The Centre for Independent Journalism is appalled that the government is discussing new legislation to further restrict legitimate free speech.
In its election manifesto, the Pakatan Harapan coalition promised to repeal legislation that curtailed freedom of expression, and to make Malaysia’s human rights record respected internationally. This isn’t going to happen unless Malaysians are able to freely discuss the monarchy, including its role in the country and its future.
Restrictions to freedom of expression should be in line with internationally respected norms, should be narrow and should be primarily to ensure other fundamental liberties are not restricted. Examples would be to protect vulnerable minorities and to prevent violence. The monarchy in Malaysia is not a vulnerable institution, but a key part of the state, and does not require protecting against people making mere comments.
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The CIJ urges the Pakatan Harapan government to restate in clear terms its commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law through actions including:
- reinstating the moratorium on the Sedition Act, prior to its repeal in the next Parliamentary sitting
- repealing the odious Printing Presses and Publications Act
- reforming the Communications and Multimedia Act to put the information needs of the people before the needs of business and
- enacting a Freedom of Information Act in line with international best practice.