Press Statement
18 February 2014
LFL is extremely concerned but unsurprised with the High Court’s dismissal of Uthayakumar’s appeal against his sedition conviction and sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment. The Hindraf founder was convicted for writing a letter to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007 claiming ‘mini-genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ had been perpetrated against the people of Indian origin in Malaysia.
Making exaggerated or even unfounded political or critical comments is not a crime and to imprison Uthayakumar for sedition in this day and age is overkill and absurd. While it is true freedom of speech is not absolute and there are accepted limitations e.g. incitement to violence and hate speech – the threshold for freedom of speech however must be high.
Uthayakumar’s conviction has once again reaffirmed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s false reformist credentials since not only has he broken the promise he had made on 11 July 2012 (when he announced that the Sedition Act would be abolished) but his administration has increased manifold the misuse of sedition charges against opposition leaders and dissidents like Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Adam Adli, Hishamuddin Rais, Suhaimi Shafie and Karpal Singh.
Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.
Further, these investigations and prosecutions are an extreme waste of valuable public funds and police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers resources would have been better used to address real crimes, rather than being squandered on what are clearly politically motivated offences.
LFL therefore calls on the police and Attorney-General’s Chambers to conduct themselves in a professional, fair and independent manner and not to selectively and in bad faith target opposition leaders and dissidents when government leaders and others connected to them like Ibrahim Ali, Zulkilfi Noordin, Ridhuan Tee, Mohd Noor Abdullah and others have made more serious and offensive speeches but led to no repercussion or action.
Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty
18 February 2014
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