18 September 2015
AG must withdraw all sedition cases after Ali Tinju’s sedition charge withdrawal
Lawyers for Liberty cautiously welcomes the move by the Attorney-General to drop the sedition charge against Malay Armed Forces Veterans Association president Mohd Ali Baharom, ‘Ali Tinju’. However, the AG must be reminded there are approximately 27 sedition cases pending in court while hundreds of opposition leaders, activists and dissidents have been hauled up and investigated in the past few years.
We view with extreme concern that Ali Tinju, a well-known and ardent government supporter has now been given special treatment by the AG, just like how Ibrahim Ali was also given special treatment when the AG decided not to prosecute him for his speech calling for Malay language Bibles to be burnt.
The reason given for the withdrawal of the charge, ‘insufficient evidence’ as reported in the press, is quite incredible as it is public knowledge that Ali Tinju’s speech was spoken to a large crowd and recorded by many people who were present including members of the press. The speech can be easily viewed on various news websites and on YouTube.
It is well known that the evidential threshold for sedition cases is very low and many cases have been prosecuted purely on the basis that the allegedly seditious speech was made especially if it was recorded, for example in the cases against Adam Adli, Hishamuddin Rais, Tian Chua, Haris Ibrahim and many others.
We wish to remind the AG that all Malaysians are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law, regardless of their political affiliation – a fundamental right safeguarded under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. It is his primary duty to ensure that this right is reflected in the administration of justice.
It cannot be over emphasised that the AG represents the State, the community at large and the interest of justice, and not just the Government of the Day. Needless to say, such double standards merely reinforce public perception that the AG is not independent and acts at the behest of the Government to prosecute the opposition and dissidents for political offences.
The crime of sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have either repealed these archaic laws, or they have fallen into disuse.
We call upon the AG to immediately review all pending sedition cases, by among others using the same considerations he has given the likes of Ibrahim Ali and Ali Tinju and drop all prosecutions.
Lawyers for Liberty
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