Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Sedition Act an affront to democracy

THE Bar Council is shocked and troubled that the Attorney-General has proceeded to charge Karpal Singh under the Sedition Act 1948 for his statements on the issue of the removal of the Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin by Sultan Azlan Shah and the events that have unfolded in that state.   

The Bar Council has been steadfast in its view that the Act is a draconian and archaic piece of legislation that undermines democratic institutions and is an absolute affront to democracy. Along with other authoritarian and repressive legislation, the Act severely encroaches upon the public enjoyment and exercise of fundamental civil liberties.

The prosecution of Karpal, who is also DAP chairperson, will be widely perceived as being selective and an attempt to pacify the partisan calls from certain influential sections within Umno who were pushing for his prosecution. They have even outrageously called for the revocation of his citizenship.

It is abundantly clear that Karpal had only voiced his opinion that the decision of a ruler of a state in this area of constitutional law and practice is justiciable. At no time did he voice disrespect for or challenge the institution of the monarchy in any way. 

True to his calling as an advocate and solicitor, Karpal had, without fear or favour, spoken of the possibility of a legal remedy and not advocated any recourse outside the ambit of our constitution. This is surely permissible under the constitution and cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, amount to sedition.

Many issues of public concern have arisen in the wake of the unprecedented events unfolding in Perak. Legal and public opinion are divided as to what is legally permissible and what is morally right. 

We urge the government to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and to democratic processes by encouraging open discourse on issues of concern to the Malaysian public.  

Any attempt to stifle public opinion by resorting to the Act is a sure act of regression that is antithetical to democratic principles.

We strongly urge the government to seriously review the Act with the aim of its eventual total repeal. We are concerned with the series of recent prosecutions against those exercising the freedom of speech, and call for an immediate end to such harassment. 

The charge against Karpal, who is also Member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor, must be immediately withdrawn.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

See also:
Karpal pleads not guilty to sedition (Updated 3:51pm)

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3 Responses to “Sedition Act an affront to democracy”

  1. Damien says:

    When did voicing out one’s view and opinion amount to sedition or even verge on an act of treason? This is preposterous!

  2. tengku mohd faizal says:

    Since “Sedition Act (is) an affront to democracy”, we should then go to MOB democracy, this is what Malaysians like to do, street protest there, street protest here.

    This shows Malaysians LOVE mob democracy. Waiting to see how the Sedition Act will handle mob democracy, probably they will charge all of them and send all of them to jail.
    But then again, that would put thousands and thousands of people in jail, not sure if they can handle that.

  3. Kumar a/l K.Krishnan says:

    BN, you have lost my vote.

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