Press Statement by Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy on 29 August 2014

Referring to a statement addressed by Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi in which abuses of liberal space is the reason of increasing prosecutions under 1948 Sedition Act, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy urges Deputy Minister to resign immediately for failing to uphold freedom of speech guaranteed by Federal Constitution Article 10 (1) (a).

We are of the view that critiques against other political parties or government agencies of abusing authority is deemed normal in a democratic society. Reasonable doubts, criticizing religious department’s actions or even impolite accusations are tolerable within the scope of freedom of speech, thus imposing punishment to those making above actions by government is absolutely not acceptable.

Consecutively, three Pakatan Rakyat members of parliament were charged under sedition act. The former two were charged for alleging UMNO for orchestrating political conspiracies in Selangor Menteri Besar controversy and Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial. The later, for suggesting law amendment to control state Islamic department directly by Selangor government with the aim of curtailing improper action of state Islamic department.

Other cases involving Penang State Assemblyman Nayer for saying ‘UMNO Celaka’; DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang for commenting on Teoh Beng Hock unsolved murder case and PKR Johor vice president Hassan Karim for expressing his view on Selangor Sultan and constitution. These prosecutions and investigations clearly violated opposition leaders’ democratic rights and eroded the freedom of speech.

Why BN government repeatedly invoking notorious sedition act to prosecute opposition leaders while the Selangor Menteri Besar controversy and Anwar’s sodomy trial are around the corner? The persecution of opposition leaders is seemingly political-motivated for the benefit of ruling coalition.

This shows Prime Minister Najib Razak is gradually shrinking the space of free speech, by using archaic and draconian law instituted by the British colonial in 1948 to clamp down pro-democracy movement and to strengthen his political dominance. The misconduct has demeaned the founding constitution of the country. The freedom of speech is facing the most serious menace since the Abdullah government.

Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy