PETALING JAYA: It is unacceptable for the government to use the Sedition Act 1948 against caretaker Kedah mentri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, say several groups.
Rights group Lawyers for Liberty says the government must immediately suspend the use of the Sedition Act 1948 and subsequently repeal it at the next Parliamentary sitting.
Its director Zaid Malek also urged Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun to withdraw the sedition charges made against caretaker Kedah mentri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor on Tuesday (July 18) morning.
He said that just as it was “invalid” for previous governments to use the Sedition Act against Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders and other opponents, the same can be said now with Sanusi’s two seditious charges.
“No legitimate government can be allowed to wield the powers conferred by these laws.
“The Sedition Act should no longer be part of our criminal justice system and should be consigned to the trash-heap of our colonial past,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (July 18).
Earlier, former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan also said it was high time the Act was abolished.
“I agree with @zaidibrahim (former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim) that the use of the Act against political opponents (and in fact against anyone) by this government is wholly unacceptable. So contrary to the Malaysia we fought for. The Sedition Act must be abolished!” she said in a Twitter post Tuesday (July 18) morning.
In an earlier tweet, Zaid had described the laws of sedition as an archaic legal concept that had already been scrapped in most Commonwealth countries.
Social media users were also vocal on the issue.
Twitter user @pragmalaya said the Pakatan Harapan-led government must abolish the Sedition Act now that it is part of the administration.
“As a principle, I am against the Sedition Act but the onus is on PH to abolish that law now that they are the government. As it stands, every citizen of Malaysia has to endure it so it is satisfying to see the same applied to the powerful as well for once.
“But PH needs to abolish that law!” he wrote.
However, Twitter user, @imfsea_aruna, disagreed that it was the government that made the decision to charge Muhammad Sanusi under the Sedition Act.
He pointed out that such a decision lies with the Attorney General.
“Don't imply that the government ordered (for) Sanusi be charged under the Sedition Act. It's the AG who decides.
“Freedom of speech/expression are fundamental human rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Any abuse of these rights to cause racial/religious conflicts should not be condoned,” he said.