Lawyers for Liberty
Press Statement
20 August 2014

Lawyers For Liberty is outraged by the Attorney General’s decision to charge Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer and Padang Serai MP N. Surendran under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act for a statement made while carrying out his duties as a lawyer. The allegedly ‘seditious’ statement was made in press statement titled: “Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 written judgment is flawed, defensive and insupportable” on 18 April 2014, which was a critique of the Court of Appeal’s findings of Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy 2 conviction.

This charge is an echo of the sedition charge and conviction of the late Karpal Singh, who was found guilty in February 2014 for a statement made as a lawyer during the constitutional crisis of Perak in 2009.

It is crucial to note that this is an attack upon Surendran as the lawyer acting for Anwar for raising matters that are actually Anwar’s grounds of appeal in the upcoming appeal.

This case sets an arbitrary and unjust precedent that will allow courts to convict lawyers for legal views that conflict the political stance of the government, therefore stifling freedom of speech.

Similarly, N. Surendran’s statement was an analysis of a politically charged case, a critique of the legal system and the deep flaws in the Court of Appeal’s findings, which were raised in Anwar’s defence in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and are listed as the reasons for appealing the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Criticizing judgments and listing the flaws in judicial reasoning are all part and parcel of legal education and legal practice all over the world.

The Sedition Act has been repeatedly abused by the AG as a tool to intimidate members of the opposition party and activists.

The Najib administration arrogantly holds the record for most absurd sedition charges issued.

N. Surendran’s sedition charge, amidst the barrage of sedition charges after the 13th General Election has reaffirmed Najib Razak’s record of being a false reformist. On one hand, he had promised in grand fashion to abolish the Sedition Act on 11 July 2012, and yet the Najib Regime has produced drastically high numbers of sedition charges. In fact, 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 the conviction of the late Karpal Singh.

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.

We demand the abolition of the Sedition Act with immediate effect.

Released by:
Michelle Yesudas

Legal/Campaign Coordinator
Lawyers for Liberty
20 August 2014

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