Suaram calls for repeal of Sedition Act after Wan Ji jailed
SHAH ALAM - Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has called for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 and the immediate release of all those detained under it, following the Court of Appeal's order for independent preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin to begin serving his nine-month prison sentence for publishing offensive words and insulting the Sultan of Selangor via Facebook 11 years ago.
In a statement, Suaram Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy said the court's order is an "abomination" and sets a chilling precedent for further unwarranted criminalisation of freedom of expression in Malaysia.
"As long as the Sedition Act remains enforced, with its ambiguous provisions and disproportionately heavy penalties, it will continue to be used and misused, with no possibility of fully exercising freedom of expression in sight," he said.
Sevan demanded that the government demonstrate its commitment to upholding freedom of expression by repealing the Sedition Act and dropping all charges under it, with immediate release of those detained.
He also condemned the current government's alleged failure to keep its manifesto promise to abolish the Sedition Act and the pin-drop silence from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who had stood in solidarity with Wan Ji back in 2019.
"Freedom of expression is not some fashionable privilege of the day to be championed when in opposition and withdrawn when in power.
"'Hurt(ing) other people's feelings', and in this case public figures, is not a sufficient basis for criminalisation of freedoms of opinion and expression," Sevan said.
"By continuing to enforce the Sedition Act, the government will continue to betray the spirit of democracy – by sanctioning self-censorship, stifling crucial debates on matter of public interest, and victimising individuals who tend to speak out such as human rights defenders and political dissidents," he added.
Sevan's statement comes after Wan Ji was ordered to begin serving his nine-month prison sentence on Monday.