Sedition probe against Fahmi Reza result of broken Harapan promise - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, April 26, 2021
Malaysiakini : "In fact, they were all justifying the use of the Sedition Act and now we pay the same price again.” - Former Malaysian Bar president K Ragunath.
COMMENT | When I see all these activists chanting
“Free Fahmi” and “Political satire is not a crime”, all I can do is
shrug. Well, yeah kids, it is a crime here in Malaysia and you know that
when Pakatan Harapan had a chance to ditch such laws, they chose not
It is convenient to blame the Perikatan Nasional (PN)
government for problems this country faces, but when Harapan promised
solutions to these problems, they never delivered. As always,
blame-shifting and deflection will define how Harapan handles issues
is pointless laying the blame on PN because, ultimately, it was
Harapan’s responsibility to repeal these laws because, for the Malay uber alles government, sedition laws were always tools in their box of dirty tricks.
only did Harapan throw free speech advocates under the bus, never mind
the citizens of Malaysia, who think that such issues are important, they
were toying with the idea of ditching the sedition law, but replacing
it with another. One form of repression for another. Is this the best
Harapan has to offer?
When Ronnie Liu was hauled up by the then
Harapan state under sedition laws for posting pictures of Thais
protesting against the Thai monarchy, you have to wonder, if Harapan
could have prevented this by repealing such laws.
But wait, under Harapan, a woman’s march was investigated under sedition laws, then there was the preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin and of course who could forget the persecution of Fadiah Nadwa Fikri.
Keep in mind that these are the stories that made the news cycles. Meanwhile, the Harapan state was also considering
laws that would make news portals responsible for readers comments,
which was taking the stifling freedom of speech to a whole new level.
better believe that these issues are important to me because, in
countless pieces, I have been warning that these laws that Harapan
chooses to waffle on will come back and bite them on their behinds, but
more importantly, the average rakyat who does not have the luxury of
being politically connected, or have a social media presence, will feel
the full brunt of these laws when speaking up on issues that affect
These laws are enacted to muzzle the public but,
more importantly, are vital tools in the “fear box” to remind the public
that whatever they say or do against the state is always under
You can never tell what you say or do is seditious or
illegal because these laws are there for the convenience of the ruling
elite, rather than any kind of traditional normative values or reasoning
of a functional democracy.
So, of course, when Harapan was in
power, there was all this waffling because suddenly they realised that
having these instruments makes it easier to restrict dissent. This is
why the world's smallest violin was playing – at least in my mind – when
Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa questioned why he was being investigated under the Sedition Act for questioning the legitimacy of the current prime minister.
Lawyer Syahredzan Johan, who is also the political secretary to Lim Kit Siang, said in 2015:
"We are saying that we have certain principles that we adhere to as a
democracy. Freedom of speech and expression is part of our DNA, so we
hold on to these values. If we don't say something because we are afraid
they will come after us, then we are saying that these values are not
that important to us. Do we want to be the kind of society that allows
the authorities to do as they please because we fear getting into
To be fair to Syahredzan, he was always on the side
that wanted these laws abolished and he was sceptical of tinkering with
the reality is these laws were used on the opposition and activists for
years and those same people who felt the oppression of these laws chose
instead to commit to some sort of political pacts with fascists instead
of their commitment to repealing such laws.
When P Waytha Moorthy,
then minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said this in 2019 –
"However, I do agree that there are elements within the Sedition Act
which should remain, which I believe may be applied in the Penal Code
and so on." – you have to wonder exactly what other pernicious laws
that Harapan political operatives thought beneficial to them when they
were in charge.
This would make their rejection of these laws
hypocritical because when in power they suddenly see the benefit of such
instruments, just not when the other party uses these laws.
course in typical wonky Harapan thinking, RSN Rayer (Harapan-Jelutong)
said this: "Is there a proposal, before repealing the Sedition Act, to
enact a new law that keeps the aspiration of the Sedition Act while
ensuring that it cannot be abused?" This is absurd because the
aspiration of such laws is, as Syahredzan rightly pointed out in 2015,
is to "imprison the minds of citizens" and as such, abuse is the very
definition of such laws.
If you really want to see the kind of
legalese that the Harapan state was engaging in, you should read the
spat between lawyers for Wan Ji and the Attorney-General's Chambers. In
the same article, then AG Tommy Thomas said:
"Upon assuming office on June 2018, I decided, with regard to
alternative laws in our statute books (including provisions in the Penal
Code), to only turn to Sedition Act as a measure of last resort.”
have no doubt that problems like these will continue to boil over, and
tragically it will be lost on many that Harapan had the solutions but
failed to implement them.