16
Apr
15

United States and European Union expressed concerns over enhanced Sedition Act

Sedition Act amendments restrict freedom of expression, says US

In a statement issued through its embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the US State Department said the amendments, including higher penalties even for first-time offenders, were a threat to freedom of speech and public discourse.

“The United States notes the April 10 passage of amendments to Malaysia’s Sedition Act, and we reiterate our concern about restrictions on freedom of expression in Malaysia.

“Particularly worrying are new provisions that increase penalties – including for first-time offenders – and could make sharing allegedly seditious material on social media a crime,” it said.

The amendments to the colonial-era law also did away with fine and imposed a jail term of between three and seven years, as well as up to 20 years’ jail for seditious acts or statements that led to bodily harm and property damage.

There is also no leniency for first-time and youthful offenders, who can be automatically slapped a minimum three-year sentence.

The act now empowers the court to order the removal of seditious material on the Internet.

The changes also remove criticism of the government or the administration of justice as something seditious, and make promoting hatred between different religions an offence.

“We welcome the decision to remove provisions outlawing criticism of the government and the judiciary, and we hope the government of Malaysia will, therefore, reconsider recent sedition charges brought under those now-defunct sections of the law,” it said today.

“Other aspects of the Sedition Act amendments, however, threaten to restrict unduly speech and public discourse.”

Putrajaya was also reminded that the amendments would limit public debate of ideas which, the US State Department noted, could be among the best protections against intolerance and play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating hatred.

…more
Sedition Act amendments restrict freedom of expression, says US
15 April 2015 – TMI

EU’s turn to express concern over Putrajaya’s enhanced Sedition Act

After the US State Department, the European Union (EU) has also expressed concern over Putrajaya’s move to strengthen the Sedition Act instead of repealing it, saying that this would impact the freedom of expression in Malaysia.

“This can have implications for the exercise of freedom of expression as demonstrated by recent controversial instances of application of the act.

“As a friend to Malaysia, the EU recalls that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and trust in due process are essential tenets of any democratic system, underpinning growth, prosperity and harmony,” a statement issued by the EU’s High Representative spokesperson in Brussels, and issued through the office of the Delegation of the EU to Malaysia, said today.

It noted that Malaysia had initially pledged to repeal the colonial-era law.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made that promise in 2012, but under pressure from Malay conservatives last year, made an about-turn, citing the need to preserve national harmony and security as well as to prevent talk of secession by East Malaysian states.

The Dewan Rakyat or lower house of Parliament this month approved amendments to the act, which critics have said only make the law more draconian.

Yesterday, the US State Department in a statement said the amendments were a threat to freedom of speech and public discourse.

“The United States notes the April 10 passage of amendments to Malaysia’s Sedition Act, and we reiterate our concern about restrictions on freedom of expression in Malaysia.

“Particularly worrying are new provisions that increase penalties – including for first-time offenders – and could make sharing allegedly seditious material on social media a crime,” it said in the statement issued through its embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

…more
EU’s turn to express concern over Putrajaya’s enhanced Sedition Act
16 April 2015 – TMI

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