MEDIA STATEMENT (15 SEPT 2014)
To date more than 20 persons have been hauled up by the police under the Sedition Act, an archaic piece of legislation that was originally used to suppress dissent during the colonial era but is now being used and abused to stifle freedom of expression in the country. The dragnet is no longer limited to members of the opposition political parties but now extended to student activists, an academician, a journalist and lawyers. It is obvious that the Sedition Act is being used to persecute dissent as well as to dictate the kinds of issues that citizens can speak and express on.
Home Minister Zahid Hamidi warned all from questioning the three no-go areas for non-Muslims/non-Malays – Islam, Malay rights and the national language. The usual deafening silence from the Prime Minister only confirms the growing authoritarianism and where religion and race are being used as weapons to further create disunity among Malaysians.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0), Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) and Global BERSIH fervently condemn this narrowing of democratic space and call for the swift repeal of the Sedition Act. We also call on the authorities to immediately halt the current crackdown by dropping all pending charges under the Sedition Act, ceasing the pursuance of all cases that are being investigated under the Act and releasing all those incarcerated under the Act. We also reject any attempt to replace the Sedition Act with similar legislation.
BERSIH 2.0, GHAH and Global BERSIH are confident that Malaysians will rise against such abuses and repression, and are already speaking out – and even louder.
Today, on the auspicious occasion of International Day of Democracy as well as the eve of Malaysia Day, we launch the global online campaign Make My Day, in which everyone is encouraged to show their support for the repeal of the Sedition Act by uploading a photo of themselves with a caption, “Make My Day” and hashtag #MansuhAktaHasutan. See the brief description and sample attached.
The following members of the Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0:
Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Masjaliza Hamzah (Treasurer), Farhana Abdul Halim, Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah representative), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).