KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 ― Putrajaya is targeting the federal opposition by abusing court processes, human rights’ lawyers said as two Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers face the courts for separate offences today.
Seputeh DAP MP Teresa Kok is expected to be charged with sedition at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court for her controversial Chinese New Year “Onederful Malaysia CNY 2014” video.
Selangor legislative assembly deputy Speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who was acquitted by the Court of Appeal on April 25, is expected to be charged again with an offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act .
Lawyer N. Surendran hit out against the Barisan Nasional (BN) government for using oppressive and illegal tactics as means to silence dissent.
Kok’s 11-minute satirical clip, taking potshots at topical issues including the education system, caused a stir among government supporters who saw Kok’s video as an affront to Malaysia and its leaders, culminating in violent threats against her.
Referring to Nik Nazmi’s case, Surendran who is also the Padang Serai PKR MP, said the charge against Nik Nazmi was “contemptuous” as the appellate court had ruled the provision in question unconstitutional.
“It is a contempt of court because the ruling still stand until it is challenged and set aside by the Federal Court. By right they should appeal,” he said, adding that the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers has filed the notice of appeal to contest the ruling today.
The appellate court, in a unanimous judgement, ruled it unconstitutional to criminalise spontaneous public assemblies in breach of the 10-day notice required under Section 9 (1) of the legislation and ordered that Section 9 (5) of the PAA ― which imposes a maximum RM10,000 fine for non-compliance ― ran counter to the Federal Constitution and must be struck out.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen also pointed out that the charge ran contrary to Article 7 of the Federal Constitution that prohibits retrospective criminal laws and repeated trials, a provision to avoid a case of double jeopardy.
“This is absolutely preposterous because what the AG is doing is contemptuous of the Court of Appeal’s decision which clearly acquitted Nik Nazmi and to re-prosecute under a nonexistent section, as it stands, is mind boggling,” said Paulsen.
Paulsen added that the AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should be censured by judiciary for “direct defiance” of the constitutional guarantee.
“If the AG is allowed to do this, we might as chuck the Federal Constitution in the bin,” he told The Malay Mail Online.
“We are also appalled by the absurd charge brought against Kok for what was clearly a parody video. The Sedition Act is being used by the Najib administration more times than all the previous administrations combined,” he said.
Paulsen noted that the Sedition Act 1948 is being utilised “haphazardously” to stifle criticism deemed offensive.
“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is false democrat for failing to institute the reforms he had promised and to repeal the outdated Act,” he added.
Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee’s deputy chair Syahredzan Johan said the blatant disregard for the criminal justice system is an indicator that the country is heading towards a “failed state”.
“We are seeing the Sedition act being used as the new ISA and a move that is tantamount to contempt of court,” he said.
Syahredzan pointed out that Putrajaya shied away from acting on protesters who slaughtered live chickens in a reactionary assembly against Kok over the satirical video.
“While it was a case of criminal intimidation, the police did not act on the protesters. The double standards are apparent and clearly a case where the powers that be think they are above the law,” he said.
BY PATHMA SUBRAMANIAM, The Malay Mail Online