PETALING JAYA, Oct 4 — Several Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders have criticised Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman for defending the use of the Sedition Act 1948, despite the ruling pact’s pledge to abolish it.
DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh urged today the ministry to instead announce a moratorium on arrests and investigations under the archaic Act previously used to quell dissent by the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
“Azis’s announcement misses the point that such laws ought not to be used on anyone, regardless of political affiliation as it ought to be a matter of time before they are repealed.
“In fact, the Ministry of Home Affairs ought to make such an announcement forthwith so that government resources are not wasted on investigations into offences which are likely to become obsolete in the near future,” the Bukit Gelugor MP said in a statement.
Ramkarpal said it is not difficult to repeal the Sedition Act as it would be supported in Parliament the way the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was abolished.
“If the GST could have been abolished almost immediately after GE14, the same ought to apply to the Sedition Act as well,” he said.
“It is an open secret that the Sedition Act was abused in the past to stifle political dissent and by its continued use, the present government may be seen to be no different from its predecessor in this regard.”
This follows after the arrest of Azman Noor Adam, brother of Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam who allegedly insulted Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on social media.
Mohd Azis defended the actions taken against Azman under the Sedition Act, and stated it was merely standard operating procedure carried out by the police as the law had yet to be repealed.
The Parti Warisan Sabah lawmaker’s comments have also drawn the ire of PKR vice-president N. Surendran, who urged the former to read the PH manifesto on abolishing the Act.
“If this fellow says this kind of thing, he’s not fit to be a deputy minister! What nonsense to talk about police standard operating procedure.
“He should get a copy of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto and read it,” Surendran said on Twitter.
The police initially arrested Azman for allegedly uploading a picture showing an acquaintance with his bottom pointed towards Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on television.
But Dr Mahathir said today that the police must stop arresting people who insult him as “politicians must accept criticism.”