DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS (JUHAM)
DEWAN PEMUDA PAS MALAYSIA
02 September 2012
1). JUHAM deplores the astounding spate of prosecutions under the archaic and draconian Sedition Act 1948 that the government has made in recent weeks.
2). We are witnessing not only Prime Minister Dato Seri Mohd Najib has clearly backtracked on his earlier pledge in July 2012 to abolish Sedition Act, but the recent series of prosecution has reached a critical level when even an academician like Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom of University of Malaya (UM) who expresses his honest opinion on the issue which relates to the subject on which he is engaged in his professional capacity also cannot be tolerated and deemed as seditious.
3). We in PAS have long advocated for the immediate abolishment of this law not only because it was a legacy of British colonial, but the most crucial reason is because this legislation is a repressive and archaic law that undermines democratic institutions and is an affront to human dignity and fundamental liberties as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. If we bother to read the provisions of the Act, we will find that the Act, especially in Section 3 and Section 4, is couched with broad and vague wordings in defining “seditious tendency” and enough to catch any statement or speech which has a tendency to question or criticize the government about its policies or actions as falling within the ambit of the offences provided for in Section 4 of the Act.
4). Therefore, any criticism aimed at the government, its institutions and its policies, irrespective of the intention or the context in which the criticism is made, is capable of having seditious tendencies under the Act and we are not surprised the government has been continuously using the Act to stifle legitimate criticisms against the government and the ruling party.
5). JUHAM also wants to reiterate that the abolishment of Sedition Act will not jeopardize the inter-racial harmony and stability that this country has enjoyed for decades as claimed by certain quarters. We, in fact, have sufficient provisions in Penal Code to deal with the crime of inciting hatred and religious and racial disharmony such as Section 298 (Uttering words, etc. with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), Section 298A (Causing etc, disharmony, disunity, or feelings or enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing, etc., the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion), Section 499 (Defamation), Section 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace) and Section 505 (Statements conducing to the public mischief).
6). JUHAM calls on the Malaysian Government to immediately cease and stop using the Sedition Act to silence dissenting opinions and criticism as this is a blatant assault on freedom of speech guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. For Malaysia to progress, we must accept that the peaceful expression of views, even those that are not always palatable, as a legitimate part of the democratic process that must be upheld and protected by all of us.
Department of Legal and Human Rights
Of PAS Youth
2 September 2014