Home Civil Society Voices Mansuh Akta Hasutan sekarang (Malay/English)

Mansuh Akta Hasutan sekarang (Malay/English)

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[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Kami, organisasi masyarakat sivil yang menandatangani ini, mengutuk tindakan kerajaan yang menyalahgunakan Akta Hasutan terhadap pengasas Borneo Komrad, Mukmin Nantang.

Situasi ini jelas menunjukkan bahawa kebebasan bersuara – hak yang termaktub di dalam Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan – semakin terhakis.

Kami menuntut Akta Hasutan, akta zaman penjajah ini untuk dimansuhkan dengan segera.

Penangkapan dan siasatan terhadap Mukmin Nantang membuka jalan kepada tindakan yang lebih autoritarian

Siasatan hasutan yang dikenakan terhadap Mukmin Nantang menimbulkan kekhuatiran dari pelbagai aspek:

  • Sejak terbentuknya kerajaan perpaduan, buat pertama kalinya undang-undang era kolonial digunakan untuk mendiamkan pembela hak asasi manusia. Sepanjang tahun 2023, Akta Hasutan banyak digunakan terhadap penentang politik yang mengkritik. Walhal, Perdana Menteri, Anwar Ibrahim pernah memberi jaminan kepada orang awam pada tahun lalu bahawa Akta Hasutan tidak akan digunakan terhadap mereka yang mengkritik beliau atau kerajaannya – termasuklah Menteri Dalam Negeri, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, yang pada Mac tahun ini turut menyatakan bahawa kerajaan “tidak mahu menggunakan Akta Hasutan dalam isu-isu politik”. Sudah terang lagi bersuluh, janji-janji ini tidak ditepati. “Kerajaan perpaduan” seperti juga kerajaan-kerajaan yang lepas, jelas menggunakan Akta Hasutan ini untuk mendiamkan kritikan dan kebebasan
  • Melihat kepada siasatan terhadap Mukmin, selepas penangkapan dan penahanan seorang guru dan lapan pelajar, ianya adalah sebahagian daripada taktik sistematik yang bukan sahaja menyekat suara komuniti Bajau Laut tetapi wacana awam yang lebih luas bagi memastikan kerajaan bertanggungjawab di atas pelanggaran hak asasi manusia terhadap komuniti ini.
  • Malah, penangkapan Mukmin Nantang semasa beliau hadir untuk siasatan pada 27 Jun secara sukarela, adalah perbuatan mala fide dan satu tindakan yang tidak professional daripada pihak polis

Dalam konteks ini, siasatan terhadap Mukmin membangkitkan kerisauan terhadap peningkatan penindasan yang lebih zalim dan tidak berperlembagaan terhadap kebebasan bersuara, satu hak yang dijamin dalam Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Akta Hasutan menjadi alat pemerintahan autoritarian dan kebal dari hukuman

Selepas kerajaan perpaduan memegang tampuk kuasa, ruang awam menjadi terhad – salah satu faktor yang menyumbang adalah peningkatan salah guna Akta Hasutan.

Pada tahun 2023 (sebanyak 121 kes), siasatan di bawah undang-undang ini meningkat kepada 133% berbanding tahun sebelumnya. Ini mengatasi bilangan kes tertinggi yang dicatatkan pada tahun 2020 (sebanyak 117 kes) dalam tempoh lapan tahun kebelakangan ini.

Sepanjang tempoh enam bulan pertama tahun 2024, 18 kes baru berkaitan Akta Hasutan dilaporkan oleh media, di mana ini adalah lebih banyak daripada apa yang dilaporkan oleh organisasi masyarakat sivil, di mana empat pertuduhan dan satu didakwa – memecahkan rekod kerajaan terdahulu diantara tahun 2015 hingga 2023, yang secara konsisten setiap tahun hanya satu atau dua kes yang dituduh dan didakwa.

Semua ini atas alasan melindungi negara daripada fitnah yang merosakkan, berita palsu dan penyebaran kebencian.

Pindaan Akta Hasutan tidak membantu untuk “mengurus isu-isu berkaitan ‘tiga R’ secara efektif”, termasuk membendung ucapan kebencian.

Sebaliknya, peruntukan di dalam undang-undang tersebut menjadi alat kepada salah guna kuasa oleh kerajaan – tiada definisi khusus mengenai apa yang dianggap sebagai ucapan yang mempunyai “kecenderungan menghasut” malah tiada keperluan membuktikan niat oleh pihak pendakwaan bagi memulakan siasatan dan pertuduhan.

Meminda undang-undang kuno ini tidak akan mengubah status quo selama 76 tahun – di mana kerajaan hari ini mentakrifkan sendiri apa bentuk ekspresi yang sah mengikut kehendak mereka. Ini hanya akan mengukuhkan lagi sikap penapisan kendiri (self-censorship) di mana akan menghalang perdebatan awam yang konstruktif dan penyertaan demokratik.

Malah, kerajaan harus memahami bahawa sebarang percakapan hanya boleh disekat sekiranya ia membawa ancaman atau bahaya. Ini ternyata dalam piawaian hak asasi manusia antarabangsa.

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Menurut Artikel 19 (3) Waad Antarabangsa mengenai Hak Sivil dan Politik (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), apabila sesuatu percakapan perlu disekat kerana ianya bahaya atau membawa ancaman, ianya harus mengikuti tiga ujian ini:

  • Ianya diperuntukkan di bawah undang-undang dan undang-undang itu tidak boleh berat sebelah (provided by law);
  • untuk tujuan yang sah – seperti keselamatan negara, keselamatan awam dan isu kesihatan (legitimate aim), dan
  • perlu dan berkadar (necessary and proportionate?

Mengambil pendekatan yang lebih menghukum (punitive approach) dengan memperkukuhkan penggunaan Akta Hasutan juga mengurangkan keterbukaan kerajaan kepada libat urus konstruktif dengan pihak berkepentingan lain yang mempunyai sudut pandang berbeza seperti masyarakat sivil, sekali gus menjadikan pelanggaran hak asasi manusia yang kritikal mencabar atau bahkan mustahil untuk ditangani.

Misalnya, Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) sukar untuk diakses oleh organisasi masyarakat sivil dimana Saifuddin kekal tidak membalas pelbagai permintaan untuk mesyuarat bagi isu-isu pindaan regresif seperti hak pemberian kerakyatan kepada ibu yang berwargenegara Malaysia dan individu tanpa kerakyataan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, pengusiran paksa masyarakat Bajau Laut, pindaan kepada Akta Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-Langkah Khas) 2013 dan keperluan reformasi kepada Suruhanjaya Bebas Tatakelakuan Polis (IPCC).

Kebebasan bersuara dan berekspresi adalah nadi kepada demokrasi. Halangan yang terlalu luas, sembarangan dan tidak berperlembagaan ini adalah sifat autoritarianisme. Dalam erti lain, Akta Hasutan tidak dapat diselamatkan dan tiada tempat di Malaysia. Ia perlu dimansuhkan.

Tuntutan

Kami kekal dengan tuntutan kepada pihak kerajaan untuk memansuhkan Akta Hasutan. Kami juga mendesak agar usah ini disempurnakan dengan:

  • Melaksanakan moratorium ke atas penggunaan undang-undang ini sementara menunggu pemansuhan, dan;
  • Menerima sepenuhnya dan melaksanakan enam cadangan mengenai pemansuhan Akta Hasutan yang diterima semasa kitaran keempat Penilaian Berkala Sejagat atau (Universal Periodic Review).

Selain daripada menggunakan Akta Hasutan sebagai alat untuk mendiamkan aktivis yang menyuarakan kebenaran dan penindasan terhadap komuniti terpinggir, sudah tiba masanya Kementerian Dalam Negeri bertindak dengan prinsip kemanusiaan dan menegakkan hak asasi manusia.

Kami menegaskan bahawa pentingnya untuk pihak Kementerian ini melakukan dialog dan kerjasama yang konstruktif dengan pihak berkepentingan akar umbi, termasuk organisasi masyarakat sivil, sebagai usaha berkesan dan kolaboratif merentas sektor bagi menangani pelanggaran hak asasi manusia dalam isu-isu berkaitan kewarganegaraan, migrasi, jenayah dan keselamatan negara.

Memorandum ini disokong:

  1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  2. Buku Jalanan Chow Kit
  3. Dewan Muda Alternatif (DMA)
  4. Pusat Pembangunan Rakyat Mandiri (Mandiri)
  5. Teroka by Muda
  6. Suara Mahasiswa UMS
  7. Hayat
  8. Article 19
  9. Shah Fariq Aizal, IRI Generation Democracy (Malaysia)
  10. Liga Rakyat Demokratik
  11. Young Lawyers Movement
  12. Civicus
  13. Undi18
  14. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  15. Gabungan Marhaen
  16. Misi: Solidariti
  17. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  18. Pemuda Sosialis (PS)
  19. Pertubuhan Siragugal Sungai Siput (U) Perak
  20. Tindak Malaysia
  21. Teoh Beng Hock Association for Democratic Advancement
  22. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  23. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)
  24. Pertubuhan Jaringan Kebajikan Komuniti (Jejaka)
  25. Borneo Komrad
  26. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Hakam)
  27. Empower
  28. Justice for Sisters
  29. Parti Ikatan Demokratik Malaysia (Muda)
  30. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
  31. Women in Power
  32. Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM)
  33. Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih)
  34. Aliran

English version

Repeal the Sedition Act now

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are alarmed by the increasing erosion by the state of the public’s constitutional right to freedom of expression through abuse of the Sedition Act, especially seen in the recent arrest and investigation of Borneo Komrad founder Mukmin Nantang.

We demand the immediate repeal of the Sedition Act.

Arrest and probe of Mukmin Nantang sets precedent for more authoritarian crackdowns

The sedition probe of Mukmin Nantang is chillingly significant on many fronts.

  • This is the first time since the “unity government” came into being that the colonial-era legislation has been used to silence a human rights defender. Throughout 2023, the Sedition Act was limited to clampdowns on criticisms by political dissenters. Notably, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim assured the public last year that the Sedition Act would not be used against those who criticise him and the government, as did Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in March this year, when he said the government “does not want to use the Sedition Act in political issues”. These promises are all already broken. The unity government thus is no different from its predecessors in using the Sedition Act to suppress criticism and stifle freedom of expression
  • The sedition probe mirrors the slew of repressive actions by the Perikatan Nasional government, which used the Sedition Act to silence members of the media and activists. Significant examples include investigations against Cynthia Gabriel for her letter titled “Anti-corruption rhetoric will never purify the unelected Perikatan Nasional government” and the raid of the Aljazeera office following its broadcasted documentary on the poor handling of undocumented migrants during the “movement control order” in 2020
  • The sedition probe against Mukmin, given the arrest and detention of a teacher and seven students, are part of systematic tactics to stifle not only the voices of the Bajau Laut community but also wider public discourse that can hold the state accountable for its human rights violations against this community
  • Moreover, the arrest of Mukmin Nantang during his voluntary appearance for investigation on 27 June was an act of bad faith (mala fide) and unprofessional conduct by the police.
READ MORE:  Sedition Act not the solution to 'three Rs' problem

In this context, the investigation of Mukmin raises concerns about the escalating and unconstitutional oppression of free speech, a right guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Sedition Act breeding ground for authoritarian rule and impunity

After the unity government came into power, civic space has become more restricted, with the increase in abuse of the Sedition Act as one of the main contributing factors.

Investigations in 2023 (in 121 cases) spiked by a whopping 133% compared to the previous year, surpassing even the record in 2020 (of 117 cases) over the last eight years.

Within just the first six months of 2024, there have been already 18 new media-reported Sedition Act cases, which is more than that documented by civil society within the same period last year. Out of these 18 media-reported cases, there are already four charges and one conviction – breaking even the government’s own record of Sedition Act charges and conviction numbers between 2015 and 2023, which has consistently been at one or two cases annually.

In this context, the investigation against Mukmin thus marks a concerning precedent for increasingly draconian and unconstitutional infringements on freedom of expression, a fundamental right that is guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution – all in the perverse name of shielding the nation from destructive slander, fake news and seeds of hatred.

Amending the Sedition Act does not help “effectively manage ‘three-R’ issues”, including to curb hate speech.

On the contrary, its provisions are breeding grounds for abuse of power by the state – having no specific definition of what constitutes speech with “seditious tendency” and not at all requiring proof of intent by the prosecution to initiate investigations and charges.

READ MORE:  Bajau Laut evictions: Was the Sedition Act misused?

Amending this archaic law will not change the 76-year-old status quo – whereby the government of the day defines at its whims what are ‘legitimate’ forms of expression. It will only further entrench the climate of self-censorship, which hampers constructive public debate and democratic participation.

Moreover, the government must understand that freedom of expression can only be restricted if it poses a threat or danger to others. This is clearly enshrined in international human rights standards.

According to Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, an interference with freedom of expression is only legitimate when it meets the three-part test:

  • it is provided by law and the law must not be biased
  • it serves a legitimate aim, such as national security, public safety or health issues, and
  • it is necessary and proportionate

Taking a more punitive approach through the strengthened implementation of the Sedition Act also reduces the government’s receptivity towards constructive engagement with other stakeholders that have disparate viewpoints such as civil society, thereby making critical human rights violations challenging or even impossible to address.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, for instance, has been inaccessible to civil society. Saifuddin has remained unresponsive to the multiple requests for meetings submitted by civil society organisations on issues such as regressive amendments to the Federal Constitution on citizenship conferral rights of Malaysian mothers and statelessness, the forced eviction of the Bajau Laut community, amendments to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2013 (Sosma) and the need for reforms to the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC).

Freedom of speech and expression is the lifeblood of democracy. Restrictions against this fundamental freedom that are overly broad, arbitrary and unconstitutional are thus tantamount to authoritarianism.

In short, the Sedition Act is unsalvageable and has no place in Malaysia. It must be repealed.

Demands

As we resound our calls to the government to abolish the Sedition Act, we also urge that this effort be concretised by:

  • Implementing a moratorium on application of the legislation pending repeal, and
  • Fully accepting and implementing the six recommendations on repealing the Sedition Act that were received during the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review

Instead of weaponising the Sedition Act to silence activists who speak up on truth and against oppression of the marginalised, it is high time the Ministry of Home Affairs adopts a human rights-based approach as it discharges its mandate.

We thus call on the ministry to prioritise consistent and constructive dialogues with grassroots stakeholders including civil society, as part of effective and collaborative cross-sectoral efforts to address human rights violations in citizenship, migration, crime and national security.

Endorsed by:

  1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  2. Buku Jalanan Chow Kit
  3. Dewan Muda Alternatif (DMA)
  4. Pusat Pembangunan Rakyat Mandiri (Mandiri)
  5. Teroka by Muda
  6. Suara Mahasiswa UMS
  7. Hayat
  8. Article 19
  9. Shah Fariq Aizal, IRI Generation Democracy (Malaysia)
  10. Liga Rakyat Demokratik
  11. Young Lawyers Movement
  12. Civicus
  13. Undi18
  14. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  15. Gabungan Marhaen
  16. Misi: Solidariti
  17. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  18. Pemuda Sosialis (PS)
  19. Pertubuhan Siragugal Sungai Siput (U) Perak
  20. Tindak Malaysia
  21. Teoh Beng Hock Association for Democratic Advancement
  22. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  23. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)
  24. Pertubuhan Jaringan Kebajikan Komuniti (Jejaka)
  25. Borneo Komrad
  26. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Hakam)
  27. Empower
  28. Justice for Sisters
  29. Parti Ikatan Demokratik Malaysia (Muda)
  30. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
  31. Women in Power
  32. Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM)
  33. Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih)
  34. Aliran
The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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