ASEAN parliamentarians urge Malaysia to repeal Sedition Act and other repressive laws

General Press Releases Wednesday August 8, 2018 10:23
Bangkok--8 Aug--ASEAN Parliamentarian Human Rights
Malaysia's new government must make good on promises to repeal the Sedition Act and other repressive laws used to silence critics and restrict fundamental freedoms, legislators from Southeast Asia said today.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) urged the new Pakatan Harapan government, which took office in May 2018, to fulfil its campaign commitment to repeal a range of draconian laws. Malaysia's parliament is currently in session until 16 August and is expected to review laws that are incompatible with Malaysia's international human rights obligations, including the controversial Anti-Fake News Act.

"For years, Malaysian authorities have relied on and misused a catalogue of repressive laws to restrict public debate and jail critics. This new government has the mandate and responsibility to change course by repealing or amending these, including the Sedition Act – it's an opportunity that cannot be missed," said APHR Board Member Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives.

"We urge the Pakatan Harapan coalition to take concrete steps towards legal reform before the current parliamentary session ends. This would send a powerful signal that the new government is serious in its commitments to prioritize human rights and good governance. It would also provide inspiration and belief to democratic actors across our embattled region that the winds of change have turned and are once again blowing in the right direction across Southeast Asia."

The overly broad Sedition Act can carry a punishment of three to seven years in prison for vaguely worded offences, including acting with "seditious tendency" against the government. The former Barisan National government used the law to harass and imprison critics, including human rights defenders, academics, journalists and lawyers. Despite committing to repeal the law in 2012, the former government instead rushed through amendments to it in 2015 that increased the number of seditious offences.

The Sedition Act has also frequently been used against opposition parliamentarians, undermining the country's democracy. In 2016, for example, People's Justice Party MP and APHR member Tian Chua was sentenced to three months in prison and fined more than 400 USD after delivering a speech denouncing racism and corruption.

While it is positive that a number of sedition cases – including against high-profile individuals such as cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar "Zunar" Ulhaque, human rights lawyer N. Surendran and MP R. Sivarasa – have already been withdrawn, APHR today urged the Attorney General's office to step up its efforts and drop all remaining cases under the Sedition Act against those who have done nothing but peacefully exercise their human rights.

In its election manifesto, the Pakatan Harapan committed to repealing a list of "tyrannical" laws, including the Sedition Act, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. The coalition also pledged to create a climate where media outlets can carry out their work without fear of reprisals.

"Across Southeast Asia, many authoritarian leaders are in a 'race to the bottom' when it comes to restricting human rights and the freedom of expression. From Manila, to Yangon, to Bangkok, parliamentarians, journalists and rights defenders are risking their own safety and freedom simply by carrying out their work," said Teddy Baguilat, APHR Board Member and a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines.

"People are now looking to Malaysia to set a positive example for the region, and to show that the dangerous trend of shrinking space for rights is reversible. We hope the new government will seize this chance."


Latest Press Release

BSH Announces New Promotional Campaign to Boost Vario Styles Year-End Sales

Mr. Chollawit Na Songkhla, Managing Director, BSH Home Appliances Company Ltd., Thailand, unveiled "BSH is renowned for being the world's leading manufacturer of home appliances under the Bosch brand. The company has recently introduced its brand-new...

Ananda Development and CUPT launch How Cambridge Berkeley Stanford do Tech Transfer

An event aiming at bringing a revolution in the Thai tech ecosystem through the best practices of three globally renowned universities Ananda Development Public Company Limited and Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT) are partnering to...

Thanksgiving Lunch Buffet at Voila! Restaurant

Our popular Voila! restaurant is celebrating Thanksgiving Day with a Lunch buffet that features all your favourite dishes including butternut squash and ginger soup, roast turkey (with all the trimmings!), baked ham, pumpkin pie and eggnog cheesecake. We...

Royal Cliff Supports Employees Children with Annual Scholarship Program

It was a joyful day of pride and gratitude for employees of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group who gave back to its loyal and hardworking team by generously awarding 61 merit-based scholarships for the children of the staff. Divided into 3 levels, the fund was...

Thanksgiving Buffet at Nimman Bar Grill, Kantary Hills Hotel, Chiang Mai

On 22 November from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Nimman Bar & Grill, Kantary Hills Hotel, Chiang Mai, we invite you to join us at a Thanksgiving Festival Buffet. We follow the lead of the USA as our chefs prepare a delicious celebratory Buffet Dinner with...

Related Topics