KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) has voiced strong criticism against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition for not repealing the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. The organization condemned the government’s stance as a betrayal of pre-election promises and a threat to democratic freedoms.
The Sedition Act and Section 233 have been criticized for stifling free speech and dissent. MADPET highlighted that these laws are draconian, outdated, and incompatible with a democratic society like Malaysia.
Despite earlier assurances by Anwar and his cabinet in July 2023 to limit the use of the Sedition Act to matters concerning the royal institution, recent events suggest otherwise.
MADPET pointed out recent cases, including the investigation of Kean Wong, editor of “Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope in New Malaysia,” and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, as evidence of the government’s continued reliance on these laws.
National Unity Minister Aaron Ago Dagang’s recent statements further indicate a shift from the July position, suggesting no plans to introduce new legislation and a continued enforcement of existing laws.
The organization argues that the Sedition Act, a remnant from colonial times, is often used to protect the government and suppress opposition voices. It also emphasized that other existing laws adequately cover crimes related to race and religion, rendering the Sedition Act unnecessary and overly broad.
Similarly, Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which criminalizes certain online communications, is seen as overly vague and open to abuse.
MADPET argues that this law could deter essential discussions about human rights abuses and government wrongdoing.
MADPET’s statement calls for immediate action from Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the PH-led coalition to repeal these laws.
The organization emphasizes the need for Malaysia to respect democratic rights, including freedom of speech, expression, and press, and to uphold human rights.
The failure to repeal these laws and the continued justification of their use represent a significant concern for MADPET and raise questions about the commitment of the PH-led government to its pre-election promises and democratic principles.