Bersih claims sedition dragnet a red herring from GST, redelineation

File picture of the Bersih 2.0 committee. Bersih 2.0 stressed that a democratic government could not use “autocratic and draconian laws” to handle dissent. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
File picture of the Bersih 2.0 committee. Bersih 2.0 stressed that a democratic government could not use “autocratic and draconian laws” to handle dissent. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — The government crackdown on sedition is aimed at distracting public attention from greater issues such as the redrawing of electoral boundaries and the impending goods and services tax (GST), polls reform group Bersih 2.0 asserted today.

 Criticising the recent slew of cases under the Sedition Act 1948, Bersih 2.0 also said these contradicted the Najib administration’s pledge made two years ago to repeal the colonial-era law.

“We must admit that the actions taken by the government is an evil tactic to shift the rakyat’s attention away from more important issues like daily problems, the declining quality of life and new economic burdens like the future GST tax.

“We also fear that the government actions are a tactic to divert attention away from bigger agendas like the redelineation exercise, in order to make the government even more powerful in the coming election,” the group said in a statement today..

Bersih 2.0 stressed that a democratic government could not use “autocratic and draconian laws” to handle dissent.

“This madness is a reflection of the failure, immorality and injustice of a cruel and undemocratic government.”

A student activist was jailed earlier today for sedition amid a government crackdown that has seen three opposition lawmakers and a Universiti Malaya law professor being charged under the Sedition Act in under a week.

This is in addition to a raft of sedition probes against others, including more Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs, a student and a journalist.

The Bar Council’s National Young Lawyers Committee launched a campaign yesterday to repeal the Sedition Act.

Putrajaya was last week forced to defend both the continued use of the Sedition Act and the delay in repealing the law two years after Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s pledge.

A spokesman for the government said that as long as the Act remains in effect and until the legislation meant to replace the colonial era law is passed, “existing cases must be tried under existing laws.”

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