27
Aug
15

Non-violent call for resignation of a PM does not undermine parliamentary democracy

In true defence of parliamentary democracy

COMMENT In the aftermath of the Tahrir Square incident in Egypt in 2011, the Malaysian Penal Code was amended in 2012 to introduce new Sections 124B to 124N. These 13 new sections deal with “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” (nine sections) and “sabotage and espionage” (four sections).

Section 124B of the Penal Code states:

“Whoever, by any means, directly or indirectly, commits an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years.”

Other sections deal with printing and selling, etc, of documents and publications detrimental to parliamentary democracy; possession, importation, and receipt of those documents; the posting of any placard, circular or other document containing any incitement to violence or counselling violent disobedience to the law, or dissemination of such information.

Section 130A of the Penal Code was also substituted to insert the definition of “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” as follows:

“…an activity carried out by a person or a group of persons designed to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by violent or unconstitutional means.”

It is clear that to constitute an offence under Section 124B of the Penal Code, an activity designed to overthrow parliamentary democracy, or undermine parliamentary democracy, must be carried out and in either case, that must be done by violent or unconstitutional means.

A non-violent call for the arrest or resignation of a prime minister, or a minister, or even an entire government, cannot be an activity designed to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy. A call for a change of ministers, or of government, is not equivalent to an overthrow or undermining of parliamentary democracy.

Parliamentary democracy is much bigger than simply the government of the day. Parliamentary democracy is a system of governance; a government is merely one instrumentality of it.

In any event, the actual calling for a change of ministers or government is constitutional, because it is an exercise of the freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Likewise, a gathering calling for such a change is also constitutional, protected by the same Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

…more
Aug 4, 2015 – malaysiakini
By Andrew Khoo
In true defence of parliamentary democracy

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