The Malaysian Bar is set to rally against the Sedition Act 1948 on October 16 in the city centre here after passing resolutions at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) demanding a repeal of the law
©Malay Mail (Used by permission)
by BOO SU-LYN
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — The Malaysian Bar is set to rally against the Sedition Act 1948 on October 16 in the city centre here after passing resolutions at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) demanding a repeal of the law.
The Bar Council’s National Young Lawyers Committee chair Syahredzan Johan said the circular on the protest scheduled at the Padang Merbok car park, called “Walk for Peace and Freedom”, was issued to Malaysian Bar members this afternoon.
“The Bar before this has only walked three times,” Syahredzan told Malay Mail Online today.
“This will be the fourth time. Each time the Bar has walked, it’s a serious issue. This shows how serious the Malaysian Bar sees the Sedition Act and the current abuse of the Act,” the lawyer added.
Syahredzan said the Malaysian Bar previously demonstrated against the Peaceful Assembly Act in 2011, corruption in the judiciary in 2007 and attempted amendments to the Societies Act in the 1980s.
In the circular posted on the Malaysian Bar website, its president Christopher Leong said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had pledged in 2012 to abolish the Sedition Act and that the replacement law would “strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony”.
“The Sedition Act 1948 is antithetical and counter-productive to these values, and to our aspirations for a better Malaysia,” said Leong.
“I call on all members and pupils in chambers to please attend the Walk and express your aspirations and support for a better Malaysia premised on peace, harmony, unity, understanding and freedom from fear, intimidation, exploitation, oppression and extremism,” he added.
The Malaysian Bar voted at its September 19 EGM to hold a peaceful protest against the Sedition Act, amid a government crackdown under the colonial-era law against lawyers, opposition lawmakers and academics, among others.
The legal profession body also passed resolutions calling for the abolition of the Sedition Act, the withdrawal of all charges that are pending, a suspension of the use of the law and for the Act not to be recast into a new law.
At least 20 people have been investigated or charged under the Sedition Act in the space of one month recently, sparking criticisms that the government was abusing the law to quell dissent.
With growing pressure from conservatives within his own party, Umno, Najib said recently that the government may not repeal the Sedition Act after all if replacement laws were inferior.