The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) condemns the authorities’ investigation of Kean Wong, editor of the book Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope in New Malaysia on 16 October, allegedly under the Sedition Act.
The CIJ sees this matter as indicative of how the state has used its authority to censor fellow Malaysians’ freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
This book was banned on 1 July 2020 under the the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order 2020 as the government deemed it potentially prejudicial to public order, security and national interest, as well as contrary to law due to its subject matter which covers the 1MDB scandal and Malaysia’s political transition to the Pakatan Harapan government.
This case was further investigated in 2020 under the Emblems and Names (Preventing Unlawful Use) (Amendment) Act 2016, Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948, Section 8(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
In the first place, the CIJ deems this case to be another example of how current legislation in Malaysia governing freedom of expression allows for the arbitrary use of power by the state to censor the public at the expense of both the public’s interests and basic human rights.
- Sign up for Aliran's free daily email updates or weekly newsletters or both
- Make a one-off donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB a/c 8004240948
- Make a pledge or schedule an auto donation to Aliran every month or every quarter
- Become an Aliran member
Thus, the arrest of Kean Wong three years after the publication of the book showcases the state’s commitment to suppressing the public’s ability to both inform the public and to speak out, no matter how warranted.
The CIJ implores the authorities to release Kean Wong with immediate effect so that they may demonstrate that they continue to uphold the rights bestowed on the public by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
In accordance with this, the CIJ calls for the immediate repeal of the Sedition Act – and a moratorium on its use, pending repeal – and all other acts that restrict freedom of expression.
In following these recommendations, the CIJ hopes we can create a society that is unafraid to express ourselves and engage in open discourse with one another. – CIJ
Wathshlah G Naidu is executive director of the Centre for Independent Journalism