Lawyers’ group slams govt for using 3Rs to justify use of Sedition Act, reminds Pakatan of its previous stand

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today criticised the use of the royal institution to justify the continued use of the Sedition Act 1948, reminding the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led government of its stand against the law during the coalition’s time in the Opposition.

LFL director Zaid Malek said protecting the Malay Rulers is not a legitimate reason to maintain the Sedition Act 1948 as any government, either the current PH-led one or subsequent governments can still extend the use of the law to any government critic.

“Many facets of government administration have some manner of royal involvement, such as amendments of certain articles of the Federal Constitution or certain appointments.

“The involvement of the Malay Rulers in any decision, no matter how slight, could result in any comments or criticism of government action to be considered ‘seditious’.

“The same is also true for issues relating to race and religion, which undoubtedly plays a large role in Malaysia’s political discourse,” Zaid said in a statement today.

He was responding to Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail’s announcement that the government has agreed to begin the process of amending several legislation, including the controversial Sedition Act 1948, to ensure that 3R (race, religion and royalty) issues are effectively managed.

Zaid said that 3R issues have become the excuse for every infringement of civil liberties by the ruling government.

“Every broken promise of reform is justified on the grounds of 3R. This excuse is a deception upon the people.

“The Sedition Act 1948 is an antiquated and draconian colonial legislation that has long threatened personal and political freedom in this country.

“It blatantly breaches the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” he said, about the first part of the Article that states every Malaysian has the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Zaid also added that it is not feasible to salvage the Sedition Act 1948 at the risk of it being used against fellow Malaysians is far too great.

He pointed out that it was an appalling betrayal for the PH-led government to now refuse to repeal the Act now that they are in power after they have for so long promised to do so when they were in the Opposition.

“Their previous position on the Sedition Act 1948 contained no reservations about protecting the royals, race or religion, and there is no reason for that stance to change now that they are in power,” he said.

Zaid reminded PH that the coalition was elected to power based on reform, which included the promise to repeal the Sedition Act 1948.

He called on the government to keep their promise to repeal the Act.

Zaid explained that the Sedition Act 1948 has a long history of being used against the political Opposition, activists and opponents of the government of the day.

He added that the Act is so vaguely and widely constructed that it could make any comment, even legitimate expressions of dissent against the government, termed as “sedition”.

LFL has consistently condemned the use of the Sedition Act 1948.

Last year, LFL criticised the use of the law against Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, claiming that no legitimate government should be allowed to wield the powers given by the Act.




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