A fortnight ago, in this very column, I wrote about a new movement to repeal the Sedition Act. I wrote about how the time for talking is over. It is time to take action. It is time for all those who want to see the end of the Sedition Act to come together.
I also wrote about how the National Young Lawyers Committee (NYLC) of the Bar Council will take the initiative. I invited everyone, whether they are lawyers or otherwise, to join the movement. The law affects everyone, so its repeal must be demanded for by everyone.
More than 50 lawyers, students, activists and concerned citizens answered the call. On Sept 4 2014, the NYLC launched the #MansuhAktaHasutan campaign, an event attended by more than 200 people who packed the Bar Council’s Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium on a Thursday night. A campaign was born to repeal the Sedition Act.
It will be a year-long, nationwide drive to pressure the Government to fulfil its promise to repeal the Sedition Act. The campaign will also seek to create awareness amongst the general public on why the Sedition Act must be repealed, in order to create a critical mass of people opposing the Sedition Act.
The campaign makes three demands. First, that the Sedition Act be repealed. Second, that all prosecutions under the Act be dropped. Thirdly, that if the Act is repealed, it will not be replaced with an Act that is similarly draconian.
To achieve the aims of the campaign, the NYLC will launch several initiatives. The first initiative is to come out with a brochure that contains frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Act. It will also include a history of the Act, provisions of the Act and most importantly, why the Act should be repealed. All of these using words which are to be easily understood by the masses.
The second initiative is to go on a signature drive campaign to get people to support the repeal of the Act, whether physically or online. After a year, these signatures will be presented to the Government to show that there is a critical mass of the rakyat who do not support the Act.
The third initiative is to conduct workshops that touch on freedom of expression and speech under the Federal Constitution. This workshop will also talk about the Sedition Act and why it should be repealed, apart from also encouraging the responsible exercise of these freedoms.
The campaign will move throughout the country to achieve its goals, whether alone or with Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan, a coalition of NGOs that has just been formed which also wants the Sedition Act to be repealed.
Online, the campaign will promote the use of the hashtag #MansuhAktaHasutan which has already become the default hashtag used whenever someone tweets or updates his Facebook status about the repeal of the Act.
All these initiatives will not be successful without the support of other organisations, bodies and individuals. That is why it is crucial that this campaign is supported by as many people as possible. The Sedition Act affects all of us. So it is all of us, not just lawyers, that should push for a repeal.> Syahredzan is a young lawyer and also the Chairperson of the National Young Lawyers Committee of the Bar Council. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.