21 February 2014
Karpal Singh’s sedition conviction reaffirms the return of authoritarianism and political persecution
LFL is extremely concerned and shocked with the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s conviction of Karpal Singh for sedition where he now faces imprisonment up to 3 years and disqualification as member of Parliament.
Making political or critical comments is not a crime and especially so in this particular case as Karpal was merely giving his legal opinion on the 2009 constitutional crisis in Perak and under no circumstances can it be described as seditious.
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.
Karpal’s sedition conviction, following the dismissal of Uthayakumar’s appeal clearly shows the return of authoritarianism and political persecution after a brief lull where PM Najib Razak made a series of democratic reforms which turned out to be merely rebranding exercise and ultimately false.
Karpal’s conviction has once again reaffirmed PM 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 and Suhaimi Shafie.
Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse.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.
Lawyers for Liberty
21 February 2014
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