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Sedition Act used as a tool for ‘selective outrage’, says DAP

azmi sharom gobind 2The charge for sedition on Professor Azmi Sharom for his legal opinion on the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis has left DAP lawmakers dumbfounded; even calling the charge an attempt to “muzzle academia” for expressing academic opinions.

Azmi was charged yesterday for sedition, the latest case and first academician to face legal action in a slew of sedition crackdowns on politicians and activists in the past few weeks.

Following the charge on the professor, Klang MP Charles Santiago lamented that now, “legal experts can’t have a legal opinion”.

“Clearly these arrests signal a crackdown on dissenting views. It’s a high-handed attempt to muzzle critical, alternative thinking,” Charles said.

He chastised Prime Minister Najib Razak for going back on his words to scrap the Sedition Act which the BN leader had pledged as a pathway for greater freedom of expression in the country.

Azmi, a law professor from Universiti Malaya was quoted in the Malay Mail Online, in an article that read;

“Citing the Perak case, law lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom cautioned against such action outside the state assembly, and insisted the lawmakers wait until next sitting to indicate their lack of confidence.”

“You don’t want a repeat of that, where a secret meeting took place,” the University of Malaya lecturer said, referring to the Perak crisis.

“I think what happened in Perak was legally wrong. The best thing to do is do it as legally and transparently as possible.”

Relating to the Selangor MB crisis, he had said that Khalid Ibrahim would have no choice but to resign if a no confidence motion was tabled. He added that A vote by the house of representative should be done in the house of representative.

Najib’s ruthless style of governance

charles-santiago (1)In his statement today Charles Santiago deemed the recent series of sedition charges on opposition leaders and Azmi Sharom as “selective outrage”. He said this in view of the inaction by the federal government when leaders close to the ruling government had uttered “damning remarks”.

During an UMNO Segambut divisional meeting on September 1, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying that Malays were paying the price of being kind to the minority races who were growing more arrogant. He had later clarified that his remarks, though quoted correctly, was only in reference to DAP leaders and supporters. However, no action was taken against him despite his sweeping statement that made generalizations based on race.

He was criticized by MCA Youth Chairman Chong Sin Woon, who even asked the Home Minister to apologise for his statement. Chong then expressed his full support for his BN colleague in “taking swift and proper action against those who have broken or attempted to break the peaceful and harmonious relationship shared by the Malaysian communities of different race, ethnicity, religion and background”.

zahid-hamidi-angry-440x320Charles Santiago said that the extraordinary double standard via the selective charges, caricatured the lack of tolerance for legitimate questions about the ruling government and Najib’s ruthless style of governance.

“The continued use of the Sedition Act will only serve to further weaken and dismantle the foundations of human rights in Malaysia,” Charles however added that Najib Razak could embark on a reputation cleansing exercise by dropping all sedition charges and instead engaging with Opposition politicians, academics and human rights workers in open discussions.

No respect for rule of law in Malaysia

Also defending Azmi Sharom, DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng strongly condemned the Barisan Nasional government for charging the professor for his legal opinion.

“If Azmi, as a former Deputy Dean of the UM law faculty – the top law school in Malaysia, can be charged for sedition for giving his academic legal viewpoint, there is no more respect for the rule of law in Malaysia.”

lge seditionHe slammed the Prime Minister for promising during a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) interview July 2013 that the Sedition Act will be repealed in 2012.

He questioned the point of promises made when the extent of the oppressive law was no different from “carpet bombing”; which now targets civil society like prominent law academics.

Carpet bombing refers to an aggressive type of military targeting where large scale aerial bombing is done to blanket and inflict damage on every part of a selected area.

“BN has proven that it speaks with a forked tongue by making empty promise to repeal the Sedition Act,” said the Penang Chief Minister.

“Malaysia will become an international laughing stock but the sad tragedy is that 28 million Malaysians will be the real losers by being denied a just and impartial prosecution that ensures only the wrongdoers are charged instead of the innocent,” Lim said. -The Rocket

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