Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) is deeply disturbed and disappointed with the judgment of the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to convict student activist Adam Adli under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948, sentencing him to a harsh 12 month-imprisonment early this morning for merely calling the people to change government. The judgment is a serious blow to the enjoyment of freedom of expression and opinion in the country.
Adam was charged with making seditious remarks at a forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on May 13, 2013, shortly after Malaysia’s 13th General Election. He was alleged to have incite the people to unlawfully overthrow a legitimately elected government when in fact he was only calling for people to join peaceful protest against electoral frauds, which is perfectly legitimate under the Federal Constitution. Clearly, there was also no violent or untoward incident following his alleged seditious statement.
The “seditious tendency” as defined under the Act is overtly vague and it traps almost everything that contain slightest dissent to the establishment. Adam’s speech, in no way could be interpreted as seditious or as instigating any form of disorder or inciting violence by citizen. The truth is, it is a statement that most Malaysian would probably share the similar sentiment, as illustrated in the result of the 13th General Election in which 52% of the population voted for a change of government.
The conviction of Safwan Anang on Sept 5, 2014 and today’s conviction of Adam Adli demonstrates a trend that is extremely worrying – the continuous assault on the right to freedom of speech and opinion of the general public despite the repeated assurance of the prime minister of his commitment to repeal the Sedition Act and the public statement of the Attorney General that all sedition cases will be reviewed following widespread criticism domestically and internationally. Clearly, the words are not consistent with the actions.
Malaysia will never be truly independent as long as the Sedition Act remains with us. The Act was a residue piece of legislation by the British during colonial era. It was drafted broadly with no requirement of malicious intentions or the actual implication subsequent to the statement made. This arbitrary piece of legislation was used by the British to silent any dissents against their rule and to curb our fore fathers’ effort to fight for independence. And 57 years after independence, the Sedition Act is used as a new type of ISA to stifle and repress civil liberties and anyone that questions the status quo of the ruling government and to create a climate of fear among its own people.
The Sedition Act is repressive, outdated and irrelevant in this 21st century. It has no place in a democratic society. GHAH reiterates our demands that the Sedition Act must be abolished, all existing charges under the Act to be dropped and to release all those incarcerated under the Act and lastly, there shall be no replacement act with similar draconian provisions.
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