Police should not derail reform efforts by clamping down on freedom of expression
2 March 2020
Lawyers for Liberty views with concern the press statement issued by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) on 1 March 2020, revealing that they are investigating four persons under both the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act for social media postings relating to the current political situation.
These investigations are examples of the vague and indiscriminate nature of the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which allow the authorities to arbitrarily interpret anything contentious as criminal, thus allowing them to clamp down on critical or dissenting opinions.
We remind the PDRM that the unprecedented abuse of these laws during former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s reign marked the worst period for freedom of expression in the history of our nation. We must never allow Malaysia to return to those dark days when such violations were the norm.
The former Pakatan Harapan government had a commitment for reform, including the repeal of the Sedition Act and the draconian provisions of the Communications and Multimedia Act. This must continue to be respected and the PDRM must not facilitate the derailing of the progress made thus far.
The police should strive to be a respectable institution that upholds the Federal Constitution and human rights. Such abuse of power is unacceptable, and we therefore call upon the PDRM to cease all investigations which unduly interfere with the right to freedom of expression immediately.
Lawyers for Liberty