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Nothing wrong to say “free Anwar”, lawyer says

 | January 1, 2017

Calling for someone's freedom is not seditious, former law professor Gurdial Singh Nijar has said.


GEORGE TOWN: It is not seditious to say “free Anwar”, a former law professor said after PKR in Penang got into trouble with the police recently over billboards and banners that carried the slogan.

Gurdial Singh Nijar, who taught law at Universiti Malaya, said it was just an expression of opinion, which was not seditious.

“There is nothing wrong with asking for someone to be freed. It is just an expression of one’s opinion.

“Those two words cannot be seditious,” he told FMT.

Last Friday, a PKR worker was picked up by the police when he was putting up billboards and banners that carried the slogan “Bebas Anwar” (free Anwar) to promote an upcoming mega-gathering in Seberang Jaya to show solidarity with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is in jail for sodomy.

The police, who also earlier last week took down three billboards in Bukit Mertajam promoting the gathering, reportedly said they had launched a sedition investigation after receiving reports from the public about the billboards.

Penang PKR secretary Zulkiefly Saad told FMT earlier today that they were dropping the words “Bebas Anwar” from the promotion materials for the event.

Gurdial said the authorities would have to “go through with a fine toothcomb” to argue that the expression was seditious.

“But in the light of the Safwan case, it may not hold water,” he said.

He was referring to the Court of Appeal’s decision last month that former student activist Muhammad Safwan Anang’s call for the public to remove the Malaysian government through street protests was not seditious.

Safwan, a former Universiti Malaya student, made the remark on May 13, 2013, shortly after the general election that saw Barisan Nasional retain the federal government.

In September 2014, the Sessions Court found him guilty, and sentenced him to 10 months in jail along with a RM5,000 fine.


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