Threats of Sedition Charges Against Rayer Undermining Parliamentary Democracy

The recent arrest, investigation and attempt to charge Seri Delima state assemblyman, RSN Rayer under the draconian Sedition Act for uttering a “celaka” against a political party, is not only uncalled for, but also an attempt to undermine the parliamentary democracy of the country.

Suaram calls on the police to stop such harassment against the state assemblyman and for the Attorney General to stop any attempt to prosecute Rayer as this will set a dangerous precedence in violation of the immunity privileges enjoyed by all parliamentarians and state assembly representatives, which is fundamental to ensure freedom of expression without fear or favour in parliament and state assemblies.

It is mind boggling in this case of Rayer, if he were to be charged under the Sedition Act, as the word “celaka” was aimed at United Malays National Organization (UMNO), a political party, which is not even a subject matter that is prohibited from criticism under the draconian Sedition Act.

Criticism against a political party is not seditious. The threat of sedition charges against Rayer provides again a good example of how the Sedition Act can be abused by the power-that-be even though the offence allegedly committed by Rayer was not even provided in the Sedition Act.

Suaram also objects to the use of the Sedition Act against the president of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA), Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman. While Suaram does not condone incitement of racial and religious hatred and violence, we believe there are ample other laws, besides the Sedition Act, such as the Penal Code on criminal intimidation that can be used to stop hate speech and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Suaram wishes to remind the prime minister that he promised to repeal the Sedition Act in 2012 prior to the 13th General Election. Today, the Sedition Act has yet to be repealed, but in fact actively invoked by his administration to prosecute political opponents, dissidents and student activists.

The unjust conviction under the Sedition Act in February this year of the late Karpal Singh, the chairman of the Democratic Action Party, makes the promise of the prime minister rings hollow.

We call on the prime minister to implement what he promised to the voters and repeal the Sedition Act immediately. In honouring his own promise and commitment, his administration should not invoke the Sedition Act until it is repealed.

Released by,

Yap Swee Seng
Executive Director

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