The Law Society has expressed concern over Malaysia’s continuing use of the 1948 Sedition Act. The act, which was made law during the British colonial era, criminalises speech uttered ‘to excite disaffection’ against the government. The act has been used to intimidate and silence political opponents including lawyers.
The Act is a contradiction of the UN’s fundamental principles of human rights, as set out in the General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Principles which as a UN member state Malaysia is subject to.
The Law Society has written to the Malaysian prime minister expressing concern over the recent opening of an investigation by police in Malaysia against Mr Edmund Bon, an advocate at Bon Advocates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The arrest of Mr Bon is one of many and highlights the continuing use of the act in Malaysia despite promises from the prime minister to repeal the act.
President of the Law Society Andrew Caplen said:
‘We support the Malaysian Bar Council’s decision to organise a Walk for Peace and Justice to Parliament on 16 October. We hope that all parties in Malaysia will make use of this unique moment to come together and address the valid concerns of the Malaysian legal profession about the use of the sedition act and the Rule of Law in Malaysia. The walk’s culmination of handing over of a memorandum or open letter to the prime minister of Malaysia (or his representative) at parliament would be an excellent starting point for a sincere dialogue between government and civil society in Malaysia.’