The news today that Klang MP Charles Santiago and Malaysiakini Editor-In-Chief Steven Gan are currently being probed under section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act, 1948 and section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, 1998 for comments made after the Federal Court found Malaysiakini guilty of contempt last week is disturbing and must be addressed.
Of particular concern is the investigation of the duo under the Sedition Act, presumably for criticising the Judiciary in its decision in respect of the said case.
Although it used to be a seditious tendency to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Malaysia or in any state under section 3(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, it must be pointed out that the said Act was amended in 2015 to remove the said section 3(1)(c).
In the circumstances, with respect, it is no longer an offence under the Sedition Act to criticise the administration of justice and I cannot see why Santiago and Gan are being investigated under the same.
Sedition is undoubtedly serious as the intention of the maker of a statement said to be seditious is irrelevant. As such, there might arise a misconception that it matters not why Santiago and Gan said what they said if they are being investigated under the said Act.
As it is no longer an offence to criticise the Judiciary for the reason stated above, it must be stressed that the intention of Santiago and Gan in making the statements they made is very much relevant to any investigation that they may be under. In other words, they ought to be given every opportunity to explain the reasons behind their statements which ought to be taken into account in their defence.
It is a waste of resources to investigate Santiago and Gan under the Sedition Act for the reason stated above and as such, I urge the Inspector General of Police to cease any further investigations against them under the said Act forthwith.
Dated this 22nd of February, 2021.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY