948 was a legacy of British colonial rulers and questioned Putrajaya’s increased use of the law.

“Why have so many opposition lawmakers been charged for sedition? They were merely criticising Putrajaya, not inciting the rakyat to overthrow the government.”

“Is this a repeat of the Ops Lalang in 1987, which saw more than 100 opposition leaders and social activists detained under the Internal Security Act?” Paulsen asked.

Negara-Ku patron Datuk S. Ambiga called on Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to clarify to the public what exactly was considered seditious.

“When non-Malays are under attack and told to return to the country of their origin, that is not considered seditious,” Ambiga said.

“But when lawyers give their opinions on issues of public interests, that is considered seditious,” she said.

A human rights and constitutional lawyer, Edmund Bon, is being investigated for comments he gave to The Malaysian Insider in January this year in which he had said non-Muslims are not subjected to the fatwa or to the Syariah Court.

Another legal expert, law professor Dr Azmi Sharom, was also charged with sedition for his comments on the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis.

Ambiga also questioned the motives of Putrajaya in waiting two years before hauling up former Perak menteri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Nizar Jamaluddin for criminal defamation.

“If what he said was criminally defamatory, then why wait two years before acting? The rakyat forgets very quickly what has been reported yesterday.”

…more
Only a weak Putrajaya needs the Sedition Act, say activists
16 September 2014 – TMI

19
Sep
14

Sedition blitz ‘persecution’, not prosecution, says former A-G

The barrage of sedition charges against opposition lawmakers and others comes across as persecution, not prosecution, says Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, who took a swipe at the Attorney-General for reviewing the cases after charges were framed.

Talib, a former A-G, said it was unusual for Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who is also public prosecutor, to first frame charges and later, decide to review them.

“You must do justice by prosecution and not persecution,” Talib told The Malaysian Insider in a special interview in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Talib, who was A-G between 1980 and 1993, was commenting on Gani’s statement on Tuesday that his office was reviewing cases against Universiti Malaya law lecturer Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom and several others who are facing charges under the Sedition Act 1948.

Gani had said this was a normal practice for the prosecution and his chambers would carry out its duties responsibly with fairness, accuracy and transparency and without influence by any party.

But Talib begged to differ.

“To charge a person is a very serious matter at it affects the accused’s credibility, standing and dignity,” he said.

“It will put the accused in an emotional turmoil. Even, if the prosecution withdraws the charge later, the damage is done.”

The former A-G said during his tenure, he only consented to charges being framed if there was “90% evidence to secure conviction”.

He said charges were also framed base on applicable law, fairness and public interest consideration without influence by a third party.

He said Gani’s statement that the chambers would review the charges only gave the impression the decision to charge the accused was made without careful and serious consideration of all the available facts.

“Is he (Gani) admitting that he was not fair and transparent when the accused were first charged, and that is why he is reviewing the cases now? Maybe he should clarify.”

Talib said it was not the duty of the prosecution to seek conviction but ensure justice for the accused and victim.

In Azmi’s case, he said, the lecturer was only commenting on the law or explaining the law.

…more
Sedition blitz ‘persecution’, not prosecution, says former A-G
12 September 2014- TMI

18
Sep
14

New law to replace Sedition Act just old wine in new bottle, say analysts

Datuk Seri Najib Razak might want to get rid of the Sedition Act but analysts say the new act will be equally repressive as the prime minister has in the past introduced polices which are just “old wine in new bottle”.

While they are confident that Putrajaya will do away with the draconian law, but warned its replacement would keep the spirit of the Sedition Act alive.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan of Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) said Najib has a penchant for “keeping the old elements and rebranding it as something else”

He recalled how Najib repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA) and introduced the equally repressive Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, and eased affirmative action policies but launched the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda.

“If he does the same with the Sedition Act, then it’s a clear indication that he is not the transformation PM we think he is,” said Wan Saiful (pic, left).

He said the prime minister is good at making announcements but does not fulfil his pledges with systemic changes.

“My fear is he will succumb to pressure,” he said, referring to growing calls from Umno grassroots and even a segment of the public who wanted Najib not to do away with the colonial-era law, which they said safeguards Islam, Malays and the royal institution.

“My concern is maybe the calls to keep the Act are simply a silly reaction to the opposition’s call to abolish it because I simply can’t see the rationale why people want to retain it.”

In recent weeks, opposition politicians and several individuals have been investigated or charged under the draconian law, propmting critics to accuse Najib of back-pedalling on his pledge to repeal the law in July 2012 as part of his reform agenda.

Najib repeated his pledge in an interview with BBC’s World News programme a year later, and again three days ago.

Yesterday, speaking to his department staff, Najib said the government would consult Malay groups which have been vocal over the plan to introduce the National Harmony Act, which will replace the Sedition Act.

His remarks closely followed those of Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday, saying the government had yet to make a decision to repeal the Act.

Analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee said Najib should ignore calls from those in support of sedition laws.

“Giving way to fascist-oriented or ultra-nationalist groups who have an agenda entirely different from that espoused by the prime minister, and want a return to a more authoritarian regime, will mean that he will go down in history as the leader who caved in or ran away at the slightest challenge,” he said.

…more
New law to replace Sedition Act just old wine in new bottle, say analysts
9 September 2014 – TMI

17
Sep
14

Najib’s White Terror

I have never for a moment bought the propaganda that Najib Abdul Razak is a reformist.

Remember the Perak debacle back in February 2009? It happened just barely two months before he took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. One must not forget Najib was all smiles when the three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers turned ‘BN-friendly’ at a ‘joyous’ press conference.

In the months ahead, while he was blowing his own horn as a prime minister who cared and even came up with the now utterly discredited 1Malaysia slogan, he was also keeping a silence that was more ‘elegant’ than that of Abdullah on all the racist and extremist remarks by Perkasa, Isma and whatnot.

When push comes to shove, Najib will never hesitate to side with the radical forces in his own ranks. Think the blame that he placed on the Chinese when he failed to regain the badly-coveted two-third majority in Parliament in May last year, and his urging for Umno members to learn from the fighting spirit of, goodness gracious me, the internationally condemned Islamic State!

One can’t blame Najib for feeling livid. After all the money, resources and energy that went into salvaging the dwindling credibility of Umno, Najib only managed to do no better than his precedessor. It hence came as no surprise that Mahathir Mohamad is openly sharpening the knife, knowing that the more his hand-picked successor dithers, the likelier Umno would lose more seats four years from now, which would not ultimately benefit Mukhriz Mahathir.

Najib is, no doubt, fully appreciative of the danger that he is in now that the most influential (and politically lethal) party grandee has spoken. He has begun to prove his worth with the mass arrest of the Pasukan Perondaan Sukarela (PPS) members in Penang, in addition to the slew of sedition charges against not just the opposition politicians, but Azmi Sharom of Universiti Malaya and Susan Loone of Malaysiakini also.

There is a clear attempt by Najib to strike fear into the general population, aka Operasi Lalang in 1987. Perhaps Najib has decided that five years of patience is more than enough, and it is time to act tough and carry the party with him. After all, Umno under Mahathir became accustomed to the feudalistic culture of follow-thy-leader, but the leader must be willing to confront a critical and formidable public as Mahathir had done throughout the 1980s and 90s.

Najib has the mandate to abolish the Sedition Act, but he has chosen to go back on his own words because he realised that would not keep him in power for long, and everything that he permits the police to do now contravenes brazenly our fundamental rights. Worse, he is doing it in the name of the ‘silent majority’.

The choice now cannot be starker – speak up against the injustices right before our eyes, or risk having no-one left to speak up for us, and the decision is entirely ours.

…more
Sep 5, 2014 – Malaysiakini
By Josh Hong
Najib’s White Terror

16
Sep
14

If you can’t beat them, charge them – Economist

An archaic law that the prime minister promised to repeal makes an ugly comeback

IS NAJIB RAZAK, Malaysia’s prime minister, a reformer? Those who say that he is can point to the economic liberalisation of his first term, from 2009 to 2013, and to his repeal of the dreaded Internal Security Act, which allowed indefinite detention without trial. However, over the past few weeks, those more sceptical of his reformist tendencies have been handed some good evidence of their own.

Since August 26th three opposition parliamentarians have been charged with sedition for making statements critical of the government. Most notable of them is N. Surendran, an MP who is also a lawyer defending Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, against charges of sodomy. Mr Surendran was charged over a press release he issued last April that called an appellate-court judgment against Mr Anwar “flawed, defensive and insupportable”, and for an online video in which he said that the sodomy charges against Mr Anwar were “an attempt to jail the opposition leader of Malaysia” for which “we hold Najib Tun Razak [Malaysia’s prime minister] personally responsible.”

In addition, Rafizi Ramli, a senior opposition politician, was investigated for sedition but charged with insult and provocation in a manner likely to disturb the peace for alleging that Mr Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), sowed religious discord for political gain. On August 25th Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, another politician, was charged with defaming Mr Najib in a speech two years earlier. And on September 2nd the dragnet widened: Azmi Sharom, a law professor, was charged with sedition for remarks made about a governance crisis five years ago in the state of Perak. None of these statements is seditious, in the usual sense, in that none of them advocated the government’s overthrow.

Yet Malaysia’s sedition law is almost comically broad. It defines seditious statements as any that “excite[s] disaffection…against any Government” or “against the administration of justice in Malaysia” or “promote[s] feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population in Malaysia”. It is also selectively enforced. Mr Ramli’s remarks triggered a sedition investigation, whereas those made by UMNO’s vice-president reportedly calling ethnic-Chinese Malaysians “ungrateful” and accusing non-Malays of “insulting Islam and the Malays under the pretence of democracy” did not.

…more
If you can’t beat them, charge them
Sep 6th 2014 – economist.com




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