Use of Sedition Act must be stopped immediately

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Another person has fallen victim to the Sedition Act although the prime minister who is the head of the executive, has said that the Act is oppressive and will be repealed.

Ahmad Abdul Jalil was arrested last week under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act for insulting the sultan of Johor and rearrested again on Monday.

It is difficult to digest this latest arrest and the continued prosecution of Karpal Singh and P Uthayakumar, a former Hindraf leader, for sedition.

Further making this worse than it is, Ahmad Abdul Jalil was arrested in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur but brought to Johor for investigations and he is being remanded there, too.

I was practicing at the Criminal Bar for many years and have been involved in handling many criminal cases, I for one have not heard of such a thing happening before!

Usually if a suspect is arrested in Kuala Lumpur, police investigation is done in Kuala Lumpur and the case will be sent to the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court at Jalan Duta for a remand order.

Why is Ahmad's case so special that the Johor police need to get involved and the remand order issued by the Johor Baru magistrate's court?

Is it because it involves the sultan of Johor? There is really something amiss here and we are made to believe that Ahmad would not be brought to the palace but there is nothing stopping the sultan and his aides from going to the police station.

Can the Johor police guarantee that this will not happen?

Although our prime minister has said that the Sediton Act is oppressive and will be repealed but prosecutions are still being conducted against Karpal Singh and Uthayakumar.

Why is this so? The attorney-general who is supposed to be the top legal adviser to the government which Najib heads, has the unfettered discretion to withdraw the charges against these two individuals but yet he has not exercised his powers.

There is nothing stopping our attorney-general from withdrawing the charges against Karpal Singh and Uthayakumar or even advising the police from arresting anyone under Sedition Act as the prime minister himself has said that the Sedition Act is oppressive and up for repeal.

If the attorney- general is truly independent of the executive then he must withdraw the sedition charges against Karpal Singh and Uthayakumar.

Legally it may be right to arrest and prosecute people for sedition as the Act has not been repealed yet but it is morally wrong to continue to arrest and prosecute people under the Sedition Act knowing very well that the Act is slated for repeal on the grounds that it is an oppressive and an archaic law.

The government including the AG has a moral responsibility to its people to make sure that ‘persecutions' are not the order of the day.

This is a moral responsibility and if it continues to persecute people by arresting and pursuing charges against them under Sedition Act than it becomes an immoral government.

JEYASEELEN ANTHONY is a consultant at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya and the author of the book 'Seditious Tendencies - Political Patronisation of Freedom of Speech and Expression in Malaysia'.

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