PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) expressed its concerns over the government’s use of the Sedition Act 1948 to arrest several individuals for various alleged offences.
Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said Suhakam viewed this development with deep concern as the Pakatan Harapan government had previously deemed the Sedition Act as oppressive in its election manifesto, just last year.
“Suhakam is surprised that Cabinet and PH MPs who claim to support the transformative democracy, some of whom were victims of the Sedition Act themselves, have allowed such a regression,“ he said in a statement today.
He said the use of the act indicated the government’s dependence on draconian laws.
Razali said he wondered if police practices may be contrary to the government’s policy and reform agenda, to the extent that the police may be accused of operating within an authoritarian policing framework.
He admitted that there would be instances where what is said or written may be offensive but the public must understand that freedom of expression forms the foundation of a democratic society.
He added that freedom of expression is not an absolute right and there are existing laws in place to ensure it is not abused, such as in a situation where it incites violence or promotes hatred.
Razali called on the PH Government to honour its word and promise to repeal the Sedition Act 1948.
He said Malaysia can be a more democratic society without the Sedition Act and this nation will continue its march as a peaceful nation without the need for such a law.
Two men and one woman were arrested five days ago and are being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act for allegedly posting demeaning social media comments against Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, who stepped down as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong last Sunday.