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The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) condemns the continuing harassment of academics for giving their opinion in their areas of expertise.

Another academic, Abdul Aziz Bari, is being questioned under the Sedition Act for a legal opinion that he gave on the appointment of the Selangor menteri besar.

This investigation, as well as the multiple investigations and charges that have been made under the Sedition Act, illustrate once more that the Act is too wide and arbitrary. It is imperative that the Sedition Act be repealed.

CIJ is of the view that issuing legal opinions on the legality of the appointment of a menteri besar and the workings of democracy should not constitute an offence.

Curbing such opinions does not constitute a legitimate restriction of the freedom of expression, as stated in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Legitimate restrictions can only be made for speech that can be shown to have a direct and immediate connection to national security, public order or public morality.

CIJ also expresses its alarm at the rearrests of Ali Abdul Jalil, who was charged and investigated under the Sedition Act at various police stations and courts in Selangor and Johor Baru and was under detention for a total of 22 days.

Such actions only serve to shore up the view that the ongoing investigations and charges under the Sedition Act are part of a government clampdown on the freedom of expression, especially against those seen to be critical of the government.

Such practices are not representative of a government who represents itself on the international stage as a model moderate nation that respects human rights.

CIJ reiterates the urging to repeal the Sedition Act and in the meantime, cease the current investigations and charges under this Act.

SONIA RANDHAWA and JAC KEE are directors of Centre for Independent Journalism.

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