Amendment of Malaysian Sedition law termed as threat to Freedom of expression by Oppositions

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Kuala Lumpur: A sedition law which was being under controversy strengthen by the Parliament of Malaysia. The decision was taken on early Friday by the Malaysian Parliament and the same day was criticized by the Opposition as ‘black day’ for the democracy and freedom of expression.

The amendments to the Act being a Toughening of the Sedition Act, passed by the Malaysian parliament after more than twelve hours debate on the same. There was a marathon efforts from the side Opposition to stop passing these amendments. It was an Act under which a number of people have been detained in the recent weeks back and the Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Opposition was sent behind bars in the month of February this year, for the sodomy charges.

The Amended law extended the maximum punishment from 3 years to 20 years and it is also providing a minimum jail of 3 years for certain offences. Also there is a provision making it an offence being illegal to propagate sedition on Internet, sparking concerns over possible Web censorship.

The critics of the Muslim controlled Government being the supporter of the voter side, said that to curb a speech by members of the religiously diverse opposition, it is increasingly falling back on protecting Islam.

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The opposition law maker, N. Surendran said that the day on which the said action was taken is a black day for democracy in Malaysia and the also for the freedom of speech under the said law, he called ‘abusive law’.

It was pointed from the side of the Rights groups that the definition of the expression ‘sedition’ is remained open to wide interpretation and can be abused by the Government, which he said has a history of misusing security laws.

It was opposed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra`ad Al Hussein, by calling the law to be repealed on Thursday 9th April). He further said that the action of the Malaysian Government is very disappointing as it is proposing to make bad law worse.

The Amendment is termed by the Human Rights Watch as a disaster of Human rights for the Malaysia which will have profound chilling effect on the free expression, on daily life and in online communication also.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.