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Since the unity government came into being, the investigation by the Semporna police against Borneo Komrad founder Mukmin Nantang under the Sedition Act marks the first time that the archaic law is abused to crack down on whistleblowing efforts by human rights defenders (HRDs). Among the few cases documented over the last 1.5 years such as the forced eviction of farmers in Kanthan, Section 186 of the Penal Code and defamation laws were primarily used against HRDs. This sets a concerning precedent for further regression of freedom of expression to pandemic levels - when the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act were rampantly misused by the Perikatan Nasional government to silence HRDs and the media for exposing critical state-perpetrated human rights violations.

By targeting Mukmin after the recent arrest and detention of a teacher and eight of his students post-#KamiMahuAir rally, it is clear that the government unscrupulously prizes its credibility and reputation. This is at the complete expense of commitments made to improving state accountability, and the government’s foundational duty to uphold freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Such blatant abuse of the Sedition Act also renders the commitment made by the unity government in March this year to amend the legislation insignificant.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) unequivocally condemns the police investigation against Mukmin, and demands that it be ceased immediately. We also call on the government to abolish the Sedition Act, and concretise this effort by:

  • implementing a moratorium on application of the legislation pending repeal, and

  • fully accepting and implementing the six recommendations on repealing the Sedition Act that were received during the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review

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