KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — A human rights group chided the government for still using the Sedition Act following the arrest of two men and one woman for posting comments on social media deemed insulting to Sultan Muhammad V.
Amnesty International Malaysia’s executive director K. Shamini Darshini slammed the arrests, saying the enforcement of the archaic law was a major step backwards for the country.
“The news of the arrest is a major step backwards in promoting the freedom of expression in the country.
“The Sedition Act has been enforced for far too long and used to stifle free speech in the country,” read the statement.
The trio had reportedly published posts deemed as insulting to Sultan Muhammad V after the Kelantan Ruler abdicated as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Sunday.
Sultan Muhammad is the first Malay Ruler to ever step down as the Agong and abdicated slightly over two years into his five-year term.
Amnesty urged the Pakatan Harapan government to drop all charges against those arrested and reinstate a moratorium on laws deemed as repressive.
The group cited the Sedition Act 1948 and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, while also opposing detention laws allowed under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).
“The Malaysian government must repeal these laws in the next Parliament sitting which begins in March.
“Along with call for the Sedition Act’s full abolition, we are urging the government to drop all pending charges under this repressive law immediately and without condition,” said the group.