Amnesty International Malaysia has called for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 following the acquittal of political cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, more popularly known as Zunar, and others of their sedition charges.
Aside from Zunar, former Padang Serai MP N Surendran and Deputy Rural Development Minister R Sivarasa were also acquitted of their sedition charges yesterday.
“Their acquittal is a positive development but the Malaysian authorities must do more to protect people who dare to speak out.
“The new government must take this opportunity to usher in a new era for human rights by fully restoring freedom of expression and abolishing the Sedition Act 1948, an archaic piece of legislation which has been repeatedly used to target dissenting voices,” said Amnesty International Malaysia researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard in a statement today.
She also called upon the authorities to drop any other charges under the Sedition Act and ensure that no one else is arrested, investigated, charged or imprisoned pending its repeal.
Yesterday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) withdrew the charges against Zunar and Surendran, saying that the prosecution was no longer interested in pursuing the case against them.
All three were charged in relation to comments made regarding PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction in the Sodomy II case.
Zunar was previously charged for allegedly insulting the judiciary in tweets made in relation to the case.
Surendran was charged for releasing an allegedly seditious press statement titled, “Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 written judgment is flawed, defensive and insupportable”.
Meanwhile, the charge against Sivarasa was dropped after the AGC accepted his representation letter.
His charge was over his speech during the 2015 Kita Lawan rally, in which he was said to have criticised the judiciary on Anwar’s imprisonment for sodomy.