Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is appalled by the statement by Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad with regards to the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948.
The Sedition Act 1948 is a colonial heritage that has restricted freedom of expression throughout its existence and continues to harass human rights defenders and political activists today. The Barisan Nasional administration itself recognized the flawed nature of the Sedition Act 1948 and promised to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 during the 3rd Universal Periodic Review for Malaysia. While the Barisan Nasional has since retracted that position for their political interest, the spirit for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 did not disappear with the ‘U-turn’ by Barisan Nasional.
Since the transition of power of 9 May 2018, SUARAM and other civil societies have consistently called for and advocated for a moratorium on draconian laws that continue to repress every day Malaysian. The key reasoning behind this call was that legal reform is a lengthy process that could potentially take months if not years before it can be fully implemented and internalized.
The moratorium was meant to put an end to the application of these laws while the administration put in place the necessary legal reform required in the long run. Without any moratorium and no clear directive or position adopted by the cabinet on the matter, it is unsurprising that enforcement agencies, especially the Royal Malaysian Police continue to utilize the Sedition Act 1948 and other draconian laws in clear violation of human rights and make a mockery of Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to human rights reform as promised in Buku Harapan.
The position or the lack of position by the Pakatan Harapan administration was questionable in May is now untenable and a mockery to the aspiration for change held by all Malaysians. It is time for the Pakatan Administration to stop passing on responsibilities and take action on the matter.
SUARAM reiterate our call for a moratorium against draconian law as outlined in the civil societies’ joint statement (https://www.suaram.net/2018/05/17/implement-moratorium-on-the-use-of-draconian-laws-as-sign-of-commitment-to-human-rights/) and SUARAM’s submission to the Institutional Reform Committee.