by Lim Guan Eng
DAP welcomes the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948, the draconian and antiquated piece of legislation that has over half a century been used and abused to suppress legitimate political opposition. However, we also urge the government to ensure that its replacement, the National Harmony Act, will not end up like the newly-introduced Peaceful Assembly Act which has turned out to be nothing but a sham.
The Peaceful Assembly Act, which was introduced last year, has introduced a multitude of arbitrary requirements, making it even more difficult for people to assemble, and incredibly even outlaws street protests. Worse, the act has now been used to selectively prosecute opposition leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over the Bersih 3.0 protest in Dataran Merdeka earlier this year.
The only way to prove the government’s sincerity in introducing the National Harmony Act is by immediately withdrawing all existing charges under the Sedition Act against DAP Chairman Karpal Singh and other leaders.
I myself have been a victim of the Sedition Act. In 1998, I was convicted and imprisoned for 18 months for allegedly making seditious remarks that caused public disaffection over my defence of an under-aged Malay girl who was detained despite being a rape victim.
Here, it is very clear that like the now-repealed ISA, the Sedition Act has long been used as a convenient political tool against members of the opposition including myself, other MPs, journalists and even NGO leaders.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself recently admitted that the ISA was a political tool that has in the past been used for “wrongful reasons”.
If that is the case, then Najib should now prove his sincerity and commitment to reform by not only withdrawing all existing charges against Karpal Singh and other leaders but also issuing an official apology to all those convicted throughout the years under both under the Sedition Act as well as the ISA. – The Rocket