MEDIA STATEMENT (19 September 2014)
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) is unsurprised by today’s guilty verdict delivered by a Magistrate’s Court on activist Adam Adli on a charge of sedition, given the broad definition of the offence under the law concerned.
While we are not surprised, we are however shocked and distressed by the harsh sentencing—a year in jail, merely for urging people to reject the ruling party as the government of the day. This, despite the lack of evidence to show in concrete terms how his statement had caused disruption, if any, or even violence.
Much has been said about the anti-democratic features and intention of the Sedition Act, which was enacted to maintain the interests of the colonialists and keep the locals sedated and under their control. The fact that it continues to be used by our own elected government to silence dissent says much about the confidence of the government of its rule, especially after a promise two years ago by the head that the law would be repealed and a general election a year later that saw the ruling party losing the popular vote for the first time in its rule since independence.
Make no mistake—the Sedition Act is a draconian law that must go if we are ever to grow as a mature democracy. And the people will not let an archaic law stop them from continuing to voice dissent, especially against a government that is losing its authority to govern in so many ways.
The irony is that while Adam and a score of others are being persecuted under the Sedition Act, the Attorney-General announced on 9 September 2014 that all pending cases will be reviewed. As well, another law may replace the Act, according to yet another promise by the Prime Minister. These efforts serve to cast doubt over the legitimacy and validity of the Sedition Act as it stands now.
The decent thing to do is to halt all charges and proceedings under the Sedition until a fuller discussion has taken place in Parliament on whether the Sedition Act needs to be replaced or not.
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).