KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Three rights groups today revived calls for the abolition of the Sedition Act 1948 and the creation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) following the arrest of Selangor lawmaker Ronnie Liu.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Bersih 2.0 and the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) alleged that the use of the colonial-era law against Liu was the latest example of police legal abuse.
“The consistent failure of the Royal Malaysia Police in upholding itself to the highest standard and acting in line with the law makes it clear that a functional Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) must be placed to investigate police misconduct,” the three non-governmental organisations said in a joint statement.
They called on the police to explain using the Sedition Act against the Sungai Pelek assemblyman who had only shared pictures of the recent protests by Thais against their monarchy, pointing out that the law does not outlaw commentaries or critique against foreign governments or entities outside of Malaysia.
“We further reiterate our stand that the Sedition Act must be repealed in its entirety as it is a law which is increasingly being arbitrarily abused to silence dissent, even when there is no threat, in whichever manner, to national security or public order,” they said.
The groups also said that it did not make sense for the police to take action and initiate investigations based on a social media posting describing the political situation in another country.
“It is farfetched for the police and the ‘public’ complainant to read into the post and insinuate that such a post can be construed as an affront to the Malaysian monarchy,” they said.
Police arrested Liu this morning under the Sedition Act and the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 for questioning over his October 21 Facebook post of pictures of protesters at an anti-government protest in Bangkok, Thailand, with the caption: “Now in Bangkok. They are saying No to the King”.
Liu has since been released on police bail.
Other groups that have spoken out against Liu’s arrest include the Socialist Party of Malaysia.
The Sedition Act has long been criticised as a tool to silence government dissenters. Though the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had said it would repeal the law introduced by the colonial British during its short stint in power, it never did.
Similarly, the IPCPC was on the cards to be tabled in Parliament by the PH administration, but has since been shelved by the Perikatan Nasional government.
In August, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan told Parliament the IPCMC Bill has been withdrawn, replaced with the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC).