Malaysia’s Deplorable Sedition Act

New York Times
October 6, 2014

The Malaysian government has increasingly employed the Sedition Act, a British colonial era law, to intimidate and silence political opponents. The law criminalizes speech uttered “to excite disaffection” against the government and defines sedition so broadly that it is an invitation to authoritarian abuse.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had promised to repeal the act, but, since the general elections in May last year, his government has made full use of the law to hound his critics. While Mr. Najib’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, won 60 percent of the parliamentary seats in the election, for the first time since independence in 1957, the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won a 51 percent majority of the popular vote.

The elections seem to have shaken the government enough for it to arrest and prosecute an array of politicians, journalists, academics, students, religious leaders and civil society activists who did not advocate the overthrow of the government.

For example, a senior opposition politician was charged with sedition for criticizing a decision by the appeals court in a statement to the news media. A local state assemblyman was charged for allegedly saying “damn, damn” about the government’s United Malays National Organization to several assemblymen. Since 2013, at least 14 people have been charged. Those found guilty can face up to three years in prison.

Mr. Najib’s crackdown is a deplorable attack on free speech and a serious threat to democracy. He appeared to understand this danger when he promised to repeal the Sedition Act. He should do so immediately.

  1. #1 by ReformMalaysia on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 - 2:06 am

    Sedition Act is only needed if over 85% of the the country’s citizen are either stupid like ‘Pak Kaduk’ or ‘Pak Pandir’ or illiterate.

    Other than that, it is an insult to the people’s intelligent that they are easily influenced by some else… and they are deprived from receiving a balanced information

  2. #2 by Justice Ipsofacto on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 - 8:29 am


  3. #3 by worldpress on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 - 1:17 pm

    Query the British government what is the purpose of this Act before independent?

    Bring the answer to discuss, is it abuse or no longer relevant

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 - 1:40 pm

    With thinking like Bung Mokhtar suggesting they should apply Sedition Act those who want to eliminate Sedition Act, forgetting that Najib would then first in line, and Nancy Shukri suggesting keep Sedition Act AND have Harmony Act, why people surprise by the senselessness?

    The question remain, why continue with Sedition Act when its not working? It just simply feels Najib simply loses control of real important things, basically complete incompetence..

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