Sedition Fear Prompts Forum Organisers To Ask For No Media Coverage

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 – The current sedition blitz by Putrajaya hung over a forum on Malaysia’s future with the organisers asking for no media coverage today. Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the current climate in the country was unfortunate, leaving many people in a difficult position. “We still have the Sedition Act, and sometimes people tend to misinterpret. I know reporters will report based on what you hear and what you see, but readers may not understand it, and then suddenly some people get into trouble for what he or she said with good intention,” he said on the decision to ask the media not to report the proceedings today.

The meeting is the first in a series by the government-backed Global Movement of Moderates Foundation and Akedemi Belia. He said the findings would be submitted to the government. Saifuddin said the forum participants request was understandable. He said during the forum, participants had raised some taboo subjects. “But it was done in a casual manner and politely. It was in a manner that those hearing it could accept it.” Saifuddin said he did not think there were sensitive issues, which could not be discussed by anyone. “It can be discussed in a civil manner, in a casual manner.” Saifuddin said 30 NGOs participated in the  forum and they would go on a roadshow to collate more information.

He said they also planned to collate details online through its Facebook page, “Masa depan Malaysia” (The future of Malaysia), and on Twitter at hashtag #MasaDepanMalaysia. He hoped to finish by year-end. The forum was held at a time when several people have been either charged with sedition or investigated under the Sedition Act. Most are opposition politicians, but the sedition dragnet has included law professor Dr Azmi Sharom and lawyer Edmund Bon, for giving legal opinions on controversial matters.

Azmi had commented on the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis while Bon had stated that non-Muslims could not be subjected to fatwas or the Shariah court. Activists have also been charged with sedition, and former Solidarity Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) chairman Safwan Anang has been sentenced to 10 months’ jail for uttering words deemed seditious. Those with ongoing sedition trials are DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and PKR Batu MP Tian Chua.

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