Joint statement on abolish sedition act and the formation of abolish the sedition act movement/ Gerakan hapus akta hasutan (Ghah)

 

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JOINT STATEMENT ON ABOLISH THE SEDITION ACT

AND

THE FORMATION OF ABOLISH THE SEDITION ACT MOVEMENT/ GERAKAN HAPUS AKTA HASUTAN (GHAH)

5 September 2014, Kuala Lumpur

press conference on GHAH

We, the undersigned organisations have come together to express in the strongest terms our protest against the continuing usage of the repressive, colonial and undemocratic Sedition Act of 1948.

The Sedition Act is a piece of repressive legislation made by the British colonial government to suppress freedom of expression and opinion of our forefathers who fought for the independence of our country. This legislation has to go if we want to be a truly independent nation.

The Sedition Act is too broadly defined and is easily open to abuse by the government. It can and is being used to criminalise almost any kind of democratic speech including legitimate criticisms against the government, its leaders or the ruling political parties. Under the Sedition Act, almost anything said or published that is remotely contentious can be deemed seditious. The Sedition Act is clearly being misused to protect the government and its interests, clampdown on the opposition and dissidents, make certain issues off limits, stifle civil liberties and create a climate of fear reminiscent of the worst days under the iron fisted Mahathir regime.

This trend is clearly illustrated in the conviction of Hindraf leader, P. Uthayakumar in June 2013 and former national chairman of Democratic Action Party, the late Karpal Singh in February 2014.

Over the past month, the Sedition Act has been indiscriminately used in a new wave of political repression and terror whose targets have included elected representatives and lawyers who have a public duty to speak on matters of public interest.

We are also extremely concerned with the selective prosecution under the Sedition Act by the Attorney General who is clearly targeting those who are critical of the government.

Those who have been charged are:

1.         David Orok                                         Member, Sabah Reform Party

2.         Azmi Sharom                                      Law professor, University of Malaya

3.         N Surendran                                        Lawyer, Padang Serai MP

4.         Khalid Samad                                     Shah Alam MP

5.         RSN Rayer                                          Lawyer, Seri Delima ADUN

6.         Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman           President, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia

7.         Teresa Kok                                          Seputeh MP

8.         Chua Tian Chang                                Batu MP

9.         Hishamuddin Rais                              Social Activist

10.       Adam Adli                                          Student Activist

11.       Safwan Anang                                                Student Activist

12.       Haris Ibrahim                                      Lawyer/ Social Activist

13.       Tamrin Tun Abdul Ghafar                  Political Activist

14.       Md Shuhaimi Shafie                           Sri Muda ADUN

 

Numerous others are being investigated including:-

 

1.         Viktor Wong                                       Activist, Parti Rakyat Malaysia

2.         Susan Loone                                       Journalist, Malaysiakini

3.         Hassan Karim                                      Lawyer/ PKR Johor Vice Chairman

4.         Rafizi Ramli                                        Pandan MP

5.         Ali bin Jalil                                          Member of public

6.         17-year-old schoolboy                        (unnamed)

7.         Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin            Changkat Jering ADUN

The Prime Minister had on 11 July 2012 and 3 July 2013 promised to repeal the Sedition Act.  It is shocking that despite this promise to the Malaysian public, the usage of the Act has greatly increased.

The Sedition Act is being used as a new type of ISA, to stifle and repress the opposition, civil society and the public.

At this critical hour, when our human rights are being trampled upon with impunity, we, the undersigned endorse the formation of Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH).

The objective of GHAH is to carry out a national campaign to bring to an end the ever present threat of freedom of expression and opinion by the Sedition Act that hangs over every Malaysian.

Our demands are:

–       REPEAL THE SEDITION ACT 1948

–       DROP ALL EXISTING CHARGES AND RELEASE ALL THOSE INCARCERATED UNDER THE SEDITION ACT

–       NO REPLACEMENT ACT WTH SIMILAR DRACONIAN PROVISIONS

GHAH will be officially launched on 15 September 2014 and will be going nationwide to urgently push for the fulfillment of the above demands.

 

Endorsed by:

  1. Aliran
    1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
    2. Amnesty International Malaysia
    3. Anak Muda Sarawak
    4. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (Warga AMAN)
    5. Asian Law Students Association (ALSA)
    6. Association of Women Lawyers
    7. Baramkini
    8. Bersih Sibu
    9. Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS)
    10. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
    11. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
    12. Center for Reform, Democracy and Social Initiatives (CRD)
    13. Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4)
    14. Community Action Network (CAN)
    15. Dam the Dams
    16. Dapur Komuniti Serdang
    17. Dignity International
    18. ENGAGE
    19. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
    20. Friends of Kota Damansara
    21. Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (G.A.M.I.S.)
    22. Gabungan Persatuan Alumni Universiti Taiwan, Malaysia 大马留台联总
    23. GEMA-UMANY ALUMNI 马大新青年毕业生协会
    24. Gerakan Bunga Raya
    25. Global Bersih
    26. Himpunan Hijau
    27. Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Studies (IDEAS)
    28. Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL)
    29. Institute for Leadership and Development Studies (LEAD)
    30. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
    31. Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM)
    32. Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
    33. Jihad for Justice
    34. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
    35. Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan
    36. Kelab Bangsar Utama
    37. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
    38. Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
    39. Kuen Cheng Alumni Association
    40. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)
    41. Lawyers for Liberty
    42. Legasi Mahasiswa Progresif
    43. Lensa Anak Muda Malaysia
    44. Life for Democracy
    45. Linkaran Islam Tradisional
    46. LLG Cultural Development Centre
    47. Malaysia Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
    48. Malaysia Physicians for Social Responsibility
    49. Malaysia Speakers Association 马来西亚讲师协会
    50. Malaysia Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (DEMA)
    51. Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce
    52. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
    53. Mama Bersih
    54. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
    55. Nanyang University Alumni Association
    56. National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT)
    57. National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW)
    58. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall
    59. New Era College Alumni Association
    60. Northern Green Youth
    61. Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee
    62. Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Cawangan Nusajaya
    63. Partners of Community Organizations in Sabah (Pacos Trust)
    64. Pax Romana International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA)
      1. Penang Forum Steering Committee
      2. People Welfare and Rights Organisation (POWER)
      3. Perak Green Pioneer (PGP)
      4. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
      5. Persahabatan Semparuthi, Johor
      6. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Kuala Lumpur & Selangor
      7. Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua Northern Region Alumni
      8. Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua Universiti Sains Malaysia
      9. Persatuan Bekas Murid-Murid Confucian School Wilayah Persekutuan dan Selangor 雪隆尊孔学校校
        1. Persatuan Bekas Siswazah Universiti and Kolej di China
        2. Persatuan Hopo Kuala Lumpur & Selangor, Bahagian Belia 隆雪河婆同乡会青年部
        3. Persatuan Huian Quangang KL dan Selangor (Bhg Pemuda)  隆雪惠安泉港公会青年团
        4. Persatuan Huian Quangang KL dan Selangor 隆雪惠安泉港公会
        5. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
        6. Persatuan Koh Yew Kuala Lumpur & Selangor 隆雪高要会馆
        7. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & Kuala Lumpur
        8. Persatuan Mahasiswa University Malaya 马大学生会
        9. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor (PERMAS)
        10. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
        11. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM)
        12. Projek BERES
        13. Projek Dialog
        14. Pusat Komas
        15. Rainbow Genders Society
        16. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
        17. Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA)
        18. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
        19. Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee
        20. Sarawak Student Progressive Front
        21. Sarawak Youth for Change
        22. SAVE Rivers
        23. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia ( SABM )
        24. School of Acting Justly, LovingTenderly n Treading Humbly (SALT)
        25. Selangor & Federal Territory Chung Shan Association 雪隆中山同乡会

100.Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Association

101.Selangor Hokkien Association Youth Section

102.Sembang Sembang Forum

103.SHIELD Tam (ST)

104.Sisters in Islam

105.Student Progressive Front of Universiti Putra Malaysia (Gerakan Mahasiswa Maju University Putra Malaysia)

106.Students Progressive Front University Sains Malaysia

107.Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

108.Tamil Foundation Malaysia

109.Tamilar Action Force (TAF)

110.Tenaganita

111.Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy

112.Teori Timur

113.The Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Foundry & Engineering Industries Association 雪隆机器厂商会

114.The Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Kwang Tung Association Youth Section

115.The Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Kwang Tung Association 雪隆广东会馆

116.The Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Nan Ann Association 雪隆南安会馆

117.Tindak Malaysia

118.United Chinese Scholl Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM)

119.Universiti Terbuka Anak Muda (UTAM)

120.University Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)

121.Women Development of Malaysia PJ New Town Branch

122.Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)

123.Women’s Centre for Change

124.Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

125.Youth for Change (Y4C)

Conviction of Safwan Anang a regression of democracy and freedom of expression

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is shock and gravely troubled by the conviction of Safwan Anang, former chairperson of Solidarity Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) by the Kuala Lumpur Session Court today. The judgment will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and opinion of public members and it marks a worrying sliding back of democracy for the country.

Safwan Anang was sentenced to 10 month of imprisonment for allegedly uttered words of seditious tendency and encouraged the public to topple a legitimate government through illegal means on 13 May 2013. He was convicted for committing the offence under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948. His was granted a stay of execution pending appeal with a RM15,000 bail.

It is the right of any citizen to campaign for a change of government in a functioning democracy. There should not be criminalization of speech. After all, this is what democracy is about – freedom for the citizens to choose a better government. Safwan was convicted for merely exercising his rights to freedom of expression and the right to take part in the government of the country, directly or through freely chosen representatives as guaranteed under Article 19 and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His action is perfectly legitimate and falls within the system of democracy as he has not resort to violence.

Any government, organization and individual that has a sincere desire for progress and reform should appreciate the benefit of objective and constructive criticism. A responsible government must not suppress the expression of any individual who criticizes the establishment. Instead, it should embrace criticism from the public in order to improve its performance in serving the people.

The conviction of Safwan Anang, once again reaffirms public criticism that the Act is anti thesis to freedom of expression and democratic principles and a tool for the government to suppress criticism of the government. Any legitimate comments or criticism of the government can be easily construed as having “seditious tendency” under the Sedition Act 1948 by the authorities. The act is repressive, outdated and irrelevant in this 21st century. It has no place in a democratic society.

The Sedition Act was established in Malaysia by the British in 1948, with the intention of oppressing of freedom of expression and curbing any opposition’s effort to fight for independence. It is an ironic that this archaic piece of legislation remains with us even after 57 years of independence and for worst, we see a recent sedition crackdown which many had named it as “Operasi Lalang II” against lawmakers, politicians, activists, lawyers, academician, journalists and the ordinary citizens.

It is of utmost disappointment that despite the Prime Minister’s pledge on 11 July 2012 and 3 July 2013 to repeal the act, the act is now increasingly used to intimidate and penalise our fellow Malaysians for having an opinion and wanting improvement for the country.

If the prime minister is to retain any public confidence in his promises, he has to put a stop to this insane sedition dragnet and repeal the Sedition Act immediately.

 

Released by,

Yap Swee Seng

Executive Director

 

For inquiry, please contact Mr. Yap Swee Seng at +6012 2015272 or [email protected].

Protect migrant workers’ rights and stop the exploitation

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) calls on the police and the Ministry of Human Resources to immediately investigate the allegations of inhumane treatment and exploitation of Nepali workers by JCY International Bhd in Kulai following the recent incident of its factory being set on fire. JCY International Bhd must be held accountable if such allegations of ill-treatment and violations of human rights from the Nepali workers are true.

While SUARAM does not condone violence, the authorities must address the root-causes of the incident to avoid it from happening again. The basic human rights and labour rights of migrant workers must be protected so that they can work safely and live a dignified life while working in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, unequal and inhumane treatment towards migrant labour workers is not uncommon in Malaysia. Migrant workers are ill-protected from exploitation by employers such as no guarantee of minimum wage rate, maximum working hours, pitiable safety provisions, lack of insurance protection etc. They are vulnerable as a result of their desperation to repay the high amount of debts from recruitment agency, financial pressure from families back home, social discrimination and lack of access to justice and protection. Enforcement of labour laws on foreign worker is deplorable, especially in cases involving foreign workers injured while on duty and are not compensated monetarily.

On 18 August, 3 Bangladeshi construction workers were killed when a 650-tonne concrete span at the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) work site in Sungai Buloh collapsed, crashing them to death. The next of kin of the victims were each compensated with RM25,000. Causation of this MRT mishap is still under investigation.

On 26 August, a factory manager’s car was turned-turtle and burn in a strike by about 800 foreign workers in a hard disk manufacturing factory in Taman Perindustrian Sawit Baru. The riot was prompted by constant exploitation and deprivation of workers’ rights by the employer. The management was alleged to have physically hitting the employees over trivial mistakes, erratic salaries deduction or denial.

SUARAM believes these incidents are just tip of an iceberg and it merely unveiled the dangerous and gruelling employment condition that is so ordinarily experienced by migrant labour workers who left their country with hope for a better life so alluringly promised by the unscrupulous recruitment agency.

We call on all migrant workers to be treated humanely and equally as enshrined under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.” The constitution clearly guarantees that this right to equality is extended to all persons including foreign workers. The similar equality is again guaranteed under Section 2 of the Employment Act 1955.

The minimum wage policy should be extended to all migrant workers and monitored regularly for its proper implementation by the Ministry of Human Resources. In addition, Department of Occupational Safety and Health should strengthen their administration and enforcement of legislations in ensuring a conducive working environment and to avoid any more unnecessary injury or casualty.

Abuse of migrant workers and their exploitation will not stop if the crucial issue of access to justice is not addressed. SUARAM urges the Malaysian government to immediately ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Members of their Families and review our domestic laws to enhance the protection of migrant workers in the country. The government should also stop being the stumbling block in the current negotiation of the ASEAN instrument on the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, which has been delayed for its completion from 2010 to 2015.

The Malaysian government and the people have to recognise that the migrant workers have contributed significantly to the economic growth and development of our nation for decades. They deserve better treatment and equal rights as any other human beings.

 

Released by,

Yap Swee Seng

Executive Director

 

Drop Sedition Charge Against Surendran

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) calls on the Attorney General to stop the abuse of the archaic Sedition Act and drop the prosecution of Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PKR) vice president, member of parliament of Padang Serai and Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer N. Surendran.

Surendran was accused of sedition in a news release titled “Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 Written Judgement is Flawed, Defensive & Insupportable” released on Malaysiakini, 18 April 2014. In his words, Surendran had allegedly accused Prime Minister Najib as part the political conspiracy in Datuk Seri Anwar Imbrahim’s second sodomy conviction.

In protecting freedom of opinion and expression and public interest, government officials and politicians including the Prime Minister Najib Razak should stop using draconian laws such as the Sedition Act to disparage public criticism.

Instead, the prime minister should exercise his right to reply and counter the allegations in public. We believe his statement will receive wide coverage in the media. Public members will be able to judge for themselves the rights from the wrongs.

By using the Sedition Act  – a draconian law that is a relic of colonial authoritarianism, against those that expresses their opinions and views on the government, this will risk stifling freedom of expression that is vital in checking abuses of the government in a functioning democracy.

The Sedition Act is loosely worded and vested vast powers in the authorities at the expense of freedom of the right to freedom of speech and expression. The act criminalises speech with “seditious tendency”, which is defined broadly, including “bring to hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the government.”

If convicted, the Padang Serai MP could be jailed up to 3 years or fined RM5,000 or both. Surendran would also risk losing his political career if the fine is more than RM2,000 or jailed more than a year. This will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

The Prime Minister Najib Razak has made a pledge on July 2012 and later on June 2013 during his speech in BBC World News Programme that he is committed to repeal the Sedition Act and to replace it with National Harmony Act. This in itself is an admission that the Sedition Act is draconian and obsolete.

Despite the promise of the prime minister, the government continued to use regularly the Sedition Act to make arrestment and to curtail freedom of expression in the name of maintaining harmony. Those arrested and charged under the Sedition Act thus far include student activists Adam Adli, Safwan Anang and Khalid Ismath, civil society activist Hishamuddin Rais, Anything But UMNO (AbU) leader Haris Ibrahim, PAS Batu Berendam MP Tamrin Ghafar, PKR vice-president and Batu MP Chua Tian Chang, DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, and the late DAP chairman and human rights lawyer Karpal Singh.

A law that is pending for repeal should not be used anymore by the government. We call on the prime minister to walk his talk and repeal the Sedition Act immediately.

 

Released by,

 

Yap Swee Seng

Executive Director

 

 

PETISYEN RAKYAT BANTAH AKTA DRAKONIAN

Logo Rakyat Bantah Akta Drakonian

SUARAM

PETISYEN

PETITION

MANSUHKAN UNDANG-UNDANG TAHAN TANPA BICARA

ABOLISH DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL

 

Salam Hormat,

SUARAM telah memulakan sebuah Petisyen Atas Talian bagi membantah undang-undang tahan tanpa bicara. Pihak kami ingin memohon sedikit masa dari anda untuk menyokong petisyen ini.

SUARAM has initiated an Online Petition to protest detention without trial laws. We would like to request a little bit of your time to support this petition.

Di bawah merupakan link kepada petisyen kami. Sokongan anda adalah amat kami hargai.

Below is the link to the petition. Your support is much appreciated.

 

 

PETISYEN RAKYAT BANTAH AKTA DRAKONIAN

 

 

Terima kasih di atas sokongan anda

Thank you for your support.