New movement launched to press for repeal of Sedition Act

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PETALING JAYA: PKR has announced a new movement to press for a repeal of the Sedition Act, following a blitz by the authorities to charge several politicians and a law professor with sedition and criminal defamation.

Party vice-president Rafizi Ramli said the Repeal Sedition Act (Mansuh Akta Hasutan) movement would go on a series of road shows to explain how the government is using the Act to suppress dissent.

“Putrajaya is using the Sedition Act 1948 to silence freedom of expression and to clamp down on dissenting voices,” Rafizi told a press conference at the PKR headquarters yesterday.

“Despite promising in 2012 to repeal the archaic and colonial-era Sedition Act, [Prime Minister Datuk Seri] Najib [Razak] has failed to keep his promise. Instead, a slew of sedition charges have been brought against lawmakers.”

“Political parties, non-government organisations and the rakyat have to make their opinions clear that Putrajaya must keep its promise and repeal the Sedition Act,” he said.

The new movement will see the PKR leadership working with civil society to hold road shows to educate people on the Sedition Act, while PKR elected representatives at the state and federal levels will launch efforts to repeal the Act.

“The purpose of the road shows is to explain to the rakyat how the sedition charges brought against opposition lawmakers is an assault on democracy,” Rafizi told reporters.

Among other developments yesterday, Sabah Reform Party member, David Orok, was charged with sedition for a Facebook post deemed insulting to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The Star reported that Orok was charged at the Sessions Court in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. He allegedly committed the offence on July 4 at a house in Kampung Roun, Jalan Labuaya, Topokan in Tuaran.

His Facebook post was captured and shared widely on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Orok subsequently posted an apology to Muslims, blaming others for the offensive post.

Yesterday, police also launched an investigation into a news portal and its Penang-based reporter. State police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said Susan Loone, a Malaysiakini reporter, and the portal will be investigated under the Sedition Act for publishing allegedly seditious material.

The report is said to be related to a police crackdown on Penang’s Volunteer Patrol Unit (PPS).

“We have yet to call the reporter but will investigate the case under the Sedition Act,” Abdul Rahim said in George Town.

Ten police reports have been lodged against Malaysiakini and Loone over the news report which was said to have defamed the police.

Perkasa and 13 other NGOs that called themselves The Coalition of Penang Malay Representatives lodged the reports at the Jalan Pantai police station in Penang at about 6pm on Tuesday.

The NGOs urged the police to investigate the article titled “Disoal siasat selama 4 jam, dakwa dilayan seperti penjenayah” published on Monday on Malaysiakini’s Bahasa Malaysia site.

The news report is a translation of Loone’s article titled Exco man grilled for four hours, treated like a criminal, which was published on the same day.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 4, 2014.