KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 – Putrajaya has lost the moral ground and the right to call Malaysia a democratic country, after the sedition probe against lawyer Edmund Bon, said Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan. “What democracy is Putrajaya preaching and talking about if lawyers cannot even give their opinion?” she said when contacted. “Putrajaya is treating ordinary citizens very badly, and these people are not even criminals. In my view, the sedition charges should not even have been brought.”
Ambiga, who is a former Bar Council chair and the patron of Negara-Ku, said Putrajaya has succeeded in turning Malaysia into a police state overnight after the sedition probe against Bon, adding that the administration appeared to have gone mad. “I urge all those with access to the administration to advise them to think carefully what they are doing to this country that we all love,” she said. Yesterday, Bon became the latest to be investigated under the Sedition Act for saying that non-Muslims are not subjected to fatwas or the shariah court.
He joins a string of opposition politicians, a law professor, the news portal Malaysiakini and one of its journalists, as well as two Muslim preachers who have either been charged with sedition, or are under investigation under the 1948 Act. Last year, the late Karpal Singh, Padang Serai MP N. Surendran, Batu MP Tian Chua, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad all ran afoul of the colonial-era law. Criminal and human rights lawyer Andrew Khoo Chin Hock said what Bon had said was not seditious, and he was merely repeating the legal and constitutional position that exists in Malaysia.
“If the day comes when stating the constitutional position in Malaysia is seditious, then we would all be guilty of sedition,” Khoo told The Malaysian Insider. Bon, in an article published early this year, said: “Decrees and fatwas cannot be used against non-Muslims because they violate their legal and religious rights.” He said this when commenting on a decree by the National Fatwa Council on the use of the word Allah, which the council said was exclusive to Muslims. Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen said authorities appeared to have demarcated certain issues which were off-limits.
“Race, religion and royalty appear to be off-limits and those who touch on these sensitive issues are being targeted. “It is quite mind-boggling when the likes of Karpal, Surendran, Azmi and now Bon are being probed or charged with sedition.” Eric questioned the nature of sedition, saying no great upheaval had been caused by the nature of statements made by opposition lawmakers. “They have not incited insurrection or caused trouble, which is the real morality of sedition,” Eric said. “Now, even lawyers are being targeted for giving their views. This is a serious assault on the role of lawyers. “They must be allowed to do their jobs and argue in accordance with the law. “They must be allowed to give their views without fear or favour.”
Credit : The Malaysian Insider