Police are not to be blamed for using the Sedition Act to investigate a recent forum on the Rome Statute as it is Pakatan Harapan that has failed to keep its promise to repeal the colonial-era law, a panellist at the forum said.
Former ambassador and Group of Eminent Malays (G25) spokesman Noor Farida Ariffin said the use of the Act following police reports lodged against the forum showed that Putrajaya is overdue on fulfilling its election manifesto.
“It’s high time Putrajaya abolished the act which it promised to in its manifesto. This was an intellectual discussion to rebut what I would call ‘fake’ legal advice by the four professors on the Rome Statute.
“They misled (the Malay rulers) and misrepresented the legal provisions of the statute. So, the forum was organised to promote public discussion and correct misconceptions,” she told The Malaysian Insight in response to news that the forum at Universiti Malaya on Saturday is being investigated under the Sedition Act.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun announced the investigation earlier today, saying several police reports had been lodged against it.
He added that individuals involved in the forum and its organisers would be called in to give their statements.
The forum discussed a leaked presentation by four academics to the Malay rulers on the Rome Statute, which allegedly influenced the rulers to reject the treaty.
“If people made a police report, then it is the police’s duty to investigate. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to arrests or charges. But it’s time for Pakatan Harapan to abolish the Sedition Act,” Farida said.
She praised the government for allowing freedom of expression and said it was obvious this could not be accepted by “certain members of the public, notably Umno members” who create “slander, rumours and circulate fake news”.
She added that those who are not open to debate are now using police reports to quash attempts to hold civil discussions.
“When we try to have a genuine discussion to alleviate confusion about the Rome Statute, they make police reports.
“I just hope police will give them short shrift. They are really wasting police time. Police should be going after criminals and not after people who desire to promote debate and discussion.”
Another panellist at the forum, former academic and former PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali also said it was the right of anyone to make a police report.
“I only hope that police will carry out their investigation fairly,” he said when contacted.
Syed Husin was named in a police report against the forum by Pertubuhan Sahabat Erat dan Amanat Rakyat (Sedar) Malaysia president Nazrin Norani, who said the ex-PKR man had stirred hatred against the Malay rulers.
On Twitter, lawyer Eric Paulsen, however, said police should use their discretion whether to proceed with investigations.
“This is undemocratic & against the spirit of #MalaysiaBaharu. Just because police reports are made does not mean the police should commence investigation.
“There are police reports that are frivolous in nature, done with ulterior motives to harass or intimidate political opponents.
“The police would be wise not to become an instrument to subvert freedom of speech. Why waste valuable resources? Go investigate genuine crimes,” said Paulsen who is Malaysia’s Representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
Other panellists at the forum included Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, UM constitutional law expert Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi former student activist Asheeq Ali Sethi Alavi and lawyer Lim Wei Jiat. – TMI