Thursday, November 27, 2014

Najib’s U-turn on sedition law proves he is no reformer, says pressure group

Published: 27 November 2014
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has gone back on his word and will retain the Sedition Act in a move condemned by an anti-sedition law group.– The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 27, 2014.

Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has gone back on his word and will retain the Sedition Act in a move condemned by an anti-sedition law group.– The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 27, 2014. 
The increase in sedition charges and investigations against individuals over the past two years confirms that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not a reformist, an anti-sedition law group said.
Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) said Najib's administration still relied on the antiquated law to control and suppress democratic norms and legitimate dissent.
"GHAH is disturbed and outraged by the prime minister's cowardly decision to renege on his promise to abolish the Sedition Act and to fortify and strengthen the legislation instead,” it said in a statement today.
The statement was endorsed by Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen and chairman of Civil Rights Committee of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Liau Kok Fah.
The group said this in response to Najib's announcement at the Umno general assembly earlier today that the colonial-era law enacted to fight the communist threat would be maintained.
The Umno president said further changes would be made to the act.
"This act will not only be maintained, but strengthened. At least two items: there will be a special provision to protect the sanctity of Islam, while other religions also cannot be insulted.
"Second, we will insert a provision so that action is taken against anyone who calls for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak," Najib in his policy speech.
Najib said he decided to keep the law after obtaining feedback from Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Wanita Umno, Pemuda Umno, Puteri Umno, the grassroots, as well as non-governmental organisations.
GHAH reminded Najib that he had repeatedly promised to abolish the Sedition Act and that he must be held accountable for his promises made to Malaysians.
"The decision to retain the Sedition Act reeks of malice and bad faith, as the law has been rampantly abused to charge politicians, activists and dissidents," the group said.
It said the decision tightened the noose around freedom of speech and expression and made clear that the nation would have a bleak and undemocratic future under Najib's administration.
"GHAH, therefore, calls on the prime minister to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and to be accountable to the Malaysian people for promises made to abolish the Sedition Act."
The group said there was no room for the Sedition Act in a democratic and modern Malaysia.
In a separate statement, Human Rights Watch Asia Division deputy director, Phil Robertson, said by endorsing the Sedition Act, Najib was “doubling down on his bet that a rights abusing strategy is the best way to maintain power - even if it requires gagging the Malaysian people by ending free expression on important social and political issues”.
Robertson  said since the Sedition Act gave the government the discretion to declare almost anything seditious, social activists and opposition figures were likely to face a renewed crackdown that would be discriminatory and politically motivated.
“This is a major reversal on human rights that will seriously degrade Malaysia's already shaky reputation in the international community." – November 27, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najibs-u-turn-on-sedition-law-proves-he-is-no-reformer-says-pressure-group#sthash.r2MiaXH4.dpuf

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