Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) expresses our utmost concern and outrage towards the recent arbitrary crackdown against participants of #KitaLawan rally by police . Not only does it mark a severe infringement on our constitutional rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, it is an abuse of power and the criminal justice system by the authorities in this country, whose rightful duty is to serve and protect the interest of the public.
The police has disregarded the Court of Appeal’s ruling on Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act which held that the 10-days notice requirement is unconstitutional and what is “fundamentally lawful cannot be criminalised“. They have gone ahead with their subjective interpretation and still maintain that the law remains applicable. Furthermore, despite Section 7 of the House of Parliament clearly provides that no Member of Parliament is liable for civil or criminal proceedings for things said within the Chambers, yet the police had arrested MP Nurul Izzah for an allegedly seditious statement she made in Parliament.
It has been more than a month after the Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction was upheld by the Federal Court and he was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment on 10 Feb 2015. 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 is entitled to. Instead of opening up the space for a healthy public discourse and debate on the issues, the authorities have resorted to threats and criminal prosecution.
Investigation under the Sedition Act 1948 for comments made on Federal Court’s decision
|1||Zunar – Cartoonist||10 Feb 2015|
|2||2 university students||18 Feb 2015|
|3||Fariz Musa – Activist||Feb 15|
|4||S. Arutchelvan – PSM Secretary-General||19 Feb 2015|
|5||Lawrence Jayaraj – Activist||20 Feb 15|
|6||Nga Kor Ming – Taiping MP||23 Feb 2015|
|7||Rafizi Ramli – Pandan MP||23 Feb 2015|
|8||Dr Afif Bahardin – PKR Deputy Youth Chief||27 Feb 2015|
|9||Ng Wei Aik – Tanjong MP||6 Mar 2015|
|10||Nurul Izzah – Lembah Pantai MP||16 Mar 2015|
Investigation for involvement in the #KitaLawan Rally
|1||Saifullah Zulkifli – Activist||7 Mar 2015|
|2||Nik Nazmi – Selangor EXCO||8 Mar 2015|
|3||Fariz Musa – Activist||10 Mar 2015|
|4||Rafizi Ramli – Pandan MP||10 Mar 2015|
|5||Mohd Fakhrulrazi – PAS Member||11 Mar 2015|
|6||Teo Kok Seong – Rasah MP||14 Mar 2015|
|7||Adam Adli – Activist||14 Mar 2015|
|8||Mandeep Singh – Activist||14 Mar 2015|
|9||Jayathas – Activist||17 Mar 2015|
SUARAM reiterates that there is absolutely no legitimate grounds for the investigation of those allegedly involved in the #KitaLawan rally under Section 143 of the Penal Code and Peaceful Assembly Act. It was a peaceful gathering among Malaysians who shared the same sentiments for reform in the country. And that the Sedition Act is an absolutely archaic piece of legislation that left an excessive amount of discretion in the hand of authorities to criminalise even the slightest voice of dissent.
How then can we expect that the passage of the new Prevention of Terrorism bill (POTA) and amendment to the Sedition Act, which would essentially expand the power and discretion exercisable by the police, be used responsibly and not to clampdown on dissent?
The Home Minister has felt obliged to add that “the Prevent of Terrorism Act would not be used as a political tool to silence critics.” For the thousands of victims of detention without trial in Malaysia who number more than 10,000 since 1960, his assurance in an interview rings hollow. The recent crackdown against those involved in the #KitaLawan rally and remand process is yet again another explicit example of gross abuse of Criminal Procedure Code by the police. While anti-terrorism measures are necessary in light of the rising global threat by radical extremist, we fear that if POTA and amendment to the Sedition Act were to be enforced, the new law will bring about even more transgressions of human rights that are already severely violated in this country. Therefore,
1. SUARAM hereby calls on the police to cease all forms of harassment against Malaysians for practising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and to stop abusing the criminal procedure;
2. We urge the government to repeal the Sedition Act that is susceptible to abuse by the authority, to halt investigations and to drop charges against those who merely express their opinions;
3. We further call on the Home Minister and Parliament to review the new bill on POTA and to re-evaluate its consequences to the rights and freedom of the people in this country.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)