Criticising court decision not seditious

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DAP is disturbed by police investigation into Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan and Klang MP Charles Santiago, for criticising a Federal Court decision, said Lim Guan Eng. 

The DAP secretary-general said that criticising a court decision is not seditious and is a far cry from making seditious remarks that question the integrity of the judiciary.

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“Criticising a court decision has been the legal convention and to silence such differences of opinion is no different from stifling legitimate dissent and freedom of speech,” he said in a statement.

It was reported today that investigation papers under the sedition and multimedia laws have been opened on Gan and Santiago for comments made after the Federal Court found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt last Friday.

Kuala Muda OCPD Adzli Abu Shah confirmed that two separate police reports were lodged by an individual from a civil society group based in Gurun, Kedah.

The duo is being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Multimedia and Communications Act.

Lim said that by opening up police investigation papers on both Gan and Santiago, freedom of press and speech will become much more restrictive.

“Is putting freedom of the press and speech on straitjackets the new normal after the declaration of emergency and suspension of Parliament?

“Without a functioning Parliament, the government can exercise dictatorial powers.”

He added that this move will give a negative impression of an insecure government that has lost its parliamentary majority, systematically snuffing out democracy and fundamental human rights, one by one. “If investigation papers can be opened against both men, does that mean the police will also investigate the thousands of similar comments and criticisms?”

Meanwhile, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said it was no longer an offence under the Sedition Act to criticise the administration of justice.

“Although it used to be a seditious tendency to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Malaysia or in any state under section 3(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, it must be pointed out the said Act was amended in 2015 to remove the said section 3(1)(c).

“I cannot see why Santiago and Gan are being investigated under the same,” he said in a statement today.

Ramkarpal, who is also chairman of DAP’s national legal bureau, said sedition is undoubtedly serious as the intention of the maker of a statement said to be seditious is irrelevant.

“As such, there might arise a misconception that it matters not why Santiago and Gan said what they said if they are being investigated under the said Act.

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“As it is no longer an offence to criticise the judiciary for the reason stated above, it must be stressed the intention of Santiago and Gan in making the statements they made is very much relevant to any investigation that they may be under.”

He added that the duo ought to be given every opportunity to explain the reasons behind their statements, which should be taken into account in their defence.

“It is a waste of resources to investigate Santiago and Gan under the Sedition Act for the reason stated above and as such, I urge the inspector-general of police to cease any further investigations against them under the said Act forthwith.”