Several social activists and civil liberty advocacy groups today expressed disappointment at the Pakatan Harapan administration for not fulfilling its pledge to abolish the Sedition Act 1948.
This comes after independent Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin was handed a heavier jail sentence today for making seditious remarks against the Sultan of Selangor seven years ago.
The social activists and the civil liberty groups consisting of representatives from Malaysia Muda, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Bersih 2.0, Suara Rakyat Malaysia, student activists and friends of Wan Ji had gathered outside the Kajang Prison complex last night to protest his imprisonment under the Sedition Act.
Suaram Coordinator Amir Abdul Haid at the gathering called out those in power to honour their promise to abolish the draconian law.
“The man who went to prison today are among the people responsible for getting you in public office.
“It is important that the government keeps their pledge as listed in their manifesto to abolish the Sedition Act,’’ he said.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said Wan Ji’s sentencing was a clear sign that the government is not committed in abolishing the Sedition Act.
“Pakatan Harapan is not committed to abolish the Sedition Act and seem like it there is no intention to uphold the freedom of expression as stipulated in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
“Despite the country achieving independence in 1957, we have yet to be free as this draconian law that is left by the British is still here,’’ he said.
During the gathering, the group held a candlelight vigil outside the Kajang Prison and the word “Free Wan Ji’’ was repeatedly chanted by the crowd.
PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan urged the government to stick to its commitment to abolish the Sedition Act.
“We hope tomorrow when Wan Ji’s lawyer applies for an appeal and the public prosecutor would support the appeal and not object to it,’’ he added.
Wan Ji was charged under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 and was sentenced to nine-month Jail in April last year by Sessions Court.
The High Court in Shah Alam had earlier today rejected Wan Ji’s appeal against his conviction for making seditious remarks against Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.
High Court judge Abdul Halim Aman also increased Wan Ji’s original prison sentence from nine months to a year.
Saudara Social Cultural Research (Saudara) Executive Director Lim Hong Siang said Wan Ji’s imprisonment reflects the importance of free speech and freedom of expression.
“We know Wan Ji’s ideas are weird; some are progressive, some are too forward for some.
“We can criticise his ideas, calling it as immature and such, however, that is a given in developing society. We hope that one day no one would be punished to air their views that might not be too comfortable to some.
“History has shown that civilisation would only progress if we challenge the status quo,’’ he said. – MMO