Leong speaking to the media at the press conference following the Extraordinary General Meeting in Kuala Lumpur today. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, September 19, 2014.
A peaceful walk by lawyers to protest the Sedition Act will take place soon, following the overwhelming approval by members of the the Malaysian Bar Council of a resolution to repeal the law, its chairman Christopher Leong said.
"A deadline of three or six months is too long. The walk will happen soon," he told reporters after chairing the Bar's EGM at Wisma MCA in Jalan Ampang today.
Leong said the council needed to look into logistics like venue and time to enforce the resolution.
This will be the third walk organised in the last seven years.
Leong said that 973 members voted in favour of the motion to repeal the law and for the council to hold the walk.
"Only 13 voted against it while no one abstained," he said, adding that the turnout at the EGM was very strong.
He said this reflected members' sentiment on the use or abuse of the law by the government against members of the public.
Leong said the Bar was against the use of the law because "you cannot stop discussion, debate and criticism as these are integral part of a thinking and maturing process".
He said there must be public discourse for mutual understanding and lasting harmony.
"We cannot walk on egg shells with draconian laws hanging over our head.
"The way forward is to engage like debating, discussion and even making an argument," he added.
He said that was the reason the council had started a campaign to get the law repealed apart from organising the walk.
He said the Bar was also against jail terms imposed by the courts on those found guilty of sedition.
"The custodial sentence of 12 months jail today on Adam Adli Abdul Halim is wholly disproportionate with the offence," he said.
Leong said the government had promised to abolish the Sedition Act in July 2012 and the council was hopeful the legislation would be removed from the statute books soon.
"We expected a replacement Act to be ready at the year end but now we are told it will be next year. Too much time has passed but we are prepared to wait," he said.
Leong also clarified that the council was not involved in the drafting of the National Harmony Bill.
"It is a Bill from the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and we were only asked by its law and policy sub-committee to assist in the drafting because they did not have the resource," he said.
Leong said the contents of the Bill reflected the views of the NUCC.
"We also did not circulate the Bill or place the draft on our website and any accusation against the Bar is unfounded," he said.
Leong said the draft could be accessed at the NUCC website.
Retired chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad was among those who claimed that the Bill was drafted by the council and should not be accepted. – September 19, 2014.
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