JULY 10 — The imprisonment of Ustaz Wanji for one-year from yesterday was an affront to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is well-enshrined in Article 10 of our Constitution where every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression. And the manner Ustaz Wanji was charged under the archaic law enacted by the Colonial authorities of British Malaya in 1948 only proved that the so-called reformed government under Pakatan is as evil as the previous corrupt regime. The Act was introduced by the British to fight against insurgents. But what good does it serve in the 21st Century?
So far it was used by the previous regime as an oppressive piece of legislative against opposition political leaders, journalists, and academics. But now it seems that the current government did not want to be left behind in championing the use of this oppressive law despite their pledge to abolish it if they came to power though the charge was levied against the Ustaz in 2014. To rub salt into the wound, the AG’s Chambers decided to cross-appeal for a heavier sentence against him. This action by the AG’s Chambers not only casts doubt against the spirit of the reform government but also shows the insensitive attitude towards natural justice.
It has to be stressed here that the lackadaisical attitude of the Pakatan government in abolishing oppressive laws such as the Sedition Act 1948 has led to the gross injustice against the scholar. As a Muslim scholar, Ustaz Wanji has the right to voice his opinion against something deemed un-Islamic even if it might ruffle some feathers among the Monarch. But the fact remains, the Monarch is not beyond reproach. Any criticism against them without jeopardising the national security or public order should not be criminalised or otherwise it would have been deemed as a suppression on the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution.
Hence, we at the Islamic Renaissance Front stand firm with Ustaz Wanji and we strongly urge the Pakatan government to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and other draconian laws such as POTA and SOSMA immediately. The laws in our land of a new Malaysia should be consistent and at par with the international human rights standard, and nothing less.
*Datuk Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa the founder and director of Islamic Renaissance Front.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.