KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) has today questioned the current government’s commitment to repeal the colonial-era Sedition Act 1948, given that it was a cause Pakatan Harapan (PH) had championed.
In a statement, secretary-general Amir Hariri Abd Hadi urged the federal government coalition, especially its PH members, to return to its agenda of reform.
“I pray that power has not blinded our eyes,” he said.
His comment came after the Court of Appeal dismissed independent speaker Wan Ji Wan Hussin’s appeal today under the Sedition Act in relation to a social media post the latter had made 11 years ago in which he allegedly insulted the Sultan of Selangor.
“Muda does not agree with any statement which insults any person, but questions the commitment of the government, especially friends in PH who have been fighting against the Sedition Act for a long time,” he said.
He highlighted how the use of the Sedition Act had increased by 1,000 per cent from 2012 to 2015 after the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 was repealed.
He said this showed how it had been used for political purposes as those investigated and prosecuted at that time were politicians and opposition activists, who are now part of the government.
The Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH), a movement to repeal the Sedition Act, was then created in 2014, and was supported by those who were part of the opposition at the time alongside hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), he added.
He said that the movement had three demands: to repeal the Sedition Act, to drop all charges under the Act and to release all who were imprisoned under it, and to ensure that the repeal of the Act did not lead to its replacement by another act that is equally oppressive.
Earlier today, national news agency Bernama reported that Wan Ji will begin serving his nine-month prison sentence for publishing offensive words and insulting the Sultan of Selangor on Facebook after the three-man panel led by Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail reportedly reinstated the earlier decision by the Shah Alam Sessions Court.
Wan Ji had appealed against the one-year prison sentence imposed by the Shah Alam High Court in July 2019 after allowing the prosecution’s cross-appeal to increase the nine-month prison sentence handed down by the Shah Alam Sessions Court on April 9, 2018.
On April 9, 2018, Sessions Court judge Mohd Sabri Ismail sentenced Wan Ji to nine months in jail after finding him guilty of publishing words that insulted the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on his Facebook under the name wanji.attaaduddi.
He was charged under Section 4(1)(c)of the Sedition Act 1948 which provides for a maximum fine of RM5,000 or imprisonment of not more than three years or both for the first offence, and to a maximum of five years imprisonment for the second and subsequent offences.