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Drop Charge Against Suhaimi Shafiei, Uphold Citizens’ Freedom of Expression

Civil Society Joint Press Statement

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn the Attorney General Chamber’s prosecution of Seri Muda Assemblyman Suhaimi Shafiei under the Sedition Act. This is an infringement of Malaysians’ freedom of expression and against the spirit of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. It also contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ratified by Malaysia government.

We urge the AG Chamber to drop the charge against Suhaimi Shafiei immediately to show respect of the people’s freedom of expression. We call upon the government to repeal the sedition act and immediately and unconditionally withdraw charges against all persons charged under the draconian sedition act.

As freedom of expression is the foundation of a democratic society, crackdown on free speech only makes check and balance impossible and opens up opportunities for abuse of power and violation of rule of law, bringing our society to a dark age.

Suhaimi has a legitimate right to comment on the appointment of Selangor secretary Khusrin. All citizens – not even exclusive for elected representatives – have right to criticize the decisions and acts of any public institutions – the Executive, the Judiciary, the Legislative, the Election Commission and the Palace – for the health of our democracy, federalism and constitutional monarchy. This is the essence of freedom of expression

We hold that the police report against Suhaimi accusing him of “traitor” is devoid of common sense. What the former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir has done decades ago with constitutional amendment to curb the royal power was far more serious than Suhaimi’s comment.

The AG Chamber must therefore stop selective prosecution of opposition politicians and netizens on their legitimate comments related to the health of democracy, federalism and constitutional monarchy. It must act independently rather than becomes a tool of political persecution.

We categorically refute the view of Gerakan Kedah Youth Chief Tan Keng Liang that Suhaimi’s case is a “personal case”. The prosecution of Suhaimi is clearly a case of political persecution. We applaud the Selangor State Government for providing legal aid to defend the freedom of expression of its state assemblyperson. It is a noble act to uphold human rights and social justice in the state of Selangor.

Tan must remember, the responsibility of having the Selangor tax payers to pay for the legal cost lies solely with the Barisan Nasional Federal Government, in which his party participates. If conscience can be his guide, Tan should instead demand the BN Federal Government to drop the charge or demand his Gerakan Party to provide legal support.

The Najib Administration must understand that people demand real democratic reform, not a flowery slogan of political propaganda. If the PM is serious about “People First”, he must immediately stop the persecution of Suhaimi, and also abolish all draconian laws designed to control and censor the media.

 

Endorsing Organizations :

1.      Civil Rights Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

2.      Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre

3.      Writers Alliance for Media Independence

4.      528 Media Action Group

5.      Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia

6.      Suara Rakyat Malaysia

7.      Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

8.      Perak Youth Graduate Association

9.      All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)

10.  Youth Section of Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall

11.  Youth for Change

12.  Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

13.  Women’s Aid Organistion

14.  Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement(DEMA)

15.  New Era College Alumni Association

16.  Bahagian Pemuda Persatuan Murid-murid Tua Sekolah Serdang Bharu

17.  Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Kuala Lumpur & Selangor

18.  Amnesty International Malaysia

19.  Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor & KL

20.  Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)

21.  Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)

22.  Community Action Network (CAN)

23.  Friends of Suaram Johor