KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 – DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has lauded Minister in the Prime Minister’s Datuk Seri Idris Jala for speaking out against the sedition charge against a University Malaya law lecturer, and asked if others in the Cabinet were bold enough to speak out against Putrajaya’s current sedition blitz. Lim said it was admirable and commendable for Idris to dare to speak out against Dr Azmi Sharom’s sedition charge. “It is a pity that Idris lacks the conviction to say that constructive criticism and dissent are the lifeblood of any meaningful transformation of Malaysia,” Lim added.
“The sedition blitz which Putrajaya has intensified in the past month to stifle criticism and dissent has seen numerous figures running afoul of the archaic law.” In a series of tweets yesterday, Idris said that the sedition charge against Dr Azmi Sharom was wrong and the professor should not be charged with sedition. “Academic freedom is required in the pursuit of knowledge,” Idris tweeted. “Constructive criticism and dissent should be allowed, as long as it does not create serious faults in the social fabric of our society.” Asking if other ministers were willing to emulate Idris’s example, Lim said: Are they all too craven and cowardly to speak up against the sedition dragnet?
“Are these Ministers going to keep quiet and allow the powers-that-be strike fear among the citizenry that they will have to pay a heavy price if they stand up for justice?” Lim said that values of justice, fair play, multi-racialism, human rights, democracy, rule of law and good governance will decide whether Malaysia regresses into a police state or moves forward. Azmi was charged last week over his remarks cited in a report titled “Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told”. Sabah politician David Orok was prosecuted under the same law on September 3 for allegedly insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad on Facebook two months ago.
On September 5, Muhammad Safwan Anang, a former chairman of Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia was found guilty of sedition and sentenced to 10 months’ jail over a speech delivered on May 13 last year. Padang Serai MP N.Surendran (PKR), Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, and Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N.Rayer (DAP) have all been charged with sedition. Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (DAP), Batu MP Tian Chua (PKR) and activist Haris Ibrahim are also facing trial for sedition.