One would have thought that for a party that has lost 5+1 states in the recent general election and the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia, there would be much soul-searching and perhaps adoption of much needed reform and new strategies to win back the trust of the people.
I was hopeful when the PM announced that judicial reform would be undertaken. I was hopeful when PM announced the formation of an independent body for fighting corruption, the MCAC, in the mould of the ICAC of Hong Kong.
I was hopeful when suddenly many pro-BN politicians started to blog, thinking that perhaps more freedom of expression would be allowed.
Alas! My hopes were dashed when the Sedition Act was used to charge well-known blogger Raja Petra. The Sedition Act is an archaic law enacted by the British in 1948. The situation then and now is totally different, and this law should have been repealed long ago. It is like using a 1948 car in the Formula One race of today - totally out-of -date.
According to Wikipedia, the act criminalises speech with ‘seditious tendency’ including that which would ‘bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against’ the government or engender ‘feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races’.
Are RPK’s writings seditious? I would not want to go into the debate on the merits of the case as the case is before the courts now. But if anyone feels slighted by RPK’s writing, or for that matter, if anyone feels slighted or defamed by any writing of any blogger, there is such a thing called civil law and the civil courts.
The person feeling slighted or defamed could sue in a civil court for libel and defamation, if necessary for hundreds of thousands of ringgit and if more necessary for millions of ringgit.
The Sedition Act is just like the ISA, another archaic piece. If you feel someone is undertaking activities that may lead to security of the nation being threatened, by all means charge him in open court. So just like ISA, the Sedition Act is out-of-date and both should have been repealed a long time ago.
Lee Kuan Yew sued for libel and won many times against those who slighted him in either speeches or writings. I do not remember him using the state machinery to charge someone who has allegedly defamed him. Yes, he used the ISA for security reasons, but not the Sedition Act for personal vendettas.
I have a feeling of ‘deja vu’. It is like 2004, when we were promised so many things but none of them came about after four years. Is this a repeat of things? Will we ever see the light of a Judicial Commission or an MCAC? Will it be like the IPCMC? I hope not.
But what RPK case has shown is that we are taking one step forward and three steps back.