Everything Also Seditious ... Are You For Real?
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Malaysian who have been arrested for sedition
Over the years many have been arrestd and/or charged under the Sedition Act 1948. Here is a 'short' list:
- Karpal Singh, lawyer, Bukit Gelugor MP and the former National Chairman of DAP
- Teresa Kok, DAP vice chairman and Seputeh MP
- Tian Chua, PKR national vice president and member of parliament for Batu
- Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, lawyer and former Bar Council president
- Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom, a Universiti Malaya law lecturer
- Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
- Ali Abd Jalil,head of the Anything But Umno (ABU) movement
- Datuk Abdul Aziz Bari, a law professor with the Universiti of Selangor
- Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, former Perak Mentri Besar, and Changkat Jering assemblyman
- R. S. N. Rayer, state assemblyman for Seri Delima, Penang
Many feel that the PDRM use it way too often to quell freedom of speech or political dissent. But how many actually know what it is?
In this article, let's see what is being said about the Sedition Act.
History of the Sedition Act
In 1948, the Sedition Act was enacted by the British colonial government to combat the Communists. Amendments were made through an Emergency Ordinance 1971, not long after the riots of 1969, to criminalise any questioning on Part III (on citizenship), Article 152 (on national language), Article 153 (on the special positions of the Malays and the rights of other races) and Article 181 (the Rulers’ sovereignty) of the Federal Constitution.
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What is sedition?
The Sedition Act 1948 in Malaysia is a law prohibiting discourse deemed as seditious. The act was originally enacted by the colonial authorities of British Malaya in 1948. The act criminalises speech with "seditious tendency", including that which would "bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against" the government or engender "feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races".
The meaning of "seditious tendency" is defined in section 3 of the Sedition Act 1948 and in substance it is similar to the English common law definition of sedition, with modifications to suit local circumstances.
The Malaysian definition includes the questioning of certain portions of the Constitution of Malaysia, namely those pertaining to the Malaysian social contract, such as Article 153, which deals with special rights for the Bumiputera (Malays and other indigenous peoples, who comprise over half the Malaysian population).
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What amounts to sedition?
A seditious tendency is then defined in section 3 as follows:
- to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or government.
- to seek alteration other than by lawful means of any matter by law established.
- to bring hatred or contempt to the administration of justice in the country
- to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects
- to promote ill-will and hostility between races or classes
- to question the provisions of the Constitution dealing with language, citizenship, the special privileges of the Malays and of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the sovereignty of the Rulers.
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So what is seditious?
Well, based on the provisions in section 3, it is very wide and covers a lot of areas. In short, don't stir up anything pertaining to Rulers, government, the constitution, race and religion.
However, one must note that this does not mean we cannot speak of such matters or crticise it in a constructive manner. It's more like, we cannot speak about it in a manner that will create:
- ill will
Perhaps, the British preferred to rule without facing a certain form of 'mini uprising'. The British know how revolutions turn out. They have seen many that had happened in Europe during the 1800s. The Revolutions of 1848 comes to mind.
Perhaps, the reality is that a modern government cannot function effectively to ensure economic success, in the event that the catalyst for revolution is allowed to gain a foothold.