The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) is outraged by the proposed amendment to the Sedition Act 1948, tabled in Parliament today, in particular Section 5A, which makes offences under Section 4(1A) unbailable as decided by the Public Prosecutor.
Less than 12 hours after passing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), the Government has launched another attack on the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Bersih 2.0 stresses the denial of bail should never be used to punish the accused.
Unbailable offences are currently limited to exceptional crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping, and are usually punishable with death or life imprisonment. Is the Government now equating sedition with such crimes? Is freedom of speech becoming so terrifying to this government?
Bersih 2.0 considers this move as a display of the government’s contemptuous attitude towards Malaysia’s public institutions. The amendment to Section 4 takes away judicial discretion to impose a fine instead of imprisonment, which will gravely undermine and weaken the judiciary. Furthermore, this amendment should never have been tabled while the Federal Court is still deliberating the constitutionality of the Sedition Act.
Bersih 2.0 demands the government stops its erosion of judicial powers. The separation of powers is a fundamental and most basic necessity in a democratic country. To trample on the powers of the judiciary in this way forces the question, does this government have any regard left for the democratic pillars established in 1957? Has the idea of parliamentary democracy been thrown out the window?
As this crackdown continues and the battle for a democratic Malaysia widens, it is becoming clear the government is willing to sink to new lows to strike fear into the hearts of the rakyat. Bersih 2.0 refuses to sit idly by and watch our nation be degraded as such and we call on all Malaysians to speak up against this assault on our fundamental liberties.
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0, which consists of:
Chairperson: Maria Chin Abdullah; Deputy Chairperson: Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan; Treasurer: Masjaliza Hamzah; national representatives: Assoc. Prof. Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusof, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and New Sin Yew; vice-chairpersons: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).
7 April 2015