No More Excuses, Moratorium against Draconian Laws Immediately

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.

Continue reading “No More Excuses, Moratorium against Draconian Laws Immediately”

Police Intimidation Must Stop!

For Immediate Release
31st March 2016

Police Intimidation Must Stop!
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemns the Royal Malaysian Police’s investigation and questioning of the members of the Malaysian Bar Council under the Sedition Act 1948 for fulfilling the role expected of the Malaysian Bar Council in line with the statutory obligations and limitations imposed upon them under the Legal Profession Act 1976.

Once again, the Royal Malaysian Police has decided to spearhead another crackdown against dissenters on behalf of the Government of Malaysia. There is no sound justification for members of the Malaysian Bar to be investigated and called for questioning for demanding the resignation of a public official. The notion that the motion passed by the Malaysian Bar Council could be construed as seditious is unfathomable and perverse.

In the absence of sound justifications, the investigation and questioning of the Secretary of the Malaysian Bar, Karen Cheah Yea Lynn and members of the Malaysian Bar, Charles Hector Fernandez; Francis Pereira; and Shanmugam a/l Ramasamy can only be interpreted as a malicious attempt to intimidate and silent dissent. The Royal Malaysian Police should remember that it is not their duty to ‘protect’ any public official from criticisms.

On this note, SUARAM demands for the Royal Malaysian Police to cease its harassment against the Malaysian Bar Council and issue a public apology to the Malaysian Bar for this debacle. Failure to take appropriate remedial steps for this gross mistake in judgment would only serve to invalidate the claim made by the Inspector-General of Police’s claim that the Royal Malaysian Police is always professional.

In Solidarity,
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Sedition Strikes Again: Release Khairul Nizam!

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) strongly condemn the arrests and remand of Khairul Nizam (also known as Aduka Teruna) and the arrests of the lady in Kluang under the Sedition Act 1948.

Khairul Nizam was remanded to assists with investigation for a statement made by him in relation to the arrest of Khalid Ismath in October 2015. Despite 2015 coming to an end in a few days, persecution under the Sedition Act 1948 remains at an all-time high with enforcement agencies working over-time into the festive season.

Considering the willing cooperation shown by Khairul Nizam and the festive season which we find ourselves in, SUARAM implore the Royal Malaysian Police to release Khairul Nizam and conduct the investigation without remanding him in Dang Wangi.

Further, the arrests and remand of individuals under the Sedition Act 1948 for inflammatory statement made against enforcement agencies such the Royal Malaysian Police is a worrying development that must not persists. Incident such as the arrest made in Kluang[1] should not and must not be the norm of Malaysia.

SUARAM would like to remind the Government of Malaysia of the promise it had made in the Universal Periodic Review in 2013. The promise to abolish the Sedition Act 1948 should not be a vicious lie. All relevant government agency MUST take active steps to honour the promise made.

SUARAM also support the call by Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) for the immediate release of Khairul Nizam and all others arrested under the Sedition Act; and for all charges made under the Sedition Act 1948 to be dropped immediately.

In solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

[1] http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/woman-detained-faces-sedition-probe-in-malaysia-for-insulting-police-on-facebook

GHAH: MEMORANDUM kepada Peguam Negara mengenai penyalahgunaan Akta Hasutan 1948

Sejak beberapa bulan yang lalu, terdapat peningkatan yang membimbangkan dalam siasatan dan pendakwaan di bawah Akta Hasutan 1948, yang mana sasarannya termasuk wakil-wakil rakyat dan aktivis-aktivis hak asasi manusia yang mempunyai tanggungjawab awam untuk bersuara mengenai perkara-perkara yang melibatkan kepentingan awam.

Sejak 27 Julai 2015, dua orang Ahli Parlimen pembangkang dan lima orang aktivis telah didakwa di bawah undang-undang tersebut. Sejak tahun 2013, terdapat peningkatan sebanyak 1,700 peratus dalam pertuduhan hasutan berbanding tempoh di antara 2007 dan 2012.

Tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa Akta Hasutan juga ditakrifkan secara luas dan ianya terbuka kepada penyalahgunaan. Di bawah Akta Hasutan, hampir apa sahaja yang disuarakan atau diterbitkan yang menjurus kepada perbalahan boleh dianggap sebagai menghasut.

Perdana Menteri telah pada 11 Julai 2012 dan 3 Julai 2013 berjanji untuk memansuhkan Akta Hasutan. Adalah mengecewakan dan membimbangkan bahawa walaupun beliau telah berulang kali berjanji kepada rakyat Malaysia, penggunaan Akta ini  telah sebaliknya meningkat dengan mendadak sehingga kini.

Kedudukan sebagai Peguam Negara diwujudkan oleh Perlembagaan Persekutuan, dan kami menggesa Tan Sri untuk memainkan peranan sebagai pelindung Perlembagaan Persekutuan pada setiap masa. Penggunaan berterusan Akta Hasutan ini tidak akan mengundang keyakinan orang ramai terhadap pejabat Peguam Negara.

Ia juga merupakan suatu perkara yang membimbangkan bahawa kebanyakan mereka yang didakwa di Mahkamah adalah dari golongan pembangkang, masyarakat madani, penentang atau mereka yang dilihat sebagai pro-pembangkang. Tindakan pantas telah diambil terhadap mereka ini termasuklah tangkapan, reman dan di dalam banyak kes, pendakwaan jenayah, sebagai contoh di dalam kes Adam Adli, Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Hishamuddin Rais, N. Surendran, Khalid Samad, RSN Rayer, Azmi Sharom, Wan Ji Wan Hussin, Eric Paulsen dan Zunar.

Sebaliknya, individu-individu yang telah membuat kenyataan yang bersifat amat provokatif dan mengapi-apikan perasaan tetapi kebetulannya adalah individu-individu UMNO atau pro-UMNO seperti Ibrahim Ali, Masitah Ibrahim, Jamal Yunos, Ismail Sabri dan Mohd Ali Baharom (lebih dikenali sebagai Ali Tinju, yang mana pertuduhan hasutannya telah ditarik balik), tidak didakwa.

Sejak Tan Sri telah mengambil jawatan pada 27 Julai 2015, kami perhatikan pendakwaan pertuduhan-pertuduhan berikut telah dimulakan:

  1. Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar, Ketua Pemuda Parti Amanah Negara
  2. Khalid Mohd Ismath, Aktivis (3 pertuduhan hasutan; 11 pertuduhan di bawah seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998);
  3. Sivarasa, Ahli Parlimen PKR dan peguam;
  4. Ng Wei Aik, Ahli Parlimen DAP;
  5. Lawrence Jayaraj, Aktivis;
  6. Hassan Karim, Ketua PKR Johor & peguam (4 pertuduhan hasutan);
  7. Arutchelvan, Pemimpin PSM.

Kami perhatikan bahawa penggunaan berterusan Akta Hasutan ini telah memberikan gambaran negatif terhadap negara kita di peringkat global dan mengundang kritikan antarabangsa. Kebanyakan negara moden dan berdemokrasi di dunia telah memansuhkan atau tidak lagi menggunapakai undang-undang yang menindas ini.

Kami seterusnya perhatikan bahawa kebanyakan kes di atas adalah melibatkan pendakwaan-pendakwaan kritikan terhadap kerajaan atau pentadbiran keadilan yang mana telah dilupuskan di bawah pindaan pada tahun 2015.

Peguam Negara memikul tanggungjawab yang berat dalam menegakkan kedaulatan undang-undang dengan membekalkan negara ini dengan perkhidmatan pendakwa raya yang bebas dan profesional, yang beroperasi dengan integriti, memberi keyakinan awam dan melindungi pentadbiran keadilan.

Kami menuntut:

  1. Semua pertuduhan hasutan yang sedia ada dikaji semula dan digugurkan dengan serta-merta;
  2. Moratorium atau penggantungan ke atas mana-mana pertuduhan hasutan lanjut sementara menunggu kajian penuh Akta Hasutan dan pemansuhannya;
  3. Bahawa pejabat Peguam Negara mengakui bahawa Akta Hasutan adalah kuno, bersifat tidak liberal dan tidak demokratik, dan kekurangan unsur niat dalam kesalahan ini melanggar prinsip-prinsip asas keadilan dan kesaksamaan.

GHAH: Memorandum to the Attorney General on the Misuse of the Sedition Act 1948

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Over the past months, there has been an alarming increase in investigations and prosecutions under the Sedition Act 1948, whose targets have included elected representatives and human rights activists who have a public duty to speak on matters of public interest.

Since 27th of July 2015, two opposition members of Parliament and five activists have been charged under this law. Since 2013, there has been an increase of 1,700 percent in sedition charges compared to the period between 2007 and 2012.

It is undeniable that the Sedition Act is too broadly defined and open to abuse. Under the Sedition Act, almost anything said or published that is remotely contentious can be deemed seditious.

The Prime Minister had on 11th of July 2012 and 3rd of July 2013 promised to repeal the Sedition Act. It is disappointing and disturbing that despite these repeated promises to the Malaysian public, the usage of the Act has greatly increased until today.

Your position as the Attorney-General is created by the Federal Constitution, and we urge you to play the role as the guardian of the Federal Constitution at all times. Continued usage of the Sedition Act will do little to regain public confidence in the office of the Attorney-General.

It is also a matter of grave concern to us that most of those charged are from the opposition, civil society, dissidents or those seen to be pro-opposition. Actions were swiftly taken against them including arrest, remand and in many cases, criminal prosecutions, for example in the cases of Adam Adli, Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Hishamuddin Rais, N.Surendran, Khalid Samad, RSN Rayer, Azmi Sharom, Wan Ji Wan Hussin, Eric Paulsen and Zunar.

On the other hand, individuals who have made incredibly provocative and inflammatory statements but happened to be UMNO or pro-UMNO individuals, such as Ibrahim Ali, Masitah Ibrahim, Jamal Yunos, Ismail Sabri and Mohd Ali Baharom (better known as Ali Tinju, his sedition charge was withdrawn) just to name a few, were not prosecuted. Since you have taken office on 27th of July 2015, we note the following sedition charges have been instituted:

  1. Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar, Parti Amanah Negara Youth Chief;
  2. Khalid Mohd Ismath, Activist (3 sedition charges; 11 charges under section 233 Communications and Multimedia Act 1998);
  3. R. Sivarasa, PKR MP and lawyer;
  4. Ng Wei Aik, DAP MP;
  5. Lawrence Jayaraj, Activist;
  6. Hassan Karim, Johor PKR chief & lawyer (4 sedition charges);
  7. S. Arutchelvan, PSM leader.

We note that the continuous usage of the Sedition Act has placed our nation in a negative light globally and opened us up for international criticism. Most modern and democratic states in the world have either repealed or put such oppressive laws into disuse.

We further note that the majority of the above cases deal with criticisms of the government or of the administration of justice which have been repealed under the 2015 amendments. The Attorney-General carries a heavy responsibility in upholding the rule of law by providing the State with an independent and professional public prosecution service that operates with integrity, inspires public confidence and safeguards the administration of justice.

We call for:

  1. All existing sedition charges to be reviewed and dropped immediately;
  2. A moratorium on any further sedition charges pending a full review of the Sedition Act and its eventual abolishment;
  3. That the office of the Attorney-General acknowledges the Sedition Act’s antiquated, illiberal and undemocratic nature and the lack of the intention element in the offence is in breach of basic principles of fairness and justice.