CIJ questions use of Sedition Act against those insulting royalty

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 10 Jan 2019

Advocacy and rights group took direct aim at Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg for Facebook enlisting Definers Public Affairs to conduct research on company critics. — AFP Relaxnews

PETALING JAYA: The recent arrest of three individuals by the police for allegedly insulting Sultan Muhammad V does not fall under the categories for which the Sedition Act should be used, says The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).

It voiced concerned over the use of the Sedition Act to arrest the three individuals over their comments on social media deemed insulting to Sultan Muhammad V.

"CIJ recalls that when the government lifted the moratorium on the use of the Sedition Act, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo stated that its use would be reserved for issues involving national security, public order and race relations.

"CIJ disagrees with the lifting of the moratorium and states that, in any event, the recent arrests do not fall within the above categories as set out by the minister," it said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 10).

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun was reported as saying that the three individuals were detained after several reports were made against them for allegedly committing a seditious offence in their comments on social media.

Those detained were Eric Liew Chee Ling, 46, Azham Akhtar Abdullah, 27, and Nur Alia Astaman, 26.

Liew is believed to have committed the offence via Facebook, while the other two individuals were believed to have used Twitter.

All of them are being investigated under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act.

CIJ said while their comments might be insulting, they were not a threat under any of the categories listed by Gobind and therefore did not call for arrest under the Sedition Act.

"Although the Minister may have sought to limit the categories under which the Act could be used, this is clearly not being heeded by those on the ground," it said.

It also urged the government to reimpose the moratorium on the Sedition Act and to abolish the Act without any delay to prevent future abuse.

It said doing so would be a symbolic act signifying that the Pakatan Harapan government was committed to the rule of law and would not rely on heavy-handed laws used by the previous government to silence critical and opposing voices.

"The repeal of the Sedition Act was part of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, and its repeal is vital to upholding the promise to make Malaysia’s human rights record respected to internationally," it said.

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