Authorities must stop usage of oppressive section 233 of CMA/Sedition Act 1948
5 June 2020
We refer to the criminal charges that were levelled against Datuk R. Sri Sanjeevan at the Sessions Court today for purportedly spreading ‘false communication’ regarding the Royal Malaysian Police (‘PDRM’).
It is disturbing that s.233(1)(a) is still being used by the authorities despite its detrimental impact on freedom of speech. Apart from the charges today upon Sanjeevan, a director of NGO C4 Cynthia Gabriel, is also currently being investigated under the same provision, as well as the equally oppressive Sedition Act, over a statement that she had issued.
The government must uphold freedom of speech, a right enshrined under Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution. The right to free speech is especially crucial for the protection of anyone expressing discontent or criticism towards the authorities, as freedom of speech is the cornerstone of a democracy. It must be jealously guarded, and any attempt to infringe on this fundamental right must be strongly opposed.
The unfortunate resurgence of the usage of section 233 of the CMA and the Sedition Act is a painful reminder of the failure of the previous Pakatan Harapan (‘PH’) to fulfil their promise to amend the CMA or repeal the Sedition Act as well as repealing other draconian acts. These tools of oppression could have been easily dismantled had the PH government shown the political will to carry out their own manifesto promises. Their failure to do so has now again put us at the risk of falling victim to unjust laws.
We urge the relevant authorities to stop using draconian acts to clamp down on free speech and harass dissenters. The government too must remember that it has a duty to uphold the Constitution and all the fundamental rights enshrined therein, including the right of all Malaysians to free speech.
Lawyers for Liberty