Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali has today decided to discontinue the sedition prosecution against Universiti Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom.
“In the interest of justice, and after examining the evidence given by the prosecution’s witnesses in court, I am using my discretion under Article 145(3) of the federal constitution and decide to discontinue prosecution against Azmi,” said Apandi in a statement today.
Article 145(3) gives the attorney-general the sole and exclusive authority to institute and conduct any criminal proceedings.
Apandi pointed out a similar sedition case involving Seputeh MP Teresa Kok previously.
The law don was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act for a comment he made to Malay Mail Online on the Selangor menteri besar crisis that was brewing in 2014, in an article titled ‘Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told’.
In the article he had suggested the Perak example in 2009 where Umno ousted the incumbent Pakatan Rakyat government as a solution to resolve the imbroglio.
He also faced an alternative charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the same Act. The charge carries a penalty of a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years’ prison, or both, upon conviction.
When contacted, Azmi expressed his gratitude with the AG’s decision.
“I'm thankful that common sense has prevailed. I am grateful to my family, my lawyers, my friends and to so many people I don't even know who have been so supportive,” he told Malaysiakini .
'Reverse sedition crackdown'
Human Rights Watch Asia Division deputy director Phil Robertson said should have been charged in the first place.
"He should have never been prosecuted in the first place. But at least now there appears to be a flicker of candle light in the dark tunnel of Sedition Act prosecutions being brought by the Malaysian authorities against numerous lawyers, NGO activists, opposition MPs, and academics.
“The question now is whether that light will grow, or whether it will be snuffed out?,” said Robertson in a statement.
“The AG should reverse the sedition crackdown and show he understands how wrong it is to criminalise people for expressing peaceful political views that disagree with the government.
“These include cartoonist Zunar, lawyer Eric Paulsen, opposition politician N. Surendran, and more than two dozen others," he added.