KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan said today that Putrajaya's move to expand an already restrictive sedition law and pass fresh legislation to prevent terrorism is akin to the government “declaring war” on its own people.
She also questioned why the administration was going to such lengths to introduce laws that are clearly abusive and contentious.
'In fact, if I could quote someone who said this yesterday, by Pota and amendments to the Sedition Act, the government is declaring war on its people and I want to know why they are doing that.
"They better have a very good reason (because) right now, I don't see one," she told reporters when met at the Dewan Rakyat here.
The former Bar Council chairman was in Parliament to hand over a memorandum against the proposed amendments to the Sedition Act, in her capacity as spokesperson of the Gerakan Mansuh Akta Hasutan (GHAH).
"We are very concerned with the provisions they are proposing and we are very concerned that they have increased the punishment, that they have removed a lot of the discretion of the courts, and we see all that through the Act (Sedition Act)."
She also expressed worry over the way amendments to the Sedition Act would be debated, appearing to suggest that the Bill may be bulldozed through, especially when it was only made accessible to lawmakers in the august House yesterday.
"There are constitutional issues.. there are issues on the way they are doing it. They just put it on the MPs tables and expect them to debate it overnight.
“They should give us a chance to discuss it..the lawmakers, the civil society," she added.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition lawmakers have urged the ruling Barisan Nasional government to defer parliamentary debates on its proposed amendments to the Sedition Act tabled yesterday, out of respect to the Federal Court where several challenges are pending.
In what is seen as a clampdown on dissent, the government has arrested over 100 individuals this year, largely consisting of activists and opposition lawmakers.