Following is an editorial adapted from the Malay Mail Online complete with responses by TTF (in blue):
KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the probe over a forum on the Rome Statute, was just a normal police procedure.
The prime minister said it did not meant that the police were going to prosecute those they quizzed over it.
“It is to protect us, when people try to stir problems they must find out, not that the investigation means they will prosecute people but they must find out whether there is any attempt to stir trouble, it does not mean it’ll be followed by charges,” he told reporters when asked on the issue, here today.
TTF: Actually, PDRM has ample evidence that those involved with the forum were seditious towards the Malay Rulers.
That having been said, the word sedition refers to the act of saying or writing something that either disrupts social harmony or has the potential to do so.
The act is defined under Section 3(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 and concerns wrongdoings summarised below (Courtesy of Ask Legal):
1. Bringing hatred, contempt, or inciting dissatisfaction against any Ruler, any Government, or the justice system of Malaysia
2. Inciting people to get the law changed illegally (such as through rioting or mob justice)
3. Raising dissatisfaction among Malaysians
4. Promoting tensions and hostility between the races or classes of Malaysians
5. Questioning the status of our citizenship rules, the national language, the Rulers, or the special position of the Malays and the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak (the Social Contract)
Section 3(2) of the same Act also says that it’s not seditious to do the following:
1. Point out that a Ruler has been misled or mistaken in their decisions
2. Point out errors or defects in the government’s policy, laws, and even errors in court decisions
3. Persuade the government to change our laws by lawful means (except our Social Contract)
4. To point out matters that cause tension and divides in our multicultural society, so that they can be solved
The law, however, is vague in its construct and has repeatedly been abused to stymie dissent against government.
Prior to the 14th general election, Mahathir, together with leaders of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, pledged to get rid of the Act as it was “excessively broad and vague” with restrictions imposed on freedom of speech.
However, on the 3rd of December 2018, the DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo announced that the law would still be in force but would be limited to issues of national security, public order and race relations.
It follows, that unless the Government of Malaysia (GoM) can prove that those being questioned uttered words that have the potential of disrupting national security, public order and race relations, there is nothing much the police can do.
At the end of the day, when a law is as “excessively broad and vague” as the Sedition Act 1948 is, the government of the day is at liberty to twist the arms of enforcement and judiciary at pleasure to protect its supporters and apologists.
He was met after opening the Al-Sharq Youth Annual Conference 2019.
On Monday, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the police would quiz several individuals involved with the forum, which also featured Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, that was held at Universiti Malaya on Saturday, to record their statements.
Mohamad Fuzi was reported as saying that the investigation fell under the Sedition Act, prompted by several complaints over the forum lodged with the police.
Asked whether the probe was in a way an obstruction to freedom of speech, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia did guarantee freedom of speech but it was not unlimited.
“If you do something that is going to cause problems to people, you insult people, then of course its not included in free speech,” he added.
TTF: I concur.
However, you promised to do away with the Sedition Act 1948 because the act was “excessively broad and vague” with restrictions imposed on one’s freedom of speech.
You broke your promise.
Because of that, we’re finding it difficult to believe that the law will not be abused to persecute only those opposed to government and free anyone linked to government from blame.
The Rome Statute became a controversial issue in Malaysia after the government withdrew from it within the stipulated period allowed after ratification.
The prime minister had said that Malaysia had to take the step because there was fear among the Conference of Rulers and certain segments of society that the country would lose its sovereignty if it was a signatory to the statute.
The forum was held to clarify that this was not the case.