Disgraceful use of the Sedition Act to stifle discourses on Anwar’s verdict

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) expresses our grave disappointment and concern at the recent witch-hunt against individuals commenting on Anwar’s Sodomy II verdict. It is unimaginable that peaceful expressions by cartoonist Zunar, MP Nga Kor Ming, MP Rafizi Ramli, PKR Reformation  Movement Jingga 13’s head Fariz Musa and Parti Sosialis Malay (PSM) Secretary-General S. Arutchelvan are treated as criminal offences by the government. We further decry the government’s decision in arresting and remanding Zunar given that his alleged seditious comment caused no harm to either national security or public order.

It is unacceptable for the Sedition Act to be abused on false pretences of maintaining peace and public order in Malaysia. It defies common sense to hold that comments allegedly made by Zunar, Nga Kor Ming, Rafizi Ramli, Fariz Musa and S. Arutchelvan in relation to the Anwar verdict threaten public order in the country, when no direct or immediate harm was done to anyone. Given the momentous interest in the Anwar’s Sodomy II verdict, discussion and discourse on the Federal Court’s decision is not only inevitable, but a right that every citizens in a democratic society rightfully has.

Persecuting and prosecuting people for dissenting or for criticising the government goes against the very fundamental principle of democracy and accountability of government. Democracy demands the active participation of citizens in the political process, and that includes the right to criticise, and the right to decide the government of the day. Such conspicuous investigations and charges under the draconian Sedition Act marked a disheartening regression in our democracy and inevitably puts Malaysia on a slippery slope to a dictatorial regime.

The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “The advent of the world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.” Malaysia takes its seat in the United Nations Security Council this year as Non-Permanent Member. By embarking on such a malicious sedition crackdown based on an archaic piece of legislation, the government demonstrates standards that fall short of a very fundamental principle of international human rights protections.

This is a disheartening and demoralising time for our nation as we witness the failure of an impartial judiciary system and an alarming campaign by the authorities to stifle dissenting voices. SUARAM reiterates our demand for the government to repeal the draconian Sedition Act and to halt all forms of curtailment on the people’s right to freedom of expression. We call on all parties to remain open-minded and be receptive of nonviolent discussion, and not to criminalise and punished the people over their expression.

 

Released by,

Serene Lim

Program Coordinator

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)