Syed Husin: Sedition Act will only be repealed if public fights it

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KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya will never repeal the Sedition Act 1948 if the public does not mount massive and sustained opposition towards the colonial-era legislation, said a former Internal Security Act detainee.

Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali said he believes the “repugnant” Sedition Act could be removed if there is a massive people’s movement against it.

“The sad fact is that in Malaysia, there are still no massive and sustained protests or opposition on these types of issues,” Syed Husin told a forum at Universiti Malaya on Wednesday night. The forum, titled “From class to Kamunting: remembering academic repression”, was held at the Tun Mohamed Suffian Auditorium at the law faculty. “Without the sustained protests by a large number of the rakyat, Putrajaya will continue to ignore the opposition to the Sedition Act 1948,” Syed Husin said.

His call comes as the Malaysian Bar takes the lead in the protest against Putrajaya’s recent Sedition blitz against opposition and activists in recent weeks. Yesterday, lawyers held a walk in protest against the Sedition Act from Padang Merbok to Parliament.

Syed Husin recalled his jailing at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak between 1974 and 1980, where he had been detained under the Internal Security Act 1960.

The former Parti Rakyat Malaysia president was detained under the ISA for his involvement in a farmers’ protest in Baling. He was  forced to resign as a professor of University Malaya’s Anthropology and Sociology Department despite almost 30 years of service because of his political activities. Although he had been detained under the ISA, Syed Husin said he did not regret it because Malaysia had progressed in leaps and bounds since then. “The rakyat are more courageous now, they are willing to voice their opinions and ask tough questions instead of accepting everything meekly,” said the 78-year-old.

Suaram adviser Dr Kua Kia Soong echoed Syed Husin’s comments.  Kua spent 445 days in Kamunting after being arrested with more than 100 opposition figures and activists during Ops Lalang in 1987. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 17, 2014.