Civil society pushes for end to Sedition Act

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy says the use of the Sedition Act is against the spirit of Pakatan Harapan.

PETALING JAYA: Following a boo boo by DAP MP Ramkarpal Singh in calling for the former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar to be probed for sedition, activist and lawyers have urged the Pakatan Harapan to keep its promise to repeal the Sedition Act.

Human rights group Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said any use of the Sedition Act is “contradictory and inconsistent with the spirit of Pakatan Harapan (PH) which promised to repeal restrictive laws”.

Sevan said the PH MPs should not “practise double standards in the Hanif case”, adding that Suaram had fought against the use of the law against political dissenters of the previous government.

“Any suggestion of using the Sedition Act would be totally unacceptable,” he said.

Former Bersih 2.0 chairman and PKR Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin said the Sedition Act cannot be used under the PH government.

DAP Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said in a statement today that his call to use the Sedition Act against Hanif was “an error” and he regretted it.

However, Ramkarpal maintained that Hanif’s statement might be criminal in nature and urged the police to investigate him under the Penal Code.

Last week, Hanif said he had thrown DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang into prison under the Internal Security Act in 1969 following the May 13 race riots as the politician had suggested that Peninsular Malaysia be split into two, “east coast for the Malays and the west coast for the Chinese”.

Lim called the claims “cock-and-bull stories” and instructed his lawyer, Ramkarpal, to file a defamation suit.

Lawyer and activist Fadiah Nawab Fikri told FMT the Sedition Act is oppressive and must be abolished.

“Calling for the continued use of the Act is utterly regressive and an affront to democracy given PH’s promise to abolish it,” she said.

Lawyer-activist Haris Ibrahim, who was fined RM4,000 for making seditious statements in a post-election forum last April, said in a Facebook post: “Please, lah, get on with repealing the Sedition Act. You guys promised us this, and now you want to use it?

“My patience is wearing thin. Get rid of this draconian law and pass a Hate Speech and Race Relations Act.”

DAP national deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo, who is the older brother of Ramkarpal, said in a statement today that the party maintains its stand that the Sedition Act should be abolished.

“This is also provided for in the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan. The Sedition Act is arbitrary and subject to abuse,” he said.