Friday, August 14, 2015

Law abused to haul in those protecting democracy, forum told

BY SHERIDAN MAHAVERA

Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom questions several arrests made under the Penal Code for activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, August 14, 2015.
























Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom questions several arrests made under the Penal Code for activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, August 14, 2015.



Many of those recently investigated under a law on activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy are actually doing work that is aimed at improving the country’s political system, speaker at a forum last night said.
These included anti-graft investigators and journalists who are probing and exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of government so that citizens are well-informed of what their politicians are doing, said law professor Dr Azmi Sharom.
“In a parliamentary democracy people vote in their leaders. When someone exposes wrongdoing by the government, the people will be better informed when they go to vote.
“So if this is good for parliamentary democracy, then why are they being detained for ‘acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy'?” said Azmi, who was a speaker at the forum titled, “Section 124B: An affront to parliamentary democracy”, last night.
Azmi was referring to the recent arrests of Putrajaya’s critics, which includes politicians and activists, over the past month under the new Section 124B of the Penal Code.
Section 124B states that anyone carrying out, by any means, directly or indirectly, any “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” can be jailed up to 20 years if convicted.
Among some of those being investigated under Section 124B are activists in the Bersih 4 rally and parliamentarians who have been vocal over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.
Several Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers had also been investigated under Section 124B for supposedly leaking information related to several probes into 1MDB.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said when the section was first inserted into the amended Penal Code in 2012, then de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had said it was not meant to silence dissent or criticism.
Nazri had said the new provision was aimed at those who used violence against the government.
“But now they are using the laws against institutions of our country like MACC,” said Gobind, who is also Puchong MP.
Another law expert Dr Aziz Bari said the spate of arrests showed that the law was illogical or that it was being illogically applied.
“If the prime minister avoids coming to Parliament to face MPs, is that not detrimental to parliamentary democracy?
“If the Dewan Rakyat speaker refuses to allow a reasonable motion to be tabled and debated, is that not detrimental to parliamentary democracy?”
Prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan questioned why institutions such as MACC were being probed under the new law when they were merely doing their jobs.
“Who is really undermining parliamentary democracy? The people being investigated or the people interfering with the investigation?” she said.
The abuse of the law said lawyer Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, reflected the contradictions in the Datuk Seri Najib Razak administration.
“The Najib administration has never been democratic, the elections have never been democratic and someone spending RM2.6 billion on election campaigns is also not democratic,” said Hanipa, who is Sepang MP.
“Yet with this law, they claim they want to protect democracy. In reality they want to criminalise any action that is detrimental not to democracy but to the Barisan Nasional.” – August 14, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/law-abused-to-haul-in-those-protecting-democracy-forum-told#sthash.9SK3NCwR.dpuf

No comments: