Chegu Bard's arrest under Sedition Act an act of repressive intimidation by unity govt, says Suaram

29 Apr 2024 09:38am
Sevan Doraisamy
Sevan Doraisamy

SHAH ALAM - Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) says the arrest of Parti Pribumi Bersatu (Bersatu) Information Committee Badrul Hisham Shaharin also known Chegu Bard is an act of repressive intimidation by the unity government.

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the use of the Sedition Act against dissenters, particularly political opposition figures like Chegu Bard, highlighted a troubling continuity in Malaysia's governance.

"This demonstrates that the unity government is no different from previous administrations in continuing to arbitrarily weaponise the Sedition Act against its dissenters, especially the political opposition.

"Even the commitment made in July last year by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to only limit the use of the Sedition Act to criticisms involving the Rulers’ position has been reneged at least seven times to date, with investigations and charges on statements that are about the Pardons Board’s authorisation, Malaysia-Israeli relations, the judiciary and also notably the unity government’s establishment and Anwar himself.

"Let us not forget that repealing the Sedition Act was also the promise made by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in their election manifesto – which was then broken," he said in statement.

Sevan highlighted that prohibition of "insults" to public figures because of their status fundamentally contradicted the principle that the government should by right be subjected to public scrutiny and criticism.

This principle, he said was also crucial in cases of unelected heads of state including monarchs, who could not otherwise be held accountable by citizens.

"Thus, by continuing to enforce the Sedition Act, the government is also actively hindering Malaysia from progressing to not only become a true democracy, but also fully live up to transparency and accountability standards which many Malaysians have demanded for.

Related Articles:

"The public will never be able to enjoy the basic right of having free, diverse and meaningful discourse on various issues of public interest as stipulated in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, as long as criminalisation via the Sedition Act in the name of claiming ownership of truth remains the status quo.

"Repeal the Sedition Act," he said.

It was reported that Chegu Bard was arrested yesterday and was scheduled to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today over comments he made suggesting the construction of a casino in Forest City, Johor.

His lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali confirmed that the charges would be framed under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation and under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Chegu Bard was remanded for two days following his arrest over his Facebook post on the allegations he made.

Meanwhile, Anwar and officials of Berjaya Corp (BCorp) and Genting Group have denied the report by Bloomberg which alleged that the Prime Minister had met Berjaya founder Vincent Tan and Genting Group chief executive Lim Kok Thay to discuss a casino licence for Forest City.

More Like This