With ‘Hasut’, filmmaker seeks to show why Sedition Act must go

In her latest political documentary ‘Hasut’, self-taught film maker Wong Siew Ki casts the spotlight on the now defunct Internal Security Act 1960’s ties with the government’s increased use of the Sedition Act 1948. — Picture by Choo Choy May
In her latest political documentary ‘Hasut’, self-taught film maker Wong Siew Ki casts the spotlight on the now defunct Internal Security Act 1960’s ties with the government’s increased use of the Sedition Act 1948. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — In support of abolishing the Sedition Act 1948, self-taught filmmaker Wong Siew Ki has come up with a 30-minute documentary that highlights archaic provisions of law she believes must be removed for the country to progress.

The 30-year-old who took nearly a year to make Hasut explained that her documentary draws parallels with the now defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 because the root of the problem persists in the older Sedition Act and which she believes will continue to plague Malaysia in future, regardless of which political coalition is in power, unless addressed now.

The Sedition Act — which critics maintain has been used to quell dissent against the government as it effectively criminalises free speech regardless of intent — cannot be viewed in isolation, Wong said.

“That’s why I have to link ISA with the Sedition Act, because to me, the Sedition Act is not an Act that becomes popular suddenly; there are reasons why it becomes popular, it became popular after ISA was abolished, that’s the reason I want to link it with ISA,” she said at Hasut’s launch here last night.

“That’s why I feel there’s a need to make this documentary to remind friends and Malaysians that one day we have not settled the main problem which is our ruling party right now, we will have to continue fighting for the rest of our lives,” she said.

The Sedition Act was introduced by the colonial British government in 1948, while the ISA that was enacted in 1960 was abolished in September 2011 by the Najib adminstration as part of a raft of legislation reforms.

Wong believes the root problem behind the much-criticised use of the law does not lie only in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

“Maybe it’s not only about BN, it’s about a party that [has been] ruling too long the same country and they don’t want to step down.

“Same thing goes to any other parties also, if Pakatan naik [takes over], another 50 years also they didn’t turun [come down], I think we have a problem as well. It’s the same thing,” the DAP member since 2014 told Malay Mail Online in an interview later.

Wong made her documentary debut in 2012 with Jatuh, which focused on the 2009 fatal fall of Teoh Beng Hock who was the DAP political aide to Selangor assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah.

By her own estimation, Jatuh has drawn over 100,000 viewers since its release through selected screenings and posting on YouTube.

Since then, she has made two other political documentaries titled Warisan and Hijrah.

For Hasut, which cost roughly RM20,000 to shoot, she hopes the documentary will spark intellectual debates that will prompt people to think and ask questions on how they can contribute to Malaysia.

She said the creation and abolition of laws are driven by demands from the public, who must be informed on how the enacted legislations affect their lives.

“For me personally, I think no matter BN or Pakatan, if the people are not asking the things that they want, all the politicians won’t do that thing.

“I hope this documentary brings awareness to the people,” she said.

Wong, who has been Ean Yong’s political secretary since 2013, said it was not enough for Malaysians to demonstrate support by attending and applauding the speeches of elected representatives or electoral candidates but to also make concrete demands of those seeking public office, such as calls for the Sedition Act’s abolition.

Wong, who is also a local councillor at the Subang Jaya Municipal Council, is also hoping to make another documentary and release it before the 14th general elections that must be held by 2018.

Hasut, a joint effort by Kelab Filem Bangsar and Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan, features interviews with nine individuals who have been either investigated or charged under the Sedition Act, including former ISA detainees like DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang and activist Hishamuddin Rais.

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