Lawyers for Liberty

Press Statement

The judiciary must uphold its oath of office and defend the
Constitution and Fundamental Rights

23 September 2014

Lawyers for Liberty views with serious concern the ongoing crackdown and sedition frenzy where almost not a day goes by without someone being investigated, arrested or charged for sedition. The rampant and indiscriminate use of the Sedition Act is akin to Operation Lalang II where it functions as a catch-all provision like the ISA to target all and sundry for anything that is remotely contentious, thus stifling civil liberties and creating a climate of fear.

The only institution that stands between the people and the continued gross abuse of power by the police and AG’s Chambers is the judiciary but recent sedition cases that have come before the courts do not however give rise to such optimism.

Several persons have been dealt with rather harshly and disproportionately by the judiciary, as seen in the cases of activists Safwan Anang and Adam Adli, who were sentenced to 10 months and 12 months’ imprisonment respectively for what were clearly political motivated offences.

Chow Mun Fai who was initially charged with sedition but pleaded guilty under the Communications and Multimedia Act for an offensive Facebook posting was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment when it is more common to be fined for such an offence. Further, it is trite law that by pleading guilty, Chow should have received one third discount of the sentence he would have received had he claimed trial.

The judiciary too does not seem to be able to stop Ali Abdul Jalil from being charged repeatedly, and dragged from Selayang to Shah Alam and now to Johor Bahru for what are essentially mere Facebook postings that should be considered as the same transaction and therefore tried in Kuala Lumpur/ Selangor where the offences were allegedly committed and where he resides.

These series of unsavoury judicial decisions once again lend credence to the widely held public perception that when it comes to politically motivated cases, the criminal justice system is not impartial, free and independent.

LFL therefore calls upon the judiciary to uphold its oath of office – to bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the fundamental rights guaranteed therein.

Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty

23 September 2014

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