KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — Federal lawmaker R. Sivarasa, political cartoonist Zunar and civil rights lawyer N. Surendran are finally free of sedition charges that have shadowed them the past few years.
The three were acquitted of charges under the colonial-era law criticised as quelling dissent at two separate Sessions Courts today, news portal Malaysiakini reported.
Sivarasa, now a deputy rural development minister in the Pakatan Harapan federal government, was acquitted before Justice Gan Chee Keong after deputy public prosecutor Faizah Ismail informed the Sessions Court that the Attorney General’s Chambers has accepted the defendant’s representation letter.
Sivarasa was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 for his speech during the 2015 “Kita Lawan” rally in which he was said to have criticised the judiciary over de facto PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s imprisonment for sodomy.
“The charge against me was only politically motivated. I did not commit any crime. So I am glad about the acquittal.
“Under the Pakatan Harapan government, we are entering the new era of real democracy...in a few months we will see the Sedition Act abolished,” the Sungai Buloh MP was quoted telling reporters outside the courtroom.
Sessions Court judge Zamri Bakar acquitted Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque and Surendran, after deputy public prosecutors Zaki Asyraf Zubir and Norinna Bahadun dropped the sedition charges against the cartoonist and former Padang Rengas MP.
Surendran, who now advises the Lawyers for Liberty group, was the first of the duo to be charged and claim trial on August 19, 2014, to releasing an allegedly seditious press statement titled “Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 written judgment is flawed, defensive and insupportable”, related to Anwar’s Sodomy II case.
Zunar was slapped with nine sedition charges on April 3, 2015 for allegedly insulting the judiciary in tweets made in relation to Anwar’s conviction in the Sodomy II case.
Both were charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act.