Let me be the last prisoner under Sedition Act, says Uthayakumar

Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar was released from the Kajang prison today after serving his sentence for sedition committed seven years ago.

Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar was released from the Kajang prison today after serving his sentence for sedition committed seven years ago.

He was released at 9.45am and was greeted by his wife S. Indra Devi and some 50 Hindraf supporters who had gathered at the prison’s entrance since early  morning.

“Let me be the last prisoner from the Kajang prison to be released under the Sedition Act, just as I was the last ISA political detainee freed from the Kamunting prison in May 2009,” he told the media and Hindraf supporters today.

On September 17, the Court of Appeal upheld the human rights activist’s sedition conviction but reduced his jail sentence from 30 months to 24 .

The Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur on June 5 last year convicted him of sedition for publishing remarks on the Police Watch website through a letter to then British prime minister Gordon Brown in 2007.

He committed the act on November 15 2007 in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan and was charged under Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court upheld Uthayakumar’s conviction and sentence on February 18 this year.

The Hindraf legal advisor said he did not regret his imprisonment, but could not accept the mistreatment and inhumanity he had faced behind bars.

Uthayakumar said the people were now waiting for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to reject all unjust and racially discriminating policies in the states they were ruling.

“I was convicted for championing equality and rejecting the Malaysian government’s practice of victimising the people, particularly Indians, as outlined in Hindraf’s 18 demands.

“In jail, there was no difference between the Malay, Chinese and Indian prisoners as we were all equally victimised. Praises to the Umno government! 1Malaysia actually exists behind bars,” said Uthayakumar.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must drop all existing sedition charges and abolish the Sedition Act.

He said the Umno government had reneged on its promise to repeal the colonial-era act, and accused it of using the proposed abolition as a political gimmick in the run-up to the 13th general election last year.

“Freedom of expression is guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which is the main pillar of Malaysia’s democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Indra told reporters she was ecstatic that her husband was now free to return home after having suffered in prison for championing the issue of poverty among Indians.

“I am extremely happy because it hasn’t been easy, what we’ve faced all this while. It brought on a lot of stress and sadness. I was able to visit my husband only once a month with my family.

“It was very painful because when (he was detained) under the ISA, I could still embrace him, but here we were separated by a glass panel.

“I am so proud of him. I always told him I wasn’t proud that I married him, but that I married a man who championed the rights of the poor Indians,” she said.

Last year, Sessions Court judge Ahmad Zamzani Mohd Zain ruled that Uthayakumar was guilty of the sedition charge and that his actions under the Sedition Act 1948 were a serious offence.

Deputy public prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin said the words used by Uthayakumar in the letter, such as “mini genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”, gave the impression that grave crimes and racial oppression had been committed.

Uthayakumar was sentenced just hours after his younger brother P. Waythamoorthy was appointed senator and deputy minister in Najib’s administration, following the May 5 general election.

Waythamoorthy has since resigned from public office.

Uthayakumar is among several people including politicians and two university professors who have recently been charged with or are under investigation for sedition.

On September 19, student activist Adam Adli Abd Halim was sentenced to a year in prison after the court found him guilty of making seditious remarks in a May 13 forum last year.

On September 5, Muhammad Safwan Anang, a former chairman of Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia was found guilty of sedition and sentenced to 10 months’ jail over a speech delivered at the same forum.

Activist Ali Abd Jalil faces three sedition charges for allegedly insulting the Johor royalty and the Selangor Sultan in Facebook postings.

On September 2, Universiti Malaya law lecturer professor Dr Azmi Sharom  was charged under Section 4(1)(b) and Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 over his comments in a news article titled “Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told”.

Sabah politician David Orok was prosecuted under the same law on September 3 for allegedly insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad on Facebook two months ago.

On September 10, Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin claimed trial to a sedition charge of allegedly insulted the Sultan of Selangor in a Facebook post last November.

Padang Serai MP N. Surendran (PKR), Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer (DAP) have all been charged with sedition.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (DAP), Batu MP Tian Chua (PKR) and activist Haris Ibrahim are also facing trial for sedition.

Azmi, Surendran, and Sri Muda assemblyman Mat Shuhaimi Shafie have filed applications to declare the Sedition Act, enacted during the British colonial period, as against freedom of speech. – October 3, 2014.

SOURCE www.themalaysianinsider.com