Responding to the Malaysian government’s declaration to freeze actions under the Sedition Act 1948, Amnesty International Malaysia said:
“We commend the moratorium on cases under the Sedition Act 1948, which should lead to its abolition as previously promised by the Pakatan Harapan government. The announcement is a step forward in promoting freedom of expression in the country. The Sedition Act has been enforced for far too long and used to stifle free speech in the country.
The Malaysian government must now take swift action in tabling the repeal of the law in the next Parliament sitting which begins next week. Along with calling for the Sedition Act’s full abolition, we are urging the government to drop all pending charges under this repressive law immediately and without condition. It is high time as well for the government to amend or repeal other similarly repressive laws –the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, and the Security Offences and Special Measures Act 2012 – that have been used to target peaceful human rights defenders and government critics.”
The Malaysian government has used a wide range of criminal laws to target human rights defenders and peaceful government critics, such as the Sedition Act 1948, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, and the Security Offences and Special Measures Act 2012.
These laws have historically been used to stifle dissent, particularly given the laws’ broad scope, vague definitions of offences, and harsh penalties.
Government critics targeted under the Sedition Act include political cartoonist Zunar, who faced nine counts of sedition for tweets criticising a court decision upholding the conviction and five-year prison sentence of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.