Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Merdeka wish list, watchdog wants Putrajaya to scrap Sedition Act

Published: 31 August 2014

A human rights watchdog is urging Putrajaya to honour Malaysia’s independence by removing the Sedition Act, which it says is a legacy from the British colonial era.
The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights Malaysia (Proham) chairman Datuk Kuthbul Zaman said the Sedition Act 1948 was used by the colonial administration to stifle the activities of independent fighters.
"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should keep his promise and repeal the Sedition Act as it is outdated," he said in a statement today.
He said Najib had already abolished the Internal Security Act 1960 and the Emergency Ordnance 1969.
"The Sedition Act has been recently used frequently to stifle the freedom of speech and it is a violation of democratic principles.
"This is weakening the foundations of human rights in Malaysia. There is a strong suspicion that the Sedition Act is being used against opposition MPs."

Kuthbul said constructive discussions would provide a deeper commitment to the principles of the Federal Constitution.
"Just because an individual raises a question or thought does not mean that the core theme such as religion, language, special position and monarchy will be dismantled."
Kuthbul warned that legitimate questions and criticism on politicians and political parties should not be deemed seditious.
"This is part of the democratic and political process and these leaders must use the public space to convince the general public.
"Holding leaders accountable is part and parcel of holding public office in a democracy."
Last week saw a number of opposition lawmakers charged under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, which provides for a jail term of up to three years or RM5,000 fine or both.
They are: PKR vice-presidents Rafizi Ramli and N. Surendran, Shah Alam MP and PAS central committee member Khalid Samad, and DAP Seri Delima assemblyman R. S. N. Rayer.
DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and PKR Batu MP Tian Chua are also facing trial for sedition, while former Perak MP and Changkat Jering assemblyman Nizar Jamaluddin was charged with criminal defamation for a statement he had allegedly made two years ago.
Critics are calling the move an attempt by Putrajaya to silence its political foes. – August 31, 2014.

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