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Lawyers set sights on peaceful protest against Sedition Act


File picture shows Bar Council President Christopher Leong. He said all sedition charges should be dropped. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng“Motion is also for the Bar to mandate the Bar Council to take any actions necessary to promote these matters,” the head of the Bar Council’s National Young Lawyers Committee told Malay Mail Online today.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Lawyers are aiming for a peaceful protest calling for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948, a colonial-era relic that found currency in recent weeks and has been used on opposition lawmakers and anti-government dissidents.
The motion for the protest, which will be put to the vote at the Malaysian Bar’s Extraordinary General Meeting on September 19, is being proposed and seconded by 122 members, including retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
“It is no longer sufficient for the Bar to only condemn the Attorney-General’s actions or to lobby for its repeal,” a motion at the Malaysian Bar’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) proposed by New Sin Yew, sighted by Malay Mail Online, said.
The motion dated September 11 pointed to an “unprecedented spike” in the use of the Sedition Act.
“The authorities, by their statements and actions, have evinced their intention to continue with the archaic law, despite the prime minister stating his intention to repeal it,” it added.
Another laywer, Syahredzan Johan said the Bar Council will also formally discuss at its EGM an application calling for the Sedition Act’s repeal, the withdrawal of all charges that are pending, a suspension of the use of the law and for the Act not to be recast into a new law.
“The EGM itself was called by the Bar Council, one form of protest against the Sedition Act and the current ‘crackdown’. Since there is an EGM, the Council will obtain views as to what other forms of protest is appropriate and needed,” he added.
The EGM will discuss the Sedition Act and actions by the authorities that are said to infringe on Malaysians’ fundamental rights and liberties.
Critics have long seen the law as a way to quell dissent against the government. In recent weeks, the Sedition Act has been used widely to target opposition lawmakers, students, an academic, a journalist and a Muslim preacher
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak appeared to backtrack on his 2012 pledge to abolish the colonial era law — when he said Monday that the Sedition Act may not scrapped if that did not result in an “improvement”.
The Attorney-General announced Tuesday that the sedition charges against law professor Dr Azmi Sharom and other sedition cases would be reviewed.
Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said in response Wednesday that all sedition charges should be dropped.
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