Sedition prosecutions : new era of tyranny returns?

guanengrayerSeri Delima Assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer is the latest among a slew of opposition politicians who have been hauled to court in recent weeks which include PKR’s N. Surendran, Tian Chua, PAS’s Khalid Samad, Nizar Jamaluddin and DAP’s Teresa Kok.

Rayer was charged in court today for his “UMNO celaka” remark which he made in the Penang State Assembly on 20 May. He was released on bail of RM3,000 pending the trial.

DAP leaders today condemned the arrests and reiterated the party’s stand against the archaic law which Prime Minister Najib Razak had promised to repeal in 2012, but has yet to do so.

DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng said that the charge was indicative of “political vengeance” against DAP. Expressing shock, Lim said that it was the first time in history that criticizing a party was considered as seditious.

“If it is seditious to criticise a political party, why have Barisan Nasional leaders never faced action for doing the same?” hinting at the double standards of the judiciary.

Lim also pointed out that under the law, Rayer has immunity as a member of the assembly for remarks made in the Dewan.

“This is an insult to democracy, to the assembly, which is the highest institution in the system,” he said.

The Penang Chief Minister said the party would contest the case in the spirit of the Constitution and in line with its fight for justice and democratic principles.

Kulasegaran-650x400Meanwhile, DAP National Vice Chairman M. Kula Segaran regards the Sedition Act as the new “weapon” that replaced the Internal Security act as a tool to stifle political dissent.

“Let me tell Najib that with the political persecution of oppositionists, he will definitely go down in history as only a pseudo reformist.”

Kula said these cases exposed the Prime Minister’s call for political reforms and a moderate Malaysia as just plain “hollow talk”.

He criticized the sudden targeting of opposition leaders under the law, when extremists aimed at inciting religious or racial justice have not been dealt with by the law.

Instead, the late Karpal Singh, Mohd Sabu, Tian Chua, Teresa Kok, Khalid Samad, N Surendren, and Nizar Jamaluddin are amongst the leaders who have fallen victim to sedition or criminal defamation, he said.

He also rehashed a 2012 comment by Najib, when commenting on the Bersih 3.0 sit in protest which attracted 200, 000 participants had said “To these people, I challenge them to fight’ at the ballot box. If you are anak jantan (man), let us fight there.”

“So I wish to challenge the Prime Minister to stop the political persecution of opposition lawmakers and fight the opposition fair and square at the next general election,” Kula Segaran demanded that Najib put an end to the criminalizing of political opponents.

hannah yeoh rayerOn social media, Subang Jaya State Assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh, likened the persecution using the Sedition Act to quotations from the late Martin Niemöller;

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist….”

She said that the public cannot be lulled into the notion that “when things happen to politicians, they pretty much ask for it”.

She reminded that the Act can be used against the public just like the school student who was investigated under Sedition for liking a Facebook page called “I love Israel”.

Rayer was charged under the Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act. He also faces charges for relating the insult at a ceramah on May 22 in Island Glades during the Bukit Gelugor by-election.

If found guilty, Rayer could be slapped with a RM5,000 or a three-year jail sentence, or both. Representing him are Ramkarpal Singh, Gobind Singh and S. Raveentharan.-The Rocket

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