Detained under Sedition Act, student activist denied use of toilet

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PETALING JAYA: A student activist alleged that prison authorities refused to let him use the washroom for a day when he was detained last year under the Sedition Act.

“I had to hold it in for a day until the next morning, when I was finally allowed to go,” Khalid Ismath said at the launch of Amnesty International Malaysia’s report titled “Critical Crackdown: Freedom of Expression Under Attack in Malaysia”.

He spoke of his ill-treatment at the hands of the Johor Bahru Selatan police last October, after he was detained over tweets regarding former Batu Kawan Umno Deputy Chief, Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Khairuddin’s lawyer, Matthias Chang.

Khalid stated that detention rules accord detainees with a bucket to relieve themselves, but his was taken away after authorities claimed he would use it to hide notes with the officers’ names written on it.

The 25-year-old PSM member also claimed that prosecutors attempted to deny him bail and postpone his hearing to a much later date, but Bar Council lawyers successfully obtained bail from the Johor Bahru High Court.

Also present at the launch was Lawyers for Liberty Co-founder and human rights lawyer, Eric Paulsen.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director, Shamini Darshni said the increased use of the Sedition Act against individuals expressing political and religious views had a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression in the country.

These restrictions, she noted, were phrased in an “excessively broad and vague manner” that set a very low threshold for the criminalisation of criticisms when, in fact, “such criticisms should not be criminalised at all”.